Best Ocean Kayaks – 2020 Top Models Reviews & Comparison!
Going to the beach is always a favorite option for many vacationers, and it’s so much more fun if you have a kayak for the water. But if you do plan on getting on the open seas, you may want to get a special ocean kayak that’s specially designed for the job.
The best ocean kayak will help you get the best experience on the water, and it helps with your safety too. But which of the kayaks on sale right now is the best ocean kayak for you? To make things simpler, here are 5 of your best options available today.
Table of Contents
- Top 5 Ocean Kayaks - Comparisons
- 5 Best Ocean Kayak - Our Reviews
- Ocean Kayak Buying Guide
- Final Verdict
Top 5 Ocean Kayaks - Comparisons
17' 4 FT
5 Best Ocean Kayak - Our Reviews
The “14.5” in this Riot Kayaks Edge model refers to the length of the kayak in feet.
It illustrates the need for generally longer boats in sea and touring kayaks, especially when you’re going to be on the water for a long while.
Longer boats may take a bit more effort to get going, but after a while they need less effort to paddle.
That’s crucial, when you’re tired and you’re trying to get back to shore while the tide and the wind is against you. You’ll also notice that this has a slim 12-inch profile, and it’s designed that way not just for the looks. You need a kayak that sits low on the water to minimize the effect of the wind if you’re coming back to shore.
It’s quite slim at 22.5 inches wide, but its tracking is excellent. It offers just the right keel and chine. The weight helps as it weighs 51 pounds, and it also has a pilot rudder system.
Tracking is of course is of prime importance on the ocean, far more than maneuverability. With the rudder, you can still keep the kayak going in the right general direction even with the wind and the waves.
This is constructed with polyethylene, and it’s quite tough. It’s rated to accommodate 325 pounds, which means you can safely bring some equipment with you and you can be heavy yourself. Despite this toughness it’s quite comfortable to use.
The padded plastic seats can be customized to your fit, and the sliding footbraces are adjustable as well. It comes with built-in thigh braces too. The cockpit measures 36.5 inches long and 19.5 inches wide. It may be a snug fit for some, but then you don’t really want too much empty space around you where the water can get through.
With this kayak, you do have several options if you’re bring some gear with you on your trip. For the items that you don’t mind getting wet, you have a storage system at the fore and aft section with items secured by shockcord. There are also safety straps and a paddle hook, along with a safety bar.
You also have bulkhead-sealed storage compartments at the front and rear. They measure 15.75 by 8.13 inches, and secured with dual density hatch covers. For safety, you also have reflective lifelines and the absolutely necessary drain plug that works very well.
- This tracks very well, so you can maintain the direction you want even with the elements like the waves and the wind going against you.
- It’s tough and well-made.
- It offers ample storage space so that you can bring some gear with you (such as cameras) to really enhance your experience.
- It’s very comfortable to ride in, so it’s ideal even for long rides on the water.
- It’s not too heavy so 2 people can carry this easily enough. It has two carry handles for that.
- It’s very stable on the water, so you’re unlikely to tip over if you know what you’re doing. It doesn’t have any problem with the waves, unless they’re really big swells
- It’s versatile enough that you can always use it for lakes and mild rivers as well. It’s also great for beginners.
- The cockpit may be too small for some people.
- You need help to get it in the water, since it’s too heavy and bulky for a single person to carry.
Like most seagoing kayaks the Advanced frame Expedition from Advanced Elements is quite long.
It measures 13 feet. This length improves the tracking capabilities and hull speed of the kayak, and as a bonus you also get more storage capacity for your stuff.
However, unlike most ocean kayaks this is an inflatable. Technically, this is a hybrid because it’s an inflatable with a folding frame. It has aluminum ribs built in which defines the bow and stern, and it’s another feature that helps with the tracking of the kayak.
Since it’s an inflatable, you have to set it up first. But that’s not really hard or time-consuming. That’s true even though it has 9 air chambers which sets the shape of the kayak and also provides the extra buoyancy.
Yet since it’s an inflatable, it also means it’s much more portable. Fold it up and it takes up only 31 by 16 by 10 inches of space. That’s small enough to fit into a duffel bag. It’s also light enough at 42 pounds that it shouldn’t be too hard to carry from your car trunk to the water. Even when it’s fully inflated, you still have molded rubber handles to make it easier to drag to and from the water.
Some people think that inflatables are not tough, but the Expedition actually is quite robust. It has welded seams and reinforced bow and stern. It can even handle up to 450 pounds of weight. That’s the weight limit of some 2-person kayaks, and this one is for just a single person.
The tracking is excellent, which you need when you’re in the ocean. That tracking capability is due to the length, the aluminum ribs, and also the skeg tracking fin. It’s also very stable as it has a low center of gravity. It’s pretty comfy to use as well. First of all it’s very stable, and it helps that it is 32 inches wide.
The seat is adjustable, and it offers inflatable (and therefore adjustable) lumbar support. The foot brace is adjustable too, and you can also attach a spray skirt so you don’t get too wet. There are even neoprene knuckle guards on the sides of the cockpit should you be too enthusiastic in your paddling.
You also have plenty of storage space as well. At the front you can place some stuff and secure it with the cord netting. Behind the cockpit, there’s a large storage compartment as well.
- As it’s an inflatable, it is very light and portable.
- With the aluminum ribbing, it’s not as fragile as other inflatables.
- The tracking is outstanding.
- It’s very stable so you won’t even feel like tipping over.
- It comes with lots of storage room.
- It’s very comfy to use.
- You still have to inflate it, and there’s always a chance of a puncture.
- The cockpit dimensions may not be large enough to accommodate the increasingly larger waistlines of most people these days. Others may be too tall for it.
- This may be best suited for daytime use, as there aren’t any reflective surfaces to make it easier to find in the dark.
If you want a long kayak, you certainly get it with the tempest 170 touring kayak from Wilderness Systems.
This is a classic model that’s been around since 2012 or so, and it’ll probably endure for quite a while longer.
Back in the day, it has been the recipient of several notable awards from organizations and publications such as Sea Kayaker Magazine. The readers of that magazine have voted it the Best Beginners Kayak: Sea award as well as the Best Day and Weekend Touring Kayak award.
You may have guessed from the number in the name that this kayak measures 17 feet long. It’s a single-person kayak that’s also quite slim at 22 inches in width. It weighs about 57 pounds. This has a weight capacity of 325 pounds.
It’s actually for “mid”-sized people, because of the cockpit dimensions. The cockpit width is just 18 inches and it is only 34 inches long. The length of this kayak pretty much tells you that’s it’s for the ocean, as it may be too long for rivers with lots of turns along the way.
The length is essential for tracking, and to help with that too you also have the “TruTrak” skeg system that helps keep it on course. It also comes with a bow compass recess, and the presence of this space definitely confirms the Tempest 170’s status as an ocean kayak.
This has a very low profile in the water at just 13.5 in deck height. This helps keep the wind from blowing the kayak too easily off course. It has bulkheads at the bow, midship, and stern, while the hatches for them are domed. There’s also bungee rigging on the deck of the kayak for other supplies.
It’s not too difficult to endure long trips in this kayak. The adjustable Phase 3 AirPro XP seating system is very relaxing to sit on. The thigh braces are padded and adjustable too, and so is the “SlideLock XL” foot brace system that can accommodate large feet.
This has “soft touch” handles on the side of the cockpit so you (and a friend) can carry this more easily. The reflective static perimeter safety line can help when you’re still on the water when it gets dark.
- This is quite easy to use, and its award for best sea kayak for beginners is an affirmation that if you’re a newbie you should definitely consider this if you live near the beach.
- It’s also great for very long trips. It’s very comfortable to sit on and you have storage for your supplies.
- It offers excellent performance with the wind and in rough water. It glides well on the water.
- It’s solid in its construction, with a premium quality build and easy adjustability.
- Despite its “midsize” measurements for the cockpit, it can accommodate large people.
- The cockpit may not be big enough for those with very large waistlines.
- Many have found its design unsuitable for wave surfing.
This is another “long kayak” that’s ideal for the open ocean. It’s 17 feet and 4 inches long, and its width is 23.75 inches. The cockpit is 17.25 inches wide and 33 inches long.
It weighs about 68 pounds and its weight capacity is somewhere within the 325 to 375-pound range.
The Looksha 17 is among the favorite kayaks of many longtime enthusiasts. This is due to its overall excellent performance. It simply takes every factor that kayakers care about and combines them into a single package that’s certainly durable. It’s fast, robust, stable, and comfortable. You can carry a load with it that can be enough for overnight and even week long trips.
This is suited mainly for medium-sized and larger kayakers. The bow and stern hatches are huge, and in fact it’s the biggest hatch opening that Necky has ever come up with for their kayaks. These come with special “Quick Seal” hatches with a unique buckle system that can keep your stuff dry.
It features their “Active Comfort” seating system, so you won’t feel too uncomfortable in it. The thigh braces are adjustable and so are the foot pedals for the rudder system that helps with the tracking. You have deck bungee along with a safety perimeter line that’s reflective.
- The cockpit is sized for average and larger people, which, in most cases, means it can accommodate “real world” body shapes. The seat has lots of customized setting and the adjustments are easy to make.
- The storage capacity is amazing at more than 189 liters in total. The hatch system also keeps your stuff dry.
- It deals very well with strong currents and tides.
- It can handle wind chop reaching up to 4 feet.
- The “Superlinear” polyethylene is very tough.
- It offers high initial stability, which means it’s easy to get inside the kayak.
- It’s quite stable.
- It’s not for kids or smaller adults.
- The width helps with the stability, but it also makes it a bit slower than other kayaks with similar lengths.
This entry on this list is the main exception to the “longer is better” rule in seagoing kayaks.
On the face of it, this 10-foot Manta Tandem kayak doesn’t really fit the ocean kayak profile. It’s not just short, but it’s slow on the water and the hatches aren’t waterproof.
Yet you can use this for mild beach waters as many have already. It can handle 3-ft swells easily enough, and if you’re an experienced kayaker you may even find the 6-ft waves exciting to surf.
This is certainly a versatile kayak, and its features offer a glimpse on what you can use it for. It can carry up to 500 pounds (it can even handle 3 people on it), and it has a cup holder, a fishing pole holder, and even a built-in receptacle for a sail.
- The seating is very comfy.
- It can handle lots of cargo.
- It has features for fishing and sailing aficionados.
- It’s very stable that it’s “almost impossible” to tip over.
- It tracks very well.
- It’s a beginner kayak so it’s not for serious enthusiasts.
- It’s very slow.
- It’s too heavy for a single person to carry.
Ocean Kayak Buying Guide
Buying a kayak for the open seas is a bit different from buying a kayak meant for calm lakes or white water rapids. Here are some factors you should consider first:
In general, ocean kayaks are longer than your typical kayaks. They should be at least 11.5 feet but you should go for at least 15 feet to be sure. These longer kayaks paddle easily when you’re on a long trip, and you’ll want something that’s easy to paddle when you’re tired and in the ocean. Also, longer boats are more stable.
If you’re a beginner, you will want something that’s wider. You should go for a width close to 90 cm, and not less than 50 cm. The point of a wider kayak is that it’s more stable and it doesn’t flip over as easily. That’s certainly a concern when you have the ocean waves to contend with.
You’ll want a kayak that’s easy to control, but in the open seas you’re not really concerned too much about maneuverability. Tracking, however, is of prime importance.
With the waves barreling constantly on your kayak, you’ll need something that can certainly endure. What you don’t want is a fragile kayak that’ll leave you on your own in the open seas.
Low in the water
Beginners are advised to be very wary when the winds blow from inland, since it can make it very difficult to get back to shore with just a kayak. You want a kayak that sits low in the water to minimize the effects of cross winds.
Some are barely larger than the waist of the user. The reason for this is that you don’t want a wave to cave in the skirt and swamp the kayak.
Matches your purpose
What exactly do you plan to do in the ocean? Some people want to fish, so you need features that will match this purpose. You may want to go scuba diving, so you need space that will accommodate the scuba gear. Some even like to go sailing with their kayaks, and there are kayaks that offer this option.
There are plenty of activities you can do when you’re at the beach, and now you know that kayaking is certainly one of them. All you need is the best ocean kayak for your size, skill level, and purpose, and you’re good to go. Have fun and be safe!
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