Kayaking is a great way to spend time on the water. It can be a relaxing and peaceful experience alone and exciting and fun as a group. Buying a Kayak can seem overwhelming at times. There are thousands of options ranging in price from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

In order to help you shop for your kayak, we’ve done a lot of the legwork and research for you. Using a combination of first-hand experience with popular kayaks and aggregating reviews and ratings were able to bring you our quality recommendations and help you find the best kayak for your needs and activities.

Jackson Cruise – $700 to $1000Jackson-Cruise-sit-on-top-Kayak

The Jackson Cruise offers great value for money considering its features. The Cruise shines mostly due to its stability and comfort. It features a lawn chair style removable seat that has a high seat back and high level of adjustment. The foot pedals are equally as adjustable and can enable even enable a tall paddler to find a comfortable position. In addition, the cruise offers tremendous stability and ease of entry and exit. The Cruise can be great for fishing and includes ample storage both in front and behind the seating area as well as a watertight container great for car keys and phones. It also has a molded space for a Nalgene bottle threaded holes for mounting rod holders, cup holders or a GoPro. Commonly found around $700 to $1,000 the Cruise is an excellent choice.

Ocean Kayak Frenzy – $500Ocean-Kayak-sit-on-top-Frenzy

Ocean Kayak has been making some of the best and well known sit-on-top kayaks and offers some of the features of the Jackson Cruise for a lower budget. The Frenzy is a simple and reliable design and it a great option to keep at a cabin or take on family trips. The Cruise’s molded foot wells enable different people to jump in and out without having to reset pedals. Bear in mind this is a budget focused kayak and not ideal for heavy riders. However, it remains one of the best options out there for children and small adults. At only $500 this remains one of the best buys in sit-on-top kayaks.

Old Town Vapor – $600 to $700Old-Town-sit-in-Vapor

Old Town is known for quality and good design. The Vapor is no different. The Vapor has a very intelligent seat adjustment feature that allows to you adjust your seat without turning or contorting your body to reach the adjustment straps. This is particularly helpful since you often want to adjust your seats when you’re on the water already. Adjust your foot pedals is just as simple. We’ve also found the Vapor to be superior in tracking and speed. It has an innovative hull shape that cuts through the water and maintains your desired heading. Overall, the Vapor is a great all around choice with frustration free features and a good price at $600 to $700.

Sun Dolphin Aruba – $200 to $300Sundolphin-sit-in-Aruba-Kayak

The Sun Dolphin Aruba is one of the best budget-friendly sit-in kayaks around. Many recreational kayak rental business love to use the Aruba for its simple design and durability. This is a no-frills minimalist kayak that is lightweight, durable and maneuverable. Kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding can all be fairly expensive and the Aruba is one of the most affordable ways to get on the water and have a great time. If you find yourself not needing the extra features of more expensive kayaks, go for the Aruba.

Riot Kayaks Edge – $999Riot-Kayaks-Touring-sit-in-Edge

Riot Kayaks’ Edge is an impressive touring kayak. It offers the features of much more expensive options. Touring or sea kayaks are designed for long distances on open water and are longer than recreational kayaks.  They provide excellent stability from waves and wind that you may encounter. The Edge is special because there aren’t many touring or sea kayaks options below the 1K mark. If you’re looking to get into kayaking and plan to kayak long distances on big water this is nearly the only option you have at this price. At over 14 feet long, you’re getting a large kayak with plenty of storage and features not typically found in this budget. A great buy for the open water adventurer.