The 5 Best Kayaks of 2023

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The 5 Best Kayaks of 2022

Whether you’re exploring wild coastal shorelines or paddling down an urban river, kayaking is one of the best ways to get out on the water—it’s a hobby that can suit people of almost all ages, athletic abilities and interests. You can spend a quiet morning paddling in pursuit of fish, or you can chase the adrenaline rush of surging down Class VI rapids. Perhaps you’d prefer to load your camping gear into the hull and cruise until you find the perfect place to set up basecamp for a couple days. The beauty of this sport is that once you’re equipped with the best kayak for your needs and abilities, you then get to choose the intensity, physical effort and the scenery.

While kayaks are arguably the most common of water sport vessels, they are far from cookie-cutter clones of one another. Kayaks can be incredibly versatile watercraft and depending on the type, capacity, and features, they can be suitable for adventures, exercise, leisure, or as a means to catch some fish. We know that finding the right one for you can be daunting—there are just so many options—but we’re here to help.

1 Ocean Kayak Malibu Two-Tandem

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two-Tandem

This popular tandem sit-on-top kayak, the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two, is perfect for affordable family adventure. Enjoy sun and surf with a friend or a furry companion with the kayak's three seating positions, which support solo, tandem, or tandem paddling with a child or pet.
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2 Perception Pescador Pilot 12

Perception Pescador Pilot 12

If you’re looking for a fantastic kayak that functions well as both a recreational vessel and fishing boat, then you’ll love what the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 sit-on-top kayak brings to the table. It has plenty of open and dry storage space, which makes it perfect if you’re hankering for a touring adventure.
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3 Intex Excursion 4

Intex Excursion 4

Whether you’re looking for an affordable kayak for some father-son bonding time while fishing out on the lake, or just want to spend a relaxing afternoon with friends floating on the water, the Intex Excursion 4 inflatable might just be what the doctor ordered.
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4 Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

As far as fishing kayaks go, it doesn’t get any better than the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100. It is made of molded UV-protected high-density polyethylene, mounted on a sturdy flat bottom with deep tracking channels ingrained into the hull.
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5 Intex Challenger K1 Series

Intex Challenger K1 Series

Cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized space, and inflatable I beam floors add stability. Removable skeg provides exceptional directional movement
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How To Shop For A Kayak

There are a variety of things to consider when shopping for your own kayak; here are some of the most important factors you should consider.

Where Will You Paddle?

Are you planning on taking your chariot out on a lake, in the ocean or down a river? Knowing that will help narrow down your choices. Any sit-on-top kayak will do in lakes (as in your local lake, not one of the Great Lakes). In more open water, where waves and wind are variables, you’ll want a sit-in boat, preferably with a rudder and a spray skirt. Finally, for rivers (and not the whitewater kind), it’s a good idea to choose something shorter—it’ll make it easier to turn in close quarters.

Sit-On-Top Vs. Sit-In

Generally speaking, sit-on-top kayaks are meant for casual recreation. We’re talking noodling around lakes and mellow rivers. They usually have a wider cockpit, which means they’re easier to get in and out of, and there’s room to stretch your legs. That being said, they’re also often heavier. As for sit-in kayaks, those can be used for recreation and touring, as they’re more efficient. They move fast and have ample covered compartments to store gear in. They’re also warmer when the weather and water are chillier.

Weight Capacity

This isn’t just counting you, but also all of your gear. If you’re planning on doing overnight tours with all your camping gear, make sure to account for the added pounds. Also, if you plan to have your dog be a co-pilot, factor in their weight as well.

Price

The price for kayaks can vary wildly. Consider your budget and how often you will use your kayak before making your purchase. After all, you might not need a kayak with all the bells and whistles if you plan on using it a couple times each year, in fair weather, at the local pond.

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