How to choose an ocean kayak
There is nothing like the feeling of gliding at water level in a kayak to appreciate the ocean in a new way, but it is important to remember only the best ocean kayak will get you there safely and comfortably. From exploring coastal inlets for a day to a string of shore camping expeditions, an ocean kayak gives you access to unique sea experiences you can’t get with any other boat.
An ocean kayak adventure is a bonding experience with the sea in a whole new way, and it takes some preparation and a level of respect for the immense power of the ocean. You need to think about what you want to do with your kayak, including where you want to go and how much time you will spend there. Consider what you will bring with you and how much your gear weighs. Finally, give some thought to how you will store your kayak at home and how you will get it to the water so you can make the right decision about the best kayak for you.
Buyer’s Guide: What features make a good offshore kayak?
The features that make a good offshore kayak are found in the structure of the watercraft and the materials it is made. There are many kayaks for different conditions and paddling, so it is up to you to think about your needs and find the specific watercraft with the details you need.
Choosing an ocean kayak that is right for you is a matter of finding the design, materials, and construction that will hold up to the challenging elements and give you the best control and feel. Features that serve you best are based on what you plan to do with your kayak. Generally, ocean kayaks have smaller cockpit openings that allow a skirt around the paddler to keep water out, and you will be in more contact with the interior and body of the kayak as you sit in it, because you need more control in the ocean than you do in calmer waters.
What is an ocean kayak?
An ocean kayak has distinctive features, starting on top with the perimeter lines. Designed for safety and functionality, the ropes rimming the boat are sturdy lines for you to grab onto if you capsize, or if someone wants to hold onto your boat from another craft.
The hatch on an ocean kayak will seal, either with a rubber hatch seal or with double clip closures. The area within is protected by bulwarks from parts of the kayak that are exposed to water so it stays dry and provides floatation in the event the boat swamps.
Choosing a kayak for ocean use will take some thought starting with some details about you. Each kayaker is unique in size, shape, and strength and has individual intentions for how to use a kayak on ocean adventures. You will need to try out the feel and function of some kayaks to find what feels and works best for you according to your intentions.
Different Types of Ocean Kayaks
Getting a kayak that is right for you starts with thinking about how you will use it. Exploring close to shore or camping along beaches as you tour calls for a long and steady ocean kayak with plenty of space for gear. Surfing or diving with your kayak will be better from a sit-on-top kayak as you can be free dive in the water easier from on top of rather than inside.
One choice in an ocean going kayak is the sit-in variety. The paddling angle is much better, nearer to the water for better propulsion and less strain, and the kayak is more stable.
Some models designed for kayak surfing and other active water sports involve the sit-on-top kayak style, used mainly in warmer areas are because you can certainly expect to get wet in this boat. Since the interior of the kayak isn’t occupied, there is much storage space in the kayak, which can be useful for fishing.
Couples will want to consider whether to purchase a single or tandem kayak. Individual boats are twice as burdensome to transport and store, and will usually cost more than a tandem kayak. If you plan to frequently go on the water together and you enjoy working as a team, a tandem might be right for you.
A good tandem style kayak will be bigger and heavier than a single, but two singles will take up a lot of space on your car’s roof or truck bed and storage at home. If you go solo sometimes, single kayaks may make more sense even with the extra cost and efforts involved in getting them around. The pros and cons are up to you and your partner.
Stability of Ocean Kayak
A kayak on ocean tides and swells requires extra stability. While it may seem odd, the more unstable your kayak feels, the more stable it will be in ocean waves and currents. A kayak that feels stable will actually be much more prone to instability in ocean conditions than one that feels like it moves or tips a lot.
Sea kayaks are built to emphasize secondary stability over primary stability. They tend to feel more unstable or tippy but can retain their upright balance in more turbulent waters. Ocean kayaks are designed for erratic waves and currents of the open water with hulls that are more rounded or closer to a V shape than the flat bottom shapes of recreational kayaks for inland calmer waters. An ocean going kayak relies on a combination of hull design, material strength, and weight distribution to achieve good balance and stability on the ocean.
Size and weight of kayak for ocean use
The weight, length, and width of a kayak for ocean use are usually greater than those on a recreational kayak for lakes and rivers. An ocean kayak’s length is typically from 11.5 feet to 17 feet or more for most people. The longer the boat the better it will track, or continue ahead through the water, and greater weight and width add to stability in the ocean.
A good ocean kayak, for a beginner, should be at least 20” to 36” in width for stability and control as you are getting the feel for the waves and currents at sea. The best kayak for the ocean is one that fits you best and has the necessary length and width to support you comfortably.
The total weight you will need to figure for your ocean kayak is the loaded weight, with the combined total of dry weight of the boat plus the occupant’s weight as well as any gear stowed aboard. Check your kayak total weight ratings and think how you want the boat to balance and perform while fully loaded and traveling. Weight affects stability in the water as well, and it may impact your ability to upright the boat if capsized.
Comfort of ocean kayak
There are many important elements involved in obtaining ideal comfort in an ocean kayak. The size of the seat opening, the angle and padding of the seat, and the legroom in a sit-in kayak all affect the paddler’s comfort and functionality in the boat.
The width and weight balance affect the boat’s handling in the water. You may find that choosing the best kayak for the ocean will take some testing and trial of different watercraft to find one with the right combination of seat size, design, and angle as well as leg room and other variables. Only you can determine how comfortable and functional you’ll feel for long stretches on the water with your ocean kayak.
Storage space of ocean kayak
When choosing an ocean kayak, storage takes some thought as well. Again the question comes back to what will you be doing with the kayak?
If you are fishing or camping you will need a lot of gear compared to what you bring for day trips along the coast to explore inlets. Consider the size and weight for the gear you will need in your adventures when searching for the best ocean kayak for you.
Details matter. Look for things like hatch doors and how they seal, accessibility of gear, and outer shell tie downs for expanded storage. The top rated ocean kayaks are designed with your needs in mind. With careful consideration, you can find a model that has the features you need to secure and stow your gear onboard.
Durability and strength of kayak for ocean
The materials used in the construction of the best kayak for ocean use range from plastic composites to fiberglass resin. A kayak for ocean and river waters need to be designed to withstand the tremendous force of water and the unpredictable movement of ocean or river currents. The weight of the kayak on ocean adventures will vary a lot based on the materials used to construct the hull. Generally, cheaper materials are heavier and some of the thinnest and lightest fiberglass hulls tend to be the most expensive. You need to consider both your budget and the list of features you desire like durability and strength for the best ocean kayak to fit your needs.
Top-10 Best Ocean Kayaks
Sailing on the open ocean can be dangerous. The ocean can be unpredictable and you may never know what is round the corner. We understand this – this is why kayaking safety is so important. This is why it is imperative you choose the correct kayak if you want to embark on an ocean journey.. You must be confident in your choice! This is where we can help – in the list below we have provided 10 amazing ocean kayaks for your benefit:
Driftsun Teton 120 Hard Shell Sit On Top Kayak – best ocean fishing kayak in 2019
Driftsun have created a superb range of water gear and vessels such as paddleboards, wakeboards, and kayaks. The Teton 120 Hard Shell recreational Kayak is certainly one of the best ocean fishing kayaks available. It is durable and can accommodate up to 3 people comfortably. It is a sit on top model and comes with a host of accessories too. The following are some of the main features and pros and cons of this item:
– Single-piece hull made from high density polyethylene
– 4 rod holders and 2 mounting points
– 4 carry handles for excellent transportation
– Adjustable seats with backrests
– Has several water-tight storage containers
– Packages comes with paddles, plugs and back support
– Self-bailing mechanism to prevent sinking
– Great range of clips and handles for fishing equipment
– 3 people may not be exactly comfortable – it is a squeeze
– Heavy to carry even for two people
The Teton 120 Hard Shell is absolutely fantastic – it is certainly one of the top ocean going kayaks. The material is durable, the design is ergonomic, and the extra features are superb.Check on Amazon
Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 Angler Kayak – best ocean fishing kayak in 2019
Vibe has a brilliant collection of kayaks and other craft. They also provide accessories and tools for self-repairs. The Sea Ghost 130 Angler is a single person sit on top model that is excellent for fishing and angling in open water. Although it is for one person, it is surprisingly roomy and has an abundance of accessories for your tackle and bait. The following are some of the main features and pros and cons of this item:
– 2 flush mount rod holders and 4 gear tracks
– Dual position seat for additional comfort
– Toe controlled rudder system for easy navigation
– 20” front oval hatch for bait and tackle
– Several storage areas for all your food and angling gear
– Comes with a paddle as standard
– Myriad of attachments and holders for rods and custom rigs
– Only single person occupancy – would need two for friends
– Must sit-down when fishing – standing can make it unstable
The Sea Ghost 130 is another top ocean going kayak. If you prefer to travel alone or your friend already has a kayak, this is an excellent choice.Check on Amazon
Ocean Kayak Malibu 2XL Tandem Kayak – top rated ocean kayak
Ocean Kayak specializes in kayaks that can be used on rough waters. They offer a myriad of accessories to accompany boats such as valves and skid plates. The Malibu 2XL tandem is a simple but effective model you can take out into the open water with ease. The design and material of the boat keeps you secure and allows you to tackle rough seas. Furthermore it is suitable for all experience levels. The following are some of the main features and pros and cons of this item:
– Two adjustable seats for extra comfort
– Capable of holding 2 adults and a child/pet
– Side paddle holder
– Front and rear cargo holders for storage
– Available in three different colors
– Side handles for easy carrying
– Relatively low sides can sometimes take on water
– Does not come equipped with a paddle
As far as tandem kayaks go, the Malibu 2XL is an excellent unit. The simple but ergonomic design is excellent and the adjustable seats can fit people of any build.Check on Amazon
Ocean Kayak Caper Classic Recreational Sit-On-Top Kayak – one of the best sit on top ocean fishing kayak in 2019
This is the second Ocean Kayak unit in our top 10 list – they do create superb sea based products. The Caper Classic Recreational Sit on top unit is a fantastic item from this supplier and has a single occupant design. The tri-form hull offers magnificent stability on the seas and allows you to paddle straight with ease. Moreover, the cockpit is spacious. The following are some of the main features and pros and cons of this ocean kayak:
– Four-way adjustable cockpit seat
– Bow, stern and side grab handles for easy carrying
– Ergonomic design perfect for use on open seas
– Secure front storage container
– Cargo nets for extra storage and security
– Seat can be adjusted in several positions
– Comes with a side-paddle holder
– Does not come standard with a paddle
– Only single person occupancy
For a single person product, this model is great. The stylish and colorful design can easily be picked out on the sea. Furthermore, the ergonomic hull design provides optimal performance in calm or rough conditions.Check on Amazon
Elkton Outdoors Tandem Kayak: 12 Foot Sit On Top ocean Fishing Kayak – one of the best kayak for ocean fishing
As you would expect, Elkton specializes in outdoor equipment such as luggage, firearms, tackle cases, and more. This Outdoor Tandem Kayak is a great model and is suitable for two adults on the sea. This model looks fantastic – it really is a treat. Aside from a cool look, it is functional and has a myriad of useful features and accessories. It boasts open and dry storage compartments and plenty of rod holders. The following are some of the main features and pros and cons of this top rated ocean kayak:
– Rotomold injected body which is built to last and resist cracks
– Two carry handles for convenient transportation
– Air tight storage compartment
– Flat platform for ice chest storage
– Comes complete with paddles, seats, rod holders, and bungee cords
– Extremely spacious to comfortably fit two people
– Sturdy and durable body made to resist harsh conditions
– Camo green design is not highly visible
– Would only be suitable for two people – hard for one person to maneuver
This unit is an absolute beast and one of the most popular tandem sea kayaks on our list. It combines excellent design, easy transportation and fantastic storage.Check on Amazon
Ocean Kayak Scrambler 11 Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak – good ocean kayak for the money
This is our third entry for Ocean Kayak in the top 10 list. This is a recreational kayak that provides a sit on top experience and is suitable for a single person (you could fit a pet in too!). As you would expect, this unit contains a patented tri-form hull that this company is renowned for – this gives you great performance and stability on the water. Moreover, the product has a great range of accessories that make long trips more bearable. The following are some of the main features and pros and cons of this kayak on ocean:
– Tri-form hull for great stability and paddling
– Four way adjustable seat for levels of comfort
– Holders for paddles to make sailing on the sea easier
– Durable Lightweight construction
– 6 inch storage hatch with watertight lid
– Comes with paddle holders and a bungee cord
– Ergonomic design which complements paddling
– Storage tank can hold a large amount of supplies
– Does not come with a paddle in the standard package
– Only a single occupant unit
– Relatively low sides – does not have self-bailing holesCheck on Amazon
We believe this company has done it again with the Scrambler 11. Like the other Ocean models, it has a fantastic design and benefits from the tri-formed hull.
Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem Kayak with High Pressure Floor – top rated tandem ocean kayak in 2019
Driftsun specialize in water equipment and outdoor gear such as paddleboards and ice chests. The Rover 220 is a brilliant inflatable kayak that is a sit-in design and fits two adults. The following are some of the main features and pros and cons of this kayak for the ocean:
– 1000D reinforced PVC sides
– Heavy-duty tarp/PVC bottom
– High sides that offer extra stability
– Can withstand white water rapids up to IV
– Can easily accommodate 2 people
– Comes with paddles, seats, pump, and travel bag
– Extremely lightweight and easy to transport
– Made from durable material despite being inflatable
– Self bailing ports
– Takes 10 minutes to fully inflate and be ready to use
– No built in storage compartments
Driftsun have created an exceptional quality inflatable unit that withstands white water conditions! The kayak is durable and despite a 10 minute setup time, is easy to use. It comes fully equipped with a pump, carry bag, and repair kit as an added bonus.Check on Amazon
Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110 11 Foot Angler Sit On Top Fishing Kayak – one of the best one person ocean kayak in 2019
Our first Vibe entry in the top 10 is the amazing Ghost 110. This 11 foot fishing vessel is perfect for those who want to enjoy long days out on the water with nothing but their kayak and equipment. It is a single person kayak and comes in at 11ft. The design is superb and we like the camo effect paint. Furthermore, the rudder system is a great touch and improves usability. The following are some of the main features of this kayak in ocean:
– Accessory mount for fishing
– Dual position seat for additional comfort
– Ergonomic seat and foot well positions
– Made from one piece of durable polyethylene
– Comes with several storage units for your gear and tackle
– Vibro seat is great for long journeys
– Toe controlled rudder systems for easy steering
– Could be considered heavy for a single person to carry
Although this model is a little heavy, it is built to last and can easily cope with long sea journeys. The ample storage space gives you flexibility and allows you to carry as much tackle as you need.Check on Amazon
Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110 11 Foot Angler Sit On Top Fishing Kayak – one of the best one person ocean kayak in 2019
This is our second Vibe entry, and this model is the Skipjack 120T which is a 12ft sit on tandem kayak. The bright colors are eye-catching and help with safety and visibility. What makes this item stand out is the deluxe seats which give optimal comfort. Furthermore, the plethora of storage hatches gives you flexibility with your gear. The following are some of the main features of this kayak in ocean:
– Paddle holders to help carry oars when fishing
– Front storage contained for bait and tackle
– Rear storage hatch for cargo net cover
– Rod mounts and gear tracks
– Has everything you need for a fishing setup
– Superb design for increase stability on open water
– Vibro seat can be adjusted depending on your size and build
– Comes standard with 2 paddles
– Could be considered heavy for a single person to carry
The deluxe seats could be considered a selling point, but the overall design and style of this boat are fantastic too.Check on Amazon
SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Bali 13.5-Foot Tandem Kayak – good tandem ocean kayak
Sun Dolphin have done it again with the Bali 13.5ft Tandem – this model can comfortably sit three people. It can also be used as a single person kayak if you wish. The design is innovative and the seating positions are flexible. Furthermore, the bold colors give this unit great visibility. The following are some of the main features of this ocean kayak tandem sit on top for kayaking in the ocean:
– Can accommodate up to 3 people
– Three separate covered storage compartments
– Adjustable seats
– Several carry handles on the front, rear, and sides
– Excellent storage for supplies and food
– Versatile design with ergonomic seating positions
– Drainage holes to remove excess water
– Hull has been known to let in water – will need draining from time to time
– Does not come with paddles or the deluxe seats as standard
Sun Dolphin has created a great three person model. It may be basic when it comes to features, but the three storage units are an excellent touch.Check on Amazon
Frequently asked questions about ocean kayak
The term ocean kayak can sometimes be misunderstood. Furthermore, you may not understand what constitutes this type of kayak. Aside from this, sailing in the ocean opens you up to many perils. You have to have your wits. Moreover, you have to understand the limitations of ocean kayaks and how you can go about purchasing one. This is why we have created an informative Q&A section featuring important questions:
Aren’t all kayaks that go in the ocean called ocean kayaks?
They can be yes – it depends on personal preferences and habits. A kayak can be deemed as an “ocean” kayak if it can be used on large open waters such as the Atlantic and Pacific. Some models are only suitable for smaller seas such as the English Channel are usually known as sea kayaks or touring kayaks instead.
Are ocean kayak models different from other sea kayaks?
Yes definitely. These kayaks are created specifically with stability and usability in mind. They are crafted for use on tough open water and have a more stable design and features. Furthermore, the sides are designed so the boat is easier to climb in and out of. It would not be advised to use a standard vessel for use on open water.
How is an ocean kayak safer?
These models have safety and design features that make it much safer than a standard unit. To start with, they usually contain drain holes or scuppers – this allows any excess water the seeps in to drain out straight away. Secondly, the cockpit generally doesn’t fill up with any water. You should be able to re-enter within 5 seconds – this can help prevent hypothermia if you happen to fall in freezing water.
Can I use an ocean kayak for scuba diving?
Of course! It is so much more convenient to simply paddle your boat out to a suitable diving spot instead of swimming with your heavy gear. Moreover, using an outrigger also gives you a stable platform to comfortably dive from. Most outriggers designed specifically for sea use have a plethora of straps and handles. You can use these to secure your gear as you prepare. Finally, sit on top outriggers are easy to climb out of, therefore you can easily disembark to dive.
How much dive gear will my ocean kayak hold?
This depends on the model you purchase. Each model offers a degree of storage containers and cargo nets. A typical seaworthy kayak will have plenty of storage for all of your diving gear. This includes your oxygen tank, BC, weight belt, snorkel, mask, fins and even any photography equipment you may wish to take. Some sea kayaks may even have additional space for you to store a secondary tank so you can dive for longer periods. Always check storage facilities before making a purchase!
Does an ocean kayak have storage space
Yes. Practically every kayak has some form of storage, even if it is just a small hatch. Sea kayaks will have plenty of storage – they are meant to be taken out on open water and have space for supplies and essential equipment. This depends on which product you choose. It is common for sea vessels to have 12 cubic feet of storage space. Some may have large storage hatches in the bow or stern. Others may have a central storage hatch in-between the two seats.
How can I purchase an ocean kayak?
Hopefully you have enough information to make an educated purchase. We advise reading through the Q&A section, and looking at our top 10 list. This will give you information to work from. Once you have done that, simply click on one of the links for the model you like, or check out our range of products here.
So, what is the best kayak for ocean use?
Best Product: Driftsun Teton 120 Hard Shell Sit On Top Kayak
The Driftsun Teton 120 is hands down the best ocean kayak in our top 10 list. This item has it all! If you want security, comfort, and usability, this could be an excellent choice. The storage units on this kayak are excellent – the central storage tank is spacious and watertight.If you are using the boat for fishing, it has loads of useful holders for your rods and tackle. Finally, the seats are adjustable and can give you room to maneuver. All these factors make this a superb model for use on the open seas.
The other kayaks we have listed are all fantastic in their own right.. The Ocean Kayak models such as the Malibu 2XL, Caper Classic and Scambler 11 are excellent quality and suitable for use on large bodies of water. Furthermore, Driftsun Rover 220 inflatable, Vibe Skipjack 120, and the Sun Dolphin Bali are all solid ocean kayaks too. We are confident you could enjoy a memorable trip on the seas with any of these products – why not check out the other items we offer here?