Kayak camping combines the best of two worlds: the thrill of paddling through serene waters and the joy of spending nights under the starry sky. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast seeking a unique camping experience, kayak camping is the perfect choice. But to fully immerse yourself in this adventure, you need the right kayak that meets your camping needs.
In this article, we present the best kayaks for camping in 2023. We’ve carefully selected a range of kayaks that excel in performance, storage capacity, comfort, and durability. Whether you’re a seasoned kayak camper or a beginner, these kayaks are designed to enhance your camping experience on the water.
What to look for when buying a Kayak for Camping?
When it comes to choosing a kayak for camping, several factors should be considered to ensure you find the perfect fit for your needs. Here are the key aspects to look for when buying a kayak for camping:
Stability is paramount for a camping kayak. Look for a kayak with a stable design, preferably with a wider hull, as it will provide better balance and help prevent tipping. This is especially important if you plan to load your kayak with camping gear, as it will add weight and affect stability.
2. Storage Capacity:
Ample storage space is vital for kayak camping. Seek a kayak with sufficient storage compartments, such as hatches and bungee cords, to securely store your camping gear. Consider the size and accessibility of the storage areas to ensure they accommodate your needs and are easy to pack and access during your trip.
3. Weight and Portability:
Considering the weight and portability of your kayak is crucial, especially if you plan to transport it frequently. A lighter kayak will be easier to carry and maneuver, making it more convenient for camping trips. Look for materials like fiberglass or lightweight plastic to keep the kayak’s weight manageable without compromising durability.
Durability is key for withstanding the rigors of outdoor adventures. Opt for a kayak constructed with high-quality materials that can endure rocks, rough terrain, and potential scrapes or impacts. Reinforced hulls and strong construction will ensure your kayak withstands the challenges of camping trips for years to come.
Comfort plays a significant role in enhancing your camping experience. Look for a kayak with a comfortable seat and adjustable backrest, as you may spend hours on the water. Adequate legroom and cushioning can help prevent fatigue and discomfort during long paddling excursions.
Consider the kayak’s maneuverability, especially if you plan to explore various waterways or encounter different conditions. A kayak with good maneuverability will allow you to navigate through tight spots, handle currents, and make turns with ease. Look for features like a responsive rudder or skeg system to enhance maneuverability.
7. Additional Features:
Pay attention to any additional features that can enhance your camping experience. These may include fishing rod holders, paddle holders, cup holders, or attachment points for accessories like GPS devices or fishing gear. These features can add convenience and utility to your camping adventures.
By keeping these essential factors in mind, you can make an informed decision when purchasing a kayak for camping. Remember, finding the right kayak that aligns with your camping needs and preferences will greatly contribute to an enjoyable and comfortable experience on the water. Now that you know what to look for, let’s explore the best kayaks for camping in 2023 and find the perfect one for your next adventure!
Best Kayaks for Camping and Their Reviews:
1. Intex Challenger Kayak
The Intex Challenger Kayak is an inflatable kayak set that comes with aluminum oars and a high-output air pump. It is made of durable welded material with eye-catching graphics, ensuring safety on the lake or slow-moving river. The cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized space, while the inflatable I-beam floors provide stability. It also features a removable skeg for exceptional directional movement.
One notable aspect of this kayak is its cargo net, which allows for convenient storage of extra gear. Additionally, there is a grab line on both ends of the kayak for added safety. The kayak comes with an inflatable seat that includes a backrest, enhancing comfort during long rides.
Measuring 108 by 13 by 30 inches (W x H x D) and weighing 27.2 pounds, this kayak has a maximum capacity of 220 pounds. It is constructed with rugged vinyl, ensuring durability.
Customer reviews of the Intex Challenger Kayak are generally positive. One reviewer compared it to other Intex kayaks and found that the Challenger 1-man was a better choice due to its smaller size, lighter weight, and easier portability. However, the reviewer noted that individuals with long legs might find the legroom to be cramped.
Another customer praised the kayak’s quick inflation time, stability, and ease of paddling. They also appreciated the inclusion of a skeg, which is a valuable feature in this price range. The reviewer mentioned that wind can affect the kayak’s movement, but it remains stable and unlikely to capsize.
A different reviewer mentioned using the kayak on a canal and found it to be stable, lightweight, and suitable for occasional use. They also appreciated the convenience of the included three-piece paddle and lightweight pump.
A parent who bought the kayak for their child’s introduction to kayaking commended its stability and ease of use. They found it safe for children and mentioned their intention to use it in coastal areas with moderate winds.
While some reviewers mentioned the kayak’s affordability and value for money, they also noted the fluctuations in price. The bag included with the kayak was criticized for its flimsiness and limited carrying capacity.
Overall, the Intex Challenger Kayak is praised for its stability, durability, ease of use and value for money. It provides a fun and enjoyable kayaking experience, especially for beginners or casual users. However, individuals with long legs may find the legroom to be restrictive, and the included bag may not be suitable for long-distance carrying.
2. Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
I recently had the opportunity to try out the Explorer K2 Kayak, a 2-person inflatable kayak set by Intex, and I must say, it exceeded my expectations. Here’s my review based on my experience with this kayak.
First and foremost, the comfort level of this kayak is impressive. It comes with an adjustable inflatable seat with a backrest, ensuring a comfortable paddling experience. The cockpit is also designed to provide ample space, allowing for freedom of movement while kayaking. This feature is particularly important for longer trips, as it helps prevent any discomfort or fatigue.
In terms of dimensions, the inflated size of the Explorer K2 Kayak is 10 feet 3 inches long, 3 feet wide, and 1 foot 8 inches high. It has a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds, making it suitable for two average-sized individuals. However, some users have mentioned that it might be a bit short for taller people. Nevertheless, considering the price point, it’s a reasonable compromise.
One of the notable features of this kayak is its directional stability. It comes with a removable skeg that enhances its tracking abilities. This is especially useful when paddling in calm waters, such as lakes or mild rivers. However, it’s worth noting that without the skeg, the kayak may not track as well and might require some effort to control.
Another advantage of the Explorer K2 Kayak is its increased visibility. The bright yellow color of the kayak enhances visibility, which can be crucial in case of an emergency. This feature adds an extra layer of safety and peace of mind while out on the water.
The kayak is made specifically for smaller bodies of water, as mentioned in the product description. It performs well in lakes and mild rivers, but it may not be suitable for more challenging conditions or open water. It’s important to keep this in mind and choose the appropriate kayaking environment accordingly.
In terms of build quality, the materials used in the Explorer K2 Kayak are durable enough for its price point. However, some users have mentioned that the inflation valves on the floor and the front and rear bow and stern covers could be of better quality. They are the cheaper flip-out valves, similar to those found on inflatable pool toys. On the other hand, the valves used to inflate the sides are of higher quality and prevent air from escaping. Considering the price, it’s understandable that there might be some compromises in certain areas.
3. Pelican – Argo 100X – Sit-in Kayak
I also tested the Pelican Argo 100X Sit-in Kayak, and overall, I found it to be a reliable and enjoyable watercraft. Here’s my detailed review based on its features and customer feedback.
First and foremost, stability is a key aspect of any kayak, and the Argo 100X delivers in this regard. Thanks to its twin-arched multi-chine hull design, the kayak offers excellent stability, ensuring a secure and steady ride. This feature not only provides peace of mind but also makes it incredibly easy to get in and out of the kayak, which is particularly convenient.
Safety is another important consideration, and the Argo 100X doesn’t disappoint. The inclusion of additional floatation in the form of foam blocks inside the kayak, combined with its flatter hull, enhances safety on the water. With a maximum weight capacity of 275 pounds, it offers ample support for various paddlers.
One standout feature of this kayak is its lightweight construction. Made of high molecular weight polyethylene, the Argo 100X is exceptionally durable while requiring fewer materials. Weighing in at only 36 pounds and measuring 10 feet in length, it’s remarkably easy to transport, carry, and store. This aspect makes it a great option for individuals who value convenience and portability.
Durability is a crucial factor for any watercraft, and the Argo 100X boasts Pelican’s patented RAM-X material, renowned for its high-impact resistance. This ensures that the kayak will last through time, withstanding potential bumps and scrapes during your adventures.
Comfort is not overlooked either, as the adjustable ERGOFORM padded backrest with seat cushion provides a pleasant and supportive paddling experience. The ergonomic design promotes proper posture and reduces fatigue, allowing for longer and more enjoyable outings.
Looking at customer reviews, it’s evident that the Argo 100X has garnered positive feedback from users. Many customers appreciate the kayak’s lightweight nature, which makes it easy to lift onto car racks. The stability and ease of paddling are also highlighted, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced kayakers.
While the majority of users are satisfied with the kayak, one recurring concern relates to its tracking performance. Some customers have experienced difficulties with maintaining a straight course, particularly in rivers or bodies of water with current. This suggests that the Argo 100X is better suited for calm lakes or waters with minimal currents, rather than challenging river conditions.
Despite this limitation, the overall consensus is that the Pelican Argo 100X is a decent kayak, offering great value for the price. Users appreciate its lightweight design, comfortable seating, and reliable stability. If you’re looking for a kayak primarily for lake use or relaxed waterways, this model is definitely worth considering.
4. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Series
I recently purchased the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Series and have been thoroughly impressed with its performance. This kayak offers great value for the money, especially considering all the included accessories. Setting it up was a breeze, taking me less than 10 minutes with an electric air pump. Deflation and packing it up were also quick and easy, taking only 5-8 minutes.
One thing to note is that the kayak sits quite high due to its buoyancy, which can make it susceptible to being pushed around by the wind. However, it remains very maneuverable both in and out of the current. I was able to effortlessly perform 180-degree turns and experienced no trouble navigating in different water conditions. The smaller fin on the back enhances its spinning capabilities, allowing for precise maneuvering.
I had the opportunity to fish from this kayak and it made the experience enjoyable. Even though I hooked a steelhead that shook off the hook, the fight was a lot of fun. I’m eagerly looking forward to using it again during the fall season for chinook fishing on the Oregon coast.
Overall, this kayak has exceeded my expectations. It is well-made, sturdy, and provides ample room for two adults. The included accessories, such as the aluminum oars and high-output pump, are of good quality. The kayak’s construction using super tough laminate PVC with a polyester core has proven to be highly resistant to damage from abrasion, impact, and sunlight.
If I were to point out any drawbacks, it would be the need to replace the stock seats. The provided seats offer little back support and tend to lose air, rendering them useless. However, aftermarket foam seats with straps can easily be found for a reasonable price and provide excellent back support.
In conclusion, the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Series is a fantastic option for both beginners and experienced kayakers. It offers great stability, maneuverability, and durability. With its complete package of accessories and reasonable price, it’s hard to find a better kayak on the market. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to enjoy a day on the water.
5. Pelican – Maxim 100X Recreational Kayak
I also purchased the Pelican Maxim 100X recreational kayak and I have been extremely pleased with its performance. This kayak has several upgraded features that enhance the overall paddling experience. The additional storage options, including the front hatch with bungee cord and the rear tank well with a mesh deck cover, provide ample space for storing personal items. The cockpit table with compartments and bottle holder, as well as the molded footrests, add to the comfort and convenience.
One of the standout features of this kayak is its stability. The shallow V-chine hull design offers excellent maneuverability and tracking while providing increased secondary stability. As a recreational paddler, I appreciate the improved performance that this kayak offers.
Safety is a top priority when kayaking, and the Pelican Maxim 100X doesn’t disappoint. The added floating blocks on each side of the kayak, along with the flatter hull type, ensure a safe and secure ride. With a maximum weight capacity of 275 pounds, this kayak is suitable for various users.
Comfort is another area where this kayak shines. The adjustable ERGOFORM padded backrest with ERGOBASE seat cushion provides excellent support, allowing for comfortable and enjoyable paddling experiences.
One of the standout features of this kayak is its lightweight design. Made from durable high molecular density polyethylene, it weighs only 36 pounds and measures 10 feet in length. This makes it incredibly easy to transport and store, making it ideal for kayakers who value convenience.
Reading through customer reviews, it’s evident that many people have had positive experiences with this kayak. Users have praised its ease of use, tracking ability, and suitability for beginners. Some have mentioned minor issues such as broken carrying handles, but these seem to be isolated incidents that can be easily resolved.
Overall, I highly recommend the Pelican Maxim 100X recreational kayak. It offers a great combination of stability, safety, comfort, and lightweight design. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, this kayak is a reliable and enjoyable choice for your water adventures.
6. Valwix 2-Person Inflatable Kayak for Adults
I recently had the opportunity to try out the Valwix 2-Person Inflatable Kayak, and I must say, it exceeded my expectations. Here’s my review based on my experience:
First and foremost, the setup process was a breeze. With the included double-action hand pump, I was able to inflate the kayak quickly and easily. It held up very well throughout my river excursion, even when we encountered obstacles such as trees. The sturdy bottom of the kayak provided excellent durability and reassurance, and I never had to worry about tipping over, despite some close calls.
The detachable canopy was a standout feature for me. It was incredibly convenient and easy to assemble and disassemble. I enjoyed relaxing under the shade on mild sunny days, enhancing my overall kayaking experience. The only minor downside was that it slightly reduced arm room for the person in front of the kayak, but it was still manageable.
The kayak boasted a weight capacity of up to 600 pounds, and I can attest to its spaciousness. It comfortably accommodated two adults and even had enough room for a medium-sized dog or a small child. The cockpit was cozy and provided a pleasant gliding sensation on the water.
In terms of comfort, the adjustable seat rests were a nice touch. They were easy to modify according to personal preferences. However, I felt that they could have been more sturdy. I plan to try using hard stadium seats next time to see if that provides better support. As a person of shorter stature, I found the legroom in the front a bit limited, but I managed by placing my feet under the edge on each side.
Overall, my experience with the Valwix 2-Person Inflatable Kayak was highly positive. The canopy was a standout feature, and the kayak garnered attention from fellow paddlers due to its inflatable nature and unique design. It was durable, and stable, and provided an enjoyable kayaking experience. The handy cargo nets on the bow and stern were useful for storing extra items, and the supplied waterproof storage bag kept my belongings dry.
Although there were a few minor issues mentioned in other customer reviews, such as difficulties with the canopy setup or problems with seam sealing, I personally did not encounter these issues during my time with the kayak. It held up well, and the valves made it easy to inflate and deflate.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend the Valwix 2-Person Inflatable Kayak for adults seeking a budget-friendly option without compromising on stability and durability. It offers great value for the price, and its portability and quick setup make it an ideal choice for recreational touring. Whether you’re paddling on calm waters or encountering waves, this kayak is sure to provide an enjoyable and comfortable experience.
7. Pelican Sentinel 100X Sit-on-Top Kayak
I recently had the opportunity to try out the Pelican Sentinel 100X Sit on Top Kayak, and overall, I found it to be a great option for casual paddlers. Here’s my review based on my experience:
First and foremost, this kayak offers some upgraded features that enhance the overall experience. The additional storage options, including a front storage platform and a tank well with bungee cords, provide ample space for your belongings. The EXOSHELL 13 L removable storage compartment is a convenient addition, allowing you to pack everything at home and easily drop it into the tank well when you’re ready to hit the water. The molded footrests, bottle holder, and paddle tie-downs add to the kayak’s functionality, and it’s even designed to accommodate bringing your pet along for the ride.
One standout feature of the Pelican Sentinel 100X is its stability. The twin-arched multi-chine hull design offers excellent stability, giving you a secure and steady ride. It also makes it incredibly easy to get in and out of the kayak, which is a plus for those who may be new to kayaking or prefer easy accessibility.
Safety is a priority with this kayak, as Pelican’s unique manufacturing process includes additional flotation inside the hull to meet or surpass ABYC standards. This added safety feature, along with the scupper holes at the bottom of the kayak, ensures proper drainage and peace of mind during your ride. The kayak holds a maximum capacity of 275 pounds, making it suitable for most individuals.
In terms of comfort, the adjustable ERGOLOUNGE seating system is a highlight. It provides extra-thick cushioning and an extra high and wide padded backrest, allowing you to paddle in comfort for extended periods.
Weighing only 42 pounds and measuring 9 feet 6 inches in length, the Pelican Sentinel 100X is lightweight and easy to transport and store. The high molecular density polyethylene construction ensures durability while requiring less material, contributing to its lightweight nature.
Taking into account other customer reviews, it’s clear that the Pelican Sentinel 100X has received positive feedback overall. Many users appreciate its value for the price and find it suitable for casual paddling on local creeks or lakes. The kayak’s lightweight design, storage options, and comfortable seating system make it a popular choice.
However, there are a few considerations mentioned in the reviews. Some users noted that the kayak’s maneuverability is decent but not exceptional, which is important to keep in mind if you prioritize agility and speed. Additionally, a few users mentioned the need for additional grip points during transportation, as the kayak only has one grip point on each side. It’s worth considering a kayak cart or enlisting help to ensure easy transport.
In summary, the Pelican Sentinel 100X Sit-on-Top Kayak is a solid option for leisurely kayaking adventures. It offers stability, comfort, and convenient storage features, making it suitable for casual paddlers seeking a budget-friendly kayak. While it may not excel in maneuverability compared to longer or sit-in kayaks, it performs well in calm waters and is ideal for individuals looking for a fun and relaxing kayaking experience.
Where Should I Go Kayak Camping?
Choosing a destination for kayak camping depends on your preferences and the level of adventure you seek. Here are a few popular options to consider:
- Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (Minnesota, USA): This expansive wilderness area offers pristine lakes, interconnected waterways, and remote campsites. It’s perfect for a multi-day kayak camping trip with beautiful scenery, wildlife viewing opportunities, and a true sense of solitude.
- Everglades National Park (Florida, USA): Explore the unique ecosystem of the Everglades by kayaking through its mangrove tunnels and open waters. You can paddle through various routes, camp on chickees (elevated platforms), and immerse yourself in the park’s diverse flora and fauna.
- Gulf Islands National Seashore (Florida and Mississippi, USA): Discover the stunning coastal landscapes of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. With miles of sandy beaches, clear waters, and numerous islands to explore, it offers a great kayaking and camping experience.
- Sea of Cortez (Baja California, Mexico): Embark on an adventure in the Sea of Cortez, known for its rich marine life and dramatic landscapes. Kayak along the coastline, visit uninhabited islands, and camp on secluded beaches while enjoying crystal-clear waters and abundant wildlife.
- Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii (British Columbia, Canada): These remote islands off the coast of British Columbia offer a kayaker’s paradise. Paddle through ancient rainforests, witness the rich indigenous culture, and camp on picturesque beaches.
- Milford Sound (New Zealand): Explore the breathtaking fjords of Milford Sound by kayak, surrounded by towering mountains, waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. Camping overnight allows you to experience the tranquility and beauty of this World Heritage site.
- Swedish Archipelago (Sweden): The Swedish Archipelago is a vast network of thousands of islands, providing endless opportunities for kayaking and camping. Enjoy the calm waters, rocky coastlines, and picturesque fishing villages as you explore this stunning area.
Remember to research and plan your trip carefully, considering factors such as weather conditions, permits, safety guidelines, and equipment requirements. It’s always a good idea to consult local authorities, experienced kayakers, or tour operators for advice specific to your chosen destination.
How Do You Pack A Kayak For A Trip?
Packing a kayak for a trip requires careful planning and organization to ensure you have all the necessary gear and equipment while maintaining proper weight distribution and stability. Here are some steps to help you pack your kayak for a trip:
- Make a checklist: Start by making a checklist of all the essential items you’ll need for your trip, including camping gear, food, water, safety equipment, clothing, and personal items. This will help you stay organized and ensure you don’t forget anything important.
- Utilize dry bags: Invest in high-quality dry bags or dry boxes to keep your gear dry and protected from water. Categorize your items (e.g., clothing, sleeping gear, food) and pack them in separate dry bags to make it easier to find what you need.
- Distribute weight evenly: To maintain stability and maneuverability, distribute the weight evenly throughout the kayak. Place heavier items in the middle and towards the bottom of the kayak, while lighter items can go towards the front and back. This helps to keep the kayak balanced.
- Pack essential items within reach: Pack frequently used items like snacks, water bottles, sunscreen, and navigation tools inaccessible areas, such as the cockpit or deck pockets. This ensures you can easily reach them while on the water.
- Secure items with bungee cords or straps: Use bungee cords or straps to secure larger items like camping gear or additional water containers to the deck of the kayak. Make sure everything is tightly secured to prevent shifting during paddling.
- Consider weight capacity: Be mindful of your kayak’s weight capacity and avoid exceeding it. Overloading the kayak can compromise its stability and safety. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for the recommended weight capacity of your specific kayak model.
- Test your packed kayak: Before heading out, test the stability and balance of your packed kayak in calm waters. Make adjustments as needed to ensure it feels stable and well-balanced.
So these were some helpful tips on how to pack for a kayak Camping trip, also I have written a more in-depth post on Kayak Camping tips, so make sure to check it out.
What’s The Minimum Length Of Kayak To Use?
The minimum length of a kayak depends on several factors, including the intended use, the paddler’s size and skill level, and the type of water you plan to navigate. Generally, recreational kayaks for calm lakes and slow-moving rivers range from 8 to 12 feet in length, offering stability and maneuverability for beginners and casual paddlers. Touring or sea kayaks, designed for open water and longer trips, typically start around 12 to 14 feet in length to provide better tracking and efficiency. Whitewater kayaks, designed for navigating rapids, are typically shorter, ranging from 6 to 9 feet for increased maneuverability. It’s important to choose a kayak length that suits your specific needs and experience level, ensuring a safe and enjoyable paddling experience.
By investing in one of the top-rated kayaks for camping mentioned in this guide, you can embark on your outdoor adventures with confidence, knowing that you have a reliable and well-equipped vessel at your disposal. So, pack your camping gear, load up your kayak, and get ready to explore the great outdoors in style and comfort. Happy kayaking!