Choosing something new for the very first time is never easy, not except for beginner kayaks.
More and more, there are countless designs, shapes, and colorways to meet the deepest demands and requirements of each rider. But at the same time, it’s overwhelming to novice kayakers.
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Check out my ultimate buying guide where I’ve already jotted down some key-core elements to consider when choosing a good one. And as a bonus, are some best kayaks for beginners that are picked by many experts.
Top 7 Best Kayak For Beginners Reviews in 2021
Sevylor Quikpak K1
First off in this collection is the best overall kayak for any new riders to step into the kayaking world. It’s integrated all needed features for an ideal beginner boat:
Inflatable design and also the lightest, smallest model in this list to easily transport. When in need, it just takes you around 5-7 minutes to set up everything.
While the airtight system with double lock valves is guaranteed from leaking, what I love the most is its construction contains many air chambers. That helps to prevent deflating and sunk in the worst case if one is torn.
Regardless, its rugged 21-gauge PVC material combined with durable tarpaulin bottom provides extra protection to drag from/to the water with no punctures.
However, it doesn’t mean that the boat will stay intact against sharp rocks. My suggestion is to use it in lakes or calm rivers only.
The backrest is another bonus because comfort is an essential thing that any rider will ask for, especially if you intend to spend a long time on the water. In this Sevylor kayak, it allows you to lean back and find the most suitable footrest to sit joyfully during the ride.
Lifetime 10 Foot
(Best Tandem Sit-On Kayak)
Contrast to the Quikpak, this Lifetime Kayak is a solid model that might require you an extra car mount for transporting. But due to its moderate length (10 feet) and weight (60 lbs.), I find no disturbance at all. Even, there are two rear carry handles to helpfully lift the boat up or take it down off the car.
Conversely, hard plastic material and tunnel hull design give me extra stability and tracking to reliably ride on the water.
My favorite part is two ultra-soft seats with backrests that I can remove or fold down when not in use.
In this model, you’ve got two to take one more person along or carry more stuff. But that’s the later story when you gain more experience to join more watery activities. For beginners, it’s good to handle your food and drinks.
If you’re a kayaker who loves staying dry, I bet the “high and dry” seating design of this boat will drive you insane. But take note that only ride it in calm waters with less wind because such this type of kayak will be prone to catch waves and wind to cause some wobbles.
Ah, like the Quikpak, you will also receive two-sided paddles which are quite easy to use and lightweight.
Sevylor Coleman Colorado
(Best Fishing Kayak)
Like its previous Sevylor sibling, Colorado features an inflatable construction that you can deflate and store or transport easily.
Take a glance and you will find out some similarities between the two models. For examples, the 18-gauge PVC construction with airtight system and multiple air chambers.
But because this is more about a fishing kayak, there are some additional features, such as the adjustable Berkley Quick Set Rod Holders, the paddle holders, the D-rings, and the mesh storage pockets.
What draw my attention to this product in the first place is the material. The whole boat is covered with heavy-duty 840D nylon pairing with 1000D tarpaulin bottom.
For beginners, this is the biggest bonus because of its extreme durability and wear resistance to withstand months of abusing when you’re learning how to kayak.
And, it’s good to know that the two provided seats are easy to remove or adjust so if you want to solo, 5 minutes are enough to change your seat to the middle for better balancing.
About the length, I would say it’s acceptable for an adult to handle easily in calm water, like lakes or rivers.
The only consequence of a more convenient beginner kayak is its costlier price. But it’s really worthy! Therefore, I will recommend for fishers who have just changed to fishing kayak or those who intend to stick their life to this interesting outdoor activity.
Ocean Kayak Malibu
(Best Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak)
Constructed as a hard-shell tandem sit-on-top kayak, the Malibu is like a “cousin” of Lifetime. But in this case, the hull design doesn’t feature a tunnel shape. Instead, it is more rounded at the bow that tracks true to handle the wind quite well.
That’s why I would like to recommend it for both freshwater and ocean adventures.
Another highlight in this Ocean kayak is its three seating positions with two Comfort Plus seats to vary your paddling style: Solo, Tandem, or Tandem with a furry friend or child.
Combining with 4-way adjustability, they allow you to find the most comfortable position to sit and enjoy the kayaking trip, no matter how long it will take. One thing that I found better in this model is its superior slip prevention.
Also, there is a skid plate aside from two molded-in paddles that you will find in this set.
Despite a small component, I quite like its bow/stern toggle handles which allow me to easily drag the boat from/to the water while the Lifetime doesn’t.
Due to the extra cockpit space and its great stability, I suggest this kayak for family use or a group of friends if that’s what you are looking for at the beginning.
SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Excursion
(Best Sit-In Kayak)
The very first sit-in kayak in this list.
Sun Dolphin Excursion, featuring a solid construction, emphasizes with its UV-stabilized Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene material. This interesting element brings up two biggest advantages:
- Ultra-lightness (only 41 lbs.)
- Longer lasting after years of use and abuse compared to other kayaks.
Hence, aside from being a good choice for beginners, this is also a favorite pick of fishers as well.
In fact, it’s integrated many functional components to serve for this purpose of use, such as one swivel rod holder, two flush mount rod holders, and one paddle holder. Besides, is a moderate cargo at the bow with a lid and shock cord deck rigging to keep everything dry and secure.
From my experience, the Excursion is quite easy to climb in, paddle, turn, and get off with decent stability. It also doesn’t catch as much wind as the SOT kayaks, which is a big thumb up.
However, I still recommend riding in calm waters only for the best safety.
Perception Pescador Pro
(Most User-Friendly Kayak)
The Pescador Pro is my next option as a sit-on-top kayak for beginner kayak fishers.
The very first compliment is no installing hardware, cutting, or drilling required that you can try it right out of the package. The only thing you need to do is adjust the seatback to lean backward or forward for comfort.
About the rest, like mounting fishing rod holders, paddle holders, or water bottle holder, they needn’t.
There are two outstanding things about this kayak making me really rest assured:
- The one-piece roto-molded construction that can resist UV rays, impact, saltwater corrosion, and abrasion efficiently
- The U.S. Coast Guard-compliant hull identification number for safety guarantee
The best thing is its SOT design keeps me drier than other counterparts in this field. It’s a big thank you to the sleek, fast and smooth hull which does a great job on covering lots of water with minimal water.
Another compliment for the boat’s stability. Even when you’re standing on it, there’s no insecure feel of capsizing or tipping over. That excellent performance not only works on flat water like lakes or rivers but also on slow-moving flows or light waves as well.
The only pity is no Pescador Paddles included in this set while they are really awesome in control and maneuverability. So, if your budget is loose, I highly recommend purchasing these accessories. No regret for sure!
Wilderness Systems Tarpon
(Most Versatile Kayak)
Last up, is a SOT kayak from Wilderness Systems and it’s also the most versatile boat in this list that can handle any paddling environments.
The biggest selling point of Tarpon 100 is its unique multi-chine hull flare that delivers unparalleled tracking and stability. Notably, it still handles decent response and speed that you can take this baby to surf, play, or race.
One thing that I bet all fishers will appreciate is the ergonomically designed Phase 3® AirPro seating system with high-back padded backrest. It allows you to easily and quickly adjust both seat and leg position to find the best support and comfort when fishing.
With an intuitive design and moderately large cockpit, it also accepts various body sizes. Hence, heavy anglers can take this into consideration.
On top of that, this vessel is 100% made in the USA so it ensures the quality, at least in my standard.
The Ultimate Guide To Choosing Best Kayak For Beginners In 2019
To me, the type should be a priority when choosing a kayak because each of them has specific strength and weakness to cater to different uses.
Nowadays, there are 7 major types of kayaks:
- Sit-on-top (SOT)
- White water
For beginners, I advise you to pick the SOT kayaks for two good reasons: Stability (due to its wider base) and Ease to get in/out of the boat (because of open cockpit design). Otherwise, it’s also comfortable to place your legs and roomy to take a child, dog along with your kayaking trip.
Another option for novice kayakers is sit-in kayaks which are usually used in cold weather – something that a SOT boat can’t do.
It’s also a favorite choice of those who don’t like their gear and themselves getting wet. In general, this kind of boat gives you more ease in mind against wind and waves thanks to its spray skirt and a lower center of gravity. Also, it’s very easy to paddle.
Once you gain more experience, try other types of the kayak to fit your specific demands, while racing, white water, or fishing.
The second consideration is material.
This feature will nearly affect every aspect of your kayak, especially:
- How it rides in the water
- The cost
- How heavy it is
For beginners, I recommend choosing the lightweight, durable, and affordable kind of material.
“Lightweight” because it should be portable and easy to transport. “Durable” to withstand the abuse and punishment you’re about to put it through during a learning curve. And finally, “affordable” to save your bank.
Actually, this time, it’s considered wasteful to invest in a too expensive kayak because there are too many functional features for a beginner to fully exploit fully.
That’s why out of 7 common kinds of material for kayaks, including:
- Carbon fiber
- ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene)
- Hard plastic
- Fabric with a frame
I only suggest two which are ABS and polyethylene. But also take note of their specific weaknesses.
For example, polyethylene is prone to puncture when running into a sharp rock and it’s also susceptible to UV rays.
About ABS, it’s better in UV resistance, weight, and some other mechanical aspects, but equivalently, the price will go up.
Length, Width, & Depth
Now are the length, width, and depth, each of which will relate to some factors.
For example, the length will affect the tracking ability, speed, and transporting ability of your boat. Width is the decisive element of ease to get in/out of the boat as well as its stability. And last up, depth will relate to leg room and space.
There’s no optimal choice here because each will deliver some specific advantage and consequence. Or, in other words, a tradeoff!
Long story shorts, is all in this table.
Weight, Portability, & Storage
Whichever type of kayaks you’re going to choose, make sure it’s lightweight and collapsible.
An inflatable kayak meets both these factors while keeping superior strength and durability to handles waves as good as the solid models. That’s why it’s always a favorite choice of 90% beginner kayakers.
Not to mention that it’s much cheaper than other types of kayak and easier to transport.
You have heard me talk many times about starting with an affordable kayak. But how much is considered “affordable”?
Well, in the market, the price of a kayak is varied within $150 to $2500. And for beginners, the range of $150-$1000 is reasonable.
Last but not least, is choosing a reliable brand. Since you’re still an amateur in kayaks, don’t be too risky on unknown or new brands. At least, careful searching is highly recommended.
To give more free time on your hands, here are some well-known kayak brands based on my experience and other expert advice:
- Sun Dolphin
1. What is the best type of kayak for a beginner?
Out of many kayak types, the sit-on-top model is the best choice for beginners because of three major reasons:
- Superior stability
- Ease to get in/out of the boat
Besides, the sit-in kayaks are also worth considering based on their:
- Better performance in cold weather
- Keep riders and their gear dry
- Stay stable in waves and wind.
2. Are sit on top kayaks more stable?
Yes, they are.
It’s because of the wider base, SOT kayaks are considered more stable for beginners to ride on.
3. What length of kayak do I need?
If you’re a beginner, I highly recommend choosing 6.5 to 10 feet. Otherwise, 11+-foot kayaks are a good choice for advanced kayakers.
Selecting the very first kayak is truly a big step because it will influence your experience, enjoyment, and how quick to learn kayaking. Overall, two solid things you should take into consideration are Durability and Stability.
With all information, tips, and suggested options I’ve just shared you above, hopefully, they help you to figure out the best beginner kayak. Thanks for reading!