10 Best Kayaks for Beginners – Reviews & Buying Guide
There are so many types and models of kayaks that it can be intimidating for absolute beginners to get started. However, kayaking does not have to be hard. Even the most professional kayakers in the world had to start somewhere.
So, are you freshly starting out? If that’s the case, don’t feel intimidated.
We have carefully hand-picked some of the best kayaks for beginners and give you an overview.
Hopefully, this will help you find a quality and affordable kayak that will initiate you to the wonderful world of kayaking.
- Best Kayaks for Beginners - Reviews
- #1. Sevylor Coleman Colorado Fishing Kayak - Best Overall Kayaks for Beginners
- #2. Ocean Kayak Malibu Tandem Recreational Kayak - Best Tandem Kayaks for Beginners
- #3. Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak - Best Budget Kayaks for Beginners
- #4. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle - Best Kayaks for Kids
- #5. Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak - Best Lightweight Kayaks for Beginners
- #6. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
- #7. Perception R15 Pescador Fishing Kayak
- #8. Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-In Kayak
- #9. Sun Dolphin Journey Sit On Top Kayak
- #10. Wilderness Systems Pungo Kayak
- How to Buy a Kayak for Beginners
Best Kayaks for Beginners - Reviews
1. Sevylor Coleman Colorado Fishing Kayak
2. Ocean Kayak Malibu Tandem Recreational Kayak
375 - 425 lbs
3. Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak
4. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak With Paddle
5. Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak
6. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
7. Perception R15 Pescador Fishing Kayak
8. Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit In Kayak
9. Sun Dolphin Journey Sit On Top Kayak
10. Wilderness Systems Pungo Kayak
#1. Sevylor Coleman Colorado Fishing Kayak - Best Overall Kayaks for Beginners
Editor's Rating: (4.2 / 5)
- Weight capacity: 470 lbs
- Weight: 41.2 lbs
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado can be considered as one of the best entry-level kayaks for beginners. This is a 129-inch kayak that is neither too big or too small. It can comfortably accommodate up to 3 people, even if it has seats for only 2.
With a decent weight capacity of 470 lbs, it can comfortably carry even overweight people. Best of all, for security, the bottom of this recreational kayak for beginners is lined with a thick layer of 1000D tarpaulin so as to provide protection against punctures when the kayak is used to navigate shallow waters.
Since this is an inflatable kayak, it can quickly and easily be inflated with the provided heavy-duty pump. Moreover, this kayak uses a special technology that prevents it from sinking even if one part of the kayak gets punctured.
If you decide to take this beginner kayak out fishing, don’t worry as it has multiple are holders for holding your various fishing rods. There is no dedicated storage compartment but the cockpit is large enough, especially at the front of the kayak for you to stockade your various accessories if you need to.
#2. Ocean Kayak Malibu Tandem Recreational Kayak - Best Tandem Kayaks for Beginners
Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)
- Weight capacity: 375 lbs - 425 lbs
- Weight: 57 lbs
The Malibu is a well-known and heavy-duty tandem kayak used by many skilled kayakers. However, this model is easy enough so as to be used by absolute beginners. So much so, the Malibu is regarded by many as being one of the best tandem kayaks for beginners on the market.
With its long 144 in, the Malibu offers excellent tracking over the water making it very easy and efficient to paddle with. Additionally, the build construction is from a high-density polyethylene that is very durable and long-lasting. It provides excellent shock resistance, which is an excellent trait for a beginner kayak as the risk of impact when used by beginners is higher.
You have the option between 3 different colors to suit your preference and taste. When it comes to storage, you have no less than 2 deep storage compartments that are also 100% waterproof. Ideal for storing your sensitive electronics.
Equipped with its 2 padded seats an adjustable backrest, the Malibu offers a lot of comfort for those who are planning to kayak for an extended period of time. In addition, when it comes to portability, this beginner kayak weighs only 57 lbs. which is quite lightweight for a tandem kayak.
You will have no difficulty carrying this kayak to the kayaking location, especially considering that there are carry handles at both sides of the kayak.
#3. Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak - Best Budget Kayaks for Beginners
Editor's Rating: (4.3 / 5)
- Weight capacity: 220 lbs
- Weight: 24.6 lbs
It makes a lot of sense not to spend the money on a beginner kayak. Especially if you have never owned a kayak before, you do not want to spend a lot of money because you cannot be sure if kayaking is an activity made for you or not.
This is where models like the Intex Challenger K1 makes a lot of sense. It is a very affordable beginner kayak that still has respectable features for the price. For one, this is an inflatable one-seater. You get a heavy-duty paddle as well as an air pump out of the box.
The cockpit is sit-in but offers decent room inside for your legs regardless of your height. Moreover, there is a storage area in the front for storing your various accessories. You will not find advanced features on this beginner kayak, but for the price, it is perfectly understandable.
#4. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle - Best Kayaks for Kids
Editor's Rating: (4.6 / 5)
- Weight capacity: 130 lbs
- Weight: 18 lbs
Kayaks generally tend to be long and bulky boats. This is not the case of the Lifetime Youth Wave. Not only is it not long at only 72-inch, it is also quite lightweight at 18 lbs. Moreover, this beginner kayak was specifically made for kids in mind.
It offers a large cockpit that will not hinder the movements of your child and also provide a good view, making this kid kayak an excellent sightseeing kayak. Additionally, this model is made from a high-grade polyethylene that offers good shock absorption properties.
Best, you have the choice to buy this kayak in 6 different colors. We all know how kids are picky. You get a quality plastic paddle with this purchase and the kayak also contains paddle cradles to hold the paddles when not in use.
At 18 lbs, this compact and small kayak in one of the lightest in this review, making it very easy to carry around. Additionally, the price of this unit makes it one of the best budget kayaks for beginners on the market. All in all, there are many factors like the price and its lightweight that makes the Lifetime Youth Waves such a good beginner-friendly kayak for kids.
#5. Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak - Best Lightweight Kayaks for Beginners
Editor's Rating: (4.3 / 5)
- Weight capacity: 400 lbs
- Weight: 18 lbs
Inflatable kayaks are excellent kayaks for beginners mostly because they are quite affordable and easy to use. This is perfectly describing the Sevylor Quikpak K1. Indeed, this inflatable kayak is very easy to use and weighs only 18 lbs which is excellent for portability.
Additionally, its total length of 103 in means that this beginner kayak is easily maneuverable. One of the best things that we like about it is the fact that it uses Airtight technology.
This is a special boat technology that makes it safer for its uses. If one part of the kayak gets punctured, it will not sink as it’s made up of multiple chambers that are independent of one another. Talking about durability, this kayak is made from a thick 21-gauge PVC that is durable and long-lasting. It will not puncture easily.
Further, you get a high-quality pump, paddle as well as a carry bag with this purchase. Comfort is also not lacking as it comes with a padded seat that is very comfortable, as well as has a fully adjustable backrest.
#6. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
Editor's Rating: (4.3 / 5)
- Weight capacity: 400 lbs
- Weight: 35 lbs
The K2 from Intex is an upgrade from the K1 we reviewed above. This model has a more streamlined form factor that makes it more efficient and easy to paddle with. Moreover, it is the same inflatable type that is delivered with a quality pump.
But things differ is that this model is a tandem kayak that comes with 2 seats. The seats are pretty standard with limited adjustments to the backrests. The cockpit is not the largest we have seen but still decent for an inflatable kayak.
At 35 lbs, this model is quite lightweight, especially considering that this is a tandem kayak. We also find the presence of to carry handles and both the rear and the front end of the kayak for better portability.
As almost expected, the price of this beginner kayak is very affordable making it an excellent choice for those on a tight budget. For the money, you get 2 quality paddles and a pump making this model a worthwhile investment both in the short and long-term.
#7. Perception R15 Pescador Fishing Kayak
Editor's Rating: (4.8 / 5)
- Weight capacity: 375 lbs
- Weight: 60 lbs
Even if you have never kayaked before, that does not mean that you do not deserve a high-quality and professional grade kayak. The Perception R15 has long been a good beginner kayak for those who can afford it.
One of the main traits of this boat is definitely its solid build quality. Indeed, this kayak is built from a high-grade polyethylene that is very durable and long-lasting. It only has one padded seat which is very comfortable with a fully adjustable backrest.
Moreover, the foot brace at the front gives you a better paddling position allowing you to deliver more performance when necessary. With its long length of 144 inches, you can expect excellent tracking from this kayak.
When it comes to storage, it is hard to find a better model that has such a large storage compartment.
Indeed, this model is equipped with one of the larger storage compartment you can find in any kayak. It will accommodate all your various accessories with great ease. Best of all, it has a 100% waterproof hatch to keep your material say from the water.
The only caveat we find with this unit is that despite being a single kayak, it has a weight capacity of only 375 lbs which is on the low-end when compared to other models.
#8. Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-In Kayak
Editor's Rating: (4.1 / 5)
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs
- Weight: 40 lbs
One of the best things about the Sun Dolphin Aruba is its high maneuverability. Despite being a fairly basic sit-in kayak, it still has a rich set of features. For one, there is the presence of a large storage compartment at the rear of this kayak. The hatch for the storage compartment is waterproof which will keep all your accessories dry.
Moreover, the cockpit inside is quite spacious for your legs and you will be able to get a good footing when you paddle due to the presence of multiple footrests.
At 120-inch, you can expect that this kayak offers good tracking as well as excellent maneuverability. One of the good things about this model is that you can purchase it in no less than 7 different colors. You’re not limited in any way when it comes to choice.
#9. Sun Dolphin Journey Sit On Top Kayak
Editor's Rating: (4 / 5)
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs
- Weight: 44 lbs
The Sun Dolphin Journey is rated by many users as being one of the most stable kayaks on the market. This stability is mostly attributed to the fact that this kayak has a flat bottom that offers a larger surface area and contact with water.
Additionally, being so stable you can comfortably use in this model as a stand-up kayak. If you prefer sitting down and enjoying the view, then you will find that the cockpit is quite large and gives you good maneuverability in every direction.
You can comfortably use this sit-on-top boat for activities like fishing or recreation. But one of the most interesting features about this beginner kayak is definitely its very large storage compartment at the back of the build. In fact, it is one of the largest we have seen.
Furthermore, at only 44 lbs, this unit is also one of the most lightweight especially considering that it is made from a single polyethylene block.
#10. Wilderness Systems Pungo Kayak
Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Weight: 49 lbs
Finally, we have the best for last. This boat is definitely not the cheapest, as it is the most expensive in this kayak for beginner review. However, this kayak has possibly the best performance, especially when it comes to paddling in a straight line.
This ability has mostly to do with its long length of 144-inch as well as its low weight of 49 lbs. This combination makes it very efficient on water and this kayak can go fast if necessary. Another excellent point to take note is the comfortable cockpit that brings the user closer to the water for a better paddling efficiency.
When it comes to storage, there is a large storage compartment at the back for your various accessories. Further, we like the fact that the backrest is adjustable and the seat very comfortable. You can definitely use this kayak for an extended period without feeling any fatigue.
Best of all, with its long length of 144-inch and efficient form factor, you can expect that this beginner kayak tracks well on water.
How to Buy a Kayak for Beginners
In a kayak, you get stability based on the shape of the bottom of the kayak. In order to make the beginner kayak more stable, manufacturers equip them with a flat bottom that offers a greater surface area that comes in contact with water, therefore providing the big and a kayak with more stability.
But one of the main advantages of the flat bottom is that it can be used as a stand-up kayak as well. This means that the user can stand up on the kayak and perform various activities like fishing or sightseeing without the risk of the kayak rolling over.
Therefore, if you require a lot of stability in your kayak then we recommend that you go with a model that has a flat bottom.
Durability is key in the beginner kayak. Mostly for security and safety reasons. You absolutely do not want a puncture in the middle of nowhere and where your kayak can sink to the bottom. This could risk your life.
To make the kayak more durable, manufacturers opt to go with heavy duty and durable materials like polyethylene in the case of a molded kayak or PVC for inflatable ones.
Inflatable kayaks may sound like being an inferior kayak to polyethylene when it comes to durability, but they are still quite durable and most inflatable kayaks have a thick tarpaulin lining at the bottom to prevent it from puncturing when navigating shallow waters.
In short, if you are looking for a durable beginner kayak then we recommend that you keep an eye out for terms like “PVC” and “polyethylene”. Those are extremely durable and long-lasting plastic-based materials that have high sunlight resistance and will not corrode in seawater.
You do not want a beginner kayak that is excessively heavy. This is because you will oftentimes need to carry your kayak to the kayaking location and a heavy kayak is difficult to carry. Especially if you are opting for a single kayak and you need to do the transportation all by yourself.
In general, the best entry-level kayak for the money should weigh no more than 60 lbs. This is a manageable weight that almost anyone can carry. However, if you want ultralight then you will easily find models that are in the 40 lbs to 50 lbs range.
As stated above, the dimensions of the kayak will affect its tracking and steering. The longer the kayak, the better tracking it will have but more difficult it will be to steer.
If you are planning for a solo kayaking experience, then a 120 in a kayak is small and compact which offers excellent maneuverability as well as good tracking and steering. If you want the best tracking, then go with a model that is at least 144-inch in length. For maneuverability and kayaking in tight spots, anything less than 120-inch in length is ideal.
#5. Kayaking Tips for Beginners
Kayaking is not as intimidating as it looks. However, there are still some common practices that make it more fun and safe.
#6. Kayaking location
Choose your location wisely. When you kayak, you will quickly find that some locations are more beginner-friendly than others. If you are freshly starting out kayaking, you should avoid running waters like white water as those are mostly reserved for people who have kayaked for a while and have gained some experience in doing so.
Additionally, it is also recommended to kayak in clear water where you can see the bottom. It is safer. You should absolutely avoid kayaking in murky waters.
While a PFD (Personal Floatation Device) is a must for almost anyone planning to kayak, it is especially important for beginners. Indeed, beginners have a higher risk of the kayak rolling over and the paddler projected in the water.
Wearing a PFD while kayaking will literally save your life.
#8. Paddle length
Unlike a popular belief, paddling speed is not responsible for performance. Indeed, when paddling, it is the length of the paddle that dictates the performance, efficiency and the speed that you obtain while kayaking. As a general rule, the longer the length of the paddle, the more efficient and performance you get.
However, one major caveat with having a long length paddle is that it is more difficult to maneuver and can be tiring to the hand, especially for those who are planning to paddle for an extended period of time.
Therefore, you will need to choose a paddle that is of appropriate length to your kayak as well as to your body size. In general, is a good idea to go with a paddle that is around the same height as you.
#9. Length of kayak
The length of the kayak will dictate 2 things:
Tracking: Tracking is the ability for the kayak to continue moving in a straight line without steering from left or right. In short, the better the tracking of the kayak, the more enjoyable the experience.
Steering: Steering is the kayak negotiating either a right or left depending on the way you paddle. A kayak with a good steering is more maneuverable than others. But will most of the time lack tracking because it is usually smaller and more compact than a model that offers good tracking.
#10. Storage compartments
A good big and a kayak should have decent storage compartments. They are there so as you can store your various accessories like fishing, smartphones, and others. However, overloading your storage compartment will make maneuverability difficult.
As we have seen, a kayak for beginners remains fairly affordable for almost anyone. After all, you are not purchasing a professional model with advanced features here. All that you need is a kayak that offers decent tracking, is comfortable to paddle and easy to steer.
However, despite being beginner-friendly and affordable, you should not sacrifice build quality. It’s always security first when kayaking.
Finally, our kayak for beginners review above should contain a model that will fit your need. However, just in case you have still not found an appealing kayak yet, go ahead and read the review once again.