Before purchasing, you'll need to think about your own needs and the type of boating you want to do. One very popular boat, for instance, is the Folbot Aleut ($1,480; www.folbot.com), a compact little 12-footer with some forgiving habits. Although a little pokey, it's a very beamy boat, so you can easily pack gear for trips up to a week long. That beaminess also makes the Aleut very stable.
Then there's the Klepper Aerius ($2,458, including shipping; www.klepper.com), perhaps the classic folding kayak. It's a big boat that can handle loads of gear for long trips (payload, in fact, is a whopping 570 pounds!). And, it can easily handle rough, open water. Faster than the Aleut, but still compact enoughat 60 pounds packed weightto make a good travel-along boat.
Or there's the Feathercraft Wisper ($2,812; www.feathercraft.com), which is similar in length yet narrower than the Aerius. Its materials (aluminum frame, lightweight skin) cut the weight to under 40 poundsnot bad for a big boat! It'll hold a paddler and gear for long weekends or more, so while not cheap, it's an excellent investment if you plan to be spending a lot of time traveling and paddling with one of these craft.
If you can, always try to test out a kayak before buying. Remember, you don't climb into a kayakyou more or less put it on. So fit is important.
For more expert reviews of kayaks, check out Outside Online's all-new Kayak Buying Guide.