Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker looking to ease your kids into the world of whitewater or you’ve joined the uni kayaking club and require a decent beginner boat that’ll handle some choppy rivers, choosing the best kayak for your requirements isn’t as easy as it first seems.
There's where we come in.
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How to choose the best kayak
The saying ‘you don’t sit in a kayak, you wear it’, is something you must keep in mind if you’re planning to purchase a boat for your first uni booze up/kayaking trip. Remember you’re attached via a spray deck, so buying a boat that you can easily pop out of if you capsize, or roll back up in if that’s something you’ve mastered, is something to consider.
Alternatively, kayaks are a great purchase for family excursions and exploring holidays. These types of kayaks don’t require a spray deck, as the chances are you’re gonna be cruising down quiet rivers or doing some gentle exploring of the caves around a sheltered bay.
You’ll find that junior kayaks will have a wide, sturdy base, while beginner white water kayaks will combine a relatively wide bottom with a narrow front and back for carving through rapids.
A narrow kayak will probably fair better for speedy explorations, while inflatable ones are better suited to relaxing river rides or sea cruising.
So, to ensure that you purchase the best kayak for your requirements, we’ve pulled together a range of boats designed for different river conditions and purposes. Find out more by reading on below.
The 6 best kayaks
The notion of rolling is a daunting one for any beginner, so purchasing a kayak with a large cockpit is a good way to go. It means if you capsize, you can pop your deck and climb out easily. Longer and more sturdier than some kayaks, this one should be fine for conditions ranging from gentle seas to grade 3 rivers; anything more fierce and control could become too difficult. Reviewers love the sturdiness of the kayak and appreciate the additional storage section, which makes it a great one for relaxing exploring holidays too.
Understandably, if you and your partner are a seasoned kayakers, you’ll want the kids to start early, that way they’ll be racing down grade 3 rivers by the time they’re 10 (you wish). Anyway, the wide base of this kayak gives it a great level sturdiness on flat or mildly foamy rivers, while zero cockpit means your child won’t be stuck if they happen to capsize. With the means to store dry bags or paddle leashes, this is certainly one to go for if the family holiday is looming.
This kayak is all about comfort when you’re cruising on the couples holiday, thanks to the adjustable inflated seats and large cockpit. It’s sturdy yet narrowed shape keeps it stable yet streamlined, making it easy to power through mill ponds or slightly choppy waves. Alternatively, it’s great for paddling flat to ripply rivers. Supplied with oars, a pump and a puncture repair kit, you’ll have everything you need for some stress-free exploring.
Unlike the inflatable 2 seater above, there’s no way you’re going to squeeze this one in the back of the car. However, if you’re unsure about the water levels, you can still head down the river with this one without the worry of busting a hole in the bottom. There’s a seat at the front and the back; alternatively, you can switch up the seating position to 1 middle seat if you’re heading out on your own. There’s bags of room in this kayak, so much so that GoSea say there’s space for a small additional passenger - child or animal- or room for some luggage if you’re planning on finding a nice spot on the river bank for a pitstop.
Built for fishing, this boat boasts great stability and minimal draught, which means you can creep up on a shoal of fish without announcing your arrival. Once you’re in a good spot, you can retrieve your fishing gear from the front and rear compartments and set your pole up in the designated holder. You can prime this boat for the great outdoors further, with a range of accessories including a compass, GPS and signalling lights - just bear in mind that it all comes at an extra cost.
If you love an exploring holiday and require a decent boat to get you around, this one is a good buy. It’s narrow, which means it should glide through the water and cover good ground with each stroke. You can attach yourself to this kayak with a spray deck, which is good if you’re looking to cover some mild white water. You can store any essentials in the rear of the kayak, while a large cockpit means you should be able to hop in and out of the boat as and when there’s something worth exploring on the river bank.