Kayaking in itself is a truly mesmerizing low-impact sport that puts you in the middle of nature. And although you can see a fair deal from the seat of a regular kayak, some companies have revolutionized the standard opaque kayak and transformed it into a completely transparent vessel to give you impeccable views of the underwater world.
If you’re paddling in crystal clear waters, then we recommend nothing other than a transparent kayak, as these boats combine the fun of both kayaking and snorkeling without the need to jump in the water and get wet.
With that being said, something we do want to mention before we begin is that these kayaks do come with a slightly higher price tag than your standard kayak, but being able to witness the marine life swimming around beneath totally makes up for it.
So, if you’ve been on the fence about purchasing a see-through kayak, then this article is going to cover 3 of the best clear-bottom kayaks and what you can see with them to hopefully point you in the right direction.
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Before we get into some of the best clear bottom kayaks on the market, it is important that we first discuss the materials these kayaks are made from, as clear kayaks and standard recreational or fishing kayaks are made from very different materials.
Typically, standard kayaks are crafted from fiberglass or composite materials such as kevlar, but transparent kayaks, on the other hand, are constructed with a mixture of polycarbonate lexan and anodized aluminum.
Firstly, polycarbonate lexan is the material that the vast majority of transparent bottom kayak hulls are made of, as it is an extremely durable material. Polycarbonate lexan is so durable, in fact, that it often gets used to create bulletproof glass and fighter jet canopies.
On top of being extremely durable, polycarbonate lexan is also resistant to heat and impact, it is remarkably clear, and it has impressive dimensional stability.
Clear bottom kayak companies will accompany the polycarbonate lexan hull material with an anodized aluminum frame. Anodized aluminum is different from standard aluminum as it is more durable and corrosion-resistant thanks to the anodizing process.
As kayaks are always in the water and they frequently come into contact with salt water, it is extremely important for the frame of a clear bottom kayak to be corrosion resistant. If the frame wasn’t corrosion resistant, then you’d more than likely need to replace your entire clear kayak yearly, which is something no one wants to do.
11’ x 33.6”
The first and cheapest clear bottom kayak option is the Markab Clear Tandem Kayak. As with many tandem kayaks, you can also transform the Markab’s clear canoe into a one-person kayak by removing the front seat and distributing some onboard weight.
When it comes to see-through kayaks, they are fairly standard in design as their sole purpose is to give paddlers the ability to see under the water. This means that you’ll typically only find an adjustable seat or two inside the kayak, and the Markab Clear Kayak is no exception.
What the Markab Clear Kayak does come with, however, are two paddles, two highly visible flotation pouches, which you’ll find at the front and rear of the kayak, and a retractable skeg for improved tracking.
We also thought it was worth mentioning that at checkout, you can upgrade the standard seats to deluxe seats, and you can also add on an underwater LED lighting system so you can take your kayak out at night.
11’1” x 33.5”
The second fully transparent kayak to make our list is the Crystal Explorer Kayak from the Crystal Kayak Company. This kayak again is a tandem kayak, however, it can also be transformed into a solo kayak if you need additional storage space or just some alone time out on the water.
The Crystal Kayak Company designed their clear bottom kayak out of virgin Spanish imported GE Lexan and paired it with an anodized aluminum frame for optimum durability. They also went one step further and added a UV-resistant functional layer that prevents yellowing and discoloration to the kayak’s hull.
All hardware throughout the Crystal Explorer is corrosion-resistant hardware, including the adjustable skeg, the marine grade spring clips, and the stainless steel release knobs. Following on from the Crystal Explorer also comes with two adjustable ergonomic quick dry seats with an easy storage compartment on their backs, flotation pouches at the front and rear of the kayak, and two lightweight aluminum paddles to get you out on the water in an instance.
12’ x 30”
The final clear bottom kayak is technically a standard kayak clear bottom hybrid as the Caribe Clear Bottom Kayak has a window under both seats but a standard opaque bow and stern.
This kayak really gives you the best of both worlds, however, it is the heaviest kayak out of the three, so that is something to keep in mind before purchasing. Although the standard kayak sections of the Caribe add on some additional weight, they do come with their benefits. You’ll find front and back bungee storage areas, a front dry hatch storage area, and front and back carry handles.
On top of all that, the kayak also comes with a drop-in fishing adapter, foot braces for improved comfort, and the choice between three seat packages.
Clear bottom kayaks have changed the kayaking game as you can now paddle and take in the beauty of the water around you from a totally different perspective.
The completely transparent construction of a clear bottom kayak provides you with a direct view of the water beneath you. This means that you can witness a range of underwater animal species, such as fish, dolphins, jellyfish, or even sharks, without having to get in the water and swim amongst them. Personally, we can’t say we’d enjoy swimming with sharks or jellyfish, so at least a clear bottom kayak gives you an up close and safe encounter.
As well as marine life, you can also see things such as shipwrecks, underwater statues like those in the GILI Islands, and underwater plant species and coral.
So, if you’re now sure that a clear bottom kayak is the right kayak option for you, then keep the following specifications and features in mind.
The first thing you’ll need to consider before purchasing a clear-bottom kayak is the length. When it comes to kayaks, in general, the longer it is, the faster they will go on the water. Clear bottom kayaks, however, are designed for recreational use as opposed to speed. This means that the length of most clear bottoms will be around the 11 - 12 foot mark.
If you’re after a slightly faster kayak, then opt for a 12-footer, but if you aren’t too bothered about speed, an 11-foot clear bottom kayak will suit you well.
The next thing you need to think about is the width of the kayak. Wider kayaks provide more stability on the water, so if you’re new to the sport of kayaking or if you’re planning to use your clear bottom kayak as a fishing vessel, then you’ll want the widest kayak possible.
Any kayak with a width of 33 inches and over should be stable enough for beginner paddlers or anglers.
Next up is the weight of the kayak. If your kayak is too heavy, you’ll struggle to carry it to and from the water. You’ll also find that loading and unloading your ‘yak onto your car roof rack system will be extremely difficult, so it is important to opt for a kayak that, ideally, you can carry on your own.
Weight capacity is another huge factor to consider when purchasing a kayak because if you overload your kayak, you’ll compromise the boat’s performance out on the water. All kayaks have a maximum weight limit, and it is essential that you remain under this limit at all times. Overloading your kayak causes the hull to sink slightly into the water, which in turn makes it difficult to paddle, maneuver, and handle.
Before purchasing a kayak, we recommended calculating your weight, the weight of any passengers, and any additional gear you’ll be taking on board with you at any given time. Once you have this figure, compare it to the weight capacities of the kayaks you’re interested in and ensure that you’re at least 10% under the limit.
Glass bottom kayaks are made from different materials than a standard kayak, with two of the most commonly used materials being polycarbonate lexan and anodized aluminum. Polycarbonate lexan is the material companies use for the main hull of the kayak as it is incredibly durable, clear, and impact resistant.
Anodized aluminum is the material clear bottom kayak brands use for the frame of the kayak as it is corrosion resistant and more durable than standard aluminum.
If you frequently paddle in clear waters, then clear bottom kayaks, in our opinion, are well worth their slightly higher price tags. Kayaking in itself is a very enjoyable sport, but throw in the added bonus of being able to see the marine line beneath you, and you have one of the best outdoor recreational activities imaginable.
Of course, the biggest benefit of a clear bottom kayak is the fact that you get a truly unique viewing experience of marine life and underwater plant life without actually having to put on a snorkel and jump in the water.
As well as having a clear view of fish, dolphins, and other wildlife, kayaking, in general, is a fantastic low-impact sport that works your entire body while also getting you out enjoying nature.
There are a few clear kayaks on the market, with our top three being the following:
There are also some other clear bottom kayak options, such as the Driftsun Clear Kayak, but at the time of this writing, they’re currently out of stock. It may be worth checking them out, however, to see if they’re back in stock at the time of your purchase.
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