Kayaking is one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Being out on the water provides you with a completely different experience of nature and is also a fantastic workout.
That being said, a kayak is a major investment, so you want to be sure that you’re getting the best boat for your needs. To help you find precisely the right companion for all of your future water-based adventures, here are our reviews of the best kayak for camping, plus a buyer’s guide to ease the decision-making process.
If you don't have time for the details, here are our picks for the best rated kayaks for camping:
- 1Best Camping and Fishing Kayak - Ocean Kayak Prowler
- 2Best Tandem Kayak for Camping - Old Town Looksha
- 3Best Inflatable Kayak for Camping - Advanced Elements AirFusion Evo
- 4Best Inflatable Tandem Kayak for Camping - Advanced Elements Straightedge 2
- 5Best Touring Kayak for Camping - Wilderness Systems Tempest
- 6Best Tandem Touring Kayak for Camping - Wilderness Systems Polaris
- 7Best Kayak for River Camping - Perception Carolina
- 8Best Sit on Top Kayak for Camping - Ocean Kayak Malibu
- 9Best Budget Kayak for Camping - Lifetime Hydros Angler
- 10Best Budget Fishing Kayak for Camping - Lifetime Tamarack Sit on Top
Table of Contents
- Best Kayak for Camping on the Market Reviews
- 1. Best Camping and Fishing Kayak- Ocean Kayak Prowler
- 2. Best Tandem Kayak for Camping - Old Town Looksha
- 3. Best Inflatable Kayak for Camping - Advanced Elements AirFusion Evo
- 4. Best Inflatable Tandem Kayak for Camping - Advanced Elements Straightedge 2
- 5. Best Touring Kayak for Camping - Wilderness Systems Tempest
- 6. Best Tandem Touring Kayak for Camping - Wilderness Systems Polaris
- 7. Best Kayak for River Camping - Perception Carolina
- 8. Best Sit on Top Kayak for Camping - Ocean Kayak Malibu
- 9. Best Budget Kayak for Camping - Lifetime Hydros Angler
- 10. Best Budget Fishing Kayak for Camping - Lifetime Tamarack Sit on Top
- Kayak for Camping Buyer’s Guide
- The Verdict
Best Kayak for Camping on the Market Reviews
Here are our reviews of the best rated kayaks for camping available on the market today:
1. Best Camping and Fishing Kayak- Ocean Kayak Prowler
The Ocean Kayak Prowler is an angler’s paradise when on the water. This 13 foot (3.96m) boat features a sit in design that allows for easy entry and exit each day. It has a large “comfort plus” seat that is cozy enough to lounge in for long days outside.
The Prowler has flush mounted rod holders so you can sit back and relax while waiting for your next bike. For added convenience, the boat also has molded cup holders and large hatches that can store plenty of gear for overnight trips. Finally, this boat has molded carry handles that are durable enough to transport the Prowler from the water to your vehicle at the end of your expedition.
2. Best Tandem Kayak for Camping - Old Town Looksha
Paddling solo is fun, but boating with a friend is twice as exciting. The Old Town Looksha is a solid all-around tandem kayak for camping adventures. It’s stable in both calm and rough conditions, but comfortable enough to sit in all day.
The Looksha has two large hatches that provide plenty of safe storage for your most important carry gear. It also has multiple bungee straps across the deck for strapping down important items that you want to keep accessible, like your maps. Plus, the Looksha has a composite rudder system and adjustable foot pedals to give you better steering control, particularly in harsh weather.
3. Best Inflatable Kayak for Camping - Advanced Elements AirFusion Evo
The Advanced Elements AirFusion Evo is a high-tech inflatable kayak that’s designed specifically with performance in mind. This boat weighs just 32 lbs (14.5kg) and features a sit-in construction, which is unique for inflatable kayaks.
The Airfusion Evo has an aluminum pole frame and high-pressure drop-stick air chambers, which provide unparalleled stability for an inflatable boat. It also has a V-shaped hull for better tracking and performance in poor conditions. Plus, it has a built-in hatch for gear storage on longer camping trips.
4. Best Inflatable Tandem Kayak for Camping - Advanced Elements Straightedge 2
The Advanced Elements Straightedge 2 is one of the top-performing tandem camping kayaks on the market today. This boat has an impressive 500lb (226kg) weight capacity, so it’s strong enough to accommodate two campers and all their gear.
It uses Advanced Elements’ proprietary aluminum bow and stern frame for better tracking, particularly in open water. The kayak also has self-bailing ports to help keep the interior dry as you paddle. Additionally, it can be paddled in up to class III whitewater and can even be set up as a single kayak for solo adventures.
5. Best Touring Kayak for Camping - Wilderness Systems Tempest
Touring trips require a boat that can track well over long distances. Thankfully, that’s precisely what you get with the Wilderness Systems Tempest. The Tempest is a great option for mid-sized paddlers that want to get out onto the open ocean thanks to its 17 foot (5.18m) length.
This boat has three hatches for plentiful gear storage. It also has an adjustable skeg to help it track better and turn in windy conditions. Built-in foot and thigh braces also provide added stability in rough weather while the matching handles at the bow and stern make transport a breeze.
6. Best Tandem Touring Kayak for Camping - Wilderness Systems Polaris
The Wilderness Systems Polaris is a classic tandem touring kayak for camping trips. This boat has a unique hull design that provides unparalleled speed and stability over long distances. It also has Wilderness System’s proprietary Phase 3 AirPro seating system for ample comfort throughout your trip.
The boat has bow and stern hatches as well as plenty of deck-top bungee cords for storing gear. For added steering control, the Polaris also has a course control rudder system, which helps with turning in windy conditions. Finally, the Polaris has two soft touch handles that make it easy to load the boat onto your car at the end of your camping getaway.
7. Best Kayak for River Camping - Perception Carolina
The Perception Carolina is a good starter kayak for recreational touring on slow-moving rivers and streams. It has a 14 foot (4.2m) length for better tracking in the water, even in moderate conditions. You can even add on an optional rudder to increase the boat’s steering ability in the wind.
The Carolina has plentiful storage, thanks to its bow and stern hatches. It has a number of safety lines and bungee cords for on-deck storage, as well as padding around the edge of the cockpit for increased comfort as you paddle. The best part? This boat has Perception’s proprietary “paddle park” system that secures your paddle even as you stop for a short break.
8. Best Sit on Top Kayak for Camping - Ocean Kayak Malibu
The Ocean Kayak Malibu is all about fun days on the water. This boat has a comfortable AirGo seat pad with an adjustable backrest for quality lounging when you’re out for a long day on the lake. It also has molded foot wells with calf rests to provide support and stability as you paddle.
The Malibu has a flat hull that provides a surprising amount of stability in surf. Plus, it has a splash-resistant QuickStash hatch right in the cockpit for storing accessible items, like water bottles and snacks. For other gear storage, the Malibu has two large molded equipment holds at the bow and stern of the boat.
9. Best Budget Kayak for Camping - Lifetime Hydros Angler
Kayaking on a budget doesn’t have to be difficult with the Lifetime Hydros Angler. This 8.5 (2.6m) boat is made for recreational kayakers that prioritize affordability and stability in their boats. The Hydros Angler is a lightweight plastic boat with a durable construction that’s great for regular use.
It has a flat-bottom for less wobble in calm conditions and for a more stable platform while fishing. The boat has multiple footrest options to help keep you comfortable as well as a small gear storage area for transporting your camping equipment. Oh, and it even comes with a paddle so you can get right out on the water.
10. Best Budget Fishing Kayak for Camping - Lifetime Tamarack Sit on Top
With the Lifetime Tamarack Sit On Top, that weekend kayak fishing trip doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The Tamarack is a 10 foot (3.1m) flat-bottomed kayak made with stability in mind. It’s made from a blow-molded high-density polyethylene (HDPE) which is UV-resistant and durable.
This boat has both front and rear carry handles for easy transport to and from the car. It also has a unique paddle keeper that can secure your paddle when you stop to take photos or cast your lines. The Tamarack has a below-deck hatch for your most important gear as well as a large back deck for strapping down camping equipment.
Kayak for Camping Buyer’s Guide
Buying a kayak is a major investment that should hopefully provide you with years of adventure. But, before you commit to a new boat, here are some things to keep in mind:
Most modern kayaks are designed to be paddled either solo or with a buddy. Solo kayaks are best if you don’t normally have a paddling partner or if you prefer your personal space. Paddling alone is often more work than paddling with a friend, but solo kayaks give you more freedom to roam, as well as additional storage space.
Alternatively, tandem kayaks are more economical for couples and friends that like to paddle together. They allow you to share the paddling efforts and can go faster than their solo counterparts. But, paddling a tandem kayak is all about teamwork and coordination, so it’s not for everyone.
Unlike day trips, kayak camping requires quite a lot of gear storage so you can transport your equipment to and from your campsite. Kayaks that are best suited for camping will have large dry hatches or bungee cord decks where you can safely store your gear. In general, the more storage, the better, especially if you’re interested in longer trips.
Inflatable v. Hardshell
When you buy a kayak, you have to decide if you want an inflatable or a hardshell model. Hardshell models are the more traditional choice because they tend to be quite durable and offer more storage space for your gear.
However, inflatable kayaks are easier to transport and store when you’re not on the water. Additionally, they tend to be more affordable and lighter, which is helpful if you have to carry them a long distance from the car to the water. But, what you gain in weight savings with inflatable kayaks is often lost in gear storage, as many don’t have hatches or a lot of deck space.
Sit on Top v. Sit In
The final decision you have to make when searching for a kayak is whether you want a sit on top or a sit in model. Sit in models provide the most security and stability in rough water because they place your center of gravity just below the waterline.
But, many people feel claustrophobic inside a sit in model and they can be tricky to get in and out of. Alternatively, sit on top kayaks provide lots of legroom and are easy to enter and exit. However, what you gain in convenience and comfort in a sit on top kayak is often lost when it comes to stability and performance in rough conditions.
A kayak camping trip is a fantastic option if you’re looking to combine your love of the water with your excitement for the great outdoors. That being said, the best kayak for camping is a major financial investment, so take your time when shopping around to ensure that you get precisely the right boat for your needs.