Ocean Kayak Vs Lake Kayak – Which One’s a Better Option For You?

If you are looking to buy a new kayak, then this ocean kayak vs lake kayak comparison can clear out the confusion you may be experiencing.

After all, kayaks come in different styles. They also serve different purposes depending on the type you buy. This is why it makes perfect sense to really know what you’re getting before you invest in this vessel.

So, the question is, are you better off with an ocean kayak? Or is a lake kayak a much better choice for you?

If you are still on the fence about the best kayak type for you, you’re in luck – this post will help you decide what’s suitable for you. I’ll present to you the pros, cons, and uses of each to give you a better idea of what’s the perfect kayak to fit your needs.

Ocean Kayak Vs Lake Kayak – Know the Basics

First of all, let’s talk about safety.

This should be your priority when choosing the right kayak to buy.

For instance, ocean kayaks are specifically designed for rough waters. You will be dealing with bigger waves, strong winds, and everything else that comes with paddling in the ocean.

On the other hand, kayaking in the lake is more subdued. There are fewer challenges because of the generally calm water in this water body.

Moreover, you need to determine where you will be using your kayak more. Are you paddling in the ocean or the lake? Which paddling experience calls on you more?

Think about your preference in paddling to help you have a better understanding of what really suits you best.

Keep in mind that kayaks come in various types and functions.

For the most part, lake kayaks are recreational boats designed for slow-moving and calm waters. If you are fishing or just paddling for fun, then paddling in the lake is more right up your alley.

It also allows you to just enjoy the stillness and marvel at the beauty of nature. Stability and maneuverability are also strong points of lake kayaks.

Now, when it comes to ocean kayaks or sea kayaks, expect things to get a little rougher. We are talking about advanced paddling levels.

These kayaks are for folks who thrive on the exhilaration of paddling in rough water conditions. They are also narrow boats with a smaller cockpit, so you can paddle with the waves and strong winds.

Oh and one more thing – expect the boat to be a bit more expensive than the lake kayaks.

Knowing the Pros and Cons: Ocean Kayak Vs Lake Kayak

For the most part, the striking difference between the two is the dimensions.

Lake kayaks are shorter and wider, thus offering more stability.

As for an ocean kayak, it is longer and narrower. This is a functional design that allows you to cut through water no matter how challenging it may be.

Stability-wise, they can be a little tricky to balance on. Entering and exiting can also be a bit of a tough situation, especially for newbies in paddling.

This is why I highly recommend an ocean kayak for expert and skilled paddlers who have experience in this type of kayaking situation.

Size Matters

Lake kayaks are usually between 8 and 14 feet. They are handier and easier to maneuver because of their shorter length.

On the other hand, an ocean kayak can go from 12 to 24 feet. It is twice as long as a lake kayak and narrower, too.

Since they are longer, this allows the kayak to go faster in the water. Paddlers will also be able to propel the boat straight without shifting its course too much.

When it comes to the width, lake kayaks are wider. This means that you will be able to slow down while riding. The extra width also improves the stability of the boat.

Space/ Storage

Surprisingly, there is more storage in an ocean kayak. Even with the narrow design, you will be able to carry more items that are essential when working with rough waters.

But with lake kayaks, it can be hard to bring so many things with you. Storage is not as great, although there should be ample space for your tackle bag and a cooler for your beverage.

Since you are only traversing along gentle waters, you do not really need to bring too many things with you. And this is why a lake kayak does not have much storage space as it is not much of a necessity.


Ocean kayaks allow you to attach more gears. This is important when it is tough, wild waters.

Additionally, this type of kayak enables you to hook up rudders and skeg in them. These are good pieces of equipment providing you better control of your boat. You can turn your vessel without paddling and by simply relying on the rudder or skeg.

With a recreational kayak, you are limited to hooking up your fishing rod holder and similar gears. The calm waters you are working with do not really pose much threat or risk. This is why there is no need to install so many gears unlike with an ocean kayak where the open water can be risky.

Read More: Can A SUP Keep Up With A Kayak – Fascinating Facts You Should Know!

This video provides more information on the differences between types of kayaks. Check it out to learn more about kayaks and determine the right one for you.

Bottom Line

So, which one wins in this ocean kayak vs lake kayak comparison?

Should you invest in an ocean kayak or is a lake kayak a more suitable choice to consider?

After learning more about the features and pros and cons of each, you can decide better on the right boat to invest in. It is all a matter of knowing your purpose and the type of water you plan on paddling in.

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