Recreational Kayak – Buying Guide

If you are looking to buy a recreational kayak means you have probably done a little kayaking before. If not take a look at our Best Beginner Kayaks.

Buying a new kayak is not an easy job with so many boats available. Here is a quick guide to help you choose the right boat for you.



For me, the first question has to be “Where would you like to use your new kayak?”

By asking the question makes you think what is the primary usage of the boat? Is it for the kids to use> Is it for fishing? Is it a first kayak?

Once you know what the primary use will be, then you can think where will you go?

Each boat is designed for slightly different usage, with some better suited for the ocean and other for whitewater. There are many specific recreational options available as well as a few crossover boats that can be used in a variety of locations.

Decide if you want to use it on lakes or in the sea. Whether you want to voyage on moving water or stick to the flat.

The important factor will come down to the length and hull shape to dictate its usage. With the longer boat it will be less nimble but will be faster with a better glide speed to carry you in a straight line. Shorter boats will turn much easier and are great for exploring short distances.


Maximum Capacity

Be sure to keep an eye on the maximum kayak capacities, as you will need to think about both your own weight plus the weight of your other equipment

Most recreational kayaks have large manufacturers recommended maximum capacities but be sure to stay below this. If your boat is overloaded it can feel sluggish and difficult to maneuver and control.

The weight will certainly affect the handling of the kayak so if carrying a lot of equipment be sure to spread it over the length of the boat to keep things stable. Luckily most recreational boats are fitted with hatches to store equipment safely these will stop the load from rolling too far as you paddle keeping you more stable and better balanced. For boats with two hatches be sure to take advantage of both to better balance the boat.

Most Recreational kayaks have their own dry hatch compartments these are designed to stow equipment for a day on the water or for overnight use. Always remember even though these are very good they are not always 100% dry due to the nature of the sport so always put items into dry bags before loading into your kayak.



All of the boats we have reviewed are made of Plastic / Polyethylene. This is the most common material used in kayak manufacture as it is both strong and durable. Some brands have also found additional ways to process plastic to create lighter weight boats.



All of the boats are fitted with comfortable seats, if you suffer from injury or bad back look for boats with increased back support to offer extra assistance. All of these boats have a padded foam liner on the seat, look out for boats with extra options like leg raisers or height adjustable backrests for increased comfort.

For sit on tops be sure to pick up a universal backrest, these easily clip into the boats attachment points to offer increased comfort,

Many boats will have a level of adjustment moving footrests and seat positions to make it more comfortable and allow you better control. Always talk to a local expert or kayak store to get the boat set up correctly for you.



Recreational kayaks don’t have to be extra fast or super-maneuverable, although of course, these features are nice. However, they have to be stable. Many recreational kayakers are fairly new to the sport so want something that can both be stable and responsive, they also need something that will be able to paddle confidently for a number of years without outgrowing. All of the boats above can be paddled both by beginners as well as expert kayakers for a really enjoyable experience on the water.


Kayak Weight

Many of these kayaks are around the 50 lbs weight think where you will be going and how you can transport the boat will it go on a rack or can you carry it to the water. Sometimes a Kart or set of wheels is a good additional purchase to help you move the boat safely.

Look at the boats weights and if something seems much heavier than other brands you should look as to why. Does it have additional accessories? Is the extra weight needed.



Think of where you will store your kayak once you get home. Will it fit in a shed or garden? Do you live in an apartment? Usually, the living room is a great option for the first day, but partners and wives usually grow bored of the kayak shaped coffee table soon enough.

Plan an easy way to get your kayak to its storage whether you use wheels or a kart or you carry it.

If you have a rack or hook system is ideal otherwise it can be stored outside but it is a good idea to put a cover over it to protect from UV or Snow.

In Conclusion

With recreational kayaks, it’s not about world class performance or its ability to help you go fishing or go on very long trips. It’s not about surfing the ocean waves either. A recreational kayak is about going on the waters of a calm and peaceful lake, or exploring a local waterway and rivers as you relax and have fun with friends and family.

The right boat is really the one that best suits your own needs. With so many options available take a look at some of the bigger brands as they provide quality designs built with the best materials and the paddler in mind.


A recreational boat should be stable and comfortable it must be easy to get out on the water with no fuss.

We want you to spend more time on the water experiencing nature as we do.


Be sure to check out some of my other pages for more information

Recreational kayak

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