8 Best Ocean Kayaks in 2020 Reviewed

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Are you looking to up your game and take on the challenging world of ocean kayaking? If so, you don’t want to go paddling in the ocean without reading this first. Ocean kayaking is not for the faint of heart.

Many paddlers would agree that if you want to take your kayaking experience to the next level, go to the ocean. The open sea not only offers a serene backdrop of distant islands, but also an adrenaline-pumping ride with the waves.

And if you are lucky enough (or unlucky), you may end up paddling alongside sharks or dolphins.

If you are ready to venture into a different kind of adventure, the first thing you need to do is to choose the best ocean or sea kayak. Based on our research, here are the top 8 models we recommend for anybody looking for the best ocean kayaks in 2020:

Our Reviews of the Top 8 Ocean Kayaks

1

Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Kayak

Features of the Ocean Kayak Malibu 2
753 Reviews
Features of the Ocean Kayak Malibu 2
  • 3 person/650 lb capacity, weighs 32 lbs, suitable for up to Class III whitewater
  • 370 Deluxe Kayak Package features two movable, super comfortable Deluxe Kayak Seats for improved back support and 2 paddles, foot pump, and carry bag
  • 2 AB30 7'10"" 4 Part Paddles with asymmetrical blade and aluminum shaft
  • 2 skegs on the bottom for better tracking & speed

The Sea Eagle SE 370 is one of the most popular sea kayaks in the US. It is a great option for beginners and professional kayakers of all ages. It is an inflatable kayak that is light and small enough to carry in the trunk of your car. It’s a great solution if you are always on the go for your next adventure.

You can inflate the Sea Eagle 370 in less than 10 minutes using the foot pump that comes with it. The Pro package weighs about 32 lbs and can hold up to 650 lbs. And while it comes with just 2 kayak seats with improved back support, given its maximum weight limit, it can carry up to three people and gear.

Considering that it is an inflatable kayak, you may think that it has a soft hull that easily gets punctured. Surprisingly, its hull is tough enough to handle dog paws and claws. Its I-beam floor construction is extra rigid and is durable enough to handle whitewater rapids up to Class III.

Moreover, performance-wise, it does a great job in the water. It is fitted with 2 molded skegs that help improve your speed and tracking across the water.

Pros
  • Lightweight and easy to transport
  • Fast and easy to inflate and deflate
  • Comes with 2 movable kayak seats with back support
  • Comes with a pressure gauge and repair kit
  • Has a high maximum weight limit that can accommodate up to 3 people
  • With plenty of legroom even for tall users
Cons
  • Some users have issues with maneuverability

2

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-on-Top

Features of the Ocean Kayak Malibu 2
77 Reviews
Features of the Ocean Kayak Malibu 2
  • Enjoy sun and surf with a friend or a furry companion with the kayak's three seating positions, which support solo, tandem, or tandem paddling with a...
  • A pair of Comfort Plus seats provide four-way adjustability, generating a custom fit and greater slip prevention over molded seats.
  • Patented overlapping foot wells allow center-seated paddlers to settle in and brace their feet comfortably. Hatches - None
  • The open, sit-on-top hull makes it easy to get on and off the kayak and includes a pair of molded-in handles and skid plate.

If you are not into inflatables but are still looking for a not-so-heavy kayak that performs well at sea, the Malibu Tandem is a great option. This polyethylene kayak measures 12 feet by 34 inches. It is long and thin enough to give you a good balance between speed and stability.

The good thing about this model is that it’s versatile, so you can also use it for fishing, touring and diving. Plus, if you often go with a partner, this one is one of the best choices you can make. It has enough room for two adults plus one small kid or pet as long as your total weight will not go over its maximum capacity of 425 pounds.

You will be comfortably seated as it comes with 2 Comfort Plus seating systems that are flexible, breathable and adjustable. Your feet too will not feel squeezed, thanks to Ocean Kayak’s patented overlapping footwells.

When it comes to performance, this ocean kayak is also hard to beat. Its triple-layer hull and overall dimensions make it very stable. Regardless of your skill level, you can be confident that it will not easily tip over or capsize. Moreover, it is fitted with a keel for tracking.
Pros
  • Lifetime warranty on the hull
  • Very stable
  • Seating system and footwells are extra comfortable
  • Plenty of legroom
  • Durable construction with triple-layer hull
Cons
  • Not easy to transport considering its length and weight

3

Perception Pescador Pro 10 Sit-on-top Kayak

Features of the Perception Pescador Pro 10
  • Your perfect first fishing kayak - Made in USA
  • Lawn chair style mesh seat with 2-level seat adjustment and breathable mesh for ultimate all-day comfort and no pain
  • Leak-proof one-piece construction with built-in buoyancy for added safety
  • Large front and rear open storage for cooler tackle and other gear

If you are looking for a kayak that you can also use for your fishing trips, the Perception Pescador is one of the best choices worth considering. Its sit-on-top design and overall construction allow it to have such versatility.

What’s good about a sit-top design is that it gives your feet more flexibility to move, something that you need if you are going fishing. The boat is about 10 feet 6 inches long and 32 inches wide with a maximum capacity of 325 pounds.

It’s good for one person with plenty of room for your gear and equipment. The hull is long and wide enough to give you stability and a bit of speed when you are out on the water.

One thing to keep in mind if you plan to be out on the water a lot is that your experience will not be as good if you don’t have a comfortable seat to support your back. Fortunately, it comes with Removable Pro Seat with a breathable mesh for your ultimate comfort.

The seat has two levels of adjustment, which means that you can lower it for a more relaxed paddling experience, or raise it up for optimum casting.

This kayak is made of durable polyethylene with the leak-proof one-piece construction. It has also integrated some accessories for your fishing trips such as two-rod holders and accessory rails. It is a sturdy kayak that is great for ponds, lakes, streams and calm coastal waters.
Pros
  • Comes with fishing accessories
  • Seating system is comfortable and adjustable
  • Hull is leak-proof
  • Large front and rear storage spaces
Cons
  • Weighs 57 pounds which is a bit heavy for its size
  • Good for one person only

4

BKC UH-TK181 12-Foot Sit on Top Ocean Kayak

Features of the BKC UH-TK181 12-Foot
54 Reviews
Features of the BKC UH-TK181 12-Foot
  • THE PERFECT KAYAK FOR OUTDOOR FUN: Our Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC TK181 tandem kayak has extra space to fit 3 - making it ideal for paddling with kids...
  • FULLY LOADED ACCESSORIES: Our kayak comes equipped with 2 soft padded seats, 2 adjustable aluminum paddles, 2 waterproof hatches, 6 built in rod...
  • CRAFTED FOR STABILITY: Our Roto Molded single Piece High density polyethylene material is superior to inflatable kayaks and a capable craft on ocean,...
  • BUILT-IN FISHING ROD HOLDERS: 4 flush-mount rod holders and 3 articulating rod holders allow you to keep multiple baited lines in the water at once,...

If you are looking for an ocean kayak for tandem paddling or fishing, this product is worth checking out. The BKC UH-TK181 comes with extra features that fishing enthusiasts will surely appreciate. It has seven rod holders while many similar products have just five or even less.

Three of these rod holders are articulated while the rest are flush-mounted, allowing you to get multiple lines in the water. It also has generous storage hatches conveniently located between each paddler’s legs. There are watertight compartments where you can stash your personal items and fishing gear.

This BKC UH-TK181 is 12 feet 5 inches long and 34 inches wide, nimble enough for a solo kayaker and big enough to handle two adults with a maximum capacity of 440 pounds. It comes with 2 padded seats that are adjustable for multiple seating positions.

Each seat has a backrest so that your back is fully supported and comfortable. To add to your overall comfort, it also has 2 paddle rests so that you can free up your hands from time to time with no worries of losing your paddles.
Pros
  • Multiple carrying handles to make transport easier
  • With 2 big waterproof storage hatches
  • Can be used solo or tandem
  • Durable fishing kayak
Cons
  • Weighs 65 pounds, which is a bit heavy to transport

5

Lifetime 10 Foot Two Person Tandem Sit-on-top Ocean Kayak

Features of the Lifetime 10ft Kayak
  • Designed for single or tandem use; 500 Lb. weight capacity
  • Includes 2 soft backrests and 2 double sided paddles. UV-Protected Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) Rotational Molded Construction
  • Lightweight 60 lb. design with molded front and rear carry handles for easy transport
  • Tunnel hull design provides ultra stability and tracking; Almost impossible to tip over

Want an ocean kayak that can handle big waves? This Lifetime kayak has a tunnel hull design that allows it to handle 3-foot high waves and even higher waves if you are a pro. It is super stable and difficult to tip over because it is built for stability over speed.

You can tell that it delivers excellent performance with its overall construction and dimensions of 10 feet long and 36 inches wide. Aside from efficiently handling waves, this kayak also offers a comfortable experience.

It comes with two soft backrests and “high and dry” seating to keep you off the floor. It also has a high weight capacity of 500 pounds so that you can use it solo or tandem. But even if you go tandem, it has enough legroom to keep your feet comfortable throughout your ride.

Moreover, if you are one of them who carry numerous gear and equipment, this kayak has got you covered. It has a huge storage area in the front where you can keep your belongings safe and dry.
Pros
  • Comes with two-piece double-sided sport paddles
  • With big forward cargo area for your storage
  • With 5-year limited warranty
  • Large front and rear storage spaces
Cons
  • No paddle holder
  • No seat; only backrest

6

Riot Kayaks Brittany 16.5 Flatwater Ocean Kayak

Features of the Rio Kayaks Brittany 16.5
  • Award-winning British-style sea kayak
  • Features a retractable skeg and pilot rudder system
  • High-performance custom-fit seating system
  • Dual density hatch covers plus day hatch cover

Generally, long kayaks do well in handling changing currents and waves. So if your main consideration when buying a kayak is its ability to handle these obstacles that are normal at sea, this product might be for you.

The Riot Kayaks Brittany is the longest ocean kayak in this review, measuring 16.5 feet in length and 21.75 inches wide. These dimensions alone can give you an idea of how it performs on the water.

Built using high-density polyethylene with a slender bow and slim deck line, this kayak tracks well and moves swiftly. It also comes with a rudder to help in steering.

Moreover, this kayak allows for comfortable seating with its custom-fit seating system with backrest. While you are comfortably seated, your feet can also make use of the adjustable sliding foot braces. This allows your feet to freely move and not get squeezed.
Pros
  • With huge front and rear compartments with hatch cover
  • Comes with reflective lifelines
  • Comes with paddle hook and safety straps
Cons
  • No fishing rod holder
  • Weighs 51 lbs which is a bit heavy to transport

7

Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Sit on Top Ocean Kayak

Features of the Perception Pescador Pilot
118 Reviews
Features of the Perception Pescador Pilot
  • Pedal-driven performance at an unbelievable price - Made in USA
  • Lawn chair style mesh seat with 2-level seat adjustment and breathable mesh for ultimate all-day comfort and no pain
  • Pilot drive pedal system can be fully recessed into hull for zero draft
  • Leak-proof one-piece construction with built-in buoyancy for added safety

Coming from the same brand, this kayak shares many similar features with the Perception Pescador Pro 10 Sit-on-top Kayak near the top of this review. It is also perfect for those who frequently paddle through slow-moving rivers, lakes, ponds, streams, and calm coastal waters.

Just like the Pro 10, this kayak has a leak-proof one-piece construction, built-in buoyancy, and huge front and rear open storage compartments. It also comes with extra features such as gear tracks, fishfinder consoles, and rod holders as well as integrated accessory rails for fish finders, which make it a good fishing kayak.

Moreover, just like many other Perception Pescador kayaks, it also delivers amazing performance. You can control it using a pedal that you can fully recess into the hull to allow for zero drafts. Since it is a long and thin kayak, it can easily handle waves.

Before buying this kayak, it’s important to note that it is for solo paddling only. It does come with a lawn chair-style breathable mesh seat with two levels of adjustment for your comfort. It has a maximum capacity of 475 pounds.
Pros
  • Huge storage places to keep your gear dry
  • With numerous extra features that can be useful for fishing trips
  • Extra durable with a leak-proof one-piece construction
Cons
  • This boat is heavy, weighing about 85 pounds, making it challenging to transport

Top Ocean Kayak Buying Guide

guy out on the ocean water

What is an Ocean Kayak?

If you are familiar with the different types of kayaks, an ocean kayak is the exact opposite of a recreational kayak. A recreational kayak is designed for stability and easy maneuverability in calm waters such as lakes and ponds. It generally lacks the speed and storage capacity for longer trips.

what is the best ocean kayak

An ocean kayak, on the other hand, is designed to cut through the water and efficiently deal with the unpredictable conditions in the open sea. With its generally long and narrow hull, this type of kayak can move fast and efficiently on water. Most ocean kayaks have a V-shaped hull and a rudder (skeg) which helps them track better in water even amidst rough waves.

Unlike recreational kayaks, ocean kayaks have smaller cockpits to help keep the water out. Many beginners find it somewhat restrictive but this design has a good purpose. Moreover, they have bulkheads that work as a flotation device if the water swamps the cockpit. They are also double in terms of storage space.

How to Choose the Best Ocean Kayak

Best Ocean Kayak

Ocean kayaks aren’t cheap so you want to be sure that when you buy one, you are getting the best product for your needs. Here are the factors you need to consider when looking for an Ocean Kayak.

Seating System

The seating system including the backrest matters as it affects your comfort. The best kayak system is one that you can adjust to fit your height. The reason why the backrest is important is that your back will have enough support and feel more relaxed during the experience.

Deck Volume

Your yak should have ample space to allow your legs to fit and move comfortably. If you are paddling on the sea for an extended period, you may find the need to change the position of your legs.

This is not possible if your feet feel too squeezed. That is why it’s important to consider the deck volume. A sea kayak with extra space on the front will give your legs enough space to move and change positions.

Storage

Generally, the more storage space you have, the better it would be for you. This is especially true if you intend to stay for longer hours at sea. You need a place where you can store your equipment and other personal accessories. And the storage area should also be waterproof.

Length

You may use a short kayak in the sea as long as it has a narrow width and only for paddling near the coast. Ideally, if you want to venture in the open sea, you’ll need a long kayak as it has a better ability to withstand changing currents and waves.

A long ocean kayak is more stable, especially when tackling waves. Generally, long kayaks are also easier to paddle compared with their shorter counterparts.

reviews of the best length, hull, deck and more

Width

If you are a beginner, a wider kayak is the ideal choice for you. You will want something that’s at least 50 centimeters wide. The advantage of a wider kayak is that it offers extra stability, reducing the risk of flipping over.

This is a great concern if you have unpredictable waves and wind to contend with. However, a wide hull reduces the efficiency of the kayak in cutting through water.

When kayaking on the sea, efficiency is a must as it helps you cut through water. That’s why experienced ocean kayakers prefer using those with a narrow hull design due to their high efficiency.

Weight

The weight of the kayak becomes an important consideration if you have to transport it to and from your location. A heavy kayak can obviously be more challenging to transport.  Also, in general, the heavier the kayak the deeper it sits in the water. This may help you track straighter but it will also slow you down when paddling.

In contrast, a lighter kayak generally sits higher, allowing you to glide effortlessly over the surface. As a result, it allows you to accelerate faster and maintain your speed. If you are looking for speed and maneuverability, choose a lightweight kayak.

But there is one drawback that you need to consider. The higher your kayak stays above the surface, the less stable it becomes in rough water conditions.

Maneuverability

The length and the design of the hull affect the maneuverability of the kayak. Generally, a long kayak, that has a V-shaped hull, works best for tracking straight paths, faster.

This design is hard to maneuver especially when making turns. It’s a good thing that in the sea, you generally make straight paths so even if your kayak can’t easily make tight turns, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Material

The type of material used in constructing the kayak affects its weight, performance, and price:

  • Rotomolded polyethylene – This is the least expensive material, so kayaks that are constructed with it are generally also among the most affordable products you can find. Rotomolded polyethylene is very flexible and impact resistant. However, its main drawback is that it is soft and deforms easily when not stored properly.
  • Polycarbonate plastic – A polycarbonate kayak looks more like a fiberglass one, but slightly cheaper. It is also more scratch-resistant compared to rotomolded polyethylene. This material is lightweight and produces less drag in the water.
  • Fiberglass – It is a popular choice for sea kayaks because of its remarkable properties. Fiberglass is relatively lightweight, durable and tough enough to withstand abuse.

Basic Parts of an Ocean Kayak

Hull of the Kayak

The design of the hull which is at the bottom of a kayak has a significant impact on the kayak’s performance. It determines how it tracks in the water, how quickly it accelerates and how easy it maneuvers.

Deck

This is the part of the kayak that sits on top of the water. In most kayaks, the deck contains a storage compartment or a bungee rigging for storing your equipment. The height and width of the deck determine the kayak’s stability as well as its maneuverability.

Kayak Cockpit

The cockpit is the part where you sit to control the kayak. The cockpit of an ocean kayak may include several features such as foot pads, bottle holders, a backrest and more.

Rudder or Skeg of the Kayak

When you go kayaking in the sea, it’s important that you can steer well under different types of conditions. And there are typically two options for steering: rudder and skeg.

A rudder is a piece of metal at the bottom of the kayak. You can control it to move to the right or to the left using a foot pedal. This part makes steering easier.

On the other hand, a skeg is a fin-shaped tool that you can usually find under the hull. A skeg does not help in directional steering but it works for increasing your speed.

A skeg moves up and down to improve the way your kayak tackles wind and waves in front of you. Many kayakers prefer one with a skeg over a rudder as the skeg handles much better strong currents that you normally encounter at sea.

Smart Start Overview of the Ocean Kayak

Everyone wants a versatile, tough, durable and good performing ocean kayak. While the products that we reviewed above are some of the best and bestsellers around, our top choice based on the mentioned features is the Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Kayak.

Transporting it from one paddling site to another is fairly easy, as it is compact and among the lightest kayaks on the market. It also offers a comfortable experience because it ensures that your back is fully supported and your legs have plenty of space to move.

In terms of performance, you can never go wrong with this kayak as it is efficient in handling waves and choppy waters. Overall, it is a versatile kayak that’s best for beginners and professionals alike.  Whatever route you go, choosing any of the ocean kayaks on our list will be a good choice that you’ll enjoy for years to come.

FAQs

The best ocean kayak is one that can efficiently handle waves and strong currents. Preferably, it should be lightweight, long and not too wide as these qualities offer the best performance when it comes to tackling the rough conditions at sea. In addition, the best ocean kayak should be durable out on the water and not get easily dinged or scratched.

Generally, kayaking in any type of water is not safe unless you are wearing the right gear and safety equipment such as your life jacket and helmet. But kayaking in the ocean or sea has some challenges that you would not otherwise experience in calmer waters such as lakes.

At sea, you may encounter big waves and currents that can capsize your kayak if you don’t know how to handle the situation. Fortunately, there are safety precautions that can make your experience safer:

  • Check the weather conditions before going. Reconsider going if the forecast expects strong winds and big waves.
  • Wear a drysuit or wetsuit, depending on the weather and temperature of the water.
  • If you are a beginner, get proper instruction on proper paddling techniques and other safety tips for kayaking in the ocean.
  • Wear your personal flotation device so that you are protected in case your kayak accidentally capsizes.

While it is not recommended, yes, you may try sea kayaking even if you don’t have prior experience at sea. However, it would help if you already tried kayaking elsewhere. If not, practice your skills near the shoreline before venturing farther.

The difficulty level depends on many factors such as the weather, wind condition and current, among others. On a fair day, when you are moving at an easy pace, you’d say that sea kayaking is not hard to do. However, if you put in strong headwinds and big waves, that’s when it becomes difficult and will require greater effort from you.

Last update on 2020-09-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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