Lake Kayaks: What to look for and our top 5 picks
You don’t always have to be a dare devil. Sometimes you just want to kick back in your kayak and enjoy the scenery…or a cold one.
There are plenty of kayaks on the market for just about any activity. You can find one perfect for zipping through whitewater rapids or navigating the ocean coast.
Possibly, one of the most enjoyable and relaxing kayaking you’ll do is cruising around a lake. We will help you figure out what types of vessels is best for a lake as well as give you a few of our top picks.
Lake kayaking is quite popular for many reasons. It might be that you have a lake house and just want a good afternoon boat to relax on.
Maybe you enjoy a good camping trip and want to know which kayak is best to throw on the car or even on your back to get to the lake.
And a few of you might even bee looking to push the limits of your strength and endurance by speeding across long distances of smooth glasslike water.
Lake kayaks tend to be longer and sometimes narrower than other types of kayaks. Shorter kayaks are usually for bursting through rapids on quick rivers and wider boats are often more buoyant on choppy water. Some people might still want a bit of a wider boat for a lake for a number of reasons including fishing.
A few types of boats that are great for a day of lake paddling
Sit On Top
Sit on top kayaks are just as described. You are not inside of the cockpit, but rather sitting on top and exposed. These ca be great for either relaxing or fishing. They are also wonderful for beginners or those that feel Closter phobic inside of a traditional styled kayak.
They are typically wide and very buoyant so it is hard to tip over. Sit on top kayaks sometimes come equipped with cup holders, rod holders, and storage areas. One thing to consider with a sit on top is your exposure to the elements. It may not be the best for cold water lakes.
Touring kayaks are long and narrow. They are great for covering long distances quickly. In addition to being fast, they hold a straight line wonderfully.
This type of boat should be considered if you are trying to reach a certain destination across the lake or just want to challenge yourself on distance and speed.
Now this isn’t your little toy dingy that you played with at the lake as a child. These are advanced pieces of kayaking technology.
They are durable, comfortable and most importantly, portable. Inflatable kayaks are great for taking trips to the lake in a smaller car or even for carrying through the woods on your back.
The Classic Canoe
I thought this article is about kayaks! Yes, it is, but its all paddling right? A traditional canoe shouldn’t be overlooked. There’s a reason that it has been used in some form by tons of cultures, both ancient and modern, on lakes all over the world. They are large, durable and have plenty of storage for food or camping / fishing gear.
What are you typically doing on the lake?
Before we take a look at our top picks for lake kayaks, we need to decide what you are using this boat for. Here are a few questions to ask yourself?
How will you transport the kayak? All but the inflatable kayak will require a larger vehicle such as a truck or SUV and possibly a “rack” of some kind to transport your boat to and from the lake. If this is a kayak that you plan on leaving at the lake, then you can move right along.
Are you an experienced paddler? While you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy a day on the lake, it is helpful to know how comfortable you are in a kayak.
Narrow, sit in kayaks, such as the touring style, can be a bit more “tipsy” which can make some beginner feel uncomfortable. It is recommended that you find a rental to test the waters before purchasing.
Will you be fishing? Plain and simple, sit o top kayaks are the best for fishing. That’s not to say that you cannot reel in a good one from a traditional sit in, but the advantages of a sit in are overwhelming.
First and foremost is the leg room and buoyancy. You can move around and cast far without feeling like you will tip. Some are even buoyant enough to stand up in. Other benefits for lake fishing include storage and the ability to add rod holders.
Are you planning a leisure paddle or a mad dash? If you have a destination in mind that is quite a long haul then you might want to consider a boat that is lean ad quick.
Touring kayaks are long, narrow sit in style boats that are great for a quick smooth paddling trip. They cut through lake water with ease and hold a solid line.
How much gear are you packing? Maybe you need to take a little fishing or camping gear…maybe its just a little afternoon lunch…or maybe its a whole cooler of beer.
Touring kayaks, being a sit in do not typically have very much storage. Some models will have some interior storage which is a huge upsell. Otherwise, open style boats such as sit on top, inflatable or canoe are the best fit for large loads.
The 5 Best Lake Kayaks
Riot Kayaks Brittany 16.5 Flatwater Touring Kayak with Skeg and Rudder
This is a wonderful all around kayak for still water lakes. It is a narrow sit in touring kayak with a ton of features.
- Interior storage for a full day’s worth of gear
- Exterior storage straps
- Rudder system for even better handling in windy conditions
- Long, sleek hull at 16.5 feet means that you glide through the water with ease
- Length means that it is very hard to transport without a trailer
WILDERNESS SYSTEMS Tarpon 100 Kayak
This is a classic sit on top kayak that is great for beginners, fisherman or lazy lake loafers.
- Interior Dry Storage
- Huge exterior storage for a cooler or gear box
- Wide and comfortable hull
- Slow and bulky
- Some users says that scupper holes are poorly placed for drainage
Advanced Elements AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
This inflatable kayak steers away from the traditional open style of other inflatables but has a ton of features to support.
- Advanced Elements is a quality, trusted brand
- 2 seats means that only one boat needs to be unpacked for two people
- At only 25 lbs, this boat can be carried into the woods to the lake shore by only one person
- Tough, puncture resistant material
- Very little gear storage
- May not hold a great line in windy conditions
Ocean Kayak 16-Feet x 4.5-Inch Zest Two Expedition Tandem Sit-On-Top Touring Kayak
Don’t let the brand name, Ocean Kayak, fool you. This vessel is great for still water lakes, combining the best of two worlds: Sit on top and touring style.
- Two seats so you can go tandem
- Long and narrow for quick, easy paddling
- Great exterior storage for all your gear
- Large size means that it is hard to transport and store
Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 12-Foot Sit-in Kayak
This kayak is a great all around vessel at a very reasonable price.
- Sit in, but with a very open cockpit making it comfortable with no skirt as well
- Great storage including a portable storage container
- Small enough to transport but long enough to move nicely through still water
- Not great for long distances
- Doesn’t hold a great line in windy conditions
Lakes are a great place for a paddle. Resting fog on still, glass like water is any kayakers dream. Take the time to choose your boat wisely so you can enjoy the scenery.