Kayaking is awesome, almost nothing beats paddling it up in the beaches or lakes with either family or friends. But, like any sport out there, you won’t necessarily be equipped to tackle the more “experienced” equipment right off the bat.
In those times, you’ll need to find a kayak model that is perfect for beginners like you! But, don’t fret because there are a lot of options available on the market. In fact, some of the most highly-rated kayaks out there also happen to be well-suited for newbies. You won’t have to worry about sacrificing, stability, quality, and intuitiveness with any of our picks for the ten best kayaks for beginners.
A quick word before we get started, all of the following kayaks are fantastic choices for any beginner looking to get into kayaking; they are also highly recommended by groups of enthusiasts and professionals of the sport.
10 Best Kayak for Beginners 2020
One of the best beginner recreational kayaks on the market, the Wilderness Systems Pungo is a shining example of quality. Wilderness Systems has a notorious reputation for superior products and the Pungo 120 is just one more notch under their belt.
Featuring great storage space, fully adjustable seating, a foot-brace system, and extra comfort thanks to its ergonomic seats, it’s basically the “luxury model” of kayaks. You’ll also find that the Pungo 120 has great stability, and its versatility allows it to be used in almost any body of water thanks to its high-performance build.
Weighing only 49 pounds, you can easily lift this kayak and mount it on your car for transportation. As far as storage goes, you’ll find that there is a dashboard that can be used for all the essentials.
Versatile, stable, and an ergonomic design make the Pungo 120 one of the best options in the market for those seeking to start out on their kayaking adventure.
Comfortable, ergonomic, and high-quality seating are the backbone of the Dirigo 106. Kayaking can be tough on the back, and nothing beats having a comfy seat to support your rear and avoid some troublesome backache. But, that’s not the only thing that makes the Dirigo 106 special.
You’ll find a cup holder and extra storage spaces inside the kayak, and with plenty of room for a companion or two, you’ll never feel lonely or thirsty while paddling out in the beach or lake.
However, if your concerns are more along the lines of legroom and movement space, then rest easy knowing the Dirigo 106’s cockpit has plenty of room available.
Featuring plenty of stability, as well as some amazing seats, and ample storage, the Dirigo 106 is built to help you stay in your kayak for as long as possible, and as much as you want without suffering the consequences of back problems.
Hitting the water is great by yourself, but it’s even better with company, if you’re looking to take a friend or loved one out to the beach with you, then take a look at the Malibu Two. A sit-on-top kayak that is fairly easy to transport (at just 57 pounds two people can carry it with minimal issues and it has molded handles as well as a skid plate to assist with transportation), and also features two comfy seats on the edges for each paddler as well as a smaller one in the center that is perfect for a child.
However, let me clarify when I say comfortable, the Malibu Two has two Comfort Plus seats that are fully adjustable and feature plenty of leg room on the sides thanks to its foot wells. You’ll definitely be riding comfortably with a Malibu Two.
I can’t stress this enough, however, the Malibu Two is better suited to tackle calm waters, try to avoid going out to the beach or lake on a rough day. Still, its stability and weight limitations do make it a great choice for anyone that is barely starting out.
One final point, the color scheme on this kayak is awesome! The Malibu Two is green, yellow, and orange making it stand out from anywhere, which helps you keep an eye out on your kids or friends if they take it out for a spin.
If you’re looking for a kayak that is both sturdy and spacious, take a gander at the Aruba 10 SS. Featuring plenty of storage space for all your personal gadgets and goodies, as well as a tow-behind portable accessory carrier, you’ll practically never run out of room with the Aruba 10 SS.
The Aruba 10 SS comes in a variety of colors, and you can even buy the regular non-SS version that is smaller, cheaper, and doesn’t have as many features as this model. However, if you’re a bit on the large side, take a look at the Aruba 12 SS which is bigger than its counterpart the 10 SS.
You’ll find that the Aruba 10 SS is rather light in-spite of its durability (it’s a hard-shell) thanks to being crafted with UV-stabilized polyethylene, furthermore you’ll have almost zero problems transporting (or storing) this kayak due to its size.
Find it in green, red, blue, and even orange, you most certainly won’t be disappointed if you buy Sun Dolphin’s Aruba 10 SS (or 12).
Standing at 10 feet in length and around 30 inches in width, the Tarpon 100 is great for kids and smaller sized adults. But, just because it’s on the shorter end, it doesn’t mean that it skimps out on all the bells and whistles that make most high-end kayaks appealing.
Featuring adjustable foot rests, deck lashings, bulkhead storage, and a multi-chine hull (molded type) design meant to provide higher stability regardless of your speed; you’ll find that storage space and safety will never be a big issue on the Tarpon 100.
An integrated adjustable seat is definitely one of the best features that comes with the Tarpon 100, and with plenty of padding and support, you’ll find that this is one of the most ergonomic beginner kayaks on the market.
The Tarpon 100 comes in five different colors, and with plenty of features, it’s certainly a solid investment for any beginner.
Most kayaking enthusiasts will vouch for the durability and performance of hard-shell models when comparing them to inflatable ones. However, the Sea Eagle SE370’s lower costs and ease of storage would like to remind those people that inflatable kayaks come with their own unique benefits.
You see, the Sea Eagle SE370 is not only well-made it is also extremely accessible for casual fans of the sport, and a great starting point for anyone else. Weighing a measly 32 pounds, you’ll have no problems carrying this kayak, and it even has a weight limit of 650 pounds, which is perfect for most people regardless of size.
You can easily fit two people in the SE370, but it is sold as a three-person kayak and as far as safety, it can handle most weather conditions with relative ease.
Durability is not an issue either, thanks to its three inflatable chambers which can hold you afloat while you get to safety if something were to puncture the vessel. Still, thanks to its PVC construction, the SE370 is fairly resistant to punctures.
Once you’re done, all you have to do is deflate it and store it in your car for ease of transport; all of these great features make the SE370 a perfect choice for any beginner looking to start out with an inflatable kayak.
Pescador is the Spanish word for fisherman. The Perception Pescador lives true to its namesake by being one of the best fishing kayaks on the market, especially for beginners (but, still useful for professionals).
Featuring stadium-style seats and even adjustable foot braces to suit your legs properly, the Perception Pescador will cater to your specific comfort needs. Additionally, you’ll find plenty of storage space for all your fishing amenities. It even has dedicated space to for placing rods, coolers and tackle boxes in order to maximize its storage capacity.
As far as safety, the Perception Pescador is tough, with a carefully crafted hull, and a keel that’s capable of tackling rivers, fishing lakes and even the coastal waterways of the beach!
If you’re a “pescador” and want to try your hand at fishing with a kayak, give the Perception Pescador a hard look.
If you want to get a single-rider kayak, but you still want to share the joys of kayaking with your kids, you should take a look at the Heron Kids Kayak. Now, this is the second time we’ve mentioned Old Town Kayaks on this list, but it’s not without merit. They are some of the best in the business and the Heron Kids Kayak is a fantastic kayak for your little ones.
Featuring an integrated tag-along system that helps you tow your kids if they get tired, you’ll never find yourself having to convince an exhausted child to keep paddling, and trust us it does happen! But, even if it does, at least they’ll be comfortable while being towed, as it has an integrated foam seat that’s pretty cozy, the one downside is that it’s non-adjustable.
Furthermore, it’s a lightweight kayak that even the kids won’t have trouble carrying, as it stands at a total of 26 pounds, and has a weight limitation of 125 lbs. Just keep in mind that once the kids are big enough (over a hundred pounds) it might be time to move them into an adult-sized kayak.
The Heron Kids Kayak is an awesome model to get for your little ones, especially if you want them to join you in your hobbies. After all, it’s no secret that kids love playing in the water and by extension kayaks too, so why not get them their own? If they get rebellious, just remember that you can always tow them along.
Lightweight and compact (sitting at 10 feet long and around 40 pounds), Sun Dolphin’s Excursion is a great kayak for any beginner. You’ll find that it can fit in the back of most pickup trucks comfortably, while still being light enough to be carried by a single person.
An interesting design choice in the Excursion is their large cockpit area, you’ll have a good amount of room for moving around while you’re paddling, and that’s great for this kayak because it is extremely maneuverable. The comfortability of the cockpit is further enhanced by its adjustable seat that can be moved around and even has a high back to provide you with plenty of ergonomic support.
Additionally, it’s 30 inches wide, and that means more stability for you in-spite of its short size. However, its length does come at a cost as the Excursion is not as fast as other kayaks in this list (shorter length means less speed in terms of kayaking).
Still, the primary function of the Excursion is fishing, and you’ll find that it has plenty of space for storing rods, and other fishing amenities that are necessary for a successful excursion in the water.
Regardless of whether you intend to go fishing, or simply go out for a stroll in the water, the Excursion is a great choice for any kayaking beginner.
Made out of high-density polyethylene, and designed for smaller bodies, the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is excellent for children looking to get into kayaking. You’ll find that this model can carry up-to 130 pounds, and thanks to its weight (less than 20 pounds), your kids will have no problem lugging it around by themselves.
As a sit-on-top model, your kids will find it easier to learn how to kayak properly, and not only that, if they do fall overboard, the back of the Lifetime Youth Wave has a “step” that allows your kids to climb aboard from the water.
Furthermore, as with other sit-on-top models, it’s designed not to tip over or fill-up with water, ensuring maximum safety for the youngsters. Finally, it has numerous foot braces that are meant to fit children of most sizes, which helps them stay comfortable and in a proper kayaking stance.
But, what’s the best part of the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak? Probably, the price as it’s fairly economical, which is a bonus to any thrifty parent out there.
How to Choose the Best Kayak for Beginners
There are quite a few things to look for when you want to purchase a kayak, and we’ll break them down below, but the important things to take note of are:
- Storage for equipment: Some kayaks have additional compartments and fittings that are specific to the different activities you can do while kayaking such as fishing.
- Comfortability: You’re going to be spending a few hours of the day at least when you go kayaking, make sure your seats are comfortable, and plenty of legroom in order to maximize your time and maintain positive ergonomics.
- Extras: Some kayaks are inflatable and don’t bring an air pump, others can come with or without paddles, make sure you take a look at what it brings before making a purchase and realizing you need extra equipment at the end.
- Transportation and portability: Inflatable kayaks are easy to transport, but might rupture (still they’re can be pretty resistant depending on the brand), a heavy model might be more durable, yet harder to transport, and lightweight ones won’t be as fast or displace much water. Ultimately, all kayaks have their pros and cons, but being able to get it to where you want to go is something you should consider before making a purchase. Some of you might need to purchase a trailer for your truck; others will be fine transporting them on top of a car with the proper fittings.
- Price: You don’t want to have to break your piggy bank when you buy a kayak. Ultimately, any investment you make towards your health (by getting exercise and fresh air) should strike a balance between cost and reward. Additionally, kayak quality is not always dictated by the price as you might find some awesome models are relatively cheap prices as long as you do the research.
One of the most crucial aspects to remember when choosing a kayak is that you’ll have a lot of variety to choose from. Kayaks come in a lot of shapes and sizes, thus your goal is to ensure that the one you purchase is both comfortable and practical. You can see a lot of good examples for this by looking at the weight limitations and types available before making any purchases, a kayak with a higher weight limit and larger size with definitely fit bigger people, contrary to that, a smaller kayak is better suited for children regardless of skill level.
When selecting your kayak, always remember your intentions, planning to go fishing, or perhaps going on long river trips? Do you want your children to use it by themselves, or do you intend to go out with them? The variety of types in the market will either facilitate these goals or make them downright impossible depending on your purchase. For example, fishing kayaks come with hooks for the rods, and extra storage space, if you were to buy one that doesn’t have these features then attempting to fish in them would require some creative thinking. But, there are also the safety aspects to consider when making any final decisions.
For example, if you’re looking for more leg room, and stability, try getting a sit-on-top kayak. The increased stability means they’re safer, but you do run a higher risk of getting wet. Other risks can be more situational and require knowledge of the area in order to prepare for them.
Sea kayaks for example, are better used in rougher seas and larger bodies of water, in contrast a recreational kayak is definitely better suited for something that’s calm like a lake or slow-moving river. Specialized kayaks that work better for whitewater rafting or even fishing types will typically be marked as such to avoid marketing confusion and to help out costumers that are just starting out.
But, there’s more, and if you’d like to know about finding the best kayak for you, the following advice should help.
There are two basic types of kayaks, the sit-on-top and sit-in styles. Sit-in types are those with a small cockpit where you can sit inside the kayak. A sit-on-top, however, means you’ll sit on a seat which is easily accessible from the exterior.
Both of these have some advantages that are specific to each other, but keep the following in mind:
These models are clearly suited for more temperate climates, and warm waters. You’ll typically find that these types are also more stable, and have extra room for gear or comfort. Additionally, these will usually have holes that will not let them fill up with water. Ultimately, if looking for an easy day with some calm waters, this is your best bet.
If you’re going out for a fall or winter paddle, then go for a sit-inside type as it will help you (and your gear) stay drier than the sit-on-top. You might find that these are easier to paddle as you stay lower to the ground which lowers wind resistance. Basically, you’ll find yourself staying dry and going faster in these types of kayaks.
How to Kayak – Video Guide for Beginners
Choosing the right kayak for you might seem like a difficult choice, but it’s ultimately a matter of finding something that fits your goals (we can’t stress this enough). Not all kayaks are built the same, some are built for speed, others stability, and there’s quite a few made for a balance between the two. Ultimately, finding something that fits both your monetary needs and particular interests (whether that is kayaking on the beach, rivers, with a partner or simply paddling by yourself) is more important than anything else. Kayaks are a great hobby for both exercise and relaxation purposes, which is what you should be looking into before making any final purchases. At the end of the day, what is important is that you have fun because as every sport enthusiast knows, the only thing that really matters when you’re out there is how much enjoyment you can get out of it.