10 Ft VS 12 Ft Kayak: Which Is Better For Certain Activity?

by Jason | Last Updated:   April 2nd, 2022
10 Ft VS 12 Ft Kayak: Which Is Better For Certain Activity?


If you’re about to buy your first kayak, you might be wondering how to decide between a 10 ft /vs 12 ft kayak. And If I’m honest, there’s no easy way to answer; there are so many variables you need to think about.

The problem is:

Nowadays, kayaks are designed for specific tasks, which means you need to think about how you will be using the kayak before deciding on the size. 

Think of it this way:

How well do you think a recreational kayak will handle the open ocean? And is a whitewater kayak going to perform well when you’re touring a river?

The answer is probably not because the kayak wasn’t designed to do that task. And this is why I wanted to write this article.

I wanted to discuss the pros and cons of a 10 ft kayak vs a 12 ft kayak and what activities they work well for.

So, by the end of this article, I’m hoping you’ll have an excellent understanding of the sizes so you’ll have no issues when it comes to making your buying decision!

Let’s start with the 10 ft kayak:

Everything You Need To Know About 10 Feet Kayaks

A 10 ft kayak is what most people would have started in because it is the most common size for recreational kayaks.

These kayaks come in many shapes and styles, but…

One of the great things about using a 10 ft kayak is that they provide excellent stability, which is desirable for beginners. 

They are incredibly stable to paddle, but they also have excellent maneuverability to paddle in tight spaces.

And it’s this maneuverability that allows you to switch from rivers and lakes to gentle rapids with very few issues. If you’re looking to take on more advanced rapids, you will need to opt for smaller kayaks.

Another great thing about 10ft kayaks is that they provide you with more storage space than your smaller kayaks. It’s also pretty common to have at least one storage compartment; that being said, you’ll probably need a dry bag.

And finally, you’ll find 10 ft kayaks are more reasonably priced than their larger counterparts, making them more desirable for people on a budget.

So, let’s take a look at some of the activities you can use a 10 ft kayak for:

The Pros & Cons Of 10 ft Kayaks

Pros
  • Easier to transport thanks to the smaller size.
  • They work great for smaller paddlers.
  • The lighter weight and kayak size make them easier to transport.
  • 10 ft kayaks cost less money than bigger kayaks, so they’re great for people on a budget.
  • Shorter length kayaks are easier to maneuver, making them perfect for kayaking narrow streams.
  • They are a very stable kayak, which makes them ideal for beginners getting into kayaking.
  • They have more storage space than smaller kayaks, so you don’t feel limited in what you bring with you.
Cons
  • They don’t have an enormous top speed, which makes it hard to take on long distances in a short time frame.
  • It doesn’t have as many dry storage compartments as a 12 ft kayak.

Which Are The Best 10 ft Kayaks?

In my opinion, this is an excellent recreational kayak for someone that needs to transport it to the lake themselves. And this is down to the lightweight nature of the kayak; it makes it extremely easy to load on a roof rack.

It’s also a very versatile kayak, thanks to its adjustability. It comes with multiple footrest positions and an adjustable seat. And this allows the kayak to be used by people of multiple heights without making too many adjustments.

I’d say this kayak is perfect for a beginner looking to mess around on the lake. It’s a pretty wide kayak, so it feels stable in the water. And its short length meant people didn’t have too much trouble maneuvering in tight spaces.

Overall, it’s an excellent kayak, I wouldn’t be taking it down whitewater rapids, but you should be OK on flat water. It performed very well in most aspects and felt very nice to paddle along the lake.

Pros
  • The solid shell kayak is very lightweight, making it pretty easy to transport it by yourself.
  • You shouldn’t have any problems even if you’re taller than the average person, which is thanks to the multiple footrests.
  • For a smaller kayak, it comes with a good amount of storage space, so you’ll be able to bring a few extra things.
Cons
  • There are many reports of the kayak arriving damaged, which seems to have more to do with the delivery company.

I feel that the Emotion Guster is one of the best 10 ft kayaks for beginners looking to paddle around their local lake. And this is mainly down to the stability and the tracking the kayak provides the user.

It was designed with a sharp keel, which helps to cut through the water at speed and increase the tracking ability. It also features a flat hull that provides excellent stability, something a beginner will desire.

Another benefit of the kayak is that it’s straightforward to transport. And this is thanks to the carrying handle on the bow and stern and the lightweight of the kayak. You shouldn’t have any issues getting it to the lake by yourself.

Overall I really like the Emotion Guster sit-inside kayak. It feels straightforward to handle and very stable in the water. It also comes with a 5-year limited warranty, so you have some protection if anything breaks.

Pros
  • It’s a great kayak for the price; if you’re on a tight budget, this might be an excellent option for you.
  • The kayak handles well and feels very stable, making it a great kayak for a beginner.
  • The kayak is pretty well built and feels very durable, so it can take a bit of a beating without too many issues.
Cons
  • The rear hatch lets water in, so don’t expect a waterproof seal. Make sure you use a dry bag when you’re storing valuables.

This is another excellent recreational kayak for people that like to have a little versatility in how they use it. And this is thanks to the mounting points found at the front of the kayak, which allow you to turn it into a fishing kayak. 

One of the things I loved about this kayak is how accessible the Perception made it. They provided you with a large cockpit area, making it easy to get inside. And when you add this to the adjustable seat, you’ll find it a very comfortable experience.

I also really like the storage options the kayak came with. They have a hinged lid hatch at the rear of the kayak, which is perfect for storing extra equipment. They also had an area at the front to hold your phone and water bottle.

Overall it’s an excellent kayak for people looking for something a little more than just being recreational. And this is all thanks to the entertainment dashboard found at the front of the kayak.

Pros
  • The adjustable footrests and padded seat made the kayak extremely comfortable on long journeys.
  • The selfie slot at the front of the cockpit was a pretty cool idea if you like videoing yourself out on the lake.
  • It performed pretty well on slow-moving rivers, but I wouldn’t take it on anything faster.
Cons
  • Again, people have complained about how it arrived at the house; some people have found dents and scratches.

Everything You Need To Know About 12 Feet Kayaks

As you start to increase the length of the kayak, you’ll find that top speed also grows with it. And this is why 12 ft kayaks are a fan favorite for people looking to make a multi-day kayak trip and need to cover plenty of ground.

The downside is, the longer the kayak is, the harder it is to turn. The maneuverability of a 12 ft kayak is more limited than a 10 ft kayak, but it does make up for it with speed. 

Most people find a larger kayak a little less stable, usually down to the length to width ratio. But you don’t get that with 12 ft kayaks, which is great if you’re worried about falling in but want to paddle fast.

Another great thing about longer kayaks is they work better on the sea; if you’re looking to sea kayak, you need to get a longer kayak.

You’ll also notice there’s a lot more space for storing extra equipment. This makes it the perfect option for people planning to go kayak camping.

But with all the extra space, it usually results in a heavier and more challenging transport of the kayak. But let’s take a look at some of the activities you can use a 12 ft kayak for:

The Pros And Cons Of 12 ft Kayaks

Pros
  • You can pick up more speed in a 12 ft kayak to cover more ground in a day than smaller kayaks.
  • They have better maneuverability than 14 ft kayaks, so they aren’t too hard to control.
  • You have more space inside the kayak to store more gear without worrying about space.
  • The larger length helps them cut through waves, so they work better in the ocean.
  • 12 ft kayaks usually make better tandem kayaks due to the extra space.
  • They make great fishing kayaks.
Cons
  • It is slightly harder to maneuver than smaller kayaks, which can make it harder for a beginner to handle.
  • The extra length of the kayak makes them harder to transport and carry by yourself.
  • They are narrower kayaks which makes them feel less stable than shorter kayaks.

Which Are Best 12 ft Kayaks?

In my opinion, this 12 ft kayak is built for people that want to paddle calm rivers or oceans and don’t have a roof rack for transportation. And this is thanks to the kayak’s origami folding style design.

It can pack down to 33” x 12” x 25” and only weighs 26 lbs, which, as you can see, makes it very easy to transport. To make things better, it only takes five minutes to get everything together, and you don’t have to pump anything up.

Many people were happy with how well the kayak paddled and how stable it felt in the water. So, you shouldn’t have too many problems even if you’re a beginner. 

Overall, it’s a pretty good kayak, but the design worries me a little bit, especially with the money you have to spend. Luckily, it did perform pretty well on the water and was quite fast down the river.

Pros
  • Quick and easy to set and take apart, so you don’t have to spend too much time at the water’s edge.
  • The adjustable padded seat worked a treat; you’ll never feel uncomfortable while you’re on your trip.
  • There are no issues with transportation because you don’t need a roof rack to get it to the river.
Cons
  • Some people had problems with water leaking into the kayak, but the manufacturer did send them a repair kit for free and provided some vouchers.

This is the perfect kayak for an intermediate paddler that wants to get out on the ocean. The long design and sharp hard nose allow the kayak to cut through waves easily. And the drop stitch design helps you feel stable at all times.

Sea kayaks are usually incredibly difficult to transport due to their large size. And this is why this kayak is such a great option. It’s an inflatable kayak so that you can transport it in the back of your car without any issues.

It packs down small and is relatively easy to transport to the beach. To make things better, it only takes 7 minutes to inflate. And this is thanks to quick inflation valves and the powerful pump that comes with it.

Overall, the kayak performs very well in the ocean; it easily cuts through waves and feels extremely stable. It was also great to see how small the kayak packed down and how easy it was to transport.

Pros
  • It inflates quickly and very firmly, so you don’t have to wait at the side of the water for ages pumping the kayak.
  • The drop-stitch floor makes the kayak feel very stable, even if you’re on choppy waters.
  • The adjustability of the kayak makes it extremely comfortable at all times, no matter who is paddling.
Cons
  • Some people found it challenging to keep the kayak going in a straight line, which they put down to the flat bottom. 

This is the perfect ‘yak for two people looking to spend a day kayak fishing on a lake or a river. It comes with seven rod-holders, so you’ll never be short of rods and can maximize your chances of catching a fish.

I also liked the amount of storage space that comes with the kayak. They have two waterproof storage compartments in front of their seats. They also have a large platform at the rear for you to store your tackle box.

It was also lovely to see the kayak come with two paddles; it meant you didn’t need to add an extra purchase on top of the kayak. And the seats that came with them were pretty comfy, so you won’t need to make an upgrade.

Overall it is a great fishing kayak. It has plenty of space for two people and loads of fishing rod-holders to use. It also felt very stable on the water, even when you’re in a battle with a large fish.

Pros
  • The kayak tracked very well and didn’t need too many corrections to keep yourself going in a straight line.
  • There are so many rod-holders which really increases the chances of you catching a fish on your journey.
  • It was nice to see a good amount of storage space in the kayak; it made it easier to transport your gear.
Cons
  • The storage compartments weren’t as waterproof as some people were hoping; it’s best to use them with a dry bag.

Key Insights & Takeaways

I hope I’ve helped explain some of the differences between a 10 ft and 12 ft kayak. When it comes down to which one to choose, it really depends on what you’re looking for.

But, by reading this article, you should be able to whittle down to see which size is going to suit your needs the best.

If you’re looking to travel long distances or go on the ocean, you’re probably best looking at a longer kayak.  

If you’re going to be paddling in narrow passageways, down rivers, or recreationally around a lake, you should probably look at a smaller kayak.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is A 12-Foot Kayak Good For Beginners?

A beginner shouldn’t have too many problems using a 12-foot kayak, but, in my experience, using shorter kayaks is more beneficial. 12-foot kayaks can be a little bit harder to maneuver and slightly less stable.

Are Longer Or Shorter Kayaks Better?

It really depends on what activity you want to take part in. Each size has its own advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I tend to use shorter kayaks because I like going down whitewater.

Should I Get A 10 or 12-foot kayak?

Again, it really depends on what activities you’re going to be taking part in. If you plan on traveling long distances, you should get a 12 foot. If you want a more recreational kayak, you should go for a 10-foot kayak.

Hey, my name's Jason, and before I was a writer, I worked as an outdoor activity instructor where I took groups kayaking and camping. Now I use my personal experiences to share tips and tricks I've learned over the years. For as long as I can remember, I've been passionate about the outdoors, and now I want to share that passion with my readers.