Best Kayak For Women
There are many options available for women when it comes to choosing a kayak but some options might be better than others. We know that every woman is different, but some features can be beneficial no matter what size or height you are.
We’ve put together this guide to some of the best kayaks for women to help you get a better idea of some of the features you might want to think about.
Top Picks: At A Glance
(links take you over to the item on Amazon or REI - more on these below)
9 Best Kayaks For Women
1: Perception Tribe 9.5 Sit-On-Top Kayak (best overall)
The Perception Tribe 9.5 is a sit-on-top recreational kayak that can be great if you’re looking for a versatile boat that is also easy to use.
This compact yak is designed for a range of waters, including flatwater and ocean water. It has a stable hull and is easy to maneuver in smaller bodies of water because of its short hull.
It has a spacious open deck, with a padded seat with an adjustable back. The generous capacity and roomy design means you can load it up with gear for on-the-water adventures.
The small center hatch can be useful for storing items that you want to keep close by, and the bow and stern storage wells can be great for larger items.
This durable craft features bow and stern carry handles, as well as molded side handles to make it easier to carry and car top. There are also molded foot wells to suit different sizes of paddlers.
2: Ocean Kayak Venus 11 Women’s Sit-On-Top (best color)
This Ocean Kayak Venus 11 is made for women. It has a seat to accommodate a lower center of gravity and features a low profile deck so that it can be easier to paddle. There is also plenty of storage, including a handy dry storage hatch at the bow.
The molded seat well is 20 inches wide, giving you plenty of room for added comfort. It also benefits from a padded seat cushion and a padded, adjustable seat back that is designed to provide lumbar support for improved paddling posture.
This durable yak can be ideal for calm lakes, slow moving rivers and even the ocean. It has a stable hull but can also cover water efficiently, making it easy to paddle, even for beginners.
It benefits from front and rear carry handles as well as side carry handles, which are designed to make it easier to lift, especially for loading onto your roof rack.
3: Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Sit-In Kayak (best sit-in)
The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is a recreational sit-inside kayak that can be ideal for exploring rivers and lakes. It is a durable boat that offers good value and can be great for beginners.
This yak features a stable hull with a large cockpit that can minimize the feeling of being enclosed. The thigh pads on the rim of the cockpit can also make it a little more comfortable for paddling.
It features an adjustable padded seat back but only has a molded seat bottom, so you may want to take a cushion or seat pad with you if you’re heading out for a couple of hours.
It features a storage compartment at the stern that can be great for holding a dry bag full of gear. There is also bungee rigging on the top for added stern storage and a bottle holder at the bow.
4: Pelican Sport Athena 100XP Kayak
The Pelican Sport Athena 100XP is a single sit-inside kayak that is designed specifically for women. It’s lightweight and has ergonomic carry handles at the front and back for easier carrying.
It has a roomy cockpit that’s made to be easy to get in and out of. The ergonomically designed seat features comfortable padding and an adjustable seat back. Inside the cockpit you’ll also find adjustable foot braces so you can maintain a comfortable paddling position.
The Athena 100X combines speed, maneuverability and stability to create a craft that can be easy to paddle on a range of waters.
You can also keep your personal items close by with the conveniently located cockpit table, and a storage platform with bungee cords. And there’s even a bottle holder so you can stay hydrated.
5: Star Raven I Inflatable Kayak (best inflatable)
This Star Raven I is an inflatable single person kayak that is designed to handle up to Class IV whitewater. This can make it a good boat if you plan to use it for river paddling, but it can also be used on flatwater.
It’s made from tough PVC material to create a durable, abrasion resistant hull when inflated. It has a wide hull for added stability, which can be especially useful if you’re running rapids.
The folding seat features a padded seat back for added comfort and it can securely clipped to the D-rings in the boat. There’s not much in the way of storage on this craft but there is some space behind the seat, with D-ring attachment points for tying gear down.
6: Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 (best for fishing)
The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 is a single sit-on-top kayak that is built for versatility. With its handy storage solutions and built-in gear tracks, this could be a good craft to use for a fishing trip.
It’s a stable yak that is designed for lakes, ponds, rivers, bays and surf, making it a great boat if you want to explore different waters. It’s also designed to combine speed, maneuverability and tracking, for efficient paddling.
The Tarpon 100 has a spacious open deck with a fully adjustable Phase 1 AirPro seat for improved paddling comfort. The adjustable foot braces can also make it more suitable for different leg lengths.
This yak also benefits from great storage, with a large tank well behind the seat that can be ideal for a fishing crate or cooler. There are also two storage hatches, one in the center and one at the bow.
7: Perception Tribute 10.0 Kayak (very lightweight)
This Perception Tribute 10.0 is a 10 foot sit-inside craft that is built with women and small-framed paddlers in mind. It weighs just 36 pounds, which can make it easier to lift and carry if you’re on your own.
This yak is designed to offer both stability and speed over calm and slow moving water, meaning you could find it easier to paddle if you’re covering a longer distance. There’s plenty of storage if you’re heading out for a full day, with a dry storage hatch at the stern and bungee rigging on the deck at the bow.
The spacious cockpit is made to be easy to get in and out of, and features a comfortable padded seat back and adjustable ergonomic seat back. The seat bottom can also be raised and tilted for additional thigh support, which could be beneficial on longer paddling trips.
8: Emotion Spitfire 9 Kayak (best sit-on-top)
The Emotion Spitfire is a 9 foot sit-on-top kayak that is made for recreational paddling. It has a wide, stable hull that can be ideal for a range of water conditions, including calm lakes and ocean bays, as well as slow moving rivers and streams.
It has a roomy open cockpit, with a padded seat with seat back. There are molded foot rests that can make it easier to stabilize yourself and find a comfortable paddling position.
It’s a relatively lightweight craft that has carry handles at the front and back for easier lifting.
This yak has a large weight capacity and plenty of space to store extra gear. There’s the spacious rear tankwell with bungee cords for security, as well as the handy storage hatch in front of the seat for smaller items.
9: Airhead Montana 1 Person Kayak
This Airhead Montana kayak is an inflatable kayak designed for solo paddlers. It is made from durable 840 denier nylon that also benefits from having a UV resistant and water resistant coating for added protection.
This is a lightweight yak, weighing under 28 pounds, so it can be a great option if you think you might struggle to carry a standard yak on your own. Because it’s inflatable, it can also be ideal for travel and easier to store.
It’s a 9 foot 9 inch boat when inflated, which can make it a good size for exploring smaller bodies of water, where maneuverability is key.
To make it easier to paddle, there are four fins under the hull which can help with tracking.
It has a generous 300 pound capacity and also has front and rear bungee storage so you can bring along a couple of dry bags with extra gear for your trip.
Features To Look Out For If You’re A Woman Choosing For A Kayak
We appreciate that women come in different shapes, sizes and capabilities. And while not all of these features will necessarily apply to all women, we think that they could be a factor for many.
The weight of the kayak will probably be an important thing to consider, especially if you plan to lift it and transport it on your own. Kayak weights vary, often dramatically, so there can be quite a difference between brands and models, even on yaks that are the same size.
You may find that less expensive yaks are sometimes a little heavier than more expensive ones because of the materials used.
There is also the option of inflatable vessels, which can give you a little more freedom when it comes to transportation and storage, although these may not be to everyone’s taste.
Weight capacity may be important to you, particularly if you plan to take a lot of gear with you.
As you probably know, the weight capacity of the yak is the total weight of you plus all of your gear. So it can be a good idea to think ahead in terms of whether you’ll want to load up your boat with heavy camping equipment or fishing gear.
The weight capacity can vary quite a lot from yak to yak, with lighter yaks often (but not always) having a lower capacity than heavier ones.
It can be a good idea not to load your kayak up to its maximum weight capacity, as you may find that its performance is sacrificed, meaning it could be more difficult to paddle.
When you’re choosing the ideal kayak, size may be one factor to think about, as this could affect how you transport it and even where you store it. The size of the vessel can also have an effect on its performance on the water.
The longer and narrower the yak, generally the faster it can go. But the shorter and wider it is, the more stable and easier to maneuver it should be.
Longer, narrower vessels may not be as easy to maneuver on small bodies of water. Similarly, they may not be as easy to maneuver on dry land either.
A shorter yak can sometimes sacrifice speed for stability and maneuverability but these compact vessels can be ideal for a wide range of women. Their shorter hulls can be easier to transport and could be easier to learn in if you’re a beginner.
The size of your paddle will usually be determined by your height but the width of your yak is also likely to play a part. Some boats that are made for women will often have a lower profile deck to accommodate shorter bodies, which can make it easier to paddle.
A paddle leash can be a good idea so that there’s less risk of you losing your paddle if it falls overboard.
Main Types Of Kayak
Sit-on-top yaks can be ideal for a range of paddlers, including beginners. They feature an open deck, rather than an enclosed cockpit. This can make it easier to get in and out of the boat and can be more suitable if you want to move around on deck.
Sit-on-tops can also be ideal regardless of what size you are. They can give you added comfort if you’re a larger paddler compared to the smaller seating area that is often found in sit-insides.
You’ll also find that the leg room may be less restricted on a sit-on-top which can be good news for longer legs.
A sit-inside boat can be great for year-round paddling, as it can give you a little extra protection from the elements, keeping you drier and warmer than a sit-on-top vessel.
The enclosed cockpit might take a bit of getting used to if you’re a beginner but it might be helpful to opt for a yak with a wider or larger cockpit to give you a little more room.
A low profile deck could also be beneficial, so that it can feel like you’re sitting a little higher above the edges of the yak for easier paddling.
Remember, you may need to know how to perform a wet exit or a roll, depending on the type of sit-inside you choose.
Fishing kayaks can often be heavier than standard recreational yaks because of the additional features that they often have. You’ll usually find built-in rod holders, extra storage and sometimes a more elevated seat.
These features can be great if you’re planning a long fishing trip but you may find that you need an extra pair of hands or a cart when it comes to getting it to and from the water.
Fishing yaks can be either sit-inside or sit-on-top but you may find you have more space to move around and can cast more comfortably on a sit-on-top fishing kayak.
Inflatable vessels can be ideal if you’re short on storage space at home. These boats can be easily stored in closets.
An inflatable yak can also be great if you think you’ll struggle to lift a standard kayak, as they are usually much lighter. They can also be easier to transport and fit into the trunk of your car.
While they can be much more portable, they may not offer as much storage space or comfort features as standard yaks.
Getting In/Out Of The Water Easily
While we know that women are not all the same size and we don’t all have the same strengths, getting a kayak to and from the water can sometimes be difficult if you’re on your own. This means it might be worth having some tools to help you lift your yak.
Assisted Kayak Loader
There are a few things that can make transporting your yak a little easier, for example, a kayak rack that can automatically load your boat onto your car roof can help to take the weight when you don’t have a second person to help.
Kayak carts can be useful when it comes to getting your yak from the parking lot to the water. A cart can be particularly helpful if you have a heavier fishing kayak or even a longer yak that’s maybe more awkward to carry.
This means you can wheel your boat down to the water’s edge without the hassle of lifting the weight, so you can save your energy for when you’re on the water.
Obviously, you’ll know yourself whether you’re capable of lifting and carrying your boat but these products can make it a little less of a struggle.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Kayak Is Best For Short Women?
A shorter yak with a lower profile deck, or narrower hull, can be a good option as this can give you the feeling of added height above the deck, which can make it easier to paddle without overreaching.
Is There Much Difference In Weight Between Kayaks?
Yes, there can be, especially if you’re comparing an inflatable yak with a fishing yak. Some kayaks may weigh more because of the extra features they have or if they’re made with heavier materials.
Can Women Paddle Bigger Kayaks Ok?
Many women will have no trouble paddling big kayaks, as this will usually depend on strength and ability.
If you’re a beginner or you think you may not have the capability to paddle a larger kayak, it might be better to start out with a smaller yak and work up to a larger vessel.
If you’re looking for a compact, durable craft that’s easy to maneuver, we think the best choice is the Perception Tribe 9.5. It can be paddled on a range of waters and has plenty of space for you to bring along extra gear while giving you roomy seating area.
Coming in at a very close second is the Perception Tribute 10 with its spacious cockpit and multi-adjustable seat. It also gets extra points for being designed for women.
Alternatively, the Pelican Sport Athena 100X is an ideal option if you’re looking for a lightweight, compact craft that you can easily lift on your own. And it’s built for women.
These boats are all designed to be easy to paddle, easy to transport and maneuver and they have plenty of room in the cockpit for improved comfort.
Remember, just like jeans, not all women’s kayaks will suit all women! It’s a matter of comfort, fit and personal taste. And if you find a man’s kayak more comfortable, that’s fine too.
But it can be a good idea to think about the size and weight of the kayak before you dive in, especially if you may have to transport it by yourself.