Kayaking is a fun water sport, but most people avoid buying their kayak and opt for rentals because of the storing and carrying part. You might get tempted to buy one for yourself when all kayaks are rented out during the summer but buying a kayak requires research and a few considerations. It would be best to weigh on factors like durability, weight capacity, sizes, and how easy it is to transport with your car or any mode of transportation you have.
In this review, we are sharing with you the best portable kayaks that will suit your preferences and, importantly, your budget so you’ll finally have your very own kayak that you can take out for paddling anytime you wish!
Top 7 Best Portable Kayaks Reviewed
- Lightweight Oru Kayak Coast XT – Best Overall
- Bestway Hydro Force Oceana Inflatable – Best for Budget
- Lightweight Beach LT Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak – Editor’s Choice
- Tuctec Advanced Foldable Lightweight Inflatable
- Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak
- ADVANCED ELEMENTS Lagoon 1 Kayak
- Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable
#1. Lightweight Oru Kayak Coast XT – Best Overall
- Material: Polypropylene and rust-resistant hardware
- Length: 192 inches /16ft
- Width: 25 inches
- Max paddler height: 6 ft 6 inches
- Weight capacity: 400 pounds
- Set-up time: 10 to 15 minutes
This award-winning design kayak board from Oru Kayak is made especially for kayak enthusiasts who prioritize stability and durability. As a pioneer in the origami-inspired kayak, Oru Kayak ensures its user won’t have to spend a long time setting up the kayak. Designed with an innovative foldable mechanism, it provides an excellent storing system. You can easily fit this board in your car, and it won’t take extra space in your home.
This 10 feet long kayak features a spacious open cockpit design with a joined floorboard together with a fully adjustable backrest, footrest, and a bulkhead to ensure the board stays stable on the water. You can easily adjust the tightening and loosening levels according to your height.
It is made from polypropylene; it’s highly durable and lightweight to carry and handle. This portable kayak is tested to withstand 20,000 folds, so you don’t have to worry about getting a new kayak so soon after you purchase this board.
You can keep your belongings up to 180L in the bow and stern storage compartments if you’re planning for long hours expeditions.
|Build with highly-durable custom polypropylene||The seat is quite uncomfortable|
|Suitable for intermediate and advanced paddlers|
|Super-lightweight and storage-friendly|
|Treated with UV-resistant chemical|
|Easy to assemble and transport|
#2. Bestway Hydro Force Oceana Inflatable – Best for Budget
- Material: Polypropylene and rust-resistant hardware
- Length: 120 inches / 10ft
- Thickness: 6 inches
- Width: 33 inches
- Depth: 6 inches
- Weight capacity: 234 pounds
- Set-up time: 10 to 12 minutes
When it comes to portable kayaks or boards, Bestway brands may not be the first choice that comes to mind. However, the brand is among those that designs and manufactures one of the best portable kayaks in the industry. Many of its products, including kayaks, have proven to be reliable and sturdy to use for all skill levels.
The Bestway Hydro-Force Oceana is one of the latest additions to an outstanding iSUP board, and it offers exceptional stability and practicality in terms of portability and transportation.
A kayak board is usually highly dependent on its size to ensure it is designed for specific categories of paddlers. Thankfully, Bestway plays it safe by creating a risk-free bet in terms of length, thickness, and width measurements. In terms of length, the Hydro-Force Oceana board measures precisely ten feet. For 10 feet, you can foresee any types of motion and activity you can do with this board.
Every professional paddler knows that the width of the board plays an essential role in its performance. So, built with a 33 inches width, this board provides stability and reduces jiggling, making it an ideal board for a beginner paddler. This board has 6 inches thickness; thus, it prevents any bending motion, which you can’t get from other SUPs boards that are usually built at only 4 inches thick.
Comes with an ultra-weight adjustable aluminum paddle, this board offers you total maneuverability and stability when you take it out on the water. You can paddle this board while sitting or standing as it is built with a seat and a non-slip traction pad to prevent you from slipping and keep you on balance.
The Bestway Hydro-Force Oceana also comes with a quality travel bag, one repair kit, and a surf leash.
|Takes approximately 7 to 10 minutes max to pump up||Uses a single action pump as the board inflates when you push it down but not up|
|Tri-Fin system cuts through water smoothly||The travel bag provided is not highly-durable|
|Stable and sturdy due to its width|
|Suitable for the beginner paddler|
|Includes EVA deck pad|
|Easy to transport|
#3. Lightweight Beach LT Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak – Editor’s Choice
- Material: Polypropylene and rust-resistant hardware
- Length: 120 inches /10ft
- Thickness: 6 inches
- Width: 31 inches
- Max paddler height: 6 ft 2 inches
- Weight capacity: 275 pounds
- Set-up time : 3 to 5 minutes
The new addition to Oru Kayak, Beach LT, is a 12-foot long recreational board ideal for intermediate and expert kayakers. Surprisingly, this board can be folded up to a suitcase-style package about the size of a large shoulder bag. You can easily transport it by storing it inside your car’s trunk without installing a roof rack.
The Beach LT board is the shortest board ever designed by Oru Kayak. But it has the widest cockpit for easy getting in and out. The board is sturdy and stable in calm waters but can be quite challenging to maneuver in rough waters.
Oru Kayak rates this board’s material for a 20,000 fold cycle – that’s more kayaks trip you can imagine having in 10 years.
|Treated with UV resistant chemical which protects from sun damage||Tall people will feel a bit cramped|
|No need to install roof rack to transport via car||Not suitable for rough waters|
|Easy to assemble and store|
- Material: Solid HDPE
- Length: 120 inches/ 10ft
- Width: 31 inches
- Max paddler height: 108 inches
- Weight capacity: 350 pounds
- Set-up time: Less than 5 minutes
The Tucktec Advanced Foldable kayak is a compact folding board in the lower price range than other folding boards in the market. The board has a wide-open style and a solid plastic shell that helps it stay balanced and sturdy on any water types. It’s a perfect choice for individuals who want the ability to get on the water anytime while camping or on any outdoor adventures because this board is foldable and portable. It’ll take less than 5 minutes to set-up, and it can be stowed in your car’s trunk without taking extra space.
The board’s body is made of high-quality carbon fiber to prevent scratches and rips, while the side rails are made of high-mass closed-cell-foam so you can carry it comfortably on your shoulder. It can also support up to 350 pounds of weight limit capacity.
Whether you’re an advanced or a beginner paddler, the Tucktec is an ideal board for all skill levels. The wide flat floorboards make it stable in the water, and the tracking fin ensures it sails smoothly and increases maneuverability.
The Tucktec Advanced Foldable kayak is ideal for both men and women, and you can choose from five different colors. This board is rated for 1000 folds, and that last roughly around 5 to 6 years.
|Wide and flat bottom provides stability for beginners||Tricky to assemble|
|US Coast Guard Manufacturing & Safety Certified||No footrest|
|The seat is comfortable|
|Built with tracking fin|
- Material: Polyester
- Length: 120 inches/ 10ft
- Width: 24 inches
- Weight capacity : 250 pounds
- Set-up time: Less than 10 minutes
The Sevylor Quikpak is a lightweight single-person inflatable board that weighs about 26 pounds. The board is made from a 24-gauge laminated PVC high-durable polyester. Measured at 10 ft long, the Sevylor Quickpak is built with a couple of skegs to help track so you won’t be swinging back and forth in every stroke. Though it’s super lightweight, this board is stable and sturdy. The D-Rings and bungee storage allows you to stow your belongings during your paddling trip.
This board is best used in white waters and ideal for intermediate and advanced paddlers. In terms of portability, the Sevylor Quikpak takes less than 10 minutes to inflate and connect the seat. Using a dual-action pump to inflate the kayak will require you to fill it to a required pressure; unfortunately, it does not come with a gauge to help you measure the proper pressure.
The fabric of the outer hull is not waterproof, and it keeps water when paddling making it heavier, and if not properly dry before storing, can cause it to be smelly and moldy.
The board is one of the most accessible portable kayaks to carry around as it is super lightweight, and it looks like a backpack when deflated. Together with the paddle and pump that can easily attach to the board, it’ll leave you hands-free. You can store it in your car trunk without having to install a roof rack to take it for some water adventures.
|Multiple air chamber that allows another air chamber to stay filled if another one gets punctured||Does not comes with a gauge to help you measure the proper pressure|
|Includes a foot pump and two skegs to provide better tracking||The dual-pump host easily pops out from its valve|
|The exterior can resist saltwater and sun exposure||No scupper hole|
- Material: Double-coated PVC-coated nylon and tarpaulin fabric
- Length: 96 inches/ 8’4 ft
- Width: 34 inches
- Max paddler height: 6’2 ft
- Weight capacity: 250 pounds
- Set-up time: 10 minutes
Lagoon-1 Kayak is another smart innovation from Advanced Elements. This single-person kayak is ideal for solo adventures on a river, a lake, or a bay. This board is easy to pack and store in the truck, and it won’t take extra space or require a roof rack to transport. As for inflation, the board is built with a Twistlok valve system that allows you to inflate or deflate the board hassle-free and fast. There’s no need for technical set-up to get this board ready to get on the water.
If you’re planning on a long trip adventure, this kayak is comfortable to sit for an extended period. The removable high-support seat is well padded, and it helps prevent neck and shoulder pain from sitting too long.
Most inflatable kayaks have an issue with paddling and steering due to its less pliability. But the Lagoon-1 manages it by having a built-in rigid panel that exceedingly enhances the steering and tracking. These panels allow the board to handle turbulent waters and maintain its steering and tracking functions at its fullest.
Made from a piece of ripstop fabric, the board can handle harsh environments. Built with electronically welded seams, it can prevent tear and rip and guarantee years of service. The six air chambers assure you stay afloat if one of the air chambers is punctured.
|Using a highly-durable quality material||Only suitable to use on flat waters|
|Storing and space-friendly|
|Built with six air chambers|
|Easy to inflate and use|
- Material: PVC-coated polyester with aluminum
- Length: 180 inches /15 ft
- Width: 32 inches
- Weight capacity: 550 pounds
- Set-up time: Less than 10 minutes
The AdvancedFrame Convertible Tandem from Advanced Elements is a high-level and versatile kayak board ideal for either solo or dual adventurous paddlers. At its size of 15 ft, it handles surprisingly well on the water. The board is made of PVC tarpaulin, and the bow and stern are made of triple layers rip-stop mediums. The AdvancedFrame Convertible Tandem features paddle holders, bungee, tie-down points, and pockets.
The 2.4 inches tracking fins and a skeg help you stay on the course while you paddle along your trail. And the 32 inches width provides stability when paddling over murky waters. It also features the Advanced Elements PVC tarpaulin bottom that is puncture-resistant and allows the board to glide smoothly on the water with minimal drag.
This board has its learning process on how to get it out of your car to on the water like most portable and inflatable kayaks. However, it includes a complete set of instructions that you can learn before inflating or deflating it. Once you’re familiar with how to set-up the kayak, it’s relatively easy to have it ready in less than 10 minutes.
In terms of portability, AdvancedFrame Convertible Tandem is quite heavy for an inflatable kayak. Considering its length, over-the-top durability, and weight capability of 550 pounds, it’s impossible to be carried by one person. This kayak is more manageable to transport once it’s fully inflated, and it needs two people to take it to the water. The handles on the front and back of the board make carrying it at ease even though the middle part of the kayak tends to sag when lifted.
|Meant for solo or dual paddlers||It’s massive for an inflatable kayak|
|High-durable material||Does not come with a pump|
Top pick – Oru Kayak XT Foldable Lightweight Adventure
The Oru Coast XT has an excellent design and is user-friendly. To get it to the water, you only need to unfold it, and it’ll turn into a hull in less than 5 minutes. The footrests and backrests are fully adjustable, which also helps fold the whole thing together. Another key advantage of the Oru Coast XT board that made it our top pick is because it’s incredibly lightweight, making it easy to carry and pack into the car. You don’t need to install a roof rack to transport it to your favorite trails.
The Oru kayak has a 10-year UV treatment, and it can withstand 20,000 fold cycles. It can handle being dragged over sand, rocks, and rough terrain without any problems. It is also designed to sail on underwater bumps.
You can store your gear or your coolers inside the spacious storage behind the seat. The storage can be attached to the seat so you can reach it easily.
Overall, the Oru Coast XT is surprisingly excellent in practicality, portability, durability, and water performance.
Oru Kayak is a known brand for innovative, high-durable portable boards. Featured in The Oprah Magazine, Forbes, CNN, Shark Tank, and Wall Street Journal, Oru Kayak spent decades researching and developing a compact and foldable origami kayak using a durable custom-extruded corrugated plastic. The most popular editions from the company are the Beach LT, Coast XT, and the Bay XT.
The company believes in the importance of nature to human needs, even for people who live in an urban city. They love exploring the world and get inspired by all sorts of journeys and experiences they have encountered, especially in kayak making. Oru Kayak aims to change how people look at the water and connect with it.
Established in 1994, Bestway’s objective is to create enjoyment and continuing adventures for everyone globally through its products and services. Since its early beginnings, the company has devoted its effort to increasing research, development, and design in manufacturing and creating a product that can fulfill its consumer needs. And today, Bestway’s products are available in more than 110 countries.
The brand offers approximately 1,100 products in four different niches, including recreation, outdoor, portable spas, and above-ground pool products.
Established in California, Advanced Elements is not a foreign name to water sport and outdoor activity enthusiasts. The company sees SUP and inflatable kayak design as an art, and they are proud of their dedication and ideas that they’ve put in all of their products.
The company focuses on designing and manufacturing a revolutionary inflatable kayak and provides the best customer service. Advanced Elements’ main products are the iSUPs, inflatable kayaks, and paddlesport accessories that meet the standard quality, performance, and portability. All of the products from Advanced Elements have given all paddlers the equipment they require at the value they deserve. The brand’s office is located in San Francisco, where not only they create well-thought-out ideas, but it’s where the company designs all of its products.
5 Tips On How To Stay Safe When Kayaking During Winter
Kayaking through winter can be as fun as kayaking through summer. But kayaking through winter needs more preparations and planning to ensure your safety on the icy cold water. If you’re planning on kayaking this winter, there are few ideas that you should put into consideration.
Here are some tips that might be relevant for paddling through in winter.
It sounds doable, but sometimes we tend to forget how cold the water can be during winter, especially if we haven’t fallen in it for quite some time. Always prepare to get wet even if you don’t foresee yourself falling in the water. Gearing up accordingly is crucial for winter kayaking. It depends on the type of kayaking or boating you’re undertaking or how long you’re planning to paddle, but you should consider wearing a base layer, wetsuits, drysuits, hats, neck warmers, and hand gloves.
Check the weather forecast first
The weather can contribute to your overall paddling experience. Rain, wind, or snow during winter can significantly impact your kayak’s stability and not to mention the chill and freezing factor.
Don’t forget to wear a buoyancy aid
Buoyancy aid enables you to float if you suddenly fall into the water, especially with heavy layers you’re wearing to keep you warm.
Pack wholesome foods and enough drinking water
It depends on how long you’re planning to paddle. If you’re planning to be on the water for less than an hour, perhaps nice hot water like tea or coffee in a flask would be sufficient. However, if you’re planning to paddle half of the day, you’ll need more energy to paddle, and you’ll need to bring extra food and water. You can fill up your cooler bag with sandwiches, cereal bars, or fruits, so you’re fully fed, which helps you stay warmer.
Don’t forget your phone and VHF radio
If you’re going paddling solo, you need a way to call for help in emergencies. Remember to carry your phone in a waterproof pocket as you don’t want it soaked if you fall into the water. Another great addition to a phone is a personal locator beacon and a VHF radio. These devices could help you out in any unwanted scenarios where you need someone to help you, especially if you’re paddling in the sea or a lake.
The most important of all is enjoying your paddling experience during the winter. There are tons of ways to add fun to your winter paddling, including trying a new kayak trail, joining a kayaking club or event, and more.
Buying Guide for Portable Kayaks
Before we explain what factors to consider when buying a portable kayak, let’s dive more into what a portable kayak is. Is a portable and inflatable kayak the same thing? As you know, all kayaks are portable, or else how do you take them into the water, right? However, some kayaks are more transportable than others.
What is a foldable kayak?
A folding kayak is a kayak that is constructed with a collapsible frame made of high-durability waterproof material. Usually, the frame is made from aluminum tubes, but it can also be made from wood. Modern portable kayaks often feature a more elegant design, with attached foldable panels with joints. The purpose is to ensure a comfortable and quick set up and also durability in general.
Types of portable kayaks
Built with an inflatable exterior that is fully backed by rigid inner ribs
Origami kayaks are made of a non-inflatable and flexible material that folds against itself and forms a solid outer hull.
Both types don’t have any specific advantages over one another, but each provides individual features to serve your needs.
The benefits of portable kayaks
Easy to handle and transport on your own
Usually, a portable kayak is lightweight enough for one person to carry. It comes in convenient sizes and shapes to allow one person to handle it from the transportation to the water.
Easy to put together
Assembling your kayak should not be a tedious and complicated process. Before purchasing your kayak, you need to ensure it comes with proper instructions on how to construct and fold it after use. Putting together and folding the kayak should be a straightforward process that won’t take more than 5 minutes. If you have difficulty assembling and folding the kayak, you should check with the seller, or there could be a slight defect on the kayak. Portable kayaks are all about convenience in handling and transporting, but if your kayak is hard to assemble and fold, you’re missing the main reason why you have a portable kayak in the first place.
Often people want to own a kayak, but they worry about how to store them. If you live in an apartment, it’s impossible to drag your kayak up to your unit. Or it’s costly to rent storage only to keep your kayak. But with a portable kayak, you don’t have to worry about keeping it in rental storage as the portable kayak can easily be folded and stored into a bag that you keep anywhere in your house or your wheels.
Things You Should Consider Before Buying a Portable Kayak
Before you decide to buy your portable kayak, let’s learn some of the crucial traits you should consider. Buying a kayak can be quite an intimidating experience if you never bought one before.
Durability in and off the water
This is one of the main factors that you should weigh in before purchasing a portable kayak; in fact, it’s an essential criterion to consider when you’re buying any type of kayak. The durability of the kayak usually depends on the material used in making the hull and frame. The best portable kayaks are typically made of sturdy and rigid materials like carbon fiber, polypropylene, and polyurethane. These materials are scratch-proof, UV-resistant, and tear-proof; hence it can endure rough and challenging conditions.
The weight limit
Each kayak is built with a specific maximum weight capacity. If you exceed the weight limit, your kayak will become unstable and potentially topple. Before you plan to get a portable kayak, check first the weight capacity limit to meet your needs. Usually, a portable kayak has a lower maximum weight limit in comparison to a conventional kayak.
This refers to the folding kayak’s size when it folds in storage. For origami kayaks, the fold-down dimension will be slightly smaller than the inflatable types as you don’t have to add in the supporting ribs’ measurements.
The folding durability of a portable or an origami kayak depends on the number of times you used it, including assembly and disassembly. Many origami kayaks can be folded up to 20,000 times, allowing you to use it plenty of times before thinking of replacing it with a new one.
Your paddling route and trail
Some kayaks are built for calm waters like lakes and seas, and some are made for rough water like rivers. Some kayaks are suitable to use for both types of waters. Before you plan to buy a kayak, understand your paddle scene as it helps with your kayak performance in the water.
Many portable kayaks provide multiple seating options to switch from tandem to solo, open deck, or a closed deck. If you’re a taller individual, you might want to survey a kayak with a spacious seat-to-bow to ensure enough legroom.
The hull of an origami kayak is often made of polypropylene (PP) that can quickly deteriorate when exposed to UV radiation regularly. Hence it’s vital to choose a kayak built with a UV-resistant material to ensure it lasts for years.
Beam Width and Stability
Your kayak speed and stability in the water are determined by its length and the width of its beam. A shorter portable kayak with a broader beam provides stability, especially for newbie paddlers. Simultaneously, a longer kayak with a slimmer beam will be faster but can easily topple.
Usually, deciding what’s the best beam width is determined by your experience level in kayaking. If you’re still new, you’ll probably want to get to grasp with paddling and staying in the water without having to worry the kayak might tip or topple down. But of course, if you’re a pro, you want a kayak that can provide you the fullest excitement and adventure.
Portable kayaks are space-saving, safe, lightweight, and easy to set-up. Not only that, it’s made of quality and durable material. Portable or folding kayaks combine both the sturdiness of a traditional kayak with innovative designs and portability of a modern kayak. It’s a perfect option if you’re always looking for new waters and trails to paddle. Portable kayaks are lightweight and compact. You can easily store them in the car without taking the whole space. We hope this review will help you find the ideal kayak that suits your preferences and allow you to enjoy the kayaking experience even more.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
How do I safely store my portable kayaks at home?
Always, remember to store your kayak right side up to prevent the bottom from getting smooshed. Your kayak is not built to sit directly on its hull for an extended period, and it also should not be stored on its side without proper support as its plastic exterior could get damaged or dented. Remember to make sure your kayak is 100 percent clean and dry before storing it, so you won’t have to deal with mildew and mold issues later on.
Are portable kayaks stable and safe?
Yes, they are stable and safe. Its pontoon-like sides make it impossible to turn over. Some models are built with an excellent firm floor so you can stand up while paddling. High-quality portable and inflatable kayaks are usually designed with innovative designs and equipped with sturdy materials.
How do I clean my portable kayaks?
Portable or any kayak, for that matter, is very easy to care for and clean. You’ll only need a mild household cleaner to clean them. If your kayak has some stubborn stains, specks of dirt, or grimes that can’t be removed with a household cleaner, you can get a kayak cleaner at any retail store selling kayak boats.