Kayaking is absolutely one of the most enjoyable water sports that you can do. If you are just getting started with it, you will need to make sure that you have the best kayak for beginners that you can get and a kayak that really works for you.
While buying a kayak sounds straightforward, there are a ton of different things to think about, from the type of kayak that you need to the length of the kayak that you need.
What works for one person, is not going to work for everyone, making the task of finding a beginner kayak almost daunting.
We have looked at all of the beginning kayaks that are out on the market right now and lowered it down to the best 10 options.
Looking at the design, performance, and pros and cons of these kayaks, we have made the choice easier than ever.
10 Best Kayaks For Beginners (2021)
1. Intex Explorer K2
2. Advanced Elements
3. Intex Challenger
4. Intex Excursion Pro
5. AE Sport Kayak
6. Driftsun Voyager
7. Sevylor Colorado
8. Pelican Sentinel
9. Aquaglide Noyo 90
10. Oru Inlet Kayak
1. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
Best Kayak For Beginners (Editor's Choice)
After a lot of research, we have found that the best kayak for beginners is the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak. This sit-on kayak is a wonderfully safe option for smaller bodies of water like lakes and slower rivers.
Let’s start with its design. The Intex K2 was made with a yellow outside colour. This means that it will be easily visible in the water, which is really nice in case of an emergency. If you happen to flip the kayak or become in danger in other ways, being visible will make it easier to locate and rescue you.
The kayak has a 400 pound capacity as well, so it should fit two people without any trouble. It has an adjustable inflatable seat with a backrest and the cockpit has been designed to give you comfort without feeling like you are crammed in the kayak like a sardine.
You will also get two 86 inch paddles to help you row, ensuring that both riders can pull their weight.
As mentioned above, the K2 works well on smaller bodies of water, like a mild river or a lake. It is not made for fast-moving water. This beginner kayak has great directional stability, including a removable SKEG, so you are not likely to simply drift out of control.
The kayak is made with 3 separate air chambers and an inflatable I-beam floor for added rigidity, meaning you are unlikely to suffer any punctures out on the water.
The kayak inflates and deflates quickly as well, which is helped by the pump that comes with it. The fact that its inflatable also means that it is easy to transport and store.
2. Advanced Elements Inflatable Beginner Kayak
Some beginners really like the idea of a high performance kayak. If that sounds like you, check out the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Convertible Inflatable Kayak.
Let’s begin with its design. This is a convertible beginner kayak, which means that you can use it to hold two people or convert it to be a single deck.
This way, you can decide to ride as you would prefer without any trouble in adjusting the seats. This is really nice, because the balance point changes when there is one rider versus two, so having that ability will make it so much easier to manage.
Additionally, the kayak was made with three layers of material that are there to help prevent your kayak from being punctured when you are out for a ride. The main air chamber is encased in its own tube cover as well, so you really get the maximum durability possible from an inflatable kayak.
Moving onto its performance, this kayak comes with a skeg tracking fin, to give you more control of your kayak. The 15-foot kayak is excellent for faster waters as well, so you can plan on taking this one down the whitewater if you want to.
But, if you try to take it back to stiller waters, you might find that it is a bit of a workout to keep it going, since it has a lot of drag and control to keep you safe on faster waters.
This kayak is easy to setup and takes about 10 minutes to pump it up. If you would like to pump it up faster, you might want to look into getting a different one.
3. Intex Challenger Beginner Kayak
If you do not want to spend a fortune on your first beginner kayak, you are not alone.
You also do not need to settle for anything that is less than wonderful, which is why we found that the best kayak for beginners on a budget is the Intex Challenger Kayak.
The Challenger is a durable kayak made up of durable welded material with eye catching colours. While the graphics are fun, they also act as an extra safety, since they are a bright green.
There is a cargo net that will allow you to store your extra gear and a grab line on both ends of the kayak to make things a little bit easier on you.
This is a one-person kayak, so you will not be able to take anyone with you. It has a weight capacity of 220 pounds as well, so it really isn’t made for especially large people.
The oar is also a little short as is the leg-room. This kayak is a set, so it comes with ha lot of nice bonus gear, including the 84 inch aluminum oar, a repair patch, and a high-output manual hand pump.
While the Challenger is made to be comfortable, including its inflatable backrest, it also is made with maximized space and I beam floors that add even more stability for you out on the water.
It also has two separate air chambers to help keep you afloat in the event that something manages to puncture your kayak. It has a rugged construction, however, so you really shouldn’t have any risk of popping it.
4. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak
If you are a fisher and looking for a beginner kayak that is a great choice for getting some fishing in, you might be happy with the Intex Excursion Pro.
This is not just a great kayak for beginners, but a functional one for doing some fishing as well.
There are a lot of comfortable and functional design elements with this kayak, including the mounting bracket to hang onto your fishing accessories.
The kayak also has adjustable footrests that will make it really fit your legs in order to have the most control over the kayak that you can get.
Additionally, the seat booster in this kayak is removable and the seats are all adjustable so you will really be able to move the kayak to where you will have the most control over it that is possible. The weight capacity is 400 pounds, so it should hold 2 average sized adults easily.
Since this is a kayak that was made for fishing, you will want use it in still waters, rather than fast-moving waters. The directional skeg that comes with it works really well in shallow water, which is what you will want to have when it comes to fishing.
The construction of the kayak is durable, including 3 chambers to give you the best stability that you can get. There is also an I-beam floor for extra rigidity as well as an integrated drain plug to make things much easier when you are done using it.
The spring-loaded high pressure valves also make it really fast to inflate and to deflate the kayak, do you don’t need to worry about allotting time to getting it inflated.
5. Advanced Elements Sport Kayak
The Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Sport Kayak is another great option for beginners who are just getting start in the sport.
This one is made to perform in universal water conditions, making it a nice middle-of-the-road kind of beginner kayak.
There are a lot of great design features with this boat. The first is that tit comes with e proven aluminum bow and stern ribs that will provide an increase in overall paddling performance and give you a lot of control over the kayak, regardless of the conditions. The kayak is made to hold one person, up to 250 pounds at a time.
The setup time for the kayak is also very quick, so you should be able to inflate it and deflate it without too much trouble.
The kayak weighs 26 pounds, so it is very transportable. The cockpit for this kayak is really large as well, so it is very roomy, making it easy to hop in and out of.
This beginner kayak is an excellent compromise kind of boat. If you were torn between having a kayak that could handle fast speeds and a kayak that is stable, this kayak meets it all in the middle of the road.
The kayak was made to handle all water conditions, so you should be able to experiment with a couple of different types of water to see how you do.
The kayak is made to give you easy movement and control no matter what the water conditions are that you are working with. There is an increase in overall paddle control as well, and it paddles as if you were on a rigid kayak rather than the inflatable one that you are riding on.
6. Driftsun Voyager Beginner Kayak
Tandem Beginner Kayak
If you are looking primary for a beginner kayak that will work for you to ride with another person, the perfect option is the Driftsun Voyager.
The design of the Voyager is a tandem kayak, so it can accommodate two riders and comes with two adjustable paddles. The paddles can be adjusted between 0 and 60 degrees.
The kayak is also only 27 pounds, so it is easy to transport it to your next destination or store it until you are ready for it. It is also made to be a very durable kayak, so you will not need to worry about something puncturing it when you are on the water.
This kayak comes with a whole kit, including the kayak, pump, travel bag, tracking skeg, aluminum paddles, and removable padded seats.
All of this will really help you as you are just starting out. The paddles that come with it are aluminum paddles with ergonomic grip handles. That way, your hands will not get in your way of having a good time out on the water.
This is a nice, versatile kayak and it was made to handle both clam and choppy waters, making it a more hybrid between the two. This will ensure that you have control over your kayak, even if it seems like the water has unexpectedly changed on you.
The kayak also pumps up really quickly, so you will be able to get it inflated and set off for your next journey without any hiccups. Even though this is a tandem kayak, you can still use it solo, giving you the most use out of it as you can get.
7. Sevylor Coleman Colorado Kayak
Fishing on a kayak is an awesome and fun sport. So we looked up what the ideal kayak for beginners that allows fishing would be and found that the winner was the Sevylor Coleman Colorado.
When we look at the design of the Colorado, it is important to look at the fishing elements first. The kayak comes with Berkley Quick Set rod holders.
These will allow you to put your rods down so your hands are free while you are fishing. The holders are also adjustable for an enhanced hands-free fishing setup as well.
Additionally, the kayak comes with a Sevylor trolling motor fitting. While most kayaks have no need to have a motor, the trolling motor option is wonderful if you were hoping to do some trolling while you are out on the water. That makes this really the ultimate kayak fishing boat on the market.
Moving onto its performance, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado has a nice, rugged design with multiple air chambers. This is incredibly important if you are fishing, because it would be awful to accidentally puncture your kayak with a fishing hook.
This beginner kayak should not be caught so easily by a fishing hook. This is enhanced by the nylon cover and the tarpaulin bottom, because they are there specifically to prevent punctures.
Finally, the seats in this kayak are adjustable, so you can mover yourself around to find a comfortable location.
This will make you a better fisher, since you will have the ability to manoeuvre in a way to be able to catch the fish. You gear will also be easily stored in the mesh pockets that come with it.
8. Pelican Sentinel Beginner Kayak
If you are looking more for a one-person fishing kayak that is light enough for you to move around yourself, then you should check out the Pelican Sentinel.
For beginning kayakers, this kayak will be an excellent choice for solo fishing expeditions.
Let’s start off with the design of the Sentinel. This is a one-person kayak, so you will not be able to get a second person on there. The maximum weight capacity of the kayak is 275 pounds, so a larger person might be ok in this one.
The kayak itself weighs 44 pounds, making it not the lightest, but not the heaviest kayaks that we have looked at so far. 44 pounds should be manoeuvrable for one-person, which is important with a one-person kayak.
The Sentinel also comes with the ExoPak, which is a removable storage compartment that will fit perfectly into the tank well. You should be able to hold all of your fishing gear that way.
Moving onto its performance, the Sentinel is made with an extra flotation inside of the hull, so you will have better buoyancy and be sure to stay afloat.
The multi chin flat bottom that comes with it is there to add in your stability as well, so you do not need to worry about the boat tipping or being pulled over if you catch a big one.
The boat is made for agility so that you can move around the water freely without trouble. This is a great option for beginners looking to manoeuvre, but to do so with a high amount of stability.
9. Aquaglide Noyo 90 Kayak
This is a great beginner kayak for the longer day trips or multiple day trips, as long as you are riding solo. This is not made to support more than one person.
As we mentioned above, this is a single-person kayak. It can support a weight up to 250 pounds and it is a sit-in kayak so there is no flexibility on the seating arrangement or how many people can ride in it. There is a drain plug on the kayak as well to help you dispel water when you are done for the day.
The rockers on the kayak are curved in the front and in the rear, which will give you an excellent ability to control the movements of the kayak. The only real concern that we found with this kayak is that it is not easily wipeable to clean.
When it comes to the performance of the Noyo 90, the first thing to note is that the kayak is a touring kayak. It is made for you to hang out on the water for hours or days on end without any kind of trouble.
The kayak also comes with a quick release fin. If you are not interested in using the fin of the boat, you can remove it without any kind of trouble.
Remember that this is a touring kayak that has been designed for recreational paddling. It will work well for day trips and longer trips, but is not made for quick trips. There are even zip open dry compartments to keep your things free from getting wet.
10. Oru Kayak Inlet Folding Kayak
The final beginner kayak that we will look at today is the Oru Kayak Inlet Folding Kayaks. This is a little bit different than the other kayaks that we looked at, but it is still a great choice for beginning paddlers.
The Oru Inlet is a folding kayak, which means that you do not need to inflate this one. Instead, you can collapse it and pop it up in less than 5 minutes.
It is also made to be easily stored in a trunk, closet, or under your bed, however you decide to store it when you are not using it. The kayak was made with 5mm double-layered polypropylene plastic, so it should hold up we;;
The manufacturer says that this is the top-rated one out there and has guaranteed that the kayak will survive up to 20,000 fold cycles. It will take a while to burn through your kayak at this rate.
When we look at the performance for this kayak, the first thing to know is that the fold pattern comes down into a box half of its height making sure that there aren’t and parts that are being squished in the meantime.
The kayak comes with a wide option cockpit as well, making it easy to hop in and out of the boat at will without getting stuck.
The best use for this kayak is flatware kayaking. It is not made for attempts at whitewater, but it is still a great type of kayak to practice on while you are working on how to effectively manoeuvre without any surprise waves coming up behind you.
Things To Consider When Looking For The Best Beginner Kayak
Sit-On-Top vs. Sit-In Kayak
While there are many different ways to classify kayaks, one of them is where you sit on the kayak. The two choices that you have here are a sit-on-top or a sit-in kayak.
The sit-on-top kayaks are recreational boats that are meant for lakes and rivers. Sometimes you will seem on warm coastal waters as well. Sometimes they will have enough storage room to go on a real trip.
They are easy to hop on and off of, but you will definitely get wet on one, so you’ll be more comfortable if the weather is warm.
They are self-draining with scupper holes and are generally heavy. These kayaks also often have an option to add on a rod holder, if you were hoping to use your kayak to do some fishing.
Sit-in kayaks can come in a few different models, including recreational, day touring, and touring. They are fast and they do well in colder weather with cold water.
They can be tricky to get out of if the kayak takes on water and if you are really taking on water, you will need to have a bilge pump available to pump the water out for you.
You get a lot more control with this type of kayak, because your lower have has many points of contact inside of the kayak. This makes them a better option for rougher waters. They are also more efficient to paddle than the sit-on-top kayaks are.
Kayak Length & Width
Another consideration to make with your beginner kayak is the length and the width of it. The longer boats are more efficient for cruising and will have more storage spots to hold your supplies.
A lot of it will have to do with how easily you would like to be able to manoeuvre in the water. Shorter kayaks give you a lot more control over the kayak than a longer one does.
Meanwhile, looking at the kayak depth and width, you will want to look at how much you can store in it. Beginners are usually happier with wider kayaks, because you are much less likely to accidentally flip it.
They are far more stable than the narrower kayaks are. Naturally, if you have a wider kayak you will not be as fast as you would have been with a narrower kayak. Some of it will depend on how big you are as well.
You will also want to look at the different hull types that are out there. The hull refers to the shape of the bottom of your kayak. The hull will affect your stability and your performance on the water. The common types are:
- Flat: These hulls are made to be stable and easy to move. These are great for recreational kayakers on flat water.
- Rounded: The rounded hull edges will make you faster in the water and is more manoeuvrable.
- V-Shaped: V-shaped hulls are good for traveling straight. They are nice if you are traveling a long distance.
- Pontoon: Pontoon hulls are stable, because they are like a combination between a flat hull and a rounded hull.
- Chine: The Chine hull describes how the bottom of the boat meets the sides of the boat. They are either soft and rounded or harder with more angles.
Where Will You Use Your Kayak
Where you want to kayak will make a huge different in the type of kayak that you can get. The three locations to look at are lakes, rivers, and coasts.
- Lakes: When we refer to lake, we mean something local where the water is predictable. You can opt for either a sit-on-top or a sit-in boat when it comes to a lake.
- Rivers: While you might be thinking of whitewater rapids that is not where you should start in your kayaking journey. For a river, you want a kayak that can turn quickly and is stable, so you should look for a shorter, day touring kayak.
- Coasts: The coast is much more unpredictable than lakes or rivers. There is going to be wind, waves, tides, and all kinds of movement going on. You will want a sit-in touring kayak with a skeg.
Material & Weight
Another consideration to make with your beginner kayak is what it is made out of and how heavy it is. The lighter your kayak is, the easier it will be to carry and transport.
They are also easier to get good speed off of. The common materials are polyethylene plastic, which is inexpensive, but heavy. Then there is the ABS plastic, which is more durable and expensive than the polyethylene and is a little lighter.
Composite kayaks that are made out of a fiberglass and carbon-fiber are very light and provide better performance, but are more likely to be damaged by rocks.
Different Types Of Beginner Kayaks
When you come across the word “recreational” in terms of kayaking, it means that this is meant for fun rather than for racing or performance.
They are not made to be light or fast, but are going to have all of the features that you would want to have in order to enjoy yourself when you are out on the water, including extra leg room, comfortable seats, and even padding.
Day Touring & Touring Kayaks
Day touring kayaks are meant for excursions that are only going to last one day. They do not have any storage space for supplies and are generally simple to use.
Meanwhile, the touring kayaks are meant for longer journeys and come with compartments and space to ensure that you will have enough room t store your supplies, like food, water, and other essentials. Since they are meant for bigger journeys, their seats should be comfortable.
Inflatable & Folding Kayaks
Two of the most common types of kayaks that you will come across are inflatable and folding kayaks. The inflatable kayaks are filled up with air before use and then deflated when you are not using them. These are the best beginner kayaks if you do not have a lot of storage space.
The other type that you’ll see is the folding kayaks. These are a lightweight way to transport kayaks and they do not take up a lot of room. There is a learning curve with their assembly.
Tandem kayaks are made to be paddled by two people at the same time. They are typically longer than the single-rider kayaks and will come with two seats, instead of just the one that you will find with a single-person kayak.
They come in both inflatable and solid materials. The hardest thing about them is learning to paddle in sync with your partner in order to propel yourself forward effectively.
What Size Kayak Is Best For Beginners
A common question is what size kayak is best for beginners. When you have a small, snug cockpit, you will have a lot more control over your kayak and protection if you run into rough conditions, a larger cockpit will make it easier to get in and out of the boat, but you are also more likely to be thrown from the kayak if you hit rough waters.
It comes down to where you intend to be paddling. If you are sticking with fast-moving water, a shorter kayak will give you more manoeuvrability. There are plenty that are in between as well, so really you can opt for any of them.
Even though it was easy to find a lot of wonderful kayaks out there to choose from, we still found that the best kayak for beginners is the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak.
This is a stable kayak that will work on calm waters and really help you hone in your skill. It even allows for two riders, so you do not need to go out alone.
Of course, there are plenty of beginners who are still craving that high performance level of kayaking. If this sounds like you, then you will likely be happier with the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Convertible Inflatable Kayak. This kayak is made for speed, so you can expect a much faster ride out of it.
No matter what, there are so many different types of kayaks out there that you do not need to limit yourself to one type. Think of where you will be using it and what you want to do before you commit.