Camping by itself is a fantastic activity, as it adds a lot to your personality and overall health. Add paddling a kayak to the mixture, and you’ll get one of the best experiences of your life.
Nonetheless, to achieve that, you will need to dig out the best kayak for camping from amongst the maze that is today’s market.
Kayaks come in all shapes and sizes; fiberglass ones, carbon composite ones, and inflatable ones. They can also be tall, short, wide, and narrow. No matter what you want, you’ll hopefully find it at the price you want.
That’s precisely the purpose of this article, as we dissect our six best kayaks for camping. Additionally, we’ll be explaining some essential options and features plus a couple of frequently asked questions that might very well pop into your mind during your research.
The 6 Best Kayaks for Camping
1. Intex Challenger Kayak - Best Overall
Intex Challenger Kayak
This inflatable kayak by Intex is quite an impressive package. It weighs only 27.2 lbs, with the ability to support one person since it is a sit-inside kayak, but that person can weigh anything up to 220 lbs. It’s quite spacious.
Moreover, it’s made out of rugged Vinyl for a durable build and extended lifetime. Safety has not been overlooked when designing this kayak as the graphics on its surface are attractive and will draw attention when needed.
The fact that it is a sit-inside kayak limits its storage space, but that has been overcome by providing a cargo net well within your reach.
Furthermore, your comfort has been taken care of in the form of inflatable floors, an inflatable seat, and backrest. Plus, superior stability allows you to stir your kayak however you wish to and maintain a straight path with the removable skank’s help. Additionally, it has two grab lines, one on each side of the kayak, to give you more accessibility.
Adding to that, the Intex Challenger Kayak gives you a lot of value for your money as it doesn’t come alone. The package that arrives with it includes one 86-inch paddle, a Hi-output pump, repair patch, and carry bag, which are all extremely useful.
The problem that persists with this water vessel will have to be its valves, which are frequently faulty. Therefore, they allow air out of the boat.
- Spacious cargo net at the front
- Durable build
- Attractive designs
- 84-inch aluminum oar
- Valve problems
- Little storage space
This kayak’s genuinely one of the best on the market today. It gives you everything that you could need for a reasonable price and minimal effort. Plus, it comes with an impressive package and efficient solutions to problems such as lack of storage space.
2. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak - Runner-up
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
Our second camping kayak for this list is also by Intex. However, it’s the Explorer series, which is a lot similar to its peer, the Intex Challenger, yet still a lot different.
First of all, it’s a lot larger with spacious, comfortable cockpits. This water vessel is a sit-on-top one with an adequate weight of 30.6 lbs and a capacity of two people - 400 lbs. Hence, it’s quite suitable for couples or adventure-seeking friends.
Additionally, its length of 10 ft and 3 inches makes it extremely comfortable. The entire body is made out of waterproof puncture-proof Vinyl, so it will definitely go through a lot alongside you without placing you in tough situations.
Moreover, just like the Challenger, its yellow/gray design makes it easily spottable in case you need any help. On another note, its transportability is not only due to its relatively lightweight but also to the accessories that have been placed to facilitate the process further. Such accessories include two grab lines and grab handle that make carrying it a breeze.
We've seen that the Challenger had some trouble with its valves. On the other hand, the Explorer comes with a Boston valve on each side, therefore eliminating such problems.
Furthermore, your comfort is provided through an inflatable adjustable seat and an all-inclusive package, which will satisfy you. The package that comes with this kayak includes two 86-inch paddles, a Hi-output pump, carry bag, and removable skeg, which ensures stability and straight-line paddling.
Unfortunately, this water vessel does not come without disadvantages, as the two 86-inch paddles can be quite wobbly, while the build isn’t as robust as you would want it to be.
- Fast Inflation/deflation
- Removable inflatable seat
- Great package
- Wobbly paddles
- Sensitive build
This inflatable kayak is an excellent choice if you wish to go out with a plus one for a fun trip. Still, we would not advise you to use it if you have a bumpy road ahead.
3. Sea Eagle 370 Pro - Best Capacity
Do not let the lightweight of 32 lbs fool you, as the Sea Eagle 370 Pro comes with the largest capacity that we have seen on this list, and one of the largest that you can find in this category on the market today.
It can take three people comfortably up to 650 lbs, so you can easily go on this trip with two friends, enjoying this robust water vessel.
The Sea Eagle 370 Pro is made out of PolyKrylar with a rugged, durable hull that can even tolerate dog paws and claws. Thus, if you don’t wish to go with your human friends, you can easily pack up your four-legged friend and head out.
Moreover, it’s designed with not just one but two skegs, which boost its stability, trackability, and speed quite a few notches, making it suitable for all kinds of waterfronts; rivers and seas alike.
Nevertheless, if you wish to go out by yourself and utilize all of the available space for storage, you could easily remove one of the two seats, as they are both movable and get yourself quite comfortable.
All of these options make this water vessel durable and quite straight forward, which means that it can be used by beginners and experienced anglers alike without confusing anyone.
One thing that the Sea Eagle 370 Pro lacks is the accessories that enhance portability, as it doesn’t come with any grab lines or handles.
- Strong build
- Two skegs
- 650 lb capacity
- Hard to move around
If you are a beginner, experienced angler, wish to go out with friends, or want to go out by yourself, as long as you are keeping to waterfronts where you can easily retrieve your kayak, then this one will be a fantastic choice.
4. Advanced Elements Convertible Inflatable Kayak - Best Convertible Kayak
Advanced Elements Convertible Inflatable Kayak
Best Convertible Kayak
This kayak here by Advanced Elements is the epitome of versatility. It can be used with an open deck or a closed one, and it can be paddled either solo or tandem. Consequently, no matter what style you’re going for, you’ll be able to achieve it with this kayak.
Moreover, it has an impressive weight capacity of three people up to 550 lbs. It’s important to mention that these three people will fit in quite comfortably due to the spaciousness that the Advanced Elements Convertible Inflatable Kayak provides.
The deck is designed brilliantly in order to offer maximum comfort for the paddlers, plus even more storage space when needed.
The whole body is made out of PVC and aluminum to ensure strength and durability. Like several other of its peers, it comes with a colorful, colorful design easily spotted in case of an emergency.
Also, for safety and longevity purposes, this water vessel hasn’t been designed with one layer of material, nor two, but three puncture-resistant layers of material that separate you from your surroundings when you’re stirring this kayak.
Additionally, it comes with adjustable padded seats that can easily double your time on the water.
The only downside that comes with the Advanced Elements Inflatable Convertible kayak is its massive weight of 52 lbs, which hinders its transportation.
- Can be paddled either solo or tandem
- Rear storage hatch
- Aluminum stays
- D-ring and a mesh pocket
The Advanced Elements Inflatable Convertible water vessel is the most convenient for anyone, whether alone or with a friend. With its durable, robust build and plentiful storage space, it’s the perfect choice for a camping kayak.
5. Sevylor Quikpak K1 - Best Lightweight Kayak
Sevylor Quikpak K1
Best Lightweight Kayak
This water vessel by Sevylor weighs only 18 lbs and comes with an incredible weight capacity of 400 lbs. Since it’s a one-person sit-on-top water vessel, you can utilize all of the available space available on the 8 ft kayak by storing all of your essential gear and needs in every nook and cranny that you can find.
Another prominent aspect of this water vessel will have to be the safety precautions taken to make it as sturdy and secure as possible. First of all, it’s made out of 21 gauge PVC, which is quite durable. However, Sevylor did not stop there as it has also added a tarpaulin bottom making this one of the most reliable kayaks available.
Additionally, in case of it tipping over, it’s equipped with numerous air chambers and an airtight system that keeps it, and you, afloat. Add that to the double-lock valves that utilize two locking points for easy and secure inflation and deflation, and you’ve got yourself the ultimate water vessel.
Furthermore, the Quikpak K1 isn’t just light in weight; it’s also compact in size, coming with its backpack where it can be housed conveniently. This same backpack system can be turned into a backseat for maximum efficiency.
Last but certainly not least, the kayak does not come alone, as we have mentioned momentarily; it comes with its own pack back. It also comes with a pump, and a paddle, so it’s got you quite covered.
Trackability and straight-line paddling are essential features that ought to be present in any water vessel. Skegs are one of those accessories that serve this purpose. In this case, the included skegs were small and, therefore, flimsy, which can be quite annoying.
- Multiple air chambers
- 400 lbs weight capacity
- Tarpaulin base
- Easy setup
- Small skegs
If you are mostly a solo kayaker who’s in need of something light, compact, and sturdy for your adventures, then the Sevylor Quikpak K1 will make a great choice.
6. Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Inflatable Kayak - Safest
Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Inflatable Kayak
Our final pick for the best kayak for camping will have to be another Advanced Elements model. This one is the AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak AE1012, and it’s all about safety and keeping you afloat no matter what happens.
It’ll definitely take some serious pounding for this water vessel to go under. It is equipped with seven air chambers in addition to Spring and Twist-Lock valves that provide superior security. This 10 ft kayak weighs 36 lbs and can take a weight capacity of 300 lbs.
It's a sit-inside water vessel, so it can only house one person, but this person can bring as much equipment and belongings as they desire. Besides the ample storage place provided in the kayak's front and rear sides, it's also equipped with bungee ropes that can hold a lot.
As for the build and strength of this kayak, it’s made of rugged vinyl materials, three layers to be exact, all of them being puncture-proof. The boat itself is also supported by aluminum rips, which maintain the kayak’s shape, allowing it to cut through the water.
Your comfort hasn’t been forgotten as this water vessel has been designed with not one, but two adjustable padded back supports which provide maximum comfort. It also boasts low profile handles that make transporting the kayak from shore to water and vice versa, an easy task.
The only disadvantage of the AE1012 has to be the fact that it does not come with its accessories. So, no paddles, and no footrests. If you want anything more than the boat, you’ll have to purchase it separately.
- Seven air chambers
- Bungee ropes for extra cargo
- Aluminum ribs
- Spring and Twistlock valves
- Doesn’t come with accessories
The AE1012 AdvancedFrame InflatableKayak is the perfect choice for an adventurous, experienced angler who isn’t afraid of exploring new risky routes and places. It’s quite hard to sink this water vessel as the safety measures that have input into its design are quite superior.
How to Pick the Ultimate Camping Kayak
Now that we are done with our top picks for the best kayak for camping, we will go through the key options and features you want to be aware of and decided upon when you resolve to purchase a camping kayak.
Kayaks, in general, can be classified according to several characteristics. However, the two most important and prominent categories are the volume and the sitting position of a kayak.
The volume of a kayak reflects the payload that it’s capable of holding. According to that, we have high volume kayaks and low volume kayaks. Each one of them is designed with specific features that serve its capacity limits.
Low volume kayaks are for adventurous, experienced kayakers who know how to handle their gear in harsh environments. They offer little space, mostly, just one person and have a raised bow and stern, designed for stylish maneuvering.
The downside of such a small size is that it’s not suitable for white-water, as such strong currents can easily tip it over.
As for high volume kayaks, they offer plenty of space and stability over water. That’s, of course, due to their larger frames and rounded designs. They can be used on any desired waterfront as they enjoy superior buoyancy that makes them easily retrievable.
As we’ve mentioned before, kayaks are also divided according to their sitting position. Your kayak will always be either sit-inside or sit-on-top. Each one of them has its own benefits and drawbacks.
A sit on top kayak is pretty self-explanatory; there’s no hassle with getting in and out of the kayak. It’s usually smaller and designed with a lower capacity. Additionally, they don’t offer much storage space.
On the other side, they are lighter, easier to maneuver, and right if they ever happen to tip-over. All of that makes them better choices for summer kayaking when you have no problem getting wet and falling into the water. You also don’t need as much packing as you will on a long winter trip.
With sit-in kayaks, your legs are situated inside the deck of the kayak. They are naturally larger and enjoy a higher capacity. That, of course, comes with the price of heavier weight and difficult transportation.
On the bright side, though, they offer a lot of storage space where you can pack appropriately for an extended camping trip. Plus, your legs will stay dry, and if you wish to keep the rest of your body dry as well, then you can buy a cover that is attachable to your water vessel.
The durability of your kayak’s build is essential to its longevity and efficiency. Bumping into rocks, trees, and any sort of obstacles is bound to happen quite frequently during your kayaking journey.
Thus, make sure that the materials you invest in are robust ones that will take you from one waterfront to the other with minimal wear and tear. PVC and aluminum are two of the most common options today, while fiberglass and carbon composite are a little bit harder to fish out.
The most critical factor that determines the acceptable height for your kayak is your height. You have to be seated comfortably, whether you are sitting inside a kayak or on-op. Your legs must be placed in a convenient position in order to prevent pains and injuries.
After you know the limit of your kayak length, the general rule is that longer kayaks are more stable and can endure white-water, while shorter kayaks are faster and easier to turn.
Storage is the key to a successful camping trip. Even without camping, kayaking alone requires plenty of storage space. Mainly, there are two places where you can store your needs and equipment on a kayak; deck bungees, and storage hatches.
Deck bungees are present in the deck, that’s why they are optimal for storing things that you frequently need, as you can easily reach in front of you and grab them.
While storage hatches are placed in the back and, therefore, can be used to store your camping gear that will only lead when on land.
Consequently, try to look for kayaks that offer you a lot of space, especially dry-space. Dry-space keeps the water out, therefore protecting your belongings if your vessel tips-over.
Also, try to use small storage bags that can fit into awkward storage places inside your kayak.
We had briefly mentioned the importance of comfort while kayaking when we spoke about the kayak’s length and how you must have ample leg space. Additionally, try to search for vessels that offer you footplates and braces in order to guarantee your comfort.
Moreover, kayaks now offer extra padding, adjustable seats with neck braces, and even knee and thigh pads. All of these options will make your time a lot more pleasurable and allow you to extend your time on the water.
Needless to say, if you are uncomfortable or in pain when you’re using your kayak, you must return to shore as fast as possible, as prolonged exposure can easily cause you serious injuries.
Surely, anyone who has been kayaking, or even just swimming in novel waterfronts knows that water and wind currents are quite dangerous and overpowering. Thus navigating a kayak in a straight line can prove to be quite a tiresome task.
That’s where accessories such as rudders and skegs come in to play. And although they serve the same purpose, they are quite different in their method of achieving it.
Rudders are incredibly convenient as they are placed on the back of the kayak, well out of your way, and line of vision to avoid confusion. They don’t stop there, though, as they’re fully operable through your foot-pedals requiring minimal effort.
Skegs on the other side are designed like downward fins. They’re placed on the bottom of your kayak to do their own thing and help it to move in a straight line.
To sum-up this article, we will say that kayaking and camping are two of the most rewarding exercises that you can take on. They’ll immensely improve your mental health and work on various sets of muscles to strengthen your body.
Naturally, you’d want to perform both of these activities right, and that’s why you’re seeking the best kayak for camping out there.
For a kayak to be eligible for camping, it has to be quite sturdy and built out of robust materials to withstand new routes that might very well be bumpy and surprising. It must also be easy to inflate, deflate, and transport from water to shore and vice versa.
Lastly, it must be equipped with ample storage space because you’ll not just be packing your kayaking gear, but you’ll also be adding your camping equipment, which can take a lot of space.
If you’re looking for the ultimate camping kayak that’ll give you plenty of storage space, a sturdy build, and visible design, then the Intex Challenger Kayak is our recommendation.
On the other side, if you are looking for something that will house your friends or even your dog, and still have plenty of space to spare for equipment, then the Sea Eagle 370 Pro is perfect with its 650 lbs weight capacity.
Lastly, if you are a solo kayaker/camper who needs something lightweight and compact while maintaining its robust and durable build, take you on numerous trips, then the Sevylor Quikpak K1 is generally an amazing water vessel.