What Kayak Length Do I Need?

With all the different lengths of kayaks out there, finding the right one for you can be difficult. But it doesn’t have to be. Kayaks come in various lengths because they’re designed for different purposes, preferences and activities.

Once you’ve decided on the type of paddling you’d like to do and the activities you might want to try out, finding the right length of kayak may become a little easier. So we’ve put together this handy guide to help you choose the right one for you.

What Kayk Length Do I Need? 8ft vs 10ft vs 12ft vs 14ft Sizes Explained - Pinterest Image

What Length Of Kayak Do I Need?

Diagram showing Kayak Lengths and Characteristics

8-9 Foot

Generally, the shorter the kayak, the more easy it is to maneuver on the water. An 8 or 9 foot yak could be a good choice for kids or beginners for recreational use. If you’re tall or large you may find you’re not comfortable.

Another reason why an 8 or 9 foot yak may come in handy is because it can turn quickly it can work well on narrower rivers and streams and can also offer good stability because of its shorter length.

Whitewater kayaks can also tend to fall into this length category because of the ease of maneuverability in small spaces. However, they can also be even shorter than this.

A yak in this category should also be easy to transport and should fit easily in the back of a pickup or even a minivan or SUV.

Will A 8 Foot Kayak Fit Inside A Jeep Patriot?

10-11 Foot

In this category, the extra 2 feet can offer more room for you as a paddler and often a little more storage space. A 10 or 11 foot kayak will generally be built for stability over speed and can still be easy to maneuver and ideal for beginners.

What kayak length?

You may find that at this length there are yaks that are built for specific activities, such as fishing, and are equipped with features such as rod holders. It can be an ideal size for recreational use where you don’t require speed to cover large bodies of water.

Their compact size can also make them easy to transport, with many of them able to fit in the back of full size truck beds.

12-13 Foot

A 12 to 13 foot vessel can offer you the best of both worlds, with many combining the speed and efficiency of a longer yak with the stability of a shorter one. You will also find there is more space for gear or fishing features.

At this length you can find both touring and recreational yaks, so you could have more choice when it comes to finding one with the specific features you need for your activity. 

As well as offering you more space, a 12 or 13 foot hull can be designed for a range of water conditions, from oceans to lakes and rivers.

> Guide to river kayaks

Video: Is There A Perfect Length Fishing Yak?

14 Foot

Yaks with a 14 foot hull will tend to track straighter than a shorter hulled vessel. You may find that they are also narrower in order to be speedier and more efficient on the water.

They will often have plenty of storage options for day touring and camping. A 14 foot yak can be a good choice for covering distances if it’s narrow and built for speed. But you’ll also find wider hulls at this length that can offer you stability for fishing.

Additionally, at the 14 foot length and longer, you can have the choice of finding tandem kayaks, offering space for two paddlers, that can either be designed for recreation or touring. Although, touring tandem yaks can often be longer in length to maximize efficiency on the water.


Hopefully by now you’ll have decided what length of kayak will suit you best. Remember to consider what you will primarily use the craft for and where you’re likely to paddle.

If you’ve found this useful, feel free to share it to help out others who might be wondering what length of yak to buy. And don’t forget to leave us a comment with your own experiences.

> View our Guide To Kayaks to learn more

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