If you are thinking of an adventurous activity to do with water that is not too exhausting, then try kayaking. It offers a different kind of experience compared to fishing and swimming.

Aside from this, kayaking is an activity that can be enjoyed with your family and friends. If you want a bit of a challenge, you can try competing with each other or even kayaking in rough rivers and sea.

Top 6 Best River Kayaks

Finding the right river kayak might be a challenge, especially if you are just starting out. It is best to identify the things you want to prioritize and to learn as much as you can about your options before buying one.

Here is a quick list of the best river kayaks and I’ve also written up in-depth reviews on each below.

  1. Wilderness System Tarpon 100
  2. Sea Eagle 370
  3. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
  4. Pelican Maxim 100X
  5. Perception Pescador 10
  6. Advanced Element Kayak


1. Wilderness System Tarpon 100

It is a sit-on-top kayak with a length of 10 feet and a weight of 55 lbs. What is great about this kayak is its versatility since you can do a lot of things with it. It offers excellent performance, stability, and comfort every time you use it, making your experience better and less straining.

The seat is high quality, very comfortable, and can be adjusted anytime you want. Also, you will not have any problems with backache or any discomfort since the seat is ergonomically designed. They also added a footrest that is track-adjustable – something you would rarely see in sit-on-top kayaks.

The Wilderness System Tarpon 100 kayak is also known for its ample storage space. It has two storage hatches where you can put your caught fish and there is also a tankwell large enough for your gears and other stuff.

It has an accessory track system that you can customize anytime you want. If you like fishing, you can easily add gear and rod holders to this kayak. It is also very stable, so you will not easily be tipped over. The versatility of this kayak allows you to use it for river fishing, bird watching, or going to lakes and rivers.


  • Versatile
  • Stable
  • Nice design
  • Can add accessories
  • Durable
  • Great storage capacity


  • It is not very fast

Check from Amazon

2. Sea Eagle 370

This inflatable kayak is very flexible and portable to use. It only weighs 32 pounds, so you will not have a problem bringing it and putting it on the water. The kayak is at least 12 feet, which gives you an extra room to stretch out your legs. Its comfortable seats are inflatable and can be removed or adjusted, which is excellent if you want to go alone on a trip.

With the kayak’s weight limit of 650 pounds, you can add another seat for a young child and bring your family of three out on a trip. It is also equipped with storage spaces for your things, which is positioned in the front and back area.

It has drain valves, rope handles in the front and the back, and comes with two paddles. For better tracking, it has two skegs that are removable so you can take it off when you are on shallower water.

Since it can be used in class III rapids, you can be assured that the kayak is durable and sturdy. It actually uses a 38-millimeter Polykrylar, making it hard to damage. You can find this kayak very stable and reliable to use. You can easily make it a solo, tandem, or add a space for a child. However, since it is long, there will be a problem when taking tight turns.


  • Durable
  • Generous weight capacity
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Adjustable and removable seats
  • Big space


  • Tracking is difficult
  • The included paddles are uncomfortable to use.

Check from Amazon

3. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Like the previous kayak, this is also an inflatable one. It is good to use in mild flowing rivers and lakes. The kayak has excellent stability in rough waters even though it is recommended for lakes. It has a sporty look and the color can stand out anywhere it goes. The kayak is 10 feet long, and its maximum weight limit is 400 pounds.

The adjustable seats are inflatable and very comfortable to sit on as they mold to your body. There are also backseats for additional support on your lower back. It can accommodate two adults at the same time. If you want to go solo, you can easily remove the other seat so you can use the space for your things.

It is compact, light, and easy to assemble, allowing you to go kayaking anytime you want. The skeg is removable so you can remove it to prevent rocks from hitting it in shallow water. You can be assured that it is durable as the material used is heavy-duty vinyl that is puncture resistant. It uses an I-beam floor for rigidity and comfort just to make your experience better


  • Lightweight and compact
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Can handle rough waters
  • Can be easily set up


  • The paddles cannot be adjusted

Check from Amazon

4. Pelican Maxim 100X

Pelican Maxin 100X is a sit-in recreational kayak and is known for its excellent performance. Beginners and experienced paddlers like it because it makes kayaking better and easier. Carrying and placing it on the water is no problem since it is lightweight and has T-handles. The kayak is also made from polyethylene Ram-X, so it is durable and sturdy.

The kayak can be used in lakes and calm rivers, and it is ideal for those who just started kayaking. It offers excellent stability and maneuverability as the hull has a shallow V chin. The Pelican weight capacity is 275 pounds, which can comfortably accommodate one person’s weight and their stuff. It has front and rear storage hatches.

The cockpit is 24 inches in width and has a bottle holder and a molded footrest. You will not have a problem with the seat as it uses Ergofoam, which molds to the contour of your body for comfort.


  • Inexpensive
  • Agile
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Comes with ErgoFoam for maximum comfort


  • You may have a hard time adjusting your foot on the footrest.

Check from Amazon

5. Perception Pescador 10

If you are planning to do river fishing or exploring, this kayak is a good choice. It is a sit-on-top kayak and can give you exceptional speed, stability, and better tracking while you are on a lake or flat-water river.

This kayak is ten feet long and has a width of 32 inches. It weighs 57 pounds and can carry a maximum weight of 325 pounds. There is a storage hatch in front and a large tank in the back which provides a large space for any gears and items you want to bring when you go out kayaking.

For comfort, this kayak has ample seating space, padded seats, a drink holder, and an adjustable footrest.

The Perception Pescador 10 also has gear tracks and rod holders so you can easily add your accessories and your fishing rods. It is wide enough to give you excellent stability and balance to prevent it from being tipped over. This kayak is made from polyethylene, giving it exceptional durability.


  • Offers great stability
  • Comes with storage hatch
  • Ergonomic padding
  • Adjustable seat back position for maximum comfort
  • Gear tracks for easy attachment of accessories


  • The rear storage bungee can be a little short.

Check from Amazon

6. Advanced Element Kayak

This kayak is a hybrid of an inflatable kayak and a folding frame kayak, which utilizes built-in aluminum ribs found in the stern and bow. These help it slice through the water swiftly, just like the trackability of any hard-shell kayaks.

The Advanced Element Kayak is carefully engineered by dividing the main inflation chamber into two chambers, providing maximal safety when kayaking in the river. The hull material is made from polyester fabric positioned between vinyl, forming a durable and reliable cover.

The aluminum frame design comes with a rigid panel and inflatable chambers, giving the kayak better performance and durability, as well as helping maintain buoyancy. The kayak is also made with ample storage, making it perfect for both short and long trips.


  • Improved tracking due to built-in aluminum ribs
  • Made with high-end materials
  • Crafted using multi-layered material for durability
  • Ample storage for both short and long trips.


  • The kayak cannot accommodate very tall people well.

Check from Amazon

Kayaking is a fantastic activity that can help you relieve stress and get closer to nature. Choosing the best kayak will help ensure that you can maximize the experience.

What is Kayaking?

It is a recreational water activity where a kayak moves across the water. When kayaking, you will use a kayak and a paddle that can be used by one to two persons. Kayaks look like a canoe, but it has a close deck and the paddle is double-bladed. Depending on the type of kayak, the paddler may sit-in or sit-on-top while their legs are in front of them.

Kayaks were used in ancient times for hunting and fishing and were made with driftwoods or a whale’s skeleton to build the frame. For the body, skins of animals such as seals were used.

In the middle of the 1800s, kayaking became popular, and people in Europe got interested in this activity. Since then, the popularity of kayaking continued. It was included in the 1936 Berlin Olympics Games, further fueling its growing popularity.

Nowadays, kayaking is still a favorite recreational activity for many people. Kayaks have evolved to have different designs and styles to give the best experience to its owner.

Types of River Kayaks

River kayaking presents a bigger challenge compared to kayaking in lakes or seas. With the rocks, rapids, and waterfalls you could encounter in a river, you will need the appropriate equipment to truly enjoy the experience. It is important to choose the right type of kayak that can withstand the demands of a river.

Crossover Kayaks

A crossover kayak is designed for recreational, touring, and for whitewater kayaking. It allows the paddler to ride different types of water and to perform excellently in most water environments. Due to its versatile use, it is usually equipped with various features that will only heighten your experience in any kind of environment.

Inflatable Kayaks for Whitewater or Duckies

This type of kayak has a lot of benefits, especially if you just started your journey in whitewater kayaking. An inflatable kayak is portable, making it is easy to carry or move around. You can quickly inflate or deflate it once you are done and ready to go. It is wide enough, so you can be assured that you have a stable ride.

It has enough space for you to move around and put your things. Inflatable kayaks are also durable and can withstand most impacts and damage.

Whitewater Kayaks

Whitewater Kayaks are used to navigate through rough watercourses, even those with rocks and rapids. There are different types of whitewater kayaks you can choose from.

Play Boats

It is the shortest among whitewater kayaks. This kayak also has a blunt stern and scooped blow that makes it easy to maneuver. It is used to perform tricks and moves, which makes it a very fun kayak to use. However, it is not ideal if you are planning to go from one place to another.

River Runners

Unlike the play boats, river runners are a bit longer, reaching about 7 to 8 feet. With its length, you can do a bit of tracking when you are in the flat section of the river. However, it is not that long to give you problems when you need to do tight turns. It is also comfortable to use and has enough room for your gear and things.

Creak Boats or Creekers

This type of kayak is longer than other kayaks. It is about 8 feet or longer and designed to quickly resurface after submerging in the water. Creek boats are also highly durable and able to withstand any drops. You will not have a problem running it on flat sections or rapids.

Old School Kayaks or Longboats

An old school kayak or longboat is longer compared to other whitewater kayaks. Its length ranges from 10 to 12 feet long. You can easily use it in rivers with many flat sections, but tight turns will be a problem. Also, it has smaller cockpits than modern kayaks, so there may be a problem with the legroom if you are tall. These kayaks were made in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

What is the best kayak for a beginner?

If you are a beginner, it is important to get a kayak appropriate for your paddling skills. It will ensure your comfort and safety. As much as possible, do not buy kayaks that are very expensive since you are just starting to be familiar with it. Invest in a kayak that promises stability so that you will not have a hard time with control or maneuverability.

Most recreational kayaks are suitable for beginners. These are usually made from polyethylene plastic to provide structural integrity. Also, get something that has a large cockpit for easy access and comfort. Some examples of kayak you can get are inflatable kayak, tandem kayak, recreational kayak, or even ocean kayak.

What Makes a Good River Kayak?


In river kayaking, there will be obstacles like rocks and rapids that you will face. There are also hindrances like a tree branch or boulders that will pop up out of nowhere. When these happen, you need to respond fast and maneuver around it. Therefore, you will need a kayak that has excellent maneuverability to help you navigate rough areas of the river.


When it comes to the length of the kayak, the best range to get is about 8 to 12 feet, as it gives the paddler the best maneuverability. The shorter the kayak, the better maneuverability it offers. However, for river kayaking, it is best to balance maneuverability and stability. A length of 8-12 feet provides easy control while also having stability.


River or whitewater kayaking has obstacles that can tear or ruin a kayak. There will be long tree branches and sharp rocks that you can bump and scrape into. This is unavoidable so getting a sturdy and durable kayak is a must. The sturdiness of a kayak largely depends on the materials it is made of.

There are two materials used to make a kayak sturdy and durable – polyethylene or PVC plastic. Polyethylene is frequently used for kayaks as it can endure abuse and beating. However, it is hard to repair once damaged and can also be cumbersome to carry.

PVC, on the other hand, is used in most inflatable kayaks. Though it is not as robust as polyethylene, it is still durable to use. It is also easy to fix once damaged and it is much lighter than polyethylene. This will make the kayak portable and easy to carry around.

However, keep in mind that not all kayaks made from PVC offer the same sturdiness. It still depends on the quality of the PVC used, so make sure that it is heavy-duty for it to last.


When you go down the river, you will be nudged and tossed around. Because of this, you will need a kayak that has excellent stability. This is to make sure that you will not tip over even when the ride gets rough.

The stability of a kayak depends on how wide it is, the wider the kayak is, the more stable it is. However, the width also affects the kayak’s speed. If you have a wider kayak, it will move slower compared to slimmer ones.

Keep in mind that in river kayaking, the kayak speed also depends on how fast the river flows. Hence, it is better to prioritize stability over speed when getting a kayak for river kayaking.