Sun Dolphin Journey 12 ss Review

​Today we’re going to talk about one our favorite beginner kayaks with our Sun Dolphin Journey 12 ss review. Let us begin by saying, this the perfect budget yak for getting out in the water as a newbie.


Nobody wants to shell out close to a grand for something they’ll be using once every other month. Sun Dolphin is known for manufacturing an array of lightweight and inexpensive water crafts and the Sun Dolphin Journey 12 ss is one of the best in our opinion.

While it isn’t anywhere near being the Lamborghini of the lake, it does hold some awesome features that many veteran kayakers wouldn’t even notice at first glance.

Luckily for you, we’ve done our research and found that the Sun Dolphin 12 ss can offer a fishing experience that competes with higher quality brands.

Come with us on this journey our fellow yakkers and let’s get to the bottom of what makes this Sun Dolphin 12 ss a sweet craft.

Sun Dolphin Journey 12 ss Review


  • ​12’ in length
  • ​29.5” in width
  • ​48lbs in weight
  • ​395lb capacity
  • ​High density polyethylene build


  • ​Great at tracking
  • ​Solid amount of onboard storage space
  • ​Comfortable and adjustable seat with foot braces
  • ​Very easy to transport
  • ​Durable high density polyethylene design


  • ​Difficult to maneuver because of length
  • ​No built-in scuppers
  • ​Not very stable for its size

Features and Benefits


The Sun Dolphin Journey 12 ss is made from an ultra strong high-density polyethylene material as with most other higher end kayaks. It also comes combined with a Fortiflex material that is UV resistant. This is very beneficial if you want to be able to keep your kayak outdoors for longer periods of time without worrying about the possibility of sun damage. Not only that, it adds strength to the deck of the kayaks, which gives you the ability to take this out in harsher conditions than a flat lake. At 12ft. long, we were pleasantly surprised to find out how lightweight this vessel is. Anyone could easily throw this over their shoulder and bring it down to the water without fuss.


While it doesn’t provide the same amount of storage space as a high-end fishing kayak, there is definitely enough onboard storage to get a good start. There are essentially two main storage areas onboard the Journey 12 ss, the dry storage compartments and the portable accessory carrier. The dry storage compartment is near the front of the hull and is just big enough to stick in your essentials such as your phone, keys, wallet, etc. You’ll notice that right above this you have a built-in bungee area on deck that can also be used to tie things down that you don’t mind getting a bit wet. There is another storage area in the stern that it is a bit bigger and is also built to keep things dry. This area also has a built-in bungee system to make sure things are securely tied down.


Having a comfortable seat on a kayaking adventure is extremely important. Many cheap kayak manufacturers fail to prioritize that when building their vessels. Luckily, the seating on the Sun Dolphin Journey 12 ss is pretty comfortable. The seating area itself is pretty wide, so it works for people of all shapes and sizes, and even comes with thigh pads to keep you protected in rougher conditions. Being a sit-in kayak, you’ll have your legs in the prone position for long periods of time. These thigh pads are helpful You can easily adjust the back rests and foot

rests as well, which provides tons of versatility depending on the user. While the padding is comfortable on shorter trips, we would highly recommend in investing in some extra padding if you have a bad back. Lastly, the Sun Dolphin Journey 12 ss comes equipped with adjustable foot braces to help keep your body locked tight and in place while you’re paddling. They have a very long range so that you’ll be able to adjust for a full grown adult or a small child. Oh yea, we might as well thrown in that they have a small cupholder in front of the seat because who doesn’t like a cold one out on the lake?

Rod Holders

There are a couple rod holders located conveniently around the vessel. There is one right in the center in front of the seat with a nice swivel design for maneuverability and comfort. If there was any one feature of the Sun Dolphin Journey 12 ss that sticks out more from others, it’s that swivel holder. The other two are flush mount rod holders that are located behind the seat that make it easy to reach back and adjust fishing reels in a pinch These are excellent in that you have the ability to put out three different rods and really optimize your fishing capabilities. While many people are seen modifying these with extra PVC pipe to increase the length, we believe they are plenty deep enough to safely and securely hold your rods, even on rougher waters.​


​The guys over at Sun Dolphin added two convenient handles on the sides to help carry this thing down to the water and get it into position. The fact that it is so lightweight makes it a piece of cake to carry as well. There are not many other vessels that we can think of that are this size and this light. They did a great job in terms of cutting back the density but keeping it strong.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of water is the Sun Dolphin Journey 12 best suited for?

The first thing that you should know is that this kayak has excellent speed. To make it simple, the combination of the length and small width make this spear of a kayak cut through water with ease. Because of this, you won’t have to worry about rougher conditions slowing this thing down or creating tons of waves under the kayak. That being said, the short width can make issues for stability if you are out in rougher waters and aren’t being careful. There are many reviews of people talking about their multiple experiences tipping. All in all be careful if you’re taking it out in the chop. As for lakes, this vessel is perfect. You can really get going at good speeds on calm waters. Just make sure that there aren’t many tight quarters around, as maneuvering this thing through tighter turns can be a major pain. One of the last things we’d like to add is the fact the Sun Dolphin Journey comes in an array of natural colors. This means that if you decide to go fishing in darker lakes where the water is a bit murkier than usual, you’ll find that its camouflage capabilities kick in nicely.

Can you modify this kayak?

Absolutely! You’ll want to be careful though, as modifying one of these kayaks means completely voiding the warranty. So yes, modify, but modify with caution. Here are some cool ideas to get you started:

  • If you can sacrifice the tiny dry storage hatch that is located at the bow of the kayak, you can mount tons of small accessories behind it. We’ve seen many people use this space to add things like GPS devices, compasses, fish finders, etc.
  • Secondly, if you want to raise the seat or make a bit more comfortable, we would recommend installing a stadium-style canoe seat in it. This will make it so you’re not sitting as deep into the hull of the kayak. Try and get one that is adjustable though, as one that is too big might be make your kayak unstable
  • Lastly, we would recommend drilling in a spot for an anchor trolley. This is especially important if you want to use this for fishing, as an anchor can keep you steady out in the water without having to work for it. It also makes your kayak more inconspicuous when it isn’t moving constantly.

Is this a good kayak for beginners?

There are many reviews around the Internet where people have said they bought the Journey 12 ss for their kids and they loved it! In our opinion, there are lots of things that make this an excellent beginner kayak! For starters, the tracking is great and it cuts through water like a knife in butter. It also has a flatter bottom, which makes it more stable as long as you aren’t standing up. Lastly, it is super easy to paddle. It all comes down to what you want to use it for. If you or your little ones are beginners and just want to take it out on some flat water, it’s perfect! Also, if you don’t end up liking it very much, it’s not a major investment for a kayak anyway!

If you're looking for something a bit more advanced, we have an awesome kayak review guide! Click here to view page!

Can you pedal with this boat?

No. There are some people that have purchased the boat mistaking the foot braces for foot pedals. The only reason they are there is so that you can keep your feet stable and rested while you are paddling. You still have to propel yourself with an actual paddle.

Can you remove the swiveling rod holder if you don’t want it there?

Yes! They know that not everyone will want to fish with the Journey 12 ss, so they made it easily removable by simply twisting it out of place.

Is this kayak easy to get in for larger people?

One of the biggest advantages of a sit-on-top kayak vs. a sit-in kayak is that sit-on-tops are much easier to get in and out of and are much more stable. In the chance that you flip in the water, you’ll be way less likely to get pinned under than you would with a sit-in kayak.

Final Thoughts – Should You Buy?

​All in all, this is an excellent fishing kayak for the price. Yes, it may not have all the crazy features and amenities of some higher end kayaks, but as with anything in life, you get what you pay for.

​If you don’t want to spend a ton of cash on a kayak, but still want one that is designed to match high-quality standards, is stable, is easy to paddle, and can have good time with, the Sun Dolphin Journey 12 ss is one of the best choices out there. If you want to grow with it and add your style or features, Sun Dolphin has left plenty of room for you to mod and get creative. Have fun yakking!

should you buy?

Sun Dolphin Journey 12 ss
  • 10/10
    Price - 10/10
  • 9/10
    Performance - 9/10
  • 8.5/10
    Durability - 8.5/10
  • 10/10
    Balance - 10/10
User Review
8/10 (1 vote)

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