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Cambridge Kayaks Review: Best Sit-On-Top For Beginners?

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Ever since I was a kid, the idea of kayaking has always captivated me. There’s something about the gentle lap of water against the kayak, the sense of adventure, and the freedom to explore that’s endlessly appealing. Last year, I took my first step into the world of paddleboarding, and while I did really enjoy the experience, I often found myself on the river, gazing enviously at kayakers. That longing from my childhood never really left me, and so, I decided it was time to treat myself to a kayak.

Choosing the right kayak felt like navigating through a sea of options, but my heart was set on something beginner-friendly, stable, and versatile enough for the calm waters of my local river and the picturesque lakes of the Lake District. That’s when I found Cambridge Kayaks and their Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak.

It might seem odd to choose a fishing kayak when I had no plans to fish, but its promise of stability and ample storage space was too good to pass up. Plus, its robust build hinted at good impact resistance, a feature I valued as a beginner.

In this post, I’ll share my six-month journey with the Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak. From its easy access and setup, fitting snugly on my roof rack for trips down to Cornwall, to its performance in both calm and windy conditions, I’ll dive into every aspect that makes this kayak a potential perfect boat for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. So, whether you’re considering a new kayak or just curious about sit-on-top kayaks, I’ll share my experiences with what might just be one of the best kayaks for beginners on the market.

Cambridge Kayaks Review

Why I Chose a Sit-On-Top Kayak

When it came to choosing my first kayak, I knew I wanted something that was not only beginner-friendly but also versatile enough to adapt to various environments – from the calm waters of my local river to the more open and sometimes windy conditions of the Lake District. This led me to choose a sit-on-top kayak, renowned for stability and easier access, especially for taller adults like myself.

Beginner-Friendly Design

The sit-on-top design appealed to me for several reasons. Firstly, its open deck makes it easy to get on and off, a feature I appreciated as someone new to kayaking. There’s no feeling of being confined, which can be a bit daunting for beginners. Plus, the self-rescue aspect in case of a capsize gave me an extra layer of confidence.

Stability and Comfort

Another key factor was stability. Sit-on-top kayaks, especially models like the Manta 9ft, are known for their stable platform, making them a great choice for calm waters and even in slightly rougher conditions. This was crucial for me, as I wanted to focus on enjoying the experience without the worry of easily tipping over.

Versatility and Storage

Despite not being an avid fisherman, I opted for a fishing kayak for its added benefits. The Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak, in particular, offered a generous storage capacity, perfect for day trips where I wanted to pack a dry bag with essentials or carry photography equipment. Its ability to handle different fishing environments, while not my primary use, was a testament to its versatility.

Suitability for Taller Adults

At 6ft 1”, finding a kayak that offered plenty of room without compromising on performance was essential. The Cambridge Kayaks Manta 9ft provided just that – enough legroom and an adjustable seat that catered to my height, ensuring comfort even on longer journeys.

The decision to go for a sit-on-top kayak, and specifically a fishing model like the Manta 9ft, was driven by its beginner-friendly nature, stability, and versatility. It’s more than just a fishing kayak; it’s a gateway to exploring the beautiful waterways of the UK, whether it be the calm lakes, bays, or the occasional adventurous trip to the sea.

The Cambridge Kayaks Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak: A Closer Look

The Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak isn’t just any kayak; it’s a well-thought-out piece of equipment designed for both the enthusiast and the casual paddler. Let’s look at its specific features and what they mean for your kayaking experience.


  • Dimensions: Measuring 270cm x 84cm x 30cm (8ft 11″ x 2ft 6″ x 1ft), the Manta Kayak offers a compact yet spacious build, ideal for navigating a variety of water environments.
  • Weight: At 24kg, it strikes a balance between being lightweight enough for easy transportation and heavy enough to ensure stability and durability on the water.
  • Maximum User Weight: With a capacity of up to 130kg, it comfortably accommodates taller adults, providing a stable and secure experience.

Included Features

  • Seating: The kayak comes with an upgraded adjustable aluminium fishing chair, offering great comfort and adjustability for long days on the water.
  • Paddles and Storage: It includes a sports paddle and multiple water-resistant hatches, including a large rectangle hatch and a 28 cm round hatch with a dry bag, ensuring your belongings stay dry and secure.
  • Fishing Accessories: For those who are interested in fishing, the kayak is equipped with two installed rod holders behind the chair, one rotary rod holder, and two slide rails for additional fishing accessories.
  • Storage and Convenience: Ample storage is provided by a large rear area with bungee straps, perfect for securing larger items. The multi-position footrest, four carry handles, and two paddle park storages add to the kayak’s practicality.
  • Water Management: With six scupper hole locations, the kayak efficiently manages water ingress, keeping the deck area dry.
  • Additional Features: The kayak also includes a location behind the seat for adding side stabiliser floats, a built-in bottle holder, and a fish finder/transducer location in the hull, catering to a wide range of kayaking and fishing needs.
Cambridge Kayaks Spec

Cambridge Kayaks Design and Build Quality

  • Stability and Comfort: The kayak’s design focuses on stability, making it an excellent choice for beginners or those who prefer a relaxed kayaking experience. The adjustable seat and footrests ensure comfort for paddlers of various heights.
  • Versatility in Different Environments: Whether it’s gliding through calm lakes, navigating shallow waters, or tackling open waters in windy conditions, the Manta 9ft demonstrates great performance and adaptability.

The Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak is a versatile, well-equipped kayak that caters to a wide range of paddling experiences. Its thoughtful design and inclusive features make it a great choice for anyone looking to explore different water environments in comfort and style.

My Experience with the Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak

Over the past six months, I’ve tried to get out there kayaking as often as possible, and although that wasn’t quite as much as I’d hoped, I have still managed to get out on quite a few little adventures and have tested out the kayak in a good variety of places. Here’s a breakdown of my experiences, from the initial impressions to its performance in various conditions.

First Impressions

When the kayak first arrived, it was love at first sight. The sleek new look of the kayak, combined with its robust build, immediately stood out. The benefit of a plastic kayak is that there is no time-consuming inflating required – the kayak was ready for the water in no time. Attaching it to my roof rack was simple, thanks to its manageable weight and convenient carry handles, making it easier to transport to my local river and beyond.

Performance in Different Environments

  • Calm Waters: On the calm waters of my local river and the tranquil lakes in the Lake District, the kayak glided effortlessly. Its stability was a standout, providing a secure and comfortable experience, especially for a taller adult like myself.
  • Shallow Water and Windy Conditions: The kayak’s dimensions proved perfect for navigating through shallow water. In windier conditions, typically experienced in open waters, the kayak held its own, maintaining good stability and control.
  • Storage and Accessibility: The ample storage space was great for storing cameras, keys and phones. The large rear storage with bungee straps was perfect for securing my gear, and the water-resistant hatches kept my essentials dry. The kayak’s light weight and multi-position footrest made longer journeys comfortable and enjoyable.

Practicality and Usage

  • Day-to-Day Use: For regular paddling sessions, the kayak’s features like the built-in bottle holder and paddle park storage added convenience. The kayak’s heavy side was noticeable but manageable, making it suitable for short distances from car to water.
  • Fishing Features: While I didn’t use the kayak for fishing, the installed rod holders and slide rails for fishing accessories highlighted its potential as a top choice for kayak fishing enthusiasts.
  • Comfort and Stability: The upgraded aluminium chair is key to comfort during long days on the water. The stable platform of the kayak meant I could relax and enjoy the surroundings, whether in calm sea conditions or navigating through rougher waters.

Additional Features

  • Safety and Self-Rescue: The kayak’s design with its scupper holes and location for side stabiliser floats provided an added sense of safety. The ease of self-rescue in this sit-on-top kayak was reassuring, especially for someone new to kayaking. Fortunately, I haven’t tipped over even once – so I’m yet to discover how easy it will be to self-rescue.
  • Versatility: Whether it was a leisurely paddle in calm waters or an adventurous day in rough conditions, the Manta 9ft proved to be a versatile and reliable kayak. It’s not just a short kayak for quick trips; it’s capable of handling longer journeys with great performance.

My time with the Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak has been nothing short of fantastic so far. It’s a kayak that suits not only the needs of an experienced paddler but also perfectly caters to someone new to the sport. Its combination of stability, comfort, and practical features makes it a great choice for anyone looking to enjoy the diverse kayaking environments the UK has to offer.

Pros and Cons of the Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak

After spending six months with the Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak, I’ve come to appreciate its many strengths and have also noted a few areas for potential improvement. Here’s a balanced look at what this kayak has to offer.


Stability and Comfort: The kayak’s stable platform is ideal for beginners and those who prefer a relaxed experience. The upgraded chair ensures comfort, even on long days.

Versatility: Its performance in various environments, from calm waters to rougher conditions, is commendable. The kayak handles well in both shallow water and open waters, demonstrating great adaptability.

Storage and Practicality: With ample storage space, including a large rear area with bungee straps and water-resistant hatches, it’s well-suited for day trips and longer excursions. The kayak’s design also includes convenient features like paddle parks and carry handles.

Durability: The robust build and impact resistance of the kayak ensure it can withstand regular use and the occasional bump or scrape.

Suitability for Taller Adults: The kayak’s dimensions and adjustable features make it a comfortable option for taller individuals, offering plenty of room and an ergonomic seating position.


Weight: While the kayak’s weight contributes to its stability, it can be on the heavier side for some, potentially making transportation and handling a bit challenging for shorter distances without assistance.

Limited Speed and Agility: Due to its focus on stability and comfort, the kayak may not be the fastest or most agile, which could be a consideration for more advanced paddlers looking for a high-performance kayak.

Fishing-Specific Features: For those who are not interested in fishing, some of the kayak’s fishing-specific features, like rod holders, may not be necessary, although they don’t detract from the overall experience. The metal side rails are very sharp, however, and you might want to consider removing them if you aren’t planning to use them, as I’ve cut myself on them a couple of times already.

The Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak is a fantastic option for beginners and those seeking a stable, comfortable, and versatile kayaking experience. While it may have some limitations in terms of speed and agility, and its weight might be a consideration for some, its overall performance, comfort, and practicality make it a great choice for a wide range of paddlers, especially those who value a relaxed and enjoyable time on the water.

Cambridge Kayaks - Manta 9ft Kayak Review

Is the Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak the Right Choice for Beginners?

The Manta 9ft has proven to be an excellent kayak for someone starting their kayaking journey. Its stability, ease of use, and comfort are standout features that make it an ideal choice for beginners. The kayak’s design, focusing on a stable platform and ample storage, provides a reassuring and practical experience for new paddlers. The added features, like the adjustable seat and fishing accessories, offer a level of versatility that can cater to a range of preferences.

Who Would Benefit Most from This Kayak?

  • Beginners: For those new to kayaking, the Manta 9ft offers an accessible and forgiving platform to learn and enjoy the sport.
  • Recreational Paddlers: If you’re looking for a kayak for leisurely days on calm waters, exploring lakes, and occasional sea trips, this kayak is a great fit.
  • Taller Adults: Given its spacious design and adjustable features, taller individuals will find this kayak particularly comfortable.

Alternatives to Consider

While the Manta 9ft is a fantastic option, it’s always good to consider alternatives. For those seeking a lighter option, an inflatable kayak might be worth exploring. Advanced paddlers looking for more speed and agility might prefer a longer, narrower sea kayak.

The Bottom Line

The Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak is a great choice for beginners and recreational paddlers. It’s not just a kayak; it’s a gateway to new adventures and a companion on your journey through the beautiful waterways of the UK.

Cambridge Kayaks

Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak

The Manta sit-on-top kayak has all the features the solo paddler will ever need! The Aluminium framed seat provides great support for those wanting extra comfort when out on the water, also making it great for individuals with back issues.


Cambridge Kayaks - Manta 9ft Kayak


The Manta 9ft Fishing Kayak is a great choice for beginners and recreational paddlers. Its combination of stability, comfort, and practical features makes it a reliable and enjoyable kayak. Whether you're paddling in calm waters or venturing into slightly rougher conditions, this kayak offers a reassuring and pleasurable experience.

  • Rated 5 out of 5
  • Rated 5 out of 5
  • Rated 4 out of 5
  • Rated 5 out of 5


  • Stability
  • Comfort
  • Versatility


  • Weight

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