Since I have been kayaking from an early age, I have noticed there is a lot to share. Here’s an elaborate post for those who are looking for the best kayaks for beginners. We will show you how to find the right kayak for you or your family from so many choices. We also added a buying guide so you can easily find out what you really need to consider in order to enjoy your time on the waters whenever you go out with your kayak.
Top Kayaks for Beginners : Comparison Chart
|Pick Name||Thumbnail||Product Name||Price|
|Top Pick||Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100||Check Price|
|Runner-Up||Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak||Check Price|
|For Kids||Lifetime 90479 Youth Wave (6 ft)||Check Price|
|Good Value for Money||SevylorQuikpak K1 1-Person||Check Price|
|For Recreation||Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top||Check Price|
|For Lake Water||Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot||Check Price|
|7th||Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak||Check Price|
|8th||Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak||Check Price|
|9th||Old Town Kayaks Dirigo 106 from Scubapro||Check Price|
|10th||SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 8-Feet||Check Price|
How Did We Pick These Items?
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.
01 Top Pick: Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
Lifetime Tamarack 100 is made of durable polyethylene and comes with a 5-year limited warranty. The highlight of this boat is that it has two storage compartments in the center and rear which measure 6 inches. Its padded seat is adjustable. No matter what your height is, the 10 ft kayak is ideal for short and tall riders.
It has a paddle keeper with the shock cords and it also has T-handles. You can expect a good kayaking session in case you are a beginner. The kayak is ideal for beginners and rides smoothly in calm waters. It has fishing rod holders which make it easy to relax and keep the fishing rod in place. Soak up the sun or witness the beautiful natural surroundings in this kayak because it is stable and buyers were able to stand on it. As for comfort, the seat is padded and there are multiple positions for resting your foot.
Let us take a quick look at the specs and the pros/cons to get a better idea of whether this is suitable for you or not.
- Product weight – 52 pounds
- Height – 10ft
- Fishing pole holder – 3
- Footrest position – multiple
- Warranty – 5 Year Limited
- Storage hatches – 2
- It comes with a 5-year limited warranty
- The kayak has two storage compartments in the center and rear
- It is made of durable polyethylene.
- The seat back is adjustable and padded
- Some buyers had issues with the packaging.
Lifetime Tamarack 100 has received stellar reviews online being one of the most popular models out there. It is one of the highest rated models on our list too. We personally love the fact that it offers comfort to the riders like no other models on the market within this price range. The seat is padded and the footrest possibilities are multiple. In a nutshell, the vessel is an excellent choice that deserves to be the best kayak for beginners.
02 Runner-Up: Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak
We all look for kayaks that are stable in water and look good. The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame is much like a hard-shell boat that can protect you from falling in water. There are many highlights of this model. Firstly, it is made in such a way that it resembles an inflatable kayak. It is compact and lightweight. As we mentioned, it is as portable and lightweight as an inflatable.
Secondly, it has a padded seat which gives you comfort for hours. Paddling is no longer uncomfortable and the credit goes to the padded seat. Three layers of material have been used for puncture resistance. Take it in rough waters or the calm ones, and you will still get a companion which does not leave you in tough situations.
How to set it up? It is easy since it comes factory assembled. All you need to do is unpack, inflate it and then put the seat on it. Voila! It is ready for use and you can deflate it after finishing the kayaking session.
- Type – Inflatable
- Setup – Easy
- Weight – 36 pounds
- Members – 1
- Seat – Adjustable, padded
- It is easy to set up
- It is lightweight and portable
- It has a tough bottom and overall exterior
- It is made of three layers which makes it puncture-resistant.
- The air chambers may leak
- It may be expensive for some buyers
Overall, Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame has received many five star ratings but there have been occasions when the air chambers leak. After re-inflation, the vessel works flawlessly on water. It is lightweight, portable but the price may seem high for some buyers. If you invest in this model, it would be for the durability, easy setup and portability.
03 For Kids: Lifetime 90479 Youth Wave (6 ft)
Kids always look for trouble. When you tell them not to do a particular activity, they would still run towards adventure. Well, don’t put your kids on a leash and let them enjoy kayaking. Buy this kid’s choice and let them enjoy a Sunday in the pond, lake or river. Of course, parental guidance is always a necessity.
Lifetime 90479 comes in a bright neon orange color and instantly catches the attention. It can carry the weight of an individual who is below 130 lbs. Its length is 6 ft which makes it perfect for kids to sit and paddle around.
Additionally, it only weighs 18 lbs and is easy to store in the corner of your backyard. You can even take it along for trips and longer excursions. Your kids will love this kayak for its color and stability. There are multiple positions for a footrest. The highlight of this raft is that there is a swim-up step through which the child can climb on the boat again after falling without any difficulty.
- Height/Length of the kayak – 6 ft
- Weight – 18 lbs
- Weight it can hold – Up to 130 lbs
- Color – Orange
- Warranty – 5-Year Limited
- It has a swim-up step which allows you to get back on the boat easily.
- It has a reverse chine.
- It comes with a 5-year limited warranty
- It is priced reasonably
- It weighs only 18 lbs and is easy to transport
- It requires a lot of paddling
Lifetime 90479 has received great reviews on Amazon. There was an odd comment left by an adult, who mentioned that the boat is meant for kids only. That is precisely the reason why the boat measures 6 ft. The only drawback that we gathered was that it requires a lot of paddling. Lifetime 90479 is great in terms of looks, efficiency, and even comfort. The most amazing part is that it can track really well and doesn’t tip over easily!
04 Good Value for Money: SevylorQuikpak K1 1-Person
Looking for a cheap deal? A top-notch choice does not have to be the most expensive one. If you are just getting started, look for something which fits your budget. Of course, in case your budget allows you to buy a much more expensive kayak, you can choose any from this list.
Sevylor Quikpak K1 is pocket-friendly and just takes 5 minutes to be set up. The highlight is that you can carry it in a backpack. The PVC construction is durable and it also has a tarpaulin bottom. This means that the vessel will be safe from getting punctures.
When people think of inflatable kayaks, they believe that it will not be comfortable. This single person model has a backrest for taking care of your back. The footrest has multiple positions and the boat has several air chambers. If one chamber gets deflated, the other will stay firm and inflated. So, how much is this? Well, under $200, it’s hard to beat it.
- Setup – 5 minutes
- Air chamber – multiple
- Members – Ideal for 1 member
- Type – Inflatable
- Storage area – Yes
- It has several air chambers
- It is an inflatable kayak which you can carry with you for camps and trips
- There is a storage area for all your belongings
- It is good for one member
- It is affordable
- The customer service of the company is not helpful
For the price you pay, Sevylor Quikpak K1 is quite a steal! This all around model is ideal for backpackers or anyone who is going for a long tour. You can carry your kayak in a backpack and inflate it whenever you like. It has many positives but we found some quality compromises. Also, customer care service needs to be more responsive. Overall, it is worth the price that you pay for it.
05 For Recreation: Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top
Wish to see the sunrise on a sunrise kayak? Wish granted! It comes in a sunrise color and is the prettiest kayak you have ever seen. Ocean Kayak Frenzy’s USP is stable and behaves like a child on the turf but is a civil boat on calm waters. There is a TRI-Form hull which amalgamates secondary and primary stability.
There are side handles for carrying the boat easily. As for storage, there is a tank well where you can place the food and other objects. You may be heavy or light, it supports any body type. There is no discrimination here! The looks of the kayak remind you of Mexicans! It is as colorful and bright as the people and their buildings!
Ocean Kayak Frenzy’s seat can be adjusted four ways making it the easiest kayak to paddle all day long without any stress. The double-bladed paddle smoothly wades through water. Priced decently, but some buyers may find it expensive as compared to other listed options here. Reviewers mentioned that this boat is stable and it can hold tight even when there is a rapid coming towards you. All in all, this is a good deal!
- Type – Sit-on top
- Product weight – 44 pounds
- Capacity – 325 lbs
- Dimensions – 108 in x 31 in x 18 in
- Ideal for – 1 rider
- This is highly stable on the water
- It is pleasing to the eyes with a sunrise color and design
- It is lightweight and durable
- It can hold up to 325 pounds
- It tracks very well
- It does not come with paddles
Other than the fact that Ocean Kayak Frenzy does not come with paddles, it is a hit among all the existing buyers! You can take this baby out for a ride and expect a stable and happy kayaking session. We love this boat for its stability and ability to track well. Overall, we think it looks great and is fantastic in the water. Some reviewers mentioned about the pleasant experiences, even in high tides.
06 For Lake Water: Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot
Buying a kayak can be a daunting task. You need to keep a checklist with you all of all the factors we mentioned. This particular boat fits the bill because it has excellent features. Firstly, it is lightweight and is made of a durable PVC material. It has a tarpaulin bottom, which keeps it free from punctures.
If adventure is on your mind, consider purchasing this 12ft vessel as it is great for those who like to go on a rafting trip. Since it is a durable option, it can last longer even after hitting a few rapids.
Whether it is rough or calm water, the tarpaulin bottom and the durable sides will keep this kayak shipshape. It weighs only 28 lbs which means you can carry it anywhere you like without any stress.
The good news is that an adult and one child can fit into this boat. If you are looking for a kayak that allows you to go on adventures and lets you take your family along, then this kayak is meant for you! It should be fine for a starter to intermediate user.
It comes with aluminum paddles, a deluxe hand pump, a travel bag, a repair kit, and rear tracking. The inflation times are roughly less than 10 minutes. Also, it is compact and you can take it along with you for excursions. This can actually be a nice gift for any fisherman.
- Members – 2 Adults, 1 Child
- Weight – 28 pounds
- Type – Inflatable
- Time is taken to inflate – Less than 10 minutes
- Capacity – 600 lbs
- Pressure – Floor (6 PSI) and Side Tubes (3 PSI)
- This is an inflatable boat
- It weighs only 28 pounds
- This is ideal for two adults and one child
- It is stylish and durable
- This is great for rafting and other rough water situations
- It comes with aluminum paddles
- It is expensive
- The owner manual should be elaborate
If you have a family and little kids and wondering– which kayak is best for me? Well, Sun Dolphin has your back. You can easily go out for a kayak session with your dog or a child. Sometimes, the great company can matter and that’s why this kayak is ideal for that. Yes, it is expensive but it is letting you take two extra people. Also, the brand needs to give a much more elaborate manual. We would rate this boat excellent for its durability, style factor, adventure streak, and even the space factor.
07 Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak
This watercraft is ideal for those who are looking for style and efficiency. The Sun Dolphin ARUBA is a 10-foot kayak. It is a sit-in style that keeps you safe from falling or even getting wet. Show it off to your friends because the aqua-colored kayak is pleasing to the eyes. It sure is on the expensive side but its beauty is worth a million bucks!
Let us cut to the chase and tell you about the performance and features. It has an airy and large cockpit which allows you to sit in comfortably. The foot braces are adjustable and the seating is highly comfortable. It keeps your back in a good position and you do not feel the discomfort.
It is available in six colors, which give you enough options to choose from. The highlight is that there are carrying handles and the seat is adjustable. This is made for total comfort for the user. If you are a water-enthusiast, you will love this though the price may seem high for some of the beginners.
- Height – 10 ft
- Color – Blue
- Weight – 40 pounds
- PAC – Yes
- Thigh pads – Yes
- Type – Sit-in kayak
- It is a sit-in kayak with adjustable seating
- It weighs 40 pounds, which is easy to carry and store
- It is stylish and comes in a range of colors
- It has a gear storage
- The foot braces are adjustable
- The cockpit is large and airy
- It is expensive
- Some buyers did not receive the paddle
There are no major issues with this quality raft. The only issue people had was the cost. Ideally, this model is giving everything that a good kayak needs to have. The first and foremost reason is that it is high on style and does not even weigh too much. Wearing the right outfit you can cruise around in the calm and wavy waters. The 10 ft kayak is ideal and has comfortable seating. The makers can revise the price for prospective buyers.
08 Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak
Say hello to the Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 which looks rugged from the outside and that’s precisely what you can expect it to be on the water. This versatile vessel is good for rivers and lakes! Even if there are turbulences, your kayak will give you a smooth ride. If fishing is on your mind, consider investing in SUN Dolphin excursion 10 is built for the same.
We love that it is easy to carry because it is lightweight. It may look tough from the exteriors but is super lightweight! Most buyers look for the lightweight feature because they want something which is easy to store and carry. Paddling is easy and so is tracking! The boat is made for being stable on water without causing any disruption.
This multi purpose model has a storage compartment where you can keep your precious objects. Ticks all the boxes in terms of rigging, protective and efficient thigh pads, paddle holder, water holder and foot braces (adjustable). Let us take a look at the specs and pros/cons.
- Type – Sit-in
- Weight – 41 pounds
- Ideal for – River and Lake expeditions
- Height – 10 ft
- Storage – Yes
- It is easy to carry
- It has a storage compartment
- It looks good from the outside
- It is ideal for rivers and lakes
- Paddling and tracking is easy
- It is on the expensive side
- The bottom of the seat is hard
If you are new to kayaking and considering a one-time investment, then think about this option. This vessel falls in the 10 ft range and this ticks all boxes. Overall, we appreciate the easy tracking and paddling. Reviewers mentioned that it is stable on the water. We will give this all purpose model a thumbs up!
09 Old Town Kayaks Dirigo 106 from Scubapro
If you want a vessel that scores full points in terms of looks and gives you a swift ride, then Old Town Dirigo 106 is a decent purchase. This is probably the shortest yet great for stability. It has enough storage inside and the thigh pads are of easy-grip. This is easier to control than a canoe in calm water situations.
When you sit on this kayak, you will get the comfort of sitting in your car. It has a cup holder and a glove box which is waterproof in nature. You can keep your phone, keys and other belongings here. Old Town Dirigo 106 weighs 42 pounds and the height is 10 ft 6 inches.
And the hull has a lifetime warranty. We absolutely love the easy paddling ride and it is built by the oldest makers. They have been making kayaks for centuries and this one seems like a good bet too!
- Weight – 42 lbs
- Warranty – Lifetime warranty on hull
- Type – Sit-in kayak
- Height – 10 ft 6 inches
- Thigh pad – Yes (easy grip)
- This created by the oldest kayak makers
- It is stylish and has a solid build
- The hull comes with a lifetime warranty
- It is great for tall riders
- It gives you all the comfort that you would find in a car
- It is expensive
Surprisingly, it did not receive any negative reviews. However, the price can be high for most people. Since the brand is well-known and they use the finest material to create the kayak, you can expect a good ride. If you want a stable and authentic kayaking experience, this model does the job. It ticks all the boxes but the price is towards the expensive side. No wonder why it is on our list of best kayaks for beginners.
10 SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 8-Feet
This model comes in blue color and it is a stylish addition to your backyard or your private pond or lake. It has a removable portable accessory carrier. This is where you can keep your essentials. It has an electronic console, which can hold up to 250 pounds.
We personally love that it is a sit-in kayak and has a bottle holder and a paddle. You can even choose from different colors, such as red, green, and orange. It has a height of 10 feet and the seating is highly comfortable. When you are in this kayak, forget your worries because this will keep you safe.
Its foot braces are adjustable. There are some odd and negative reviews, but it is a great hit among kids. In case you are taller, there can be trouble getting inside the kayak. Another drawback is that it has many sharp edges which could be problematic. However, if you want a kayak that looks great and gives you a good leisurely ride then this one’s an ideal choice.
- Height – 10 ft
- Color – Ocean
- Type – Sit-in
- Seating – Comfortable, padded
- Color options – Yes
- Carrier – Yes, PAC
- It has a removable accessory carrier
- It weighs less which makes it compact
- It has an electronic console (hands-free)
- The looks are appealing
- It has a water bottle holder
- The cockpit is tight
- There are sharp edges all over the boat
- It is expensive
Buyers always seek a stylish design and cool features offered at a low price point when they look for the best beginners’ kayak. This one has it all except the price. Also, the sharp edges and tight cockpit could be troublesome for the adults and the kids. We love the fact that it has a storage gear and is sturdy on water. If you invest in this watercraft, it has to be for the durability, sturdiness, looks and the storage aspect.
Some famed brands and popular models
During our research we came across tons of renowned brands and their popular models. Let’s name some of them so that you can have a look when carrying out any further market research: No Limits (popular model- Explorer 10,
- Ocean Kayak Venus 10 Sit-On-Top Kayak for Women
- Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 Kayak
- SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Foot Sit-in Kayak
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.
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!