Recreational Kayak Review: Ocean Kayak Frenzy

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

Does Ocean Kayak still make the Frenzy? That’s the biggest question around this uber-popular day tripper whose design dates back decades, to the beginning of the recreational kayak revolution. The answer is no, unfortunately.

But if you have a chance at a used Ocean Kayak Frenzy, take a close look. The Frenzy was popular for good reason: this nine-foot sit-on-top is a great all-arounder, equally capable for family kayaking on flatwater, kayak fishing and playing in the surf.

Read on for a full Ocean Kayak Frenzy review.

On the water with Ocean Kayak’s Frenzy

Ocean Kayak Frenzy Specs
Length: 9’0” / 2.7 m
Width: 31” / 79 cm
Weight: 43 lbs / 19.5 kg
Capacity: 325 lbs / 148 kg

Performance

The fundamental trade-off of kayak design is how well a kayak turns to navigate obstacles compared to its tendency to glide in a straight line, known as tracking. Too much maneuverability and not enough glide is annoying—until you need to avoid a rock that appears suddenly! The Ocean Kayak Frenzy strikes a good balance of maneuverability and tracking. It has a pronounced, deep-V keel line that bites into the water to keep the kayak moving straight; while it’s curved side panels add turning capacity when it’s needed.

Of course, at nine feet, the Ocean Kayak Frenzy is not the fastest kayak around, but it’s comparable to other kayaks of this length and plenty capable for recreational use. You’ll feel comfortable aboard the Frenzy: stability is outstanding on flat and choppy water owing to the flat bottom of its hull. This kayak has a maximum capacity of 325 pounds, which is about typical for a recreational kayak.

Education: Get Some!
  • Take a paddling safety course from the American Canoe Association (ACA), your local paddling shop or outfitter, or other reputable source.
  • Take a boating safety course from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons® or your own state’s boating agency.
  • Take on-the-water skills training.

Market and demographics

The Ocean Kayak Frenzy has been described as an SUV, suitable for all sorts of paddling conditions. It’s great for family paddling on calm water; it easily accommodates beginner kayak anglers; and it performs well in ocean surf.

Ocean Kayak Frenzy owners challenge its description as a “starter” kayak and counter that the Frenzy is an equally good “finisher”—that is, a one kayak solution for paddlers looking to do it all.

With great stability and good performance, the Ocean Kayak Frenzy is an obvious choice for beginners. If you’re looking for something more challenging and exciting than paddling around the local lake, Ocean Kayak Frenzy surfing is smooth and predictable, with the boat’s nine-foot hull handling similar to a longboard.

It’s worth mentioning that Ocean Kayak was originally designed for playing in surf waves, and that legacy carries over in the Frenzy: the rockered, or curved, side panels make it possible to carve turns on a wave. Decent speed makes it easier to catch waves and punch through breakers when you’re returning to the line-up for the next ride.

Ocean Kayak Frenzy fishing is adequate, too—though the hull lacks the features of dedicated kayak fishing rigs (like rod holders, tackle storage areas and live wells), it’s plenty stable and will get you to the places where big fish lurk.

Comfort

The Ocean Kayak Frenzy is an older design so its outfitting and accessories aren’t quite as refined as more contemporary designs. Newer recreational kayaks feature more comfortable and adjustable seating arrangements and a wider array of convenience factors, such as ergonomic carry handles.

However, the adjustable back band in the Ocean Kayak Frenzy is still plenty supportive for most users and there’s ample room on board for paddlers well over six feet tall.

About the Frenzy

Design

Design features and details

The Frenzy’s versatile design comes down to its Tri-Form hull: Ocean Kayak combined the straight-tracking of a deep-V keel with curved rails along the sides. The latter feature creates trimaran-like stability and increases turning capacity. True to its ocean surfing heritage, the Frenzy features a bulbous tip to keep the bow buoyant in waves, making for more control in surf and a drier ride.

Stay Clear Of All Other Vessels
  • Know the “Rules of the Road” Navigation Rules that govern all boat traffic and stay out of the way of all other vessels.
  • Never assume that power boaters can see you. Avoid high-traffic areas whenever possible. Proceed with caution when you can’t avoid paddling near boats. Dress for visibility.

Material and construction

The Ocean Kayak Frenzy is constructed from single-layer polyethylene, a super durable plastic that resists abrasion and slips easily over obstructions. The Tri-Form hull imparts stiffness to the keel; after decades of use, original Frenzy sit-on-top kayaks are still going strong.

Woman paddles orange sit-on-top kayak beside bushes
Photo: Courtesy Ocean Kayak

Keep an eye out for sun fading if you’re buying an older used model. Fading indicates that the kayak has been stored outdoors for extended periods of time, which can make the kayak’s plastic hull softer and less durable.

Design trends

Ocean Kayak founder Tim Niemier was a true kayaking innovator, inventing the sit-on-top genre to support his interests in scuba diving and surfing. The Ocean Kayak Frenzy’s design became the standard for recreational kayaks. When you purchase a Frenzy you’re buying one of the sit-on-top originals.

Ocean Kayak Frenzy outfitting and accessories

The Ocean Kayak Frenzy has a good blend of comfort and performance. You’ll also find an assortment of molded-in features that are inset in the kayak’s deck, including a cup/bottle holder and a tank well behind the seat, which makes the Frenzy popular for kayak-supported scuba missions. The Ocean Kayak Frenzy seat features an adjustable backband for lumbar support.

Looking for a drain plug or replacement scupper stoppers? Ocean Kayak Frenzy parts are still available from the manufacturer. Wheels are also available from Old Town for easy transport on hard surfaces and sand.

Top down view of green and white sit-on-top kayak

How it compares

The Ocean Kayak Frenzy was replaced by the Ocean Kayak Malibu 9.5, a boat with similar specs. Take a look below at how this classic sit-on-top recreational kayak compares to others.

  • Perception Tribe 9.5 vs Ocean Kayak Frenzy

    Like the Ocean Kayak Frenzy, the Perception Tribe 9.5 is another bestselling kayak in the sit-on-top class. The Tribe is slightly longer, wider and heavier than the Frenzy, and equally suitable for recreational paddling and easy surf.

    The main difference between the two kayaks is that the Perception Tribe 9.5 is still available to purchase new from retailers.

  • Ocean Kayak Yak Board vs Frenzy

    The Ocean Kayak Yak Board is more focused for surf use than the Ocean Kayak Frenzy. It’s shorter, lower profile in the water (like a surfboard) and has a much lower maximum weight capacity, at 240 lbs (110 kg). Due to its shorter length the Yak Board is slower than the Frenzy, and lacks the same on-deck accessories.

    Like the Ocean Kayak Frenzy, the Yak Board is also discontinued but available on the used market. Look for a Yak Board if you want a cheap sit-on-top that works for all applications, especially waves. Find a Frenzy for more comfort and better flatwater performance.

  • Ocean Kayak Scrambler vs Frenzy

    At 11 feet in length the Ocean Kayak Scrambler is a stretched out Frenzy. More length means more speed and capacity, with somewhat diminished maneuverability and wave-riding performance. The Scrambler adds a six-inch storage hatch in the center of the kayak, along with an oversized tank well behind the seat.

    You’ll have to comb Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for an Ocean Kayak Scrambler since it too has been discontinued, replaced by the similar (and upgraded) Malibu 11.5.

  • Ocean Kayak Mysto vs Frenzy

    The Ocean Kayak Mysto measures nine inches longer than the Frenzy, with similar design attributes and performance. The main upgrades on the Frenzy include a paddle holder and updated seat back. The Mysto does not feature a bow storage area on account of a narrower and sleeker profile at the bow (which translates to a bit more speed).

    Like the Ocean Kayak Frenzy, the Mysto has been discontinued but turns up regularly on the used market.

  • Ocean Kayak Frenzy vs Malibu

    The Ocean Kayak Malibu is a modernized Frenzy, with updates to increase performance and comfort. If you’re looking for a new Ocean Kayak Frenzy, the Malibu is it. You’ll find similar paddling characteristics between the Frenzy and the Malibu 9.5, including great versatility to tackle all sorts of paddling challenges as well as relaxing family outings on calm water.

    Choose the Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 for better glide and more on-deck storage, both characteristics being direct functions of the Malibu 11.5’s longer overall length.

Woman dragging sit-on-top kayak in the water toward shore
Photo: Courtesy Ocean Kayak

Where to buy the Ocean Kayak Frenzy

Keep a close eye on the used market if you want to buy an Ocean Kayak Frenzy. Popular search terms include Ocean Kayak Frenzy Craigslist; also search Ocean Kayak Frenzy on eBay.

Follow paddling groups on Facebook to pick up a used Ocean Kayak Frenzy. You stand the best chance of scoring one in hot weather areas where the boat was wildly popular, such as Florida and California.

Wear A Life Jacket
  • Everyone, even strong swimmers, needs to wear a life jacket at all times when on the water. It is extremely difficult to put a life jacket on once you fall into the water. Even a light wind can blow any paddlecraft away from you, faster than you can swim.
  • Buy (and wear) a comfortable Type 3 or S life jacket specifically designed for paddlesports.

Frenzy pros and cons

Pros

  • The Frenzy’s greatest strength is its versatility—this kayak’s all-around performance and stability have stood the test of time
  • Well-made, durable and weighs a reasonable 43 pounds

Cons

  • Slower than longer sit-on-top kayaks like the Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5, and not quite as nimble as shorter kayaks
  • Dated outfitting (especially the seat back) compared to modern sit-on-top kayaks
  • Perhaps the greatest downside of the Frenzy is the fact you can no longer buy a new one. Consider yourself lucky if you manage to find a Frenzy in good condition on the used market.

Related articles

Ocean Kayak reviews

Sit-on-top recreational kayak reviews

Sit-on-top fishing kayak reviews

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