Best Kayak for Seniors [Simple Buyers Guide]

In a hurry? Here are the winners after several hours of research

Lifetime Tamarack Angler

  • Best sit-on-top under $500
  • Affordable
  • Comfortable

Intex Challenger K1

  • Best inflatable kayak
  • Very affordable
  • Super lightweight

Pakayak Bluefin

  • Packable sea kayak
  • Easy to transport
  • High performance

The best kayak for seniors

Kayaking is a great low-impact physical activity for seniors looking for a way to enjoy nature and the water. Having the right equipment is key for enjoying kayaking, so today we will look at the best kayak for seniors.

Kayaking and canoeing are popular activities these days and people of all ages are enjoying them. If you are a senior citizen that’s never tried kayaking, there might be a bunch of questions running through your head:

“Is kayaking safe for seniors?”

“Is kayaking or canoeing with bad knees possible?”

“How to get into a kayak from water after falling out?”

“What is the right type of kayak for seniors?”

“Is kayaking for non-swimmers?”


Don’t worry, I’ll answer all those questions and more in a minute. Let’s start by looking at what kayaking actually is and how it can benefit your health.

Differences in kayaks: Which is the best option for seniors?

Kayaks can be split into a couple of distinct categories. The first is solid or inflatable and the second is regular or sit-on-top. One consideration is also the use. River, lake and ocean use all have different requirements, mainly in kayak length.

Regular kayaks feature a chassis inside which you sit on. This makes them very sleek, agile and provides cover from the weather.

Sit-on-top kayaks are just like the name suggests. Instead of sitting inside the kayak you sit on it. This makes getting on and off the kayak a lot easier.

Sit-on-top kayaks are generally a bit wider which makes them more stable as well. They are definitely a good choice for beginners, fishers and for seniors as well. This is because getting in and out of the kayak and balancing are the two hardest parts for most seniors. Sit-on-top kayaks make both of these easier,

which type of kayak is best for seniors

Inflatable kayaks are getting increasingly common as manufacturing techniques and quality improves, Once they were considered a beach toy but these days you can get very light, high-quality inflatable kayaks that can be used just like regular kayaks.

Inflatable kayaks offer a lightweight and compact size at the expense of agility and durability. Due to the inflatable construction they are usually a bit thicker than solid sit-on-top (virtually all inflatable kayaks are sit-on-top) kayaks making them slower and of course, there is always the risk of rupture.

High-quality inflatable kayaks have countermeasures like sections and emergency valves in case of serious rupture or malfunction so they are still relatively safe.

Next, we will look at the best option for seniors in every category. We will start with a sit-on-top kayak, as I think they are the most senior and beginner-friendly kayak.

Best sit on top kayak for seniors

Sit-on-top kayaks are a great way to enjoy kayaking in good weather as they don’t provide as much protection from the water and wind. What they do offer is higher stability and ease of use. Both of which most seniors will appreciate. Sit-on-top kayaks are the easiest kayak to get out of.

My recommendation for a sit-on-top kayak for seniors is the Lifetime Tamarack Angler.

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler is made from UV-protected polyethylene plastic and it’s 120″ long. It features a 275 lbs carrying capacity so it can handle most users very easily,

Weighing at 52 lbs it’s not super light but light enough to be carried for short distances by healthy strong adults. The kayak is designed for extreme safety and stability so you will find this kayak very comfortable to use.

The kayak features multiple footrest positions to accommodate users of different sizes. The seat is padded for extra comfort and both the seat and backrest are adjustable.

There are two waterproof storage compartments and ropes for carrying additional equipment. If you plan to use the kayak for fishing, there are two flush mounted fishing rod holders as well!

Considering the price and all top reviews (5 out of 5 in Amazon) this kayak is a bargain and won’t leave you disappointed. Definitely, the best sit on top kayak under 500 on the market!

The Best inflatable kayak for seniors

If you are looking for an inflatable kayak that you can take anywhere with you in the trunk of your car, my recommendation is the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak.

The K1 is an extremely affordable nimble little inflatable kayak. But don’t let the price fool you! It can easily handle day trips or be used as a portable kayak on the go.

It features inflatable vinyl construction with separate inflatable sections for the floor and the backrest which adds stability and comfort.

Due to it’s relatively small size and inflatable construction the kayak is very light, weighing at 27.2lbs. Even though the K1 is very light, it can handle loads up to 220lbs so it’s suitable for most adults.

The kayak comes with an aluminum paddle, a high-output manual pump and a repair kit in case of a puncture. Even though modern inflatable kayaks are relatively tough it important to remember they can be punctured. So avoid running into sharp rocks or sticks!

On Amazon, the K1 has received 4.3 stars out of 5 Considering the price this is pretty phenomenal! Usually, budget products only get decent reviews because the low price requires compromise on quality and functionality but not in the case of this kayak!

If you are looking for the best lightweight kayaks for seniors, I don’t think there’s a better option than the K1.

The Best ocean kayak for seniors

My final recommendation is an ocean kayak. For ocean use, it’s very important to choose a kayak that is stable and can handle the large ocean waves.

Even if you plan on only kayaking in still days, the weather can always surprise you and you don’t want to be caught in a rainstorm on the ocean with an unstable kayak.

My recommendation for an ocean kayak is the Pakayak Bluefin 14 Ft Hardshell High Performance Sea Kayak

The Pakayak is an ingenious collapsible sea kayak. It can be taken apart for transportation and storage which is a huge plus if you don’t own a huge garage that can house a full-size 14ft ocean kayak.

Pakayaks are made in the USA and part of their profits go to saving endangered ocean species. The patented shape makes the Bluefin very stable and fast at the same time. Typically, width adds stability but reduces speed but they have found the perfect compromise.

The Pakayak Bluefin you truly get what you pay for. An extremely portable full-size ocean kayak that’s both stable and fast. Perfect for ocean use for seniors!

Kayaking Accessories for Seniors

There are some accessories you should consider when kayaking. Most of them are optional but they will make kayaking much more enjoyable. Others are more for safety in certain conditions and you should definitely consider getting them.

1. Kayak Cart

A kayak cart allows you to pull the kayak instead of carrying it. This is naturally much easier and requires less strength than carrying.

Most kayak carts are very lightweight and simple to use. They are essentially a pair of wheels that go to the rear of the kayak while you carry the front end.

2. Life jacket

Life jacket is a mandatory accessory especially in open waters and the ocean. A life jacket also makes it possible to enjoy kayaking safely even if you can’t swim very well.

Even if you are a good swimmer a life jacket can save your life in case of injury or illness on the water. There are special life jackets meant for kayaks that don’t hinder you from paddling.

3. Wetsuit

A wetsuit can keep you warm if you plan to kayak in cold water or climate. Especially in ocean use and using a sit-on-top kayak it basically impossible to stay completely dry.

You don’t want to be in wet clothes if the water and air are cold because it is possible to catch a cold or even get hypothermia. A wetsuit keeps you warm even when wet.

4. Fitness tracker

A fitness tracker can help you monitor your activity levels and heart rate during kayaking so you don’t over exert yourself. Some fitness trackers also have GPS built into them so you can track your route afterward on your smartphone. I think Fitbit makes the best fitness trackers and the best Fitbit for seniors is the Fitbit Charge 3.

What is kayaking

Kayaking is a form of water activity where you use a kayak to explore the waters. Kayak is a lightweight watercraft that uses a paddle as propulsion instead of rows or an engine. There are also kayaks with pedals.

Kayaks are a form of a canoe with a covered top. Kayaks and canoes were used by Native Americans for fishing and traveling on the water. The original kayaks we’re intended for seal hunting in the icy seas of the north. They were built out of wood or whalebone frame and covered with seal or other animal skin.

They provided more protection from the weather but the also allowed the user to perform a “roll” in case of tipping over. Even though it meant you got wet, your probability of survival increased if you could paddle back to safety instead of freezing in the sea.

Even native Americans had garments that covered the cockpit of the kayak that prevented water from getting inside the kayak in case of a roll. The modern-day kayaks have a similar system that stretches over the cockpit cover known as the spray deck.

These days kayaking is mostly done for recreational and exercise purposes even though some native tribes still hunt and fish using kayaks.

Kayaks offer a closer experience of being on the water than other forms of boats do. Due to the very shallow construction of a kayak, you are literally sitting on the water.

Kayaks can also get into places other watercraft can’t. They can travel in extremely shallow waters and due to their construction and lightweight, it’s possible to carry them over short distances if the water gets too shallow.

That’s why they are perfect for exploring marshes, rivers, ponds, canals or any other water body with shallow parts that don’t allow access to larger watercraft. A special form of kayaks are also used for rafting.

Of course, kayaks can be used for open water as well. Ocean kayaks are generally longer and heavier than kayaks intended for shallower waters. This is because kayaks require quite a bit of balancing from the user and large ocean waves naturally make balancing harder.

A larger kayak is simply more stable but it is also less agile and swims a bit deeper, requiring a higher water clearance in shallows.

Why Is kayaking good for seniors?

Like I constantly try to remind my readers, exercise and especially strength training is extremely important for your health as you age.

Maintaining and improving your balance is even more important. Having good strength levels and mobility are crucial for maintaining balance.

For overall health, in older age, it’s important to find physical activities that you enjoy so your overall activity levels will remain high. This helps to stave off the negative effects of aging and keep your health in check.

Kayaking can help you achieve all those goals. You see, kayaking requires quite a bit of upper body strength and balance, even though it’s mainly an endurance-based activity.

You use the large muscles of your torso and back to propel the kayak forward. This helps to increase and maintain the strength in your upper body and arms while increasing your heart rate, providing all the benefits of endurance exercise.

why is kayaking good for seniors

When you sit in a kayak for the first time, you will instantly feel like you’re going to fall over. This is natural as your body tries to find the center of balance in a new environment.

Kayaks are somewhat unstable watercraft as you can easily tip them over their side if you are not careful. But you will soon find that balancing the kayak becomes second nature and you won’t have to pay any attention to it. Until you almost fall over that is.

In a way, it’s just like standing or riding a bike. You feel completely stable until your balance is compromised. This new way of balancing is excellent practice for your balance skill and it will help your overall balance as well.

Finally, sitting in a kayak requires quite a bit of mobility on your hips, legs and lower back. When you first sit in a kayak you might feel tightness in your hamstrings and lower back but you will soon forget about it.

Simply sitting in the kayak, using your upper body for movement, you will simultaneously improve the mobility of your lower body.

What to look for in a kayak for seniors

Not sure what kind of kayak you should get and what should you actually look for in a kayak? Here are some common considerations for seniors when choosing a kayak:

Comfort and back support

One of the most common problems for seniors in kayaking is discomfort. There’s no denying it, kayaks are small and you have to sit in a tight space for long periods of time.

This requires good mobility from your knees, hips, and back to do comfortably for several hours. Fortunately, not all kayaks are built the same and there are accessories that can make your life more comfortable.

The most important things to look for are back support and adjustability of foot placement. Most kayaks offer either a simple plastic seat or foam padding but some higher-end models actually have adjustable back angels with high-quality cushioned seats.


Stability in a kayak can mean two things. Firstly, how stable it is on the water, i.e. how easy it is to tip over and secondly how stable it is in direction while paddling.

Generally speaking, longer kayaks are more stable in steering as the longer hull essentially works as a rudder, opposing any slight turns caused by uneven paddling.

For sideways stability, the wider the kayak, the harder it is to tip over. This is why sit on top kayaks are a very good option for seniors. Just take into account that a wider kayak will have more drag and is thus slower.


Since you usually have to haul the kayak to the water, weight is definitely a consideration for most seniors. A lightweight kayak will be much easier to lift on and off the water and for transportation.

Some larger and thus heavier kayaks can simply be too heavy for seniors to safely and comfortably lift and carry. So always go for the lightest model that is otherwise suitable for your needs.

That said heavier and larger kayaks are more stable in open water and they do have they’re used, so it’s really a matter of your personal needs.

Is kayaking or canoeing with bad knees possible?

So can you kayak with bad knees? Well, it depends both on the cause of your knee pain and the type of kayak. If your knees mainly hurt from impact or movement, kayaking probably won’t cause you significant issues as your lower body will stay in a fixed position.

Most kayaks allow you to adjust your sitting position and the length of the foot supports so you can play around with your knee angles to see what feels best.

If you are wondering how to get out of a kayak with bad knees it’s probably best to simply use a special kayaking dock that allows you to simply lower yourself inside the kayak, using your upper body. Getting out shouldn’t be too painful on your knees either, as you put virtually no weight on them.

As always, consult your doctor before starting, if you are worried that kayaking might make your knee pain or condition worse.

If you are afraid you can’t get in and out of a kayak because you are not strong enough to support your body weight when lowering down into the watercraft, check out my free strength training program! Do it for a few weeks and kayaking will become a breeze.

Is kayaking for non-swimmers?

Well, it depends. In all honesty, you should at least have mediocre swimming skills when kayaking. That said, if you have the necessary safety equipment, you don’t need to be especially good at swimming.

A life jacket is a must for anyone kayaking but especially for people who are not good swimmers. Even if you only go kayaking on lakes and stay close to the shores, a life jacket can quite literally save your life in case of an emergency.

Even if you were a decent swimmer, close to a shore, it’s possible to get injuries or swallow water which can cause you to panic and prevent you from swimming to shore safely. A life jacket helps you in a situation like this by keeping you on the surface, allowing you to calm your nerves.

On the other hand, if you can’t swim at all and just the thought of being in water terrifies you, you can’t simply rely on a life jacket to take care of your safety.

If you can’t swim at all, I would recommend first learning how to swim before considering kayaking. It will make kayaking much less stressful and swimming is both excellent exercise and a useful, potentially life-saving skill.

You can learn to swim at any age, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There are swimming courses even for seniors that start from the basics.

If you are someone who can swim a bit but aren’t really comfortable with your swimming skills in case of emergency, consider taking a kayaking course.

It’s a bad idea to go kayaking by yourself with bad swimming skills but when done with an experienced instructor and proper safety equipment, it’s completely safe. Don’t let irrational fears to prevent you from trying new


I hope you found my recommendations for the best kayak for seniors useful and decide to try them yourself! If you have any questions about the kayaks or kayaking, don’t hesitate to contact me in the comments section below.

Kayaking is a great way to get exercise, improve your health and enjoy the outdoors in older age. Kayaking is by nature relatively low-impact exercise and great for improving overall strength and endurance levels.

Kayaking and other forms of being active in the great outdoors have been shown to reduce stress levels more efficiently than exercising indoors. Gliding over water has this primal soothing effect that I can’t really describe better, you have to experience it yourself!

Being outside also allows you to get some sunshine which will improve your body’s production of vitamin D, which is extremely important for preventing osteoporosis. Just make sure to not get too much of sun at a time as this can increase your risk of skin cancers. Use sunscreen and covering clothes if going out for the whole day.

Thanks for reading and see you next time!


10 thoughts on “Best Kayak for Seniors [Simple Buyers Guide]”

  1. I honestly had no idea there was so many kinds of Kayak, like the sit-on and inflatable types.

    I feel so sheltered, ha ha.

    But this is a great read for sure. As I got older, my body has been slower to recover from some injuries and more prone to the usual “aches and pains” that they say comes with age.

    But I will say one thing – once you start to let your body go, it’s all downhill unless you grab the wheel and take control. The more effort I put into maintaining my health, the better I feel. Whether it comes from a good workout or a clean meal, I always feel better. And it’s good to see such valuable forms of exercise such as kayaking and canoeing are still good for the older folks too.


    • Ha! I know, when I first got into kayaking I wasn’t aware there are so many options and it can feel a bit overwhelming to try to decide what you need. Just like with any new hobby, I guess.

      I know what you mean by the aches and pains that come with aging. I’m not that old yet by there is a definite change to when I was in my twenties. I’ve also noticed if I skimp on exercise, especially strength training, my aches tend to get worse. I have chronic lower back pain and somewhat chronic knee tendinopathy that common wisdom and doctors would urge to treat by rest and gentle exercise. I’ve treated the by increasing my full ROM squat to 130kg, which has reduced the symptoms to almost non-existent.

      Just goes to show you have to keep active to keep your body healthy and functional! Kayaking is definitely a good activity as it also offers the benefits of being in nature. Cheers to you Tyson!

  2. Hey!
    Great article! I personally love kayaking and we have lots of nature and rivers nearby where I like to spend my time in summer! I had never thought of this as a great activity for seniors, but it totally makes sense. It’s relaxing and easy-going, while still keeping people active and out and about. Nice recommendations too, I’m not sure I would want to have my own since I don’t do it enough for that, but I can definitely imagine the options you gave being great choices for seniors who do it regularly!

    Thanks for the info!

    • Thanks for the comment, Melanie! Kayaking is definitely a healthy activity for people of all ages. Being in nature and on the water is very relaxing and rejuvenating just like you stated and kayaking offers also the benefits of being active. I completely understand that many people wouldn’t want to own a kayak of their own because they take up a lot of space and can be quite expensive. I own a small sit-on-top kayak that I use on our summer cottage but if I want to go explore the lakes around where I live, I simply rent a larger kayak because I don’t have storage for one in our city apartment. All the best to you!

  3. This was such an eye opening post about kayaking, I enjoyed every bit of it. I didn’t know there was so much to factor in when getting a kayak for seniors and what one should understand about muscles and power. Kayaking is a great leisure activity for me and when you’re paddling, all the torso and back like you said requires a bit of work. I always looked at it more of a muscle activity and less of an endurance but from what I’m reading it makes most sense how you say.

    The sit on top kayaks are a smart idea and I didn’t know much about these until today. Especially for seniors who don’t have the power and strength to go out of one easily, this offers a greater alternative. I’m happy to know that there is a solution to everything like when you have bad knees you can use a dock for support.

    I learned a great deal today, thank you for sharing!

    • Great to hear you liked it, Michael! Kayaking is definitely a versatile sport for all ages. It’s easy to see why one might think it’s more of a strength based activity than endurance as it requires some upper body strength to paddle. However, when you think about, you usually go kayaking for at least an hour at a time. Anything that requires more than a minute of work isn’t really strength training so kayaking is definitely an endurance activity. It will, of course, activate your muscles and keep them strong, but it’s definitely not optimal for that.

      Sit-on-top kayaks are definitely a great option for many uses. You just have to accept that you are going to get your feet wet but then again kayaking always involves some amount of contact with water so it’s not really a big deal. All the best to you!

  4. I’ve kayaked in the past. I’m researching sit on tops now because they are easier to get in an out. Looking forward to kayaking again. I’m 79. ??

    • Kayaking is definitely a great form of exercise and the best part about is the outdoor experience! Did you know that exercising in nature has been proven to improve health significantly more than exercising indoors? It’s fascinating and they suspect it has to do with all the environmental factors like sunlight, fresh air, microbes, etc.

      Sit on top kayaks are definitely easier to get in and out, especially if you have any movement disabilities. They are also a bit more stable so they are more beginner-friendly. They only downside is that the wider base adds a bit of drag, making them a bit slower than regular kayaks.

  5. I retired to a small home on a lake in NH. My husband purchased to kayaks for us. I found mine uncomfortable to sit & the sides to high for me to paddle easily. So I went hunting for another. I found one that works better in the paddle department but find it still uncomfortable ( they told me the all come that way??). After reading your article I now know it’s not true. I’m on the hunt for another one but would like it lighter. I’m 71 & have to usually move it around myself. But I can’t afford a pricey one !!

    • Hi Lorraine and thanks for your input. It’s true that many kayaks can feel uncomfortable, especially for seniors. But they are not all made the same. One thing you need to keep in mind is that you have to give yourself some time to adjust to a new kayak. A single try won’t probably tell you how it feels on the long run or after sitting on it for hours at a time. My recommendation is to go for a sit on top kayak as they are much more senior friendly. The only problem is that you have to get used to the sides. The paddle easily hits the sides in because they are thicker and you sit higher than in a regular kayak.


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