TOP 10 Best Lake Kayaks Reviewed 2020 For Your Wild Adventures
Of all the forms that kayaking can take, arguably the most enjoyable and stress-free activity is done on a lake.
Without the challenge of whitewater, waves or strong currents, kayaking on flat water is a more leisurely experience that is ideal for beginner paddlers.
You’re free to take in the sights, enjoy the beautiful nature and crack open a cold one in tranquil surroundings – far from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
For outdoor enthusiasts – this is the very definition of perfect bliss.
But if you’re going to leave the world behind on the water – you’ll need a craft that is up to the task.
So, I’ve compiled this handy guide to the best lake kayaks in 2020 – with a buyer’s guide and FAQ section to assist you in making the right choice.
We’ll get you paddling in no time!
- TOP 10 Best Lake Kayaks 2020
- Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
- Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
- Perception Sound Sit Inside Kayak
- Sundolphin Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Sit-in Kayak
- Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak
- Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Angler Kayak
- Sea Eagle Razorlite 393rl Inflatable Kayak
- Riot Kayaks Edge 13 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak
- Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125 Kayak
- Riot Kayaks Brittany 16.5 Flatwater Touring Kayak
- Buyer’s Guide on How to Choose the Best Lake Kayak
TOP 10 Best Lake Kayaks 2020
Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
Review: First up is this inflatable kayak from Sevylor. It has a five-minute set up which is really awesome if you want to get right out onto the water.
Its rugged PVC construction is ideal for lake use, while its underside tarpaulin protects against punctures and tears.
Even if you do manage to poke a hole in the side, the dual air chambers will ensure you can make it safely back to shore. It’s guaranteed not to leak and comes with its own backpack for ease of transportation.
It will hold up to 400lbs as it max capacity weight and comes with paddle and high-pressure hand pump. The value is simply outstanding.
- Fantastic price.
- Amazing portability.
- Everything you need is included.
- Not as durable as other models.
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
Review: Made from durable and UV-protected high-density polyethylene, this angler’s kayak by Lifetime has a weight capacity of 275lbs, has a flat bottom for great stability in the water and a sharp bow for improved speed and tracking.
A built-in skeg improves your ability to paddle straight, while it comes with all the mod-cons for aiding your angling endeavors.
It has two top mounted fishing pole holders, two flush mounted holders, two 6-inch storage compartments in the stern and in the center, front and rear bungee cords for extra gear and adjustable padded seat rest.
For the price and the features, this has a chance at being the best kayak for lake fishing out there.
- Packed with features.
- Great price.
- Quality, solid construction.
- Not ideal for more advanced users.
Perception Sound Sit Inside Kayak
Review: Based out of South Carolina, Perception creates USA-made kayaks of the highest quality.
The Sound is a sit-in model that is ideal for a variety of uses but excels on lakes and non-whitewater rivers. It has a tri-keel hull to improve stability, adjustable back and footrest to accommodate people of all shapes and sizes and a large open storage area to the stern.
Two fishing pole holders are also molded in – just in case you fancy using this model to catch your dinner.
There’s a handy dashboard for storing useful and essential items, while built-in front and rear carrying handles make locking and transportation easy.
For casual, quiet-water paddlers – you can’t go wrong with this.
- Quality manufacturer you can trust.
- Great price.
- It’s not built for speed or traveling any sort of real distance.
Sundolphin Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Sit-in Kayak
Review: This lightweight offering from Sun Dolphin is another really solid lake kayak that’s perfect for those just starting out or even a little more experienced.
It is constructed from rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex high-density polyethylene, with detachable storage, front and rear bungee cord webbing and two, flush-mounted fishing pole holders.
The sit-in cockpit style means you’re more protected from the elements when you’re out on the lake, while its small design is ideal for enjoying still, glassy waters at leisure – although it still tracks very well.
- Quality make and construction
- Simple, practical design.
- Not ideal for longer trips.
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak
Review: Arguably one of the finest makers of inflatable kayaks out there, Advanced Elements have done it again with this bold, solidly constructed model.
It has an aluminum rib frame for durability and advanced performance over other inflatables – which significantly improves the kayak’s tracking. The maximum weight capacity is 300lbs while it weighs just 36lbs.
It has multiple air chambers in the unlikely event that you puncture one – considering its tough, rugged and durable PVC tarpaulin outer layer. It all packs down into a convenient carry bag for ease of transportation.
- Highly portable.
- Durable construction.
- Easy to inflate.
- Limited storage.
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Angler Kayak
Review: Another premier kayak company based out of the USA, Wilderness Systems enter the fray with this sit-on-top model that has been marketed as a fishing kayak, but in reality, could be used for just about anything.
You can customize the set up with its SlideTrax accessory system, while there are plenty of storage options onboard with midship and bow hatches for your gear or your catch.
A webbed storage section to the stern will hold larger items such as a dry bag or cooler, and the maximum capacity is 325lbs.
- Highly adaptable and versatile.
- Smart but sturdy design.
- Choice of funky colors.
- Not built for speed.
Sea Eagle Razorlite 393rl Inflatable Kayak
Review: This inflatable model from Sea Eagle offers an astounding 500lbs maximum weight capacity – while itself weighing just 35lbs. It’s made from 1000 denier, reinforced PVC with the look and feel of a hard shell.
The rigid bow and stern ensure that it tracks exceptionally well – which they claim you can reach speeds of up to six miles per hour. It inflates in seven minutes and includes a high-pressure pump and repair kit.
Adjustable leg and backrest complete the package – which can fold down into its own backpack for transport.
- Lightweight and portable.
- Solid construction.
- Excellent tracking.
- Expensive for an inflatable.
Riot Kayaks Edge 13 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak
Review: Riot Kayaks also produce high-end equipment and gear for the kayaking world, and this Edge model is no exception.
Featuring a low deck profile on the water and retractable skeg for improved tracking, this sit-in cockpit design with adjustable seating is ideal for spending longer out on the water.
With large stern and bow storage hatches, a fishing pole holder, reflective lifelines and integrated thigh braces, this kayak is packed with features that are perfect for those interested in overnight tours.
- Beautiful design.
- Versatile touring kayak.
- Good storage options.
- Choice of colors would have been nice.
Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125 Kayak
Review: Another entry from Wilderness Systems sees this Tsunami model touring kayak, pitched at more serious paddlers who want to remain out on the water as long as possible.
It features removable mesh storage bags close to the cockpit – which itself contains a super-comfortable, adjustable seating system.
It also has stern and bow storage compartments and an under deck water bottle holder. The weight capacity is 300lbs and it’s targeted at medium to large paddlers, meaning it’s ideal if you struggle to fit comfortably in smaller models.
- Loads of storage options.
- Super-comfortable seating system.
Riot Kayaks Brittany 16.5 Flatwater Touring Kayak
Review: Closing out my review is another Riot kayak – this time the Brittany touring model. This stunning model comes with a skeg and rudder – ensuring you have excellent tracking and speed when it comes to going where you want to go.
There are three, dual density storage hatches, deck bungee cord webbing, lifelines, and safety straps. Its 16.5-foot length enables you to glide through the water with ease – and at pace.
Bear in mind though – this is for those paddlers who are a little more experienced as you need to know what you’re doing in this baby.
- Hybrid lake/ocean kayak.
- Beautiful, striking design.
- Loads of storage.
- Excellent speed and tracking.
- Not for the beginner.
Buyer’s Guide on How to Choose the Best Lake Kayak
With many kayaks, there can be misnomers – or incorrect or confusing terminology.
Below you’ll find some helpful advice on choosing a lake kayak, including a handy FAQ section that covers all the burning questions.
Here’s what you should be looking out for.
Kayaks come in two, very distinct styles.
These kayaks are kayaks with a cockpit that will surround the pilot – usually above the waist.
These kayaks are exactly that – you’re on top of the kayak with your legs exposed.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but for the purpose of this article, lake kayaks can be either style – depending on what you’re generally going to be using it for.
See below for a more thorough explanation of a lake kayak – and what style you should be considered as a result.
Single or Tandem?
Another thing you’ll notice when choosing a kayak for any purpose – is how many people it can accommodate.
If you’re traveling solo, a single-seater is all you’re going to need.
But if you’re adventuring with a friend or loved one – it is entirely your personal preference.
Two singles, or one double?
Usually, it comes down to budget and how well you both get on!
Room and Storage
Kayaks that are best suited to exploring lakes and rivers usually have more storage options than other kayaks. This is so you can pack all you need for your tour – including food and camping essentials.
You’ll also find the cockpits tend to be wider and more comfortable – certainly than sea/ocean kayaks – as you’ll want the luxury of leaning back and enjoying the scenery – not paddling furiously all the time.
The vast difference between an expert and amateur paddlers is worth noting when choosing a new kayak.
If you’re new to the pastime and you just want to (literally) dip your toe in the water – then splashing all your cash on a top-of-the-range product you know little about isn’t a clever option.
This is why I included the budget-friendly inflatable kayak at the top of the review. Opting for something like that to test things out is a much more sensible idea.
To Fish or Not to Fish?
It’s a simple question – are you going to be using your kayak for lake fishing?
If the answer is ‘yes’ – then it might be a good idea to consider a craft that is built for that purpose.
Fishing kayaks tend to be sit-on-top versions with a wider hull for more stability. You have more room to cast and are less likely to tip the boat when you’ve caught a whopper.
They also have lots of storage options for your fishing gear and whatever you catch, as well as having pole holders and rests built-in.
You can still fish from kayaks not specifically designed for the sport (and some touring kayaks have fishing features included) but make your choice depending on what you’re going to be using it for the most.
What is Lake Kayak?
“Lake” kayaks are often more commonly referred to as “touring” kayaks.
They tend to be longer, with a sharper, more well-defined keel. This ensures efficient tracking as you glide across the water.
Which is excellent if you’re on a lake – as you’re likely not going to be making any tight turns regularly.
Kayaks with good tracking are not the easiest to turn – but are ideal for covering great distances – such as when exploring lakes or wide rivers.
Generally speaking, you’ll find that sit-in kayaks make for ideal lake use. They have better tracking than their sit-on-top counterparts.
They also have better storage options – which is perfect if you’re going out for more than a day.
How Stable is a Lake Kayak?
Lake kayaking is very appealing to the beginner because by and large, you’ll be enjoying the pastime in calmer conditions.
As a result, you’ll find that most kayaks built for lake use are considerably more stable than say, whitewater or ocean kayaks.
This is especially true when it comes to the angling models – which are constructed with landing a fat fish in mind.
Lake Kayak vs. Ocean Kayak
It is perhaps easier to start with an ocean kayak.
Ocean or sea kayaks are designed for open water paddling. They are built to sit lower in the water to counteract crosswinds.
They have small, often enclosed cockpits to minimize water intake.
They’re also considerably longer than lake kayaks. The great length of a sea kayak significantly improves tracking and performance in open water.
An ocean kayak will nearly always have a rudder system and/or skeg included to assist in negotiating both wind and wave.
Lake kayaks, on the other hand, tend to be shorter and wider than ocean versions. This is due to the necessity to have increased maneuverability down lakes and around inlets.
You can use a sea/ocean kayak on a lake – but I wouldn’t recommend using a lake kayak on open water – unless it is built to do so.
Safety first, people. As ever – make sure you know what you’re using the kayak for before making your choice.
Lake Kayak vs. River Kayak
Lake kayaks can easily be used as river kayaks – so long as the conditions are favorable.
In other words – wider rivers with still waters.
The main difference between real river kayaks and lake kayaks is reserved for when whitewater comes into play.
If you’re cruising in calm conditions where the water is more like a glassy millpond, regardless if it’s on rivers or lakes, then you’ll need a kayak with a long keel and good tracking to keep your craft going straight as effortlessly as possible.
The second you hit whitewater, however, all that is going to be useless.
Whitewater kayaks don’t have a keel. They don’t track in a straight line, which means they are much more maneuverable and can turn on a dime.
They’re smaller, stubbier vessels that are an extension of the pilot. As someone once said, you don’t sit in the craft – you wear it.
So, in short, river and lake kayaks are one and the same for widebodies of calm water.
The difference arises when whitewater is taken into consideration.
You would never use a whitewater kayak on a lake.
And you’d never use a lake kayak on whitewater.
Well, you could – but you’re potentially going to look very foolish or do yourself an injury.
I’m Still Confused!
Look, there’s no hard and fast rule here – you can pretty much use any kayak on a lake and you’ll have a perfectly fine user experience.
But it can be pretty confusing when it comes to the different types of kayak and all their uses.
Again, just focus on what you’re primarily going to be using the thing for – and work from there.
Don’t stress about it – this is meant to be a relaxing hobby after all!
The best lake kayaks are those that have a long keel, provide excellent tracking and offer decent storage.
That’s it in a nutshell.
But that doesn’t mean to say you can’t use other kayaks on the lake and still get enjoyment out of it.
Let me know your thoughts on lake kayaks in the comments – especially if you think I’ve missed anything off, which – considering the wealth of information out there – I might well have done.
In the meantime, happy kayaking!