When you are river kayaking, you will experience a mix of different environments, whether its heart pounding whitewater or placid slow moving water. Thus, you want a vessel that is better suited to navigate the twists and turns of the river environment – the best river kayaks allow you to do so. 

Thanks to their short hull designs, kayaks for rivers offer easy and quick maneuverability to navigate any river landscape.  Additionally, they are designed with flat and wide hulls which give them superior stability on river waters. Below is a comprehensive list of the 10 best river kayaks in 2022– you can find the perfect vessel for any kayaking adventure, be it recreational or river fishing.

How To Choose A River Kayak – Buying Guide


Size & Capacity 

The size of your river kayak will directly affect your activities. For a single day fishing trip, a smaller and shorter kayak is perfect as it can adequately store your fishing gear. For overnight trips, you want a large kayak. You can easily find out how much weight your kayak can support by checking the weight capacity on the kayak’s features. Depending on your needs, you will also find single, double, or triple person kayak capacities.


When choosing the best kayak for rivers, you must consider the length. A longer river kayak, which is at least 9.5 feet and above, cruises more efficiently, offers more speed, and extra storage space for overnight gear. A shorter kayak offers easier maneuverability and turns easily.


Hardshell kayaks tend to be heavier than inflatable ones. Either way, you can still find a kayak you can easily transport. Lightweight kayaks can be easily transported and carried to the waterfront by a single person.


A stable river kayak is less likely to flip over. Several elements of the kayak help to enhance its stability. These include a flat bottom, wider hulls, and multi chimes.

Inflatable vs Hardshell

The type of kayak for rivers you want affects their functionality to a certain point. You will come across inflatable and hard shell kayak types when choosing the best kayak for rivers. However, the type of kayak you opt for doesn’t necessarily affect the durability.  

Just because hardshell river kayaks have a tougher shell than inflatable kayaks, it doesn’t mean that all hardshell kayaks are of better quality than inflatable ones.  Whilst inflatable kayaks are equally strong and made of durable materials, they are normally favored for their space-saving functions.

Depending on its construction and design, you can use your inflatable river kayak on whitewater without risking damage. Yet, the fact that they can be deflated and fitted into their carry case means that you can easily transport them without needing heavy duty car roof racks and store them without needing a lot of garage space.

Sit On Top vs Sit Inside

The best river kayaks come in two types, i.e. sit inside and sit on top kayaks. Sit inside kayaks, also known as sit-in kayaks, yield great advantage when used on the river. Due to this design, they offer easy maneuverability because they have a lower center of gravity.  

Their thigh braces and enclosed cockpit designs offer better control during paddling as well. Furthermore, the best kayak for rivers designed in a sit-in style normally has a spray skirt. This design is effective at keeping the paddler dry. 

Sit on top kayaks are a favored choice for beginners and anglers. This kayak style doesn’t only facilitate easier casting and fishing but it offers less moving speed in slow moving rivers to give you more stability and room to enjoy fishing. Thanks to their self-bailing holes, sit on top kayaks drain water easily if you find yourself on rough waters. Additionally, after a spill, sit on top kayaks are easier to recover and re-enter compared to sit-in kayaks.



Q: Are Sit-On-Top Kayaks Good for Rivers?


Yes, sit-on-top kayaks are good for rivers. The best sit-on-top kayak on rivers is designed for recreational kayaking and kayak fishing because they are more stable than sit-in river kayaks. Additionally, their sit-on-top position allows you more accessibility for casting.

Q: What Kind of Kayak Should I Buy for River Kayaking?


The best kayak for rivers are designed to be short and stable to prevent them from easily flipping over as well as to provide better maneuverability and turning. When choosing kayaks river options, you can opt for either a sit-on-top or sit-in style.

Q: How Do You Anchor a Kayak in a River?


Tie your kayak with a folding anchor that weighs at least two pounds with a nylon rope. As it lies on its side, it grabs the bottom to hold your kayak in place. You can also use a drift chute in place of a folding anchor if you don’t want to stop completely.

Globo Surf Overview

To enhance your performance on the river, the best kayak for rivers is an excellent investment. As you cruise on a typically, narrower and confined space, a river kayak’s typical shorter length and flatter hull make it easier to maneuver and track. So whether you are planning your next river fishing trip or even a quiet paddling evening, check out the best river kayak reviews of the top 10 best options above to find your ideal vessel for freshwater kayaking.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!