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Can You Use an Ocean Kayak on a Lake? – Most Common Choices

Ocean Kayak on a Lake

Questions about different types of products and the differences between them are quite common no matter the commodity. The more highly specialized the thing or activity is, the more detailed the questions.

With kayaking, future kayakers usually want to know which model or type they need for their specific needs.

While it does ultimately come down to their needs and preferences, there are still many things one needs to know before one can go from browsing various kayaks on the market to actually picking between the two and purchasing.

One of the most common choices comes with the different bodies of water where the kayaker in question plans to take their new vessel. Is it a river, is it mostly going to be whitewater, or perhaps a lake?

If I live near the sea and plan to take it into the ocean, do I need a specific kayak design?

In this article we talk about using ocean kayaks on lakes, and if it even matters in terms of optimality, enjoyment, and fun.

Read on to learn more so that you can buy the right kayak type for your needs.

Differences in Kayaks

Right off the bat, we have to talk about the differences in kayaks and mention the fact that the body of water does not really matter.

The types and varieties of kayaks have to deal with the activity you plan to do, like fishing or touring.

There are all sorts of different paddling boats that are specifically designed to maximize one’s potential with proper features, appropriate measurements, weight, etc. A fisherman does not need the same kayak as a recreational kayaker.

Similarly, a sports kayaker who mostly deals with fast rivers and rough terrain does not need a long and wide kayak, but a nimble, shorter, and leaner one that can maneuver more easily and is faster.

Using Ocean Kayaks on Lakes


To answer the titular question, yes, you can absolutely use an ocean (sea) kayak on a lake. You can use it on any other type of open water, like a wide and calm river.

The fact that it is advertised as an ocean kayak first does not mean it can only paddle in the ocean. Far from it, as it can be at home anywhere else.

The only place where the ocean kayak should definitely not go is whitewater rapids.

We already mentioned it, but whitewater kayakers need more maneuverable and nifty kayaks, and ocean ones are definitely not that.

Of course, there are boats that are better out on the ocean than in a lake, but the differences are subtle.

Another interesting topic is whether can you use an ocean kayak on the river.

Differences Between Ocean and Lake Kayaks

Kayaks meant for ocean use are long, narrow, and have a hull that is shaped like a V. This gives them a good balance of tracing, speed, storage, and handling oncoming waves.

This is all you can ask for and more from a small paddling vessel. Maneuverability is not an issue because of the open nature of oceans and seas. Things are slightly different with lake models.

When it comes to lake kayaks, are usually wider and shorter than ocean kayaks, and therefore a bit faster and more maneuverable.

This is needed because lakes are finite and there are shores to every side. Usually, not the entire lake is good for paddling so movements have to be faster and the paddler more responsible.

Hull designs vary between specific uses, but lake kayaks are usually more stable than ocean models.

From this, you can easily see that the type of water does impact the design and performance of kayaks. However, the two are easily interchangeable and you can freely use an ocean kayak on a lake and vice versa.

You will probably not feel much difference if you do everything the same and try not to think about it.

Considering the purpose of the boat does matter most, but the body of water is not always the deciding factor.

Using Ocean Kayaks on Lakes

Using Ocean Kayaks on Lakes

Technically, lakes are similar to oceans, definitely more so than rivers are. Both of them are open bodies of water with little to no movement unless there are stronger winds or heavy rain storms.

What this means is that an ocean kayak should do pretty well on a lake, just like a lake kayak should feel at home in the ocean.

Think of it this way: ocean/sea kayaks are designed to be fast, have a lot of storage room, and have more buoyancy.

All of this gives them optimal conditions for prolonged paddling trips on lakes, regardless of whether you are a beginner or a veteran.

One thing to mention revolves around standing up, especially with casting from the kayak in a standing position.

Most fishing kayaks that favor standing up are sit-on-top kayaks, which means wider, shorter, and more stable.

Those are not the attributes of a typical ocean kayak so make sure never to leave the seating position while paddling on a lake in your ocean boat.

Since they are also somewhat more difficult to maneuver, make sure to leave enough room and time for your turns and for the paddle back to the shore. It will take longer and feel a bit more challenging, but only at first.

Choosing the Right Option

picking a kayak

When it comes to picking a kayak between a lake and an ocean variety, it will come down to where you live, where you plan to go kayaking, as well as what you plan to do once you are on the water.

Those who live by the sea should of course invest in ocean varieties, while people with no access to the sea should consider buying a lake or a river kayak.

It is usually quicker and easier to visit a lake when you are far removed from the ocean, so why get something that you will never get to use at its full capacity?

If you already have one, you do not really have to buy the other. Just make sure to practice using it in other types of water and you will be more than okay.

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