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Choosing The Perfect Recreational Kayak

Choosing The Perfect Recreational Kayak

Both experienced kayakers and novices alike can enjoy paddling recreational kayaks. These boats are best suited to calm waters, such as gentle rivers, inland lakes, and sheltered bays. You can choose to paddle as hard as you can, especially if you are looking for a workout. Or, you may prefer to take a relaxed approach, soaking in your surroundings.  Hardcore or max-relax, there is a recreational kayak that’s right for you.

There are two types of recreational kayaks:

  1. Sit-inside kayaks have a compartment large enough for you to sit in, and have space to store some gear. How much gear you can stow will depend on the specific recreational kayak you choose. These boats tend to be a little more stable because your center of gravity is lower when seated. The compartment also protects you from some splashing.
  2. Sit-on-top kayaks don’t have a compartment. The top of the boat is open to the water. These kayaks are a lot of fun, but they are often more prone to tip because your center of gravity is higher.

Always wear a good fitting life jacket and secure your gear to the boat so it doesn’t sink or float away if you capsize.

Recommended Recreational Kayaks

Sun Dolphin Aruba

The Sun Dolphin Aruba is an entry-level kayak that has a supportive, adjustable seat – a unique feature not typically found in a budget kayak. It also has adjustable footpegs for comfort and control. It has a portable accessory carrier that can be used as a tow-behind or placed in a storage compartment. Thigh pads are also included, which can make for a more comfortable paddle.

This is the lightest model of recreational kayak included in this list, weighing in at 40 pounds. It is made from rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene.  The Aruba measures 10 feet in length, and like most recreational kayaks it is best suited for calm waters. It tracks and paddles with ease and is quite stable. Looking for a budget-friendly recreational kayak? At around $400, this might be the boat for you.

Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

Dagger Zydeco 9.0

In the mid-range recreational kayak category, the Dagger Zydeco 9.0 is compact and lightweight, easy to load onto a cartop solo.  It features CFS-R seating system with multi-adjust and contoured foam seats for optimal comfort.  Thigh pads are included offering additional customizable comfort. SlideLock footpeg system provides extra control while paddling by helping maintain proper paddling posture.

The Dagger Zydeco has enough storage space to easily fit a cooler bag. At around $500, it’s an excellent option if you are looking for a versatile mid-range yak.


Zydeco 9 Recreational Kayak

Eddyline Equinox Kayak

The Eddyline Equinox Kayak sports an efficient V-hull and hard chines, tracks well and performs leaned turns with ease. Fabricated with co-extruded ABS laminate, the hull looks and performs like a composite kayak with the durability of plastic. As an added bonus, co-extruded ABS is lightweight and highly abrasion-resistant.

And if you are looking for extra comfort while paddling, the Eddyline Equinox has a removable and adjustable seat. The duo-foam backrest with forward lean and height adjustment enables adjusting to your optimal paddling position. Adjustable footpegs also promote proper paddling posture and support. The large cockpit features thigh braces that give even the smaller paddler excellent control.

There’s no shortage of storage space. It features two storage compartments and tie-downs to secure even more gear. The exterior is constructed using a laminate material that combines the performance of a composite kayak with the durability of a plastic one.

At 14 feet in length, the Equinox provides a smooth ride while weighing in at only 45 pounds. So if you are looking for length, practicality, and greater control, this high-end kayak, with a somewhat higher-end price point of around $1,800, might be the one for you.


Eddyline Equinox


Perception Access 9.5 Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle

Most sit-on-top kayaks tend to be less stable than sit-in kayaks, however, the Perception Access Sit-On-Top offers a remarkably stable ride. This kayak features a comfortable padded, high-back molded-in seat and molded-in footrests. It also has tie-downs in the front and back, so you’ll have plenty of room to secure your gear.

The Perception Access Sit-On-Top weighs in at 50 lbs. and measures 9.5 feet in length, making a solo lift onto a cartop achievable. The Access is a great option if you are new to kayaking and want a sit-on -op kayak at a reasonable price point. As an added bonus, the aluminum Harmony Drifter paddle is included. This kayak costs around $400.


Perception Access 9.5

Vibe Sea Ghost 110 Kayak – Perfect For Kayak Anglers

The Vibe Sea Ghost 110 measures 11′ and has a 425 lbs load capacity and lots of storage, which means you don’t have to leave anything behind. Mount accessories include two flush-mount rod holders and four integrated gear tracks for customized rigging.

The Sea Ghost series hulls blend speed and stability getting kayak anglers where they want to go with less effort and the ability to stand when they get there. The pre-installed toe controlled rudder system helps the boat track, even on windy days and in stronger currents.

Kayak On!

Not sure if a recreational kayak is the right choice for you? Read about the various styles of kayaks in Choosing A Kayak. Recreational kayaks are great for all experience levels of kayakers. Your budget and desired features will help you select the right recreational kayak for you.

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choosing a recreational kayak


I was first introduced to kayaking as a teenager when I joined a competitive canoe club. It was instant love. But when I went off to school and then got a job, adult responsibilities got in the way. Now approaching retirement, I've rekindled my kayak romance. My husband and I love to throw the kayaks on the trailer and head out on adventures. Maybe you'll join us?!

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