Best Kayak for Beginners: 5 Picks to Get You Into Kayaking

The kayaking activity always seems fun, even for those not participating in it. Well, do not be left out when you can participate in kayaking. All you need is the best kayak for beginners to get started.

When you are new to kayaking, one thing that is important to consider is your safety. That can only happen when you have the right gear for the sport. In this case, we will focus more on the kayaks meant for beginners.

Picking your first kayak will not be easy. This is because many models in the market can sometimes be confusing to a beginner. You might even not be sure about the features to keep in mind when picking the kayak.

You should not worry much about picking the right product if you are a newbie to kayaking. This guide looks at the essential information you need to get started. By the end of this guide, you would have enough information to pick the best kayak for beginners.

Quick Picks: The Top-Rated Kayak for Beginners

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle, 6 Feet, Green
Perception Kayaks Flash 9.5 | Sit Inside Kayak for Fishing and Fun | Two Rod Holders | Multi-Function Dash | 9' 6" | Blaze (9331900189)
Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top Kayak, Orange, 9'
Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-in Recreational Kayak Kayak 10-Foot Lightweight one Person Kayak Perfect for Recreation, Yellow, One Size
Intex Challenger Kayak Series
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle
Perception Flash 9.5 Sit Inside Kayak
Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top Kayak
Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-in Recreational Kayak
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Intex Challenger Kayak Series
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle, 6 Feet, Green
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle
Perception Kayaks Flash 9.5 | Sit Inside Kayak for Fishing and Fun | Two Rod Holders | Multi-Function Dash | 9' 6" | Blaze (9331900189)
Perception Flash 9.5 Sit Inside Kayak
Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top Kayak, Orange, 9'
Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top Kayak
Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-in Recreational Kayak Kayak 10-Foot Lightweight one Person Kayak Perfect for Recreation, Yellow, One Size
Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-in Recreational Kayak

In a hurry? Check our best pick above, or keep reading for product reviews and buying guide!

What size kayak do I need?

The kayak size will largely depend on your height and weight. It is best for tall people who are over 6 feet to consider a 12 to 14-foot kayak. This means that it will have enough room to fit your legs with ease. Other things to keep in mind when picking the best kayak will be the waist width, thigh width, leg length, foot size, and overall height. Luckily, the manufacturers will recommend who can best use the kayak. Always consider the weight capacity the kayak manufacturer recommends. You do not need a kayak that cannot handle your weight.

Where will you use it?

Researching more about kayaks can help you understand better where you can use them effectively. It is worth noting that not all kayaks are built the same. As such, the manufacturers will always recommend where best to use the kayaks.

Here are some of the common places you can use a kayak.


If there is a lake close by, then you can take a kayak meant for lakes. The most common options would be the sit on top kayaks. This is because they are relatively easy to use, and they will be good for maneuvering such types of water bodies.

Coastal strips

The coasts have wind, currents, waves, tides, and more. So, it is best to get yourself a sit-in kayak. Such a type of kayak is essential for providing you with all the vital protection you need in case of wind or currents.

The sit-in kayak would also have better maneuverability in the case of tides.

Some find the sit-on-top kayaks also being great for such an environment. This is because they can now participate in the kayak surfing activity. However, this should be best left for professionals and not beginners.


You are likely to experience technical rapids, or you might come across a stable and calm river. It is sometimes best to get a stable and sturdy kayak for river applications because of various uncertainties. Such a kayak should also be able to turn quickly to maneuver different obstacles in the river.

For such an application, a short kayak with a hull design will be great. You can always have better control over such a kayak to enjoy the kayaking activity.

Kayaks: Sit in vs. Sit on

When looking to get the best kayak for beginners, the chances are you are likely to come across sit-in and sit-on-top kayak types. So, what makes them different? And which one should you pick?

The sit-on-top kayaks are mostly meant for recreational purposes. They are ideal for easy flowing rivers and calm lakes. What you should keep in mind is that such kayaks would not have much storage space if you want to consider an overnight trip.

People will choose the sit-on-top kayaks if the traditional sit-in kayak makes them feel claustrophobic. Some also feel like they will have a hard time exiting the kayak in case of a capsize. So, it would be best for such people to consider getting the sit-on-top kayaks.

The sit-in kayaks are more of the traditional kayaks you will get in the market. They are ideal for recreation, day touring, and much more. Such kayaks are loved for being fast, easy to maneuver, and having a lot more cargo room.

The best part about owning a sit-in kayak is that it would be versatile to handle different water bodies. The same cannot be said for the sit-on-top kayaks.

Pros of sit-on-top kayaks

  • Suck kayaks will be easy to get on top even when in deep water
  • Other than being easy to get on the kayak, getting off is also easier. The sit-in kayaks might sometimes be too constrictive when it comes to getting out.
  • These kayaks can be comfortable as your hips or waist are not constricted to the cockpit size
  • Such models would also have scupper holes that make the kayak self-draining. There will be no need to pump out the water.

Pros of sit-inside kayaks

  • These kayaks would be comfortable regardless of the weather conditions. This is because you will not easily get wet.
  • They will also be easy to control and maneuver. Most people find them being good at making sharp turns whenever necessary.
  • They will also offer the best stability even in rough waters. It is why such kayaks would be best for flowing rivers.
  • Many people also find them being easier to paddle compared to sit-on-top kayaks

What to look for when choosing the best kayak for beginners

The Kayak Material

The material will affect many other aspects of your kayak. So, it is best to take your time to settle for the best material that will make kayaking fun.

It is best to settle for a lightweight kayak. This is because it would be easy to carry it around and load it up for the trip whenever necessary.

The most common options in terms of kayak material include polyethylene plastic, composites, and ABS plastic.

Most manufacturers like polyethylene plastic because it is abrasion-resistant and in-expensive. Even if it is the cheapest option, the UV sun rays can degrade it over time, and it will also be the heaviest.

ABS plastic, on the other hand, can be slightly more expensive compared to polyethylene material. Both materials have the same durability properties. The higher price is because ABS plastic will be lighter than polyethylene and offer better UV resistance.

As the name suggests, composites would be made of various materials such as fiberglass and carbon fiber. These two materials will offer more performance and remain lightweight at the same time. UV rays are not a big concern for such kayaks. However, do not go around hitting such kayaks on rocks all the time.

Weight Capacity

The weight capacity varies from one kayak to another. Consider your weight and the gear you will be carrying. It is best to keep the total weight under the recommended weight capacity of the boat.

If you end up overloading your kayak, then it will become slower and compromise the paddling efficiency. No one would want to experience such.


The kayak length is still worth considering. Longer kayaks will always be easier to cruise efficiently and still have enough storage room. However, turning might not be the easiest. For effective turning, you need shorter kayaks.


The depth of the kayak is essential for providing enough room for the rider. Let us say you are a tall kayaker, then having a deeper kayak will mean that you can fit into the kayak better.


The seats you get in the best kayak for beginners will determine the comfort too. Let us say you are in the water kayaking for hours; then, it is best to get a model with a comfortable seat. Look for a seat with more ergonomics and padding to ensure comfort is better.

Top 5 Best Kayaks for Beginners

Intex, as a brand, never disappoints regardless of the products it makes. That is something you can also expect with this type of kayak series.

The kayak stands out for being nimble, thus easy to control. Even if you are new to using kayaks, you will quickly notice that the kayak is easy to control.

Another reason for picking this kayak is that it is made of durable welded material. Such a material means that you can use it from a beginner to a professional.

The eye-catching graphics will appeal to youths mostly. In most cases, you are looking to have fun with a kayak, so the graphics make the kayak stand out as being fun.

There is the cargo net on the kayak for holding down your extra gear and supplies. It should be easy to see how versatile and usable the kayak would be at this point.


  • It is nimble and easy to use
  • The cargo net allows for extra gear storage
  • It is made of durable material


  • It takes long to inflate the kayak with a hand pump

Beginners can be as young as 5 years. If you have a kid this young and seems interested in kayaking, this is the best kayak for beginners to consider. With a weight capacity of 130 lbs., the kid would learn how to kayak from a young age to when he is a teen without a problem.

The manufacturer managed to keep the weight to around 18 lbs. This kind of weight makes it lightweight so that the user can have an easy time carrying it around. There are also molded finger handles in the kayak to make it easier for transportation.

The manufacturer uses high-density polyethylene as the construction material. This type of material is all about durability. You will find it is an excellent kayak for years to come.

There are multiple footrest positions in the kayak to suit different rider sizes. This is important for a kayak that would be used by other people.


  • It is a strong kayak for years of use
  • Its design allows for ease of getting into the kayak
  • The multiple footrest positions make it versatile


  • Not the best for adults because of the weight capacity limit

If you are willing to spend a little bit more, then this best kayak for beginners has more features you will like. The first thing that most people enjoy about this kayak is its extreme stability and ease of paddling. It is why the model would be great for beginners and leisure voyages.

The design includes having dual tracking channels. These channels are important for keeping the boat on course. Having a short length also makes the kayak exceptionally maneuverable. As such, even beginners will find it easy to control the kayak.

The foot braces are easily adjustable to accommodate riders of different sizes. You can even use the same kayak as a family without much of a problem. The seat is also comfortable to help you handle the fun kayaking for long hours.


  • It is easy to control the kayak
  • The seat is comfortable for long kayaking hours
  • The dual tracking channels improve maneuverability


  • You have to buy the paddle separately

As much as you would have to spend more to get this best kayak for beginners, we find it is worth the price. Some of the best features include a built-in padded CRS and an Ultralite seat. These are all about improving your comfort while using the kayak.

There is a hatch on the kayak to provide you with the best storage space you have always wanted when going outdoors to have fun. Carrying extra gear is now possible with this storage space.

Having the molded-in paddle keepers help with carrying your paddles to the kayaking destination. Also, there are side carry handles on the kayak. Your kayak portability is easier at this point.

The model has a hull-design. This type of design provides the user with more stability. Even if you are a beginner, you will enjoy kayaking as it would be stable.

As for the material, the manufacturer uses high-density polyethylene. This material is further UV-protected to improve its overall durability.


  • The model offers superior stability
  • It is UV protected for more durability
  • It has a storage hatch to carry more gear


  • It is not the nimblest kayak for the price

Being lightweight and easy to carry makes this one as the top choice as the best kayak for beginners. It will be easy to carry because of the front and rear T-handles. To make it better, it has a weight capacity of 275 lbs. This weight capacity should make it versatile for different riders.

The model features a shallow V chine hull design. This type of design is what you need when looking for the best stability and maneuverability. Even if you are a beginner, such a feature will make you enjoy using the kayak more often.

The cockpit is built around the user. This will make it easier to fit in the cockpit and get ready for kayaking. The cockpit features a cup holder that might come in handy when kayaking.

The manufacturer uses an ergoform seating system important for keeping the user feeling comfortable while using the kayak. The backrest is adjustable so that you find the right seating position for your size.


  • The seat is comfortable
  • The model is lightweight for portability
  • It comes with more stability


  • Some feel it could use more color options


Should I expect the kayaks to tip over easily?

As much as it might seem like kayaks can tip over easily, that is not always the case. All beginner and professional kayaks are designed to remain stable even in rough conditions.

Are kayaks expensive to buy?

They can be as cheap as $150 while others will cost over $500. The material used to make the kayak, among other things, affects the price. Models made of lightweight and durable materials are always going to cost you a lot more.

Should I wear a life jacket when kayaking?

To be on the safer side, it is always best to wear a life jacket or also known as personal floatation devices. Another thing to keep in mind are the state laws. Some states make it mandatory while others are optional.


After going through the guide, it is easy to see that buying the best kayak for beginners does not have to be hard. You can be sure to find the best kayak if you are willing to take your time. There is no need to rush when it is something you will be using for years.

Always consider the materials used to make the kayak, the ease of using the kayak, quality, and much more. The idea is to end up with a high-quality kayak that can still live up to your kayaking needs.

It is also best to consider looking at the features you are getting for the price. There is no need to pay so much when the features cannot live up to your performance expectations. Our reviews above should help you narrow down to the best models in the market.

Leave a Comment