How to Choose The Best Lake Kayaks

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One of the most enjoyable ways to spend a summer day is kayaking on a lake with flat water. The nice thing about paddling on lakes is that it's accessible to paddlers of all levels of experience. Getting one of the best kayaks for lakes will inspire you to spend as many days on the water as possible this summer, regardless of whether you're an experienced paddler or new to the sport.

Before going out to buy a new kayak, you should be aware of the many distinct types available, each of which is designed for a certain use. This top ten list of the best kayaks for lakes is meant to save you some time in your search.

While paddling a kayak, you have the option of visiting picturesque campsites along the edge of a lake, exploring a tranquil estuary, taking in sights that are impossible to see from the shore, or just having fun in the water with the family.

Kayaks may be used in a variety of ways, and there are several boat models to choose from. So, how can you determine which kayak is right for you?
Choosing a kayak comes down to many factors, the most important of which are:

  • Where do you want to paddle? Is it a lake, the seashore, or a river? This will assist you in narrowing down your options.
  • Sit-in or sit-on-top? Which do you prefer: conventional sit-in protection or the openness of a sit-on-top? If one of these options appeals to you, that is OK as well.
  • Kayak weight and your budget: Weight and durability of your boat are mostly determined by materials, which directly affect the boat's price. 
  • Shape and size considerations: These have an impact on handling and luggage space.

Where Would You Like to Paddle Your Kayak?

Start by thinking about the sort of environment you want to explore before deciding on the type of boat you'll need.

  • Lakes: This isn't Lake Superior; we're referring to a nearby lake. Sit-on-top and recreational sit-in boats are great options if the weather is good and the destination is close. It is possible for a recreational boat to be overpowered if whitecaps are present.
  • Coasts: Wind, waves, currents, tides, and more all play a role here. That's why a sit-in touring boat with either a rudder, fixed tracking fin, or drop-down fin is a good idea. A sit-on-top kayak can still be a good option if you live in a warm climate and don't mind getting wet, or if you want to perform some kayak surfing.
  • Rivers: Whitewater kayaks are beyond of the scope of this article, which focuses on whitewater rafting. On a river, you're looking for a boat that is both stable and quick-turning. Short, stable recreational sit-in or sit-on-top boats or kayaks may be appropriate for this kind of trip.
  • Rivers and lakes: Short recreational sit-in or sit-on-top kayaks are ideal if you want to use your boat in both flowing and quiet waters. Skegs are common on these types of boats. When the skeg is up, you'll be able to turn quickly and easily, and when it's down, you'll be able to track more effectively. Short boats with rudders are also an option, although rudders are more often seen on larger vessels.

Types of Kayaks

For example, kayaks can be defined by how they're sat in, how they're used, their construction, and if they were intended for a certain usage.

Sit-on-top Vs. Traditional Sit-in Kayaks

Sit-on-tops are typically used as recreational boats on lakes and slow-moving rivers. Some of the longer sit-on-tops have adequate space for an overnight excursion in warm coastal waters. You're a sit-on-topper if you don't want to learn how to do a "wet escape" in the event of a capsize. If you're still undecided, consider these possibilities:

  • Sit-on-tops are simple to get on (even in deep water) and off of, making them ideal for recreational purposes such as playing about near a lakeside cottage or as a kids' boat or swimming platform.

  • They're pleasant when the air and water are both warm (you'll always get wet).

  • Scupper holes allow them to self-drain, eliminating the need to pump away water.

  • They have various deck storage locations as well as some cargo room that is difficult to reach (inside the hollow hull).

  • They tend to be heavier than sit-in kayaks of the same kind.
  • Some sit-on-tops offer rod holders or the ability to install them for individuals who like fishing.

The Best Lake Kayaks - Reviews

1. Oru Kayak Haven Folding


  • LENGTH: 16’
  • WEIGHT: 40 pounds
  • STYLE: Hybrid - Folding
  • WIDTH: 31”

    • Origami Design (Such that it is portable and easy to set up)
    • Retractable Cockpit (Can be configured for 1 / 2 paddlers)
    • Foldable (For easy transportation and storage)
    • Interior Tracking System (For a lot of points to keep your gear and accessories safe)


    For the first time, a foldable, packable lake kayak has been developed by Oru Kayak. You can fit two people in this hybrid kayak, and it folds up to only 33 x 30 x 15 inches when you're done paddling. It's possible to change the inside of this kayak to make it easier to paddle alone if you're flying solo for the day. To get ready for a paddle, the Oru's origami design makes it a cinch to put everything in place, and the kayak's interior has been designed to provide you lots of spaces to store your gear and accessories.

    2. Emotion Kayaks Spitfire 9


  • LENGTH: 9’
  • WEIGHT: 45 pounds
  • STYLE: Sit-On-Top
  • WIDTH: 31"

    • Paddle Attachments (To place your paddle when you're ready to rest)
    • Fold-Down Seat Back (For ease of installation)
    • Center Hatch (To keep things safe)
    • Bow and Stern Webbing (In order to secure extra equipment)


    Emotion Kayaks' Spitfire is a small kayak with a lot of characteristics that make it simple to paddle. One of the lightest kayaks on our list, this one is easy to carry. When it's not in use, its nine-foot length makes it easy to store. When you're ready to paddle, the kayak's fold-down seat back can be put up in a matter of seconds, and the centrally situated hatch provides a safe storage space for your stuff while you paddle.

    3. Wilderness Systems Aspire 105


  • LENGTH: 10’6”
  • WEIGHT: 48 pounds
  • STYLE: Hybrid
  • WIDTH: 29”

    • Complicated Design (For improved splashing protection)
    • The Bottom Is Shallow (For increased maneuverability)
    • Closed-Off Rear Storage Compartment (For the purpose of secure, drier storage)
    • Drain Holes (To keep the inside dry)


    It's an excellent choice for paddlers of medium to big size who want to get into kayaking. In addition to protecting you from splashing water, the cockpit is designed to drain any water that does manage to get inside. The narrow bottom of the kayak makes it easy to navigate around any unforeseen obstructions you may encounter out on the lake, while the sealed rear storage hatch provides enough of dry storage for additional layers or lunch supplies. For a more comfortable ride, this kayak has an adjustable back strap that lets you increase or reduce the seat back height.

    4. Hobie Mirage Passport 

    • LENGTH: 12’
    • WEIGHT: 65 pounds
    • PADDLERS: 1
    • STYLE: Sit-On-Top
    • WIDTH: 34”
    • Pedal Propulsion System (To allow hands-free paddling)
    • Spacious Cockpit (To allow for the use of paddlers of various sizes)
    • Mesh Seat and Seat Back (For breath-ability and comfort)
    • Cargo Spaces in the Front and Rear (Includes webbing to keep things secure)


    The Hobie Mirage Passport Kayak is an excellent option if you want the flexibility of paddling with either your arms or your legs. Allows you to set down your paddle and propel yourself along the water's surface with a built-in pedal mechanism. As long as you don't mind having your hands free when kayaking, you can use a traditional kayak paddle in conjunction with the pedal system. Storage space is plentiful in the kayak's hull and the cockpit is intended to suit paddlers of all shapes and sizes.

    Before Purchasing a Kayak for Lakes, Here's What You Need to Know


    In order to narrow down your options, you'll want to know the differences between sit-on-top and sit-inside kayaks before making your final decision. Our first step will be to show you how they stack up against one another.


    Sit-on-top kayaks are the most common kind of kayak available for hire from lakeside businesses. With this style, getting in and out of them is a big plus. Beginners will also find it simple to balance and paddle with these boards. However, sit-on-top kayaks don't provide the same level of protection from the elements as sit-inside kayaks, and they also tend to have a smaller storage capacity.


    In addition to being simple to begin in, sit-inside kayaks are the greatest choice for paddlers who want to use them on lakes with varying conditions. Sitting inside a kayak may be preferable if your nearest lake may change from calm, smooth water to wavy and windy in only a few hours.

    Spray skirts are suitable with sit-inside kayaks, allowing you to entirely shield the cockpit from the elements while paddling. The biggest downside of sit-in kayaks is that they are more difficult to right and get back into if you capsize on a very stormy day.


    Sit-on-top kayaks like this one fall somewhere in the midway between sit-inside and sit-on-top kayaks. These kayaks are simple to get in and out of, but they also provide additional protection from water spilling over the kayak's sides. Depending on the design, certain spray skirts may be used with the product.


    The most important factor in determining the size of a kayak is how many people you want to fit in it. If you want to go kayaking with a friend, we recommend checking out one of the tandem kayaks listed above (Oru Kayak Haven, Wilderness Systems Tarpon 135T, Perception Tribe 13.5).

    When kayaking alone, you should keep in mind that longer kayaks allow you to cover greater distance in a shorter amount of time. You'll be able to go past obstructions more easily if you use a kayak that is shorter. Single kayakers who desire the fastest feasible trip times may consider getting a longer, narrower kayak.


    Weighing a kayak is significant since you may have to pull or carry it from its storage site to the water's edge. You don't want a kayak that's too hefty unless you can keep it tethered to a dock for the most of the year. A kayak that is too heavy to transport from the shore to the water should be avoided. It would be a pity if you damaged yourself before you could even get into your kayak and start paddling because you overexerted yourself.


    Weight capacity is a basic concern, but it's critical to your ability to control your kayak while out on the water. If you want to learn how to paddle in a variety of conditions, it will be much simpler to master the proper skills in a kayak that is specifically constructed to accommodate your body type.

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