Best Kayaks for River Camping Trips

Embark on unforgettable adventures with the best camping kayaks, offering comfort and storage for memorable trips in the great outdoors.

best kayaks for camping

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Are you looking for an exciting way to explore the great outdoors? Combining camping with kayaking is one of the best ways to see what nature has to offer. Imagine paddling a remote stretch of river and pitching your tent on a quiet riverbank or setting up camp on an isolated beach. 

But how do you fit all your camping gear into a kayak?

Choosing the correct type of kayak for a multi-day adventure is essential. The best kayaks for camping offer plenty of dry storage as well as top deck attachments. They also need to be comfortable and efficient so that you can cover longer distances. 

We’ve reviewed the best kayaks for camping so that you can spend more time on the water and less time shopping.

Our Top Picks

If you’re in a hurry, here are our top picks. Or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Best Overall: Eddyline Skylark

Length: 12′ | Width: 26″ | Weight: 41 lbs | Capacity: 295 lbs

Eddyline Skylark

The Eddyline Skylark takes the top spot on our list as the best kayak for camping trips. Fast, comfortable, and easy to maneuver, it’s well suited to beginners as well as experienced paddlers.

Despite its short length, compared with typical touring kayaks, the Skylark tracks exceptionally well and should keep pace with some of its longer cousins. It’s also straightforward to maneuver, so you should be able to navigate narrow or winding waterways without any trouble. 

Additionally, at 26 inches wide, the Skylark feels very stable. You should be able to get in and out, eat your packed lunch, and access gear from the stern hatch without going for a swim.

Another great feature is its roomy cockpit, fitted with adjustable footpegs, a padded seat, and a backrest. Although the Skylark’s Infinity seat system is not adjustable, you do have the option to add a back band for additional support, and it’s comfortable enough for full-day trips on the water. Exactly what you need when you’re going on a multi-day kayaking trip. 

When it comes to storage, the Skylark has plenty of space in the bow and stern. The stern hatch is large enough to fit a backpacking tent inside, and you can also secure additional gear with bungees on the deck. 

The bow and stern storage areas are sealed on both sides. This should help keep your gear dry but, more importantly, this design improves buoyancy and keeps your kayak from filling with water if you capsize. 

The Skylark is made from composite ABS plastic. As a result, the hull and top deck are highly durable, lightweight, and offer a good level of UV resistance, extending the kayak’s life. 

  • Tracks very well
  • Lightweight kayak
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Very stable
  • Comfortable seat
  • Seat isn’t adjustable
  • Might be too big for short paddlers

Best Value: Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125

Length: 12’9″ | Width: 26″ | Weight: 51 lbs | Capacity: 300 lbs

Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125

If you’re looking for a high-quality kayak with a more affordable price tag, we recommend the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125

Featuring Wilderness Systems’ padded Phase3 AirPro seat, which is fully adjustable, the Tsunami 125 is comfortable enough for a full day on the water. Likewise, its spacious cockpit means that even larger paddlers should have plenty of legroom. 

Inside, you also have easily adjustable footpegs and thigh braces which help you maneuver the kayak in tighter waterways. Like other models in the Tsunami family, the Tsunami 125 has a flared hull and sits higher above the waterline, offering excellent stability in choppier waters. Meanwhile, its longer length allows for better tracking, and you can add a rudder too.

The Tsunami 125 has many useful features, such as gear pockets on the top deck and a water bottle holder. This model offers two storage hatches for storing your camping gear, one of which is plenty large enough to store your tent and sleeping bag. Plus, with a 300 lbs weight capacity, you should be able to pack everything you need for camping.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to reach the hatches while on the water. However, bungee riggings give you somewhere to attach a dry bag with your essentials.  

Although it won’t improve your paddle skills, we also like that the Tsunami 125 is a very sleek-looking kayak and available in a selection of colors. 

  • Comfortable
  • Plenty of dry storage and deck storage
  • Excellent value for money
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Lightweight
  • Slower than longer touring kayaks

Best Tandem: Point 65 Martini GTX

Length: 13’8″ | Width: 27.6″ | Weight: 77 lbs | Capacity: 530 lbs

Point 65 Martini GTX

When you want the best kayak for camping with a friend, but you need something more portable than a full-sized touring kayak, take a look at the Point 65 Sweden Martini GTX. This modular tandem kayak is comfortable, handles well, and easily fits across the back seats of most cars. 

Although it takes up more space than an inflatable kayak, the Martini GTX takes less than a minute to set up and take apart. It’s fitted with durable but straightforward snap-locks on either side, which hold the kayak together so you can spend more time on the water and less time setting up.

This tandem kayak stands out from others because its modular 3-piece design also allows you to use the Martini GTX as a solo kayak. Just leave out the middle piece. This design makes it a practical choice for anyone who wants more flexibility but doesn’t want to buy a second kayak.

Of course, performance is important too. The Martini GTX is designed with comfort and stability in mind. It’s fitted with Point 65 Sweden’s super comfortable air pump backrest and an adjustable seating system. Its wide and rounded hull also feels very stable, so you shouldn’t have any problems when you stop to take photos or rest.

When it comes to speed, the Martini GTX isn’t the fastest kayak on the water. However, it does track well, and the integrated rudder lets you control direction using the foot pedals. 

The Martini GTX certainly provides a decent amount of dry storage in the bow and stern. You also have two sets of bungee riggings on the top deck, and with a 530 lbs weight capacity, you should be able to pack all your gear on board. 

  • Lots of dry storage
  • Comfortable seat
  • Flexible design
  • Features a built-in rudder
  • Quick to set-up
  • A bit heavy
  • No carry handles

Best Inflatable: Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite

Length: 13′ | Width: 32″ | Weight: 42 lbs | Capacity: 450 lbs

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite

A more compact alternative to a modular kayak is an inflatable kayak. And, the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite is one of the best inflatable kayaks for camping.

This 13-foot kayak packs down to just 31 x 16 x 10 inches, making it small enough to fit in the back of your car. It’s also compact and light enough to take as hold luggage if you plan a kayaking adventure abroad. 

One downside is that it doesn’t offer as much storage space as the other kayaks in our top five. However, the AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite does provide a decent-sized storage hatch with a built-in dry bag closure in the stern. It also has an awe-inspiring weight capacity (450 lbs) and extra gear attachment points on the top deck.

It doesn’t take much time to get this inflatable kayak out of the car and in the water when it comes to setting up. That said, with nine separate air chambers to inflate, it certainly takes a bit longer to set up than a hardshell or modular kayak. 

Its hybrid folding-inflatable design means that it’s much more rigid than other inflatable kayaks. As a result, it tracks well and cuts through light waves efficiently. This model isn’t designed for rough waters, but it can handle grade I-II rivers, larger lakes, or sheltered coastlines.

Finally, the AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite is one of the most comfortable inflatable kayaks on the market. It has an adjustable seat with high-back support. The seat is fitted on a raised platform, offering better visibility, and, unlike many inflatable kayaks, this model comes with adjustable footpegs.

  • Comfortable
  • Rigid design
  • Made from heavy-duty materials
  • Tracks well
  • High weight capacity
  • Pump and paddle are not included
  • It takes slightly longer to set up

Best Touring: Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145

Length: 14’6″ | Width: 25.5″ | Weight: 56 lbs | Capacity: 350 lbs

Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145

For anyone who mostly kayaks in coastal areas, the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 is our top choice. At 14.6 feet long, it’s the longest kayak on our list and nearly 2 feet longer than the Tsunami 125.

Like others in the Tsunami family, the Tsunami 145 features a wide cockpit that is comfortable for medium to large paddlers. This wide shape makes it very stable, even in light surf, wind, and choppier waters. But its long V-shaped hull means that it cuts through waves and tracks very well. You should be able to reach those isolated beaches in the Tsunami 145 with less physical effort. 

This model is also ‘rudder ready’ so, although a rudder is not included, you can easily attach one to help with steering. 

What makes the Tsunami 145 one of the best kayaks for camping? Well, it has a high weight capacity, deck riggings, two large storage hatches, and two removable gear pockets that you can access from the cockpit. You can easily carry all your essential camping gear for an overnight trip, plus a few creature comforts. 

We also think that its padded and fully adjustable Phase 3 AirPro seating system makes it a sensible choice for a kayak camping trip. When it comes to multi-day paddling adventures, a supportive and comfortable seat shouldn’t be overlooked. Additionally, for even more comfort on the water, the Tsunami 145 comes with adjustable thigh braces and slide-lock footpegs.

  • Great storage
  • Tracks well
  • Very stable
  • Comfortable seat and cockpit
  • Rudder ready
  • The rudder is not included

Kayak for Camping: Buying Guide

Tents Set Up on Riverbank with Kayaks

With so many great kayaks on the market today, it’s tough to know which is the best kayak for camping and which kayak you should invest your money in. 

Specific features make certain kayaks better for overnight trips and expeditions than others. Below, we’ve considered these features and put together this buyer’s guide. This guide should help you understand which is the best kayak for camping and which of our top five will best meet your needs.

Intended Use

Where do you plan to take your kayak for camping trips? Will you follow a sheltered coastline, traverse a canal, or tackle a faster flowing river? 

There are countless great kayaks for camping; some are designed for flat water, some are multi-purpose, and some perform best on specific types of water. Deciding how and where you will primarily use your kayak will help you whittle down your options.

For example, anyone who lives in a coastal area will probably benefit most from a sea-worthy kayak. Meaning a kayak that’s able to cut through waves, track well, and cope with moderate winds, like the Tsunami 145 or Tsunami 125

Meanwhile, anyone looking for a kayak for flatwater or a kayak to take on vacation might benefit from a modular or inflatable kayak instead. 

Of course, you don’t need to buy a different type of kayak for every type of water. But, if you know how you’ll be using it most of the time, that should help you figure out which type of kayak and which features will be the most useful for you.


Man on Touring Kayak

Before buying a kayak for camping, consider how far you plan to travel in a day and the approximate speed you hope to reach. Longer touring kayaks, like the Tsunami 145, will help you travel faster and further with less effort. 

Comparatively, the super stable Martini GTX and AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite will feel pretty slow, even though both track well. Therefore, they are better suited for paddlers covering shorter distances. 

Of course, a kayak’s performance will depend on the type of water it’s designed for. The Tsunami 125 and the Eddyline Skylark are both great all-rounders because they track well, turn easily, and feel pretty stable on slow to moderate rivers as well as flatwater and sheltered coasts.

Gear Storage

You’ll need to carry a significant amount of gear when you take your kayak for a multi-day adventure. That’s why storage space is one of the most essential features to look for in the a kayak for camping.

Ideally, you’ll want a kayak with dry storage in the bow and stern as this gives you somewhere to store your tent, dry clothes, and sleeping bag. Deck riggings or deck pockets, like the Tsunami 145 has, are also handy for carrying extra kit or storing things that you’ll want to access during the daytime. 

Aside from storage capacity, you’ll also need to consider the size of the storage hatch openings. This is often overlooked, but dry storage compartments are useless if you can’t fit your gear through the hatches. 

Unless you’re planning to buy new camping gear along with a new kayak, we recommend checking the kayak hatches are large enough that your tent and other items can fit through. 

The other thing to look for in gear storage compartments are sealed bulkheads – bulkheads separate the gear compartment from the cockpit, and sealed bulkheads keep the water out when you capsize. Also, check whether the hatches are water-resistant or watertight, as you may still need to pack your kit into a dry bag for kayaking.

Weight Capacity

group of kayakers paddling down a river

When you’ve found a kayak that can fit all your camping gear, you’ll also need to check the kayak’s maximum weight capacity. All manufacturers should list the maximum weight capacity for each kayak model.

Your weight, including the weight of your camping gear and the weight of another paddler if you’re buying a tandem kayak, should be less than the kayak’s maximum weight capacity. 

Suppose you’re a heavier paddler, or you like to take a lot of gear. In that case, it’s worth looking at kayaks with a higher-than-average weight capacity, like the AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite or the Tsunami 145.


Last but certainly not least, the best kayaks for camping should be comfortable. You might be able to cope with a hard seat or poor back support on a short paddle. But, on a multi-day trip, those aches and niggles will become more pronounced.

For that reason, all the kayaks in our top five feature extremely comfortable seats with foam padding, high-back support, and adjustable seat and backrest positions. Allowing you to tailor the kayak to your size

Also, look out for kayaks with padded thigh/knee braces and adjustable footpegs, as these features will help you control the kayak and maintain correct paddle posture

The Verdict

After extensive research and carefully reviewing the pros and cons of multiple kayaks on the market, we’ve determined that the Eddyline Skylark deserves the top spot.

The combination of comfort, gear storage, stability, and speed makes it an excellent kayak for novice and experienced paddlers alike. Furthermore, there’s no shortage of functional features, from the easy-adjust footpegs to the retractable carry handles. Plus, its sturdy deck and hull material mean that you should get plenty of use out of the Eddyline Skylark.

Everyone has different needs, and therefore the best kayak for you or I won’t necessarily be the best kayak for someone else. Although we’ve picked the Eddyline Skylark as the best kayak for camping, it’s important to consider your intended use and budget before spending your money. 

We hope this article helps you hone your search for the best kayak for your camping trip, and we look forward to seeing you on the water!