Best Kayak For Beginners

Kayaking is becoming of one the most popular watersports, and for a good reason, there’s a little something for everyone. You don’t need to be active or athletic to enjoy paddling around on your favorite body of water.

Buying your first kayak? Here is a buying guide and kayak reviews to help you find the best beginner kayak!

Best Beginner Kayak Reviews

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak - Best Kayak For Kids

Remember how we mentioned that kayaking is a great activity for the whole family? This kayak is the perfect starter for kids between the ages of 5 and 11. This is a recreational kayak is made of a durable, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and is UV-protected to prevent fading or cracking. The kayak is six feet in length and has a weight capacity of 130 pounds

The swim-up deck design allows young users to get in and out of the kayak easily and the twin fin assists with tracking and surf riding.

Pros

The ergonomic cockpit is designed to enhance balance and motor skills. The multiple footrest positions are perfect for a growing user or multiple youth kayakers. Drain holes keep water from building up. A paddle is included.

Cons

The cockpit is uncovered, so it may only be a good kayak for warm climates. Although the kayak is lightweight (18 lbs.) it may still be too heavy for some users. The plastic molded back is low and might not offer enough support. As a result, the paddler may have a poor posture.

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump - Best Inflatable Kayak For Beginners

Interested in an inflatable kayak? The Intex Challenger has a low-profile design which measures at 9’ x 2’6” x 1’1” when fully inflated. The cockpit is large enough to comfortably accommodate tall kayakers. This inflatable recreational kayak comes with an 84-inch aluminum paddle, a high-output hand pump, and a repair patch.

Pros

The cargo net allows users to store extra gear and the I-beam floors add more stability. The inflatable seat has a high backrest to encourage proper support and posture. The weight capacity is 220 pounds, and the kayak weighs 27.2 pounds. When not in use, the kayak is easy to store in a compact area, and the hand pump inflates the watercraft quickly.

Cons

Although lightweight, it may be too heavy for some users to carry. Users should check for any wear and tear or leaks before using every time. While there’s a cargo net on the bow of the kayak for storage,  it doesn’t offer protection from elements.

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump - Best Tandem Kayak For Beginners

The Intex Explorer is a recreational kayak designed to hold two people. When fully inflated, the kayak measures 10’ 3” x 3’ x 1’ 8” and weighs 31.13 pounds. The weight capacity is 400 pounds. Like the Challenger, it has an I-beam floor for extra stability.

The inflatable high back seats promote back support and encourage proper posture. The seats are adjustable and can be removed. A removable skeg helps with directional stability.

Pros

This kayak can be used by one person, by simply removing a seat. Two 86” aluminum paddles, and a high-output pump is included. A comfortable kayak for lakes and calm rivers. The inflatable design makes for easy storage when not in use, and the pump inflates the kayak quickly.

Cons

Although the kayak has a thick vinyl construction, users should still check for tears or leaks before each use. The skeg may become unattached in the water and get lost. Although lightweight, it may be difficult for one person to inflate or carry.

The uncovered cockpit may expose kayakers to sun and water, and there’s a lack of storage space; no cargo net like the Challenger.​

Sun Dolphin Bali SS Sit-on top Kayak 10-feet - Best Sit On Top Kayak For Beginners

Like other sit-on-top kayaks, the Sun Dolphin Bali SS is an excellent option for warmer climates. The large open seating area has comfortable padding on the backrest for optimal posture and support. There is dry storage compartment area conveniently placed in the stern area.

The weight capacity is 250 pounds, and the dimensions are 11 x 30 x 144 inches. The kayak weighs 40 pounds, and the UV-stabilized Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene will extend the life of the kayak, protecting from fading and cracking. The kayak is also durable enough to use in rough areas like rocky shorelines.

Pros

With additional padding around the thigh areas, paddlers can sit comfortably and balanced without putting a strain on their legs. The open cockpit makes it easy to enter and exit the kayak, which is a plus for beginners.

Cons

Water can collect more easily in the open design. There is no paddle included, and the weight of the kayak may be too heavy for some users to handle, alone, when loading or unloading.

SEVYLOR COLEMAN COLORADO 2-PERSON FISHING KAYAK - Best Beginner Kayak For Fishing

Like to paddle around on the calm waters of a lake and do a little fishing? The Sevylor Coleman Colorado inflatable kayak has an open design and adjustable seats to comfortably accommodate two people.

With an 18-gauge PVC construction and multiple air chambers, it is heavy duty and more likely to stay inflated. This type of construction can make this fishing kayak an excellent choice if you fish areas near tall grass, like reeds and cattails.

This kayak comes with adjustable rod holders for hands-free fishing and has troller motor fittings. When fully inflated, the kayak is 10’ 9” x 3’ 3” and has a weight capacity of 470 pounds.

Kayak comes with a carry bag and pressure gauge and weighs about 40 pounds.

Pros

This kayak has a great weight capacity than similar inflatable kayaks. D-Rings attached to the kayak are a convenient way to attach gear. High back seats aid in good posture and support while high sides keep water out of the kayak. Durable carry handles make it easy to take in and out of the water.

Cons

There are no paddles or air pump included with the kayak. Although the design has troller motor fittings, it may not work with every motor. No protected storage space. The open cockpit design doesn’t protect paddlers from the elements. While the kayak is made of high-quality material, users should check for leaks or tears before each use.

Sun Dolphin Journey Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak 10 feet– Best Beginner Hard Shell Fishing Kayak

The Sun Dolphin Journey sit-on-top kayak is like the Sun Dolphin Bali SS model and has some of the same features. The seating area is large and open, making it easy for users to get in and out. The backrest is padded and helps maintain good posture while paddling and a dry storage compartment is at the stern (back of the kayak).

Pros

The kayak has two built-in mount rod holders and one swivel rod holder, which allows for easy hands-free fishing. The foot braces are adjustable for optimal comfort and balance.

The weight capacity is 250 pounds, and the dimensions are 11 x 30 x 120 inches. The kayak weighs 44 pounds, and the UV-stabilized Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene will extend the life of the kayak, protecting from fading and cracking. The kayak is durable and can withstand bumping against rocks or other objects in the water.​

Cons

Water can collect more easily in the open design. There is no paddle included and the weight of the kayak may be too heavy for some users to handle, alone, when loading or unloading.

Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak - Best Touring Kayak For Beginners

If you are looking for a kayak that you can comfortably spend the day in, regardless what type of body of water you’re floating on, this Riot Touring Kayak may be a perfect fit for you. The kayak has a slender bow and a slim deck line, making it easier to use navigate unsteady waters or when paddling in the wind.

With a High-Density Polyethylene construction, the kayak is durable and can withstand bumping against rocks and other objects. The dimensions are 14.5’ x 22.5” x 12” and weighs 60 pounds. The cockpit is roomy at 36.5” x 19.5” and the hatch is 15.75” x 8.13”. The weight capacity is 375 pounds.

Pros

A covered bow and stern allow for extra storage space, protected from the elements. Adjustable features like foot braces and seating allow for optimal comfort. A pilot rudder system, a security bar, and integrated thigh braces will help you stay stabilized.

Cons

Some users may struggle to load and unload the kayak due to the length and weight. There is no paddle included. Kayakers, who are more familiar with a wider, recreational kayak may not feel confident in a touring kayak.

HOW TO CHOOSE Your First KAYAK

If you’ve already starting browsing kayaks, you probably notice that are a lot of choices and a variety of types and sizes. First, determine if you want a kayak for yourself or to share with someone else. Secondly, where will you be using the kayak? Will you be boating around in calm waters or on a body of water with rapids? Will you use your kayak for fishing?

Some kayaks are a little more multi-purpose than others. Now, we will briefly discuss some the most common types of kayaks, good for beginners, to give you a better idea of what may be best for you.

Types of Kayaks

Recreational: This type of kayak is shorter in length (10 to 12 feet) and a good option for using on calm waters like lakes or ponds. It also is easiest to use on days of little to no wind. Many avid fishers and nature photographers use recreational kayaks. While they are good for short and leisurely day trips, they can be cumbersome and challenging for one person to load and unload.

Touring: A touring kayak is as popular as a recreational kayak, but it is more suitable for long day or overnight trips and is longer (12 to 17 feet). It handles the wind and unsteady waters better than a recreational kayak.

​Sit-On-Top:  Unlike a recreational or touring kayak, where you sit inside the kayak, the sit-on-top kayak leaves your legs and feet uncovered. These styles of kayaks are easy to get on and off and typically 10 to 15 feet long. People often use sit-on-top kayaks for recreation, fishing or when swimming.

​Inflatable: Inflatable kayaks are a reliable option for individuals who are looking for a lightweight kayak; it also takes up less space in storage. Best for recreational use and some models have pieces you can put in (such as on the floor of the kayak) to make the kayak sturdier. Inflatable kayaks are often mistaken as an inflatable toy, but they are a legitimate watercraft.

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PICKING OUT A Beginner KAYAK

Now that you know that there are four basic types of kayaks that are best for beginners, there are a few other things (other than the cost) you might want to consider. Some features that are often overlooked include:

​Weight Capacity: Whether you are buying a kayak for the whole family to use or you’re just picking out one for yourself, size matters. When looking at the weight capacity, make sure you account for a little more weight that the heaviest user. This extra weight can be for camping gear or other equipment.

Cockpit Opening: If you are interested in a kayak with a cockpit opening, like a recreational or touring kayak, the size of the cockpit is also important to consider. If you are tall, a wider cockpit will make it easier to get in and out of the kayak.

Size of Kayak: While most kayaks are similar in length, a longer kayak tends to glide more smoothly; a shorter kayak is more stable. The width of a kayak determines the stability; the wider the kayak, the more stable it is, which is something to think about as a beginner.​

Color: ​The color of your kayak may be more important than you think. A brightly colored kayak will be easier to spot from far away, and this can come in handy if you need assistance.

DO I NEED ANY SPECIAL GEAR?

Another great thing about kayaking is that you don’t need much additional equipment other than a kayak and a paddle. You should strongly consider purchasing a helmet and a life jacket.

A helmet should be worn if you are paddling on a river (to protect your head from rocks) and a life preserver will help you stay afloat if you tip. Wear a life jacket even if you think you’re a strong swimmer.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF OWNING A KAYAK?

Before you purchase a kayak, you probably want to know, “what’s in it for me?

Are you an outdoor enthusiast? Whether you head out on the river or a lake, kayaking is the perfect opportunity to getting outdoors and enjoying nature.

If you are trying to get healthier, kayaking is a low-impact activity that improves your cardio health and strengthens your core. Paddling around in your kayak is also beneficial if you want to reduce stress, clear your mind, relax, and just get away from it all.

Some people prefer alone time, but other watersports can’t be done by oneself. Not only are kayaks perfect for a solo excursion, but many of them can be loaded and maneuvered by one person. Want to hang out with friends? A group float on the river is an excellent way to spend the day.

Another main benefit of a kayak is that most anyone can use one, even kids, so it’s a great activity for the whole family to enjoy.

OUR FAVORITE PICK

We’ve shared some of the best kayaks for beginners on the market, but our favorite pick is the Intex Challenger. Why do we love the Challenger? First, it couldn’t be any more different than its name, as it’s easy to use, making it a great choice for a novice.

Not only is it a great “starter” for new kayakers, but it remains a solid choice as you become a more experienced paddler. A kayak should be easy for one person to carry and because the Challenger is inflatable, it’s easily one of the most portable kayaks available.

A kayak should always feel comfortable and stable, and if it is, you are likely to feel more confident in the water. The large cockpit allows for easy entry and exit, but your legs stay covered, which may make you feel more controlled and comfortable. The reinforced beams in the floor offer extra stability.

The weight capacity and ease of use make it an excellent kayak for a variety of heights, weights, and expertise levels.