Purchasing a kayak is a big decision. First, you want to ensure that you are getting the best quality for your money, but there are other factors to consider, like where you will use it and how much space it needs to store. This blog post will give you ten brands of kayaks that we recommend against purchasing.
Top 10 kayak brands to avoid in 2023:
Wenonah has been known to have serious quality control issues in the past. The kayaks came from their factory with defects that should not have been made. They’ve put more effort into improving this recently, but we still wouldn’t recommend them to beginners looking for a reliable product at an affordable price.
Wenonah is not that bad, but they come at a high price point for the quality you get. They also aren’t very beginner-friendly due to how tippy they can be, and their higher-end models don’t track as well as some other brands on this list either, which is something beginners will want (so it’s best if your first one isn’t too expensive).
Tributary is mainly associated with inflatable kayaks, which typically don’t hold up hard shells and are challenging to repair or replace parts if necessary. If you want an inflatable, we suggest checking out Sevylor instead (they make some high-end ones). However, those interested in a Tributary hard shell are costly, and you can probably get better quality elsewhere for the same price.
Sea Eagles have earned themselves some pretty terrible reviews. Generally speaking, people seem extremely unhappy with their customer service, which is unfortunate because if anything were to go wrong with your kayak, it would need repair or replacement under warranty (which might not happen).
The Sea Eagle has also been known to spring leaks quickly, so this should be at the top of your list when considering whether or not to purchase one yourself.
Although Sevylors come in an inflatable option, we don’t like them much as our number #12 pick on this list. Generally speaking, inflatable kayaks are not of the highest quality and don’t perform or last as hard shells do (usually cost more). They also have a bit of an odd shape, making them challenging to paddle compared with other options on this list.
The vibe is another brand that mostly makes inflatables and some hardshell models in their higher-end series. We include them here because even though their lower-end products might be fine for occasional use, we wouldn’t recommend anyone who wants one for severe paddling go for their mid-range or upper-level ones either due to poor performance relative to what you pay for them ($450+)
Moken has gotten some terrible reviews lately, primarily because of poor manufacturing standards leading to severe leaks after only limited use. A few years ago, these problems may not have been so widespread, but now that more people are buying them, unfortunately, things have changed. You can still find some happy customers, but we recommend staying away from the Moken 14 and 16 models.
Riot has gotten a lot of mixed reviews lately, with some people mentioning poor manufacturing standards and others saying they are pretty good kayaks for their prices (which tend to be lower than most other ones on this list). It’s also challenging to get information about what kind of warranty or service you receive if anything goes wrong because it isn’t available online.
I can only say that at least trying one out before making your purchase wouldn’t hurt, so you could decide for yourself whether it seems like something worth purchasing or not.
Although Quincy used to be a pretty famous brand, they don’t seem to get talked about much anymore. They make some excellent kayaks, but their prices generally tend to be higher (although this is usually for entry-level models).
Therefore, we would only recommend getting one if you know it will work well for your intended purposes and can afford it without any issues. There are cheaper options that may perform better depending on what you want from them.
Confluence Water Sports
Confluence makes mostly inflatable kayaks which we mentioned above. It isn’t our preferred type of choice due to inferior build quality compared with hardshell ones and poor durability over time.
For those who prefer, these could work well for you because they are generally very light and easy to transport, making them excellent options for car campers or others doing most of their kayaking in calm flat water.
Hobie makes some pretty high-end models, which we recommend only if your budget can afford them without problems (like maybe buying one used).
Our consensus is that the lower-level ones, like the Outback, tend not to perform as well as other brands but at least offer a solid warranty and customer service when something goes wrong.
The higher-end H-brand models also aren’t entirely worth what they cost, considering how many compromises you have to make to own one (although these might be better for those who think they are a bit more experienced).
There isn’t much information about Emotion as a company or their kayaks, but what has been mentioned online is that they use lower-quality materials that don’t hold up very well over time.
Some people have reported having good experiences with them, so I would say the best thing you could do if considering purchasing one of these would be to try it out yourself before buying because everyone’s situation will likely be different from others or in some way another.
Wilderness Systems makes many great products, including entry-level and high-end ones (see below), but many people seem unhappy with their customer service after something goes wrong. The only other thing I would say is that they seem to have some of the best kayaks for fishing available on the market.
Unfortunately, they are also more expensive than many alternatives, making it difficult to justify getting one unless you know your plans with them beforehand.
The ten worst kayak brands to avoid are:
Avoid these brands when purchasing a kayak. I can only say that at least trying one out before making your purchase wouldn’t hurt, so you could decide for yourself whether it seems like something worth purchasing or not.
If considering an inflatable, do more research beforehand because they tend to have worse durability over time, and customer service may be lacking, depending on the brand in question. Quincy used to be a pretty famous brand but doesn’t seem to get talked about much anymore. Their prices also tend to be higher than most others on this list.
People mention poor manufacturing standards, with others saying they are pretty good kayaks for their prices. It isn’t easy getting information about this brand, so I recommend trying one out or researching more about them before purchasing.