How Did We Pick These Items?
Picking the right Kayak for the beginners was not an easy task. But we sincerely maintained several selection steps. Initially, we ran a 30-hour extensive online research to single out 25 most advanced starter kayaks with the highest number of ratings and customer reviews. Then we wanted to test each of the listed items to find out how they performed in a practical environment.
For the next couple of weeks, our team members and a group of volunteers tested the boats in different types of water bodies. Our team of experts checked the ergonomics, tipping tendency, speed, size, extra space and advanced features that models had come with. Based on repeated testing we narrowed we championed 10 models out of 25.
Then we contacted the industry experts and professional kayak designers and arranged for interviews. We showed them our list to have their valuable insights. They guided us to rank our top 10 choices according to their specific features. That helped us get the final list.
It was a painstaking journey and we devoted our hours scrutinizing every model we picked. Hopefully, our hard work will help you make the right decision.
Our Top 10 Best Beginner Kayaks
So, what is the best kayak for a beginner? In the following section, we've tried to answer that question through our recommendations. As mentioned before, selecting the top ones from a myriad of choices was not as easy as it seems! Take a good look, don't miss the key information, compare, and choose the finest one for you as per your budget and requirement.
Different Types of Beginner Kayaks
Since you have a keen interest in learning and mastering this adventurous activity, it is necessary to learn about the types of kayaks in the market. Learning how to kayak is one complicated task, but choosing one should not be as hard.
You may want a kayak for fishing, exploring the natural surroundings or just stepping out for a workout. Well, let us skim through the different kinds of beginner kayaks.
Tandem kayak - Fancying a couple ride? Tandem kayaks are built for two paddlers. It could be a sit-on-top one or have two separate places for the users. This could be a romantic ride for both of you!
Recreational - If you want the best starter kayak for flat rivers or shallow waters, then this type is perfect. You can also try pedal kayaks for this purpose because they are affordable and pretty easy to use. This was the type of boat my father got for us children! They are allso called rec kayaks. Guess what? I bought the same for my teen kids! They are great for lakes and small water bodies and much appreciated by teenagers for the level of fun they offer. It's wise to avoid whitewater for the beginners.
Touring - If the whole idea is to explore the open waters on a long journey, then the touring kayak is a good choice. This type usually has space for storing camping gear as well. There are both single and double seater models in the touring category.
Inflatable/folding kayak - Easy to fold and carry, inflatable kayaks are convenient for those always on the move. You can take it for camping trips or even drive to another city and carry this with you. These are mostly flat bottom design that can be blown to full size for proper usage. Inflatable models are much lighter than the non inflatable models.
Let us cut to the chase, my friend! Most people are unaware that the kayaks are of two major types.
Sit in vs. Sit On
Now there is a clear distinction between the traditional sit in vs. the contemporary sit on top kayaks. They are also known as open and closed kayaks. Which one is a great starter choice?
We need to take a look at both the kayaks separately. I have mentioned everything that you need to know about the sit on top and sit in kayaks.
Sit on Top Kayaks
These are recreational kayaks used for easy flowing and calm lakes and rivers. People in warmer coastal areas use this type. Some of them have storage space for longer trips. There are some individuals who get claustrophobic inside a sit-in. In case you are one of those, consider getting yourself a sit on.
Here are some benefits of using a sit-on:
- It is easy to get on and off the sit on.
- Great for kids and families
- Ideal for warm water and air. This is because the chances of getting wet are more!
- Scupper holes for easy drainage. You do not need to pump out any water.
- Heavier than most of the sit-in kayaks.
These are recreational kayaks that are ideal for day touring. They are faster and have a covered and secure cargo compartment. If you are paddling to a specific destination, then this seems like the right fit. The sit-in kayaks may have a number of seats for other members. Do you want it for yourself or you want others to join in? The choice is yours and you can decide on the basis of the members and comfort level.
Why Do We Like the Sit-In Kayaks?
- Comfortable for cruising
- Fewer chances of getting wet
- Highly efficient as compared to the sit-on-top
- You have greater control as your body stays inside the kayak.
Entry Level Kayak: A Comprehensive Buying Guide
There's no universal guide on how to buy an entry level kayak. But we've tried to give you some basics on how to pick the right one. Most of the top rated models in this category have similar specifications. The length and the capacity of the boat could vary. People often say, "What size kayak do I need?" Calm down, you're not going to the moon! Choose the one that you feel comfy with. However, it is important to check the basic specifications and factors that you must consider before investing in such a watercraft. It is possible that you would be using the raft for a long time! Once you are a pro at it, you can gift it to someone you know or your kids can enjoy it! But for now, let's find out what type of these watercraft you should choose and what are the things to consider.
How old are you? If you are a child, then you cannot use the same type of kayak as an adult would. Also, an adult will be taller than a child and the measurements of the kayak would be different. So, there's no best time to buy a kayak.
Where you will perform kayaking (water type)
The next question is whether you are going to kayak in shallow water or a trouble-maker water body. The vessel needs to be tough and stable for fast-moving water. Beginner or intro kayaks are usually suitable for calm and flat waters. You couldn't say they're the most stable ones, but should be enough for ordinary waters. However, if you are a beginner, get yourself a GPS tracker for your kayak. This will help you navigate with confidence.
Number of People
Some kayaks can accommodate two people while others are ideal for just one member. If you are going to sit alone, go for a single-seat design. In case you want your spouse or kids to join you, buy a multi-seat model that has a capacity for 2 persons or more.
Turning vs. Tracking
How does the kayak stay in a straight path? This is known as tracking. It is believed that the kayaks which track really well cannot turn that well.
There are two types of stability - Primary and Secondary. The primary stability is for calm water situations while the secondary is for tense and fast waters. Secondary stability is needed in cases of speedy activities such as white water rafting. The tipping of these boats depends a lot on the design too. Intro models usually come with no tip designs. But remember, there's no such thing as an untippable kayak.
Length plays another crucial role here. Longer models are more stable but difficult to handle. There are several length sizes including 7-foot, 8-foot, 9-foot, 10-foot, 12-foot, 14-foot, and even bigger. For greater stability, choose one that you feel most comfortable with. You can follow the length chart for getting the accurate size matching your height.
Kayaks are made of different materials, from wood, carbon fiber, hard plastic, inflatable plastic, fiberglass to Kevlar. The inexpensive models are the ones usually made of inflatable plastic. You would need to choose the material on the basis of the purpose you are shopping for. For sea kayaking, the materials should withstand saltwater. Make sure you tick that point before getting yourself an ocean kayak. The graphics and design play a major role. Choose your favorite color from a wide range of choices including, blue, green, white, red, pink, silver and many more.
Purpose of Kayak
Relaxation or adventure? If you want to go white water rafting in the kayak, go for a durable material and the measurements will be different. If the whole idea is kayaking for fishing or chilling, a good beginner kayak will be ideal.
Most of the manufacturers will give you accessories for rigging. These can be used in certain instances. The deck netting can be utilized for storing little items. The shock cord can be utilized for keeping vital tools close to your hand.
Everyone hates the idea of stepping into the kayak and getting their phones or precious objects wet. This could cause damage, and that's precisely why you need hatches to store these precious items. Hatch covers are mostly waterproof but there can be some moisture.
Rudders & Skegs
Rudders and skegs may not be needed for a leisurely or casual kayak. You need them for the type that goes into turbulent water. Such equipment help in steering the kayak efficiently. If you know how to control your kayak such as steering it, then you would not need rudders and skegs.
Portability and storage
If you travel a lot, you rather try an inflatable kayak. Like an inflatable boat or a fishing float tube, you can easily inflate, deflate, and carry it. There are other kayaks that are portable and you can easily store them in a garage or backyard.
Kayaks for dummies are comparatively lower in price, ranging from 100 to 800 USD. Most of the beginners are baffled because they want to invest in something which is of a lower price. It makes sense because you may not want it for daily use or you are just beginning to learn the sport. However, make sure you choose the right one that ensures the best value for the money.
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
- 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
- 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
We hope that this review helped you to make a wise decision in finding the best kayaks for beginners. It took a lot of effort to create the list for our readers. It can be exhaustive to go through every item and compare it. That's precisely why we came up with this top 10 list that will help you narrow down the choices.
As a beginner kayaker, you don't need to worry about getting the advanced features of a top-notch kayak. We believe our reviewed models are enough to help you find your right match.
Make the top choice and do leave your valuable comments below as that would keep us motivated! Also, if your friends and relatives are looking for the safest kayak for beginners, do share this post with them.
I can tell based on my experience that kayaking is by far the most exciting water sport out there. Whether you wish to go fishing or just cruise around in your kayak, we are sure that you will have an amazing experience!