Whether you want easily maneuverable kayaks or have little storage space at your home, kayaks with small designs are readily available. However, choosing the right kayak in this size range can be challenging, especially if you are a beginner in kayaking.
This post reviews some of the best small and readily available kayaks. Also, you learn their advantages and disadvantages to help you decide which is best suited for your needs.
Below are some of the best small kayaks you can use for fishing or recreational purposes.
Our Best Picks:
Check out our best small kayaks if you need more time to review the details. Or, you can continue reading the post to get a detailed review.
- Perception Tribe 9.5: Sit-on-Top Best Kayak
- Lifetime Emotion Spitfire 8: Sit-on-Top Best Budget Kayak
- Perception Flash 9.5: Sit-Inside Best Kayak
- Field and Stream Blade 80: Sit-Inside Best Budget Kayak
- Vibe Skipjack 90: Best Kayak for Fishing
Perception Tribe 9.5: Sit-on-Top Best Kayak
Length: 9 feet 5 inches|Width: 31 inches|Weight: 46 pounds|Capacity: 300 pounds
- Designed for ultimate fun and versatility. With a robust weight capacity of 300 lbs, it’s ideal for paddlers of all sizes.
- Its sit-on-top design offers superior comfort and stability, making it a dependable choice for all-around water fun, from tranquil lake cruising to navigating mild ocean waves.
- Experience premium comfort with the high-back frame seatback of this fun kayak. This key feature provides increased support, cushioning, and adjustable recline positions for a relaxing and enjoyable paddling experience.
- The Perception Tribe 9.5 kayak has ample rear storage secured by durable tie-downs, accommodating all your gear for a day on the water while supporting up to 300 lbs.
- Made in the USA, this lightweight, stackable sit-on kayak is easily transported.
Compared to many kayaks, the Perception Tribe 9.5 is equipped with a seat that stays above water. As such, it keeps you dry than most kayaks with a sit-on-top design. Apart from the higher seating arrangement, the stability isn’t compromised because of the wider hull.
This is a breakthrough, compensating the paddlers, especially the ones who are nervous. In short, everyone will feel comfortable while out on the water. In addition, while the Perception Tribe 9.5 has a broader design, its weight is reasonably good at just 46 pounds.
You get handles on the stern, bow, and both sides, making it easy to carry regardless of how many hands you put to work. Of course, the robust, wider kayak hull means you will get little speed. But it is typical for small kayaks. Less speed is the result of shorter keels.
The slow pace of the kayak doesn’t matter if you are in some coastal regions or around lakes. Regarding storage, you can find air wells in the stern and bow. You can also find the bungee cords that are stretched on the top. That way, your gear is secured in the best possible way.
Although you can find less space on air wells, they are practical and don’t cause discomfort if you take short trips. In addition, there is a center hatch with an in-built mesh bag to access gear when on the water. The bag is perfect for carrying small items you may want when you paddle.
- Carrying this lightweight kayak is easy.
- Paddling is easy with excellent stability.
- Small storage bag
- Limited dry storage capacity
- Uncomfortable seat
Lifetime Emotion Spitfire 8: Sit-on-Top Best Budget Kayak
Length: 8 feet|Width: 31.5 inches|Weight: 39 pounds|Capacity: 240 pounds
- ST Performance Hull offers exceptional stability and tracking
- Front, rear, and side carry handles for easy transport
- Rear Tankwell with Bungee Lacing for Storage.
- Molded-in freedom footwells for comfort and secure foot bracing
- Blow-Molded from Ultra-Durable UV Protected High-Density Polyethylene Plastic
The Lifetime Emotion Spitfire 8 comes in a lime green hull, has tight maneuverability, and is only 8 feet. It is 1.5 feet shorter and has a half-inch bigger width than the Perception Tribe 9.5. It makes for a sporty kayak that can take sharp turns with surprising responses.
While the Emotion Spitfire 8 has a tiny keel, it doesn’t slow the kayak. This is because of the high-end hull that has the efficiency to cut through the water seamlessly. As a result, despite a sturdy design, the kayak generates modest speed. But that doesn’t mean that you can win races.
Most long kayaks will outrun it effortlessly. Because of the wider hull, you will get fantastic stability. But it gets uncomfortable when you are on waves or face unfavorable conditions because of the kayak’s small size. Therefore, make sure that the weather is good. Going far away from the shore is a bad idea too.
The seatback has some padding, but the seat doesn’t have bottom padding. You can adjust the seat back easily. There are several air wells for your feet. This is a common feature in most budget kayaks with a sit-on-top design. It gives you comfort for a few hours.
You can only expect a little storage for a kayak of this size. You get a small well alongside the stern and secured with bungees. With a 240-pound load capacity, it could be more impressive. There might be better options than this kayak for heavy and tall paddlers.
- Lightweight design
- Achieves surprising speed
- Outstanding maneuverability
- Load capacity is not great
- Limited storage
Perception Flash 9.5: Sit-Inside Best Kayak
Length: 9 feet 5 inches|Width: 28.5 inches|Weight: 41 pounds|Capacity: 325 pounds
- Extreme stability and easy paddling characteristics make this kayak ideal for beginners and leisurely afternoon voyages
- Dual tracking channels keep the boat on course; the kayak’s short length makes it exceptionally maneuverable
- Adjustable foot braces accommodate paddlers of different sizes. The Zone Comfort seating with a high seat back makes for a comfortable ride for paddlers of all sizes.
- Easy access dashboard with cupholder and small gear storage
- Perfect for lakes, ponds, slow-moving rivers and calm coastal environments
Both Perception Tribe and Flash 9.5 have the same length. But the Flash 9.5 is 3 inches narrower than the other one. Hence, you can have better paddling efficiency and speed than the Tribe 9.5.
The hull and sit-inside design makes it an excellent choice for experienced and beginner paddlers. While it turns well, surfing through the current, waves, or winds is tricky. This kayak isn’t for ocean conditions or challenging rivers. While the Flash 9.5 weighs less, it can carry more than Tribe 9.5.
The load capacity of 325 pounds is perfect for small excursions. Regarding storage, there needs to be more space in the hatch. You can make a little room in the cockpit. The small dashboard in the deck looks great. The cockpit can hold a water bottle with other essential items you need while paddling.
A bungee cord helps secure your paddle or gear. However, the space might be cramped for more than 6 feet 1-inch paddlers. If you are worried about the crowded room but still need a small kayak, the sit-on-top option may help you get more space. Furthermore, the seat is quite solid, and you can adjust the back with little effort. Also, the bottom of the boat is padded well.
- A paddle holder is included.
- Molded handles will help carry the kayak easily
- Effortless paddling and extreme durability
- Cramped space for tall paddlers
Field and Stream Blade 80: Sit-Inside Best Budget Kayak
Length: 7 feet 10 inches|Width: 28 inches|Weight: 35 pounds|Capacity: 260 pounds
- Front and rear carry handles for easy transport and carry
- Includes action camera mounts for convenience
- Includes bungee cords for securing down gear
- The built-in front console provides safe and secure storage
- It consists of a cup holder for convenience
- Foam seat with adjustable backrest for optimal comfort and support
- Paddle keeper for securing your paddle when out of use
- Open rear well for accommodating up to a 5-gallon bucket
- Drain plug for preventing unwanted water from filling your kayak
- Built-in the USA
To begin with, the Field and Stream Blade 80 falls short of 8 feet. However, if you want easy transportation with ample storage space, the Blade 80 is the right kayak. The Blade 80 has standard features that you can expect from a big sit-inside kayak.
The bungee cord in the kayak’s cockpit is the paddle holder. The Blade 80 has an adjustable and well-padded seat. One thing remains common in both Flash 9.5 and Blade 80. Big paddlers will have a hard time fitting in the cockpit. The available storage options include the bungees along the stern and bow.
And a decent storage hatch in the boat’s stern. The 260-pound load capacity gives you limited storage space to carry essential gear. However, the cockpit’s dashboard allows you to hold small items you may need while paddling.
The excellent part about Blade 80 is that you can mount action cameras on specific areas of the boat. Now you can mount one of the best action cameras like GoPro or something similar to capture adventurous moments you had on the water. Regarding performance, the Blade 80 is slow compared to the Flash 9.5. But the Blade 80 has impressive stability and maneuverability.
- Accessible to transport and store
- Outstanding maneuverability
- Lots of features are included despite a small hull
- Cramped cockpit
Vibe Skipjack 90: Best Kayak for Fishing
Length: 9 feet|Width: 32 inches|Weight: 42 pounds|Capacity: 300 pounds
- Designed to be compact and portable, making it easier to fit in the back of your SVU or on the top of your car
- Made for rivers, lakes, ponds, or ocean surf
- Designed with four fishing rod holders and a fish finder mount
- Waterproof cargo hatch to store personal items and keep them dry
- Includes storage space in the front and rear of your kayak
- Made with four molded carry handles so you can comfortably carry your kayak
- The seat and backrest are made to be comfortable and to withstand rough weather
- Made with paddle rests for you to easily leave your paddles when you need a break
The Vibe Skipjack 90 is the last on the list of some of the best small kayaks. The Skipjack 90 focuses primarily on fishing. Although a new company in this industry, they have managed to earn a good name with their intuitive designs.
Despite having a small frame, the Skipjack 90 packs in many things needed to make the day successful when you are out fishing. A fish finder mount and four-rod holders make Skipjack 90 a unique kayak. So catching big fish won’t be an issue.
The paddle is secured, allowing both hands to remain free while fishing. The load capacity of 300 pounds is sufficient for day trips. Even if you are thinking about the high seas, the Skipjack 90 surprisingly holds up to your expectations.
However, there are better boats than this if you think about speed. Moreover, the tracking suffers during windy or cloudy conditions. Storage-wise, you can have inkwells that are secured nicely with bungee cords.
The cockpit comprises a small compartment that is water resistant. You can fill it with smaller items. The back and bottom of the seat are well-padded and can be adjusted to get the perfect fit.
- Includes storage space both in the rear and front
- Waterproof cargo hatch
- Four molded handles to carry the kayak effortlessly
- Low-speed limits
Small Kayaks Comparison Table
|Perception Tribe 9.5: Sit-on-Top Best Kayak
|9 feet 5 inches
|Lifetime Emotion Spitfire 8: Sit-on-Top Best Budget Kayak
|Perception Flash 9.5: Sit-Inside Best Kayak
|9 feet 5 inches
|Field and Stream Blade 80: Sit-Inside Best Budget Kayak
|7 feet 10 inches
|Vibe Skipjack 90: Best Kayak for Fishing
As you know, kayak speed depends on keel length. Because the kayaks listed above are small, they can’t become a winner in drag races.
The models featured above can absorb frequent collisions and drops thanks to the plastic hull. Moreover, they will perform well without the need for serious maintenance. Besides, it will take a significant drop to produce a hole. Still, long may result in scratches and dig grooves in the plastic hull. It will decrease its performance after some time. Hence, carry the kayak when you need it.
Portability and Storage:
One of the best things about a small kayak is that you can carry and store it. Although you can’t hold them in your hallway closet, unlike inflatable kayaks, you can store the small kayaks in tight spots and keep them out of sight.
The kayaks mentioned in this post are lightweight regardless of the polyethylene built. As such, it is comfortable for most paddlers to carry them solo. Perception Flash Kayak 9.5 is the easiest because it comes with molded handles.
Additionally, it has more storage space with a maximum of 325 pounds load capacity. The bow & stern hatches are watertight and provide decent room for the kayak. Make sure that you keep it manageable. Or else it will have decreased performance and can give rise to safety hazard issues.
Field & Stream Blade 80 has the lowest load capacity of 260 pounds. Although the kayak has several storage options, the paddler’s size determines whether you can carry more gear.
No wonder the kayaks mentioned above serve a particular niche, and your needs might differ from other paddlers. Therefore, narrowing it down to the “overall best kayak” won’t be helpful or realistic.
People living in rainy environments or cold weather can choose protected cockpits that Field and Stream Blade 80 or Perception Flash 9.5 provides. People who need more speed from small kayaks can also select them. Regarding maximizing load capacity, the flash 9.5 is the best option.
For taller paddlers who won’t squeeze in sit-in designed kayaks or people who live in warm environments, the Perception Tribe Kayak 9.5 should be the right choice. With robust load capacity and fantastic stability, it makes an excellent choice for most paddlers.
Whereas the Lifetime Emotion Spitfire 8 isn’t just a cheaper option, it delivers impressive top speed that you can barely expect from one of the smallest kayaks of this length.
Although you can easily fish from these kayaks, the Vibe Skipjack 90 offers excellent stability. In addition, it has a paddle holder and rod holder to improve angling adventure. Whatever kayak you choose according to your lifestyle needs, this post helped you make an informed decision.
What to Look for When Purchasing the Best Small Kayak
Kayaking is a popular recreational activity that allows individuals to explore serene water bodies and experience the beauty of nature up close. Small kayaks are highly sought for their portability, maneuverability, and versatility. Whether you’re an experienced paddler or a beginner looking to enter kayaking, selecting the right small kayak is crucial for an enjoyable experience. In this article, we will guide you through choosing the best small kayaks by highlighting five essential factors.
Size and Weight
The size and weight of a small kayak play a significant role in its portability and ease of use. Look for a lightweight and compact kayak making it easier to transport and store. Ensure that the kayak’s dimensions suit your body size and weight capacity. A kayak that is too small may feel cramped and unstable, while one that is too large may be difficult to control. Opt for a small kayak that strikes a balance between comfort and maneuverability.
The material used in constructing a small kayak affects its durability, weight, and price. Common kayak materials include polyethylene plastic, composite materials, and inflatable fabrics. Polyethylene kayaks are known for their durability and affordability, making them suitable for recreational paddling. Composite kayaks, such as fiberglass or carbon fiber, are lighter and offer better performance, but they tend to be more expensive. Inflatable kayaks are lightweight and easy to transport but may need to be more durable than their rigid counterparts. Evaluate the pros and cons of each material and choose one that suits your requirements.
Consider the additional features offered by small kayaks to enhance your paddling experience. Features such as adjustable footrests, padded seats, storage compartments, and fishing rod holders can significantly improve comfort and convenience. Ensure the kayak has sufficient storage space for your gear and personal belongings. Additionally, check if the kayak offers customization options, allowing you to add accessories like deck rigging or a rudder system in the future.
Choosing the best small kayak requires careful consideration of several factors. By evaluating the kayak’s size and weight, stability, type, materials, and additional features, you can select a kayak that suits your needs, preferences, and budget. Remember to consider your skill level, intended use, and the water conditions you will encounter. With the right small kayak, you can embark on exciting adventures, explore tranquil waterways, and immerse yourself in the joy of kayaking.