Kayaking is one of the most fun activities you can do while on a camping trip. Kayaking is a great way to spend time outdoors with your family or friends while also getting some exercise and fresh air! This guide will go over the best kayaks for camping that are both practical for the open water, as well as easy to pack for any camping adventure!
Sometimes when camping it can be easy to get stuck at your campsite, sitting by the fire and eating snacks all day. While this is fun and relaxing for a day or two, you might start to get antsy and want to seek more of an adventure! Luckily, there is so much to do in the outdoors, and kayaking is an easy and inexpensive way to spend the day outdoors and get some physical activity.
Whether or not you have been kayaking before, these kayak options are good for both beginners and experts. Price ranges from under $100 to thousands of dollars for kayaks, and we will touch on everything in between! If there is a lake, pond, river, or ocean nearby your next campsite, consider getting a good kayak for a new adventure!
Wondering what to wear kayaking? Check out this guide of summer kayaking outfits and essentials!
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Best Inflatable Kayak
The Intex Challenger kayak is one of the best recreational kayaks on the market and is a great choice for any kayak camping trip! We bought a couple of these kayaks when we first started camping a few years back, and they are still holding up strong!
The Intex Challenger is a great option for campers with small cars. We wanted a pair of kayaks, but just had two small vehicles with no kayak rack, so inflatable kayaks seemed like the best option.
These kayaks deflate and the rods dissemble so everything fits into one small tote bag. We are able to fit both kayaks as well as a bunch of camping gear into our trunk, while still having plenty of room!
This kayak is inflated with a hand pump, making it a top kayak option for tent campers who won’t have access to electricity. You have the ability to pump up the kayak from practically anywhere, and it only takes about 5 minutes to inflate.
This kayak also has comfortable seats and has enough storage space in the front of the kayak to hold things like drinks, extra clothes, sunscreen, etc. (PS. learn how to prevent sunburn– being on the water can easily fry your skin!)
Intex also makes a 2-person inflatable kayak if you are looking to go with a friend! This kayak has enough room for two people plus some extra gear and is inflated using a hand pump just like the one-person kayak.
We have yet to go on longer trips with these kayaks, but they are definitely great inflatable boats for shorter recreational purposes! If you are looking for a stable kayak that is easy to store, and at a reasonable price, the Intex is the perfect kayak for you!
The best part? It is under $100! If you only go kayaking once in a while or are just looking for an affordable option, this is the kayak for you. Rest assured knowing you won’t be sacrificing quality for the cheap price either!
Another one of the best kayaks for camping is a foldable kayak like this one from Oru. Like the inflatable kayaks, a foldable kayak is a great choice if you want to pack light on your camping trip, or if you don’t have much room in your vehicle.
The Oru kayak has adjustable footrests, which are typically unusual for portable kayaks. The adjustable foot braces make it easy to get comfortable in your kayak no matter your size, especially if you plan on going long distances!
This kayak also has adjustable backrests so you can sit back and relax on the open water! This kayak is a good choice if you plan to kayak on calm waters rather than rough water, and is easy to set up so you don’t waste any time. It also has carry handles which make it easy to transport from your car to the river or lake!
The Oru kayak folds up easily into itself and is held together with straps. This makes it easy to slide in the side of your trunk, or even under your bed! If you have limited space in your garage or car when packing for your camping trip, this is a great option. Read more about organizing camping equipment here to help you save space!
The price range on foldable kayaks can be quite steep, so if you are planning on going kayaking just a handful of times, this one might not be the ideal choice for you. However, if you do kayak often and are looking for a stable and durable kayak that doesn’t take up too much space, this is a great value! This is also a great outdoorsy gift for women!
Best Fishing Kayak
The Pelican Kayak is one of the best kayaks for camping if you are planning on doing some fishing! This kayak is lightweight and has two carrying handles to make it easy to transport to your destination.
It has a maximum load of 325 pounds, making it an excellent choice for fishing if you are planning on bringing home some heavy fish with you.
This kayak has storage hatches in the front, plus extra storage compartments that are secured with bungee cords for all your fishing gear. It also has rod holders, cup holders, and a padded seat cushion for when you are on the coastal waters for longer distances!
Additionally, it has an adjustable backrest so you can stay comfortable on your long journeys, or lean the seat back when you need to rest for a while.
It also has adjustable footrests and secure foot bracing so you can feel confident and secure regardless of the elements you might face on your kayaking journey!
It also has a quick lock hatch in the front of the kayak, and a hatch with a storage bag and bungee cords in the back to hold even more items you might need on your adventure.
If going fishing is an important factor in deciding which kayak to purchase, the Pelican Kayak is a great choice for you!
Another one of the best kayaks for camping is a tandem kayak. Tandem kayaks have two seats so two passengers can ride in the kayak at one time. This is a great camping idea for kids since you can stay together in one boat.
Earlier in this post, I recommended this inflatable tandem kayak, which is a super affordable option without losing quality. It is one of the top picks among campers for tandem kayaks because of both its price and its durability!
If you are looking for a tandem kayak that is not inflatable, consider this Pelican Tandem Kayak. This one has adjustable backrests, bottle holders, molded foot pedals, and a rear tank with bungee lacing to hold all your kayaking gear. This kayak has a weight capacity of 500 pounds and has plenty of space to store gear you’ll need for a day on the water!
Tandem kayaking is also a great camping activity for couples to spend time outdoors together getting to know each other, while also getting some exercise and some fresh air together!
Best Camping Kayak for Kids
If you are going camping with kids, you might wonder what type of kayak they will need. Typically, older children can use a regular-sized adult kayak (of course with adult supervision), though they might appreciate something a bit more their size, like this children’s kayak from Lifetime.
This kayak comes in all kinds of fun colors like blue, pink, yellow, and more, and is only 6 feet tall, making it much more kid size than many typical longer kayaks. It is also only 18 pounds which most kids will be able to maneuver by themselves and has multiple footrests to accommodate all heights.
It also has a swim-up rear deck- if your child decides to jump into the cold water for a swim, the deck helps them get back up onto the boat all on their own!
If you are looking for a camping gift idea for kids, add this kayak to your list! They will love having their very own boat that is their own size, and it is very affordable for a kayak!
It would also be a good idea to get some kid-sized life jackets to keep them safe!
Kayak for Rough Waters
Looking for a new kayak that can stand up against advanced elements? Looking for a thrilling kayaking adventure on your next camping trip? The Advanced Elements Lagoon kayak might interest you! If you are searching for a kayak that can withstand long trips and rapid waters, the Lagoon kayak might be the right kayak for you.
It has built-in rigid panels on the bow and stern that help improve tracking and is inflatable so it does not have too much weight to take camping with you.
It also has twist lock valves and high flow spring valves which make inflating and setting the kayak up a breeze! Additionally, this kayak has molded rubber grip handles which makes carrying it to the water easy for anyone!
It has a built-in seat, landing plate, foam floor, and molded rubber grip handles. Additionally, it has an inner tube that adds stiffness and gives a layer of protection from abrasive elements out in the great outdoors. Deck bungees also allow for storage areas for all your kayaking goodies!
Kayak with Rudder
Looking to do some kayaking without needing to kill your arms from rowing all day? One of the best kayaks for camping is the BKC foot-controlled rudder kayak. This kayak has an ergonomic seat to keep you comfortable even on long day trips, 3 waterproof hatches for extra storage space, bungee cargo holds, an adjustable aluminum paddle, and more!
By just using your foot, you can control the rudder, making it an awesome touring kayak or river kayak. Cruise down the water without the hassle of rowing and getting tired. It also helps you keep control in all water conditions, so you can quickly and swiftly steer around any obstacle that comes your way!
This also makes a good kayak for fishing since you can control the movement without needing to row! When using the rudder feature, simply use the flush mount rod holders to keep your paddles safe and secure.
This kayak is a bit more pricy than others on this list, but the quality is excellent. You will be able to handle any of nature’s elements whether it be rough rapids, a tree trunk sticking out of the water, or a tough tide. You’ll be ready for any aquatic adventure with this one!
Kayaking is a fun outdoor sport that anyone can try, even with little or no experience! Many of these kayaks are inflatable and are easy to store even in the smallest of cars, making it a fun way to spend the day on your next camping trip! Bring a Bluetooth speaker and some drinks for a relaxing day on the water, or try your hand at fishing! Whatever the case, having a kayak opens many doors for adventuring when camping!
Don’t forget to grab your camping planner before you leave so you can plan out your next camping adventures!