Best Kayak Brands – A Comprehensive Guide

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Best Kayak Brands

Selecting a suitable kayak can be a daunting prospect, but becoming acquainted with the best kayak brands on the market can help narrow down your search. There is a huge selection of reputable kayak brands to consider, ranging from established names that have been around for decades, to newer companies that have only hit the market in recent years. To help you make sense of the huge variety of options, we have put together a list of of some of the best kayak brands around.

Lifetime Kayaks

Lifetime is an established name in the kayak market. Although synonymous with kayaks, this Utah-based brand is a go-to for all manner of outdoor sports equipment. If you are new to the world of kayaks, you should definitely think about starting the search for your next yak with Lifetime. You will find a good selection of basic kayaks and entry-level craft on offer from this brand, with a range of sit-on and sit-in kayak models available. Are you a keen angler? Lifetime offers a healthy selection of fishing kayaks for you to consider. If you like to take to the water with friends, you will also find a good range of tandem kayaks on offer from this brilliant brand. The majority of kayaks from this brand offer exceptional stability, which makes them a good fit with the beginner or those looking for something for flatwater paddling. Lifetime kayaks are also fairly affordable, making the brand worth seeking out if you need to stick to a budget.

Malibu

This reputable kayak manufacturer has been around for some time now, with the company launching its first kayaking lines in 1999. This California-based company is the way to go if you are looking for premium kayak design, with everything from inflatable kayak models for recreational adventures, to hard-shell kayaks designed for use on rough waters. Malibu was also founded by kayak enthusiasts, meaning expert thinking has gone into the design and production of each and every product from the manufacturer. With Malibu, you can look forward to superior hull design and exceptional details to make every kayaking adventure as pleasurable as possible. The product catalogue from Malibu is also extensive, with a great deal of unique yaks and paddleboards you will struggle to find elsewhere. The product line is constantly expanding, while existing models are forever being improved upon. This brand also caters to all corners of the market. Kayak enthusiasts looking for top-tier vessels will find plenty for them here, but those with less money to spend will also find a good deal of budget-friendly yaks on the table.

Old Town

As you might expect from the name, Old Town is one of the most established names in the kayak business. In fact, this historic manufacturer can trace its origins back to the late 1890s in Maine, USA. The first vessels from Old Town were simple canoe creations, with wooden frames covered with canvas hulls. Since then, the company has come a long way, with the first big shift towards canvas canoes dramatically expanding the product line. After the company was bought by S.C. Johnson in the mid-1990s, Old Town began offering a range of kayaks to consumers alongside its canoe lines. In just a few years, Old Town was producing more kayaks than canoes and it is for the former that is better known today. If you are looking for a recreational kayak that scores well in terms of durability, you should consider looking into what is on offer from Old Town. However, you will also find more premium examples from this brand, with hard-wearing polyethylene hulls designed for whitewater conditions, as well as a smaller collection of sea kayak models and touring kayak designs.

Ocean Kayaks

Although Ocean Kayaks started out as its own entity, it has been bought up by the same parent company that absorbed Old Town in recent years. If you are looking for high-quality kayaks that can be used on the open water, Ocean Kayaks is the way to go. This company is a go-to for kayakers looking for hard-wearing watercraft that can be used on the ocean, with durable designs that cope well with waves and rough water. It is definitely a good place to start your search for sit-on kayaks, while storage compartments and other details tend to geared towards the needs of those who prefer to use sea kayaks. Although the current product line from Ocean Kayaks is rather small compared to other manufacturers, the recent buy out of the company has led to additional funding that has benefited the design department. More and more kayak models are being released under the Ocean Kayak label, resulting in a broader selection with a wider range of price points for consumers.

Hobie

If you are an angler, you have probably heard about Hobie before. This brand is synonymous with fishing kayaks and is the preferred choice of many anglers in the market for a new watercraft. If you are looking for a high-quality fishing yak, always make time to see what Hobie has to offer. These yaks are designed with the angler in mind, so you can expect storage tailored to the needs of fishing. You can also expect things like fish finder mounts, rod holders and other useful features that will make your angling excursions as enjoyable as possible. However, Hobie has begun to produce a broader range of kayaks for the general consumer. In addition to their angling watercraft, they also offer a good selection of inflatable kayaks, pedal kayaks, paddleboards and more besides.

Sea Eagle

Sea Eagle is an incredibly popular brand in the United States, but you will find plenty of kayakers from across the globe who love this manufacturer. Sea Eagle specialise in inflatable kayak and are often the preferred choice for those looking for yaks that are portable and easy to store. In addition to inflatable kayaks, Sea Eagle offers a good selection of conventional canoes. The brand also produces a good range of paddeboats. Sea Eagle watercraft can be used on both fresh and saltwater, with durable materials ensuring you get the most out of your purchase. The product offering from Sea Eagle is designed for all segments of the market, ranging from the beginner looking for a recreational kayak for occasional use, to the outdoor enthusiast who needs a craft that can cope with incredibly challenging conditions. If you want the convenience of inflatable design, but do not want to sacrifice on durability and performance, you definitely need to take the time to explore what Sea Eagle has to offer.

Wilderness Systems

Established in 1986,Wilderness Systems has become a leading light in the kayak market. This award-winning brand specialises in kayaks that combine incredible aesthetics with first-rate performance. If you are looking for a kayak that looks great and handles well on the water, Wilderness Systems is worth exploring. In addition to hard-wearing hulls, you can also count on a comfortable ride when you buy a kayak from Wilderness Systems. Comfortable seats and ergonomic design are hallmarks of this brand, while you will find no shortage of touring kayaks on offer. As this brand is geared towards the premium end of the market, you might find some models priced a little too high for your budget. However, if you can afford to fork out a little more for your kayak, you will be rewarded with the best in durability and performance on the water.

Sun Dolphin

This brand began life as a small operation in the early 1980s. Since then, this North American kayak brand has grown to become one of the most successful manufacturers in the business. Sun Dolphin have a fairly limited kayak range, specialising in recreational and fishing kayaks. However, within these two product categories you will find an amazing amount of variety. Kayak novices will find a good selection of watercraft to suit their needs as they find their way on the water, while anglers have a good range of options to think about. Sun Dolphin also manufacture a range of other watercraft, including pedal boats, canoes and fishing boats and dinghies. You will also find a good selection of paddelboards on offer from this manufacturer.

Pelican

If you are looking for a premium kayak that has been built to last, you should certainly look at what Pelican has to offer. This is one of the oldest kayak brands around, with more than half a century of experience. Although they are an established name in the kayak market, Pelican is relatively affordable, with a range of yaks and watercraft that can be picked up fairly cheaply. This Canadian brand specialises in recreational kayaks, although you should not discount it as something purely for beginners. This is a brand that constantly strives to innovative, bringing new features and functionality to their product line. Even the more experienced kayaker will find plenty of enticing options on offer from Pelican. If you are unsure of where to start in the world of kayaks, Pelican is definitely worth investigating. Even a modest priced kayak will prove its worth for years to come. This brand is also a pioneer when it comes to Thermoform kayak construction. Check out our post on the Pelican Argo 100.

Advanced Elements

Advanced Elements are relative newcomers to the kayak market, but it has truly established itself as a pioneering authority. Advanced Elements is responsible for some of the first hybrid inflatable kayaks to have hit the market, with many patented designs that are still unrivalled by competitors. Advanced Elements is arguably responsible for some of the best design innovations behind inflatable kayaks, redefining portability, durability and performance. If you are looking for a recreational kayak that is easy to transport to the water, Advanced Elements is bound to have something to tempt you. They also offer a good range of high-end kayaks, including whitewater, touring and expedition yaks. You will also find a good range of angling kayaks offered by this popular brand.

FeelFree

FeelFree actually refers to a family of kayak brands, including FeelFree Gear, Jonny Boats, Sesastream Kayaks and more. This brand is based out of North Carolina and is responsible for some of the best angling kayaks on the market. You will find a good choice of hard-shell kayaks from this manufacturer, with a healthy collection of fishing kayaks that have been kitted out with details that anglers will appreciate. This brand also produces a selection of tandem kayaks, making it a good place to start if you are looking for a yak that can house you and a fellow water sports enthusiast. You will also be glad to know that FeelFree is an affordable option, with many yak models retailing at very competitive prices.

EddyLine

If you want to head out onto the open water, EddyLine is a brand worth considering. EddyLine specialises in fishing and ocean kayaks, with their angling yaks taking inspiration from their ocean-faring watercraft. If you want a kayak that will hold up well against waves and rough waters, this brand is the way to go. EddyLine kayks are designed to perform well on the waves, allowing you to achieve significant speeds. They are also designed with comfort in mind, so you can expect spacious cockpits and ergonomic supports so you can be out on the water for longer. If you are specifically searching for angling kayaks, you will not be disappointed by EddyLine’s offering. Fishing kayaks from this brand are among some of the best on the market, with all the key features an angler could want accounted for. This brand is by no means the most affordable around, but if you want a fishing kayak that can hold its own, the premium is worth it.

Perception

Perception kayaks have been around for several decades. If you have been paddling for a few years, chances are you will have encountered a Perception kayak by now. You will find a wide selection of recreational kayaks on offer from this established brand, with a range of designs to accommodate all budgets. Beginners and enthusiasts alike will find plenty to suit when shopping from this brand. Although the product range is broad, Perception is without doubt tailored toward the beginner looking to invest in their first kayak.

Evoke

Evoke kayaks are worth considering if you want something that is made to last. Established in the USA, this popular brand is a good place to start if you are looking for a high-quality kayak that will hold up well after repeated use for years to come. Evoke’s product range is broadly divided between recreational and fishing kayaks. This brand specialises on rotomolded construction, making it a must if you are looking for a particularly durable hull design. Evoke is also fairly affordable, making it a good place to begin if you are a kayaking novice. You can also take advantage of a particularly colourful product range, with plenty of vibrant colour schemes and hull motifs to consider.

Field & Stream

This brand began life in the publishing business, specialising in monthly magazines focused on angling, hunting and outdoor pursuits. Since then, the company has expanded its operations and today produces some of the most affordable kayaks on the market. If you are looking for an entry-level yak that will allow you to get acquainted with life on the water, Field & Stream is a brand worth taking the time to discover. You should definitely take some time to give their Blade kayak series some serious investigation. In addition to kayaks, Field & Stream produce a good range of canoes and paddleboards. You will also find an impressive selection of kayak and boating accessories on offer from this brand. If you are looking for a new trolling motor, Field & Stream have plenty to offer you. Looking for safety upgrades for your yak? This brand has more than enough options.

BKC

The Brooklyn Kayak Company is a great brand to investigate if you put a lot of stock in the finer details. The high-quality kayaks produced by this brand offer some of the best extra features around. Here you will find waterproof compartments for dry storage, superior seats that excel when it comes to ergonomic comfort and more besides. Despite the attention to detail that has gone into the production of each and every BKC kayak, you will not have to spend a small fortune when you purchase a yak from this brand. This is an affordable manufacturer that even the beginner on a budget can purchase form.

Vibe

Vibe Kayaks offers plenty of options available to those who love life on the water. You will find a good variety of sit-on top kayaks from Vibe, although there is plenty of alternatives for those who want a yak that can be used for fishing. If you want a hard-shell kayak that can cope with any weather, Vibe is a brilliant brand to buy from. Kayaks from this manufacturer are built to last, with plenty of user-friendly details that will make every excursion as rewarding as possible. Like to paddle with company? Vibe also offer a superb selection of tandem kayaks. Check out our post on the Vibe Sea Ghost 110. 

Take Your Pick from the Best Kayak Brands

As you can see, you have an amazing amount of choice when it comes to reputable kayak brands. We would be hard pressed to pick a favourite from the above brands, but there are some clear contenders for those with more specific requirements. Looking for a kayak for fishing? Hobie and EddyLine are probably your best bet. Need something to handle more challenging waters and touring expeditions? Advanced Elements and Wilderness Systems have plenty of suitable options. However, all of the brands we have discussed above have plenty of first-rate kayaks. If you are a beginner looking for your an entry-level kayak to get started with, you can pretty much take your pick from any of the above manufacturers and be confident you have something that will exceed your expectations.

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