- Read our review guidelines
Many lakes can offer perfect paddling conditions for both beginners and more experienced kayakers. However, some boats can perform better than others, which is why it can be important to choose one that suits the conditions.
We have put some information together to help you choose the best kayak for lakes.
Sneak Peek: Top Picks
- Perception Pescador 10.0
- Sea Eagle 393RL Razorlite
- Ocean Kayak Malibu Pedal
- Eddyline Skylark
- Old Town Topwater 106
Top 9 Best Kayaks For Lakes Review
1: Perception Pescador 10.0 (best overall)
- Length: 10 foot 6 inches
- Width: 32 inches
- Weight: 57 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 325 pounds
The Perception Pescador 100 is a versatile ten and a half foot yak that can be great for both fishing and recreational paddling. It has a surprisingly large capacity for its compact size, with enough room for fishing gear or even camping gear if you pack light for an overnight trip.
The spacious rear cargo deck has bungee rigging to keep your belongings secured to the deck. The hinged bow hatch gives you access to additional storage within the hull. There are also gear tracks for attaching your own accessories.
This boat is easy to maneuver and easy to get in and out of, with a spacious seating area and adjustable foot braces to suit different sized paddlers. The seat features a padded backrest which is adjustable.
- Gear tracks – for mounting additional accessories
- Generous capacity – room for storage and a spacious seating area
- Easy to maneuver – great for beginners and smaller lakes
This kayak can be a good choice if you’re looking to do some fishing or photography.
2: Sea Eagle 393RL Razorlite (best inflatable)
- Length: 12 foot 10 inches
- Width: 28 inches
- Weight: 35 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
This Sea Eagle 393RL Razorlite is an inflatable kayak that’s built for speed on lakes and other flatwater. It features patented full drop stitch construction, similar to a paddle board, meaning it has the feel and performance of a rigid kayak but can be packed away into a compact size for easy transportation. It can even fit in the trunk of your car.
This lightweight vessel is durable and can be ideal if you want to bring your dog along for the ride. It has a tapered, molded bow and stern for increased speed and tracking and there are also spray skirts at both the bow and stern to minimize splashes and give you space to store gear.
It also has adjustable foot braces and a removable skeg.
- Inflatable – lightweight, compact and easy to transport
- Drop stitch technology – provides rigidity for speed, efficiency and durability
- Fast – narrower than many other inflatables for increased performance
This boat can be ideal for experienced paddlers looking for a portable vessel that’s fast, easy to store and travel-friendly.
3: Ocean Kayak Malibu Pedal (best pedal kayak)
- Length: 12 foot
- Width: 34.5 inches
- Weight: 100 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 450 pounds
This Ocean Kayak Malibu Pedal is a stable sit-on-top yak with the added benefit of a rotational pedal drive system which can be used barefoot. This can make it easy to use, potentially faster over the water and great for windy lakes. It also has a cockpit controlled rudder system.
It’s a pretty heavy boat, which might be difficult to transport on your own, but it does have bow and stern, plus side carrying handles to make it easier. It has a generous weight capacity of 450 pounds, which means you have plenty of capacity to bring along gear, a dog or your child. There’s even a little jump seat for kids.
The framed seat is built for comfort, with sliding adjustability and an adjustable backrest for support.
- Rotational pedal drive – hands free forward and reverse power
- Rudder – helps with tracking in windy conditions and open water
- High weight capacity – ideal for larger paddlers or bringing along a child or pet
This boat can be great if you want a stable craft that’s easy to use and ideal for summer use on large lakes, as well as bays.
4: Eddyline Skylark (best for day trips)
- Length: 12 foot
- Width: 26 inches
- Weight: 41 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 295 pounds
This Eddyline Skylark is a recreational sit-inside craft that can be ideal if you’re looking to improve your paddling skills or want to paddle all year round. It has a narrower hull than some recreational boats, which can help with speed and tracking.
The Skylark is designed for flatwater. It has front and rear hatches offering dry storage, as well as bungee rigging on deck for securing additional items, making this a great boat for picnics and all-day adventures.
The cockpit is designed to suit a range of paddler heights, with adjustable foot braces and a height-adjustable backrest. It also has plenty of space for long legs and big feet.
- Dry storage hatches – ideal for keeping belongings below deck
- Spacious cockpit – great for taller paddlers
- Lightweight – easy to transport and car-top
The Skylark can be a good craft for beginners looking for a lightweight sit-inside that can be ideal for day tours on flatwater lakes.
5: Old Town Topwater 106 (best for fishing)
- Length: 10 foot 6 inches
- Width: 34.5 inches
- Weight: 73 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 440 pounds
The Old Town Topwater 106 is a compact craft that’s designed for fishing. It is a stable boat, with a pontoon style hull, that can be ideal for lakes, as well as bays and slow moving rivers.
A great feature of this little boat is its standing platform, which gives you added traction for standing up while fishing. It has a spacious seating area that can be great for larger paddlers and is designed to be easy to get in and out of.
The framed mesh seat has good back support and can be positioned either higher or lower on the deck, for improved sight fishing. You’ll also find plenty of storage, including rod holders, a rear tank well and a bow hatch, along with a very generous weight capacity.
This yak can be easy to maneuver for beginners and its compact size means it can even be hauled on the back of your truck.
- High weight capacity – can be great for larger paddlers or heavy gear
- Stable – ideal for beginners and if you want to stand up to fish
- Compact – easy to maneuver
This boat is for anglers or beginners. Its stable, compact hull means it can feel less tippy than some boats and can be easy to paddle.
6: Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 (best sit-on-top)
- Length: 10 foot
- Width: 30.5 inches
- Weight: 55 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 325 pounds
The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 is a compact sit-on-top that can be ideal for lake paddling in warm weather.
It features a spacious seating deck, with adjustable foot braces to suit different leg lengths and paddling positions. The Phase 3 AirPro seat is fully adjustable for comfort and lumbar support, with mesh fabric for breathability.
The Tarpon has a decent amount of storage, with bow and center hatches providing dry storage for smaller items. The rear cargo deck has bungee rigging for securing larger gear, and there’s a paddle holder at the bow if you want to stop to fish.
The built-in gear tracks can be great if you want to mount rod holders or other accessories (sold separately) without needing to drill into the hull.
- Adjustable seat – can improve comfort and provide back support
- Storage hatches – keeps your gear safe and dry
- Compact – easy to maneuver and convenient to store or transport
This yak can be a good choice for lake paddling during summer months or in warm climates. It can be ideal for beginners and the occasional angler.
7: Ocean Kayak Venus 11 (best for women)
- Length: 10 foot 8 inches
- Width: 28.5 inches
- Weight: 44 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 225 pounds
The Ocean Kayak Venus 11 is designed specifically for women, with a lower profile deck to make paddling easier for shorter arms, plus improved foot braces to accommodate shorter legs.
This sit-on-top recreational boat can be ideal for lakes and ponds but it can also handle moderate ocean waves, making it a good choice if you want to paddle in different locations.
The seat well is slightly raised to allow for a woman’s lower center of gravity and the seating area is also crafted to accommodate your hips, making it more comfortable.
This boat has plenty of space to store your gear, with a bow hatch and a center hatch to keep smaller items dry, as well as a roomy rear cargo deck with bungees for added security.
Getting it from A to B should be pretty easy too, with side carry handles and bow and stern toggle handles. It also benefits from having a center handle for easier car-topping.
- Made for women – more comfortable to paddle and accommodates a woman’s smaller frame
- Stable – Ideal for flatwater lakes but can also handle moderate waves
- Good storage – hatches and a rear tank well
This boat is built for women looking for a comfortable, lightweight recreational yak.
8: Perception Prodigy 10 (best budget)
- Length: 10 foot
- Width: 29.5 inches
- Weight: 42 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 275 pounds
The Perception Prodigy 10 is a compact, affordable boat that can be easy to maneuver and great for beginners of all ages. It has a stable hull that’s built for flatwater lakes and slow moving rivers.
The large cockpit is designed to be easy to get in and out of. It can also feel spacious inside, which can be great for larger paddlers looking for additional width for added comfort. Being 10 foot long, however, you may find that it might not be as roomy for long legs as some longer vessels.
The padded seat features an adjustable backrest and there are adjustable foot braces, as well as padded thigh braces. There is a storage hatch at the stern to keep your gear dry and additional storage on deck with bungee rigging.
- Easy to maneuver – great on small bodies of water and ideal for beginners
- Large cockpit – good starter yak with easy entry and exit
- Stable – built for flatwater
This boat can be great for beginners looking for a stable recreational sit-inside on a budget.
9: Eddyline Sandpiper
- Length: 12 foot
- Width: 28 inches
- Weight: 38 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 350 pounds
This Eddyline Sandpiper is a lightweight, durable sit-inside boat that’s built for flatwater lakes, with a shallow V shaped hull for improved tracking. It features a large cockpit so that it’s easier to get in and out of, and can also be ideal if your dog will be joining you on the lake.
You’ll find two dry storage hatches – one at the bow and one at the stern. These can be ideal for storing smaller items during a day trip. There is also bungee rigging on deck for additional cargo.
The cockpit can be ideal for a range of paddler heights, with adjustable foot braces for different leg lengths and a height adjustable back rest with a forward lean function.
- Oversized cockpit – easy entry plus room for a dog
- Dry storage – two hatches to keep your gear safely stowed
- Good tracking – easier to paddle straight on open water
This yak can be great if you’re looking for a roomy sit-inside with good performance on lakes and similar features/design to a touring yak. However, it’s a recreational yak so don’t expect the speed and performance of a touring vessel.
What Types Of Kayaks Work Well On Lakes?
Recreational kayaks can be a good choice for lake paddling because these tend to be designed primarily for flatwater. Lakes are often flatwater environments, which can make them ideal for beginners.
A recreational vessel will often have a flat hull that is engineered to provide a high level of initial or primary stability. This is what can help these boats to feel more stable on flatwater. This is also, however, what can make them feel less stable in rough conditions.
Video: Recreational vs Sea Kayaks – Pros, Cons & Features
What About Fishing Kayaks On Lakes?
Fishing kayaks tend to offer a high degree of stability and can often perform very well on lakes. These types of boats will also generally have a lot of storage space for your fishing gear, and can often have a higher capacity than standard recreational vessels.
However, a downside to fishing yaks is that they will tend to be heavier than standard recreational boats because of all their extra features. This can make them more difficult to get to and from the water, especially if you’re on your own.
Features To Look Out For
Many recreational vessels will often have a good level of primary stability, which can be great for flatwater. These types of boats will also generally have short, wide hulls, which can increase stability.
Because a recreational yak is built for flatwater, it may not have enough secondary stability to paddle in rough waters.
Many recreational yaks will have minimal storage because they’re generally not built for long trips. Dry storage can be a good feature to look for if you want to keep gear safe within the hull. This can be useful for picnics or short camping trips.
Bungee rigging can be a nice feature as this can provide additional space for gear on deck and can let you secure it so that it doesn’t fall overboard.
Convenience Of Transportation
A short vessel can be easier to get from A to B, with some of them able to fit in the back of a truck. If you’ll be transporting the boat on your own, you may want to think about its weight and whether you’ll be able to safely lift and carry it.
An inflatable can be ideal if your storage space is limited or if you want to be able to load the boat in the back of a smaller car.
Ease Of Entry/Exit
A sit-on-top can be a good option for ease of getting in and out, as the open deck can be more spacious and less confining. If you’d prefer a sit-inside boat for added weather protection, a larger cockpit can be worth considering if you want to be able to get in and out more easily.
Kayaks For Lakes: FAQs
Is It Safe To Kayak On Lakes?
Generally, lakes are safe for kayaking because of the reduced risk of rough water. But you can still encounter currents, waves and windy conditions, so you should still wear your PFD at all times on flatwater and remain close to shore if you’re learning.
How Do You Launch A Kayak Into A Lake?
Beaches or sloped boat ramps can be good spots because it’s generally shallower water and easy to walk on. Hold onto your paddle and your boat while you sit in your seat before bringing your legs into the cockpit or onto the deck. You can also launch from a dock if the lake has one.
Video: Launching A Kayak From A Dock
Do Tandem Kayaks Paddle Well On Lakes?
If you paddle with a buddy or family member, a tandem can paddle well on lakes and other flatwater. You should make sure you paddle in unison for increased speed and efficiency.
We think the best kayak for lakes is the Perception Pescador because it can be just as good for fishing as it can be for casual recreational paddling. As well as being versatile, it’s also stable, easy to maneuver and has plenty of room for gear.
Another great boat and good runner up is the Ocean Kayak Venus because it’s built for women and smaller framed paddlers, making it easier to control and maneuver. It also has a stable hull and good storage.
If you prefer the idea of an inflatable, the Sea Eagle Razorlite is another good runner up because it’s quick and portable.
Lakes can offer lots of opportunities for paddling, with many offering calm flatwater. But remember, some lakes can get windy or rough, which can affect your boat’s performance, so it can be good to think about the conditions of the lake you plan to paddle in.