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October 09, 2022 15 min read

What is ocean kayaking

Sit-on top kayak in ocean

Ocean kayaking is one of the most exhilarating, beautiful and adventurous types of kayaking there is on offer. Ocean kayaking sometimes involves covering large distances over open water, and dealing with a variety of weather conditions and sea states. In this article, we will look at some of the best ocean kayaks and why it is very important you understand what equipment is absolutely necessary, what is advisable and how to actually use it effectively.

There are many different types of sea kayaks, including open-top, sit-inside kayaks, surf kayaks, blow-up kayaks and specific kayaks with a particular configuration for those keen kayak anglers. We will have a look at some of the best kayaks on offer out there and equipment that is a must if you are to stay safe both in the calm waters and rough waves.

Top 3 sit on top kayaks for the ocean

Pelican Sentinel 100X

Orange pelican sentinel

Specifications

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

120” x 30” x 13.25”

40 lbs

300 lbs

Check Price

Kayak Overview

This is a great all-rounder sit on top kayak, with a simple single mold hull design with built-in footrests, an adjustable padded backrest and space to clip in extra equipment.

Construction

The flat hull mold is made with ‘RAM-X’ material flat hull design for simplicity and stability. This material also offers durability and provides protection against impacts from all that you may encounter whilst paddling and maneuvering out of the water. ‘Scupper holes’ are built into the button of the kayak to allow excess water to drain from the kayak naturally. 

Safety

This hull design incorporates extra internal ballast, thus increasing stability and safety. Due to being a sit-on-top kayak, in the event of a capsize, reaching the surface is simple and without complication. 

Stability

A good all round kayak for stability with a hull design shaped for natural hydrodynamics, making paddling through the ocean waters a true joy.

Kayak  Features

The ‘Pelican Sentinel 100X’ incorporates a padded ‘Ergoform’ seat and backrest to increase comfort, important for longer journeys. It will also assist with power generation and stability with a rigid upright seating position.

Board Package

This kayak comes with seat and toggles already installed. 

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • These kayaks are lightweight, and ideal for transportation and storage.
  • Manufactured from a high molecular density polyethylene, making this design durable and lightweight.
  • These sit-on-top kayaks have a good weight capacity.
  • Sit-on kayaks generally do not have thigh supports which can assist with stability and power generated from paddle strokes. 
  • ‘Pelican’ no longer provides manuals with the product to reduce waste. So you’ll have to find this online instead. 
  • You will need to purchase a paddle separately, you can find plenty of options here.

Feelfree Gemini Sport

Blue feel free gemini sport

Specifications

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

12’6” x 32.5”

70.5 lbs

550 lbs

Check Price

Kayak Overview

The ‘Feelfree Gemini Sport’ tandem sit on kayak is very popular and for good reason! This kayak is versatile and can be used in both tandem and a solo seating configuration without losing any performance characteristics due to its central seating design. This tandem seating design allows for extra paddling power, or for an opportunity to make friends or family along with you. An excellent kayak to teach beginners before they venture out on their own. 

Construction

This model is a single mold design with a V-shaped hull for additional stability and performance. The keel is fitted with an in-built wheel which allows for easy transport on hard surfaces such as car parks and concrete drop-in points to rivers or ocean access points.

Safety

Plenty of storage space allows for safety equipment to be stored such as mobile phones, first aid kits or even a Personal Locator Beacon.

Stability

The hull incorporates a ‘V-shaped design, allowing it to cut through the water with ease.

Kayak  Features

  • Two seating positions with the option of a third central seat, ideal for a family trip and beginners. The center seat may be the preferred position for a solo paddler for increased control and weight distribution. 
  • In-built carry handles allow for easy transport and lifting. Their integral mold design reduces the chances of them being broken off. 
  • Ample storage space
  • A feature which sets this model apart from others is its in-built ‘wheel in the keel’ design. 
  • Integral scupper holes in the hull mold allow for self-draining of excess water.
  • The rear of the kayak is fitted with above deck storage, with attached bungees to ensure the load is secure.

Board Package

  • Mesh storage bags included.
  • Paddles included

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • Available in the following colors which look great! Blue/White/Blue, Red/Yellow/Red, Lime/White/Lime, Ocean Camo, Fire Camo.
  • Although this product comes with various pieces of equipment included, it is important to note that the seats are only optional extras. So to avoid disappointment when you open the box, make sure to add these to the order.

Mirage 533 Freeride

Mirage 533 freeride

Specifications

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

19’ x 21.9”

38.6 - 52.9 lbs

-

Check Price

Kayak Overview

The Mirage 583 is a high spec, high-performance sea kayak boasting high speed through the water with no reduction in agility. Due to its hydrodynamic design and hull shape, this kayak cuts through broken waves and undulating sea states with ease.

You may expect a kayak with a very long water line to be heavily penalized when it comes to agility and the ability to pivot, which can be a vital requirement when staying upright in the ocean. However, ‘Mirage’ has incorporated an elongated rocker to counter this, making it a truly versatile and capable kayak not only for open water paddling but also for surfing!

Construction

This model of sea kayak can be made from  a variety of materials such as Fiber-glass, Kevlar, Kevlar IRT and Carbon / Innegre, weighing from 25 kg to 16.5 kg respectively. Naturally, the higher spec the material, the higher the cost. 

Safety

Although this kayak perhaps lacks lateral stability due to its length, its stretched-out ‘rocker’ allows it to be pivoted with ease, ensuring the paddler is able to position the kayak correctly for any incoming wave to prevent a potential capsize. In addition to this, the Mirage 583 Freeride has high buoyancy due to its enclosed internal storage compartments. The upper side of the main structure has two attached grab handles, allowing for easy re-entry after a capsize.

Stability

A slimmer boat than some of the options seen previously, meaning reduced stability about the longitudinal axis, but this compromise is offset by its speed through the water. 

Kayak  Features

  • Bungees attached behind the paddler for easy storage and access 
  • A rear-enclosed 90L hatch with a silicone cover and T-handles on the bow and stern to allow for easy transportation to and from the water's edge. 
  • Adjustable rails allow for quick and easy seating position changes so that any paddler  height is accommodated.
  • Greater propulsion and directional control due to the ‘Mirage integrated rudder system’.
  • The hull incorporates a built-in self-draining venturi which allows for excess water to naturally dissipate. A plug is available, allowing the paddler to bypass this function and avoid getting wet.

Board Package

This kayak does not come with paddles, so click on this link to find what ‘Mirage’ has to offer.

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • It looks fantastic! A sleek-looking design with a slick color scheme, the Mirage 583 Freeride stands apart from the others. 
  • This model can be made from a variety of materials, each with its own merits, the only drawback is the increased cost with some higher sec materials. 
  • This model is considerably more expensive than many others, however, you get what you pay for, superb quality and performance!

Sit-In Ocean Kayaks

Perception Expression 11’6" sit-in kayak

Perception expression touring kayak

Specifications

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

11’7” x 25.75” x 14.5”

44 lbs

250 lbs

Check Price

Kayak Overview

The Perception Expression 11.5 is an excellent example of an all-around sit inside kayak, boasting characteristics of both a touring and an expedition kayak. Its design allows beginners to hone their skills due to its forgiving nature and brilliant agility, whilst also a capable open water kayak maintaining high speed through the waves. It also incorporates everything you’ll need for longer journeys such as internal storage space with a tight seal lid, and external bungees which allow for further storage and easy access whilst on the move.

Construction

A single mold, with high internal buoyancy as well as a slim pointed leading and trailing edge to improve hydrodynamics and increase performance when it comes to speed and stability. 

Safety

The ‘TruTrak’ retractable skeg system enables a high degree of linear tracking, even through choppy waters, thus reducing the chances of capsizing due to poor positioning for incoming waves and rough swells in open water. This special kayak feature means more secondary stability.

Stability

The width of the kayak increases its stability, making this an ideal model for beginners, those looking to build their confidence and also try kayak fishing whilst also a very capable and fast kayak for more experienced paddlers.

Kayak Features

  • The Perception Expression 11.5 comes fully equipped with several high-end features such as enclosed storage space, as well as external storage space with attached bungee cords, for easily accessible items. 
  • The Mold incorporates a rim around the cockpit seating area so a ‘spray deck’ can be used to keep the internal area dry. 
  • A rudder system (which can be purchased separately) can be installed to provide improved tracking over open water and is ideal for choppy waters. 
  • A fully padded seat and backrest to ensure comfort, even on longer adventures. 
  • Handles on the front and back of the kayak to make lifting in and out of the water effortless. 
  • A 6-point adjustable seat allows for quick and easy change of seating position.

Kayak Package

  • The Perception Expression 11’6’’ sit-in kayak comes with the storage equipment but does not include paddles or the rudder system. 

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • Comes in a variety of awesome ‘tie dye’ style color schemes such as Funkadelic (purple and blue), Sunset (yellow and orange) and Dapper (turquoise and dark blue). Click here to see for yourself.
  • ‘Perception’ kayaks are selling the Perception Expression 11.5 model with a 5-year warranty included. 
  • ‘Perception’ offers an extensive package of easily accessible replacement parts which can be found here.
  • The rudder is sold separately from the kayak. You can find it here.

Delta 16 Sea Kayak

Delta kayak - Yellow performance touring kayak

Specifications

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

16’ x 22” x 12.25”

48 lbs

330 lbs

Check Price

Kayak Overview

The ‘Delta 16’ sea kayak is a top choice for any keen paddler looking to challenge rough waters, dynamic surf and persistent winds. The kayak's clever hull shape design allows for agility as well as stability. The sleek hull design ensures minimum drag to optimize efficiency and enhances performance on multi-day adventures. 

Construction

The Delta 16 kayak is initially digitally designed using CAD software to ensure peak performance. The thermoform shell improves rigidity and reduces weight, thus making it the successor to older fiber-glass models. The kayak is produced only with environmentally friendly materials. Delta has even stated that the products are 100% recyclable and all scrap material is reused from the production process.

Safety

The ‘Delta 16’ incorporates a rudder system which increases tracking stability in rough waters, reducing the possibility of poor positioning for larger incoming waves.

Kayak  Features

  • A front sealed hatch for easy access to stored objects whilst paddling.
  • Press-Lock Hatch System
  • Front and rear t-handles for easy lifting in and out of the water.
  • ‘Contour 2 Seat System’, allowing for easy adjustment so that any sized paddler feels comfortable and can optimize performance. 

Kayak Package

The spring-loaded ‘Retractable Skeg system’ is fitted in the standard package.

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • A rudder option is available in addition to the ‘Skeg’ system allowing for both increased stability as well as steering function making this one of the best rudder systems available.
  • An awesome array of available color schemes which includes: Cherry red, Saffron Yellow, Lime Green and Azure Blue.
  • The ‘Skey system’ is deployable in increasing amounts so that the paddler can decide how much tracking stability is necessary for varying conditions. Furthermore, by reducing the skegs degree of deployment, the possibility of striking the ground within shallow waters is greatly reduced.
  • A skeg does not provide steering as it is a static component. A rudder system is an added extra if chosen. 

Looksha T Tandem Sea Kayak

Looksha T red old town kayak

Specifications

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

18’1” x 30” x 17.5”

96 lbs

625 lbs

Check Price

Kayak Overview

This unique tandem kayak is an exciting opportunity for friends, family and keen paddlers alike to explore together in one of the most popular two person kayaks available. With extra storage space and a rudder system, this is an ideal choice for open water kayaking, coastal exploration and longer trips. 

Construction

The body of the kayak is produced with a single layer Polyethylene material for strength, durability and reduced weight. 

Safety

The rudder system improves stability through choppy water, thus increasing efficiency and conserving the paddler's energy. 

Kayak  Features

  • Carry handles fitting to the bow and stern for easy transportation and lifting and lowering in and out of the water.  
  • Two in-built composite seats with cushioned material for improved comfort as well as a removable pedestal
  • Adjustable thigh braces allow a tailored seating position and extra efficiency as maximum power can be drawn from each paddle stroke
  • Internal storage compartments located in the bow and stern with hatches locked by a buckle system, ensuring a securely locked hatch, preventing and water ingress. 
  • An included composite rudder system allows for simple and effective steering, ensuring your paddle strokes are generating power solely for forwarding propulsion. 
  • Bungees are attached to the external surfaces of the kayak, providing quick and easy access to stored items. 
  • A reflective safety parameter line increases visibility.

Kayak Package 

  • The rudder system is an included feature, unlike some other options.
  • For paddles, check out some of the ‘Old Town’ options.

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • Available in 2 colors, Lemongrass green and Red.
  • Due to being a tandem kayak, this option is heavier than some other options with a total weight of almost 44 kg. 

Inflatable kayaks

Advanced frame Expedition Elite

Advanced Elements advanced frame expedition elite

Specifications

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

13’ x 32”

42 lbs

450 lbs

Check Price

The Advanced Expedition Elite inflatable kayak is an exciting re-design of the traditional solid hull kayaks. Unlike SUP paddle boards, this kayak incorporates an aluminum frame within the bow and stern, which is surrounded by the main inflatable body. This design utilizes the strength and rigidity of a traditional kayak, yet has the lightweight, flexible and space-saving characteristics of a Stand Up Paddle Board. Additionally, inflatable SUP boards do not have natural directional stability without the aid of a fin system, unlike the ‘Advanced frame Expedition Elite’ inflatable kayak which uses its frame to create natural stability and efficiency through the water.

Construction

The Advanced frame Expedition Elite kayak incorporates a drop stitch technology within the floor, which greatly enhances its rigidity, improving its speed through the water and tracking, particularly important in rough sea states. 

Safety 

  • The Advanced frame Expedition Elite kayaks have a naturally low center of gravity which improves its lateral stability.
  • Nine separate inflatable chambers increase buoyancy and redundancy, meaning the kayak should stay afloat even with multiple deflated.

Kayak Features

  • A special spring valve allows for connection and disconnection of the pump without the loss of air in the process.
  • The ‘Drop Stitch’ floor ensures extra rigidity and a performance-enhancing shape. 
  • A cushioned seat and inflatable lumbar support. This works well with the adjustable foot braces, allowing the paddler to paddle for longer and harder. 
  • The rim around the cockpit has a mating surface which allows a spray deck/skirt to be fitted, so it can be used as a true sit-in kayak, with a dry internal space. 
  • The rudder mount is built into the inflatable structure for easy connection. 
  • The upper surface of the kayak included molded rubber handles for easy re-access from the water, D-ring tie downs for securing items as well as bungee deck lacing. 

Kayak Package 

Some included items have already been mentioned with the features, but there is more!

  • A Duffel bag with removable carry straps.
  • The all-important inflatable kayak repair kit.
  • An owner's manual, so that you can truly understand the quirks and features of these great kayaks.

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • These kayaks are easy to set up and inflate/deflate.
  • A Car roof rack is not required as it can simply fit into the car when packed up.
  • Although the rudder kit is not included in the original package, the skeg/tracking fin is.
  • The pump must be purchased separately.
  • The rudder kit must be purchased separately and can be found here.

12’6” Meno Touring Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board with kayak Conversion Kit

GILI Meno touring inflatable paddle board package

Specifications

Dimensions Weight Capacity Check Price

12’6” x 31” x 6”

24 lbs

300 lbs

Check Price

Kayak Overview

The 12’6 Meno Stand Up Paddle Board with the GILI Sports kayak conversion kit is the perfect combination to have if you want to do it all! The paddle board is longer and narrower than many of the other options out there, making it ideal for long-distance paddling and coastal exploring. You can easily switch between kayaking and paddle boarding with the GILI Sports quick attachment and release kayak conversion kit. 

This particular SUP board is ideal for more experienced paddlers, as stability is reduced with its narrow design.

Construction

The 12’6 Meno SUP Board has a pointed nose and a narrow body, allowing it to glide through the water with ease. The body of the SUP board incorporates a carbon fiber rail which improves rigidity and stiffness, allowing you to get the most out of each paddle's stroke. The material of the SUP board is made up of Fusion Dual Layer Technology, making this one of the strongest and lightest SUP boards on the market!

Safety 

The 12’6 Meno sup board includes a leash so that you won't be separated from the board if you fall off. Furthermore, the SUP board has a diamond rear traction pad for increased traction. 

Kayak and Conversion Kit Features  

  • The GILI Sports online shop allows you to choose the correct conversion kit for your existing single-bladed paddle so that both of your paddles match.
  • The kayak seat included in the conversion kit is cushioned with neoprene material, ensuring a comfortable ride and seating position.
  • The SUP board's original paddle T-handle easily detaches, allowing you to install the second paddle blade without a fuss.

Kayak Package 

The latest GILI Sports iSUP bag includes plenty of space for the SUP board, pump, and leash fins. Kayak conversion kit and more! Its padded carry straps and waist belt allow you to carry all of this kit with ease, with both of your hands-frees! Even better, the Meno series bags include rolling wheels. In the dual chamber, the three-stage pump allows you to inflate the SUP board quickly, easily and efficiently and a built-in pressure gauge means you can be confident everything is ready to go! In addition to all of this, the SUP board package includes a one-bladed paddle, and the kayak conversion kit includes a blade attachment, which transforms your paddles into a double-bladed kayaking set. 

Pros & Cons

 PROS CONS
  • GILI Sports offers a 2-year warranty for all new purchases of their awesome SUP boards.
  • GILI Sports cares about the planet, so when you buy from them, a portion of your purchase is automatically donated to charities dedicated to saving our treasured underwater world. 
  • The kayak blade attachment is small enough to fit under your bungee set up on the SUP board, allowing you to transform it into a kayaking sensation in a matter of seconds!
  • With all blow-up kayaks and SUP boards, you will have to be mindful not to leave it unprotected in the sun as this can damage the glue between the layers of materials and speed up deterioration. 

FAQ’S

🏆 Inflatable kayaks or rigid kayaks - what should I get for the open seas?

Both have their pros and cons. Rigid kayaks may be more efficient due to their rigidity and smooth surface, decreasing drag through the water. However, it is not as easy to transport and will generally weigh more than an inflatable option. An inflatable kayak offers more flexibility and can be just rewarding. Although it may be more susceptible to tears and therefore leaks, they usually incorporate multiple inflated chambers, meaning one puncture does not mean the fun is over.


👍 Should I get a Stand up paddle board, or consider using blow-up kayaks?

Get both with a single purchase! As seen previously in this article, the 12’6 Meno SUP board with the kayak conversion kit, all from GILI Sports means you will have the best of both worlds. Although a SUP board may not be as efficient as a kayak through the water, it is just as fun! A SUP board is a great way to see marine life in the ocean water and is ideal for taller paddlers.


🏝️ Do I need to buy a kayak specifically for beginners if I am new to the sport?

Not necessarily. Generally speaking, good recreational kayaks for beginners are longer kayaks with a rounded hull as it responds well to paddle strokes while offering good primary and secondary stability. However, if you want to buy something which is classed as the best ocean kayak, then a model with specific performance aspects may be better with the aim of growing into it.

If you are buying a kayak which is notoriously more unstable than other options, then test paddle in a pool without a spray deck before you commit to the rough waves. Paddling without a spray deck initially will give you the confidence of a quick and easy egress if you capsize.


❓ What other equipment and accessories should I have when doing ocean kayaking?

You will certainly need buoyancy aid. This is a really important piece of safety equipment and should not be omitted. A helmet is also strongly advisable, especially when in the ocean. Although you may well be paddling in deep water most of the time, coastal waters can have hidden reefs, rocks and sand banks that may catch you by surprise.

A ‘personal locator beacon’ (PLB) is also a wise choice. If for whatever reason you need help but can't get anyone's attention, simply activate your PLB and this will alert local search and rescue units to your position. A cheaper option is to simply take your phone in a waterproof bag which you can buy here:

Jay Regan
Jay Regan


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