Are you a newcomer to the kayaking world? Are you having difficulty finding the perfect beginner kayak? If your answer to these questions is yes, then you don’t need to worry as we have got you covered.
Kayaking has always been quite a popular water activity. You can truly experience the motion of the water, and kayaking is a perfect way to relax. Kayaks are small and personal vessels, and that is one of the main factors that lead to people preferring kayaks over boats. Kayaking can be quite a blood-pumping and adrenaline-packed activity as well.
Nowadays, more and more people are discovering how great it is to fish in a kayak. This has changed the dynamics of fishing as people can reach very tight and narrow spaces full of schools of fish where you couldn’t previously get to via a boat.
But, choosing the best kayak, especially when you are a rookie, can seem like quite a daunting task. No need to worry; we will provide the perfect selection of kayaks for you and break down everything you need to know about them.
What To Look for Before Buying Recreational Kayak
Before you look into buying a new beginner kayak, you need to consider a few factors beforehand. These will help you to make an informed decision so that you can purchase the perfect kayak without having any regrets and issues afterward.
This depends on whether you are facing budget constraints, or if you are looking for the best option out there irrespective of the price. There are a lot of kayaks on the market that are very expensive but are only famous due to their brand image. A brand can provide top-quality build material and a great experience, but it may also make overrated products that are only famous due to their hype.
You need to comprehensively research the type of kayak you want because someone might mislead you into buying an overpriced product that will not provide satisfactory results. If you have financial constraints, then you need to set your budget. After that, you need to filter out all the remaining options. You must check the reviews and ratings; additionally, take a quick look at the company’s background to get an idea about the kayak.
Sometimes, you can spend a lot less to get the experience you’re searching for. A kayak may include some overpriced features that you don’t need, and you can let them go to save money. When buying a new kayak, you’ll want to get the best value for your money.
Every so often, if you spend a little more, you can get a great kayak that will last for a long time and save you money in the long run. If you only look at the price factor, however, you might end up buying a low-quality product that you need to replace after a short period. Be sure to spend your money wisely by making an informed decision.
Types of Beginner Kayak:
There are many types of kayaks available in the market, and when choosing the best beginner kayak, that long list of options can seem confusing. To get a better understanding of what kayak you want to buy, you need to know every type of kayak that is available, so you know which one is the perfect pick for you.
Sit-on-top kayaks are one of the most common types that you can find in the market. As the name implies, you are seated on top of the kayak and are reinforced with a seat and cushioning. This type is usually for recreational purposes and mild waters because harsh waters may cause you to fall off. You truly feel the water when you have a sit-on-top kayak as every drop of water that splashes will hit you.
In this type of kayak, your legs are always uncovered; this means that you can easily disembark and climb back on the kayak – if you want to go for a quick swim and easily get back on it afterward. These kayaks are also ideal for fishermen who just want to fish with extra mobility. You are also able to hang your legs off the kayak.
As you can figure out from the name, this type of kayak has an enclosed seating arrangement. You can keep your legs covered. This type of kayak helps to keep you dry and warm, which is a great feature for places with cold water bodies or shorter seasons. You also have the option of attaching a skirt to cover the cockpit that will help in keeping you drier and warmer than usual.
These are also one of the most popular types of fishing kayaks. Sit-inside kayaks are suitable for harsher water conditions as well, and you can also take them to rough rivers and faster waters. These types of kayaks also increase the overall level of mobility and stability since you are well-seated.
These are not that common and are often more expensive than their normal paddle-controlled counterparts. But that does not mean that they don’t have their advantages. A pedal-powered kayak frees your hands and adds extra mobility as you can easily fish and move at the same time. This will also not make your hands sore, as is often the case with paddles.
With a pedal-powered kayak, you can truly explore the water. But a thing to note is that they are not suitable for shallow waters as the propeller connected to the bottom might scrape the surface bed of the water and get damaged. You might have difficulty in transporting these types of kayaks as well, so that is a thing to keep in mind.
Powered & Motor-Compatible Kayaks:
These are kayaks where you can attach a motor to provide power. This method is a real timesaver when you’re traveling long distances. You can power your way from one spot to another without paddling and using your feet. Additionally, you can use the motor in reverse as well.
When opting for a motor-powered kayak, just note that you have the extra expense of purchasing a compatible motor, and it will also require maintenance. Just think of a motor-powered kayak as a smaller, more mobile, and compact motorboat.
If you are opting for a paddle-controlled kayak, then you need to get a good quality paddle as that is what gets you home; if it breaks, it will lead to a world of problems, and you will be stranded. There are two main things to consider when getting a paddle, which are the length and weight.
You need to get an appropriately sized paddle as one with the wrong size will either cause the kayak to zigzag or might have you bending to a side to paddle. You have to get a paddle that is suited to your height. Secondly, the paddle should not be too heavy or light to provide the proper propulsion. Don’t cheap out on your paddle but also don’t overspend.
There are a lot of kayaks in the market, with variations in length. The kayaks designed for children are usually around 6 feet in length. Other options in the market range from 10 to 12 feet in length. These variations can make your decision-making quite difficult.
A general rule of thumb is that you need to get a kayak at least 10 feet in length if you are an adult. If you are purchasing a beginner kayak for your child, then the ideal size is 6 feet. A longer-sized kayak will have better stability and will track better or, in other words, will go straight.
When choosing a kayak for yourself, you need to consider the total weight that you are going to be putting on the kayak. If you are going to be taking gear, fishing equipment, and other goods along with you on the kayak, then you need to factor in their total weight as well. Just get a kayak that has a maximum weight capacity that is around 100 lbs more than the total weight of you and your gear.
This feature is most important while fishing as you want to keep very stable. You need to choose a kayak that will remain in place when you try to make movements such as getting things from your storage compartments or just casting a line. Be sure to get a kayak that will not tip over with the slightest change in weight displacement.
There is a huge array of designs available when you are looking at kayaks. These variations in designs have their benefits and drawbacks and are suited for different purposes as well. To know what you want, you have to know what is available first.
- Storage: You need to select a kayak that has plenty of storage. There are a lot of options with storage onboard, but they are either in wells or reinforced trays for your gear and equipment. A well design keeps your valuables dry but takes up space, whereas an open-storage design makes good use of space but tends to get your stuff wet.
- Inflatable or solid: These are the two basic designs. You can easily store and carry around inflatable kayaks. They are ideal for lighter and more recreational use. A solid construction kayak, on the other hand, needs storage space and is also a hassle to carry around but is more durable; you can use it for fishing without any problem.
- Seating options: There are two seating options available. If you are riding and fishing alone, then a single-seat kayak will be perfect for you, but if you prefer fishing or going out to the water with another person, then a two-seater kayak will be a better alternative.
- Sit-on or sit-in: We already discussed these design options in the ‘types of kayaks’ section.
When choosing the perfect beginner kayak for yourself, you need to consider how long you are going to be sitting in the kayak. You need to purchase a kayak that you can use for hours without a break, without it creating any discomfort. The kayak should have proper padded and cushioned seats, and if it has lumbar and backrest support, then that is another bonus. Just be sure that you buy a kayak that is comfortable and safe to sit in for hours on end.
If you are purchasing a kayak, you need to figure out how you are going to transport it. If you buy a large-size kayak that is quite heavy and doesn’t have a proper method for carrying and transporting it, then you have wasted your money. Many kayaks have handles and built-in slits to make it easy for you to carry it around.
If you are choosing an inflatable kayak, then you can just deflate it and put it on your back, but if you are looking at a normal kayak, then you need to transport it via a car and trolley and then carry it with your hands to the location you want to go to. This factor is very important, but people mostly overlook it; you need to consider it before making a purchase.
How We Picked the Kayaks:
When we were looking for the best beginner kayaks, we noticed that there are a lot of kayaks in the market which are designed for different purposes. Some kayaks are ideal for still, stagnant water conditions for recreational purposes or fishing. At the same time, some are best for harsher water conditions for water sports, etc. We picked every type of kayak so that people looking for a kayak for a specific purpose could find the perfect match.
- Material of the Kayak:
We picked the kayaks, which we believed were long-lasting. We looked at various kayaks and picked out the best in terms of build quality, the material of the kayak, and the potential lifespan so that you wouldn’t have to worry when choosing a kayak from our list.
- Size and Proportion:
When you observe our list, you will notice that we have picked kayaks ranging from every size to proportion so that people of all heights can find the perfect kayak.
As there were a lot of options ranging from all different price points, we believed that we should pick kayaks that people can afford according to their budget. Hence, we picked some premium and expensive kayaks for enthusiasts. On the other hand, we also chose kayaks that had very reasonable prices, especially for first-time kayak buyers.
How We Tested the Beginner Kayaks
When we gathered our top picks, we went through various testing methods to know the advantages and disadvantages of each product. We considered multiple factors when we were testing these kayaks:
- Are these kayaks comfortable to sit in for hours on end, and will they provide sufficient support and reinforcement?
- Am I able to enter and disembark the kayak without any problem, irrespective of whether it was a sit-in or sit-on design?
- Does the kayak feel stable when on a flat water surface?
- Is it designed for stability in rough and harsh water conditions?
- Am I able to move as fast as I want in these kayaks?
- How is the storage capacity in these kayaks, and can I fit in gear, equipment, etc.?
- Does it have self-bailing features to stop the kayak from sinking?
- Is the seat comfortable, and is there room for you to stretch your legs?
- The warranty and company coverage offered with the kayak
Top 10 Best Kayaks for Beginners
1. Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit-in Beginner Kayak:
The Aruba 10 is a great kayak from Sun Dolphin’s long lineup. It is a sit-in kayak, which makes it quite stable and suited for both rivers and lakes. It measures over 10 feet, which is compact but also maintains a high level of stability and a sleek look. Additionally, it has a large open cockpit that comes with an adjustable padded seat and high back support for added comfort.
This kayak has a convenient storage area for your gear and supplies, reinforced with shock cord deck rigging. The Sun Dolphin Aruba also has adjustable foot braces. It is made from rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex high-density polyethylene for a lightweight and portable design.
- Sit-in design allows for better control.
- Storage available for essential gear and supplies.
- Made from lightweight high-density polyethylene.
- Comes with an adjustable paddle.
- Easily transportable due to portable build and design.
- Styrofoam blocks beside the seat are not in place.
- Water tends to collect in the seat through the hatch.
All in all, if you are in the market for a mid-sized kayak to enjoy your evening trip to the lake or an adventure-packed weekend at the river rapids, this is one of the best options. This sit-in kayak allows for a great experience overall and is an excellent choice for someone who just wants to have fun without any complications.
2. Lifetime Youth Wave Beginner Kayak with Paddle:
This kayak is a superb product from Lifetime. The design is especially for children ages five and above and up to a weight capacity of 130 lbs. The Lifetime Youth Wave is made of high-quality, durable HDPE with UV-Protection, which is not prone to cracking, peeling, or fading. It has a lightweight design that weighs only 18 lbs, allowing it to be portable.
The kayak slopes at the end with a step-up for easy re-entry. The multiple footrest option is a great feature as well, and the twin-fin design allows you to track and surf properly. The ergonomic cockpit design adds to the balance and stability of the kayak, making it a wonderful purchase for kids.
- Lightweight design allows for easy transport.
- Perfect for children to learn and have fun.
- The rider can easily climb back onto the kayak through the swim-up step at the back.
- Rated as highly durable and rugged.
- Multiple footrest options available for all sizes.
- No storage space available to store your valuables.
- Made for children; hence, not suitable for adults.
- May have some stability issues due to the smaller form factor.
If you are looking for a beginner kayak for your children, then this is a viable option for you. Although the small form factor may not be as stable as bigger models, it is perfect for children to use without any hindrances.
3. Intex Explorer K2 2-Person Inflatable Beginner Kayak:
The Intex Explorer K2 is a very comfortable kayak that includes an adjustable inflatable seat with a backrest to keep you and your partner comfortable. Its dimensions are approximately 10 feet and 3 inches in length, 3 feet in width, and 1 foot and 8 inches in height. This kayak has a maximum weight capacity of 400 lbs.
The Explorer K2 Kayak comes with a removable SKEG for directional stability. The bright color allows others to locate the craft easily in case of an emergency. This kayak is best for flat water surfaces and recreational purposes. It comes with a set of aluminum oars and a high-output pump to quickly inflate the kayak.
- Can seat up to two people at once.
- Made from heavy-duty vinyl for added durability.
- Not very susceptible to punctures and rips.
- Comes with two high-quality aluminum paddles.
- Very portable and space-saving.
- Only for recreational purposes and won’t survive harsher conditions.
- Carrying a pump around can become tiresome.
- Inflation and deflation might be time-consuming.
Whether you are looking for a two-person kayak or a portable one, this product checks all the boxes. Overall, this is a splendid pick for anyone who doesn’t have the space or transport facilities to carry around a full-size kayak. They can easily roll it up and put it in a bag, which is quite convenient. This is great if you are not planning to go kayaking in harsh conditions and just want to have a relaxing experience with your partner.
4. Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Beginner Kayak:
This is a one-person inflatable kayak that is easy to set up in less than five minutes. It can fold back into a carry backpack that turns into the seat. This kayak is made of durable 24-gauge PVC and is a good option for lake use. It also has a Tarpaulin bottom and a polyester cover that give it protection from punctures and rips.
This kayak has multiple air chambers, which can keep one chamber inflated if the other one punctures. The double lock valves on this allow for easy inflation and deflation, and the airtight system guarantees no leaks. You can store items by securing them with bungees in the storage area.
- Quick and easy setup.
- You can easily transport it as it fits into a carry-on backpack.
- Rated for lake use due to rugged PVC material.
- Not very prone to punctures and ruptures.
- Two lock valves in place for easy inflation and deflation.
- Not rated for extreme conditions, only suitable for flat water.
- Inflating and deflating every time may become a nuisance.
Overall, this is a great kayak, which is not only very portable but is also very space-saving. It is a perfect pick for anyone who is looking to buy a kayak mainly for recreational purposes and doesn’t want to store and carry around a huge kayak. If you are looking for an enjoyable evening out on the lake, then this is a superb option.
5. Perception Pescador Pro 12 | Sit-on-Top Fishing Beginner Kayak:
This kayak comes with a lawn chair-style mesh seat that has two levels of seat adjustment and allows for great airflow and comfort. The body is made from a single piece, making it leak proof. You can easily store any gear, supplies, and cooler tackle boxes in both the front and rear storage areas.
The Perception Pescador Pro 12 comes with integrated accessory rails on both gunwales with rod holders. The kayak measures around 12 feet in length and 2 feet and 8.5 inches in width. It weighs 57 lbs and has a maximum capacity of 375 lbs, which is quite impressive.
- Comfortable lawn chair seat which can be easily adjusted and is suitable for long usage.
- One-piece construction to allow for a leak-proof build.
- Reinforced storage compartment.
- Built-in fishing rod holders for a better fishing experience.
- Great stability due to large form factor.
- The seat is not as well built and may feel cheap.
- Lack of lumbar support can make it uncomfortable during long hours of fishing.
- Plastic latches on the front latch are prone to breaking from moderate use.
This kayak is superb overall as a complete package. It is a great option for fishermen because of its marvelous seat and accessory rails. You can also use it for recreational purposes. All in all, this is a very good option.
6. Ocean Kayak Frenzy One-Person Sit-on-Top Recreational Beginner Kayak:
This is a one-person sit-on-top kayak that behaves well in flat water. Its tri-hull and long center keel combine to provide both primary and secondary stability to the kayak and allow you to keep going straight.
This kayak has a comfortable, four-way adjustable seat with ample padding as well. You can store your items and supplies in the stern tank well with removable and bow deck bungees. The molded-in side handles allow you to carry the kayak around easily. It measures around 9 feet in length and weighs 43 lbs with a maximum weight capacity of 325 lbs.
- Very stable design due to the long center keel and tri-form hull.
- You can easily carry it around without a problem.
- Able to fit most adults of different heights and weights.
- Very comfortable padded seat recommended for long-time usage.
- Portable and easy to transport via vehicle thanks to its light weight.
- Seat tends to get wet during use.
- Does not come with a paddle, so an added expense.
- No spare compartment to keep your gear and supplies dry.
If you’re in the market for a kayak, this product is not only well-built but also provides an admirable package. You can use this kayak for recreational purposes. It is a delightful pick for anyone as its portability and great seat make it stand out.
7. Lifetime 90479 Youth 6 Feet Wave Beginner Kayak:
From Lifetime, we have a kayak designed for kids over the age of five and with a weight capacity of about 130 lbs. This kayak is made from high-grade polyethylene for excellent durability and reliability. The Lifetime Youth is a 6-foot kayak that is perfect for children. This particular kayak has ultra-stability and very good tracking as well.
The material is impact-resistant for the added protection and safety for our children. It comes with a swim-up deck for easier re-entry and has multiple footrest positions for different heights. It comes with a paddle out of the box and has molded finger handles so that you can easily transport and carry around the kayak without any problem.
- Perfect for kids to start their kayaking journey.
- Easy to transport due to its smaller form factor.
- Multiple footrest options available for kids of all ages.
- Very stable design for increased child safety.
- Comes with a paddle, so no added expense.
- Made for kids; the size is not suitable for most adults.
- Uncomfortable since the seat doesn’t have padding.
- Lack of a backrest.
If you are looking for a reliable and high-quality beginner kayak for your children, then this is a great pick. It provides excellent portability and design so that your child can truly explore the waters. It might not have the best seating arrangement, but it makes up for that in other aspects, which makes this a viable option for novices.
8. Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 Beginner Kayak:
The Wilderness Systems Pungo Kayak is one of the best options out there. It is a full-size 12-foot kayak that offers first-class stability and reliability. The funky and unique-looking design of the kayak makes it quite special. This is a sit-in kayak that allows for better stability and control, which allows you to use it in both rivers and lakes.
You can use this kayak either to fish or to have a great time at the lake in the evening. It comes equipped with a storage compartment. The storage compartment allows you to store your valuable items, gear, and supplies while still keeping them dry.
The Wilderness Systems Pungo Kayak is very lightweight and portable; this allows you to transport it without any difficulty. It comes with a fully adjustable seat covered with mesh fabric that allows for better airflow and overall comfort. The kayak weighs around 49 lbs.
- Streamlined design for better travel.
- Storage compartment in the deck of the kayak to keep important gear and supply dry.
- Well-built and sturdy design.
- Fully adjustable seat allows for better comfort.
- Lightweight construction.
- The length is not suitable for everyone.
- Lightweight construction may result in stability issues.
The Wilderness Systems Pungo Kayak is a viable option for any avid fisherman or someone who just wants to relax and enjoy the water. It has a great design, and the look is also unique. Although the large form factor is not suited for everyone, it can be a perfect fit for those who are compatible. You would have to spend some money on a paddle, but other than that, you won’t be disappointed if you purchase this kayak.
9. Sun Dolphin Excursion 12-Foot Sit-in Fishing Beginner Kayak:
This sit-in kayak is a tremendous pick for your adventures ahead. You can use the Sun Dolphin Excursion Fishing Kayak for both fishing and recreational purposes, making it a great investment. The sit-in design allows you to use it in rivers and lakes. It has an open cockpit that is easy to enter and exit from and is very lightweight.
The kayak’s lightweight and easy-to-carry design allows it to be very portable as well. It comes equipped with a portable accessory carrier so that you can store your valuables and supplies without the worry of them getting wet. Additionally, it comes with two flush mounts and one swivel fishing rod holder so that you can paddle and fish at the same time.
It remains stable and paddles and tracks without any problem. The Sun Dolphin Excursion Kayak comes with a large and comfortable seating area that is nicely padded for extra comfort. It has adjustable foot braces and storage and shock cord rigging for extra support. You can easily carry it around with the built-in carrying handles and store your paddle in the allocated paddle holding spot.
- Very lightweight design.
- Very portable and easy to transport.
- Extremely stable and well-built.
- Space for storage and protection is available.
- The seating is comfortable and well-padded.
- Plastic is a bit on the thin side.
- Heavier than average.
- Floatation is not great.
All in all, the Sun Dolphin Excursion is a good pick if you are looking for a first-rate kayak for your fishing needs. The handy features on the kayak aid fishermen by allowing you to paddle and fish at the same time. This is a great pick for people who just want it for recreational purposes as well, as it provides all the necessary comfort and features for a smooth sail.
10. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Beginner Kayak:
The Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak is a compact kayak that still packs a punch. It offers a lot in a terrific package all around. It offers a very stable and efficient ride, further aided by the comfortable, adjustable seat. The ‘Comfort Flex’ seat comes equipped with a padded bottom and a ventilated back.
It also comes with a molded-in cockpit and a cup holder for convenience. The open cockpit design of the kayak gives taller paddlers comfort and a lot of room to stretch their legs. You can use it for both fishing and recreational purposes. The short hull’s design allows it to get in the water easily, and the built-in carry handles allow you to transport and carry around the kayak with ease.
The Old Town Vapor 10 is made from a single-layer polyethylene material allowing for a lightweight design. It has thigh pads for added comfort. There is also a stern dry well for storing valuable equipment and supplies and preventing them from getting wet. It has adjustable foot braces and measures around 10 feet in length and 2 feet and 4.5 inches in width.
- Comfortable seating for long hours.
- The footing of the kayak is very secure.
- You can transport it around quite easily.
- Highly durable and rugged.
- Compact design and low-key form factor.
- The shape is not ideal.
- The seat is placed at a very low level.
This kayak is a fantastic option for anyone who is looking for a well-built product for either recreational or fishing purposes. It provides great value for money and is one of the best around. The fantastic build quality, lightweight design, and super stability are some of the features that make it stand out.
Overall, all the options we reviewed are splendid picks if you are looking to purchase a beginner kayak. They are well-built and will provide great stability. They are also from renowned companies that value customers and will not disappoint you.
We have presented a variety of kayaks with unique aspects so that you can figure out which is the best option for you. Hopefully, our top 10 list has helped you to narrow down your options, and it will make the process easier for you. Just be sure to properly research and look at our buying guide to get a better idea of what to purchase, then you can make an informed decision.