If you are someone who is looking for the best folding kayak, then you have come to the right place. Whether you are an experienced person or a novice who is just starting to get into this business, there will be a lot of questions and concerns on your mind. Will it work in open seas? Should you just use it in still waters or both at the same time? How stable will it be? What kind of hull durability do you want?
There are almost dozens of varieties when it comes to kayaks. There are the ones that are built specifically for speed and ones that have some amazing handling. While no one model will support all your needs, the wide range of kayaks provided on this list increases your chances of finding the best possible kayak for yourself.
Buying Guide for Folding Kayak:
So before you can go on choosing the best kayak for yourself, we would like to talk about some things that you need to know before buying a kayak. You will need to determine a lot of things before you can pick one for yourself. Kayaks can be run in different water types. There is freshwater, saltwater, and then they are further divided into their subcategories. This buying guide is divided into parts and each part has a detailed discourse on it. Let us see what you have to know:
Still water ranges from small to very large bodies of water. It can be a small farm pond or it can be a big lake. Normally you would start from a very good initial stability in still waters therefore; a moderate rocker will be just fine. So both the recreational kayaks and the sit-on-top ones are good for this purpose. But if the water body is large then, most often, speed is given the top priority to reach the destination fast instead of initial stability. Therefore, a low degree rocker is the best choice for this type of folding kayak.
Moving water can however have a wide range. It can be rivers, open flowing streams, etc. For these types of waters, you will have to give priority to maneuverability as you may face some obstacles and may have to propel the kayak against the water; therefore, extended control is essential. In this case, we would ask you to go with the high degree rocker and kayaks with short, wide, and soft chines. This will provide you with additional stability.
Saltwater Kayak (Inshore):
The inshore saltwater is generally characterized by a depth of 70 feet or less along the shoreline. For professionals, this can include but not limited to inlets, bays, flats, etc. In places such as salty marshes, a paddler is required to cover distances. You can face moderate to heavy wind and tidal waves. In this case, a kayak with a moderate degree rocker with a long and slim shape will be best suited. Most of the people prefer the sit-on-top types as they cannot sink. Even if they are pushed out of the cockpit they use the paddler to go back in. But I would prefer a long and slim kayak with a sit-in design rather than the sit-on-top types. Sit in types are significantly faster and require a lot less effort to paddle. But you may have to sacrifice some initial stability as the sit-on-tops provide additional stability.
Offshore is any type of water that has a depth of 70 feet or more. Generally, offshore waters are at a longer distance and you will require a lot of paddling to cover significant distances. They are also likely to face high-speed winds, therefore, a moderate degree of a rocker is the best possible choice for running offshore. An extra-long length for your kayak may also provide you additional security owing to its stability. A long and slim kayak is by design much more efficient and therefore, less paddling is required. We would advise using touring kayaks for offshore.
Kayak Types (Sit-on-top Kayaks):
There are generally two types of kayaks, the sit-on-top kayaks do not have a cockpit to sit in and are therefore less secure. Furthermore, they are designed with drain holes inside of them which prevents them from sinking.
The build of sit-on-top kayak is a double hull construction which means that there is an air space between the outer hull and the inner hull. This makes it almost impossible to sink. The polyethylene plastic through which these kayaks are molded from is very tough and quite heavy. The sit-on-top kayaks also have a much wider beam and are approximately 10 to 16 feet in length. Therefore, they will provide you with a high degree of stability.
Despite the fact they have poor stability while rowing in the waters, still, owing to their wide cockpit, they are much preferred among the anglers. All this durability comes at an expensive price. Some of the most expensive ones come with rod holders, electric motors, and even cooler wells.
They might have a low degree of secondary stability as they are slow-moving kayaks that require high effort in paddling them.
Recreational kayaks are very different from the traditional angler sit-on-top kayak. They have an enclosed cockpit and hulls that have a soft chine and a moderate degree of rocker. These kayaks are made from high-quality polyethylene plastic. They are also comparatively heavier than the sit-on-top kayaks. They lack a tough structure as they are a single hull construction and do not have any kind of holds or bulkheads.
They are recommended to be used in still waters and maybe even some inshore waters as well. If you want to take it further, then you can install airbags in it to keep it afloat in case of capsizing. In calm waters; they are excellent as they provide a high degree of initial stability. They have efficient hull designs and will be best suited for covering short distances.
As compared to the sit-on-top types, they are relatively inexpensive and the cockpit provides additional stability and protection from the outside elements. They have low secondary stability and cannot go well in open seas. They are also relatively slower than the sit-on-top kayaks and require less effort to paddle.
These are the longer and slimmer types. They are 14 to 18 feet in length and have a superior hull design than both the sit-on-tops and recreational types. These kayaks have great paddling and offer high speeds. They are also very easy to paddle but lesser initial stability owing to their design.
These types of kayaks are best suited for long distances. The hull integrity is out of the question as they are made up of molded polyethylene plastic or ABS material. It is specifically designed to run in long-distance waters and have a smaller cockpit.
With all this, they provide great control to the paddler and feature hatches and holds that help in keeping the kayak afloat. With great hull design and a high degree of secondary stability, they require minimal effort to paddle and are very comfortable. But the cockpit may feel small and you may feel trapped inside the enclosure. They also have lower initial stability and are the most expensive types.
Two types of stability are of concern when we talk about kayaks. The initial stability and secondary stability. The wide kayaks offer much better stability than the narrow kayaks. Also keep in mind that while hard chinned kayaks may be appealing and sturdy, soft chinned kayaks offer a high degree of stability.
The secondary stability is measured in terms of the kayak’s ability to side lean. In terms of secondary stability, narrow kayaks perform much better than the wide kayaks. Also, the soft chinned kayaks are made for initial stability, therefore, the hard chinned kayaks offer a much higher degree of secondary stability. So you can compare the soft chinned kayaks with high acceleration cars and hard chinned kayaks to off-road drives.
The general rule is that the faster kayaks are the longer ones. The slimmer and longer the kayak is, the better it will be in terms of speed. But keep in mind that these high-speed kayaks are not easy to control. If you compare these to wide kayaks, they are generally slower because of a high surface area and have greater initial stability but they lack secondary stability.
Narrow kayaks have in contrast, a higher secondary stability but low initial stability. On flat waters, narrow hull designs perform very well but may not be suitable for open seas. So length and width of a kayak matter a lot as buying a long kayak means you are compromising secondary stability for speed but with wider kayaks, you do sacrifice a bit of initial stability but it is worthwhile in the open seas.
Some Essential Features to Take Into Consideration
- Skill Level: It is extremely important to know your skill level before you go on to buy a kayak. If you are a beginner, then you should avoid the longer and narrower kayaks and go with the wider kayaks. They do not only have a high degree of initial stability but will also be comfortable for you to try as a beginner. With more control, you will feel more secure and even more confident in a wide kayak. We would recommend both sit-on-top and the recreational kayaks for a beginner owing to their high degree of control
- Type of Construction: The construction will also affect your overall experience with these kayaks. The kayaks made of polyethylene are the heaviest and are somewhat difficult to control but they are by far the toughest. If you are along the rocky shorelines, then these are the best choice. But since they have less efficient designs as compared to the composite kayaks, they are difficult to maneuver and require a lot of paddling. Wood kayaks on the other hand have efficient hull designs and are extremely easy to maneuver. They are also less expensive than the composite kayaks. Most of them have a high degree of secondary stability and are best suited for long-range use.
- Stability and Speed : For novices, I recommend choosing stability over speed. Therefore, you should always go with the kayaks that offer a high degree of initial stability. More advanced anglers can go for kayaks that have high secondary stability as they are already experienced with the basics of starting with the initial stability. As mentioned before, if stability is your concern, go with the wide beam. But if secondary stability is required then it is better to take the narrow beam. But if you are solely running for speed, then narrower and longer kayaks are your best choice. They are also light and have good secondary stability.
- Sponsons: If you prefer a touring kayak, then you might want a sleek and smooth appearance and greater hull efficiency. If, at the same time, you also need high initial stability offered by the sit-on-top types, then there is a way to do that. There are some very convenient devices called sponsons which are long and slim airbags that you can put on both sides of the kayak to balance it. Adding these devices can give you a high degree of control, speed, and secondary stability as well.
How We Tested
We tested all these kayaks giving particular attention to the rocker. Rocker basically means how much the hull is curved from the center to the end of the keel line. Those kayaks which have a low rocker will be much straighter than those which have a high rocker. This helped us in determining the tracking ability of the kayaks. Low degree rockers are extremely good at tracking while they are difficult to turn but the high degree rocker kayaks turn extremely well but are not so good at tracking.
So there is a bit of a bargain here. But we have made sure to test and choose the products that minimize this bargain of tracking for movement.
How we picked:
These products are picked after careful testing by our team. We subjected these kayaks to durability and endurance tests and also tested them for how well each of them performs in different types of water conditions. We paid special attention to initial and secondary stability and have chosen a wide range of products for you to choose from. No one kayak is fit for all types of waters as we have told previously, therefore, we have compiled a carefully selected list of high-quality kayaks from which you can choose the best for your needs.
Best Folding Kayak Reviews 2020
1. Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak:
Design: Sit inside
Length: 12 ft
Weight: 26 lbs
Capacity: 300 lbs
If there is one word for Oru, it is ‘Easy’. The primary reason is that this kayak is built for its portability. It folds up nicely and molds itself into a portable box that you can connect to the shoulder strap and easily carry it anywhere. The propylene material is rated for almost 20000 folds. With its small size, you can put it anywhere in the car and even store it in small apartments. If you are someone who has to put all his gear and belongings in a single car, then this may be something you should look out for.
Now let’s talk about how it performs in the water. Putting it in the water was a smooth experience. We thought that owing to its design, it may wobble a bit, but to our surprise, it went straight in. Paddling went nicely and we glided into the water. We did notice that you will have to struggle a bit while moving through places such as tunnels as it is not meant to do sharp turns.
The kayak weighs only 23 pounds so it will not be too much of a trouble to carry it in a bag pack. We do recommend having another nylon backpack though if you intend on traveling to a long distance from your car. We would say that if you intend to go fishing in short-range waters, then this easy to go kayak will be a nice choice for you.
- Easy to enter the cockpit.
- Includes bulkheads.
- Simple strap and buckle system.
- Fit for medium-sized spray skirts.
- Carrying case makes it bulky.
- Not suitable for sharp turns.
2. SEA EAGLE 370 PRO 3 Foldable Kayak:
Length: 12 ft
Weight: 32 lbs
Capacity: 650 lbs
Sea eagle has an edge over other kayaks owing to its stability, capacity, lightweight, size, and convenient storage. While it may not come with accessories, and may not be suitable for tracking, it is indeed a forerunner when it comes to its built quality and its features at such a low price.
The initial setup can be a little bit frustrating, primarily when you have to install the valves. But once you have done it, it is just a one time process. We also liked the fact that the valves are replaceable.
This kayak is pretty tough and is made from high-quality materials. The inflation and deflation process may be a nightmare for some people but with this kayak, it will only take about ten minutes to do that.
It can accommodate two adults very easily and is very comfortable. It may even fit three but it is not recommended. It is lightweight therefore, it will work best with two people paddling it. You might need some weight in the front as well. What we didn’t like is that it gets blown off easily with the winds and will leave its place if you stop paddling.
On calm rivers, it will have no problems. But if you need to go to open waters, we would recommend that you go with the explorer models.
We found the handling is super smooth and stable, however, it may take some time to get used to it if you are doing it alone. It is very easy to deflate it and toss it into your car trunk. Overall we are impressed by its price to performance ratio and we think that it is a great affordable choice to get started with kayaking.
- Highly stable
- Extra durable
- Long Lifespan
- Very easy to carry
- Lacks ropes to tie your gear
- Tracking is difficult
3. SEVYLOR QUIKPAK K1 1 Foldable Kayak:
Length: 8 ft
Weight: 19 lbs
Capacity: 400 lbs
This is a comfortable inflatable kayak that is built for comfort. It is long and you can easily stretch your legs. The backrest is also very intelligently placed that helps prevent any back sprains. It has a fairly large area to sit in and people with any body size will fit in nicely.
It is very stable on the water and is, therefore, a great choice for the family. Surprisingly, it is also puncture resistant and you will likely have no problems with leaks. It is an inflatable kayak but in terms of durability, it behaved much better than many of its counterparts.
We think that it is a very good value for money as it is very affordable and will nicely fit into a beginner’s budget. Not only that, but it is also an excellent choice for more experienced kayakers as well who are looking for a recreational portable kayak.
We didn’t like the paddles that came with the kayak and we will advise you to get some aftermarket paddles. The connectors are very weak and they have been reported to break easily. Some of the reports even suggested that the paddle broke in the middle of the water and they were left stranded.
Overall this kayak will be a good addition to your family’s recreational gear which comes at a very affordable price. You also don’t need any kind of big storage as you can fold it up and throw it in your car.
- Very portable design
- Quick to set up
- High-quality PVC construction
- Double valves for easy inflation and deflation
- Leak-less system
- Paddles are low quality
- Only suitable for still waters
4. ADVANCED ELEMENTS Foldable Kayak:
Weight: 56 pounds
Capacity: 550 pounds
The AE convertible tandem is an exceptionally well-made vessel for kayaking. It is made of high-quality fabric and is an inflatable model. It is 15 feet in length with 4-inch tracking fins. The small skeg helps it to stay on the course without spinning too much. It is a very wide kayak and will give you high stability on rough waters. We were impressed with the Advanced frame bow which is very narrowly cut and hides the aluminum frame inside that helps the kayak to move freely through the winds.
Taking turns with this kayak is going to be the least of your problems as it exceeded our expectations. Even with a single person at the helm, it turns easier than we expected. The convertible feature incorporates an advanced frame design with a PVC tarpaulin bottom that helps the kayak to glide over the water with minimal resistance.
We particularly liked how cushiony and comfortable the kayak is. With very high back seats, it is going to make your day great at the lake. If we compare it to the other kayaks, this one keeps your center of gravity much close to the water as it rides low. This gives it many advantages. First, it makes it more stable and easy to paddle, and second, it helps glide itself through the wind with minimal drag resistance. Furthermore, it is wide enough to provide even novices with easy paddling. It also comes with additional goodies like side pockets, ties, paddle keepers, additional seatbacks, and much more.
- Awesome handling
- Easy to inflate
- Seats could be thinner
- The floor has a low-end quality
5. INTEX CHALLENGER Foldable Kayak:
Weight: 23.9 lb
Capacity: 220 lb
Taking a first look at this kayak, we didn’t expect much out of it as it is an inflatable kayak with a very low price. After testing, we were shamed into admitting that we were being extremely judgmental. We were extremely impressed by the quality of this kayak and how well it performs on the water despite being an inflatable kayak. The materials used to construct this kayak are very sturdy and will make this kayak wear and tear-resistant.
We would although warn you of the air pump as we are still skeptical of its quality. It did come apart one time when we were testing it. But it is not a problem as it can easily be put together. Although the paddle will likely stay in shape for a couple of years depending on your usage, it will also be the first thing to break as it is also very flimsy. With that being said, we found its performance satisfactory on water.
The paddling experience is certainly not as smooth as in other premium kayaks; considering the price, we would say that you can’t get any better out of it at this price range. It will take about 20 minutes for a first-time set up and get your kayak into the water. Overall, we would say; not bad, but not that good as well. Although it is a well-balanced kayak, you can get much better by adding just a few more bucks.
- Very Inexpensive
- Easy to store
- Can easily get punctured
- Lacks space
6. DRIFTSUN VOYAGER Foldable Kayak:
Weight: 23.9 lb
Capacity: 400 lb
The voyager is a 2-person inflatable kayak that comes with a handy pump which allows you to fully inflate within less than five minutes. The paddles that come with this kayak are high quality and are made of aluminum with a very solid grip.
The paddles are collapsible and can be folded for easy storage. We particularly liked the adjustable seats that allow you more room for your legs. If you are going solo, you can easily remove the other seat and have all the places for yourself.
The removable tracking fin performs marvelously on turbid waters and can adjust accordingly. Another feature that gives this kayak an edge over others is that it comes with a repair kit and a travel bag. So in case something goes wrong, you are not left without anything to hold on to. It includes just about everything that you are going to need for kayaking.
It only measures 26 inches in length and is very easy to control. The adjustable EVA pad seats are very comfortable and will make your tour a breeze. We put this kayak to test and we loved how easy it is to get it out in the water.
We didn’t need any extra effort to push it through the waters and it propelled smoothly ahead. We will again stress on the padded seats as unlike the plastic inflatable seats, these seats are very comfortable. Sitting on them won’t feel tiring and they will stay cool, unlike the plastic seats which tend to get very hot on a sunny day.
We felt that the lack of pockets undermines the overall value of this great kayak. You cannot carry additional tools with it. It would have been much better if there was something on it to sideload.
- Abrasion proof
- Compact and premium design
- High stability
- Good tracking
- Less storage space owing to a compact design
- Have to adjust seats to make extra room for gear
7. ELEVENS CRUISE Foldable Kayak:
Design: Sit inside
Length: 12.8 ‘
Weight: 23.9 lb
Capacity: 200 lb
Elevens Cruise Plus is as light as it can get. It is a foldable kayak that is just 23 pounds of weight and comes at a cheap price. It is very easy to assemble and you can take it to great speeds quickly.
You get a couple of different perks when it comes to accessories. Hear this out! It comes with a life jacket, a cup holder, paddle storage, a cell phone mount, and a carrying bag as well. What else would you need?
This folding kayak is very stable on the water and will give you a smooth ride. The initial stability of this thing is amazing and it will be a good choice for novices. When you first start the ride, it will go in the water without boggling too much.
Although there is a downside to it. It only comes with a load capacity of about 200 pounds, thus it is only suitable for one person. But if we look at other aspects of this kayak, we can see that it is a great kayak overall. The materials used are highly durable and it is rated for over ten thousand folds. The outer coating also makes it resistant to wear and tear due to outer elements so it will make a good kayak for exploring.
- High-quality PVC build
- Can put your seat in three spots
- Tracking fin is detachable
- Highly durable
- Quite small
- Doesn’t offer much space for gear
8. MYCANOE 2.5 Foldable Kayak:
Length: 14.5 ‘
Weight: 60 lb
Capacity: 400 lb
We are amazed by the cosmetics of this folding kayak. It looks pretty damn good. The kayak is rated for up to twenty thousand folds and is a great choice for those who are looking to fish in still waters. Storing it is a breeze as it can be folded in a suitcase-type shape and you can easily store it in your car.
The design is what makes this kayak very durable. It has a double layered custom propylene made hull which is very strong and will resist any type of puncture. Although it is not intended for open waters, you can easily take it to still water bodies like lakes and canals. It should be able to stand some light water waves but no more than that.
It is also quite long and offers two big seats so you can take some of your friends with you. You are going to find a lot of storage compartments for your gear, snacks, and other personal belongings. The propelling system is supported by a pair of oars and it is very easy to maneuver your way through the waters.
We won’t say it is one of the greatest durable kayaks out there but overall it is well made. The parts used are tough and it feels very sturdy. If you do manage to puncture is somehow – that is unlikely – then you easily patch it. We particularly liked the fabric as it doesn’t feel cheap at all and I would expect that it will give you years of kayaking. But I would recommend that you use it on still waters. If you are looking to go for some more serious kayaking, then I would advise you to look elsewhere.
- Rated for 20,000 folds
- Two big seats
- Highly secure
- Intuitive design
- Not suitable for turbulent waters
- Low secondary stability
9. ZTOTOP 2 Foldable Kayak:
Weight: 60 lb
Capacity: 400 lb
This is a high-quality folding kayak that boasts nothing too fancy and is a simple kayak with all the essentials that you need to get started with kayak fishing. With the complete package comes a high-quality air pump and two handy oars. The pump easily inflates the kayak within 5 minutes and with 92-inch oars, it gives a good amount of force to propel you through the water.
The dimensions are long enough to accommodate two people at once and the load capacity of 400 pounds confirms this. The latching system is great and keeps your kayak and yourself secure. The bottom is designed to keep you close to the water level and thus enhances stability. The back is adjustable and the two seats are good for accommodating two people easily.
The seats are attached to the kayak and inflate easily with the kayak. There is not much that you can do with adjusting the seats though. The seats will stay in their place but the air chambers are separated though. If anything goes wrong with one compartment, you won’t lose all your air.
We found that the seats also tend to get a lot hotter on a hot day. But if we look at the price per feature, we can say that it is one of the most balanced kayaks and are a great value for money.
- Heavy-duty latches
- Highly stable bottom
- Available in many colors
- High-quality materials
- Doesn’t have self-bailing
- Low-quality seats
10. TUCKTEC ADVANCED Foldable Kayak:
Weight: 28.7 lb
Capacity: 350 lb
Yet another one of the impressive kayaks on our list. This is one of those kayaks that comes with a nice tracking fin which is very long and prevents your kayak from going off course. It does a great job of keeping course. The fin can also be raised just with the comfort of your seat.
The exterior of this vessel is very hard and it helps to glide the kayak through the water easily without any water resistance. It is a very wide kayak, which means that it will be very stable and will give you a decent balance. With a higher than a normal seat, it gives your back a resting vantage point that is seldom available in kayaks at this price.
With that being said we felt that the sides are very small. Despite closing the clamps around the levers on the side, we struggled with it. There is almost nothing that can hold them on to the end and keep them in their place. This makes it very challenging to fold it tight enough during the assembly.
- Foldable and portable
- Takes very less time to assemble
- A high-quality tracking fin
- Foldable seats
- Small for two
- Doesn’t offer much space for your gear
It is important to evaluate your needs first before you buy a kayak. After that deciding your budget should be your top priority. We have provided a detailed buying guide on how to choose the best possible folding kayak. How much money you will spend, will largely depend upon what features you will need. Transportation, comfort, and ease of assembly are some of the factors that you should consider before you make your purchase; therefore, we have provided an enormous list of kayaks to choose from.
These kayaks have been carefully tested and are chosen for the list after having real-time reviews from people who have used them. This hands-on experience is what makes this review beneficial for those who are just starting to go through the kayak experience.