The 5 Best Ocean Kayaks – 2018 Models [Reviewed]

Kayaking is an incredibly peaceful hobby. One of the perks is that it can be done in lakes, rivers, and on the ocean. However, ocean kayaking brings a distinct set of challenges to it.

In order to be successful at ocean kayaking, you must buy a kayak designed specifically for the ocean. If you buy a recreational kayak, or a kayak meant for several different bodies of water, you can risk endangering yourself. This is because a recreational kayak is not prepared to handle the difficulties the ocean can throw at you.

Top Ocean Kayaks: Things You Should Know

Kayaks are some of the most versatile boats in existence. They are excellent to use on lakes and the ocean. Perhaps the most challenging environment for kayaks is the river.

Rivers make a challenging environment because a river can quickly change from flat water to rapids and back again. Choosing a kayak which can handle many different types of water is crucial for successful river kayaking.

River kayaks need to be made from either plastic or fiberglass and both design elements have advantages and disadvantages. The plastic and fiberglass kayaks allow for more safety when on rapids.

Plastic kayaks do have the disadvantage of facing more wear and tear over time. Meanwhile, fiberglass kayaks are light and durable, but tend to cost more upfront.

5 Best Ocean Kayaks in 2018


Product Name

Kayak Weight



Necky Elias Kayak with Rudder

56 pounds

15.5 Feet

Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak

60 pounds

14.5 feet

Ocean Kayak Scrambler 11 Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

47 pounds

11 feet

Ocean Kayak 16-Feet x 4.5-Inch Zest Two Expedition Tandem Sit-On-Top Touring Kayak

75 pounds

16 feet

Lifetime 10 Foot Manta Tandem Kayak

60 pounds

10 feet

Purchasing a kayak, especially a sea kayak, is a monumental decision. It requires great forethought and planning. There are several key features to consider when you purchase a sea kayak.

The first is ratio of length and width. The kayak must be quite long, and the width of the kayak must be more narrow than kayaks intended for lakes and rivers. This allows your kayak to handle rougher waters, as the weather in the ocean can change quite rapidly.

Additionally, sea kayaks should be made of fiberglass to have the best possible experience. Another factor to consider is the amount of storage you have. Considering that the ocean is very large and can be disorienting, it may be wise to have a large storage space on your kayak.

If your storage space is large, you are able to carry food and water in case you would get lost on the waves. Finally, take note of any extra steering options on your kayak. If the kayak has a rudder, this is good for turning quickly. A skeg, on the other hand, is good for combatting difficult waves.

Top 5 Ocean Kayak in 2017

1. Necky Elias Kayak with Rudder

This kayak is an absolutely beautiful model and comes in multiple color options. However, underneath the aesthetics lie a solid, speedy, sea kayak.

The first element of the Elias which sets it aside is the length and width. At 15.5 feet long, but only 22.25 inches wide, it is literally built for speed and to handle waves.​

Tracking, or turning, will be difficult in this kayak, due to the ratio of length and width. Typically, the longer a kayak is, the more difficult it is to turn. The rudder on this kayak will help with the difficulty of the tracking.​

This kayak also has a rudder attached to the bottom. This rudder has often been criticized, as a skeg would be much more effective. However, the rudder is still very useful and helps a boat of this length maneuver through the water.

As far as the skeg is concerned, some kayakers prefer it. A skeg is a metal piece which can be lowered and raised from where it lies, flush with the bottom of the kayak.

While a rudder can swivel back and forth, a skeg can only move up and down. However, in ocean situations, where kayakers are dealing with strong waves, this can be a major advantage.

Rudders are meant more for steering, while skegs are meant for slowing down the kayak in difficult waters.

The rudder on this kayak is pedal operated, which means it is very easy to use while you are paddling.

Kayaks of this length are often not criticized for being difficult for larger kayakers to fit in comfortably. This kayak is, also, excellent for tall kayakers.

First, at 15.5 feet of length, it allows for as much legroom as is necessary. It also has an incredibly large and roomy cockpit, at 32.25 inches by 16 inches. This cockpit size allows large kayakers to feel comfortable.

The Elias also has adjustable foot pedals and adjustable thigh pads. These two features allow large kayakers even more comfort in their kayak.

This kayak has paddle keepers, allowing for the ease of enjoying views or fishing experiences.

As far as storage goes, this kayak has two, fairly large, waterproof compartments. It also has bungee storage on the front and rear of the kayak.

Unfortunately, this kayak is not made of fiberglass. This is, however, a feature which saves money on this kayak--so if money is an issue, this kayak is a better purchase as far as sea kayaks go.

It does come with a limited lifetime warranty, which ensures this kayak will last you a long time. This warranty is limited, however, which means you may need to doublecheck what is covered on the warranty.


  • 22.25 inches wide
  • 14.5 feet long
  • ​Large cockpit
  • ​Lots of storage
  • ​Decent price for a sea kayak
  • ​Rudder system
  • ​Aluminum rudder
  • ​Adjustable foot pedals
  • ​Paddle Keepers
  • ​Waterproof storage in rear and bow
  • ​Bungee storage in rear and bow
  • Lifetime warranty


  • Made of Polyethylene

2.Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak (Yellow/Orange, 14.5-Feet)

The Riot Edge mirrors the Nicky Elias quite well. The Edge is a mere foot shorter than the Elias, but otherwise measures it almost inch for inch.

The cockpit on this kayak measures 36.5 inches by 19.5 inches, allowing for larger kayakers to fit inside quite comfortable. This cockpit is much larger than the Elias. If the Elias seemed small to you, the Edge may be worth a longer look.​

Much like the Elias, it has adjustable foot braces for ease of comfort for those who are taller or have longer legs.

It also has thigh braces, though they are not adjustable. The cockpit does have custom fit seating, which means it fits individual kayakers as the seat is cushioned well.

This kayak has a rudder system, like the Elias. For some kayakers, this is a major perk. For other kayakers this is a detriment. If you prefer a skeg on your sea kayak, the Elias and the Edge are not for you.

The Edge has quite a large amount of storage. Two waterproof storage units, both measuring 16 by 8 inches. It also has shockcord storage in the front and rear of the boat, unlike the Elias which merely has bungee storage.

The Edge also has security bars and paddle hooks. This provides, like the Elias, ease for enjoying beautiful scenery or fishing from your kayak. However, this Edge does have safer places to rest your kayak paddles.

The security bars ensure the kayak cannot be taken when it is resting on the shoreline. THis prevents having to haul the kayak long distances and prevents having to move the kayak on top of your car when not being used.

The paddle hooks are hooks on the side of the kayak which secure the paddles. This prevents the kayak paddle from coming loose, either when they are not needed or when the water becomes very rough.


  • Lightweight
  • Has a rudder system
  • ​14.5 feet long
  • ​22.25 inches wide
  • ​Very large cockpit
  • ​Adjustable seat
  • ​Thigh braces
  • ​Waterproof storage in rear
  • ​Waterproof storage in bow
  • ​Shockcord storage in rear and bow
  • ​Has a Paddle Hook
  • ​Has Security Bars
  • ​Very reasonable price


  • Does not come with paddles
  • Polyethylene

3. Ocean Kayak Scrambler 11 Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

If you are insistent on purchasing a recreational kayak, due to either not wishing to spend a large sum of money or due to wanting to use your kayak in many different bodies of water, this is the best choice for you.

The Ocean Scramble is a sit on top kayak. Sit on top kayaks have a molded out seating area on the top of the kayak. This allows more comfort for taller kayakers.​

Sitting on top of the kayak also means, if the kayak should tip, an eskimo roll would not be needed. ULtimately, this means this kayak is much safer than sit in kayaks, especially if the rider struggles with mobility.

Another feature which allows the rider comfort is 4 way seat adjustability. It is incredibly easy to adjust the seat while you are riding in the kayak, which is simply another benefit.

It is important to note that the foot braces are molded into the top of the kayak. They are a permanent addition, not a foot brace than can be slid along a track.

While this kayak is safe to use in the ocean, it is recommended that it only be used touring the coast line. This is not a kayak you would want to take too far out where you could not easily get back to shore.

The reason for this precaution is the short length. This kayak is shorter than the Elias and Edge by 3.5 feet. While this may not seem like much, when you are in the water it is a great difference.

The width of the kayak is 30 inches, which is quite large compared to the Edge and the Elias. It is very important to remember that this kayak is not particularly safe in the ocean if the weather runs the risk of become dangerous very quickly.

This kayak also only has one, six inch, waterproof compartment. It does have a large bungee storage compartment in the front of the kayak. There is a smaller bungee storage compartment behind the seat.


  • Lightweight
  • Sit on Top
  • 4-way seat adjustability
  • Adjustable Foot braces
  • Thigh braces
  • Handles a lot of additional weight
  • Decent storage


  • Only 11 feet long
  • 30 inches wide
  • Recreational--can be risky to take on the sea if the weather changes.

4. Ocean Kayak 16-Feet x 4.5-Inch Zest Two Expedition Tandem Sit-On-Top Touring Kayak

Another kayak designed by Ocean, but this kayak is 16 feet long. It also has a width of 31 inches. While this width is still too wide, compared to the Elias and the Edge, the length does make a much better ocean kayak than the Scrambler.

This is also another sit on top kayak. This affords more safety in the difficult ocean currents.

A perk of this kayak is that it is a tandem kayak. Many kayakers prefer not to kayak alone. However, this means purchasing two kayaks. When you have two kayaks, you can also run the risk of becoming separated from other kayakers, especially in the disorienting ocean environment.

A tandem kayak, or two person kayak, resolves all of these issues for those who do not wish to kayak alone.

This kayak has adjustable comfort seats and molded in foot braces. This allows for tall kayakers to fit comfortably.

A huge perk to this kayak is its storage well in the front of the boat. The cavity, though not waterproof, is considered oversized. Due to this extra storage, it is possible to take this kayak on a weekend adventure, which would require stopping and camping overnight.


  • Very comfortable
  • Adjustable seat
  • Excellent handles
  • Molded foot braces
  • Oversized storage cavity
  • Tandem
  • Ocean friendly
  • Sit on top


  • Very wide
  • Very heavy

5. Lifetime 10 Foot Manta Tandem Kayak

Though this kayak is the shortest on this list, it also is the most narrow, at only 19 inches. THis means that, though it is not the perfect sea kayak, it still can handle the ocean currents.

Due to its short length and thin nature, it stores extremely well--on top of most cars and inside most SUVs and vans. However, the compactness of this kayak comes with a sacrifice.​

The Manta is also the heaviest kayak on this list. This can make it very difficult to maneuver in the water.

Like the Zest and Scramble, the Manta is a Sit on Top kayak. Again, this provides great safety, as any riders who become capsized do not have to eskimo roll to get out of the kayak. Typically the eskimo roll requires specially training.

This is listed as a tandem kayak, but the kayak’s statistics argue it can fit up to three riders on this kayak. As this kayak has a weight capacity of 500-600 pounds, this does seem possible.

Another feature of this kayak is the seats. This kayak has adjustable seat backs.

In other words, entire seat does not adjust, because the only part of the seat that is not a molded section of the boat is the back of the seat. If comfort is a key detail for you in your kayak, this boat is not for you.

Also, the foot braces on this boat are molded. THis means you have options, much like the other kayaks, however you cannot alter the stops--they are predetermined for you.

An extra feature which none of the other kayaks on this list have, is paddles! THe Manta includes paddles in this purchase, and though they are not excellent paddles, it is still an additional purchase you do not need to make.

Finally, the Manta has a tunnel hull design. This means that the kayak has a gap in the hull, putting the weight of the kayak on “pressure points” so to speak. This, reportedly, makes the kayak impossible to tip.


  • Stores well
  • Very narrow
  • 2+ riders
  • Tandem
  • Molded foot braces
  • Seat back adjusts
  • Tunnel hull design
  • Paddles Included
  • “Impossible” to tip


  • 10 feet long
  • Very heavy
  • Very little storage

How to Buy an Ocean Kayak

Ocean Kayak

When choosing an ocean kayak there are several key features to consider. The first is length and width ratio. The ideal kayak will be over 14 feet in length and have a very narrow width to it.

Another feature to consider is the stability of the kayak. Most kayaks gain their stability from the ratio of width and length. However, some kayaks, like the Manta gain stability from hull design. When considering a kayak to use on ocean currents, stability is a must.

Storage is important for sea kayakers to consider. The ocean terrain can be very disorienting, especially if kayakers head very far out to see. It is important for kayakers to make sure they have enough food and water in case of an emergency, and this is only made possible with large amounts of storage.

Finally, it is important that these kayaks be made of good materials. Polyethylene is the most common material for kayaks to be made of, but fiberglass kayaks are often the best for sea travel, as they are lighter.

Sea kayaks also can have two different types of steering: either rudders or skegs. These steering options vary vastly and can completely change the kayaking experience.


As stated, the ocean can be incredibly disorienting. To ensure that kayakers stay safe in such a disorienting environment, it is important sea kayaks have as much storage as possible.

It is also important that this storage be waterproof. If the kayak should tip for any reason, or if the kayaker is caught an intense storm, the waterproof storage would save any goods.

Shockcord storage or bungee storage is a good second, as dry bags are able to be purchased, or other waterproof containers.

Ultimately, the more storage a boat can have, the better.

Length and Width

The kayak must have a long length and a thin width. If a kayak is long, it allows for a greater ability to withstand difficult currents and waves.

If the long kayak stays very wide, then it can create more resistance against waves and tip more easily.

A short kayak may be acceptable if it has a narrow width or if the kayak is strictly used for touring the coast.


The most common material for ocean kayaks is polyethylene. This is a type of plastic, and is very durable and money conscientious.

That being said, the best possible material for an ocean kayak is fiberglass. Fiberglass is incredibly expensive, but provides to boat with the best possible buoyancy.

Rudder vs. Skeg

For ocean kayaks, it is important to ensure your kayak can steer well in all sorts of conditions. However, there are two schools of thought on what types of steering is best for ocean kayaks.

A rudder is a metal piece on the bottom of the kayak. Inside the kayak is a foot pedal, which allows the kayaker to turn the rudder to the left and to the right.

This helps the kayaker steer more easily. In situations where it is important that a kayaker can change his or her direction quickly, a rudder is beneficial.

Many ocean kayakers, however, prefer a skeg. A skeg does not help with directional steering, but with increasing speed.

Often, when a skeg is involved with a kayak, there is a small compartment on the bottom of the kayak for the skeg. The skeg cannot move left and right, but only up and down.

By moving up and down, it improves the way the kayak can handle the waves and wind coming toward or against it. This can be incredibly advantageous on the seas--especially when currents are strong.

Our Final Review for the Best Ocean Kayak

As it has been stated, it is crucial to be wise when choosing a sea kayak. Unlike other kayaks, this can be the difference between life and death.

A kayak which is not well suited for ocean climates can easily cause a kayaker severe consequences. That being said, it is important to choose a kayak which is long and narrow. It is important to choose a kayak made of very durable material.

It is also important to ensure that your kayak has the storage you need. Finally, ensure your kayak has the appropriate steering for the conditions you will be in on the ocean.

If you do not ensure your kayak meets your requirements, it can cause lots of issues on your journey.

KayakBest is among the largest and most dedicated kayak review sites. We aim to help enthusiasts discover the best tips and products for an enjoyable paddling experience.

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