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The 5 best kayaks for 2020

Adventure-seekers might just fall in love with the idea of kayaking because it harnesses the ultimate sense of exploration and is certainly one way you can experience a small pocket of nature. Those after the thrill and adrenaline can kayak over waterfalls or whitewater while those looking for peace and serenity will appreciate smooth sailing over lakes.

Kayaks are not created the same. It can be challenging to find the right one that ticks all the right boxes for you, but we’re here to help. Plus, you’ll soon be relieved of all that stress once you’re in the water kayaking. In fact, studies suggest a positive correlation between recreational kayaking and the effect it has on one’s self-concept, satisfaction, and attitude. You can think of it as if you’re paddling all your emotional and mental woes away.

Whether you’re here to unwind on the lake or spiked with energy to blaze the rapids, we’ve pooled together a few models that range in capabilities, cost, style, and more.

At a glance:

Best for beginners: Old Town Heron 11XT Kayak

Novice paddlers will not feel out of their league while paddling the Old Town Heron 11XT Kayak, since it is quite easy to maneuver and steer. It features just enough stern storage to keep your personal items protected and has a cup holder and rod holders, plus paddle keepers for a quiet afternoon by the lake. Comfort is also kept in mind with an adjustable ComfortFlex seat that has additional padding, support track foot brace, and thigh pads.

Best for women: Ocean Kayak Venus 11 Sit-On-Top Kayak

The Ocean Kayak Venus 11 Sit-On-Top Kayak is our pick for ladies since its design was based on suggestions by female paddlers to effortlessly glide on open water. Its Comfort Hybrid seat back is complemented by a seat that’s designed to accommodate women’s anatomical center of gravity, allowing for maximum efficiency while paddling. It has a stern tank to fill with gear, an in-mold cup holder, and paddle rests for quick breaks.

Best for fishing: Jackson Kayak Kilroy

Those who enjoy fishing will not be disappointed with the Jackson Kayak Kilroy. It features a vast amount of storage for gear, personal items, and customization. It even fits four rods with rod stagers to assure your lines are tangle-free. There is also a standing pad that provides stability for both casting and sight fishing.

Best foldable: Oru Kayak Inlet

Ten feet might seem humongous, but not for the Oru Kayak Inlet. It is one kayak made for flatwater that can be folded into a backpack or a box in just 3 to 5 minutes for the utmost portability. And it is only 20 pounds, which is less than half of the weight of typical kayaks. You won’t be feeling cramped, either, because its cockpit is wide enough for you to stretch out your legs and come in and out quickly.

Most versatile: Advanced Elements Tandem Inflatable Kayak

The Advanced Elements Tandem Inflatable Kayak is a solid bet for firm believers of the buddy system as well as those who enjoy traveling solo with adjustable and removable seats. Setup is a breeze — all you have to do is unfold, inflate, and of course to attach the seats before hitting the water. It even offers onboard storage space without compromising the legroom, which makes it ideal for long trips. The best part about is that it will keep you afloat on the lake as well as on the rapids.

Which type of kayak is more stable?

A rule of thumb for kayaks is the longer and narrower the kayak is, the faster it will travel, and a wider kayak is the more stable but slower. Most sit-on-top kayaks are considered recreational kayaks because they’re wide and ultra-stable.

What should I look for when buying a kayak?

What you should look for depends on a variety of things, including the type of weather you will use it in, what you are using it for, and the type of water it will be used in. Once you determine what type of weather you will use it in and the types of activities you are planning to use it for, you can start to look into the specifics of what each kayak provides.

What’s better: Sit-in or sit-on kayaks?

Sit-on-top kayaks are the most user-friendly. They’re very stable, easy to get in and out of, and have no feeling of confinement to them. Sit-on-top kayaks are a great choice for nervous paddlers, for warm climates, and for paddling with kids who love to swim. Sit-in kayaks shelter your lower body from the wind, which makes them much warmer. Sit-inside kayaks are great for paddlers who’ll be on cooler water and who want to stay dry while paddling,

Is kayaking good exercise?

Just one hour of kayaking can burn over 350 calories, depending on how hard you paddle. Kayaking builds muscle strength in more areas than just the arms, such as your core, back, and shoulders. One of the best ways to track your kayak activity is with a fitness tracker. Want to know what fitness tracker to get? Check out our post on the best fitness trackers in the market.

Is it OK to drag a kayak?

It really depends on what material your kayak is made of and the terrain. If you have a plastic kayak, it’s possible to drag it. While this option might be fine for grass or sand, this may not be suitable for certain types of terrain. It’s also best not to drag fiberglass or composite kayaks, as it can cause damage. Inflatable kayaks are also not ideal for dragging.

Is kayaking safe for non-swimmers?

Although it’s better to know how to swim when kayaking, as long as you’re wearing a personal floatation device (PFD), it is relatively safe.

Do kayaks tip easily?

Kayaks are generally safe to use and hardly tip over. The risk of tipping also depends on the sort of kayak and the type of water where you are paddling. For example, it’s extremely hard to tip over when paddling with a recreational kayak on a relatively calm river. But whitewater (rapid water) paddling with an ultra-light or sea kayak comes with a very high risk of tipping.

What is the best length for a kayak?

Once you decide what you plan to use the kayak for, then you can start looking at optimal lengths. Length is all about maneuverability. The rule of thumb is: Longer boats cruise more efficiently and offer lots of storage space for overnight touring gear, while shorter hulls turn more quickly.  The best ocean kayak, for instance, will be 17 to 20 feet long. The best squirt or play kayak for whitewater is 7 to 9 feet long.

How should I dress for kayaking?

If you’re kayaking in warm weather and warm water, you can wear just about anything that you’re willing to get a little wet. A T-shirt or tank top, a pair of shorts, some old running shoes, and plenty of sunscreen should be sufficient. A good rule of thumb for whether you should wear a wetsuit is to add together the water temperature and air temperature: If it’s below 100 (or 38 for those using Celsius), you’ll probably want a wetsuit. Cold-weather paddling necessitates much more specialized equipment: Gloves, booties, a dry suit, and a hood. Coming into contact with frigid water when the air temperature isn’t far above the freezing point can be downright lethal.

What shoes do you wear kayaking?

Footwear can range from old sneakers with wool socks to river sandals, neoprene wetsuit booties, “wellies,” or dedicated paddling shoes

How do you stay dry in a kayak?

Use a sit-inside kayak with a skirt and wear the proper attire to stay dry.

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