Kayak Guidance logo

Best Kayaks for Rivers

Find the Best River Kayaks Here

Best Options and Reviews

Published November 12, 2021 | Updated July 11, 2022

If you love to paddle rivers, you know how important it is to find the best river kayaks. It can be difficult choosing a kayak that is right for your needs. You will have to get the most comfortable kayak you will feel safe in. So, with so many kayaks available on the market, it can be hard to figure out which one is right for you.

Luckily, I have tried and tested a few river kayaks in the past few months, and that is why I have decided to give you some recommendations based on my personal experience.

So, here are the top 5 best kayaks for rivers that you can consider buying in 2022. I hope my recommendations will help you get the best river kayak according to your budget and needs.

Best River Kayaks: Find the Best Kayaks for Rivers

5 Best Kayaks for Riding Rivers

Here are the 5 best kayaks for rivers recommended for you to consider buying this year. They are all different in their purpose and have different advantages. So you can choose the one that suits you according to your needs and budget.

1. Perception Joyride 10 Sit Inside River Kayak

120+ Reviews
4.8/5

The first on my list of best kayaks for rivers is Perception Joyride 10. It is a sit-inside kayak that can be used for recreational purposes or multi-water kayaking. It has an adjustable padded seat with lumbar support for comfort on your journey, as well as a wide beam for stability in the water.

Specification:

Size: 10′

Weight: 42 lbs

Material: Plastic

Weight Capacity: 275 lbs

Sitting Capacity: Single Person Kayak

Key Features of This River Kayak:

The Perception Joyride 10 is a sit-inside kayak that is perfect for recreational paddling and multi-water activities. This sit-inside kayak was designed for families or anyone looking to enjoy the outdoors with their significant other or children.

It is a great choice for anyone who wants to take their adventures on the water to the next level. It’s lightweight, so you can easily carry it to your favorite fishing spot, and durable enough to withstand the elements. So, it is perfect for beginners who want to learn how to kayak and for experienced kayakers looking for a more stable ride.

This unique kayak makes it easy to get in and out of the water, even when you’re wearing a wetsuit. The sit-inside design means you can sit inside the boat and still move around easily. You don’t have to lean or squat down to get in or out.

Pros

Cons

  • This kayak is very stable and will not tip over. 
  • It can easily be used for beginners or experienced fishermen.
  • It is very comfortable to paddle in, making it easy to carry around.
  • The kayak has a decent storage area, which allows you to store lots of gear.
  • The size is a bit smaller for heavy and tall individuals.

Summary:

This kayak is made with high-quality materials, so it can handle tough conditions without breaking down on you. It’s designed with stability in mind, so you can be confident when paddling through rough waters like rivers or lakes.

2. Pelican Maxim 100X Recreational River Kayak

340+ Reviews
4.3/5

The second best kayak for rivers is Pelican Maxim 100X Kayak. It is a sit-in kayak that can handle all conditions, especially when it comes to rough water. It is lightweight and easy to maneuver, so you won’t have to worry about getting tired when you’re out on the water for hours.

Specification:

Size: 10′

Weight: 36 lbs

Material: Plastic

Weight Capacity: 275 lbs

Sitting Capacity: Single Person Kayak

Key Features of This River Kayak:

The Maxim 100X Recreational Kayak is the perfect kayak for those looking to get out on the water without much fuss or bother. It’s lightweight, easy to transport, and easy to store.

It also comes with two storage compartments in the front and the back of the boat, allowing you to bring all your essentials with you even if you’ve gone camping or hiking somewhere remote.

This kayak comes with a sit-in style but can be converted into a standing position if you prefer. It also comes with a single paddle which you can use to move through the water or steer as needed.

It’s made from high-quality polyethylene plastic that’s durable and lightweight at the same time, which means you can enjoy your time outdoors without having to sacrifice comfort or style.

Its lightweight design is very convenient, so it can be easily transported and stored. It’s also easy to set up and take down. This kayak is ideal for recreational use with its comfortable seating and durable construction.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to use and transport.
  • It can be used for both recreational and commercial purposes.
  • Water-tight, durable, and lightweight.
  • It’s lightweight and durable, which means that you can take it anywhere you want to go.
  • The backrest isn’t wide, so you may have trouble getting comfortable if you’re tall or overweight.

Summary:

This is the perfect river kayak for people who wants to go on long kayaking trips. Its sit-inside design allows you to stay dry while going through rough waters, making it the perfect choice for all types of recreational uses.

3. Pelican Argo 100X Single Person River Kayak

240+ Reviews
4.7/5

The Pelican Argo 100X Sit-in Kayak is a lightweight, single-person kayak perfect for those who want to get out on the water and enjoy their paddle. This kayak is made from high-quality materials, making it easy to use for years. The Argo 100X is also incredibly durable and can handle most weather conditions.

Specification:

Size: 10′

Weight: 36 lbs

Material: Plastic

Weight Capacity: 275 lbs

Sitting Capacity: Single Person Kayak

Key Features of This River Kayak:

If you are looking for a lightweight sit-in kayak, the Pelican Argo 100X is perfect for your needs. It’s 10 ft long and weighs only 36 lbs, so it’s easy to transport and comfortable to use. This kayak is made of durable polyethylene material that won’t break down in the water.

It has a wide, flat deck with integrated footrests, making it perfect for beginners who want to learn how to paddle without being too intimidated by the size or weight of their kayaks. Plus, it has been designed with comfort in mind. Its padded seat and backrest allow you to sit comfortably while enjoying your trip down the river or through some rapids without worrying about soreness.

This kayak is also great for fishing because it comes with built-in storage compartments that allow you to securely store your fishing gear while locating it quickly when needed. This makes it easier for fishermen to keep track of their gear while out on the water.

Pros

Cons

  • Carries one person
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Very stable, does not tip over easily
  • Can fit in small spaces
  • Easy to get on and off of the water
  • Not as comfortable as some other models

Summary:

The Pelican Argo 100X is a sit-in kayak that’s lightweight, easy to carry, and can be stowed in a small space. This kayak is the perfect size for one person and is ideal for rivers, lakes, or even the ocean.

4. Lifetime Tamarack Angler River Kayak

180+ Reviews
4.3/5

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler is a great choice for anglers who want to get into the water with their dogs or pets but don’t want to sacrifice comfort. The Sit-On-Top design makes getting in and out of the water easy and has plenty of room for gear and fishing poles.

Specification:

Size: 10′

Weight: 52 lbs

Material: Polyethylene

Weight Capacity: 275 lbs

Sitting Capacity: Single Person Kayak

Key Features of This River Kayak:

This Lifetime River Kayak has everything you need to enjoy the great outdoors. It features a durable, easy-to-assemble design and a high-performance, lightweight aluminum hull and deck ideal for fishing in lakes, rivers, and coastal waters.

It also features an adjustable rod holder at the front of the boat. The rod holder is designed to keep your rod close at hand while fishing but still has a place for it when you’re done fishing and ready to head back inshore.

The Tamarack Angler is also easy to transport, with its lightweight and compact size allowing you to easily store it in your garage or backyard.

It is constructed with a high-quality polyethylene hull and deck, making it virtually maintenance-free. This means you will enjoy this model for years without worrying about replacing parts.

It has an adjustable seat pad and backrest for comfort while fishing or simply lounging around on the water’s edge.

Pros

Cons

  • Excellent stability and tracking, even in choppy waters
  • Great for fishing, scuba diving, and general recreation
  • Lots of room for gear and pets
  • It’s pretty lightweight, making it easy to transport
  • Not stable enough to stand up in the boat

Summary:

This sit-on-top kayak is ideal for fishing, camping, or lounging around the river or lake. The included paddle makes it easy to move around while on the water and will help you catch some fish, making it perfect for everyone.

5. Pelican Sprint XR River Kayak

120+ Reviews
4.3/5

The Pelican Sprint XR Sit-in Kayak is a lightweight, single-person sit-in kayak designed with comfort in mind. With a perfect length and extended weight capacity, this kayak is perfect for beginners looking to get into the hobby of kayaking in rivers without spending too much money.

Specification:

Size: 12′

Weight: 41 lbs

Material: Plastic

Weight Capacity: 300 lbs

Sitting Capacity: Single Person Kayak

Key Features of This River Kayak:

The Pelican Sprint XR Sit-in Kayak is made from durable polyethylene and can hold up to 300 lbs. It comes equipped with an adjustable seat, which allows you to adjust the seat height and your thigh support level to find the perfect fit for your body type.

The hull of this kayak has also been designed with an air chamber system to allow for easy storage of your gear and accessories while still providing plenty of space for storing your gear within the hull itself.

This sit-in kayak is best suited for paddling on calm waters such as lakes or rivers, but it does feature side handles that make it easy for you to haul yourself out onto dry land if needed.

The Pelican Sprint XR Sit-in Kayak is a lightweight one-person sit-in kayak that’s perfect for river or lake fishing. This kayak comes with a single seat and weighs less than 40 pounds, making it easy to carry and transport.

Besides, it has a durable and stable fiberglass build and is made of 100 percent recycled plastic. It holds up well against the elements, even in rough water. The boat is lightweight, so you can easily carry it around alone or with your partner.

Pros

Cons

  • It’s really fun and easy kayak to use.
  • It’s very stable, so you don’t have to worry about tipping or capsizing.
  • You can carry it on your back if you need to do some serious transport through the water.
  • It’s made from durable materials, so it will last for years.
  • It’s not super lightweight, but it doesn’t weigh a ton either.

Summary:

This sit-inside kayak is perfect for people who want to go out on the nearby rivers and enjoy some rough sites while enjoying the stable riding experience. Its hull is designed to withstand rough surfaces and water, making it perfect for beginners and experts.

Best River Kayaks: FAQs

What type of kayak is best for lakes and rivers?

Short and stable are the two most important qualities to keep in mind if you’re looking for a kayak that’s best for lakes and rivers.

Short and stable kayaks are generally considered the top performers in these environments because they have an aerodynamic design that reduces drag, thus keeping your speed up. They also tend to be easy to maneuver and have waist belts, making them comfortable to sit in for long periods.

On the other hand, long and narrow kayaks aren’t as stable as short and wide ones. They’re more prone to tipping over when caught up on rocks or other obstacles in the water.

Are fishing kayaks good for Rivers?

Fishing kayaks are considered good for calm and wide rivers. The limitation is that they must be able to handle the waves and tide of the river, as well as be able to maneuver through the rapids.

These kayaks are also ideal for fishing in large lakes or ponds. Fishermen can use them for fishing from shore or launching their boats into the water from land.

So, fishing kayaks are the best option to fish in rivers. They are very stable, and they have a lot of space. They are also a great choice if you want to go fishing on calm and wide rivers because they have a lot of space for your equipment.

Do you need an anchor for your kayak on a river?

No, it is not necessary to have an anchor for your kayak on a river, but there are some situations where an anchor will be very helpful.

An anchor is essential when you want to stop drifting away from the bank because of current or waves. It will help you hold the kayak while you are fishing or paddling around. It also helps you to stop from sinking as well.

The anchor has many advantages; for example, if you want to go fishing in a river, you may need an anchor. The reason is that the river current will pull your boat towards the bank, and if you don’t have an anchor, the boat will drift away from shore.

Also, if rocks or other objects in the river could damage your boat, then having an anchor will help you avoid those obstacles.

How heavy should an anchor be for a river kayak?

It depends on the kayak’s size and the water’s depth. If you have a small kayak and mostly ride in calm water, you should get a 1.5 to 2 lbs anchor. Similarly, if you have a medium size kayak and mostly ride in calm and rough water, you should get a 2 to 3 lbs anchor.

But, if you own a big kayak and ride in different types of water, you should get a 3.5 to 5 lbs anchor that can be helpful in all situations.

Things to Consider while Choosing the Best Kayaks for Rivers

Following are some important things you should consider while choosing the best kayaks for rivers.

Type of Rivers You Intend to Take:

If you’re looking to get yourself a kayak that will be used on rivers, it’s important to consider the type of rivers you intend to take it on. Rivers can vary widely in size, shape, and speed, so choosing a model that is appropriate for your needs is important.

For example, if you want your kayak to take you to calm rivers, then you can choose a regular or simple kayak, which will greatly do the job.

But, if you want to take your kayak on rough water with rapids and rocks underneath, then you should choose a kayak made of high-quality materials.

So it’s important to choose a model appropriate for your needs.

Size and Weight Capacity of the Kayak:

The size and weight capacity of the kayak are also the most important factors to consider when choosing the best kayaks for rivers. Kayaks that are too heavy or too small can be difficult to handle in water. The larger the kayak, the easier it will be to maneuver through rapids.

However, a smaller model may suit your needs if you are looking for something easy to transport and maneuver.

The Kayak's Primary Use:

When choosing the best kayaks for rivers, you should consider how the kayak will be used. If you’re looking to go downstream on a river and explore its banks, you may want to get a kayak that’s more stable than one meant for whitewater.

If you’re going to be using your kayak on rivers with rapids or if there are rocks in the river bed, then a kayak with a lot of stability will be more suitable. If your primary purpose is exploring the banks of rivers and lakes, then it’s best to choose one with enough space to move around easily without hitting anything.

Style of the Kayak (Sit-in or Sit-on)

When looking for the best kayak for rivers, it’s important to consider the style of the kayak. Do you want a sit-in kayak or a sit-on kayak?

Sit-in kayaks are more stable and easier to maneuver but can be harder to roll. Sit-on kayaks are less stable and easier to roll, but they’re not as easy to maneuver or use as sit-ins.

Choose the style that best suits your needs.

Kayak Stability:

Kayak’s stability is also important because it determines whether the kayak can withstand the force of a strong current and stay afloat.

The best river kayaks have high stability and can withstand strong currents. Stability is measured by its ability to resist tipping, which occurs when a boat tips over due to wind or water pressure from above or below.

So, always choose the one with greater stability because it will make your kayaking experience enjoyable.

Kayak Maneuverability:

Maneuverability is probably the last but most important thing to consider when choosing a kayak for rivers. The best kayaks for rivers should have good maneuverability, essentially determined by the amount of room inside the kayak for maneuvering and turning.

The more room you give, the better it will be for you when attempting to turn or maneuver in a river.

You will have to ensure that your kayak has enough room inside to get into some positions without any problems.

Finding the Best Kayaks for Rivers: Conclusion

So, these are the top 5 best kayaks for rivers. All these models are great with their own features. You can choose anyone between them as per your needs. With the help of this guide, you can easily choose the kayak that will actually suit you.

Besides, now you may have an idea about the best river kayaks to buy, which I hope will make your choice easier.

Jay Schwarz author of Kayak Guidance

About the Author - Jay Schwartz:

Hey there kayak lovers! I’m Jay Schwartz, the author here at Kayak Guidance! You know water sports – you know me! My life is all about it. Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Fishing, Snorkeling and so much more. I love to share my passion and knowledge with all of you. 

More to Learn About Kayaks!