Skip to Content

15 Best Kayaks for Lakes and Rivers

15 Best Kayaks for Lakes and Rivers

The kayak is one of the most eco-friendly forms of transportation, making it a smart investment for both the environment and your wallet. With various shapes and sizes available, kayaks are perfect for any aquatic adventure you might have in mind.

No matter what your needs or interests are, there’s a perfect kayak out there for you! Sit-on-top kayaks offer a relaxed experience while still providing plenty of scenery to take in. Inflatable kayaks are also available for those who want to get wet or explore more strenuously.

15 best kayaks for lakes and rivers

Perception Pescador 12

The Perception Pescador Pro 12 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for an affordable yet powerful river fishing kayak. This ten-and-a-half-foot yak is perfect for novice anglers and those who want a smaller boat that can easily handle most rapids.

The sizeable rear luggage deck offers plenty of storage space to store your equipment or camping gear if you’re heading on an overnight excursion. You may also access more storage within the hull through the movable bow hatch.

The weight capacity of this kayak is 325 pounds, making it ideal for anyone looking for a durable and challenging boat that will hold its own in the whitewater environment.

The seat is super comfortable and can be adjusted to recline as much as you want – perfect if you plan to spend a lot of time out on the water! Additionally, the Pescador Pro 12 tips the scales at just 57 lbs (26 kg) fully rigged – making it one of the lightest options on our list while still offering enough stability to take on any challenges you might encounter when fishing or paddling in rivers and streams.

One of the only downsides is that it lacks dry storage compartments, but this kayak makes up for it with the bow well cover and bungee cords that are able to secure your gear.

In summary, the Perception Pescador Pro 12 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for an affordable yet powerful river fishing kayak that will make your trips more enjoyable.

Perception Pescador 10.0
perception Pescador Pro 12 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak with Adjustable…
  • Premium Fishing Experience: The Perception Pescador Pro 12 is a sit-on-top kayak designed for the recreational angler. Equipped with a large front and rear storage area, it…
  • Comfort First: This fishing kayak features an adjustable lawn chair seat, offering a high level of comfort during those long hours on the water. This allows you to focus more on…
  • Durability & Stability: Built to last, the Pescador Pro 12 is made from high-quality materials that withstand the rigors of fishing adventures. It supports up to 375 lbs,…

Wilderness Systems Aspire 105

The Aspire 105 kayak from Wilderness Systems is an excellent choice for smaller paddlers who are looking for an efficient and stable lake kayak without breaking the bank. It’s outfitted with a comfortable and adjustable seat and a variety of other features that make it perfect for a day on the lake. With this kayak, you’re getting a 300-pound capacity, a large storage hatch, and bungee deck rigging – all characteristics typical of Wilderness Systems’ flagship models.

The Phase 3 AirPro seat is comfortable and forgiving – perfect for the beginner or occasional paddlers alike – while the kayak’s easy handling, excellent tracking, and ultra-stable hull make it an extremely stable choice when exploring lakes and reservoirs around your area.

Wilderness Systems Aspire 105
Wilderness Systems Aspire 105 | Sit Inside Recreational Kayak |…
  • great on flat or slow moving water – this kayak combines easy handling and maneuverability with great stability
  • sized for medium to larger sized paddlers
  • fully adjustable phase 3 air pro seat – the most comfortable kayak seat out there. a mesh fabric covers ergonomic 3d foam allowing for greater airflow to keep you cool while…

Lifetime Tioga Kayak

This kayak includes molded-in footrest positions to accommodate paddlers of various heights, a sit-on-top design, and scupper holes in the drainage system – making it perfect for beginners. It also boasts a weight capacity of 275 pounds, a storage hatch in the center, and bungee rigging to secure additional gear or supplies. Lifetime Tioga warranties their products with a limited lifetime warranty against material or craft defects.

The Lifetime Tioga kayak is perfect for beginners due to its sit-on-top design and scuppers holes in the drainage system. The kayak also has molded-in footrest positions to accommodate paddlers of various heights. The storage hatch in the center is convenient for storing dry goods if you take this kayak out on extended trips, and the bungee rigging may be used to secure additional gear or supplies on either end of the boat.

Lifetime Tioga Kayak
Lifetime Tioga Sit-On-Top Kayak, Lime, 120″
  • Constructed of uv-protected high-density Polyethylene. Multiple footrest positions for different size riders. Stable flat bottom
  • Comfortable seat back for long paddling adventures. Stable flat bottom. Easy carry handle
  • Front and rear shock cord straps. 6 inch rear storage compartment.

Sevylor Quikpak K5

The Sevylor Quikpak K5 is an excellent choice for recreational lake paddling thanks to its enclosed cockpit and storage capacity. It’s also lightweight and easy to transport, making it an excellent option for those who want to enjoy kayaking without worrying about their gear getting damaged.

This kayak model is lightweight and easy to carry, making it an excellent option for recreational lake paddling. Its cockpit is enclosed to keep less water from entering, which makes it resistant to punctures. There’s plenty of storage space inside the kayak, making it ideal for carrying all the gear you need on your adventure.

Sevylor Quikpak K5
Sevylor QuickPak K5 1-Person Inflatable Kayak, Kayak Folds Into...
418 Reviews
Sevylor QuickPak K5 1-Person Inflatable Kayak, Kayak Folds Into…
  • 5-minute setup lets you spend more time on the water
  • Easy-to-carry backpack system turns into the seat
  • 24-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use

Pelican River Gorge 130X Tandem Kayak

This kayak has a length of 10’ (305 cm) and a width of 30.5” (77.4 cm), making it ideal for navigating through rapids and around obstacles. It also has a total capacity of 325 lbs (147 kg), making it perfect for most anglers to bring along just the right amount of gear.

The seat on this kayak is adjustable and can be reclined to provide you with just the right amount of lower lumbar support. Plus, its rocker profile provides ideal stability while out on the water.

Another great feature of this kayak is its flat-bottomed multi-chine hull design that’s virtually made to deal with rough waters. And speaking of waters, this kayak can hold up to 50 lbs (22 kg) without issue – perfect if you’re looking for something lightweight to carry your equipment down steep banks or anywhere else around rivers without breaking a sweat!

Finally, this kayak is perfect for anglers of all ages and sizes – making it an excellent option for anyone who wants an affordable, reliable, and comfortable river kayak.

Pelican River Gorge 130X Tandem Kayak
Pelican – River Gorge 130X Tandem Kayak – Sit-on-Top – Recreational 2…
  • Upgraded Features: Additional storage in this tandem kayak includes quick lock hatch and a tank well equipped with bungee cords. It’s also equipped with molded footrests, two…
  • Stable: The twin-arched multi-chine hull offers excellent stability giving you a secure and steady ride. It also makes it incredibly easy to get in and out of the kayak.
  • Safe: Our unique manufacturing process allows us to include additional flotation inside the hull of all of our sit-on-tops in order to meet or surpass ABYC standards. Holds a…

Intex Challenger K2 Kayak

The Intex Challenger K2 is an excellent kayak for lakes and rivers thanks to its light and easy-to-carry design. With a weight capacity of up to 220 pounds, it can handle just about anything you might encounter while paddling around lakes and rivers. The semi-enclosed cockpit gets rather hot during the summer – when you’re most likely to use this kayak – but its vinyl construction keeps moisture away from your body even in wet weather conditions.

In addition to including a paddle, pump, and skeg, the Intex Challenger K2 also includes a front cargo net, making it perfect for storing items while you’re on the water. Another great feature of this kayak is that it comes with both an I-beam floor and scupper holes so that water doesn’t accumulate on the deck flooring over time (an issue with some other inexpensive kayaks). Finally, the Intex Challenger K2 is a breeze to dry, even if it gets wet in rain or snow.

Intex Challenger K2 Kayak
INTEX 68306EP Challenger K2 Inflatable Kayak Set: Includes Deluxe 86in…
  • ✔ SUPER-STRONG – SuperStrong enhanced molecular formulation PVC provides superior strength and durability, ensuring high impact and abrasion resistance
  • ✔ LOW PROFILE DESIGN – The Challenger K2 has a streamlined low-profile design that is perfect for easy paddling in lakes and mild rivers
  • ✔ COCKPIT SEATS – Built with removable and adjustable seats, the cockpit design is spacious and comfortable, providing plenty of room for your legs and gear

Old Town Dirigo 106

The Old Town Dirigo Tandem Plus is perfect for paddlers of all levels, with a generous cockpit and plenty of features to make your experience on the water enjoyable. Novice or beginner paddlers will appreciate the kayak’s lightweight design and easy setup.

You can bring everything you need on your excursion because the stern hatch is big enough to carry a medium-sized dry bag with your gear. The Old Town Dirigo Tandem Plus also comes equipped with durable spray skirts, integrated bungee cables for deck storage, and cup holders throughout the cockpit area.

Old Town Dirigo 106
Old Town Dirigo 106 Recreational Kayak, Lemongrass, 10 Feet 6 Inches
  • The shortest and most maneuverable of the Dirigo-series boats, the Dirigo 106 is perfect for beginners just getting started on the water or vets looking for a forgiving,…
  • Old Town’s Click Seal stern hatch offers enough storage for a medium-sized drybag full of gear.
  • A contoured Poly cushioned seat and Glide Track foot brace system create a comfortable, stable platform for all-day paddling.

Wilderness Systems Aspire 100

The Aspire 100 is an excellent choice for beginner and smaller paddlers alike, thanks to its hybrid design that offers protection from splashing water while also being able to drain any water that makes its way into the cockpit. It’s also comfortable to shoulder and easy to manage, with a weight of just 48 pounds.

You’re getting a 300-pound capacity, a large storage hatch, and bungee deck rigging with the Aspire 100, making it a great choice for those looking for an excellent starting point in their Kayaking journey.

Wilderness Systems Aspire 100
Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 | Sit Inside Recreational Kayak |…
  • Designed for the paddler who prefers agility over brawn
  • Sized perfectly to fit a female or small-framed paddler comfortably
  • Named “best for beginners” By men’s journal (4/13)

Eddyline Sandpiper Kayak

This kayak is built for flatwater lakes and has a spacious cockpit that can accommodate tall paddlers with plenty of space to stretch out. It also has adjustable foot braces and a height-adjustable backrest to ensure everyone feels comfortable while on the water.

Two dry storage hatches provide convenience and peace of mind when you’re out on the lake, and there’s bungee rigging onboard to keep your gear safe and secure.

The narrow hull design makes this kayak faster and easier to track in open water, making it perfect for novice paddlers who are looking to improve their skills fast. The Eddyline Sandpiper is lightweight and easy to transport, so you can take it anywhere you want without feeling weighed down or cramped inside.

Eddyline Sandpiper Kayak

Sun Dolphin Aruba 8 SS

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 8 SS is a lightweight, portable kayak that is easy to carry around. It has good handling and tracks well in calm conditions, making it an excellent choice for day trips. The affordable price tag also makes it a great value for your money. However, the lack of cushioning on the seat can make it uncomfortable over longer periods of time.

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 is an excellent all-around stable and comfortable kayak. It has plenty of room for storage, making it ideal for longer trips. The price tag is a bit higher than some of the other kayaks on this list, but it is still a good value for your money.

Sun Dolphin Aruba 8 SS
Sun Dolphin Aruba ss sit-in Kayak, 8-Feet, Yellow
  • Great for rivers and lakes
  • Adjustable padded seat back
  • Light weight design easy to carry

Riot Edge 13 LV Flatwater

The Riot Edge 13 LV Flatwater kayak features an adjustable seat, padded thigh braces, and a retractable skeg system. It also has storage options in the bow and stern, making it a versatile choice for any adventure.

The Riot Kayaks Edge 13 is an excellent choice for novice paddlers, thanks to its narrow design and low profile. It’s also a good choice for those looking for speed and tracking, as the stern skeg system improves the kayak’s performance in those areas. Additionally, the Edge 13 is a lightweight option, weighing in at only 55 pounds.

Riot Edge 13 LV Flatwater
Riot Kayaks Edge 13 Day Touring Kayak, Sky (White/Blue) (edge12.5-WB)
  • Self Rescue Safety Straps
  • Reflective Perimiter Deck Lines
  • Track-rite Skeg system

Nereus 2-3.7m Sit On Top Family 3-Person Kayak

The Nereus 2-3.7m Sit On Top Family 3-Person Kayak is one of the best kayaks for lakes and rivers, perfect for family outings. With a length of 3.7 meters and a width of 1.2 meters, it can accommodate up to three people comfortably. The kayak is made from high-density polyethylene, making it durable and able to withstand different weather conditions. It also has a spacious cockpit, making it easy for you to get in and out of the kayak.

With an impressive 250kg (550 pounds) carrying capacity, the Nereus 2-3.7m Sit On Top Family 3-Person Kayak is ideal for river adventures or all sorts of fun on lakes and ponds. The flush insert fishing rod holders mean you never have to worry about losing your rods again, while the 360° mounted fishing rod holder ensures that you can easily find your catch when out fishing in open water.

Whether you’re looking for an easygoing family kayaking trip or an adventure on larger bodies of water, the Nereus range has what you need to make memories to last a lifetime!

Nereus 2-3.7m Sit On Top Family 3-Person Kayak.

No products found.

AIR GLIDE 410 Kayak

The Air Glide 410 kayak is an excellent choice for lakes and rivers, thanks to its tandem and solo capabilities, lightweight, and advanced drop stitch fabric. This kayak is also easy to compact and transport, making it an excellent option for long lake expeditions or leisure cruising.

The Air Glide 410 is one of the best all-rounder kayaks on the lake, providing excellent performance without sacrificing convenience or versatility. The kayak’s side chambers and deck remain stiff, highly pressured, and abrasion-resistant thanks to the innovative drop stitch fabric.

The hydrodynamic V-shaped bow and stern make for a fast kayak that tracks effortlessly across the water, even in a steady wind. The Air Glide 410 is also easy to transport and compact, making it great for lake cruising or longer lake explorations.


Zephyr 155 Kayak

The Ride 115 is designed for rough water rapids and is a bit heavier than other boats but offers 500 lbs (227 kg) capacity, enough for all your camping, fishing, or hunting gear. It’s great for all skill levels with an impressive 500-pound weight limit and comes with an extra seat. The seat sits low to the deck and is moderately comfortable with decent back support. The Nereus 1 tandem kayak is ideal for carrying a lot of gear and is super wide and stable.

Zephyr 155 Kayak


This kayak features stability and accessibility, with the speed and glide of a sit-inside kayak. The weight capacity for this boat is 155kg (341 pounds), making it one of the most stable touring boats on the market.

With a competitive price tag, the Expedition 3 is also one of the most affordable options out there. The Expedition 3 is designed for expeditions– meaning you’ll be able to take your friends and family along on your paddle without any problems at all.


How to choose the best kayak

Step 1: Determine the type of kayaking you want to do

Before you can choose the best kayak for your needs, you need to determine the type of kayaking you want to do. There are many different types of kayaking, from leisurely paddling around a lake to whitewater kayaking down a river. Once you know what type of kayaking you’ll be doing, you can narrow down your choices and find the best kayak for you.

Step 2: Choose the right size kayak

When choosing the right kayak size, there are several factors to consider. These include the type of water you’ll be using it on, whether you’re paddling alone or with someone else, and your height and weight. The length of the kayak is also an important consideration, as a longer kayak will usually be more stable and easier to paddle than a shorter one.

Step 3: Consider the weight and capacity of the kayak

The third thing to consider when choosing the best kayak for lakes and rivers is the weight and capacity of the kayak. You want to make sure that the kayak you choose can accommodate your weight and the weight of any gear you plan on bringing with you. Most kayaks have a weight limit between 250 and 500 pounds. You also want to ensure that the kayak has enough storage space for your gear.

Step 4: Decide if you want a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak.

Now that you know what kind of kayaking you want, it’s time to decide if you want a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak. Sit-in kayaks are better for colder weather or longer trips because they have a cockpit that you can seal off from the elements. Sit-on-top kayaks are better for warmer weather and shorter trips because they don’t have a cockpit, and you can get in and out of them more easily.

Step 5: Choose the suitable material for your kayak

The material of your kayak is important for a few reasons. Firstly, it affects the durability and longevity of your kayak – you want something that will last a long time. Secondly, it affects the weight of your kayak – you want something that’s easy to carry and transport. And finally, it affects the price of your kayak – you want something affordable.

There are three main types of kayak material: plastic, fiberglass, and composite. Plastic kayaks are the most affordable but also the heaviest and least durable. Fiberglass kayaks are more expensive, but they’re lighter and more durable. Composite kayaks are the most expensive, but they’re also the lightest and most durable.

Step 6: Consider the kayak’s transportation and storage needs.

When choosing a kayak, it is essential to consider both transportation and storage needs. Many kayaks come with a storage area, but it is crucial to consider the boat’s weight capacity when making your purchase. For river fishing, kayaks need to be sturdy and have ample storage capacity. River fishing gear should always be secured to the kayak, even when tipping over.

Ensure your kayak has enough dry storage to store items inside while letting you store other gear outside. Keep things as close to the boat as possible when storing your kayak as possible to avoid potential problems. Avoid in-hull storage if possible, as it can be difficult to secure items, and the river can move quickly. Opt for horizontal rod storage if space permits on small rivers.


What are kayaks?

Kayaks are small, narrow boats that are propelled by paddles. They are traditionally used for fishing and transportation in coastal areas, but modern kayaks can also be used for recreational purposes.

What are the different types of kayaks?

1. Recreational kayaks are the most common type used on rivers and lakes. They are shorter and wider than touring kayaks, making them more stable and easier to maneuver.

2. Touring kayaks are meant for longer trips and have more control, speed, and efficiency than recreational kayaks. They come in a variety of designs, perfect for different users.

3. Whitewater kayaking is a high-risk sport that requires professional training. Sit-on-top kayaks are great for casual riders and have easy entry and exit.

What are the best kayaks for fishing?

Kayaks explicitly designed for fishing offer a stable platform and easy access to storage, making them ideal for anglers. The wide, flat deck of the Topwater 120 makes it especially well-suited for river fishing, while the comfortable seat and ample storage make it an excellent choice for kayak anglers of all levels.

The Basscreek 100X Angler is another excellent option for those looking for a reasonably priced kayak that is still packed with features like rod storage and flush mount rod holders. And finally, the Pelican Basscreek 100X Angler is a sit-on-top kayak designed with fishing in mind, featuring a flat-bottom hull that ensures stability and plenty of included storage.

What are the best kayaks for beginners?

The Wilderness Systems Aspire 105, and L.L.Bean Manatee Kayak is both excellent choices for beginners due to their versatile designs, roomy spaces, and stable performance. The Targa 100 is also an excellent choice for flatwater usage due to its stable performance and durable build quality.

What material is used in the manufacturing of kayaks?

Many different materials can be used in the manufacturing of kayaks. Some kayaks are made from plastic, while others are made from fiberglass or even aluminum. Each type of material has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Plastic kayaks are usually the most affordable option. They are also lightweight and easy to transport. However, plastic kayaks are not as durable as kayaks made from other materials. Aluminum kayaks are the most expensive option, but they are the most durable and offer the best performance. Fiberglass kayaks are more expensive than plastic kayaks but are also more durable.