What are the Best Kayaks for Beginners of 2019?

Thinking of adding kayaking to your list of watersports to try out in 2019? Embarking on a new adventure is always exciting—but first you need the right gear. With plenty of models which vary in size and design, deciding which kayak to buy can be intimidating.

Whether you’re looking to go for long jaunts or simply want to paddle to a picnic destination, you want a kayak designed to help build your confidence in your new hobby. We’ve decided to research some of the best kayaks for beginners. With the right one you can make your new boating experience that much more pleasurable.

Deciding to start this new water sport is the first step: choosing the right one is the next. Where do you begin with your search? Have a look at our top picks below and stop wondering what are the best kayaks for beginners.

Top 5 Comparison Chart

Old Town Dirigo 106 Recreational Kayak, Black Cherry, 10 Feet 6 Inches
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak, Envy, 12 Feet
AIRHEAD MONTANA Kayak, 1 person
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle
Old Town Dirigo 106 Recreational Kayak, Black Cherry, 10 Feet 6 Inches
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak, Envy, 12 Feet
AIRHEAD MONTANA Kayak, 1 person
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle
Old Town Dirigo 106 Recreational Kayak, Black Cherry, 10 Feet 6 Inches
Old Town Dirigo 106 Recreational Kayak, Black Cherry, 10 Feet 6 Inches
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak, Envy, 12 Feet
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak, Envy, 12 Feet
AIRHEAD MONTANA Kayak, 1 person
AIRHEAD MONTANA Kayak, 1 person
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle

Our Reviews of the Best Kayaks for Beginners​

​1. ​Old Town Canoes and Kayaks Dirigo 106 Recreational Kayak

Old Town Dirigo 106 Recreational Kayak, Black Cherry, 10 Feet 6 Inches

Review

Short kayaks are much easier for beginners to navigate, which is why this a great option for any new kayaker who doesn’t have much experience. Not only is it great for beginners, but the short length makes it much easier to navigate in tight areas. Advanced kayakers will also appreciate how easy the kayak is to control, as it doesn’t take a lot of effort to paddle or to turn the kayak.

The contoured cushioned seat is designed to offer plenty of comfort, even when users spend long days in the kayak. There is a glide track foot brace, which is designed to allow users to brace themselves so that they can easily control the kayak without problems. When in calm waters, users can easily rely on the thigh pads to control the Dirigo 106 and take some of the pressure off of using the paddle.

With a 300-pound capacity, easy-to-use carrying handles, and a durable hull, this kayak is designed to go anywhere without problems. The molded cup holder can be used to hold a drink or keep a phone close at hand, and the waterproof storage ensures that the user’s keys, wallet, or phone won’t be damaged, even in bad weather. Unlike other kayaks that sacrifice comfort for utility, this kayak is the perfect combination of both, making it a great choice for any kayaker who wants a comfortable ride that is easy to control.

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PROS

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    ​Incredibly short design makes it easy to maneuver.
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    ​Stern hatch has enough storage for users to bring items along with them for the day.
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    ​Thigh pads are easy to grip and allow for perfect control when used in calm waters.

CONS

  • ​Not ideal for fast rivers or use in rapids.

2. ​Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-on-Top Recreational Kayak

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak, Envy, 12 Feet

Review

Tandem kayaks are a great way to enjoy getting out on the water with another person, but the kayak has to be able to easily support the weight of both people, no matter their size. This kayak boasts an impressive weight limit, making it a great choice for two adults to ride together, but is also a great option for solo rides, for a parent to use with a child, or even for bringing along a pet.

Thanks to the use of comfort plus seats, users are able to easily adjust their seats for a custom fit, which helps ensure that they won’t slip out of their seat when on the water. Thanks to the four-way adjustability of these seats, a wide variety of people can easily share these kayaks without feeling that they are going to be unsafe when on the water.

There are included gear straps on the kayak that make it easy to store and bring along any gear that you want access to on the go. Not only are the straps easy to use and tighten, but they offer plenty of security and won’t come loose when on the water. There are not only handles for carrying the kayak located on the sides, but also on the bow and stern, which offers great control when maneuvering in tight spaces.

The open cockpit of this kayak doesn’t feel confining, which makes it a great option for kayakers who tend to feel a bit claustrophobic when riding in traditional kayaks. Even though riders sit on top, the super-stable hull provides a very stable and safe ride.

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PROS

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    ​Features an impressive maximum capacity of 425 pounds.
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    ​Sit-on-top hull is open and makes it very easy to get on and off.
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    ​Overlapping foot wells make it possible to easily brace feet on the sides for control and comfort.

CONS

  • ​Drain holes tend to let in a bit more water then we'd like.
  • ​Handles aren’t as durable as on other models.

​3. ​Airhead Montana Kayak

AIRHEAD MONTANA Kayak, 1 person

Review

This kayak is designed for a one-person adventure since it has only one seat. It’s inflatable and suitable for lakes and moderate white water.

If you’re looking for a lightweight boat you might like this compact kayak which weighs only 27.7 lbs.

Comfort has to be one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a kayak. The canoe you select will make the difference between a comfortable cruise and an unpleasant one. This kayak has portable inflatable seats with adjustable support back rests providing you with a comfortable seating area.

You can expect superior tracking thanks to the stabilizing fins. You might also like the elbow guards which are made of neoprene for your increased comfort. This kayak also has grab handles for your convenience and safety.

​This is an entry-level kayak ​perfect for newcomers​. But the good news is it doesn’t mean compromising on quality. Made of stainless steel and nylon hardware, the water-resistant coating means it won’t be corroding any time soon; it’s quite durable. Just because this is your first kayak doesn’t mean you have to buy one you’ll have to replace soon after gaining more experience just because it’s falling apart.

Selecting one that has a sturdy construction means it will last longer and you can still use it well after you’ve graduated from being a beginner. That’s a smart, long-term investment.

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PROS

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    High-quality construction
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    Comfortable

CONS

  • ​Valves aren’t tethered to the boat

​4. ​Intex Explorer K2 2 Person Kayak Inflatable with Aluminum Oars

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump

Review

If you’re a new kayaker you might want to play it safe by rowing in the smaller lakes and slow-moving rivers. This kayak will do because it’s specifically designed for small bodies of water.

As a novice kayaker, the last thing you want is your boat to tip over during your first experience. To curb this you need a kayak with a stable design to give you stability when navigating those waters. A kayak with a reinforced hull is ideal to handle being knocked about by the fast-moving waters.

Though it’s a bit heavy, the streamlined design makes for easy paddling. You can go kayaking with a friend since it’s a two seater and it has two 86” aluminum oars. The bright yellow color and sporty graphics make it highly visible in water.

Assembling this kayak is a breeze, plus you can easily inflate and deflate it thanks to the high-output pump. It’s made of rugged vinyl materials making it a rigid and stable item. You can even paddle quite comfortably for long stretches by picking this kayak which has inflatable seats with a back rest.

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PROS

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    Stable
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    Easy to setup
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    Comfortable to sit in

CONS

  • ​A bit on the heavy side

​5. ​Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle

Review

If you want your kids to learn kayaking at an early stage you’ll like this ultra-portable kayak designed for kids aged five and upwards – under adult supervision of course.

For a first-timer, you want a kayak which is friendly to beginners by giving you some room for error without becoming unstable. A light kayak that’s easy to steer regardless of weather conditions is ideal. And since this kayak is specifically designed for kids, you’ll appreciate how user-friendly it is.

This kayak is the epitome of stability thanks to its reverse chine and ergonomic cockpit design which enhances balance and motor skills. The body shape of the kayak plays a huge role in aiding stability and maneuverability.

It weighs only 18 lbs. making it pretty lightweight and it can handle children who weigh up to 130 lbs. Each side of the kayak has molded finger handles for increased comfort. Unfortunately, still on the subject of comfort, it doesn’t have a backrest.

When going on a boating expedition you want to be as prepared as possible. This means carrying all sorts of equipment and gear with you. A kayak with enough storage space will make your life easier. Unfortunately since this kayak is compact it doesn’t have much storage space; we hope this will change in future models.

It’s made of high-density polyethylene construction which makes it pretty durable.

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PROS

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    Lightweight
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    Easy to steer
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    Very stable

CONS

  • No backrest

Buying Guide

Being a first-time kayaker is an intriguing and memorable experience, especially when you want to get the best vessel in the market. During the selection, you need to answer specific questions like; will you be using it for fun, exercise, or tournament? How many people will you be kayaking with? Will you be using it once or every week? The type of answers you will give play a massive role in leading you the right kayak.

Kayaking is a daunting experience if you are a newbie. It gets tougher when you are learning how to choose one. ​The following tips will help you make the wisest choice:

Know the Categories of Kayaks

Generally, kayaks are grouped into two: sit-in or sit-on-top. The sit-in kayak is more traditional thanks to the various features it has. It shields you from wind and water as you paddle. If you are more concerned about storage space, then this is the kayak to buy. From a glance, you will be tempted to think it has a smaller space, but this isn't the case.

Sit-on-top kayaks are designed for people who want nothing than the thrill of paddling for fun. You can get on and off it without worrying about its stability. A scupper hole has also been created to allow water to drain through it. Unlike the sit-in kayaks, they are designed for warmer environments because they expose you to more of the elements.

Stability

The last thing you want to worry about as a newbie kayaker is the stability of the vessel you are about to buy. The thought of falling off or paddling in the wrong direction can prevent you from making the best out of it. For this reason, it is essential to get a kayak that is not only stable, but it is also easy to paddle.

If it dumps you into the water as soon as you hop in, then take this as a red flag. Take time to assess its primary stability before you move it in shallow waters. Avoid any vessel that wobbles even if you are not sitting in a healthy kayaking posture.

Kayak Materials, Carrying Capacity and Price

Knowing the type of material used to make the kayak is essential because it determines how you will transport it. The lighter it is, the higher your chances of carrying more gear. This explains why most lightweight kayaks are costlier than heavyweights.

If you want a budget-friendly kayak with minimal, go for polyethylene plastic. However, you will need to store it in a covered place away from the sun's UV rays to prevent it from degrading.

A kayak made from ABS plastic is pricier than polyethylene, only that it is more durable and lighter compared to its counterpart. The composites kayaks are the most expensive because they are made from fiberglass and ultralight carbon-fiber materials. If you are the type of person that wants a durable vessel that is resistant to UV rays, then this is the one to consider.

The Dimensions of the Boat

The length of the boat will determine the storage space and its turning ability. If you are planning to cruise with your family, then you can go for longer boats. But if you want one that turns instantly, then you can go for the ones with a shorter hull.

The depth of the kayak plays a vital role in accommodating long-legged kayakers and storage space. The deeper it is, the more comfortable it will be. However, they are more affected by winds compared to shallower hulls. Also, a wider hull guarantees more stability while a narrower hull tends to move faster.

Storage and Transport

You will be buying the kayak for the first time, so you need to know how to transport and store it. It is pointless to buy a big boat if you lack space to store it. Of course, you will need to bring it back home with you after the tour. Never underestimate the type of environment when storing your boat because it determines its longevity.

Cockpit Opening

The size of the cockpit determines the type of experience you will have as a new kayaker. If you are tall, go for a wider cockpit that allows you to get and out of the kayak. A narrower cockpit boosts great maneuver skills, giving you more control and protection in harsh conditions.

The Type of Seats

You are probably going to spend the majority of your time seated. A more padded and adjustable seat attracts an additional fee, but it will guarantee maximum comfort even as you paddle in rough conditions.

​Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What's the correlation between the weight and price of kayaks?

A: The type of material used in making the kayaks will determine their net weight. Composite kayaks are more expensive because they are UV rays-resistant and are lightweight. But if you want a budget-friendly boat, go for polyethylene or ABS plastic.

Q: Do ​Kayak's come with special gear?

A: While you can find package deals online, kayaks are most commonly sold with just the kayak and paddles. You will need to buy separate gear such as a helmet to protect your head from rocks and a life jacket to stay afloat in the event of an accident. ​

Q: ​How do I store my kayak?

A: Once you decide on the boat, you will need to designate a specific place to store your boat. It could be the garage, basement, or a customized patio. This not only protects it from harmful UV rays, but it also prevents you from losing your priced investment. Alternatively, you can go for inflatable kayaks which are portable and easy-to-store.

Q: How can I tell whether the boat I am about to buy is stable?

A: Most kayaks are designed to accommodate a specific amount of weight. If it surpasses the load-carrying capacity, then it will lose stability.

Which One Will You Select?

Hopefully, our reviews have steered you in the right direction where purchasing a kayak is concerned. But which one will you choose?

In our opinion, the Airhead kayak seems like the better option for a kayak beginner. It comes with a lot of handy features, the heavy PVC construction being one of them. Its sturdy design not only makes it stable but comfortable. It's not the very best kayak on the list (that honor goes to the Old Town Dirigo) but the Airhead hits the right spot of value to needs of a beginner.

Whether you want to go camping, fishing or exploring in remote areas, this kayak is the one to pick because it’s suitable for most water environments. It’s lightweight, compact and portable which is a definite plus.

Now that you have all the information you don’t have to wait a day longer to go on that water adventure.

​Related:

Are you wondering what are the best kayaks for beginners? We\'ve got you covered with the top 5 choices in 2019. Click to learn more.

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