Best Kayaks of 2021

KayakKayak TypeWeight CapacityAverage Price
Best Recreational KayakOru Beach LTFolding kayak300 lbs$1,199.00Shop Now
Best Fishing KayakOld Town Topwater 120Sit-on-top Fishing475 lbs$1,649.00Shop Now
Best Beginner KayakOru InletFolding kayak275 lbs$899.00Shop Now
Best Youth KayakLifetime Wave YouthSit-on-top130 lbs$150.00Shop Now

So, you’re looking to buy a kayak. Of course, you are! Kayaks are a great way to enjoy nature, get a little exercise, and even spend some quality time with family and friends on the weekends.

But how do you know which kayak to buy? It can be a little tricky to know which kayak type or brand is worth your investment. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! I’ve done a tone of research (both online and in the water) to help you figure out which kayaks you should consider. Let’s take a look at the best kayaks this coming year has to offer.

Best Kayaks of 2021

Best Recreational Kayaks of 2021

  1. Oru Beach LT Kayak
  2. Sun Dolphin Aruba 10
  3. Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5
  4. Old Town Vapor 10
  5. Perception Swifty Deluxe 9.5

Best Fishing Kayaks of 2021

  1. Old Town Topwater 120
  2. Bonafide Kayaks SS127
  3. Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
  4. Vibe Shearwater 125
  5. NuCanoe Frontier 12

Best Kayaks for Beginners of 2021

  1. Oru Inlet Kayak
  2. Dagger Zydeco 9
  3. Intex Explorer K2
  4. Eddyline Sky 10
  5. Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak

Best Youth Kayak of 2021

  1. Lifetime Youth Wave (4-8 years)
  2. Sun Dolphin Aruba SS (8-12 years)
  3. Old Town Heron Junior (8-12 years)
  4. Pelican Summit 100x (12+ years)
  5. Malibu Mini X (12+ years)

Best Recreational Kayaks for 2021

1. Oru Beach LT Kayak

Oru Kayak was started to make the outdoors more accessible—and the Beach LT accomplishes that goal. Its fully-foldable nature makes it so easy to transport and, once you get the hang of it, set up time only takes about 5 minutes! Check out the deets:

Oru Beach LT info:

  • Weight: 26 pounds
  • Length: 12 feet Width: 28″
  • Cockpit: 25″ by 48″
  • Storage: 140 liters
  • Max paddler height: 6’6″
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds
  • Kayak box: 33″ by 12″ by 29″
  • Set-up time: 5 to 10 minutes

This kayak is perfect for beginners and recreation, but doesn’t compromise speed and agility, and is best for day trips on smooth bodies of water.

What do Oru Kayak customers have to say?

Oru Kayak Reviews

oru kayak reviews
Oru Kayak reviews

Fun fact: I own this kayak and absolutely love it. It fits perfectly in the trunk of my Toyota RAV4 and offers more than enough room for me and my dog (and sometimes my nephews.) My one disclaimer is that if you go with Oru, be prepared for set-up to take a lot longer than 5-10 minutes your first few tries. It took me about 4 or 5 uses to really get the hang of unfolding and re-folding my Oru, but once I did, it was a piece of cake.

2. Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is a lightweight, easily transportable kayak perfect for beginner kayakers. The Aruba 10 is best for rivers and lakes, and is super budget-friendly.

The Aruba 10 comes in several colors, which offers some personalization you don’t get with many other brands. Its high-density polyethylene construction is fortified with UV protection, which means whichever color you end up choosing won’t fade in the sun.

Check out the deets:

Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 info

  • Small, lightweight recreational kayak for easy transport and storage
  • Large cockpit and stable construction
  • Adjustable seat and thigh guards for comfort
  • Affordable option for new paddlers
  • Product Dimensions: 120 x 30 x 13 inches
  • Product Weight: 40 lbs

What do Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 customers have to say?

Sun Dolphin Kayak Reviews

sun dolphin kayak reviews
sun dolphin kayak reviews

3. Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5

Sit-on-top kayaks are becoming more and more popular among recreational kayakers because of their ease of use paddle-friendliness. Enter Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5, the king of sit-on-top kayaks.

The Malibu’s wide-open deck can accommodate even the tallest of paddlers and has storage for days. Store your gear in the oversized stern with shock-cord webbing or in the QuickStash dry hatch.

Are you more into performance? If so, you’ll love the super stable hull that cuts through waves like butter. You’ll also be pretty comfortable on the Malibu since it has multiple foot molds, a high-back seat, and convenient cupholder. Check out the deets:

Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 info

  • Ample storage space in both bow and stern
  • Bow and stern handles, as well as side-mounted handles for easy carrying
  • High-back seat and multiple foot channels for top notch comfort
  • Product Length: 11′ 5″
  • Product Weight: 59 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 360 lbs

What do Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 customers have to say?

Ocean Kayak Reviews

ocean kayak reviews
ocean kayak reviews

4. Old Town Vapor 10

Old Town kayaks have an amazing reputation, and the Vapor 10 is no exception. The Old Town Vapor 10 is absolutely one of the best sit-inside kayaks in its price range (under $500!) for accessibility and comfort.

A rare quality among budget kayaks, the Vapor 10’s roomy interior is big enough for taller paddlers to get in and out of pretty easily. Plus, if you’re a dog lover (who isn’t?), it’s also one of the best kayaks to bring along your lap-sitting pups.

The Vapor 10 is best operated in lakes and rivers, as the larger cockpit opening can take on water more easily than most sit-inside kayaks if you get into rougher waters. Check out the deets:

Old Town Vapor 10 info

  • Maneuverable and stable, with good tracking
  • Small and light enough to fit in the back of a large SUV or truck
  • Large, open cockpit for easy accessibility
  • Open rear gear well for quick access to cargo
  • Product Dimensions: 120 x 28.5 x 15 inches
  • Product Weight: 47 lbs

What do Old Town Vapor customers have to say?

Old Town Kayak Reviews

old town kayak reviews
old town kayak reviews

5. Perception Swifty Deluxe 9.5

The Perception Swifty Deluxe 9.5 kayak is a great option for both beginners and more experienced kayakers. According to reviews, a ton of people love how easy this kayak is to maneuver and the traction it gets on the water thanks to its stable hull design.

It’s also super comfortable for paddlers with an ergonomic seat (fancy!), a cup holder, and a storage hatch to keep your things dry. And if you’re a fisherman, this versatile ‘yak even works for you since it has dedicated fishing rod holders. Check out the deets:

Perception Swifty Deluxe 9.5 info

  • Ideal for paddling in lakes and ponds
  • Perfect for any skill level
  • Stable hull design
  • Nimble maneuverability
  • Ergonomic seat back
  • Molded-in dashboard, handles, and rod holders
  • 10″ round hatch
  • Length: 9’6″
  • Width: 28.5″
  • Weight: 44 lbs.
  • Max Capacity: 325 lbs.

What do Perception Kayak customers have to say?

Perception Kayak Reviews

Perception kayak reviews
Perception kayak reviews

Best Fishing Kayaks for 2021

1. Old Town Topwater 120

The all-new Topwater 120 offers large fishing kayak performance, in a compact, nimble package. A marriage of stability and performance, the Topwater, with the all-new ultra-stable DoubleU™ Hull, quietly glides through any water condition while providing a stable, comfortable stand-up fishing platform. Equipped with thoughtful on-board tackle and rod management and a revolutionary universal transducer mount, even the saltiest of anglers will be impressed by the overall fishability of the new Topwater series.

2. Bonafide Kayaks SS127

Designed for maximum stability without sacrificing paddling performance and angler-friendly features where you need them, you really have to paddle this craft to fully appreciate it.

The experience starts with the incredibly comfortable HiRise™ kayak seating system. The ultra high-back seat allows you to sit with your knees bent, taking pressure off of your lower back. If you want to really dig in and cover some distance, the SeatRack™, and foldable seat frame allow quick and quiet conversion to a lower position.

You’ll notice right away that the SS127 sit-on-top fishing kayak is one of the most stable kayaks you’ve ever been in, which is surprising considering its 33.5” width. Featuring YakAttack GearTrac it gives you the ability to have your gear out of the way but always within reach.

3. Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12

Experience the MirageDrive 180 like never before with all new Kick-Up Turbo Fins. Logs, kelp? No problem.

Hobie’s patented Kick-Up Fins “kick back” when contact is made with under water obstacles. Keep a half-dozen rods rigged and ready in the four standard horizontal and two molded-in rod holders for the ultimate kayak fishing adventure.

Confidently stand and fire cast after cast. The elevated Vantage ST seat makes it easy to move around the boat. Now includes a retractable skeg for improved course-keeping, as well as the innovative Hobie H-Rail for superior flexibility in accessory rigging.

4. Vibe Shearwater 125

The most complete fishing kayak ever, the Shearwater 125’s unrivaled speed and stability is only exceeded by its limitless options for angling customization and its incomparable choices of pedal, power, or paddle acceleration at an unmatched price to build the fishing kayak of your dreams to fit any and all budgets.

The Shearwater 125 has been engineered from the water up to be the world’s most versatile and customizable fishing kayak.

5. NuCanoe Frontier 12

The Frontier is the ultimate hybrid kayak, designed from the hull up for serious anglers and hunters. Whether you are fly fishing in salt water, bass fishing in a river, or hunting in the marshes, the Frontier 12 will maximize your experience.

The Frontier 12 is ridiculously stable, so you can stand and fish with confidence on the 20″ wide Cast & Blast Deck. Face the action and easily access your gear with 360 degree mobility.

Best Kayaks for Beginners in 2021

1. Oru Kayak Inlet

To quote Will Ferrell in Elf, “I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!” It’s no secret I’m an Oru fan, but their latest kayak, the Inlet, really takes the cake for me.

At 20 lbs, you can store the Inlet just about anywhere. It’s compact enough to stash in your trunk, closet, boat or garage, and lightweight enough to bring with you everywhere. You can check it on a plane or hike into remote waters if you have the Inlet Pack carrier.

On the water, the Inlet is stable, but nimble. It’s intended for use in calm water like smooth lakes, rivers, and streams. Want to bring along your dog or kid? It’s open cockpit allows room for your cutest stowaways. It’s definitely best for first-time paddlers and beginners, but it honestly could be enjoyed by all skill levels. Check out the deets:

Oru Kayak Inlet info

Weight: 20 lbs.
Length: 9’6″ feet
Width: 30″
Cockpit: 23″ by 68″
Max paddler height: 6’2″
Weight capacity: 275 pounds (allowing room for 1 adult + gear)
Kayak box: 42″ by 18″ by 10″
Shipping box: 44″ by 21″ by 11″
Set-up time: 3 to 5 minutes

What do Oru Kayak Inlet customers have to say?

Oru Kayak Reviews

Oru kayak reviews
Oru Kayak reviews

2. Dagger Zyedco 9

The Dagger Zydeco 9 was designed with newer paddlers in mind. Its 9-inch length allows for excellent maneuvering when you’re on the water.

The Zydeco 9 features a spacious cockpit and an adjustable seat for ultimate comfort, and the bungee rigging allows your precious cargo to stay safe throughout your kayaking adventure. Check out the deets:

Dagger Zydeco 9 features:

  • Length: 9ft 1in
  • Width: 28.5in
  • Deck Height: 14.25in
  • Maximum Load: 220lb
  • Cockpit Dimensions: 38.5 x 21.75in
  • Seat: CFS-R (adjustable)

What do Dagger Zydeco 9 customers have to say?

Dagger Kayaks Reviews

dagger kayak reviews
Dagger kayak reviews

3. Intex Explorer K2

A lot of beginners choose to go with inflatable kayaks because of the easy portability and affordability. The Intex Explorer K2 inflatable kayak is proof that you don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to get a high-quality yak.

This kayak has features galore: it comes with adjustable seats (with backrests), two grab handles, two aluminum paddles, a carrying bag, and a pump. Check out the deets:

Intex Explorer K2 features:

  • Product Dimensions: 123 x 36 x 20 inches
  • Product Weight: 30 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 400 lbs

What do Intex Kayak customers have to say?

Intex Kayak Reviews

intex kayak reviews
intex kayak reviews

4. Eddyline Sky 10

The Sky 10 is great for those who want a very versatile kayak. It’s both lightweight and stable, making it easy for everyday transport.

This Eddyline kayak is made from ABS laminate plastic, which means it resists abrasion and is easy to repair. It also has dual storage compartments that provide a safe, dry place to store your belongings which makes this kayak worth every penny. Check out the deets:

Eddyline Sky 10 features

  • Length: 10 feet
  • Width: 26 inches
  • Depth: 13 inches
  • Weight: 32 pounds
  • Cockpit Size: 35 x 18.5 inches
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs

What do Eddyline Sky 10 customers have to say?

Eddyline Kayak Reviews

Eddyline kayak reviews
Eddyline kayak reviews

5. Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak

The Lifetime Lotus is a great option for kayak beginners at an affordable price. Some of its highlights include multiple footrest positions, built-in storage, a comfortable seat, molded carrying handles, self-bailing drain holes, and a UV-resistant shell.

The Lotus comes with a paddle and has a five-year limited warranty, and is perfect for use on flat water or even calm ocean bays. Check out the deets:

Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak features

  • Adjustable quick-release seat back for comfort
  • Front and rear T-handles for easy transport
  • Hull design provides ultra stability and nice tracking
  • UV-protected high-density polyethylene construction
  • Product dimensions: 96.00 x 29.00 x 10.00 Inches
  • Product weight: 36.5 lbs

What do Lifetime Lotus customers have to say?

Lifetime Kayak Reviews

lifetime kayak reviews
lifetime kayak reviews

Best Youth Kayaks for 2021

Editor’s Note: It should go without saying that kids should never be left unsupervised while kayaking and should always wear their (correct-sized) lifejacket.

1. Lifetime Wave Youth (Ages 4-8)

The Lifetime Wave Youth 6-foot kayak is a great starter kayak for kids.

Young paddlers will find the Wave easy to maneuver and paddle, thanks to its “twin fin” design, and its multiple molded-in footrests mean it’s a kayak that can grow with its owner.

All in all, the Lifetime Wave Youth 6-footer is one of the best, most affordable kayaks for kids. Check out the deets:

Lifetime Wave Youth info

  • Designed for kids ages 4-8
  • Weight capacity: 130 lbs
  • Lightweight 18 lb design
  • Molded finger handles on each side for easy transport
  • Swim-up step so paddler can re-enter the kayak from the water
  • Made from High Density Polyethylene for ultimate strength and durabilty
  • Multiple footrest positions for different size riders
  • Paddle included
  • 5-year limited manufacturer warranty
  • Lightweight with Molded Finger Handles on each Side

What do Lifetime Youth Wave customers have to say?

Lifetime Kayak Reviews

Lifetime Kayak Reviews

2. Sun Dolphin Aruba SS (Ages 8-12)

This 8-footer for kids is great for beginner youth learning the paddling ropes. The Aruba SS 8 is able to accommodate 260 lbs — more than enough durability for the youngster to feel safe and secure on the water. As a sit-inside kayak, the Aruba 8 SS is a great choice for kids who prefer not to get wet (do those kids exist?) And if they really don’t want to get wet, a spray skirt can easily be added to this kayak.

Check out the deets:

Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 8 features

  • Great for rivers and lakes
  • Adjustable padded seat back
  • Light weight design easy to carry
  • Storage compartment
  • Recessed drink holder
  • Product Dimensions: 96 x 28 x 16 inches
  • Product Weight: 27 lbs
  • Weight Capacity: 260 lbs

What do Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 8 customers have to say?

Sun Dolphin Kayak Reviews

Sun Dolphin Reviews
Sun dolphin kayak reviews

3. Old Town Heron Junior (Ages 8-12)

The Heron Junior is the perfect kayak for kids who love splashing around on the weekends or summer afternoons. It’s incredibly maneuverable, and an efficient hull makes paddling easy for kids who are still learning proper technique.

Due to its width and stability, this boat would be really hard to flip over, but the Heron Junior comes with a built-in safety feature if that happens: internal foam billets that mean you never have to worry about retrieving it from the bottom of the lake.

The Heron Junior also has a “tag along” tow system that allows it to be hooked to another boat, which makes it easy to haul in an exhausted kiddo at the end of the day.

What do Old Town Heron Junior customers have to say?

Old Town Kayak Reviews

Old Town Kayak reviews
Old Town Kayak reviews

4. Pelican Summit 100x (Ages 12+)

The Pelican Summit 100x is stable and short enough to maneuver easily, yet long enough to zip smoothly through the wind and waves. This makes it a great boat for older kids who want to get the authentic kayaking experience without breaking the bank.

At 10 feet long with a 275 lb weight capacity, the Pelican is perfectly suitable for adults, too, so honestly your kid can enjoy this kayak even after they’re grown up.

All in all, a great kayak for pre-teens and teenagers (and even adults!) Check out the deets:

Pelican Summit features

  • Adjustable padded backrest with seat pad
  • Adjustable footpegs
  • Carrying handles
  • Cockpit table with bottle holder
  • Elastic bungee cord / Storage platform with bungee
  • Product dimensions: 120 x 28 x 14 inches
  • Product weight: 34.8 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 275 lbs

What do Pelican Summit customers have to say?

Pelican Kayak Reviews

Pelican kayak reviews
Pelican kayak reviews

5. Malibu Mini X (Ages 12+)

The Malibu Mini X comes in at a maneuverable 9 feet long, which is a perfect length for growing older kids to feel comfortable, while still being short enough to not overwhelm younger beginners.

In addition to maneuverability, the Malibu Mini X is also super stable. Kids and teens alike can easily stand aboard the 33-inch-wide beam to cast a fishing line, prepare for a dive or simply see what’s over the horizon. In fact, it’s designed for just that purpose, with standing platforms to either side of the seat.

Check out the deets:

Malibu Mini X features

  • Product Dimensions: 43.7 x 13.4 x 4.7 inches
  • Product weight: 40 lbs

What do Malibu Mini X customers have to say?

Malibu Kayak Reviews

Malibu kayak reviews
Malibu kayak reviews

Did I miss your favorite kayak? Have your own reviews or recommendations for my 2021 roundup? Sound off in the comments below!

Article Name
Best Kayaks of 2021
This is your 2021 shopping guide to the absolute best kayaks you can buy this year, across recreational kayaks, kayaks for beginners, and kayaks for kids.
Publisher Name
Best Kayak Reviews