How to Choose the Right Flatwater Kayak

If you’re already familiar with what to look for when choosing a flatwater kayak, then feel free to scroll on down to our flatwater kayak comparison tables.

If you have yet to decide how or where you plan to use your kayak, then you should probably start by reading our buying guide before continuing on.

Okay….. so you’ve decided that you want to buy your first flatwater kayak, but what makes one option better than another? Here are some things to consider:


For those who drive a large truck, or are able to tow a trailer, kayak size might not be as important as someone who drives an SUV, mid-size truck, or a car. If you drive a small car or SUV, and don’t plan on buying a car rack, then you could immediately be limited to purchasing an inflatable kayak. Just make sure that you’re able to transport the kayak you purchase from where you plan to store it, to where you plan to use it.

Aside from size, weight can be equally as important. If you can’t load your kayak in and out of your vehicle alone, or are unable to carry it from your vehicle to the body of water on which you plan to use it, then you best have an able-bodied friend with you!


Kayaks vary quite a bit when it comes to cockpit size, so it is important to consider what you want to take with you when paddling before making a purchase. Make a list of the things you’d like to have with you: snacks, beverages, pets, speakers, camping supplies, fishing gear, anchors, etc.. If you just made a long list, then you’ll definitely want to consider choosing a kayak with a larger cockpit size, or maybe even looking into storage accessories like hatches.

Sit-on-top or Sit-in?

When using a sit-on-top kayak, the paddler is actually sitting on the deck of the kayak. SOT kayaks are much easier to climb back into from the water if the paddler were to fall out or go for a swim. This can serve as an advantage to beginners, or anyone who plans on occasionally taking their kayak into rougher water. The only opening to the inside of the vessel, if any, will be through storage openings. A paddler is much more likely to get wet when using a SOT kayak due to not being protected by the cockpit. Because of this, they are becoming increasingly more popular among warm-water paddlers.

Sit-in kayaks are at a clear advantage when it comes to storage because of their cockpit. The cockpit also provides extra support to the riders body, which allows for more powerful paddle strokes. Paddlers who want to keep themselves or their gear dry might want to consider a sit-in kayak. A skirt is also a compatible accessory with most sit-in kayaks that will further protect the paddler from water ingress.

Recommended Kayaks:



Make and Model Length x Width Weight Cockpit size Hull Material
Sun Dolphin Aruba 8 SS 8' x 28" 27 lbs 19" x 37" Polyethylene
Old Town Vapor 10 10' x 28.5" 47 lbs 19.5" x 48" Polyethylene
Third Coast Arbor 100 10' x 30" 50 lbs 43" x 17.5" Polyethylene
Sea Eagle SE370K_P Inflatable Kayak 12' 6" x 34" 32 lbs Can seat up to three 38 Mil K-80 PolyKrylar
Intex Explorer K2 123" x 36" 30 lbs Seats two Vinyl
Dagger Zydeco 9.0 9' 1" x 28.5" 36.5 lbs 38.5" x 21.75" Polyethylene



Make and Model Length x Width Weight Storage Hull Material
Ocean Kayak Frenzy 9' x 31" 44 lbs Open, secured by bungee Polyethylene
Ocean Kayak Scrambler 11 11' 6.5" x 29.5" 47 lbs 6" hatch and well with bungee Polyethylene
Riot Kayaks Escape 12 12' x 30" 55 lbs rod holders, cup holders, and well with bungee Polyethylene
Emotion 90244 Spitfire 8' x 31.5" 39 lbs Rear well with bungee Polyethylene
XPLOR California Kayak 8' 10" x 33" 38 lbs Rear well with bungee Polyethylene
Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Tandem 12" x 34" 57 lbs Gear straps Polyethylene

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