In case you want a little bit of background information on a particular brand of kayak before you purchase one, we have compiled a list of some of the leading kayak brands and a brief summary about each one. We can’t say that any particular brand is our favorite, but each brand has different qualities that give it a competitive edge in one way or another.
Kayak Brands from A to Z:
California based Advanced Elements have made a name for themselves by cornering the market in inflatable kayaks, which have become increasingly popular for the modern adventurer because of their increased portability and convenience.
Brooklyn Kayak Company
Also known at the BKC, the Brooklyn Kayak Company designs all their Kayaks here in the USA with the end user in mind. They make some incredible mid & upper-level kayaks, but don’t have as many on the more affordable end of the spectrum.
The biggest thing that Dagger Kayaks has going for them is a dedicated research and development team composed of professional riders. The result is a company that offers some of the most innovative and lightweight kayaks on the market.
The beautiful simplicity and versatility of Emotion Kayaks is a representation of the philosophy that the company seems to hold dear, that success comes from eliminating complications and returning to sleek basics. Emotion has managed to capture a surprising amount of the market in recent years as kayaking continues to become more popular.
North Carolina based Feelfree Kayaks is a small team of dedicated professionals turning out some of the coolest new fishing kayaks. We are particularly interested to have a look at their Overdrive line of pedal powered kayaks, which have been all the buzz at the outdoor expos the last few seasons.
Utah-based Lifetime Products got its start producing high-quality basketball hoops, but they quickly expanded into a range of different materials, all designed and manufactured under the same enduring vision to offer customers a line of products that would last, especially in the age of planned obsolescence when nothing lasts as long as you’d like it to.
Kayaks emerged as one product that they were particularly good at making, so they ran with it, and we sure are glad they did. Lifetime Products claims that they are the makers of the most stable kayaks in the world, and from what we can tell so far it’s hard to disagree with them. They have a good range of kayaks for all ages and sizes, so they are a good company to choose for any level of kayaking.
California based Malibu Kayaks will be celebrating 20 years in the kayaking industry in 2019. Today they’re known for making high capacity roto-molded kayaks that are far lighter than their competitors. Our favorite thing about Malibu is their interchangeable set of accessories. They have designed their entire line of kayaks and watersports products to function with the same accessories, so there is a high degree of customization possible.
OCEAN kayaks have an incredibly diverse product line, meaning that it is possible to find anything from a cheap kayak for under a few hundred bucks to a high end top-of-the-line professional kayak. They’ve also got some great kayaking accessories to make the trip even easier.
Old Town Canoes & Kayaks
Old Town claims to be both the oldest and largest manufacturer or canoes and kayaks in North America, and if the quality of their product line is any indicator, we believe them. Their significant experience in the industry has allowed their products to continue to be popular even in the face of new competition.
Canadian based Pelican Sport has made waves in the kayak supply industry with their proprietary RAM-X™ multi-layer material. It’s probably what makes their kayaks so durable and able to retain their shape even after hard impacts. They’re also users of Twin Sheet Themoforming (TST) technology, so it looks to us like they’re the real innovators to watch.
PERCEPTION Kayaks has been in the game for over 40 years, and their significant experience shows in their products. They are well-known for their line of moderately priced yet feature-packed fishing kayaks.
Sea Eagle Kayaks
We love Sea Eagle Kayaks because they are one of the only water sports companies that has figured out how to make a good inflatable kayak that doesn’t compromise on performance. If your interested in purchasing a kayak but don’t have the storage space or mode of transportation, we highly recommend checking out Sea Eagles’ line of inflatable kayaks that are both compact and easy to transport.
The hugely-popular kayak & paddleboard manufacturer Sundolphin has come a long way from its start as a two person company that sold a single paddle-propelled boat. Today they are known as one of the most reliable options when it comes to affordable kayaks and kayaks under $500 in particular. In recent years their product line has grown to include canoes, pedal boats, and fishing boats.
Swimline / Solstice Water Sports
Formerly known by the name of its parent company Swimline, Solstice Water Sports became independent in 2007 when it emerged as its own unique and expanded brand of high end sports and luxury lifestyle equipment. While some of their more creative products include giant inflatable party ducks and floating sun decks, they are also the manufacturers of some of the newest and best affordable kayaks.
Although they are a relative newcomer to the water sports industry, VIBE KAYAKS has managed to create a name for themselves by offering premium quality boating sport products at a number of price points, so that experts and newbies alike will be able to take to the water with safety, confidence, & comfort. They’ve even managed to become one of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies according to Inc 500.
They call themselves “The Vibe Tribe,” and by purchasing one of their products you are invited to join them for what they describe as “more than just another outdoor company.”
When researching leading kayak brands, keep in mind that some companies may specialize in specific kayak types. This means that a company who has top-of-the-line fishing kayaks, might not also have the best selection of kids kayaks. If you are looking for a particular type of kayak, check out one of our buying guides below.