Best Kayak for Beginners Review Guide For This Year
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If you’re new to the world of kayaking, you might be overwhelmed with the sheer number of kayaks there are available on the market. On top of that, you might not even know what to look for when shopping for a great kayak.
The best kayak for beginners depends a lot on personal preferences and aspirations: every paddler is unique. Are you looking for a good beginner kayak for casual use with family and friends?
Or do you want a higher performance kayak that will allow you to develop your paddling skills without requiring investment in another boat as you improve?
This beginner kayak buying guide provides an overview of what’s available and where to find it—as well as providing answers to all your most pressing questions about finding a good beginner kayak.
To find out even more keep reading our Best Kayak for Beginners Review Guide For This Year
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two – Best Tandem Kayak for Beginners
Tandem style allows you to enjoy paddling with a friend. The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two is a tandem kayak that gives you more flexibility in the way get out on the water and enjoy the sport.
While kayaking is traditionally a solo sport, it can be especially fun for beginners to paddle with friends and loved ones. This boat includes two seats, three different seating configurations and a 425 lb. weight capacity for a more versatile experience.
If you’re using this kayak to its full seating capacity, you might find that you don’t have much room to store your gear.
While there are two dry storage compartments on board, they can be harder to access with two people paddling, and there isn’t any webbing to store gear on top of the kayak with you.
However, if you’re paddling solo, you’ll likely find that you have an abundance of space for your gear. You’ll just need to find a way to secure it.
Since it’s 12 feet long, the Malibu Two is naturally more stable, and its overlapping foot wells help you gain more control over steering and overall movement.
Just be aware that adding an extra person to the mix can cause more instability, especially if that person is brand new to kayaking.
- Brand Ocean Kayak
- Item Weight 57 Pounds
- Material Single Layer Polyethylene
- Color Sunrise
- Seating Capacity 2
About this item:
- Enjoy sun and surf with a friend or a furry companion with the kayak’s three seating positions, which support solo, tandem, or tandem paddling With a child or pet.
- A pair of comfort Plus seats provide four-way adjustability, Generating a custom fit and greater slip prevention over molded seats.
- Patented overlapping foot wells allow centre-seated paddlers to settle in and brace their feet comfortably.
- The open, sit-on-top hull makes it easy to get on and off the kayak and includes a pair of molded-in handles and skid plate.
- Usable weight capacity of 362 pounds; Measures 12 Feet long and 34 inches wide. Lifetime on the hull.
- Tandem style gives you room for two adults and a child
- Can use solo if desired
- Overlapping foot braces give you more comfort and control
- Longer length means heavier kayak
- Minimal storage options
- No included paddles
Intex Challenger K1 – Best Inflatable Kayak for Beginners
In an industry traditionally dominated by hardshell kayaks, the inflatable Intex Challenger K1 stands out. Inflatable kayaks are relatively new to the scene, but they offer an excellent starting point for beginners.
This is one of the highest-rated inflatable kayaks on the market today. It’s affordable and easy to use, which makes it a great choice for those new to the paddling scene.
One of the biggest draws about inflatable kayaks for beginners is the added convenience they offer.
Being able to deflate your kayak and store it while only using a minimal amount of space means you don’t have to spend a ton of money on extra accessories like car roof racks.
This kayak also includes all the necessary accessories to get you on the water, like the paddle, air pump and carrying bag. Unfortunately, the air pump is hand-operated, which can be tiring, so we recommend you look at purchase an electric pump that runs off batteries or a cigarette lighter.
When you’re out on the water, you might find that the Intex Challenger K1 isn’t as smooth a ride as hard kayaks, but it’s stable and easy to use, which is most important to consider for beginners. Check out the best tents for the weekend kayaking getaway.
- Brand Intex
- Item Weight 25 Pounds
- Material Plastic
- Color Green/Blue
- Style K1 Kayak
About this item:
- Nimble, durable kayak is made of durable welded material with eye catching graphics for added safety on the lake or slow moving river
- Cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized space, and inflatable I beam floors add stability. Removable skeg provides exceptional directional movement
- Cargo net to store extra gear, and grab line on both ends of kayak; Inflatable seat with backrest
- Comes with 84 inch aluminum oar, repair patch and Hi output manual hand pump; Rugged vinyl construction
- Measures 30 by 15 by 108 inches (W x H x D), with 27.2 pound weight and 220 pound maximum capacity
- Deflates for easier storage and transport
- Super durable construction
- Necessary accessories included (air pump, paddle, carrying bag)
- Included air pump is manual, not electric
- No dry storage
- Not as smooth or fast as hard kayaks
Emotion Spitfire – Best Sit-on-Top Kayak for Beginners
This kayak is designed with convenience and stability in mind. The Emotion Spitfire was designed specifically for greater stability and tracking in the water, even though it means you lose some speed, which might be a good thing for beginners.
The hull itself is also designed to be extra durable, so you don’t have to worry about ruining the boat if and when you run into things.
This kayak excels when it comes to overall design. The built-in seat is comfortable and durable.
While it doesn’t adjust as much as other kayak seats, it still provides a good amount of comfort while you’re out in the water. The boat also includes molded foot wells at different intervals, which gives you more choices when it comes to your comfort.
Storage is no problem on the Emotion Spitfire. With both cargo-net storage and dry storage, you should be able to store all your gear with ease. The only thing missing here is a cup holder.
If you want to bring a drink with you, plan on holding it or putting it on the floor of the kayak, which isn’t advisable unless you want to watch your drink go overboard. If the kids want to have fun, read about the best kayak for kids.
- Glacier Blue
- Brand EMotion
- Item Weight 45 Pounds
- Material Hard Shell
- Color Glacier Blue
- Weight Limit 350 Pounds
About this item:
- Built in Padded CRS + UltraLite Seat. Rear Tankwell with Cargo Net Lacing for Storage. Storage Hatch for Added Storage Beneath the Deck
- Molded-In Paddle Keepers and Side Carry Handles. Molded-In Freedom Footwells for Comfort and Secure Foot Bracing
- Self-Bailing Scupper Holes to Drain Water from the Cockpit and Tankwell. Front and Rear Handles for Easy Transport
- Hull Design Provides Ultra Stability and Great Tracking. UV-Protected High-Density Polyethylene Construction
- Lightweight 45 lb. Design
- Built-in seat is extra comfortable and durable
- Foot wells molded into the hull offer more comfort and control
- Hull is designed for higher stability and better tracking
- Seat isn’t adjustable
- No cup holder
- Slower than other kayaks
Best Kayak for Beginners Buying Guide For This Year
Buying a kayak is hard enough even for the professionals. There are so many different factors that majorly affect the way you use, store and maintain your boats.
As you can imagine, buying a kayak can be exponentially harder for those new to the sport. Unfortunately, this learning curve can be steep enough to prevent people from getting out on the water, even if they’re really interested in it.
To get you started on the right track, we’ve compiled some key features that you should consider most when it comes to purchasing your first kayak, and why they’re so important.
Once you’re finished here, don’t forget to keep reading to find the answers to some of the biggest questions about kayaking for beginners.
As a beginner, the last thing you want happening is to get capsized in the middle of the lake or river. Of course, this will likely happen to you at some point during your kayaking career, but it can be scary if it happens on your first run.
As such, it’s especially important that you purchase a boat that is designed specifically for stability.
Keep in mind that by gaining more stability, you often sacrifice speed and maneuverability. This isn’t as important if you are planning on paddling recreationally, and it’s better to gain your confidence before zipping around everyone else in the water.
Type of Kayak
As you might have seen in the list of kayaks above, there are a wide variety of different types of boats to consider. Each type of kayak has its pros and cons, but they mostly cater to the different uses. As a beginner, you should start by looking at sit-on-top kayaks.
These recreational kayaks often provide more stability and comfort than others. Then, as you grow more experienced, look for a kayak that fits your specific needs, like a fishing or whitewater model.
Touring kayaks, typically used for wildlife viewing and other touring trips, are also well-suited for advanced kayakers looking for better tracking and speed.
Hull Design and Gear Storage:
The way your kayak’s hull is designed can have a big impact on your overall comfort and easy of use. Look for products that are designed to give you greater convenience.
These features often come in the form of cupholders, foot wells, adjustable foot braces and adjustable, padded seats. Not every option will offer these features, but they can make or break your experience out on the water.
Gear storage is also an important feature to consider. If you’re planning on exploring at all, you’ll want to pack your gear with you.
The best kayaks for beginners offer both dry storage compartments and webbing on the hull’s exterior. This way, you can store your most important gear without fear of it getting wet. Also, if you know you’ll be kayaking on rough, choppy waters or if the weather might be on the colder side during your trip, it’d be a good idea to purchase or bring along a spray skirt.
Finally, consider how much money you want to spend on your kayak. It can be an expensive hobby, and as a beginner, you might not want to drop a huge chunk of change into it.
While there are budget kayaks out there, they’re often produced poorly and don’t perform as well in the water. If you want a fairly reliable beginners kayak, you’re likely going to spend around $500-$1,000.
Set your budget early, and be sure to stick to it. This can help you avoid buyer’s remorse, especially while you’re paddling around. You don’t want to tip while thinking you spent too much money on your boat!
Top Questions About Beginners Kayaks Answered:
Q: How to Get Into and Out of a Kayak
A: Getting in and out of your boat can be one of the most stressful parts about learning how to kayak. Many new paddlers struggle with this part, especially since they’re sometimes a little worried about getting soaked before they ever set foot inside a kayak!
When you’re boarding from a dock or land, first make sure your kayak is steady and not going to escape by ensuring it is parallel with the dock or shore.
Hold onto the cockpit with your hand and line yourself up so you’re facing the right direction. You don’t want to get in the kayak just to find out you’re facing the wrong way.
Put one foot in first, make sure you’re stable, and then place your other foot into the kayak. Then, lower yourself slowly into the seat. Once you’re comfortable, shove off and get paddling!
Getting out of your boat is similar to getting in. Line yourself up to the dock or shore, and make sure you’re steady. You can steady yourself with your paddle or hand.
Once you’re certain you aren’t going anywhere, place both arms on the dock and lift yourself out, one foot at a time. Only apply weight with your arms!
Don’t try to push with your legs because that will effectively push your kayak out from under you and send you swimming.
Q: How to Paddle a Kayak
A: Before you can fully enjoy kayaking, you need to learn how to paddle properly.
This may seem like a really simple action, but it can be more difficult than you think, especially if it’s your first time. You’ll use your paddle to move and control your kayak, so it’s important you know how to do it the right way.
Once you’re in your kayak and ready to go, you’ll want to be sure you’re holding your paddle correctly. First, get the blades facing the same way. If they aren’t both in the same orientation, you’ll only be fighting yourself.
Next, place your hands on the paddle shaft so your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Use a relaxed, but firm grip on the paddle. Using a relaxed grip prevents your arms from getting fatigued.
Finally, choose what stroke you want to use. Forward stroke propels you forward. Reverse stroke helps you come to a stop and go backward. You can use a sweep stroke to turn your boat. The draw stroke can help you draw closer to another boat or dock.
Q: Kayaks vs. Canoes?
A: Should you use a kayak or a canoe? This is one of the biggest questions beginners face. Canoes are often seen as more entry-level, while kayaks are usually thought of as reserved for more skilled paddlers.
This simply isn’t the case, though. Both types of boats are good for beginners in their own ways.
Both canoes and kayaks are usually lightweight and can be used in shallow and deep water.
They both use paddles for forward and backward movement. Kayaks use double-bladed paddles, while canoes use single-bladed paddles.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference between these boats is in their appearance. Canoes are taller than kayaks, and they are often roomier for their paddlers.
Kayaks sit low on the water, and their paddlers often have their legs fully extended instead of bent. Kayaks also often include foot braces to give you greater control over their movement. Some kayaks even fully enclose your lower body in a cockpit.
When it comes to speed and maneuverability, kayaks win most often, which is one of the draws of kayaking over canoeing.
However, canoes tend to be more comfortable and leisurely in the long run, especially if you’re spending a lot of time on the water.
Thanks for taking the time to read our Best Kayak for Beginners Review Guide For This Year.