Kayaking is one of the most adventurous watersports out there. If you go kayaking alone, you are going to have a great time that relaxes your body and helps your mind be at peace. If you’re out with friends, kayaking doubles the fun and enjoyment. Either way, it is one of the best activities to go for.
It does become hectic and quite expensive to go and look for a suitable kayak offered by various renters on the beach or near the lakes. In the worst case scenario, maybe you won’t even find one there. If you really love kayaking, you would definitely enjoy having a kayak of your own.
We are providing you a list with some of the best kayaks out there in the market. This will give you all the specific details along with reviews to choose the best kayak that suits your needs and requirements. Also, we worked on a buying guide so you can keep in mind the significant factors to look upon while buying a kayak.
So, following is an in-detail review of the top 10 kayaks which we believe would fulfill all your kayaking requirements.
How we picked top kayaks
While listing down the best kayaks for you guys, we had to put in a lot of effort to get to the best kayaks out there.
We started off by looking into different well-known and well-reputed stores as well as online retailers. We chose and picked up kayaks from the most rated companies as well as from lesser known brands.
We further had a research to find out public opinion. We talked and interviewed some of the best fishermen, travelers, watersport experts as well as the kayak manufacturers to find out professional reviews about each product.
After this extensive and fruitful research, we were able to list down many different kayaks. After compiling a long list, we put each of them to test to find out the best 10 kayaks.
How we tested these kayaks
Compiling the list was not just enough. It was significant for us to test them to ensure that they are really worth the list of 10 best kayaks.
We compared all the different kayaks from different brands with each other. Kayaks were categorized and tested on the basis of their performance, price and durability to make sure that we have chosen the right product.
Our extensive tests were carried out in confidential conditions so as the research and testing is not commercialized and there is no external influence for advertisement of any specific product.
While testing, we looked into all the particular specifications as well as the general features of each kayak. The extras were greatly considered as sometimes these extra features are some of the best ones.
Price was mainly taken into account so as to provide you with a vast range of lower to higher value kayaks. However, not a single expensive kayak was mentioned if it had no specific reason.
As testing period came to an end, we had a good idea regarding what are the most important aspects to include and what features customers want to be in their kayak.
After all of this, we were able to narrow down these top 10 kayaks for kayaking enthusiasts, be it beginner or an expert. So, here are the best options we recommend when it comes to buying a kayak.
1. Intex Explorer K2 – Best 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
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Intex is one of the well-known companies when it comes to kayaks. We are glad to have Intex as it provided us with our top ranked kayak. Intex Explorer K2 is the finest kayak with outstanding features at a perfect price of $75 only.
It comes with 2 passenger seats and offers maximum capacity of 400lbs. This means 2 healthy person can easily fit in. The seats are easily adjustable and movable. A seat can also be removed if only one person has to go kayaking.
It can be quickly and easily deflated due to the enriched Boston valves which provide great convenience and efficiency. Its inflated dimensions are 10’3″ X 3′ X 1’8″. It has two separate air chambers and comes with inflatable I-beam floor to provide maximum rigidity. It weighs 30.6lb only.
As you definitely would not want to have a puncture mid-water, it includes heavy duty-puncture resistant vinyl. With this outstanding ability, you need not worry about puncture or deflation while kayaking.
Moreover, it includes grab lines and grab handles on both ends so taking it out of water or making it to the seat is not a big deal. The skeg can be used or removed as per your requirements. This shows that Intex Explorer K2 is designed to include all the features you would love to have in your kayak.
It further comes with the additional accessories which include two 86” aluminum paddles, a carry bag to store extra parts and a high output pump for easy inflation/deflation.
We absolutely loved the design and of course, the rich yellow color.
- The paddles are absolutely high quality.
- Its bottom fin helps zero water splashing.
- The skeg can be taken off while kayaking in rivers.
- The bright yellow colors helps with visibility at night.
- It is best for the small lakes and rivers.
- It works great in small water bodies but not ideal for ocean surfs.
- The additional weight cannot be carried along with.
2. Sea Eagle SE370 – Best 3 Passengers Sport Kayak
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Sea Eagle is another high-end name in the market. Sea Eagle SE370 is best to cruise over a high river or an easy, mirror-smooth lake at dawn and sunset with the same quality performance. It is designed to add comfort while kayaking.
It comes with the capacity of 3 passengers, bearing around 650lbs of weight. Interestingly, it weighs only 32lbs itself.
This lightweight and portable sport kayak features an I-beam construction floor for extra rigidity. The front and rear seats are inflatable and removable as per the need. Also, it has inflatable spray kits.
Its front and rear rope handles and the stern grab line make sure that the passengers have no difficulty stepping in. It includes a self-bailing drain valve which is a perfect feature to have in Whitewater Rivers or ocean surfs.
It further includes 3 deluxe one-way valves, a pressure gauge and a repair kit to help you save from any unfortunate experience.
Moreover, its two skegs help with maintaining a good speed and better tracking across the water. Interesting, Sea Eagle E370 features a 38mm PolyKrylar hull which lets you take your pets with you while kayaking as it is tough and strong enough to handle dog paws.
We found the design to be very handy and best for all the watersports be it fishing, smooth paddling, yacht tending or skin diving.
- It comes with good portability.
- When deflated, it can be stored into a carry bag easily.
- The additional accessories including paddles and pump are of high quality.
- The high frequency welded seams help in fusing it into one solid piece.
- Its sun and saltwater resistance makes it the best choice for long trips.
- The price is a little higher than average.
3. Intex Challenger K1 – Ideal Choice for a Single Passenger
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Challenger K1 is another top-rated kayak produced by Intex. It is an ideal choice for a single passenger to explore some nice lake or a lazy smooth flowing river.
Intex Challenger K1 features inflatable I-beam floor to ensure rigidity. Its welded seam and Dura-Beam Technology provide extra durability and so, the kayak lasts for many seasons. The cockpit is designed to add comfort and extra space.
It has a capacity of 200lbs and weighs only 23.9lbs itself. Its inflated dimensions are 9′ X 2’6″ X 1’1″ which makes it easy going in small areas.
Its cargo net is made to store extra gear. The Super-Tough Airbed featured in Challenger K1 by Intex helps in added support and stability. Not only this, the airbed is not one of traditional ones but instead, is made with high-end polyester fibers to ensure that it does not stretch over time. This makes Challenger K1 ultra-light and really convenient.
It comes with an 84” aluminum paddle, a high output hand pump for quick inflation or deflation and a repair patch. This repair patch helps you be on the water without any worries.
Moreover, as puncture resistant vinyl is Intex’s great feature, it is present in Challenger K1 as well. This makes Challenger K1 best option for those who love to kayak in a little rough or choppy waters.
One of the extraordinary feature is that Intex Challenger K1 is UV resistant. We absolutely loved this feature. It makes this kayak even more durable and your boat won’t fade or show signs of wearing away any time soon. Also, it helps in taking long distances easily and is ideal for more than one day trips.
What’s more to consider is that Intex Challenger K1 has been approved by US Coast Guard. This means it really provides expert performance. This was one of the main reasons we recommended it to you guys.
- The UV resistant technology makes it most favorable.
- The maximized space due to cockpit design is a plus.
- Approval of US Coast Guard adds to its value.
- The puncture resistant feature makes it best to have a care-free night sleep.
- It is good for the smooth water only and may be hard to roar when river is rough.
- A single passenger capacity might not be enough if you want to go in pairs or a group of three.
4. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak – Best Budget Kayak for Kids
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Lifetime is another well-reputed brand producing best kayaks for the kayaking lovers. It claims to create products which are affordable and have great strength, durability and quality. Looking over Lifetime Youth Wave kayak, it seems like it has delivered its promise.
Its youth wave kayak is best for the kids. It has managed to be the number one bestseller in Whitewater kayaks and Fishing kayaks. It ranks at second position in Inflatable Rafts. Starting at $110, it is one of the best kayaks to pick.
It features an ergonomic cock pit design which maintains balance. It is made to enhance the motor skills in the best possible manner. It comes with molded finger handles to keep you on the go once in waters. It reversed chine is designed to improve stability, giving forward the swim-up setup for kids.
Lifetime Youth Wave kayak is lightweight and compact. It weighs only 18lbs with the maximum weight capacity of 130lbs.
The high density polythene material ensures the protection and durability. It comes with multiple foot rest positions to put children at ease who are just beginning their kayak experience. Its impact resistance makes it safest kayak for children.
We are pleased to review that Youth Wave kayak by Lifetime is an extremely easy to use product and there is no better option available in the market if your child has just gotten into fishing or skin diving.
- It is the perfect choice for children safety in water.
- The high end quality provides durability.
- The super cool design gives stability as well as safety.
- It guarantees not to topple off the water.
- The offered price is just great.
- It has a single passenger capacity.
- There is no seat pad or back.
5. Sea Eagle 330 – One of The Lightest Kayaks
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We are glad to provide another amazing kayak from Sea Eagle. Sea Eagle 330 is a great option to consider whether you have to ride rough in whitewater rivers or silently paddle at dawn or sunset in a calm lake or a smoothly flowing river. Either ways, it is best.
Sea Eagle 330 features 500lbs load capacity and has two inflatable seats. Itself, it weighs only 26lbs, making it one of the lightest kayaks out there.
It comes with I-beam floor construction for enhanced rigidity, high frequency welded seams with 1000 volts of power for additional strength and inflatable spray kits. Not only this, both the front and rear seats are inflatable, making it easy to fit in the storage bag and carry on your shoulder.
This kayak is enough for two passengers, and it includes an additional cargo space to help you store food supplies for many days. Not many kayaks have this feature, we bet! This option makes it good for the people who usually have long trips and find it difficult to carry their supplies along with.
Moreover, Sea Eagle 330 features an extra thick 33mm PolyKrylar hull to add strength to the boat. The three deluxe one-way valves and self-bailing drain valve makes it ideal for the high rivers and ocean surfs.
Its two skegs which maintain and track the speed, stern grab line and its nine inch tubes help it get rated up to Class III whitewater. The pressure gauge and repair kit are included to provide safety and protection. It helps you tackle immediate problems.
Furthermore, it comes with two paddles, an efficient output pump and a 26 by 48 inch carry bag which is constructed of heavy duty nylon.
The price starts at $200 for all these features and specs but what makes it most trustworthy is that it comes with 3 years manufacturer’s warranty if any material or workmanship defects are found.
- Its PolyKrylar hull lets you carry your pets with you.
- It is good for rough waters along with smooth ones.
- A single person can also handle the roar and navigate the kayak with quite ease.
- Looking over the spectacular design, it is worth the price.
- The seats are found to be too tight for some people.
- In case of international shipping, the price doubles.
- It takes around six minutes to be assembled and inflated which is little much time as compared to other kayaks.
6. Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10 – Best for Fishing with Maximum Stability
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With Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10, you get to experience truly great kayaking. It tracks and paddles with ease and offers maximum stability. The spectacular design makes it convenient to float over smooth waters or glide over rough ones.
Featuring a single passenger seat, it has a capacity to carry 250 pounds. A lot for a single person, right? Therefore, it comes with the PAC (Portable Accessory Carrier) which is an additional storage space to take your food supplies on the go. This PAC can also be used as a backpack in dry conditions.
Furthermore, this 10 foot sit on top kayak comes with open cockpit design to ease the entrance and lifting. It offers large and comfortable sitting area. On the sides, you will find thick thigh pads to protect your thighs and ensure zero resistance. Also, it includes adjustable foot braces and paddle holder to provide you with smooth ride and smart fit in.
After all of this, the kayak weighs 44 pounds only. Its light weight along with its foot paddles makes it the best option to choose for strong river currents. While testing, we admired this feature greatly.
Moreover, it is constructed with UV stabilized High Density Polythene to ensure durability. This makes it easy for usual long rides without getting the material torn or wear off.
However, its price range starts at $350 which can be a little high on budget, considering it is a single person kayak.
- The paddle holders are a new and great feature.
- UV stabilized material ensures maximum protection.
- Its Portable Accessory Carrier which can either be decked or used as a backpack is great.
- The price tag can be little stressing.
- In case of a single passenger, there are better options out there.
- For the ones who find 10 foot length inadequate, 12 foot option can work better.
7. Seyvlor Quikpak K1 – Another Really Good One Person Kayak
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Seyvlor Quikpak K1 is another top rated one person kayak. It is a multifunctional kayak which includes all the great features to have the most enjoyable and carefree moments while kayaking.
Quikpak K1 weighs 18lbs and has a maximum capacity of 400lbs. This is the best weight combination ever offered.
It features the 21 gauge PVC construction and rugged tarpaulin bottom which makes it unique and efficient. These features tackle the rigors of lake very well.
It includes an innovative backpack system in order to help store your supplies. Interestingly, this backpack then folds out into your kayak seat. The backpack itself is spacious enough to store your gear and food. This portable design makes Seyvlor Quikpak quite attractive as it works wonders.
Another significant feature is that Quikpak K1 has multiple air chambers. It brings a great benefit to the kayak. If one chamber hits a snag or gets punctured, the other chambers are there to ensure that you keep floating. This feature has helped people who usually go on long rides and have to carry repair kits with them.
The additional drink holder and bungee storage area keep your drink and gears at an arm’s length. Moreover, it comes with back rest and the foot rest with multiple positions. This allows for convenient exploration around a lake or river.
The efficient system and design takes only 5 minutes for the setup. It helps you spend more time on the water and less on the setup.
We highly appreciate the fact that Seyvlor Quikpak K1 is designed to perform various watersport activities without having to worry about strong currents, punctured chamber or storage space. If you choose this kayak, you will like it just as much as we did.
- Multiple air chambers make Quikpak K1 stand out if nothing else does.
- Tarpaulin bottom helps flowing in rough tides easily.
- Its multifunctional design makes it compact.
- From drinks to gears, manufacturer has through of close access to everything.
- 5 minute setup adds to its value.
- The 90 day warranty is quite less as compared to years of warranty offered by other companies.
8. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two – Best Kayak for Oceans Adventures
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This Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Kayak is a perfect choice when it comes to oceans and freshwater adventures.
This 12ft long kayak weighs only 68lbs and has a maximum capacity of 425 pounds with two Comfort Plus passenger seats. The seats are highly adjustable and come with extra foam padding. It further allows carrying a child or a pet with the two adult passenger with ease.
Apart from being compact and lightweight, this ocean kayak has a tri-hull construction design which provides stability on moderate or high waves and calm waters alike. Also, it can be paddled solo or tandem.
Featuring a simple and safe design, the seats are sit-on-top. What makes Ocean Kayak ideal for kayaking is the open cock pit design and is perfect for kayakers who are not comfortable with traditional closed hulls.
Another unique feature is the patented overlapping foot wells. These allow the center-seated paddlers to sit in comfortably as well as brace in their feet. Moreover, it includes a pair of molded handles to tighten the grip on kayak.
It also includes a skid plate underneath that handle the waves well and protects the kayak from damage.
A good thing is that Ocean kayak gives a lifetime warranty on the hull. It has been rated at Number 5 in Whitewater kayaks and Number 25 in fishing kayaks. This also makes it quite a reliable and trustworthy option to go for.
- A large and good space accommodates 3 person easily.
- It is self-draining/bailing.
- A versatile deck and hull helps with wind greatly.
- The paddles are not included and need to be bought separately.
- It has no extra storage space but only gear straps.
9. Oru Kayak BayST – Best Kayak for The Beginners
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Oru BayST was manufactured in 2017 as an update to Oru’s original kayak. This update has added to the convenience in unpacking, grace in the design and comfort in use. It is perfect for the beginners and experts alike.
This 12ft kayak comes with a single passenger seat and maximum capacity of 300 pounds. Along with the passenger, it has enough capacity of 90 liters to store your supplies and stash gear for long trips if you are heading for a picnic.
By itself, it weighs only 28 pounds which means it feels like paper floating on the water. This light weight provides stability even in rough 2-3 foot waves.
Its enriched design has provided stability, the most significant factor beginners need to have in their kayaks. Also, its length and contoured shape is everything that makes it perfect for expert kayakers. This arrow like shape helps it move anywhere with great ease. Passing through the rocky and thin structures in between rivers or oceans won’t be a problem.
Oru BayST takes just minutes to unpack and move on water. They were tested to be sturdy, durable and lightweight on water.
As for durability, its hull is made up of a custom polypropylene with a UV treatment of 10 years. Despite of the fact that it is a fiberglass boat, it works perfectly well even if it hits a rock.
Looking upon the price, it starts from $1500 which can be a little too hard on budget but also comes with one year warranty for any material or workmanship defect.
- Its 12 foot length works well for people who are have more than 6ft of height.
- It can work as a perfect alternative for a medium sized sailboat.
- It is quite portable to fit in the trunk or take with you on the plane.
- It takes minimum space when packed.
- It is quite challenging to assemble it for people who are not pro-assemblers.
- Considering the shape and attached metal buckles, it is difficult and painful to get in if you fall out.
- The 28lbs weight works fine only if there is no water inside.
- When water gets inside, it does not manage to stay up the surface but floats subsurface.
10. Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fishing Tandem Kayak
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Another kayak that falls into the list of top 10 best kayaks from Lifetime is its 10 Foot Sport Fishing Tandem Kayak. It is the best fishing kayak and lets you explore the places other boats can’t take you to.
This fishing kayak weighs 65 pounds and has the maximum capacity of 500 pounds with a sit on top design which can seat up to 3 people. As this kayak is particularly for fishing, this sit on top design lets you throw casts from any suitable position as per your choice be it sitting, kneeling or even standing.
It is manufactured with a durable High Density UV protected Polyethylene which helps retain cracking, wearing off and peeling. Its hull design provides maximum stability and efficiency.
The ten foot length offers maximum space to put in your gears and supplies. The storage space includes a dry hatch. The capacity won’t be less even when you have to store the plenty of fish you have caught. It also includes a bungee system to ensure that your gears are present closest to you.
It comes with two paddles and paddle holder as well as accessories like paddle clips. Multiple footrest positions are a plus for different riders. Also, two padded backrests are a big plus.
Moreover, being a fishing lover, you will surely have more than one rods. Can’t choose which to take with you? You can bring three of them as this amazing kayak has three additional fishing rod holders.
Another high-end feature is the absence of a motor. Due to the lack of a motor, there will be no noise and so, you will have more chances to catch the prey as fish won’t be scared to move around your kayak.
Starting at $600, it can be little costly but is really worth the price if you love to fish. Also, it comes with a 5 year warranty that covers almost everything on the raft.
This kayak works best if your main aim is fishing. If you want to just paddle and float around, we have mentioned some options above form which you can choose the one that suits best to your favorite activity on water.
- It has a lot of storage space.
- Three fishing pole holders are a significant feature.
- With 5 year warranty, you do not have to reconsider paying the price.
- The sit on top design does not ensure maximum safety.
- It can seat up to 3 people but to assure comfort, only 2 go well.
So, these are the best kayaks in our opinion. As mentioned, different kayaks have different specs as well as their own pros and cons. The in-detail description was to help you choose the one you think suits best to you.
Buying guide: Things You Need to Know Before You Buy
Now, if you are going to choose the kayak upon reviewing them on your own in the market or even online, there are some important factors you need to look for in those kayaks. As each kayak comes in different style and other additional features, make sure you choose the one that is suitable to your requirements.
These requirements mainly include the type of water body you are going to for kayaking, the number of persons with you, number of days you have planned your trip of, amount of supplies you are taking with you as well as the safety and durability you are looking forward to.
Following is the buying guide that sheds light upon all the significant factors you need to consider before buying your kayak.
The kind of Watersport
The very first factor to consider is your purpose. What do you aim to do with your kayak? Which watersport are you most interested in? Is it just paddling for recreational purpose or you want to have some rough ride on the waves and tides? Do you want to go fishing or do skin diving?
The kayaks are of different types such as recreational (for calmer water and full day paddling), Touring (day long tours in all type of weather conditions) and fishing (designed specially to make fishing as easy as possible).
So, choosing the kayak according to your watersport is important.
Type of water body
The next important aspect is to choose the type of waterbody you will be kayaking on. This also depends on the aim.
If you want to have calm and smooth paddling, lakes and easy rivers are the best option. If you want to experience a hard ride, go for tides and surfs in high rivers and oceans. If you want to go on trips and explore the waters, again lakes and whitewater rivers are good waterbodies to go for.
So, whatever type of water body you choose depends on the kind of your activity. Both of these help in deciding the specs and type of kayak you should pick.
Number and style of passenger seats differ in different kayaks.
The sit-in or traditional kayaks come with a passenger seat inside. They are more efficient and controllable in the rough waters. The sit-on-top kayaks feature the seat up higher same as the height of the kayak. These are great for day time paddling and fishing. Tandem kayaks are good to go when you need two or more passenger seats.
Most of the sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks come with a single seat. If you want to ride in pairs, tandem kayaks are best to choose.
Apart from the number of seats, the backrest pads and size of the seats are also important to consider so that you fit in easily and go on with comfort.
Storage capacity is another mandatory aspect to think about. Different kayaks are created for different purposes and so the storage space is added accordingly.
Some of the modern kayaks do come with features like turning the storage area into a seat or a backpack. Bigger touring kayaks can include two storage areas while regular or day touring kayaks have one.
If you want to go on a day or weekend trips, you need to consider which kayak has the maximum storage space. As you will be storing food, drinks, clothes and important accessories according to the weather, you need to make sure your kayak can carry that extra weight.
However, if you just want to paddle for two to three hours, less storage or only a drink holder is enough as well.
Weight and design
Another important aspect to take into account the weight of kayak as well as its maximum weight capacity.
Weight of kayak is important because lightweight kayaks are easy to carry and lift into the water. Heavy kayaks are difficult to move around and lift down.
Weight capacity is important so that your weight along with the weight of your storage supplies or your pet does not increase the maximum weight capacity of the kayak.
Again, it depends upon the type of activity you are going to perform in the waters to calculate the maximum storage capacity you need. As for day kayaking, you do not need a huge weight capacity. For long trips you will need more capacity as you are not alone, but the kayak has to bear the weight of storage supplies.
Another important aspect is the design of the kayak. Kayaks come with different styles of skegs, tracking fins and rudders.
- Skegs: It helps in preventing side wind to change the course of the kayak and is a simple dropdown fin.
- Tracking fins: It helps kayak to stay on course. However, they make turning difficult and require some effort.
- Rudders: A rudder is an extra fin at the back bottom of some kayaks. This is not fixed and can be moved with the foot pedals. It tends to be more responsive according to the weather conditions.
Size and storage space
The size dimensions including the length, depth and width can vary in the kayaks so these are important specs to take note of.
- Length: Kayaks may be divided into those of longer lengths i.e. 10ft or more and shorter length i.e. lesser than 10ft. Longer kayaks provide more storage area and are more efficient whereas shorter ones are easy to manage such as taking turns quickly.
- Depth: The deeper kayaks are good for the people who have more height. Also, they provide more storage. The shallower ones are not affected by winds easily and it is easy to remove water if it gets in.
- Width: Kayaks with wide areas are more stable whereas kayaks with narrower widths are faster and efficient.
The other relatable aspect to the size is the space a kayak needs to store. This is why inflatable kayaks are in great demand nowadays. These are easy to store when deflated and take less space. Also, they are easier to carry on your shoulders and in your car’s trunk.
So, these are some most important factors you need to consider when picking and testing your kayak. In this way, you will be able to get the most appropriate one.
Reading through the above recommendations and buying guide, it is now prominent that there are a lot of options to choose from. Some offer the best storage while others offer the best speed and durability. Some are lightweight and compact, some have more number of passenger seats while others have both.
What’s important is that once you have find the perfect combination of all the features you require, the next task is to focus on your skills and abilities. No matter how expensive or rich-in-features kayak you go for, if you do not work on your skills, get proper training and regularly practice, you will never be able to enjoy the experience to its highest end.
So, make sure you include kayaking in your weekly routine and get the most out of your favorite kayak.