As you’re probably aware, kayaks come in many different shapes and sizes. But if you’re new to the sport, one of the best 10-foot kayaks will give you a solid, stable kayak to keep you dry while you perfect paddling techniques like forward paddling and stopping your kayak.
Kayaks of this size provide a great balance between smaller kayaks that might feel cramped for larger paddlers and longer models that can be hard to maneuver on the water and heavy to transport to and from your home to your favorite paddling destinations.
But there are still many things to consider when you’re trying to buy a new kayak. Length is far from the only technical specification and/or feature that will play an important role in whether or not a certain kayak will be a good fit for you.
That’s why we’re going to use this guide for more than just reviewing our choices for the 10 best 10-foot kayaks. We’ll also define some key kayaking jargon terms and outline how you can compare these kayaks side-by-side so that you can ultimately choose the best model for your paddling style.
So let’s hop in!
Table of Contents
- 1 Jargon Buster
- 2 Buying Guide
- 3 10 Foot Kayak Reviews
- 3.1 1. Wilderness Systems Pungo 105
- 3.2 2. Lifetime Tamarack Pro 103
- 3.3 3. Emotion Kayaks Guster
- 3.4 4. Pelican Maxim 100X
- 3.5 5. Perception Pescador Pro 10
- 3.6 6. Lifetime Cruze 100
- 3.7 7. Pelican Bass Creek 100XP Angler
- 3.8 8. Perception Joyride 10
- 3.9 9. Wilderness Systems Aspire 100
- 3.10 10. Brooklyn Kayak Company PK11 Angler
- 4 Our Pick – Lifetime Tamarack Pro 103
- 5 Enjoyed 10 Best Ten Foot Kayaks? Share it with your friends so they too can follow the KayakHelp journey.
When you’re new to the sport of kayaking, you might see certain terms that are unfamiliar as you’re trying to select one of the best 10-foot kayaks. So let’s start by providing some important definitions of terms you’ll see as you continue your buying process.
The hull is the bottom part of your kayak that rests underneath the surface of the water once you’re loaded into the kayak. The shape and size of a kayak’s hull will largely determine factors like stability, tracking ability, maneuverability, and speed.
A kayak’s gunwales are its sides (to your right and left when you’re sitting in your kayak). The height of a kayak’s gunwales will play a role in how much water gets into the cockpit on windy and wavy days, and it will also dictate whether or not you’ll be able to attach a kayak spray skirt over the top of the cockpit.
Chine refers to the style in which a kayak’s hull meets its gunwales and it dictates whether the kayak has a more rounded or boxy appearance. In general, kayaks can either boast harder or softer chines depending on their design.
A kayak with harder chines will offer better tracking ability and primary stability, but they can be more likely to capsize in bad weather. Softer chines, on the other hand, provide better secondary stability and are generally found on the fastest kayaks on the market.
A kayak’s rocker refers to the degree of curve found in the hull from bow to stern (front to back). Hulls with more rocker offer better maneuverability but less tracking ability while hulls with less rocker make it easier to keep your kayak straight but harder to make quick turns when needed.
Before you look through the ten kayaks that we’ve reviewed below, you should get familiar with the most important criteria for choosing a kayak – and that’s exactly what we’ll cover in this Buying Guide!
The design of the bottom of a kayak is going to be the most critical feature for determining that kayak’s performance. That’s largely going to break down to a kayak’s primary and secondary stability.
A kayak’s primary stability refers to how well it remains stable on flat water when the kayak isn’t in motion. Secondary stability refers to a kayak’s ability to retain stability when it’s tipped on its side, which winds up being quite useful in adverse weather and wavy conditions.
There are four major hull designs that you’ll find on the best 10-foot kayaks on the market these days. For a quick breakdown, they consist of the rounded, V-shaped, flat, and tunnel (or pontoon) hulls, and let’s briefly talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Kayaks with rounded hulls tend to offer more secondary stability than primary stability. These kayaks are also able to achieve higher top speeds because of the decreased water resistance that you’ll enjoy with the rounded edges of the hull.
The V-shaped hull design provides even more secondary stability than the rounded hull, but it will also offer less primary stability. This is one reason that kayaks with a V-shaped hull can often feel a bit unstable when you first get into them.
This hull design does, however, have the advantage of added tracking ability, which will help you keep your kayak pointed in the desired direction. Also, the deeper, narrower design of this hull style allows kayaks to achieve higher top speeds over long distances.
The flat hull design is popular for whitewater kayaks and even some of the best river fishing kayaks. That’s largely because this hull design provides excellent primary stability and maneuverability.
Tunnel (or Pontoon) Hull
This final hull design is meant to provide excellent stability above all else because it combines the primary stability of a flat hull with the secondary stability of a rounded hull. That’s why many kayaks for beginners boast this hull style, but kayaks with this hull design are definitely not known for their speed.
A kayak’s weight capacity is really important to consider before you finalize your purchase because overloading your kayak will compromise its performance. It will also impact how low your kayak sits in the water and, as a result, how easily water can splash over the gunwales and into the cockpit.
The good news about a kayak’s weight capacity is that it’s typically going to be easy to find when you’re researching different kayaks. But there are a few considerations beyond simply making sure that your body weight is below a kayak’s advertised weight capacity.
You’ll also need to account for the weight of any of your kayaking gear and essential safety equipment. No experienced kayaker goes out on the water empty-handed, and the odds are good that you’ll add more and more accessories to your setup as you gain more paddling experience.
The hard part about adding the weight of all your gear to your body weight is that it can be annoying to put every single paddling accessory on the scale individually. Some of those items will be so small that they might not even register on your standard household scale.
That’s why many kayakers use the same kind of hanging scale that many backpackers use to measure the weight of their packs before heading out for a hiking adventure. If you add an appropriately-sized kayak dry bag to your arsenal, you can easily load all of your gear into it and then hang the bag from your scale to get the weight for all of your gear.
From there, you can add the weight of your gear to your body weight to get an upper limit for how much you might load into your kayak on a given day. But it’s also important not to push that limit too close to a kayak’s listed weight capacity.
As a general rule-of-thumb, it’s actually recommended to avoid exceeding 80 percent of a kayak’s weight capacity. So, for example, if a kayak is rated to hold up to 350 pounds, you probably don’t want to load in more than 280 pounds if you want your kayak to perform to the best of its manufactured ability.
In addition to paying attention to how much a kayak’s manufacturer designed it to hold, you should also compare the weights of any kayaks you’re interested in purchasing. A kayak’s weight is going to come into play whenever you’re moving it around off the water, but can also determine how easy it is to maneuver on the water as well.
While there’s no specific weight range that we can recommend here, it’s important that you simply feel comfortable with lifting and moving the advertised weight of a kayak you’re going to buy. This is especially important if you’re mainly going to be transporting your kayak using a rooftop kayak rack.
If you always paddle with a partner (which has its benefits!), then you might be able to choose a heavier kayak because you’ll always have a second set of hands to help you lift and move the kayak from your vehicle to the water (and back!).
But if you know you’ll be heading out for solo adventures from time-to-time, there can be a big difference between choosing a 40-pound kayak versus a 70-pound one. Of course, you can always buy a kayak cart to help you roll a heavier kayak down to the shoreline if you do choose a heavier design.
That being said, you should also consider the locations in which you’ll most frequently be paddling. If, for example, you’ll need to transport your kayak several hundred yards from a parking area to the water’s edge, it’s going to be more important to choose a lighter version.
If you know that you can pull right up to a boat ramp or beach before unloading your kayak, then you might not need to prioritize a lightweight kayak as much.
Even if you’re relatively new to kayaking, you should be bringing the basic necessities on the water with you every time you paddle. This includes things like a water bottle, life vest, snacks, and some form of personal identification.
But as you gain experience, the number of items that you’ll want to bring on your kayak is highly likely to increase. Whether you get into kayak fishing, long-distance kayaking expeditions, or sunrise and sunset paddles to photograph stunning landscapes in your area, you’ll need a 10-foot kayak with ample storage space.
In this case, you’ll find a kayak with sealed storage hatches and more open storage compartments. Open storage is great for folks that also purchase large dry bags because it gives you more room to strap in those kinds of large items.
But if you have more sensitive electronics or items that you really want to keep dry while you’re paddling, sealed storage hatches will be quite useful. The only problem with these hatches is that they aren’t always as watertight as the manufacturer might advertise.
That’s why many experienced kayakers will double down and put their gear inside smaller dry bags before placing it inside their kayak’s hatches. But this is a better technique for multi-day paddles because you’ll really only be able to access those items when you hit the shore to stretch your legs.
If you prefer that your kayak’s storage space makes it easier to access all of your gear at any time, then you’ll probably want a sit-on-top kayak with open storage compartments and bungee rigging to help secure your gear.
But if you plan to do any cold-weather kayaking or long-distance kayak touring, you’ll want to choose a kayak with sealed storage hatches. This will help you keep your sleeping bag, change of clothes, and other overnight camping gear safe and dry while you’re on the water.
10 Foot Kayak Reviews
The Wilderness Systems Pungo 105 kayak measures 10’6” long and 30 inches across. This kayak weighs a total of 47 pounds and offers a maximum weight capacity of up to 300 pounds.
The sit-inside design of this kayak will help you enjoy drier paddles in adverse conditions and Wilderness Systems’ Phase 3 AirPro Seating System is one of the most comfortable designs in the kayaking industry.
The Pungo Dashboard at the front of the cockpit is also unique to this kayak. It provides a removable dry box, two cup holders, mounting tracks for accessories, and a small recess for a waterproof battery to help keep your electronics charged on multi-day expeditions.
The Lifetime Tamarack Pro 103 measures 10’3” long and 31 inches across. This kayak’s total weight is 57.5 pounds and it’s rated to hold a combined paddler-and-gear weight of up to 300 pounds.
While this kayak’s price tag is on-par with some of the most affordable kayaks on the market, it comes with features that you won’t find on many cheaper kayaks. This includes two flush-mounted fishing rod holders, adjustable foot braces, and mounting tracks for kayaking accessories.
The Tamarack Pro also offers a small central storage hatch for keeping your phone or snacks readily accessible while you’re on the water and large open storage compartments with bungee rigging at the bow and stern provide additional storage space for a cooler or fishing tackle box.
The Guster model from Emotion Kayaks is another sit-inside kayak that measures 10-feet long and 30 inches across. This kayak weighs a total of 48 pounds and offers a maximum advertised weight capacity of 275 pounds.
The oval-shaped stern hatch on this kayak provides dry storage space for gear that can’t get wet. But you’ll also be able to take advantage of the deck bungee rigging at the bow for attaching a kayak deck bag or other items that you don’t mind getting wet.
In the cockpit, an adjustable seatback and foot braces help paddlers of varying heights find a comfortable seated position. Thigh pads on the edges of the cockpit also help to keep the tops of your legs from rubbing uncomfortably on the unprotected polyethylene kayak material.
The Pelican Maxim 100X measures 10 feet long and 28 inches across. At just 36 pounds, it’s one of the lightest kayaks on our list and it also boasts a maximum weight capacity of 275 pounds.
Pelican kayaks are widely known for their durable and resilient design. Using Twin Sheet Thermoforming (TST) technology, Pelican produces a material that can easily be popped back into place if your kayak is bent or dented accidentally.
The Perception Pescador Pro 10 is one of the best 10-foot kayaks for fishing applications on the market these days. This kayak measures 10’6” long and 32 inches across.
This kayak boasts an advertised weight capacity of 325 pounds and it weighs 57 pounds unloaded. Some of its best features include an elevated mesh seat with an aluminum frame that can be positioned at several different heights and adjustable foot braces that accommodate paddlers of many different heights.
The Lifetime Cruze 100 sit-inside kayak measures 10-feet long and 30 inches wide. This kayak weighs a total of 46 pounds and offers an advertised maximum weight capacity of 275 pounds.
Deep hull channels provide excellent tracking ability for this kayak and harder chine rails provide excellent primary stability. This kayak also features molded-in footrest positions, which means you won’t have to move the foot braces for different paddlers.
The Pelican Bass Creek 100XP Angler is another excellent choice if you’re interested in kayak fishing. This kayak measures 10 feet long, 31.5 inches across, and offers a cockpit depth of 16 inches.
It’s also rated to hold a maximum weight of 325 pounds and the kayak itself weighs 50 pounds. Some of its fishing-specific features include two flush-mounted fishing rod holders behind the seat, a swivel-mounted rod holder in the cockpit, and six eyelets to attach your favorite fishing accessories.
The Perception Joyride 10 measures 10 feet long and 29.5 inches across. This sit-inside kayak offers a maximum advertised weight capacity of 275 pounds and it weighs 50 pounds when empty.
The rear bulkhead compartment on this kayak provides dry gear storage and also increases the overall buoyancy of the kayak. At the front of the cockpit, you’ll be able to take advantage of the ‘Entertainment Dashboard’, which features two accessory mounting points that are compatible with the Perception Solo Mount (sold separately).
The Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 kayak is another sit-inside design and this one measures 10 feet long and 27.5 inches across. When empty, it weighs 44 pounds and it offers a maximum weight capacity of up to 300 pounds.
This kayak is one of the best on our list for adverse conditions because of its TruTrak skeg system. This skeg extends down into the water below the stern of your kayak to improve your tracking ability in windy and wavy conditions.
The Brooklyn Kayak Company PK11 Angler is one of the more unique designs on our list because it features a pedal-drive system that allows you to power your kayak with your legs while keeping your hands free to fish, take photos, or sip on your favorite kayaking beverage.
This kayak measures 10’6” long and 34 inches across. While it’s a heavier model at 60 pounds, it offers the highest advertised weight capacity of any kayak on our list at 420 pounds.
Another reason this kayak is great for anglers is its elevated seat, which provides a higher vantage point for scouting the waters ahead of your kayak. It also gives you the ability to store smaller accessories under the seat for easy access.
Our Pick – Lifetime Tamarack Pro 103
The Lifetime Tamarack Pro 103 is our pick for the best 10-foot kayak because it offers a hybrid-style cockpit design that offers the accessibility of a sit-on-top kayak with features that make all-day paddling much more comfortable.
One of those essential features is adjustable foot braces, which you’ll typically only find on sit-inside kayaks. These foot braces can be moved to fit paddlers of many different heights and they allow you to keep your knees slightly bent and your core engaged to maintain a more ergonomic and efficient paddling posture.
This kayak also gets our nod for the best 10-foot kayak because it features universal 12-inch mounting tracks on both gunwales. These tracks allow you to easily attach a fish finder, GPS system, or any other track-mounted accessory that you prefer.
Finally, this kayak is built with linear, low-density polyethylene construction for excellent strength and durability. Plus, it’s covered by Lifetime’s extended five-year limited warranty if anything needs to be repaired or replaced due to factors outside of your control.