The Best River Kayak Of 2022

Kayaking on rivers has been one of the favorite recreations of many people. If you are living in the United States, Canada, or Australia, you will see this leisure being done regularly. But of course, the popularity of river kayaking has already spread across the world.


However, before you can do this activity, it is pretty essential that you have the best river kayak. After all, not all kayaks have been designed to work on many occasions. Rivers, for instance, require the boat to be maneuverable. Otherwise, you can't make quick and responsive turns. Furthermore, stability is still an issue. You don't want a rocking kayak to disturb your leisure time.

With these requirements in mind, narrowing our selection can be done easily. As long as you know your options, you will eventually have a kayak worth taking to your expeditions. In fact, I have listed some of the ideal kayaks that you can take on streams and rivers. Here are they.

Product Name



Our Rating

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak


Dagger Kayaks Zydeco 9.0 Kayak


3. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak - Budget-Friendly Pick

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump


Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak - Stable, Durable, Lightweight Folding Kayaks for Adults and Youth - Lake, River, and Ocean Kayaks - Perfect Outdoor Fun Boat for Fishing, Travel, and Adventure


Ocean Kayak Frenzy One-Person Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak


Intex Excursion Pro Kayak, Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak

I know that some of you feel that inflatable kayaks are not trustworthy. Such a conception has been going on for so long that it is time to break it. You see, inflatable kayaks, if constructed properly, can provide convenience and fun on the waters. An excellent example of that kayak is the Intex Excursion Pro. This one was designed for rivers and lakes. It has a stable platform and possesses sufficient maneuverability for optimal control.

The structure of this kayak is superb as well. It is tailored from various materials so that it can possess rigidity and strength. Because of this, the Intex Excursion Pro is resistant to punctures. Furthermore, it is also resistant to impact, abrasion, and sunlight. Meanwhile, there are spring loaded valves integrated on the kayak for quick deflation and inflation.


  • Features the combination of PVC laminate and polyester core for maximum rigidity
  • Offers balance and stability while coursing through waters
  • Comes with detachable skews for traversing deep rivers
  • Provides mounting brackets for kayaking accessories
  • Comfortable seats and footrests.


  • No known issues.
Dagger Kayaks Zydeco 9.0 Kayak

Rivers are considered as a part of the flatwater category. Therefore, it is entirely logical that you will choose a kayak that has been constructed for this type of application. The Zydeco 9.0 Kayak of the brand Dagger Kayaks is one of the first kayaks that come in my mind for flatwater cruising. It has the design that will allow you full control on slow or fast-moving waters.

Surprisingly, the Zydeco has a lightweight construction. It has been designed this way to ensure that it can be carried and transported without feeling any burden. The length of the kayak is shorter than other kayaks. Because of this, it offers the maneuverability that you need for rivers. Furthermore, the kayak has a roomy cockpit. It can allow extended trips without experiencing discomforts.


  • Offers a comfortable kayaking platform
  • Lightweight construction for easier transport
  • Ideal for rivers and flatwater application
  • Rugged design and construction
  • Offers impressive maneuverability.


  • Limited space for storage.
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump

The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is the little brother of the Intex Excursion. It has been placed on the entry-level category because of its straightforward design and ergonomics. However, I can always guarantee that this kayak should be merited due to its exceptional performance on the water. All the essential amenities for kayaking are included in the package of the Explorer K2, which includes two aluminum paddles and one quick-action pump.

This particular kayak offers comfort to its users. You see, it features two inflatable seats with backrest so that you can relax your body while paddling. The cockpit is spacious enough so that you can stretch your body. It is also good to the point that this kayak has a removable skeg so that you can have directional stability. Attach the skeg to improve its tracking and remove it if you want maneuverability while kayaking.


  • Brightly colored kayak for improved visibility in the water
  • Offers stability and maneuverability
  • Puncture-proof hull construction
  • Can be inflated and deflated quickly
  • Features an extra-rigid flooring.


  • The paddles that come with this kayak are quite small and flexing too much.
Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak - Stable, Durable, Lightweight Folding Kayaks for Adults and Youth - Lake, River, and Ocean Kayaks - Perfect Outdoor Fun Boat for Fishing, Travel, and Adventure

For me, the Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak is one of the finest options that you have for riverboats. This one offers excellent stability and maneuverability, regardless if you are dealing with curves or choppy waters. Although this one is not designed to tackle whitewater rivers, it is still certified as one of the best leisure kayaks. I do recommend that you should check this boat out especially if you plan to kayak on lakes, streams, and rivers.

The setup of the Oru Kayak Foldable Kayak is ideal for both amateurs and professionals. It doesn't discriminate. It provides a good "feel" so that you can paddle conveniently right away. The foldable design of this kayak is one-of-a-kind. With this feature, you can easily transport the boat wherever you want. The "assembly" process is also easy. For as quick as five minutes, the kayak is already good to go. Of course, the durability and rigidity of this kayak is top tier.


  • Features a polypropylene exterior for maximum sturdiness
  • Lightweight and travel-worthy kayak
  • Offers maneuverability for curvy rivers
  • Works well on other flatwater kayaking applications
  • Optimizes the balance and control felt by the paddler.


  • No known issues.
Ocean Kayak Frenzy One-Person Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

The Ocean Kayak Frenzy is also worth considering in your selection process. It is a versatile boat as it can be used in oceans, too. It can ride the waves, but definitely, it is capable of staying still in calm waters. The stability and maneuverability of this one-person kayak are great. Paddlers will never have difficulty in controlling and using this kayak.

Specifically, the boat features Tri-Hull construction, which includes both primary and secondary stability. With this design, the boat is capable of doing different maneuvers without the paddler being toppled. Simultaneously, the tracking of this boat is known to be superb as well. If the river is just one directional, riding on this kayak is genuinely beneficial. Meanwhile, the seat of the boat has a four-way adjustment feature. You can always find a comfortable spot here!


  • Compact and lightweight kayak
  • Ensures rigidity and structural strength
  • Provides a balance between maneuverability and tracking
  • Offers compartments for food and other kayaking accessories
  • Guarantees comfort to the paddlers.


  • Some paddlers find the absence of paddles irksome
  • Not for large people.

Best River Kayak Buying Guide

Best River Kayak Buying Guide

Take note that this guide was intentionally made for flatwater rivers. I am going to make a separate content about whitewater rivers, as it has different specifications and requirements. For those who are just seeking the perfect kayaks for river leisure, this one's for you.

Kayaking on calm and scenic rivers is a recreation that many people seek. The opportunity of witnessing the beauty of Nature while on the waters is more than enough to sedate the eyes and senses. And while it is true that not all parts of the world don't offer great river destinations for kayaking, this doesn't mean that people are not interested in it.

In fact, I made this guide because of the incessant query about river kayaks. There are several questions have been hurled to me lately regarding this matter. What kayak should they choose? How should they pick their kayak whenever they are kayaking on rivers?

Well, I have answered the first question by introducing some of the recommended river kayaks on the market today. This time, I am going to explain the second question, which I deem pressing enough.

The environment and conditions in rivers are different from lakes and kayaks. Unlike lakes, there's a perpetual motion in rivers. However, compared to seas and oceans, the water movement is not extreme or unpredictable. I had discussed more of this matter when I introduced some lake kayaks.

Rivers offer the best of both worlds. It is calm enough so that paddlers won't fear for their lives. But at the same, it can provide a certain level of thrill, especially if there's suddenly a rush or a trifecta of turns.


Maneuverability is perhaps the most important aspect that a river kayak should possess. Rivers have area limits. You can always see their ends at your eyes. It is entirely different for oceans where your peripheral vision will not reach the borders. The horizon is seemingly limitless. Because of this, you will not fear that you will hit something while you are on oceans.

Things are completely different when you are in rivers. You are always challenged by the fact that the river itself has parallel boundaries. If you can't make quick and responsive turns, you will immediately hit corners. Or if not, you will rocks, branches, and other potential debris that are just looming there.

So what makes a kayak maneuverable? Well, there are two things that I can point out.

  • Length - The length of the kayak determines its maneuverability and speed. You see, kayaks that have long hulls are designed for tracking or moving on a single straight direction. They are great for seas where the area is open. They can speed through distances. However, because of their length, turning and swerving them are things that you can't do easily.

    It is for this very reason that I have chosen short kayaks. Rivers have a lot of curves and turns. Short kayaks are designed to conquer these odds. Although they are not fast, they still shine best when the route is quite technical.
  • Width - Of course, the width of the kayak also plays a huge role in its maneuverability. Narrow kayaks are great for cutting waters. When the waters are choppy, slim kayaks are the best option. They can cut through these waves because their hulls don't carry too much as they move through. They are not plowing water; instead, they are cutting it.

    Narrow kayaks can still work on rivers. However, they don't have the kind of stability that you want whenever cruising on still and calm rivers. You need to paddle a lot to ascertain that you wouldn't fall over from staying slow. A short boat offers balance, which is a necessity whenever you want to exert control.

Weight Capacity

Whenever you are choosing a kayak, whether it is for flatwater or whitewater, it is necessary that you have to check its weight capacity. Even non-kayakers would understand what this term means. Not all kayaks can carry heavy loads. In fact, many are designed to handle limited weight only.

Of course, overloading your boat is not a good idea. It will cause the vessel to lose its maneuverability and buoyancy at the same time. It is not a good thing, especially if you do not know how to escape a capsizing kayak. Fortunately, you can always address this issue by understanding your requirements first. Do you kayak alone or with a tandem? Do you have a big body? Are you bringing other items with you?

Knowing the answers to these questions can help you find the ideal kayak for you.


Given that you are going to use the kayak for recreation, it is pretty crucial that you choose something that can give you convenience and comfort. People who are usually touring with their kayaks are quite specific about the kind of seats that their boat offers. Adjustability is one of the critical features to assure. You need to know if the kayak will be able to give the sitting preference that you want. Furthermore, having ergonomic footrests in a boat is an advantage, too.

The size of the cockpit also matters. Some kayakers are not fond of being enclosed in a tight cockpit. It scares them. Furthermore, a larger boat means that you can store more items on it. That's great for touring purposes.


Kayaking on rivers has been a guilty pleasure for many of us. That's why if you are into this adventure, it is necessary that you can bring the essential kayaking accessories and amenities. A kayaking checklist would help you out on that. Moreover, you should not forget that having the best river kayak can make a difference in your adventure.

The selection that I have made here should be able to give you the right options for your first kayak for rivers. They should be able to satisfy your needs and preferences. But if not, you can just use the guide that I have made so that you can select by yourself.

That's it for now. If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below!

Now that you have acquired a piece of new knowledge about kayaking, I hope that you can do more in the water. Of course, let me emphasize that the right kayak will be able to change the way you can traverse the water and enjoy your time there. If you want to know the beginner's kayak, kayak for kids, ocean kayaks, touring kayaks, recreational kayaks, kayak for dogs, inflatable kayaks, sit-on-top kayaks, tandem kayaks, pedal kayaks, and cost-efficient kayaks, I have them listed in this blog. Check out all the types of kayaks here and see what the market can offer to you.

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