Best Kayak for Beginners

It can feel like a little bit of an overwhelming decision to buy a kayak no matter what your experience level it, but when you’re just starting out and maybe don’t have as much background knowledge it can be even more confusing.

There are a lot of different types of kayaks on the market, and they all have various features and add ons. Because of all of the decisions you have to make when you buy a kayak, you may not initially be sure what you will need for yourself.

Of course, you need to ask what the different types of kayaks are used for. What kind of kayak is going to be the easiest to learn in, and what are the best kayaks for beginners?

You may also have some additional questions in your mind, such is where the best place will be to learn the sport?

In a hurry? This is our Winner!

Our Top Pick
In a hurry? This is our Winner!
9.4/10 Our Score

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

  • Comfortable for anyone
  • Maximum weight capacity 400 pounds
  • Made for smaller bodies of water

Best Kayak for Beginners – Comparison Table

Image Product Technical Spec Price
Our Top Pick

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
  • Brand: Intex
  • Maximum weight capacity: 400 pounds
  • Weight: 30.60 lb
  • Air Chambers: 3
  • Dimensions: Inflated size 10 feet 3 x 3 feet x 1 feet 8 inch
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Intex Challenger K1 Kayak Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
  • Brand: Intex
  • Style: K1 Kayak
  • Maximum weight capacity: 220 pound
  • Weight: 27.2 pound
  • Dimensions: 30 by 15 by 108 inches (W x H x D)
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Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
  • Brand: Sevylor
  • Color: Green
  • Materials: 1000D tarpaulin bottom and 840D nylon cover
  • Weight: 32.9 lbs
  • Dimensions: 128.25 x 36.50 x 18.75 Inches
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Old Town Dirigo 106 Recreational Kayak Old Town Dirigo 106 Recreational Kayak
  • Brand: Old Town
  • Maximum weight capacity: 300-pound
  • Weight: 42 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10 feet 6 inches
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Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-in Kayak Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-in Kayak
  • Brand: Sun Dolphin
  • Style: Standard
  • Top Material Type: High Density Polyethylene
  • Weight: 40 Pounds
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Best Kayak for Beginners – Reviews

1. Our Top Pick: Intex Explorer K2 Beginner Kayak

If you want a very comfortable kayak that has a vivid design, you are going to love the Intex Explorer K2 Beginner Kayak. It has an inflatable design and it’s able to fold small. This means it’s easy to transport and yet it can still inflate to a large enough size to fit two adults.

The kayak has a bright yellow design that is easy to see from a distance. The kayak is great for the open ocean. It’s very lightweight, and yet it’s tough and durable enough to be able to withstand the misadventures of a beginner at kayaking.

The kayak is ideal for 2 beginners looking to get started with kayaking, and the kayak comes with everything you will need to be able to get out onto the water. It’s also very stable due to the inflatable I-beam.

2. Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Sit in Beginner Kayak

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Sit In Beginner Kayak is perfect for those long distance and overnight trips. This kayak has an adjustable padded seat that is going to keep you comfortable while you’re out on the water.

The kayak has a large storage bay that’s covered, and you can put all of your gear inside of it. This can also give you a lot of peace of mind knowing that your gear is safe during your adventures, even when the conditions are rough.

The kayak has tall backrests so you will feel supported and comfortable. If you need hydration you can put a water bottle in a holder next to you! It’s very easy to transport the kayak with handles positioned on either side. It’s also UV stabilized, and won’t fade or become weathered in extreme conditions either. It’s ideal for beginners who may give their kayak a couple of knocks along the way!

3. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Dirigo 106 Beginner Kayak

The Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Dirigo 106 Beginner Kayak is a fantastically designed recreational kayak that’s ideal for a beginner. If you are a little apprehensive about kayaking inside of a sit-in kayak, this is a good choice because it has a specious cockpit. It has the open feeling of a sit on top kayak while still giving you all of the benefits that you would get with a sit inside kayak.

The kayak is certainly a smaller model, but surprisingly it still offers a lot of storage. It even comes with a ‘glove box’ where you will be able to keep your wallet and cell phone for easy access. It has a bungee system too which you can strap a dry bag too.

The kayak is ideal for flat water situations and it’s very easy to maneuver too, so you will certainly enjoy kayaking in this.

4. Intex Challenger K1 Beginner Kayak

The Intex Challenger K1 Beginner Kayak is a really good choice for beginners. To start with, it has a bunch of room inside to move around, and it’s made out of a heavy duty puncture resistant vinyl and this makes it durable enough to withstand any knocks and bumps from someone learning to kayak for the first time.

The kayak comes with a cargo net for some more storage, so inside you will be able to store all of your key items. On either end it has grab lines too so it’s much easier to dock it when you’re making your way home.

It’s ideal for longer trips because of the extra room that the yak offers, and it’s very comfortable with a comfortable and inflatable backrest. This seat provides a lot of support too. With it, you will be able to go kayaking for many hours feeling comfortable and having all of your essentials close by.

5. Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Beginner Kayak

This is a very comfortable fishing kayak that gives plenty of space for you to be able to hold all of your essential items. This is an inflatable kayak that’s very easy to carry, and you don’t even need anything like a roof rack to carry it.

As the kayak is so lightweight, it’s very easy to store away when it’s not being used, and it can fold into a small carrying case. The kayak is also very durable, and you don’t need to worry about it denting and cracking.

Not only all this, but the kayak comes along with a one year warranty too. You will be very safe with the air chambers that come with the kayak, and these ensure that if one of them pops you will still have floatation from the other one. If you’re looking to go fishing from right out in the water then you will be impressed with this kayak.

Best Kayak for Beginners – Buyers Guide

Best Kayak for Beginners

Beginner Kayaks: A First Look

In order to help you out a little and give you some of the all important answers you are seeking to these questions, we’ve compiled some information in this article that you may find helpful when you are looking to search for your first purchase. This will help you take those important next steps in becoming a paddler.

What Kayak is the Best for Beginners?


One of the most important things to look out for when you are buying a kayak is how stable the kayak is going to be. You don’t want your kayak flipping over on your very first outing in the water and it could be very off putting, so you should try to make sure that the vessel is made to be as stable as possible. This is a very important element to consider.

Usually the kayaks that are more stable tend to be wider and often are a little shorter than professional yaks. If the yak is wider then it’s going to be easier to keep it upright, but this does also depend on the hull’s shape.

There are two primary kinds of stability to think about when you are selecting your vessel. The primary stability, and this is how stable the craft will be on calm, flat waters, and the secondary stability, which is how stable it is going to be in inclement weather conditions when the water is rough, and it could potentially tip over.

If the hull is flatter it means that the yak is going to be more stable on flat waters, which is certainly a good option when you’re first beginning.


When you are first beginning with a new activity or sport it is important to have something that is going to be able to deal with the learning curve, and something that can withstand the numerous knocks that you may get in order to know the sport.

The best option is to opt for a yak that is both sturdy and durable. A plastic vessel is going to give you more durability than a lot of other materials and they also generally cost less. An inflatable vessel could also be durable and cost effective, and it’s a good choice for those just starting out.

Kayaks Designed for Fishing

If you are going to be buying a kayak for fishing then you may be in a situation where you need to think about what other features you will need in addition to durability and stability. You are going to need to make a decision about where you intend to go fishing before you can choose a vessel that will be suitable.

A fishing kayak that is made to be used on the sea may not be suitable for you if you are going to be fishing on a flat water lake and so on. This is mainly because they are going to have different hull designs as a way to accommodate the different conditions.

If you are planning on fishing on the sea or on a saltwater lake, then you are also going to need to ensure that the kayak you choose is going to be able to deal with corrosion and harsh conditions. Ensuring that the paddle is corrosion resistant is also vital.

The length of some fishing yaks is longer in order to give more speed through the water, and this can sometimes make it easier to paddle over long distances in order to get to the ideal fishing locations. They also usually have more storage space for you to store all of your fishing gear.

Kayak Types


Inflatable vessels are a really good choice for people just starting out with kayaking because they are durable, don’t cost a lot of money and they are easy to transport. They are ideal for beginners because they are versatile vessels, so you are able to use them in a range of different environments. You also aren’t going to need a separate vessel for the sea and a different one for flat water.

When you are just beginning with kayaking, the chances are that you won’t have all of the equipment needed for transportation or maybe you don’t want to spend the money on the extras when you’re first getting started, and this is why an inflatable yak can be a great choice. These yaks are able to be deflated in order to fit into your car trunk and you can even fit some of them into a backpack, so you are able to take them pretty much anywhere.

Because these yaks are lightweight, people who have never gone kayaking before will likely find them easier to maneuver. They tend to be rather easy to maintain too, and all you need to do is ensure that they are completely dry before you pack them away. Then, if they puncture you will be able to patch it up easily with a puncture kit.

Hard Shells

Hard shell kayaks are available in a number of different materials, and they’re all made for a particular purpose. Some of the best hard shell kayaks for beginner kayakers are actually made of plastic, because this is a strong and durable material. This is also the least expensive material out of the hard shells.

Other materials such as carbon blends and fiberglass can be quite expensive but these are the kinds of yaks that are preferred by people who are serious about kayaking because of their super light weight. Vessels designed for racing are usually made out of these lightweight materials.

While the fiberglass and carbon blend vessels are quite durable, it is a lot easier to damage them when you are moving them and they can sometimes be a little expensive to repair. When you’re first starting out it’s pretty unlikely that you are going to need the high performance qualities of a composite vessel.

Sit In Style

A sit in kayak is the kind of kayak you would likely envision when you think about a kayak. It has an enclosed cockpit where you will sit, your entire lower body right inside of the body of the vessel. This means that your lower body will stay dry and warm in colder climates.

Not all new kayakers are going to be keen on the idea of being confined inside of a vessel, so a sit in style kayak may not be the best option if this sounds like you, and it likely won’t be a good choice to learn in for this reason. With that being said, these kayaks are stable but they are going to need you to be aware of the different techniques of how to get out of the vessel in a situation where the yak capsizes.

In addition to recreational use, sit inside kayaks tend to be used in extreme sports such as whitewater kayaking. You can attach a spray skirt to the rim of the cockpit too in order to stop any water from getting into the kayak, so it means that you will be able to keep paddling without having to remove water from the kayak.

Sit insides can also be a little bit harder to enter in the situation where the kayak capsizes because the water ends up getting into the cockpit. You’re likely going to need to get it out by yourself while you’re on the water or you will need to head to the surface to bail out the water easier.

Sit on Top Style

This style of kayak is very popular among beginners because they are easy to use. In opposition to the sit in, the seat is placed on the top of the deck so you won’t be so restricted in your lower body and have more room to move.

With the seat positioned like this, you will be able to get in and out more easily, and this is perfect for recreational purposes. If you are having some warm weather in your kayaking location you can even jump out to take a swim, and then you can jump back in when you’re finished.

You’re likely to get wet when you’re paddling in a sit on top kayak because of the design. You won’t get any weather protection not will you have splash protection in a sit on top kayak, so they tend to be used more often in areas where the climate is warm, unless you are wearing waterproof clothing.

You don’t usually need to bail out sit on tops manually like you would need to with the sit in because they tend to have scupper holes in the deck, and these allow the water to drain straight through. These holes can tend to make the water splash up from below but you can also use the scupper plugs in order to stop this.


Recreational kayaks, as the name suggests, are made to be used recreationally. They tend to be stable, easy to use and they are a good choice for people just starting out. They tend to be a little wider than professional vessels and this gives them more stability.

With that being said, this does mean that it’s not as hydrodynamic but when you are just starting out, speed should not be your primary priority. This will allow you to learn the paddle techniques and strokes, even if recreational kayaks aren’t the most high performance water vessels.

These kinds of kayaks are usually affordable but they also tend to be a little heavier when it comes down to transporting them to and from the water.

Yaks for recreational purposes can come in a range of different lengths and they can come in shorter lengths for children. Because of this they are easier for kids to maneuver on their own on the water and they are more lightweight than adult sized kayaks. They are also made so that children are able to carry them themselves.


Similarly to a tandem bicycle, you will get two seats in a tandem kayak. This means that two people will be able to paddle together and you can share the experience together.

These kayaks are a good choice for a beginner, just as much so as a single vessel, because you can get them in a range of different styles. There are wide, stable recreational kayaks that are designed for paddlers, and there are also inflatable tandems.

A tandem craft will usually have more storage space for your gear, and you may even get more space for a third person, such as a dog or a child. Because of this the vessels can be a little heavier and larger, and this can make moving them a little more of a challenge.

If there are two of you you may even feel that it’s easier to move a tandem than it would be if you were transporting a single yak by yourself.

You can share the paddling with someone else if you have a tandem yak so it’s a little easier to move across the water. You may need to ensure that you are both paddling at the same pace.

Fishing Kayaks

These kinds of kayaks are designed with fishermen in mind, so they will be able to carry more gear. They have more comfortable seating too, so it’s possible to tailor it to your specific wants and needs – you may even be able to choose your own specific seat.

Fishing Kayaks

Some of them come rigged while others are not. If they are rigged then they generally come with a seat already installed. If it isn’t installed already then you will be required to choose the seat and will need to install it separately. This is ideal if you already know that you will be spending a considerable amount of time sitting inside of the kayak and you want a comfortable seat.

Kayaks that are made for fishing are usually a little heavier than kayaks for recreational purposes, and they tend to be wider and larger so that they can hold the extra gear and so they can have more space on deck. Because of this they can be a little bit tricky to transport, and it’s even more difficult if you are on your own.

Places Where You Can Learn Kayaking

There are a lot of kayaking schools where you are able to develop and learn skills all the way up to the more technical levels. If you are aiming to get onto the water in a kayak for the very first time then you would be better off with learning on flat, calm water.

Slow moving rivers and calm lakes are good places to learn the original paddling skills that are going to be essential with getting started in the sport. If you learn in the sea it may be a little more difficult for you because there are underwater currents and waves to deal with, and these can be hazardous.

Some of the schools have swimming pools and basic techniques are taught here in a safe environment. This may be a little more desirable for some learners than a wild environment. Sometimes there are also classes for children, and this can make it less scary for them because they will be with others their own age in a pool.

Finishing Off

After reading about what kind of kayak may be the best option for someone new to paddling to learn in, you should know by now what kind of kayak you should be looking for when you are looking to buy.

It doesn’t need to be overly complicated to buy a great kayak for you when you know what kind of thing you should be looking out for. You may want to rent a kayak if you would like to try out some of the different types before you make the leap into buying one of your own. A lot of retailers even have demo days where you will be able to try out the vessel for yourself.

You should try to remember that it really isn’t necessary to buy the most expensive kayak when you are first starting out, and you don’t necessarily need to have a million features that you may not even use.

You should ensure to start with that you look for a durable, stable vessel that is going to be easy to move back and forth to the water, and one that is going to work with your budget, With this, you will be going out and enjoying paddling in an instant!

Our Top Pick
In a hurry? This is our Winner!
9.4/10 Our Score

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

  • Comfortable for anyone
  • Maximum weight capacity 400 pounds
  • Made for smaller bodies of water