Top 5 Best Kayak Brands | 2020 Reviews (Old Town, Pelican)

Kayaking’s popularity is brought by the up-close view of the encompassing aquatic habitat when you ride it plus the liberty to reach what bigger boats can’t. Not to mention the absence of the noisy engine that scares off wildlife, Kayaking is the best preference when you want to beat the heat and be on the water. 

Kayaking gives you the satisfaction of being in the waters, whether it is paddling downriver, around a lake, or in the ocean, you are into. Kayaks come in different shapes, sizes, and varying features to accommodate your recreational need. 

There is a kayak for every type of adventurer – fisher, tourer, or traveler who solely wants to enjoy the shore. If you are searching for the best kayak to take to your next adventure, then you’ve come to the right place. Not only will you get the answer to that, but you’ll get a clear picture of the best kayak brands in the market today. Best Kayak Brands

Kayaks’ dense market makes it hard to pick one that can be named the best kayak brand. The wide use of these boats and its growing popularity add to every brand’s challenge standing up against the other. 

But, we won’t let you leave without getting the answers you need. We spared you from the long and grinding task of researching with the list of the best kayak brands. Hopefully, with each brand explained in detail, you’ll know which one to pick. 

Top 5 Best Kayak Brands Reviewed

  1. Old Town
  2. Pelican International
  3. Perception Kayaks
  4. Eddyline Kayaks
  5. Lifetime Products

#1. Old Town – Best Tandem Kayaks

old town kayaks

One of the oldest in the business, Old Town Canoe Company, is one notable and historic maker of canoes. Its simple beginnings in Old Town, Maine, in 1898 had them entering the canoe market as a manufacturer of canvas-covered wooden canoes. 

The first canoe the company built was constructed behind the Gray hardware store. The Grays created them by hiring others to design and build their canoes because, unlike E.H. Garrish, B.N. Morris, and E.M. White, they were entrepreneurs and not canoe builders.

Over time, they adapted to canvas canoes. They became partners with White’s brother-in-law, EL Hinckley. They provided the capital needed to open a more extensive shop that will employ men in Old Town. 

Just like a lot of companies, Old Town went through a few rough times. They had a court dispute in 1905, a factory that burned down, and wage dispute over workers. 

Few years after being sold to S.C. Johnson, the company started to make kayaks in 1995. Eventually, they were making more kayaks than canoes. The traditional way of making canoes combined with the new technology allow them to make the finest kayaks available. 

Theirs are kayaks made out of various materials that provide you options alongside affordability and function. Old Town Kayaks are designed with comfortable seats, paddle holders, suitable hatches and storage areas, carrying handles, angler functions, and many more. 

What Makes Old Town Kayaks Unique?

The history of Old Town Kayaks is one thing that makes them complete. Add to that their toughness and sturdiness. Old Town Kayaks are built with material LT9000. This material is a high-grade plastic compound blend of polyethylene layered three times to make a durable plastic. 

This plastic, which is one of the most robust materials, is thick but light. You won’t have a hard time carrying your kayak from the vehicle to the lake and back. These kayaks are capable of withstanding the abuse from your water adventures. 

Highest Rated Kayaks From This Brand

Loon 111 Recreational Kayak

Old Town’s most popular and highest rated kayak in their long list of products is Loon 111 Recreational Kayak. Best for beginner to expert. You will feel comfortable and confident in the water. 

Loon 111 Recreational Kayak has a roomy cockpit opening that lets you come in and leave the kayak with ease. The classic design is founded on stability and tracking. You will instantly notice the standard features that make it one of America’s best – rear deck bungees, an adjustable seat, adjustable foot braces, a deck-mounted paddle holder, and a molded cup holder.

Twin Heron

Twin Heron features the advanced Auto Trim Hull, a unique tandem kayak making it perform well even when paddled solo. This technology is intended for keeping the bow from popping up when a passenger is seated alone in the stern seat. 

You can remove the front seat if you need to take your dog for a ride. It also makes for easy access to your hunting or fishing gears. What’s new about this kayak is its four flush-mount rod holders that make tandem fishing trips a lot more convenient.


#2. Pelican International – Best Sit-On-Top Kayaks

pelican kayaks

Since the 1970s, Pelican International has made its name as one of the best brands that produce durable and high-quality kayaks at very affordable prices. They have shown their commitment to technology, innovation, and quality control. 

Which is why over and over, they keep getting recognized as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies. They lead the industry in the design and manufacturing of not just kayaks but canoes, pedal boats, as well as fishing boats. 

The company never failed to meet its goal of bringing quality products to every outdoor enthusiast. Do you enjoy spending time on the water? If so, Pelican has just the right product for you. These products are sure to have undergone rigorous quality control as this is one of the company’s cornerstones. 

Not only does Pelican International care about your outdoor adventure needs, but they make sure that the people who build and manufactures what you need are taken care of, as well. The company has over 600 employees in facilities where safety, empowerment, and growth are highly promoted. 

Pelican International cares about the environment, too. This act is from their belief that people treasure the outdoors, and the love for the outdoors brings them to buy from their company. It gives them the responsibility of committing to nature’s continued survival. 

Not only do they make kayaks from 50% post-industrial recycled material, but they also recycle 99% of all plastic scrap created during our manufacturing process. 

What Makes Pelican International Kayaks Unique?

Pelican International doesn’t just put a product out there to seel. They innovate! Recently, they introduced RAM-X – a multi-layer material that is exclusive only to their manufacturing. RAM-X is recognized for its high impact resistance. It has an excellent ability to regain its original shape after going through violent impacts. Not to mention it is UV-protector finished. 

RAM-X is not just a material but a benchmark of quality in the kayak industry. Aside from this, technology is another thing that the company utilizes – Twin Sheet Thermoforming Technology (TST). In this process, TST produces a lighter, more rigid,  and sturdier product than possible compared to other manufacturing methods. 

Highest Rated Kayaks From This Brand

Pursuit 80X

Pelican International’s Pursuit 80X is one excellent kayak for small paddlers. This kayak features the rigid Ram-X™ construction with Twin Sheet Thermoforming (TST) technology. It is solid and stable but remarkably light, thanks to its shallow V chine hull design. 

This kayak comes complete with bungee cords on the stern to let you quickly stow your gear. The handles it has on the front and back lets for easy carrying and transport. An excellent addition to its features is the drain plug. This plug can be useful, particularly with the boat being light. You can simply maneuver to drain the water inside the cockpit down the drain. 

Castaway 100 Angler

Castaway 100 Angler is specifically designed for the skilled and practiced fisherman looking to try fishing with a kayak. This kayak features a multi-chine flat bottom hull that guarantees the stability desired when hurling lines and reeling in fish. 

Simultaneously, its speed and tracking are improved while maintaining the agility you need to squeeze into ideal fishing spots that are usually tight. Kayak fishing has never been comfortable with featured inclusions like molded footrests and a flexible Ergoform padded backrest with seat cushion. 


#3. Perception Kayaks – Best For Your Budget

perception kayaks

Perception Kayaks has been in the kayak industry, introducing more people to paddling more than any other kayak maker since the 1970s. Their kayaks have been proudly designed, molded, and hand-assembled. 

With an exciting history, Perception Kayaks are known for personal touches. These personal touches date back to when the founder, William (Bill) Masters, received a broken kayak to fix a friend’s car. That was when he was still in the university. 

Masters repaired the vessel singlehandedly. His workmanship, style, and design gained the attention of other kayakers. With one kayaker after another asking him to fix their kayaks, he gained enough confidence to launch his own kayak business with a capital of $50 in 1972. 

It took him only ten days to finish the first handmade kayak that he sold for $90. 2 years after, he launched his kayak manufacturing company – Fiberglass Technology. They were averaging 150 boats every year. 

It was not long after when he changed the name from Fiberglass Technology to Perception Kayaks. Within five years, Perception Kayaks became the largest kayak manufacturer in North America. The company grew along with the kayak market that, in 1982, began to expand operations to Chester, England, and New Zealand in 1986. 

Masters and Perception Kayaks developed at least 30 patents in boat design and plastic manufacturing. They used this as an advantage to keep Perception Kayaks as a frontrunner in the Kayak industry. 

What Makes Perception Kayaks Unique?

Perception Kayaks take pride in their patents of boat design. These registered patents include computers and heat transfer processes. Aside from that, they truly made an effort to introduce Kayaking to people by finding possible ways to interact with prospects and customers.

Professional call centers, interactive websites, and technical field representatives were just a few of what Perception Kayaks had to launch to promote Kayaking as a sport. 

Highest Rated Kayaks From This Brand

Pescador 12.0

Pescador is one of the sit-on-top series of kayaks Perception has. This boat is designed to be the best all-around boat. It boasts of unparalleled stability, speed, and straight-tracking function that adds up to the fun of boating even for new paddlers. 

Take it to lakes, ponds, and flat waters for fishing. This kayak is loaded with sorts of roomy open storage, covered dry storage, and two-rod holders. As if that is not enough, features also include multiple gear tracks and mount nooks for water accessories like action cameras, speakers, and additional rod holders. 

Rambler Tandem 13.5

Perfect for enjoying the lakes, ocean bays, and light surf with your buddy, the Perception Rambler is one of the sit-on-top series of kayaks that present absolute stability and amusement. A design that is easy to maneuver can accommodate passengers from a wide range of ages and abilities. 

This kayak is exceptionally safe and straightforward. Its roomy, two-person design keeps the maneuverability with added stability. Included is a mount for the center seat to allow you to paddle when you desire to ride it solo easily. 


#4. Eddyline Kayaks – Best for Fishing

eddyline kayaks

Eddyline Kayaks has been manufacturing superior touring kayaks and paddles since the 1970s. This family-owned all-American business was founded in 1971 by the legendary designer Tom Derrer. It is currently being handled and operated independently. 

This company is the pioneer in vacuum bags and thermoform technology that makes the best and finest quality kayaks and paddles. These are the gears you will need for sea kayaking, open water, recreational, Kayaking, and fishing, too!

Being a small size business allowed Eddyline to treat their clients like family. This gesture added to the long list of customers staying loyal to them. But what really drove this family from Boulder, Colorado, to pursue their passion with the Kayaking Business? 

Tom Derrer started kayaking in 1966. After getting introduced to white water kayaking, he became a governing body of the long-standing Washington Kayak Club. He took care of organizing races and pool practices of kayak skills. Derrer became the key member of the paddling group that helped develop kayak as a sport during the 60s and the 70s. 

His love for Kayaking had him build whitewater kayaks for himself and for those he was friends with. Along with his reputation for himself when he brought advanced laminating technologies into the traditional fiberglass world was the start of Eddyline Kayaks. 

He continued until the late 70s to early 80s with immersing himself in kayak design that he soon established and refreshed the product line of Eddyline Kayaks. 

What Makes Eddyline Kayaks Unique?

Eddyline Kayaks come as one of the most innovative in Kayak building. With Tom’s passion for kayak making, he not only applied the advanced laminating technologies to kayak construction, but he also incorporated aerospace technologies like vacuum bagging to the construction of commercial kayaks. 

These technologies make Tom Derrer internationally recognized as a leader in the Kayak industry. His kayaks are acknowledged as the finest in terms of originality, quality, sophistication, superiority, and overall aesthetic features. 

Highest Rated Kayaks from This Brand

Skylark

Skylark is Eddyline Kayaks’ recreational boat. Its size and fitting rooms are just the right features and performance needed for a full-fledged sea kayak. The hatches and bulkheads bow and stern allow for the copious stability and roomy shape that help even the first-time paddler be comfortable.  

Its aesthetics comprise of hard chines for carving and Greenland styling. You’d think the shape and the curves are for making it look stylish. They aren’t. They are intended to have this form and figure to allow the boat to slide simply. As you ride, you will feel just how smooth it is on the waters. 

Carribean 12

Effortlessly paddle through the waters with ease at every stroke with Eddyline Kayaks’ Caribbean 12. Its extraordinary stability comes from the highly efficient hull design and the hard and abrasion resistant Carbonite material. 

This twelve-footer has exceptional tracking. Accomplish easy turns with minor lean and sweep. How? The principles applied to the distinctive Gull Wing configuration on the Caribbean hull retain efficiency and tracking while making the most stability and maneuverability. 


#5. Lifetime Products – Best for Recreational

lifetime kayaks

Lifetime is a household name with its blow-molded polyethylene folding chairs and picnic tables. But, they are also popular with watersports enthusiasts. Lifetime Products Inc. also manufactures coolers, paddleboards, and kayaks. 

Barry Mower first saw his potential in this business when he made a sturdy basketball pole for his backyard using only a pipe, plywood, and basketball rim. Seeing the possibility of making it big in the market, he placed it on the local ads and did not fail. 

After his first sale, he put up a sporting goods store. It was in March 1986 when Lifetime Products Inc became a registered name. The goal of building durable and lasting products extended to research and designs that gained them the patent of the “Quick Adjust” basketball system. 

Its first two decades focused on growing the sporting goods store. It wasn’t until 1995 when they first developed and launched their blow-molded folding picnic table. They applied the same technique as they did with the basketball system, where they included electrostatic powder coating and a robotic rim welding system. 

Lifetime Products expanded and acquired Dragonfly Innovation Corp.’s assets in May 2010. This company is a significant producer of blow-molded kayaks. It wasn’t a big adjustment as Lifetime Products is also into blow-molding. 

A year after, they acquired yet another kayak manufacturing company – Emotion Kayaks. This move added to their long list of products. 

What Makes Lifetime Products Kayaks Unique?

With the technology Lifetime Products has with their original line of creations combined with the expertise of Dragonfly Innovation Corp. and Emotion Kayaks, they sure have created one of the most stable sit-on-top kayaks in the market today. 

These kayaks are constructed from high-density polyethylene plastic (HDPE), contributing to its durability and lightweight. Lifetime Products offers various styles and accessories for adult and kids kayaks. All of which offers handy features like cup holders, paddle cradles, and rod holders for our fishing kayaks.

Highest Rated Kayaks from This Brand

Manta 100 Tandem

The great outdoors has always been an interesting place to discover. What better way to enjoy it that Lifetime Products’ Manta 100 Tandem. The perfect kayak for you and your buddy, you can enjoy a calm ocean bay, serene lake, or slow-moving waters. 

Manta 100 Tandem offers the ultimate stability for kayaks making it the best vessel for teaching how to paddle. It has two variable backrests and several footrest positions to optimize your comfort while gliding through the waters. 

Tamarack Angler 100

The ideal kayak for your fishing needs is one that is compact and within your budget – precisely what Lifetime Tamarack Angler is. This yak offers you a vessel that will help you access hard to reach fishing spots without worrying about your account. 

Tamarack Angler extends many features and benefits for its price. It is a sit-on-top kayak so expect to get wet as you paddle. The beauty of it is beneficial when you are fishing as you have a more expansive seating zone that gives you the chance to move around more freely. 


Why Brands Matter: Should You Get A Branded Kayak?

Every manufacturer offers a feature that is distinct and unique for them. Most of these features cater to your specific water activity needs. Whether its a sit-inside, sit-on-top, inflatable, hard-shell, or recreational, they will surely be a name that will answer your needs. 

But, how will you benefit from branded kayaks? Branded kayaks aren’t popular over nothing. These names have worked years for their reputation. They’ve invested in research and technology to make their products everything you need. 

Branded kayaks’ prices are for the amount of knowledge and hard work put into the vessel. A generic model is closely similar to a branded one, but it can be risky to pick that over a reputable manufacturer. 

Successful brands stand up for their products. That is why they are reputable. Their reputation lies in delivering expertise, quality, and consistency. They went through regulations, many hours of research, and quality control. 

Most importantly, they are covered by warranty. Warranties tell you a lot about the product or the brand. Manufacturers put a warranty on their work because they believe it will not fail. Generic brands don’t. 


What Kayak Is The Best?

There are several kayak brands in the market, and all of them offer a lot of things. Some may offer the same features, but some went out of their way to make their products stand out. And that was how we picked the five brands on our list. 

These brands have been highlighted because of their experience, expertise, and reputation. But, they all offer different things for different needs. Therefore, it would be hard to pick just one brand to say the best. 

A brand may be the best for fishing, but can’t hold well for recreational needs. Thus, it won’t matter much if the kayak does not work for what you need. 

Figure out what you need from your kayak. Put up a list of wants you have in mind. Then you can move on to choose the best brand that will work for you. 


What Is Kayak?

These small and narrow watercraft dates back to 4000 years ago. They were initially intended for hunting on inland lakes, rivers, and coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean, North Atlantic, Bering Sea, and North Pacific Oceans. 

The first kayaks were stretched animal skins and wood that pieced together to form a whalebone-skeleton frame. These boats were made in single, double, or triple cockpit designs. Such designs were made sure to handle the hunting and transporting of passengers or goods. 

The native people who first used kayaks paddled with single-bladed paddles, more like what we have nowadays. Over time, they designed and constructed their kayaks according to their experience and needs. 

“Kayak” means “man’s boat.” The earlier ones were personally crafted, usually by the man who will use it. The natives rode their kayaks with “tuilik” – a garment stretched over the kayak’s rim. This garment, by design, allows the paddler to “Eskimo roll” if the boat capsizes. 

Kayak’s design principles lie mostly on directional stability vs. maneuverability and stability vs. speed. The integral part of the structure consideration of the paddler’s body shape and size. 

At present, most kayaks are constructed with fiberglass, polyethylene, and plastics. They significantly differ from native kayaks in many facets, starting with the initial form through model, design, manufacturing, and usage. Modern kayaks are designed with computer-aided design software. They are rotationally molded (‘rotomolded’) from various grades and types of polyethylene resins.


Types of Kayaks

Considering the history of kayaks, you will understand how many types of these boats are there in the market. Each of which is specially designed for use in a particular location or certain purpose. Before getting into the best kayak brands’ specifics, let’s get into details of types of kayaks. 

Flatwater kayaks and Whitewater kayaks are the two main categories of kayaks. Under these categories are different types for different uses. 

Flatwater Kayaks

Flatwater Kayaking is boating on a flat body of water. This type of Kayaking is the most accessible type to learn and could be an excellent starting point if you are new to Kayaking. With flat water kayaks, you can ride almost any water body as long as it is in a location that is shielded from the wind with no significant waves. 

With flat water kayaking, the water is considerably calm that you don’t need to worry about getting a very sturdy kayak. The types of kayaks you may use for this category of Kayaking are: 

  • Inflatable kayaks
  • Fishing kayaks
  • Pedaling kayaks
  • Sit-on-top kayaks
  • Touring kayaks

Whitewater Kayaks

Whitewater kayaks are practical forms of transportation for Eskimos back in the day – mainly because rapids pose a logistical problem when they go their way down the rivers. Over the years, people learned about the thrill of boating in surging waters around the world. 

This adventure that brings the raw power of nature that tackles waterfalls became a challenge for thrill-seekers. Thus, whitewater kayaking and kayaks for it were born. The extreme conditions in whitewater require the boat to be as sturdy – one that can keep up with its aggression. These include:

  • River runners
  • Creek boats
  • Old school
  • Play boats
  • Inflatable whitewater kayaks (duckies)

Conclusion

Kayaking’s popularity continues to grow for solo and group watersports. This popularity gave a chance for knock-off and cheap copy kayak manufacturers to pick up. 

Branded kayaks might intimidate you with their price tags, and it might just tempt you to give in to cheaper options. But, in the long run, branded kayaks far outweigh the initial savings from cheap buys. Make sure to do your research before handing over your hard-earned money. 


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q: How heavy are kayaks?

A: The weight depends on what type of kayaks they are. The average lies these ranges:

  • Recreational kayak – 35 pounds (16kg) for a single kayak and 65 pounds (27 kg) for a tandem kayak
  • Fishing kayaks – up to over 120 pounds (54 kg)
  • Regular kayaks – anywhere from 20 pounds (9 kg) to over 100 pounds (45 kg)

Q: How safe is Kayaking?

A: As long as you are aware of your limitations and your skill level, Kayaking is generally safe. Kayak manufacturers have undergone long hours of research to make sure they vessels guarantee additional safety for you. 

Q: Why are there drain plugs in kayaks?

A: Water can quickly enter the cockpit from splashes of paddling or significant waves. Drain plugs are positioned to allow water to drain quickly. 

Q: How do you transport and store kayaks?

A: There are available racks made explicitly for transporting kayaks. They can be attached to the back of the truck or tied down on top of the vehicle. At home or wherever you are settled, kayaks should be stored inside or sheltered against UV rays or rain. Sporting goods stores usually have various racks or suspension systems that you can use to hang them up or keep them to avoid getting damaged.

Related Resources

Leave a Comment