Kayaking is a fun way to get outdoors and explore the different bodies of water that surround us. It is a relatively easy watersport, once you get the hang of it, that is. For an experienced kayaker, the skill of paddling and balancing a kayak seem like second nature. However, those of you who are new to kayaking know how difficult it can be to balance and maneuver a kayak. Like all sports, kayaking takes some time and practice to build your skillset, but the type of kayak you choose can also make your learning experience much easier. There are certain aspects of a kayak, such as design and construction, that give a beginner a little help on the water.
For those of you kayak rookies who desire a kayak of your very own, you want to make sure that the kayak you get accommodates your experience level. In other words, you will want to purchase a good kayak for beginners. Yet with the hundreds of kayaks on the market and a wide range of kayaking features, this may seem like a daunting task; so, how do you go about figuring out what features are right for a beginner like you?
To help make this process easier for you, we have compiled a buying guide that tells you how to buy a kayak for beginners, as well as what features to look for to find a good beginner kayak. Stay tuned to the end of the guide to find out which kayaks on the market we deem the best beginner kayaks.
There are many types of recreational kayaks for beginners in stores and online to choose from. Some types pertain to the body of water you choose to kayak on, while others are distinguished by the material they are made of.
Each kayak is designed specifically, having a specific shape or added features, to perform well in certain waters.
A sea kayak usually has a slim, narrow design that sometimes includes an upturned bow. Such design helps the kayak cut through and maneuver in the ocean currents and waves.
A whitewater kayak is made to withstand the wear and tear of the rapids. They are made of a material durable enough to endure bumps from hidden rocks in the river waters. The design of whitewater kayaks , such as the shape of the hull, provide speed and quick turning ability, which gives the kayaker an advantage in the fast paced, whitewater currents.
Lake and pond kayaks sometimes have a wider base than sea kayaks to provide balance and stability on the water. However, such a wide base makes this kayak slower on the water.
Sit-on-top kayaks are self-explanatory; like their name states, you sit on top of the kayak in a molded-in impression. Such an open design makes it easy to get in and out of, both on and off the water.
In a sit-inside kayak, you sit inside of a cockpit. In this type of kayak, you sit closer to the water and are better protected from the elements, such as wind and water.
An inflatable kayak is made of, you guessed it, an inflatable, plastic material. Inflatable kayaks are the best type of kayak for beginners because they are often cheaper than hard shell kayaks, and are very stable on the water.
However, because they are at risk of being punctured and deflated, they are not as durable as hard shell kayaks. A hard shell is made of either a hard plastic or fiberglass material, which makes them quite durable. They have a slimmer design than most inflatable kayaks, and therefore can gain more speed on the water. However, they are harder to balance than inflatable kayaks, which makes maneuvering them a bit trickier.
If you like to fish, but are new to kayaking, there is a kayak out there for you. Fishing kayaks can come in the variety of types such as a regular, recreational kayak, but have additional features, such as extra storage and rod holders, to aid in your fishing experience. To learn more about fishing kayaks, you can find our informational buying guide to fishing kayaks here.
If you are looking to enjoy a relaxing, peaceful kayaking trip in solitude, you will want to choose a single person kayak. If you want the fun of kayaking with a partner, opt for a tandem kayak. Just know that kayaking in a tandem kayak with a partner can be harder than kayaking solo; not only are tandem kayaks longer and larger, and therefore harder to maneuver, but you must also synchronize your paddling with your partner.
As mentioned above, the type of water you want to kayak on will dictate the type of kayak you will want to buy. Consider what types of bodies of water are most common in your area. If you live near the ocean, you will probably get the most use out of an ocean kayak. If you are like me and are surrounded by lakes and slow rivers, then you will want to opt for a recreational kayak that performs well on flat bodies of water.
As with anything you buy, price and quality are important aspects to consider. Because you are a beginner, you probably do not want to spend a lot of money on an activity you are only just gaining interest in. Do not worry; you do not have to spend half a thousand dollars on a kayak. There are many affordable options, one of the most affordable being an inflatable kayak. However, cheaper kayaks, such as inflatable kayaks, might not last you as long as a higher priced hard shell kayak would. Not to say you cannot find an affordable and good quality kayak; there are plenty of them on the market, you just have to do your research.
You will likely want to have the most comfortable, hassle-free kayaking experience possible. Even in affordable, beginner-level kayaks you can find features that provide comfort and convenience. For comfortability, look for kayaks that have padded seats, supportive backrests, and adjustable footrests.
If convenience is important to you, consider handy features such as easily accessible storage compartments and carrying handles.
You want to make sure you have room in your house or apartment to store your kayak, as well as a car that can carry and support it during transport. Hard shell kayaks require a large storage space and either sturdy car racks or a large truck bed to transport. For those of you who are short in storage space, or do not have room in your budget to invest in car racks, an inflatable kayak may be the kayak for you.
Not only are inflatable kayaks great for beginners thanks to their stability on the water and low price tag, but they are extremely efficient and convenient when it comes to transportation and storage. They are lightweight, making them easy to transport and carry. They can deflate and be folded into a compact package that takes up little storage space. When collapsed, inflatable kayaks can fit in your trunk and easily transported to the water. The only downside to inflatable kayaks is they take some time to set up and inflate and they are susceptible to punctures if you ever hit a rock.
Because you are new to kayaking, you will want to find kayaks that have features that make your kayaking experience easy on the water. For you, finding a kayak that is stable and easy to balance is key. If you think an inflatable kayak is up your alley, look for those that have extra support features to help you balance, such as inflatable I beams. If you are considering a hard shell kayak, know that the wider the base, the more stable the kayak.
Good maneuverability is another key aspect any beginner will need in a kayak, for steering a kayak can be tricky. Some kayaks have a skeg that provides good tracking ability and helps you better control your kayak.
Now that you have a better idea of what features you want in your kayak, it is time to pick the right one for you.
The best beginner fishing kayak on the market is the Lifetime Hydros Angler Kayak. If you love to fish, and want to try your hand at fishing from a kayak, then you certainly want to look into this kayak. It is a single person, hard shell fishing kayak that has the stability and maneuverability needed by a beginner. In addition to its good tracking capabilities, it has a multi-tunnel hull provides you with good balance while paddling.
This fishing kayak also provides comfort as you paddle and fish thanks to its spacious legroom and multi-position footrest. In addition to its features that make your kayaking experience enjoyable, the Lifetime Hydros Angler Kayak has fishing-specific features come in handy as you fish. It has shock cord rigging for storage, two flush rod holders, and one adjustable, mounted rod holder. This kayak will give you both an enjoyable kayak ride and a handy fishing experience.
If you desire a good quality, affordable kayak that does well on calm rivers, then the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is right up your alley. This single person, inflatable kayak is one of the most durable inflatable kayaks on the market; it is made of a strong, vinyl material that can withstand the bumps and scrapes of a slow river. It is a great river kayak for beginners because it provides stability on the water. This kayak’s I-beam construction provides stability, making it easy to balance on a moving water. It also has a removable skeg to aid in maneuverability, making it easier to turn against the river current. The best part is that, due to its inflatable and lightweight nature, the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak can be deflated into a light, compact package that is easy to store and transport. It offers beginners great convenience and quality at a price that will not break your budget. To read a more in depth review of this amazing river kayak, click here.
The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Sit in Kayak is one of the best beginner ocean kayaks available these days. Not only can it take on the ocean waters, but it performs well in lakes and slow rivers, too. It is a single person hard shell kayak that has a roomy cockpit, comfortable thigh pads, and a widely shaped hull and base that provides some stability on the choppy ocean waters. One of the best aspects of this kayak is its light weight. Though it is a sturdy, hard shell kayak, the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Sit in Kayak is only 40 pounds, making it easy to lift, carry, and transport. Better yet, this kayak is budget friendly as far as hard shell kayaks go. With good quality, stability, and comfortability, this versatile sea kayak has all the qualities any beginner needs to have fun on the ocean waves. To read more about this sea kayak, click here.
The Advanced Elements Attack Whitewater Kayak is a great beginner kayak for those of you looking to take on the exciting whitewater rapids. This single person kayak is inflatable, offering convenient transport and storage, as well as an reasonable price tag. It has a durable PVC tarpaulin hull that can withstand the bumps and fast pace of the rapids. Welded seams and a self bailing hull provide additional quality. For storage of your gear and dry bag, this whitewater kayak has an easily accessible covered cargo bay. Its adjustable seat provides personalized comfort as you sail down the roaring river.
If you are interested in a good, beginner, sit-on-top kayak, the Malibu Two Ocean Kayak is a great choice. With its two padded seats and additional seating well, this hard shell kayak can accommodate three passengers, making it a great kayak for families new to kayaking. Its open, sit-on-top design makes it easy to get in and out of. Its self-bailing cock pit keeps the kayak from getting water logged, in addition to providing the stability needed by beginner kayakers. Though it is on the pricier side, its durable polyethylene material and solid construction can withstand the wear and tear of the water, making it well worth the investment. This sit-on-top, recreational kayak performs well on a variety of waters and provides quality, stability, and comfortability that will suit any beginner family looking for some fun on the water. To read a more in depth review of the Malibu Two Ocean Kayak, click here.
Kayaking is a relaxing and fun water sport. Now that you have made the decision to experience it for yourself, all you need is the right kayak. Though there are many options on the market for a beginner like you, you can easily narrow it down by deciding which kayak features are important to you. Hopefully our beginners buying guide helped you figure out what you want in your recreational kayak. Now it is time to take the plunge, invest in a kayak of your very own, and get out on the water. Happy shopping!