The 5 Best Ocean Kayaks – 2020 Models [Reviewed]
Kayaking on the open ocean is a thrilling experience. Whether you like to paddle close to shore in calm waters or tackle big swell, choosing the best ocean kayak lets you make the most of it.
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Things You Should Know Before Choosing the Best Ocean Kayak
Ocean kayak models are designed specifically for the sea. Therefore, it’s important to look for key features that help you navigate open waters. If you’re a beginner, it’s a good idea to increase your paddling skills, before taking on changing tides and strong currents. While the right ocean kayak will be quite stable, capsizing is always a possibility. Practice proper wet exits in calm water, so you can get back into your kayak with ease.
There are several key features to consider when you purchase a sea kayak.
The first is ratio of length and width. The kayak should be quite long, and the width 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 quickly.
Additionally, sea kayaks made of fiberglass are widely considered the best choice. Another factor to consider is the amount of storage you have. It pays to carry food and water with you, especially on longer trips.
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.
5 Best Ocean Kayaks in 2020
|Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top||57 pounds||12 Feet||Check Current Price|
Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak
|60 pounds||14.5 feet||Check Current Price|
|Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak||43 pounds||9 feet||Check Current Price|
|Ocean Kayak 16-Feet x 4.5-Inch Zest Two Expedition Tandem Sit-On-Top Touring Kayak||75 pounds||16 feet||Check Current Price|
|Lifetime 10 Foot Manta Tandem Kayak||60 pounds||10 feet||Check Current Price|
With two removable seats, this is the best ocean kayak for paddling with a friend or your dog. The Malibu Two also has foot wells for each seat, ensuring a comfortable trip. The design includes carrying handles, gear straps and a skid plate, adding to its durability.
At 12-foot in length, this isn’t a particularly long tandem kayak. This means there’s not a lot of space for storage. However, the bow and stern have areas to fit a dry bag. The great thing about its size, is that it’s quite easy to carry, weighing only 58 pounds.
In terms of carrying capacity, the Malibu Two can hold 425 pounds. This means it can hold two adults, plus a child or small dog. However, if you want to maintain any speed, it’s best not to fill it to capacity.
This kayak tracks well for a sit-on-top model. At 34 inches at its widest, it’s also very stable on the water.
One of the best accessories of this ocean kayak is the skid plate, which helps to lengthen the lifespan of the kayak. It does this by limiting damage to the keel.
- 34 inches wide
- 12 feet long
- Sit-on-top model
- Removable seats
- Skid plate
- Not very fast
- Limited storage space for two people
The cockpit on this kayak measures 36.5 inches by 19.5 inches, allowing for larger kayakers to fit inside quite comfortably.
It also offers adjustable foot braces for ease of comfort for those who are taller or have longer legs.
The cockpit has custom fit seating, which means it fits individual kayakers as the seat is cushioned well.
This kayak has a rudder system. For some kayakers, this is a major perk. For other kayakers this is a detriment, so this is an entirely personal choice.
The Edge has quite a large amount of storage, inlcuding two waterproof storage units, both measuring 16 by 8 inches. It also has shockcord storage in the front and rear of the boat.
The Edge also has security bars and paddle hooks. This provides ease for enjoying beautiful scenery or fishing from your kayak.
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 or having to put the kayak on top of your car when it’s not being used.
- 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
3. Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
If you really want to purchase a recreational kayak, due to either not wishing to spend a large sum of money or because you want to use your kayak in many different bodies of water, this is the best ocean kayak for you.
The Ocean Frenzy 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’s incredibly easy to adjust the seat while riding in the kayak, which is another benefit.
It’s important to note that the foot braces are molded into the top of this kayak. They are a permanent addition, not a foot brace that can slide along a track.
While this kayak is safe to use in the ocean, it’s recommended that it only be used touring the coastline and in playful waves. This is not a kayak you would want to take too far out where you could not easily get back to shore.
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.
- Sit on Top
- 4-way seat adjustability
- Adjustable foot braces
- Thigh braces
- Handles a lot of additional weight
- Decent storage
- Only 9 feet long
- 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, with a width of 31 inches.
This is another sit-on-top kayak, which affords more safety in 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.
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’s 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
- 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 it can handle ocean currents quite well.
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 difficult to maneuver in the water.
The Manta is a sit-on-top kayak. Again, this provides great safety, you 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, with adjustable seat backs. Also, the foot braces on this boat are molded.
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
- Molded foot braces
- Seat back adjusts
- Tunnel hull design
- Paddles Included
- “Impossible” to tip
- Very little storage
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 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 sea. 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’re 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.
To ensure that kayakers stay safe in an ocean environment, it’s important that 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, waterproof storage will save any goods.
Shockcord storage or bungee storage is a good second, as you can use dry bags or other waterproof containers.
Ultimately, the more storage a boat can have, the better.
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.
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 a more budget option.
That being said, the best possible material for an ocean kayak is fiberglass. Fiberglass is more expensive but provides the boat with the best possible buoyancy.
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’s 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, 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.
The top thing to remember when choosing the best ocean kayak is ensuring your kayak is quite long and narrow. Next, choose durable material and a kayak with plenty of storage, if you intend on taking longer trips.
That way, you’ll be all set to enjoy exciting ocean kayaking adventures for many years to come.