The 4 Best Sea Kayaks
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Perception Triumph 13
Best Sit-On-Top Kayak
THE GIST: Because they’re stable, easy to paddle, and less expensive than decked boats, sit-on-tops (SOTs) are ideal for recreational paddling. BEST FOR: Cruising, fishing, and messing around on lakes, rivers, and sheltered bays. WHY THIS ONE: Most SOTs are designed for stability, so they’re fat, slow, and—ironically—prone to flipping. Perception’s new Triumph 13 puts a shot of performance-touring DNA into the SOT gene pool. 13’5″, 58 lbs.
Liquid Logic Deuce Coupe
Best Recreational Double Sea Kayak
THE GIST: These stable kayaks have modular seating, allowing you to paddle alone or with shipmates. BEST FOR: Your local beach or lake with the kids and all the cousins. WHY THIS ONE: Liquid Logic’s Deuce Coupe spins on a dime, tracks true with the skeg down, and, with two swappable seats, hauls up to 325 pounds of people and dogs. Paddled from the center, it also compares favorably with any solo sit-on-top we tested. 13′, 71 lbs.
Best Day Tourer Sea Kayak
THE GIST: Shorter and wider than expedition boats, these versatile 12-to-15-footers are great beginner craft. BEST FOR: Coastal exploration; inland touring. WHY THIS ONE: Likened by testers to a good-natured pony, the Necky Manitou is plenty stable, yet intermediates will be slow to outgrow it. Lay it on an edge and it responds like a thoroughbred. And unlike many boats in this class, the cockpit doesn’t feel like a huge pair of Wal-Mart pants. 14’4″, 49 lbs.
Best Expedition Sea Kayak
THE GIST: Designed for wilderness adventures, expedition kayaks are 16 to 18 feet long and stow weeks’ worth of provisions. BEST FOR: Multi-day trips. WHY THIS ONE: Designed by an Olympian and a surf-ski champion, Epic’s 18X is an intermediate-friendly expedition boat with plenty of cargo space and a bombproof rudder system. Purists questioned whether it would handle rough seas; then Freya Hoffmeister paddled hers around Australia. 18′, from 36 lbs.