If you are camping near a lake, kayaking out on the water is an absolute must. It is one of the most fun camping activities, and is a great way to bond with family and friends. The kids will love it! But before you get out on the water, it is important to have a safe and dependable kayak. As camping experts and kayaking enthusiasts, we picked out the five best kayaks for camping to help you choose the perfect option for your next outdoor adventure.
- The best kayak for camping is the Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak.
- The best affordable camping kayak is the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak.
Now let’s take a look at the top 5 kayaks, as well as the features, pros, and cons of each.
The 5 Best Camping Kayaks
There are several kayaks you can buy for your upcoming camping trip. Here we’ve highlighted five options for you to consider before you buy.
Intex Excursion Pro Kayak – Best Budget Option
The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is one of the most popular kayaks available on the market. It’s easy to store, and transport, and is sold for less than two hundred dollars. It’s inflatable and sold by Intex, which is a reliable brand many campers/kayakers are familiar with. So, if you’re looking for a reputation, this company has a great one.
The inflatable fishing kayak features tandem seating and a laminate PVC exterior. The polyester core will also help prevent punctures, tears, or rips, so you don’t have to worry about stability or safety when kayaking.
- Lightweight and puncture-proof.
- Features high-pressure valves so you can easily inflate/deflate the kayak.
- Comes with two skews (removable).
- It comes with recessed (removable) footrests and rod holders.
- Two buckle seats are included and are adjustable.
- Mounting brackets are removable.
- It can hold up to 400 pounds and has an l-beam floor for high stability, and it only weighs 39 pounds, so it’s easy to transport.
- The kayak doesn’t remain inflated.
- The pump/nozzle break easily, and customer service complaints were also noted by a couple of reviewers.
Sun Dolphin Arubs SS Sit-in Kayak
The Sun Dolphin Arubs SS Kayak is the perfect option for those who are looking for an affordable kayak that is not inflatable. This is a highly affordable kayak for your upcoming camping trips. It’s available in three colors, so it’s easy to spot you in dangerous kayaking or fishing conditions if you ever need help on the waterways.
The kayak is suitable for river and lake use and it also features an adjustable padded back. This design helps afford increased levels of comfort if you plan on kayaking for longer periods. There is a storage compartment behind the seat so you can bring along extra gear if needed.
- Lightweight and easy to transport.
- Colorful (red, blue, orange) so it’s easily seen on lakes and rivers if you need assistance.
- Has a storage cubbies for extra items.
- Features a recessed cupholder.
- A seat on top design, for easy entry/exit.
- Carrying handles and a paddle holder are included.
- The weight capacity is only 260 pounds.
- It can’t be used in all waters (limited use).
- Several reviewers suggest it isn’t level/balanced.
Lifetime Tamarack Angler Kayak
Another fantastic camping kayak is the Lifetime Tamarack Angler Kayak. This kayak is a little lighter than others on the list. It is made with UV-protected material, so it will not fade in sunlight. It features a polyethylene finish, as well as a stable and flat bottom, so you have optimal control while paddling.
The kayak offers multiple footrest positions to choose from. So, you can adjust your feet accordingly to the most comfortable position on longer trips. There’s a seat back pad and bottom pad to ensure you’re comfortable during your kayaking trip, as well as fishing mount holders on the sides and top of the kayak.
- Shock cord straps on the front and rear of the kayak.
- Center and rear storage compartments, both are 6”.
- It includes a paddle keeper and black paddle.
- Chine rails help increase stability when paddling.
- T-handles make it easy to transport the kayak to your paddling destination.
- It’s pretty light, at 52 pounds, making it easy for most owners to carry.
- The weight capacity is about 275 pounds (lower than others on the list).
- It’s a single-seat model, so only one person can sit in the kayak at a time.
It’s affordable at $350 on Amazon. But, the materials aren’t as sturdy as other kayaks, and the weight capacity might be an issue for some people.
Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110 Fishing Kayak
The Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110 Fishing Kayak is a great option for campground kayaking. The 11-foot angler has a sit on top design and adjustable comfort seats. It’s designed for kayaking and fishing and includes a rudder port with your purchase. There are rod holders, a transducer port, and optional storage below the seats, so you can bring along a few items during your kayaking or fishing excursions.
The kayak is a single-person kayak, with sit on top seating. This design makes it easier to get into and out of the kayak while balancing your weight evenly when you hit turbulent or uneven waterways. The kayak’s length is 11-feet; it weighs about 62 pounds, so it’s fairly light, making it easy to transport to the fishing and kayaking spots you plan on visiting during your trip.
- The accessories and mounts; it includes two mounts, integrated gear tracks, and there’s optional storage below your seat.
- There is a pre-installed toe-rudder control system.
- The rudder system helps you preserve energy when it’s windy, or if the waters are turbulent.
- There is a large center console for storage.
- There’s a 20” front hatch a rear bungee tank, and rear hatch, all for additional storage.
- Vibe Hero seats feature padding for optimal comfort, regardless of how long you’re on the kayak.
- There are side grip handles for increased portability.
- The kayak has a 425-pound load capacity.
- It’s nearly $1000, and you can’t fold, adjust, or otherwise modify the kayak for storage.
- It’s a single-seater, so you can’t go out with a friend/family member during your fishing trip.
Other than these two drawbacks, there are no negative reviews/complaints on Amazon. It’s a great buy if you can afford the steep price tag.
Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak – Best Overall
The Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak is the best option for people looking for a high-quality, dependable camping kayak. This convertible kayak is inflatable, making it easy to carry with you on your camping trip. And, if you plan on tackling multiple kayaking locations during the trip, you’ll find it easy to carry around with you to each lake, river, stream, or waterway.
Your new kayak features aluminum ribs that are built-in for structural stability. This design helps improve stern direction and your ability to steer in the right direction when paddling. It is a two-seat design. It also has three layers of durable material. These layers are puncture-proof. The kayak weighs in at 52 pounds, yet it can hold up to 550 pounds (weight capacity). It also folds down to 35 inches X 21 inches X 12 inches, making it ultra-transportable for your kayaking adventures.
- A pre-assembled design with built-in seating. You just fold/unfold when you’re ready to go.
- The padded seats are adjustable, ensuring hours of comfort when you’re traversing challenging kayaking trips.
- You can choose from three seating positions.
- You can adjust for tandem or solo kayaking adventures, based upon how you line up the seats.
- It comes with an optional deck kit.
- You receive a carry-bag with your new kayak.
- The price; it’s nearly $700 for an inflatable kayak.
- Some reviewers complain that the tube is not symmetrical, so it’s hard to paddle when utilizing the tandem seating position.
- A couple of reviews state that the kayak begins deflating on longer trips, which is a safety issue/concern.
This is a worthwhile investment for kayakers who plan on going on many camping trips. It’s easy to transport, light, and can hold up to 550 pounds, so it’s great for heavier users or those who plan on going on tandem trips soon.
Camping Kayak FAQs
Let’s go over a few common questions and answers, to help you find the best kayaks for camping.
How much do camping kayaks weigh?
The material, size, and additional paddles (accessories) usually dictate the weight. Inflatable kayaks are much lighter than those made of other materials. Most camping kayaks range between 35 pounds up to more than 100 pounds. The weight capacity will also vary greatly from one kayak to another. So, check the manufacturer’s instructions before use.
Should I choose to purchase a sit on top or sit in varieties?
This is up to each kayaker individually. Sit on top kayaks are easier to get on/off. They are easy to navigate, and feature scooper holes (self-draining). They usually don’t have as much storage/cargo space as sit in varieties.
A sit-in kayak requires more precision in paddling and control to get in/out. They typically can’t hold as much weight either. However, they do have storage below the seat.
If possible, test out both, do a test run, and see how comfortable you feel in the different sitting canisters to pick the right kayak for you.
Can the kayak be used in all waterways?
Most kayak manufacturers will indicate where you can use the kayak. Some materials might not be safe in the sea if they aren’t buoyant in the salt. Others might not have enough strength or aren’t durable enough for rapid moving water. Make sure you confirm with the manufacturer or contact their customer service team if the kayak packaging doesn’t indicate the types of waters you can use it in.
Are inflatable kayaks safe?
Yes they are. As long as you buy one that is:
- Capable of holding the weight (capacity/limit) you plan on placing in the kayak.
- Made with puncture-proof materials.
- Safe for the waters you’ll be kayaking in (lake, river, stream, etc.).
Made by a reliable manufacturer. Quality matters. So, make sure you compare several kayaks before you choose the best inflatable variety.
Buyer’s Guide: What to Look for When Choosing a Kayak
There are some imperative features and design elements you need to look for when shopping for the best kayaks for camping. Here we’ll go through a few.
You need to buy something that can hold your weight, and the weight of other kayakers on board. Compare weight capacity to find a model that’s suitable for you/family/friends for your upcoming camping trips.
Do you need to bring snacks for a long kayak adventure? Some kayaks feature under-seat storage. If you want to bring extra clothes, gear, a raincoat, or other accessories, make sure the kayak can house these items.
Weight & Portability
The kayak should be easy to transport. Remember, you’re taking it camping so you want to get it to the lake or stream easily. Look for something that has
- Hooks or carry clips.
- Is easy to transport.
- Ergonomic grips, and other features that make it easy to lug around with you.
You don’t want a kayak that weighs 400 pounds that you can’t carry. Make sure you know the weight of the kayak and look for something you can easily carry around.
Kayaks are available in a few varieties. There’s the inflatable kayak that you inflate/deflate after use. If you’re looking for an affordable option, this is a great buy. Other materials include
- Kevlar; it’s sturdy and stronger than fiberglass, it’s also lighter. These kayaks are the most expensive.
- Fiberglass is usually bonded with polyester resin. They’re affordable and durable.
- Royalex kayaks use foam-based materials, vinyl, and ABS plastics. They’re usually the cheapest (price and quality).
Consider all materials and budget, so you can choose the right option for your camping trip.
Your safety should be a top priority when buying a camping kayak; especially if you are new to kayaking, or are going out on your own for the first time. Choose a kayak/manufacturer that’s highly rated for safety. One that has a sturdy drum and base and can withstand bumpy waterways you might encounter. The safer it is, the better it is for you and your crew.
Some manufacturers throw in a few perks or add-ons to get you to buy their product. Life vests, additional paddles, safety gear, storage caddies, and more! If these items are important to you, make sure you consider them as you’re deciding on the right kayak. But, don’t let a spare paddle be what pushes you over the top, instead of focusing on safety and precision when you’re kayaking.
Final Verdict: Our Top Picks
Ready for your next camping/kayaking trip? If you want affordability, the Intex Excursion Inflatable Kayak is your best option. It’s under $200 and has a higher weight capacity than a couple of models that are double the price. It can seat two kayakers and includes multiple options and accessories at an affordable price point. It’s also backed by Intex, which is a reputable company.
For the best quality and overall use, our choice is the Advanced Elements Kayak. It’s also inflatable and features a weight capacity of about 550 pounds. It folds away compactly for storage, features puncture-proof material finishes, and padded seats ensure the comfort you deserve for longer trips. And, a bonus is that it’s not the most expensive kayak on our list! It is fairly affordable, and if you are looking to invest in something that will last for several years, this is a great pick.
Is there a great camping kayak that we missed but should have included in our list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below