The Best Recreational Kayaks Of 2023 (For Family, Pet & Kid)

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: December 20, 2022
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If you are looking for a recreational kayak for your family, pet or kid then you should buy sit-on-top recreational kayaks. This is because sit-on-top type kayaks are very stable and user-friendly. Moreover, you can use this type of kayak for fishing purposes also.

When shopping for a kayak, you will encounter so many kinds of kayaks out there. These kinds will be picking out a kayak a daunting task. Moreover, not every manufacturer makes it clear what activity each kayak is suitable for. That’s why we’re going to walk you through what you need to know right now.

What Is A Recreational Kayak?

A recreational kayak is a kayak that the occasional/casual paddler uses. This sort of kayak is suitable for flat water conditions such as a lake or slow-moving river. Kayakers use recreational kayaks for recreational activities, such as exploring, exercising, and sightseeing. However, recreational kayaks may not be suitable for fishing and definitely not white water rafting.

Top 6 Recreational Kayaks Of 2023

Let’s dive deep into the secret kayak world.

We are going to walk you through a lineup of top-rated recreational kayaks. Here are our 3 favorite kayaks with expert analysis and our buyer’s guide below.

No matter what kayak you end up purchasing, make sure you always wear a kayak PFD.

Our Top Picks

Item Weight41 Pounds

Features To Take Notes Of:

1. SPRINT 100XR kayak is designed to offer you excellent secondary stability so that choppy conditions will not be a problem, plus increased responsiveness and better return on effort in general.

2. Your tracking is greatly improved with the built-in keel extension.

3. The SPRINT 100XR is a recreational performance kayak that is super easy to carry around even when it’s fully loaded. It also comes with a stern bulkhead for extra flotation, which is very helpful in times of need.

4. Made using patented RAM-X PREMIUM material, an exceptionally durable high molecular weight polyethylene that is lightweight and provides a top layer of advanced resin to provide more rigidity.

5. The maximum weight supported by this kayak is 300 lbs.

My Top Recreational Kayaks Of 2022 Reviewed

best recreational kayaks

#1 Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

BrandOcean Kayak
MaterialSingle Layer Polyethylene
Weight Capacity362 pounds

Ocean Kayak Malibu At A Glance:

1. Maximum weight capacity of 425 pounds

2. Length: 12 feet long and 34 inches wide

3. Lifetime warranty on Hull

4. Comfortable with paddling with child, pet by solo, or tandem.

Ocean Kayak Frenzy Overview 

1. The Kayak is perfect for any excursion you could have planned, from a lazy day fishing to an adrenaline-pumping surf expedition. The kayak offers three seating positions; one person, two people in tandem mode, or two people in tandem mode.

2. A pair of Comfort Plus seats provide four-way adjustability, generating a custom fit and greater slip prevention over-molded seats. So what are you waiting for? Get yours now!

3. Patented overlapping foot wells in our kayak allow for you to comfortably sit in the center and brace your feet.

4. The quick, easy and intuitive hull design makes it effortless to get on and off the kayak and includes a pair of molded-in handles for better control.

5. This is the type of boat that you want to go fishing on for a day. It holds a maximum capacity of 425 pounds, measures 12 feet long, and is 34 inches wide. This means you can fit up to four people in it.

#2 Old Town Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak

BrandOld Town Canoes & Kayaks
Seating Capacity1-Person

Old Town Kayaks Vapor At A Glance:

1. Weight Capacity: 275-325 Pounds

2. Length: 10 Feet

Old Town Kayaks Vapor Overview 

A single-layer linear polyethylene gives this kayak a durable construction. It has a firm well that allows you to gain easy access to cooler or other items. The old town kayak vapor is designed for any single person to enjoy recreational paddling on quiet water.

As this is a single-person kayak, you want to be careful with carrying too much weight. Additionally, the old town vapor is perfect for slow rivers, ponds, lakes, and other recreation-friendly water.

This is a single-layer polyethylene boat. As a result, its cost will be easy on your wallet. At an inexpensive price, you are achieving a light and strong kayak. If you love kayak fishing, then you must be carrying angling gear.

A gear vestibule behind the cockpit will allow you to store your fishing gear and other stuff. Space should be enough. But, a little more dedicated storage space would have been nice.

You can expect adjustable seats and footpegs in kayaks these days. But, it felt good to see them included – they’re a prerequisite for comfort! The old town is celebrated for manufacturing quality kayaks and the vapor is the best recreational kayak you will find.

#3 Lifetime 10 Foot Manta Tandem Kayak

MaterialHard Shell
Seating Capacity2-Person

Lifetime Manta Tandem Kayak At A Glance:

1. Can Function As Both Solo And Tandem

2. Weight Capacity: 500 Pounds

3. Comes With 2 Soft Backrests And 2 Double-Sided Aluminum Paddles

4. Raised Seats Keeps You Dry And Away From The Water

Lifetime 10 Foot Manta Tandem Kayak Overview

This kayak is highly versatile. It allows you to paddle single or double person (tandem). And, a sit-on-top design makes the lifetime 10 ultimate choice in versatility. I commend the backrests that make the kayak more desirable.

The only gripe I have with the seating of this kayak. It is not going to be comfortable for longer trips. So, for people who would want a fishing kayak, this may not be a perfect choice. However, the kayak is a solid option for the lake house couple. Lifetime also touts the tunnel hull design as “almost impossible to tip over”.

Good to know!

I would say this two-person kayak is at its best for short trips. So, couples that want the flexibility of a sit-on-top kayak may explore this option. Yes, you have to sacrifice some comfort though.

The lifetime includes paddles, so this all in all looks like a good package. The manta is one of my top options for the best tandem recreational kayak. It should be yours too!

#4 Ocean Kayak Scrambler 11 Sit-On-Top

BrandOcean Kayak
MaterialHard Shell
Seating Capacity1-Person

Ocean Kayak Scrambler At A Glance:

1. Weight Capacity: 300-350 Pounds

2. Length: 11.6 Feet

Ocean Kayak Scrambler Overview

This kayak tracks well on flat water. So, flat-water kayaking fans will find this kayak really suitable. It can swell a 6″ cam lock hatch for dry storage

As the name suggests, this is, of course, a sit-on-top kayak. That means you will enjoy more legroom and flexibility for paddlers. An easily accessible gear compartment is the testament for tons of space.

Shock cord lashing keeps your stuff free from water. You can store your gear with shock cord lashing to keep your stuff waterproof! In-deck waterproof storage proved adequate for storing my phone or keys.

The flexibility and options that sit on top kayaks offer to users are overwhelming. An adjustable seatback for the kayak is like a blessing for me. It’s because I won’t have to spend all day sitting upright without back support.

Considering the price tag, the ocean scrambler is the best recreational sit-on-top kayak. Many are aware of kayaks’ price tag. They will find this quality kayak suitable for the price tag.

#5 Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron

BrandOld Town Canoes & Kayaks
MaterialSingle Layer Polyethylene
Seating Capacity1-Person

Old Town Kayaks Heron At A Glance:

1. Weight Capacity: 250-325 Pounds

2. Length: 11 Feet

3. Flexible Comfort Flex Seat With Added Padding

4. Stern Hatch Provides Storage For Gear

5. The old town kayaks heron evokes lots of memories.

Back in 2014, I used to work for the local parks department in Austin, tx. We used this exact kayak for rentals. The majority of my customers used to pick this kayak over anything, it is because the old town heron is reliable, useful, and nearly indestructible! I adore the built-in water-resistant drywall behind the cockpit.

There is also stuff on the edges of the cockpit. Your knees are likely to make contact with the edges. It’s great to feel something cushioning your knees. A critical feature in my mind. Overall, I’d say this boat comes with plenty of features for any recreational user. The nicely designed seats should be considered a bonus compared to many competitors. If you asked me what my top pick is for the money, I’d pick the old town heron.

Quick Comparison Among The Recreational Kayaks

Recreational Kayak NameWeight CapacityLengthPaddlers Includes Paddle
Ocean Kayak Frenzy Kayak275-325 pounds9 FeetSoloNo
Old Town Kayaks Vapor275-325 pounds10 FeetSoloNo
Lifetime Manta Tandem Kayak500 pounds10 FeetTandemYes – 2 Paddles

What To Consider Before Purchasing A Recreational Kayak

Easy Entry And Exit

A good recreational kayak will be easy for kayakers to enter and exit. Kayakers will be able to track well with this type of kayak. But, these kayaks will not be suitable for longer touring kayaks. However, recreational kayaks stay stable and are difficult to tip over. These kayaks maybe most importantly are easy to paddle!

Water Surface

You’ll find recreational kayaks as the plastic ABS kayaks at most local liveries. This type of kayak is designed to be affordable. Kayakers are able to navigate these kayaks moderately well on most flatwater. While I’ve relied on this type of kayak for a few camping and fishing trips, I wouldn’t recommend it.

10 Reasons To Buy A Recreational Kayak

Owning a recreational kayak is a valuable asset for any person who enjoys the outdoors. A recreational kayak is a single-seater watercraft with an open cockpit and a flat bottom that is propelled by paddling.

A recreational kayak can be used in many different ways, from exploring remote areas to fishing or paddling across calm waters. A durable recreational kayak can last for years and even decades, providing ample hours of entertainment on the water.

The best part about owning your own recreational kayak is that it can be used in many different situations, as opposed to renting one each time you want to go out on the water. Moreover, they are light enough to transport back home after use so you never have to worry about carrying them around again!

So, here you go:

1. It’s an Easy, Affordable Way to Get in Shape

2. You Can Have Fun and Get Exercise at the Same Time

3. Kayaking is Great for Family Bonding Activities

4. You Can Make Your Own DIY Kayak

5. You’ll Need Less Space for a Flat-Bottom Boat

6. Assembling a Kayak Is Often Easy and Cheap

7. Floating on Top of the Water in a Kayak is Incredibly Relaxing

8. If the Cost is More Than What You Want to Spend, Rentals are Available

9. Dragging Boats Across Land Requires No Effort.

10. For travel, recreation, and sightseeing, and exploring your surroundings.

Smart Tips To Keep You Safe On The Water While Paddling A Rec Kayak

1. Research the area you plan to kayak in. Make sure there is a good place to pull out if necessary.

2. Wear a life vest and make sure everyone in your group wears one as well, even kids. Consider wearing a helmet too if you are going fast or playing on water that is very cold (when the water temperature is below 50 degrees).

3. Stay close to shore and refrain from venturing beyond the buoys that mark shallow water if you have never been there before or if it has been a while since your last trip.

4. Know what to do in an emergency and how to perform CPR. This is especially important for people who work with children, the elderly, or people who need assistance during emergencies.

5. Keep an eye out for overhead power lines, cables, or other obstacles that may be underwater and submerged during high tide.

6. Bring a fully charged mobile phone and/or radio with you in case of emergencies.

7. Prepare to get wet – wear clothes that will keep you warm when wet and dry quickly when they are not wet, such as polyester or wool clothing which will insulate even when wet; don’t wear cotton clothing which will absorb water and take a long time to dry.

8. Don’t paddle alone.


How Long Does A Recreational Kayak Last?

A recreational kayak is something that should last you for many years. Most kayaks will last at least 10 years, but there are some that will last even longer. There are a lot of different factors that play into how long your kayak will last, so it’s hard to say for sure.

As with many things, the more care and maintenance you give your kayak and the more often you use it, the longer it will last. Taking care of your kayak includes washing it off after every use and storing it in a dry place when not in use. This way, there won’t be any rust or mold from moisture building up on the inside of your kayak.

A well-maintained recreational kayak can last 20+ years with no problem!


Types Of Recreational Kayaks

1. Sit-In Recreational Kayak

The primary advantage of this design over other kayaks is its stability; it’s very difficult to tip over. Sit-in kayaks are designed to be easily entered by sitting on one side of the boat, then swinging your legs into place in front of you without the need for any assistance from outside sources like docks or other paddlers.

The main disadvantage of this design is its limited speed; while most boats can hit speeds between 5 and 10 mph (8 to 16 km/h),

2. Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

– Lightweight, Easy to Carry, More Maneuverable in Rough Water Conditions.

3. Inflatable Recreational Kayak

– Stable on the Water, Durable Polyurethane Shell.

How To Choose The Right Size And Type Of Rec Kayak For You

With so many different types of kayaks on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you.

The most common type of kayak is the recreational kayak, designed for straightforward paddling around in calm waters. If you are a beginner, this may be a good place to start.

However, if you are looking for something a little more adventurous and want to get up close to wildlife then choosing an open-seated kayak could be the better option for you.

Another thing to keep in mind when making your choice is how much space you need onboard. This will determine whether or not you should go with a sit-on-top or a sit-in boat.

Equipment Needed For Playful Water Sports On A Recreational Boat

Investing in the right equipment is an essential part of recreational boating. Boaters should buy life jackets, buoyancy aid, as well as a waterproof flashlight for night sailing.

The boat must also have safety equipment like signal flares and flares for nighttime use.

For safe play, boaters should also purchase specific water sports gear like snorkel masks, snorkels, and fins.

Life jackets are needed in case of emergencies and buoyancy aids are required for staying afloat if you are completely submerged underwater.

A waterproof flashlight is also important for nighttime sailing on the water because it can help you see what you’re doing without having to disturb other boats nearby. It’s important to have the light pointed away from them, of course, but it’s a lot easier to see what you’re doing around your boat if there are no lamps shining in your face.

How Much Storage Space Do You Have On A Recreational Kayak?

A recreational kayak will typically have a storage space under the deck to store personal items like waterproof clothing or a dry bag with snacks and water. The size of the compartment will depend on the particular model of kayak you purchase, but it may be anywhere from 7-14 liters.

How much storage space do you need actually? Many people who buy recreational kayaks use them as a way to explore nature by themselves or with a small group of friends. These kayaks are often used as an inexpensive way to enjoy nature without the need for much equipment.

Do You Want An Inflatable Or Hard-Shell Kayak?

Inflatable kayaks are a good option for those who want to do some paddling on calm water. They are lightweight and can be carried around easily. You can store them in a small space when not in use.

On the other hand, hard-shell kayaks have better performance when paddling in rough water conditions.

The cost of inflatable kayaks is much cheaper than hard-shell ones, but you will have to replace the air from time to time. When you are finished with your paddle, you can deflate it and store it anywhere without taking up much space.

Is There A Difference Between Ocean And Lake Kayaks?

Ocean kayaks are designed for the open sea and rougher waters, while lake kayaks are better for calm waters and calmer waves.

Lake kayaks are typically shorter than ocean ones because they only have to be able to paddle through shallow water. Ocean kayaks need more length to accommodate longer paddles with more power as well as deeper water without being flooded by waves.

A third difference is that ocean kayaks will have tighter seals around the cockpit, while lake ones will be more open for packing and unpacking.

How Much Do The Average Recreational Kayak Costs?

A recreational kayak can cost anywhere from a low of $300 to as high as $2,000.

The price range is vast and it all depends on the features of the kayak that you are looking for.

If you want a boat that is fast, maneuverable, and easy to maneuver, then you might be looking at a higher price range. If you are more interested in long-lasting durability that is not affected by weather conditions then you might consider buying a lower-priced one.

Are Inflatable Recreational Kayaks Any Good?

The inflatable recreational kayak, or I.R.K., has been growing in popularity over the past few years and for good reason: they’re affordable, lightweight, easy to transport, and stable enough for beginners to feel comfortable paddling them out into open water without having a ton of experience.

One of the most common misconceptions about inflatable kayaks is that they aren’t as sturdy as traditional “hard” kayaks, but this couldn’t be further from the truth: these boats are designed to support up to 500 pounds.

5 Popular Brands of Recreational Kayaks

1. Lifetime

2. Old Town Canoes and Kayaks

3. Jackson Kayak

4. Dagger Kayaks

5. Ocean rowing kayaks

6. Sea Eagle

Final Note

Recreational kayaks will be excellent if you’re looking for affordable boats, suitable for short trips. You can go on an occasional weekend family or friends trip with these kayaks.

They’re not usually intended to embark on a whitewater voyage, hold gear for long trips, or be outfitted for fishing.

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Rockey is a kayaking enthusiast who has been kayaking with a local group for the last five years. He loves using kayaks while out on outings on the water or camping when the friends want to have a BBQ party somewhere on the bank of a local lake. More About James R Rockey at About Page Here: Authors
Based on his experiences with the different types of kayaks, he is sharing his opinion about kayaking tricks and required gears so that a beginner can get started right away.
Find his team on Twitter here. Happy reading!

Last update on 2023-06-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API