If you’re reading this, you’re likely ready to move on from renting your kayak. Maybe you want the freedom of being able to go for a paddle whenever you want. Or perhaps you are planning a long kayaking expedition. What ever the reason, we’re here to help you find the best sea kayak for you.

Here at The Adventure Junkies, we pride ourselves on making sure you get the most out of your outdoor adventures. Whether that’s kayaking in the Pacific or snorkeling in the Atlantic, we’re here to improve every one of your adventures.

 

QUICK ANSWER: THE BEST SEA KAYAK 

1. DELTA KAYAKS DELTA 14

2. ORU KAYAK BAY FOLDING

3. EDDYLINE EQUINOX

4. DELTA KAYAKS 17

5. EDDYLINE DENALI

6. POINT 65 WHISKY 16

7. WILDERNESS SYSTEMS TEMPEST 170 TOURING

8. DAGGER ZYDECO 9.0

9. EDDYLINE SKY 10

 

 

 

FREE BONUS! Click here to download the AJ Quick Starter Guide to Kayaking

 

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FIND THE BEST SEA KAYAK

PICTURE
SEA KAYAK
BEST FOR
HULL SHAPE
WEIGHT CAPACITY
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
SEA KAYAK
BEST FOR
HULL SHAPE
WEIGHT CAPACITY
PRICE
RATING
Delta Kayaks Delta 14
Overall
V-shaped
340 lbs
$$$
3.8
Oru Kayak Bay Folding
Overall
V-shaped
300 lbs
$$$
4.6
Eddyline Equinox
Overall
V-shaped
360 lbs
$$$
5.0
Delta Kayaks 17
Overall
V-shaped
410 lbs
$$$
5.0
Eddyline Denali
Advanced
V-shaped
400 lbs
$$$$
5.0
Point 65 Whisky 16
Advanced
V-shaped
342 lbs
$$$
5.0
Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 Touring
Advanced
V-shaped
325 lbs
$$$
4.6
Dagger Zydeco 9.0
Budget
Rounded
220 lbs
$
4.5
Eddyline Sky 10
Budget
Rounded
250 lbs
$$
4.5

 

 

SEA KAYAKS 101

 

6 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST SEA KAYAKS

 

1. LOOK FOR A SUITABLE SINKAGE LEVEL

Whether you’re a beginner paddling through flatwater or an advanced kayaker capable of handling choppy currents, it’s good to have a kayak with high sinkage level. The sinkage level of a kayak is determined by how much weight is needed to make it sit an inch lower in the water.

The higher the capacity, the more weight the sea kayak can bear. If you’re using your sea kayak for sport, a lower capacity will suffice.

If you’re using your sea kayak for recreation, you’ll want one with a high value. That way, you can rest easy and not worry about tipping your kayak.

 

2. LOOK FOR BUILD MATERIALS

Most sea kayaks from popular brands are made from materials that can sustain different weather conditions. However, lesser known budget brands tend to cut corners when it comes to this aspect.

Even some major brands, which offer budget-friendly sea kayaks, have been known to use sub-par materials. Be on the look out for exposed steel and unsealed wood components.

Keep in mind that Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS) plastics and polyethylene are great. Take a look at Kayarchy.com to see a full list of recommended build materials.

 

3. V-SHAPED OR ROUNDED HULLS

Since sea kayaks will be in more turbulent water, they need to be able to cut through those wakes with ease. Unlike freshwater kayaks, which can have rounded and flat hulls, sea kayaks should have v-shaped hulls.

This will ensure they can literally cut through waves, big and small. V-shaped hulls help with stability as well. But, rounded hulls are also acceptable under certain conditions like kayaking through closed coves, coastal flat waters and estuaries.

 

4. LENGTH AND WIDTH OF KAYAK

For open-ocean coastal kayaking, narrow, medium-sized kayaks perform best. Their slim widths allow them to navigate through calm and somewhat rough waters with ease.

Having a sea kayak between 11 and 14 feet will help keep it steady as well. Kayaks used for flatwater can perform fine at shorter lengths. Tandem style sea kayaks can measure upwards until 20 feet long. Check out this guide to widths and lengths for more details.

 

5. SMALL COCKPITS

Unlike other general purpose or modular kayaks, sea kayaks need to have small cockpit openings. In fact, the cockpit should be just wider than your waist.

It should be comfortable enough for you to sit in and move around about, but not too tight as to be uncomfortable or inhibit movement. These small cockpit shapes will help prevent seawater from coming in. Sea kayaks used for recreation in flatwater can have larger openings though.

 

6. FLATWATER VS. CHOPPY CURRENTS

The type of water you’ll be kayaking through plays a big part in your decision-making process. For flatwater, like the ones found around mangroves and closed-off coves, budget and sit-on-top kayaks are fine.

However, only kayaks with waist cockpits and V-shaped hulls should be considered if you plan to tackle choppy currents.

 

kayak sea a kayaker must have

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/marekuliasz

 

SEA KAYAK REVIEWS

 

1. BEST SEA KAYAKS FOR OVERALL USE

DELTA KAYAKS DELTA 14

 

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Open-ocean kayaking, from flatwater to mildly choppy currents

WEIGHT CAPACITY: 340 lbs

BUILD MATERIALS: Thermoformed ABS Plastic

PROS: Fantastic for kayaking in open ocean waters where currents and swells change frequently

CONS: Can be hard to find outside of REI

 

 

 

ORU KAYAK BAY FOLDING

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Coastal kayaking and navigating to destinations where you have to walk on land

WEIGHT CAPACITY: 300 lbs

BUILD MATERIALS: Polypropylene

PROS: Ultra portable, can be folded and self-packed

CONS: Not ideal for rocky outcrops or kayaking over coral

 

 

 

EDDYLINE EQUINOX

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Taking out on a whim, even if the water conditions are somewhat rough

WEIGHT CAPACITY: 360 lbs

BUILD MATERIALS: Carbonlite ABS Plastic

PROS: Lighter than most sea kayaks for easy transportation

CONS: Often in high-demand and can be hard to get a hold of

 

 

 

DELTA KAYAKS 17

 

 

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Paddlers looking for a boat build for speed

WEIGHT CAPACITY: 410 lbs

BUILD MATERIALS: Thermoformed ABS Plastic

PROS: A fantastic sea kayak that allows for a custom fit

CONS: No day hatch

 

 

 

 

2. BEST SEA KAYAKS FOR ADVANCED USERS

EDDYLINE DENALI

 

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Navigating rocky outcrops and where maneuverability is key

WEIGHT CAPACITY: 400 lbs

BUILD MATERIALS: Thermoformed ABS Plastic

PROS: Great for those seasoned kayaker who want to take on treacherous waters

CONS: One of the more most expensive kayaks available

 

 

 

POINT 65 WHISKY 16

 

Check out the latest price on:
REI

 

BEST FOR: Areas where you need to be nimble and cut through large swells

WEIGHT CAPACITY: 342 lbs

BUILD MATERIALS: 3-layer Foam-core Polyethylene

PROS: Thin and light design, capable of turning on a dime

CONS: Because of the cockpit’s size, not much can come with you

 

 

 

WILDERNESS SYSTEMS TEMPEST 170 TOURING

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Navigating through coastal mangroves, rocky outcrops, and other coastal areas where you need to be flexible

WEIGHT CAPACITY: 325 lbs

BUILD MATERIALS: Polypropylene

PROS: Stable and made for long hauls in the auction, has extra storage

CONS: Skeg system can be difficult to learn for beginners

 

 

 

 

3. BEST BUDGET SEA KAYAKS

DAGGER ZYDECO 9.0

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Calm coastal flatwaters

WEIGHT CAPACITY: 220 lbs

BUILD MATERIALS: Rotomolded Polyethylene

PROS: Inexpensive way to get into kayaking

CONS: Lower weight capacity than most

 

 

 

EDDYLINE SKY 10

 

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Estuaries and calm fresh and salt waters

BUILD MATERIALS: Thermoformed ABS laminate

WEIGHT CAPACITY: 250 lbs

PROS: Fantastic build quality and above average storage compartments

CONS: One of the more expensive budget-minded kayaks out there

 

Best Sea Kayak – Best Kayaking Gear Articles – Kayak Accessories and Gadgets – Kayak Products and Ideas for Men and Women – Packing Lists for Kayaking Trips

About The Author

Kayaking Writer

Part conservationists, part outdoorsman, part storyteller, Matt has devoted much of his life to environmentalism and that crafty, fleeting mistress known as writing. Having worked with over two-dozen brands and lifestyle publications, he’s carried out his passion for all things flora, fauna, and fiction through a litany of written mediums — one adventure, one sentence at a time.

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