Where to Buy 3 Person Kayak: Expert Guide for Top Choices

A 3-person kayak is perfect for those who love paddling with family or friends. Not only do these kayaks provide spacious seating for multiple users, but they also offer a more enjoyable paddling experience on the water. With increased paddling power from three people, it becomes easier to cover greater distances while exploring various waterways. The market offers a plethora of options with different features and designs to suit your specific needs.

Before making a purchase, it’s essential to understand the characteristics of a suitable 3 person kayak, such as capacity, weight, stability, and materials used. Furthermore, it’s important to identify local and online retailers that offer a range of kayaks in terms of budget and quality. By doing so, you can ensure a successful shopping experience while finding the perfect kayak to suit your requirements.

Key Takeaways

  • A 3-person kayak offers a spacious and enjoyable experience for paddling with multiple users
  • Identifying features such as capacity, weight, and stability is crucial before purchase
  • Buying or renting a 3 person kayak from reputable local and online retailers ensures a successful shopping experience

Understanding Kayaking

Kayaking is a popular water sport that allows people to navigate bodies of water in a small, lightweight boat. When it comes to choosing the perfect 3-person kayak, there are several factors to consider. In this section, we will discuss the material, specifications, and stability and safety aspects that you should keep in mind while making the decision.


The choice of a kayak’s material impacts its weight, durability, and performance. The most common materials are:

  • Polyethylene: A budget-friendly, impact-resistant plastic that is admittedly the heaviest option.
  • ABS: A more lightweight and impact-resistant plastic known for its long-lasting durability.
  • Composite: Fiberglass, carbon fiber, or Kevlar, which are lightweight and offer high performance, but come at a higher price.


Understanding the specifications of a 3-person kayak can help you make a more informed decision. Key features to consider include:

  • Length: Longer kayaks are often faster and provide better tracking, while shorter ones are more maneuverable. For a 3-person kayak, a length of 12-16 feet is common.
  • Width (or Beam): A wider kayak offers more stability but may sacrifice speed. This is an important consideration for beginners who need additional stability.
  • Weight Capacity: Ensure the kayak can support the combined weight of all paddlers and their gear. Larger kayak models often have higher weight capacities.
  • Storage Space: Look for models with ample storage compartments for longer trips or those that require carrying additional equipment.

Stability and Safety

To enjoy a great kayaking experience, both stability and safety are crucial. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Initial stability: This refers to the kayak’s primary stability when first entering the water or during calm conditions. Wider kayaks tend to have better initial stability.
  • Secondary stability: This refers to the kayak’s stability when it is leaned or in rough waters. Kayaks with rounded bottoms often possess better secondary stability.
  • Safety Features: Look for key safety features such as grab handles, paddle holders, adjustable footrests, and high-quality seats to ensure a comfortable and secure experience for all participants.

Paying attention to these aspects will help you choose a 3-person kayak that is not only enjoyable but also safe and appropriate for your needs.

3-Person Kayaks

Length and Width

Three-person kayaks are designed to accommodate multiple paddlers, making them larger than most single or tandem kayaks. Generally, the length of a 3-person kayak ranges from 12 to 16 feet, while the width can vary between 32 to 43 inches. The increased length and width provide enough space and stability for three paddlers to sit comfortably and paddle efficiently. The Sea Eagle 420x Explorer is a popular choice for a 3-person kayak, offering a balance of robustness, performance, and versatility.

Weight Capacity

The weight capacity of a 3-person kayak is an important factor to consider when making a purchase. These kayaks are built to support heavier loads and accommodate the additional paddlers. On average, the weight capacity of a 3-person kayak ranges from 600 to 950 lbs. For example, the AquaGlide Chinook 120 has a weight capacity of 650 lbs, making it suitable for three average-sized adults or a combination of adults and gear. This ensures that the kayak remains stable in the water and provides an enjoyable paddling experience for all passengers.

Choosing the Right Kayak

Inflatable Vs. Single

When selecting a three-person kayak, one of the first decisions to make is whether to choose an inflatable or a single, hard-shell kayak. Inflatable kayaks are lightweight, easy to transport, and often less expensive than their hard-shell counterparts. They can be quickly inflated and deflated for convenient storage. However, single, hard-shell kayaks are typically more durable and offer better performance in rough water conditions.

Sea Eagle Vs. Sevylor Big Basin Vs. Driftsun Teton

Three popular models of three-person kayaks include the Sea Eagle 420x Explorer, the Sevylor Big Basin, and the Driftsun Teton 120. Each of these kayaks has its own unique features and benefits.

Sea Eagle 420x Explorer: This versatile kayak is suitable for various water conditions, including both calm and rough water. It is inflatable, making it easy to transport and store. The 420x Explorer can accommodate up to three people and has a weight capacity of up to 855 lbs.

Sevylor Big Basin: The Sevylor Big Basin is another inflatable three-person kayak with a durable and puncture-resistant material. This kayak is designed for stability and is suitable for calm water conditions, making it a great choice for families or beginners.

Driftsun Teton 120: The Driftsun Teton is a hard-shell sit-on-top kayak built for three people. It offers excellent stability and is designed for easy paddling in various water conditions. The Teton’s storage capacity and adjustable seating make it a versatile option for recreational kayakers.

Sit-On-Top Vs. Open Cockpit

Another consideration when choosing a three-person kayak is whether to opt for a sit-on-top or an open cockpit design. Sit-on-top kayaks, like the Driftsun Teton 120, are known for their stability and are ideal for beginners, warm environments, and rough water conditions. Open cockpit kayaks (or sit-inside kayaks) have a more traditional design that allows for increased control and better protection against the elements, but may not be as beginner-friendly as sit-on-top models.

In conclusion, selecting the right three-person kayak depends on factors like your preferred type (inflatable or single), specific model features, and the design (sit-on-top or open cockpit). Considering these aspects will help you choose the perfect kayak for your needs and preferences.

Features to Look For

When shopping for a 3 person kayak, there are several key features to consider. These features not only enhance the overall kayaking experience but also ensure safety and convenience.

Seating and Storage Space

One of the most important aspects of a 3 person kayak is the seating arrangement. Ensure that the kayak has enough room for three people while also having adequate storage space for gear and provisions. Look for kayaks with adjustable seats that offer comfort and support, so you and your fellow paddlers can enjoy your time on the water without discomfort. Additionally, kayaks with ample storage compartments and bungee rigging make it easy to stow away your camping gear, food, and extra clothing.

I-Beam Construction and Drain Valve

The strength and durability of a kayak largely depend on its construction. I-beam construction is a common feature that provides the necessary structural integrity for an inflatable kayak. This design ensures that the kayak remains stable and rigid, even when it’s carrying three people and their gear. A drain valve is another vital feature to look for, as it allows you to quickly and easily remove any water that accumulates during a kayaking adventure. This helps to keep the kayak lighter and more maneuverable, while also preventing waterlogged interiors.

Skeg and Hull Weight

The skeg, or fin, plays a crucial role in the kayak’s performance. A well-designed skeg contributes to the kayak’s tracking ability, ensuring that it maintains a straight course as you paddle. This is especially important in a 3 person kayak, as the combined weight and paddling movements of three individuals can make controlling the kayak more challenging. Be sure to look for a kayak with a strong and easily adjustable skeg.

The hull weight of a kayak is another essential factor to consider, as it directly affects the kayak’s stability, mobility, and overall performance. A lightweight kayak is generally more manageable and easier to transport, although it may sacrifice some stability in the process. On the other hand, heavier kayaks tend to be more stable, but they can be more challenging to transport and maneuver. Ensure that the 3 person kayak you choose strikes a balance between weight and stability to provide the best possible paddling experience for all passengers.

Advanced Kayaking Tips

Weight Distribution

Proper weight distribution is crucial for maintaining stability and maneuverability in a 3-person kayak. To ensure a balanced ride, distribute the weight evenly among the kayakers. For example, the heaviest paddler should sit in the middle, while lighter paddlers should occupy the bow and stern positions. Additionally, be mindful of the weight capacity of your kayak to avoid overloading. Equipment and gear should be evenly distributed along the length of the boat, and secure it properly to prevent sudden shifts during your trip.

Paddling Techniques

Mastering efficient paddling techniques can make your kayaking experience more enjoyable and help you conserve energy. When paddling, maintain a relaxed, yet firm grip on the paddle. Your hands should be positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width, with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. For the forward stroke, use torso rotation to generate power, rather than relying solely on your arms. Paddle in a continuous, fluid motion, and aim to move the boat forward with each stroke.

When turning, use sweep strokes by paddling wide arcs away from the kayak. For sharper turns, the paddler in the back can perform a reverse sweep, while the front paddler executes a forward sweep. In a 3-person kayak, communication and coordination are vital for an efficient and enjoyable ride. Establish a paddling rhythm and communicate clearly with your fellow kayakers for a smooth and synchronized journey.

Where to Buy

In-Store Vs. Online

When looking to purchase a 3-person kayak, there are two main options to consider: in-store and online. Brick-and-mortar stores such as REI and DICK’s Sporting Goods often carry a variety of kayaks, including options designed for three people. Visiting a physical store allows potential buyers to see and feel the kayak in person, providing an opportunity to assess the product’s quality and dimensions before purchasing.

Online shopping offers a wider variety of options and may have more competitive pricing. Websites like Amazon often feature customer reviews, helping shoppers make informed decisions based on other users’ experiences. Additionally, online retailers such as SeaEagle and Kayak Addicts have details about top-rated 3-person kayaks, as well as the pros and cons of each model.

Apps to Consider

There are also mobile apps available that can help customers find the best 3-person kayak for their needs. Some popular apps include:

  • Kayak Finder: This app allows users to filter and compare kayaks in various types and sizes, including 3-person kayaks. Reviews, specifications, and price comparisons are available to help make an informed decision.
  • Outdoor Gear Exchange: This app focuses on outdoor gear, including kayaks. Users can browse listings for new and used 3-person kayaks, as well as post their own items for sale or exchange.

As with any purchase, it is essential to research and compare both in-store and online options before deciding on the best method for buying a 3-person kayak. Apps can be useful tools for finding deals and gathering information, but ultimately, the decision will depend on individual preferences, budget, and location.

Preparing for a Kayaking Trip

Family-Friendly Tips

When planning a kayaking trip with your family, it’s essential to choose the right kayak. The Perception Rambler Tandem 13.5 and Ocean Kayaks Malibu Two XL are excellent options for three-person kayaks. Always prioritize safety by wearing personal flotation devices, and remember to consider the skill levels of everyone involved when choosing kayaking routes.

Include engaging activities for children to make the trip memorable and enjoyable. Teach them basic paddling techniques, allow them to help with navigation, and engage them in wildlife observation to enhance their outdoor experience.

Camping Essentials

No kayaking trip would be complete without the proper camping essentials. Make a checklist to ensure all necessary items are packed. Some essential tools include:

  • Tent or emergency shelter: It’s important to have a suitable shelter to protect from the elements.
  • First-aid kit: Accidents can happen, so it’s crucial to carry a first-aid kit with necessary supplies.
  • Water and food: Bring adequate water in bottles or reservoirs, and pack easy-to-carry snacks like energy bars and fruits.
  • Firestarter: Carry matches, a lighter, or firestarter in a waterproof container for warmth and cooking purposes.
  • Navigation tools: Maps, compass, and GPS devices are useful to help stay on course.

Considering these family-friendly tips and making sure to pack the right camping essentials will make your kayaking trip safe, enjoyable, and unforgettable for everyone involved.


Purchasing a 3-person kayak can be an exciting venture for those looking to engage in water-based adventures with friends or family. With the vast variety of options available in the market, it is crucial to be confident and knowledgeable about the different types and features of 3-person kayaks. This helps ensure the best choice is made, tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the users.

One of the key considerations in selecting a 3-person kayak is deciding between an inflatable or hard-shell variant. While inflatable kayaks are portable and budget-friendly, hard-shell kayaks often offer better durability and performance. Popular inflatable options include the Sevylor Big Basin and the Sea Eagle 370. On the other hand, top-rated hard-shell kayaks include the Sea Eagle 420x Explorer and the Old Town Dirigo Tandem Plus.

When it comes to selecting a kayak, maintaining a neutral and unbiased perspective is vital. This enables buyers to weigh the pros and cons of each option and make an informed decision upon considering various factors, such as price, quality, and intended use. Moreover, referring to trusted resources like Paddlingspace.com and Paddle About can add to the buyer’s insight and confidence when making their purchase.

In summary, taking a clear and systematic approach is essential while purchasing a 3-person kayak. Assessing individual needs, comparing features, and researching credible sources ensures that the best possible decision is made, resulting in a quality investment that brings countless enjoyable experiences on the water.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top retailers for 3 person kayaks?

There are several retailers that offer a wide range of 3 person kayaks. Some popular options include REI Co-op, which provides a variety of kayak brands and styles, as well as online shops like Paddling Space and Kayak Addicts. It’s essential to compare different retailers in order to find the best deals and the most suitable kayak for your needs.

Which 3 person kayaks are best for fishing?

The ideal 3 person kayak for fishing will depend on your personal preferences, fishing style, and budget. While specific models may vary, it is crucial to look for features like rod holders, storage compartments for tackle and gear, and comfortable seating that accommodates three people. Reading reviews and asking for recommendations from fellow fishing enthusiasts can also provide valuable insight.

Inflatable vs non-inflatable 3 person kayaks: where to buy?

Both inflatable and non-inflatable 3 person kayaks can be purchased at stores like REI, as well as specialized online retailers such as Kayak Addicts, Paddling Space, and Kayak Paddling. Inflatable kayaks provide the advantage of easy transportation and storage, while non-inflatable options might offer increased stability and durability. Consider your specific requirements, usage frequency, and storage space when making a decision.

Where can I find a high-quality 3 person sea kayak?

High-quality 3 person sea kayaks can be found at various retailers, including REI and specialized online shops like Paddling Space. Look for models designed for sea kayaking, featuring a sleeker design for better tracking, and built with durable materials to handle rough waters. Remember to read reviews and consult with experienced sea kayakers to ensure you are selecting the best model for your needs.

Are there any specific 3 person models for families?

Yes, there are 3 person kayak models designed specifically for families. For instance, the Driftsun Almanor 146 is a popular choice for families due to its stability, comfortable seating, and ample storage. Do some research and read reviews to find the perfect fit for your family adventures.

How do 3 person kayaks compare to 2 person kayaks and canoes?

Three person kayaks offer more space for extra passengers or gear compared to 2 person kayaks. They are suitable for families or groups of friends who enjoy paddling together. However, they can be heavier and more challenging to maneuver compared to smaller 2 person kayaks. Canoes, on the other hand, provide even more space and capacity, making them a popular choice for multi-day trips and activities where additional gear is needed. Consider your group size and intended use when deciding which option is best for you.

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