Longer kayaks are the preferred choice for kayak touring because they have added storage. Shorter kayaks offer the kind of maneuverability that is preferred by whitewater kayakers.
The best 12-foot kayaks are the perfect happy medium between the two. They provide ample storage space without sacrificing maneuverability and ease of transportation.
These kayaks also offer good stability and ample legroom for larger kayakers. So, it is worth reviewing the 10 best 12-foot kayaks that we can find on the market these days.
We will also provide some important details that will help you choose the best kayak for your specific use. So, what do you say we get to it?
Photo by GROGL on Shutterstock
Table of Contents
- 1 Best 12-Foot Kayaks
- 2 Buying Guide
- 3 12-Foot Kayak Reviews
- 3.1 1. Wilderness Systems ATAK 120
- 3.2 2. Brooklyn Kayak Company PK12 Angler Kayak with Trolling Motor
- 3.3 3. Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler
- 3.4 4. Perception Kayaks Pescador Pilot 12
- 3.5 5. Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- 3.6 6. Oru Kayak Bay ST
- 3.7 7. Intex Excursion Pro K2
- 3.8 8. Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem Whitewater Kayak
- 3.9 9. Perception Kayaks Pescador Pro 12
- 3.10 10. Hobie Mirage Passport 12
- 4 Our Pick – Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler
- 5 Enjoyed 10 Best 12 Foot Kayaks? Share it with your friends so they too can follow the Kayakhelp journey.
- Perception Kayaks Pescador Pro 12
- Wilderness Systems ATAK 120
- Brooklyn Kayak Company PK12 Angler
- Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler
- Perception Kayaks Pescador Pilot 12
- Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- Oru Kayak Bay ST
- Intex Excursion Pro K2
- Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem Whitewater Kayak
- Hobie Mirage Passport 12
Photo by Xiaoyu Li on Unsplash
Fortunately, we have already narrowed down your choices so that you really don’t have to worry about kayak length when looking through these options. That being said, there are still plenty of other factors to consider when you are choosing the best 12-foot kayak for your needs.
The inflatable and folding kayak options have increased exponentially in the last few years. So narrowing down which kayak type suits your lifestyle best is a great place to start when you are shopping for a new kayak.
Inflatable and folding kayaks have the major benefits of being easier to transport and requiring much less storage space at your home. This is what makes them attractive for RVers, van lifers, and recreational paddlers who don’t have a ton of extra storage space at home.
While the performance of inflatable and folding kayaks has dramatically increased in recent years, rigid kayaks are still known as the best option if you are looking for a kayak that really performs well.
Rigid kayaks also have the benefit of requiring much less setup time when you get to your paddling destination. That said, you will need one of the best kayak roof racks to safely transport a rigid 12-foot kayak.
You will notice below that a lot of the kayaks in the 12-foot length class are made for kayak fishing. If you have an interest in getting into this type of kayaking, then these kayaks will offer everything you need to see if you are really going to like kayak fishing.
That being said, casual paddlers really aren’t going to need many of the features that come with fishing kayaks (which also tend to make them more expensive). So you can clearly eliminate some of the fishing kayaks on our list if you are looking for a 12-foot kayak for recreational paddling.
Still, it makes sense to keep the full spectrum of potential uses in mind during your selection process. Even if kayak fishing might not be your primary activity, it could still be worthwhile to purchase a kayak with a few basic fishing features in case friends or family members want to take advantage of them.
The 12-foot kayaks that we have chosen below actually come with quite a range of base weights. These weights, of course, are the unloaded weight of just the kayak before you load in yourself or any of your kayaking gear.
There is a big difference between transporting a 90-pound kayak and transporting one that weighs less than 30 pounds. So you should consider just how far you will usually be moving your kayak when you arrive at your preferred destinations.
Also, keep in mind how you will be transporting your kayak from home to those destinations. These considerations will ultimately help you decide how heavy of a kayak you are willing to deal with when it is not on the water.
The bottom of the cockpit also features non-slip grip pads and the hull of the kayak is specifically designed to be stable enough to stand up in. When you do need to sit, however, the mesh seatback is super comfortable and will keep you cool on hotter days.
That mesh material is stretched between an aluminum frame that allows you to enjoy an elevated vantage point even if you are not comfortable with standing up. The seat can also be adjusted to three different positions (high, low, and recline) to suit your needs and preferences.
The ATAK 120 boasts a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds and it weighs 86 pounds before you load in any of your kayaking gear. So this is one of those heavier fishing kayaks that warrant also getting one of the best kayak carts to make transportation easier.
That being said, fishing kayakers love this design because it is highly customizable. The accessory rails on the sides of the cockpit allow you to attach your favorite fishing accessories and the large center console gives you even more storage space for items that you may need quick access to while you are on the water.
Despite that addition, this kayak is still reasonably priced and it includes many of the other amenities that you would look for in a fishing kayak. That includes multiple fishing rod holders, accessory rails, paddle parks, and much more.
This kayak also features an elevated seat that can be adjusted to different positions for cruising, casting, or simply relaxing. Plus, it features a large, enclosed storage hatch at the bow for keeping more sensitive gear and equipment dry.
For anglers that like to fish in one location for extended periods, this kayak also features an anchor trolley. That makes it easy to keep your kayak in one place without constantly needing to swap between handling your paddle and handling a fishing rod.
In addition, this PK12 kayak features a maximum weight capacity of 460 pounds and it weighs 78 pounds when empty. At its thickest, it is 32.75 inches wide and also boasts an open cockpit that is flat enough for standup fishing.
This kind of rudder system is actually rare to find on even the best sit on top kayaks, but it will help you track much straighter in adverse conditions. The rudder is controlled with smooth-action oval pulleys and it is constructed with glass-reinforced plastic for improved durability.
This fishing kayak also offers quite a bit of covered storage space between the enclosed hatch at the bow and the secondary compartment in the center console. On top of that center console, there is also a small pouch storage area for items that can get wet while you are paddling.
In addition to its maneuverability and storage capacity, the Escape 12 Angler also features a total of five fishing rod holders. There are four flush-mounted rod holders in front of and behind the cockpit and another swivel-mounted rod holder just behind the center console.
True to its name, this kayak is also great for multi-day kayak fishing expeditions. It has plenty of room for a large dry bag, cooler, or tackle crate in the rear tankwell and adjustable foot braces to help you maximize your paddling power on longer trips.
The Perception Kayaks Pescador Pilot 12 is a slight upgrade from the Pescador Pro. This kayak features a pedal drive system that allows you to keep your hands on a fishing rod while you turn or relocate your kayak.
Perception’s pedal drive system can be fully recessed into the floor of the kayak to reduce draft to virtually zero. It can also power your kayak in reverse and it can be completely removed or even swapped out for one of the best kayak trolling motors.
Aside from its pedal-driven performance, this kayak features an ergonomic captain’s chair with a mesh seatback that breathes well in hot climates. The seat can also be removed and the cockpit is large and flat enough to be used for standup fishing.
There are a total of four molded-in fishing rod holders on this kayak and they are located directly behind the kayak seat. This makes it easy to access all of your fishing rod setups and also gives you the ability to keep a trolling line in the water as you relocate.
The Pescador Pilot 12 offers a maximum weight capacity of 475 pounds and the kayak weighs about 85 pounds when empty. It is also 33.75 inches wide and best suited for slow-moving rivers, protected coastal waterways, and calm lakes.
Of course, you will retain the ability to remove one of the seats and reposition the other if you want to paddle it solo. The Steelhead can carry up to 600 pounds and also weighs just 44 pounds when fully inflated.
It also boasts a narrower bow design than many other inflatable kayaks. This design allows it to cut through the water more smoothly so that you can paddle further and to it more efficiently.
The bow spray shield will also keep the paddler in the front of this kayak warmer and drier when you are paddling on windy or wavy days. Plus, the drop stitch floor won’t sink in and cause you to sit in a puddle of water if some does spray over the gunwales.
One of the best things about this kayak is that it comes with everything you need to get started, which makes it a great choice if you are just getting into kayak fishing. In addition to the kayak, it comes with two collapsible paddles, a removable skeg, two kayak seats, two adjustable footrests, a dual-action pump, and a travel bag with backpack straps.
In large part, this is because their kayaks are some of the lightest and easiest to assemble. Plus, they actually perform quite well for their specific purposes.
The Bay ST is the easiest to assemble in the folding kayak industry. Plus, they also hold their own when it comes to performance once you get out on the water.
The Bay ST is primarily made for paddling in a wide range of environments. It can handle everything from calm lakes to ocean surf and it boasts a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds.
Initially, it may require up to 30 minutes to figure out how to assemble any Oru Kayak. Once you have a little practice under your belt, however, the average assembly time for the Bay ST is between 10 and 15 minutes.
One of the largest benefits of a folding kayak is that it is much easier to transport than a rigid kayak. When you are done paddling, the Bay ST folds up into a compact box that measures just 33 inches by 12 inches by 29 inches, which is small enough to fit in the trunk of a sedan or small SUV.
Tracking is a well-known problem amongst even the best inflatable kayaks. Intex worked to solve that problem by equipping this kayak with two skegs, which can also be removed when you are paddling in shallow waters.
This kayak offers a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds and it weighs just over 39 pounds when fully inflated. There is enough room for two paddlers and your kayaking gear in this cockpit, but you can also remove one of the seats if you want to use it as a solo paddler.
One thing that many people worry about with inflatable kayaks is what happens if the kayak tears or punctures while you are on the water. That is why Intex made this kayak with a total of three internal air chambers.
If one chamber is compromised, the other two will keep you afloat until you can get back to shore and perform a repair. It also boasts super strong, three-ply laminate fabric construction for further resistance to abrasions and puncture damage.
The maximum weight capacity of the Rover 220 is 600 pounds, but the kayak weighs only 28 pounds when fully inflated. It provides enough interior cockpit space for two adult paddlers and a small child or furry paddle companion.
While you will need to inflate this kayak every time you want to use it, that can be done in under 10 minutes with the deluxe double action hand pump it comes with. If that is still too long for you, consider grabbing this electric pump online.
This inflatable kayak is another that features drop-stitch construction in the floor design. This construction allows the floor to handle higher air pressure and, therefore, makes it more rigid.
The added rigidity that comes along with this design improves the kayak’s performance and maneuverability. Plus, it means you will not be sitting in a puddle of water as you will with some of the cheaper inflatable kayaks out there.
The Pescador Pro 12 is a fishing kayak with an elevated seating system and plenty of bow and stern storage. These storage areas are open enough to accommodate a kayak fishing tackle crate or kayak cooler bag.
Scupper holes throughout the kayak allow it to easily drain any water that enters the cockpit. Also in the cockpit, adjustable foot braces will help you find a comfortable paddling position regardless of your height.
This kayak offers a maximum weight capacity of 375 pounds and it weighs 57 pounds before you load in any of your kayaking gear. In addition to its 12-foot length, the kayak measures 32.5 inches across.
There are two integrated fishing rod holders on this kayak. They are located right behind the aluminum-framed seat so that you can have two setups at the ready or keep a line in the water as you are paddling to a new fishing hole.
The best applications for the Pescador kayak include calm lakes, slow-moving rivers, and protected coastal waterways. It is also a great choice if you are just getting into kayak fishing because it is more affordable than some of the fancier fishing kayaks on the market these days.
Hobie Kayaks are known as some of the most expensive on the market. That being said, they don’t get that distinction for no reason because they produce some of the best pedal-driven kayaks money can buy.
If you have a larger budget and you like the idea of using your legs (instead of your arms and shoulders) to power your kayak, check out the Hobie Mirage Passport 12. This kayak features a comfortable, mesh seat that breathes super well to keep you cool on hot days.
The floor inside the cockpit is finished with EVA foam padding that is especially soft on the backs of your heels. That padding also has the kind of grip you would look for in any kayak that can be used for standup fishing (which this one can!).
Bow and stern cargo areas give you plenty of space to store all of your paddling gear and this kayak offers a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds. When it is fully rigged with the Mirage Drive GT pedal system, this kayak weighs about 83 pounds.
One of the cool things about the Pedal Drive system on this kayak is that it features kick-up fins. That means you have to worry a little bit less about damaging them when you paddle from deep waters into shallower areas.
Our Pick – Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler
The sit on top design also provides plenty of cockpit room for larger paddlers and it boasts ample storage for overnight paddle trips. Whether you are just learning how to kayak, just getting into kayak fishing, or ready to tackle multi-day kayak fishing expeditions, the Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler can meet your needs!