Best 10-Foot Kayaks For 2023

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

One of the most versatile categories of kayaks available are the range of 10 foot kayaks. The best 10 ft kayaks are available to meet a wide variety of paddling needs, including recreational kayaks for casual and family paddling, inflatable kayaks for unrivaled portability, fishing kayaks and whitewater models, with both sit-on-top and sit-inside options to choose from.

The 10 ft kayak length is a good choice for casual paddlers who prioritize easy storage and transportation, light weight and superb maneuverability. Like any kayak design, a 10 foot kayak is a compromise, with some limitations compared to longer kayaks. Even the best 10 ft kayaks are going to have less speed, glide and tracking (the tendency to travel in a straight line) than longer, sleeker kayaks.

Most 10 foot kayaks (with the exception of whitewater-specific models) are also designed for excellent stability in calm and sheltered waters, but will be less stable and suitable for rougher waters.

This article provides a comprehensive overview of the 10 ft kayak market, including boats from all manufacturers across the entire price spectrum. For those new to paddling, a 10 foot kayak is a good place to start. A 10 ft kayak is also an excellent option for any recreational paddlers looking for a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak that performs well for casual use on calm, sheltered water.

Top picks: Best 10-foot kayaks for 2023

The following 10-foot kayaks have received the highest star ratings by reviewers in our Paddling Buyer’s Guide. See and review all tandem kayaks here.

Shop 10-foot kayaks

Nearly every genre of paddling and popular brand has 10 foot kayaks available. The links in this section will take you to our comprehensive Paddling Buyer’s Guide, where you’ll find all the best 10 ft kayaks on the market, including reviews, ratings and where to buy.

You can choose to filter kayaks by type and application, such as inflatable or fishing, or by brand. We’ve also narrowed down the best 10 ft kayaks at the most popular retailers including sporting goods stores, outdoors stores and big box department and hardware stores.




Shopping for a used 10-foot kayak?

The 10 foot kayak is one of the more popular lengths among entry-level and recreational kayaks, so you’re sure to find plenty of them listed on buy-and-sell websites like Craigslist, Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace. If you are scouring message boards and classifieds for a used 10 ft kayak, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind before committing to a purchase.

Your first step is to select the right used kayak for your paddling preferences by researching the particular model in advance to determine whether or not it truly meets your needs. Our Paddling Buyer’s Guide provides an exhaustive database of nearly every kayak on the market, making this the ideal place to start. Be aware that most 10 ft kayaks (with the exception of whitewater kayaks) are only safe to use on calm, sheltered water.

Once you’ve found a secondhand kayak that meets your needs, inspect the kayak for significant wear and tear. Any kayak put to use is going to have scratches on the hull (bottom). Surface level scratches are not an issue. Be more concerned if you find deep gouges, or oil canning in the hull. Oil canning is when an area of the hull warps out of shape or feels spongy when you apply pressure. The most common cause is incorrect storage; avoid used kayaks that were stored flat on the ground or outside in the open for long durations.

While inspecting the hull, also look for cracks on the hull and around hardware. Cracks will not only create a leak, but can compromise the strength of the kayak’s hull.

Another important thing to look for is serious fading of color. This occurs from long-term exposure to the sun, which can occur when a kayak is stored outside. Damaging UV rays break down the plastic, which weakens the kayak’s structure.

Taking the kayak for a test paddle is the best way to see if the 10 foot kayak works for you, in terms of performance, handling, comfort and fit. Ask to meet the seller at a location where you can get the kayak on the water for a quick test drive, and don’t forget to bring a paddle and PFD (unless these are included with the sale).

When you are deciding on a fair price for a used kayak, consider what the seller is asking versus what the kayak sells for new. If the kayak retails for over a thousand dollars and sells used for a few hundred, this may be a good deal. If the kayak retails for under a thousand dollars and the used kayak is not much cheaper, then you may want to consider spending the extra few bucks for a brand-new kayak if your budget allows.

Remember, the 10 ft kayak class is extremely popular, so perhaps the best advice is to be patient and know that there’s no harm in waiting to discover a perfect match.

For more tips on what to look for when selecting a used kayak, read our article How To Buy A Used Kayak.

10-foot kayak buying guide

Looking to buy a 10 foot kayak? The sheer number of options can seem overwhelming. You can buy 10 ft kayaks to meet a wide range of paddling needs, including recreational paddling and fishing, for paddlers of all sizes. With such selection comes a huge range of prices, quality of construction and performance characteristics. Here’s some advice to find the best 10 ft kayak for your paddling aspirations.

Start with the intended use of your kayak. Are you seeking an affordable kayak to take out for an hour on your local lake? In this case, a recreational kayak is likely the best fit. Plan to spend most of the time fishing from your kayak? Specialized fishing kayaks are packed with angler accessories. Need the most storable and transportable kayak on the market? You’ll probably be looking at inflatable and folding kayaks.

For most, the size consideration comes down to what body of water you’ll be paddling, how much storage space you want, and desired speed.

When it comes to solo recreational and fishing kayaks, 10-foot models exist on the short end of the spectrum, with 15-foot kayaks on the longer end and 12-foot kayaks falling in the middle. On average, 10-foot kayaks are going to be more maneuverable on the water. These kayaks perform best on smaller flatwater lakes, right down to small and tight rivers. They also provide less storage space, tend to be slower, and are lighter weight.

A shorter, lighter kayak is easier to store and transport. Cutting two feet off the length can cut 20 or more pounds from the weight. Smaller boats are easier to lift onto a cartop carrier and cart to the water. At home, you can readily store a 10-foot kayak in the garage, or even get a pocket boat in the house and up the stairs!

Here’s a rundown of some of the more popular types of 10 ft kayaks:

Sit-inside kayaks offer the best protection from the weather and water, especially important in colder climates. With a sit-inside kayak, the paddler slides into a hollow cockpit and they are seated within the kayak. The paddler may also wear a spray skirt over the cockpit rim to keep out splashing water. Sit-inside kayaks tend to be lighter and offer more interior dry storage than other kayak types. Since a sit-inside kayak will fill with water if you capsize, it should only be used in sheltered waters within easy swimming distance of shore.

Sit-on-top kayaks are self-draining and if the kayak capsizes, you can simply right it and climb back on. The open deck makes it easier to hop on or off, compared to sliding in and out of a sit-inside, and these designs are also usually more stable than their sit-inside counterparts. Sit-on-tops are a great choice for first-timers or casual recreational use, and are the dominant style of fishing kayak.

Inflatable and folding kayaks are lightweight and easy to store and transport, with some 10-foot kayak models available.

Hard-shell or rigid kayaks offer superior performance to inflatable kayaks, but they require more space to store and a means of transporting to and from the water on top of your vehicle. Typically constructed of durable plastic, they tend to be faster in the water and less affected by the wind than inflatables. This is the most common construction for 10 foot kayaks.

Recreational kayaks are ideal for paddlers who spend most of their time on small lakes and slow-moving rivers. A 10-foot kayak is very common for this type of boat. They typically have a fairly flat and wide hull for greater stability.

Fishing kayaks are built for stability and durability, and usually not speed. Many feature a pontoon-style hull, which is slow and heavy but has great stability for casting and fighting fish. 10 ft fishing kayaks generally have ample storage space for fishing tackle and gear, in addition to specialized features such as rod holders, mounting brackets, bottle holders and anchor lines, among others. Some have pedal-drive systems or trolling motor mounts so anglers can reach the fishing grounds faster.

Use this as a starting point to determine the 10-foot kayak that best matches your needs. But remember, online research will only get you so far. Once you have some idea of the genre of 10 ft kayak you need, stop by your nearest paddling specialty store; a specialty retailer can answer your questions and provide insight on the waterways around you.

Lastly, the only way to know for sure if you will enjoy the experience a kayak provides is to take it out on the water. Most paddlesports specialty stores offer the opportunity to take new boats for a quick spin; but that’s not possible at big box stores. You can also try to borrow friends’ kayaks for test paddling in real-world conditions. The more time you can spend on the water in a similar style of kayak, the better the purchasing decision you will make.

Here are some additional answers to questions paddlers often have about 10 foot kayaks.

  • 10 ft vs 12 ft kayak

    The main difference between a 10 ft vs 12 ft kayak is glide and maneuverability. In general, a 12-foot kayak offers more glide, while a 10-foot kayak will be easier to handle. A 12-foot kayak will generally be faster and track better in a straight line, and will also have more storage space and a higher weight capacity.

    A 10 foot kayak will generally be more maneuverable, easier for smaller paddlers to control, and be lighter to transport. Both 10- and 12-foot kayaks are popular sizes for recreational and fishing kayaks.

  • 10 ft vs 13 ft kayak

    Similar to a 12-footer, a 13-foot kayak will be significantly faster than a 10 foot kayak. The elongated hull of a 13-foot kayak will also generally have a better ability to travel in a straight line compared to a 10 foot kayak.

    On the other hand, a 10 ft kayak will have better maneuverability than a longer kayak for easy turning on twisty waterways, and be lighter to transport.

  • Difference between 8 and 10 kayak

    When comparing 8- and 10-foot kayaks, a 10 ft kayak will be faster, provide better tracking to travel in a straight line, and be able to carry more weight. Consider an 8-foot kayak if you require a very maneuverable kayak, or if you’re a smaller-framed paddler looking for a scaled-down kayak.

  • 10 foot kayak weight limit

    The weight capacity of a 10 foot kayak will vary with each model, and is important to follow to be sure the kayak has enough buoyancy to safely float. Check the specifications of your specific kayak to know the capacity.

  • 10 ft kayak weight

    The weight of a 10 foot kayak will vary depending on the model and material it is made from; check the specifications of the kayak you are considering. Most 10 ft recreational kayaks fall in the 30- to 50-pound range.

    Generally, 10 ft kayaks made of thermoform plastic are lighter than rotomolded ones, and sit-inside styles tend to be lighter than sit-on-top kayaks of the same length. Inflatable kayaks are some of the lightest weight 10 ft kayaks available.

  • How wide is a 10 ft kayak?

    Every kayak has different dimensions; check the specifications of any kayak you are considering. Recreational and fishing kayaks vary from between 26” and 36” wide to provide excellent stability on calm waters.

  • Is a 10-foot kayak too small?

    Whether a 10 ft kayak is too small will depend on the paddler’s size and the intended use of the kayak. A 10 foot kayak is likely too small if you intend to paddle long distances on open bodies of water, or waterways with waves and tidal current. Further, taller paddlers will find more legroom in a longer kayak, particularly for sit-inside styles.

  • How stable is a 10-foot kayak?

    The stability of every kayak is different, and how stable a 10 foot kayak is will largely depend on the design. Most 10 ft kayaks are designed for recreational use or fishing, and generally provide good stability on flatwater and slow moving rivers.

  • Most stable 10 ft kayak

    The most stable 10 ft kayak for recreational users on calm waters will be a wider model with a flat bottom or pontoon-style hull. Look to sit-on-top styles—particularly those designs aimed at kayak fishing—for the most stable 10 foot kayak.

  • Can you fit a 10 foot kayak in a minivan?

    A 10 foot kayak may fit inside a minivan, depending on the interior length available within your minivan. Measure the length from the passenger side dashboard to the inside of the rear tailgate, and see if it is at least the length of your kayak.

    You will have to fold or remove the seats, and may also need to angle the kayak slightly to make it fit. Never load a kayak inside your vehicle in such a way that it could slide and hit the windshield.

  • Can you fit a 10 ft kayak in an SUV?

    A 10 ft kayak may fit inside a large SUV; measure from the passenger side dashboard to the rear of the vehicle. You will have to put the seats down, and may also need to angle the kayak. If you have a rear window which opens completely, you may be able to load the kayak so that only a fraction of the boat protrudes through the rear window. Never load a kayak inside your vehicle in such a way that it could slide and hit the windshield.

10 ft kayak reviews

Read our expert reviews of a range of 10-foot kayaks to learn about performance, background on the brand, specifications, available modifications and where to purchase.

 

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