What are the Best Kayaks for Beginners? Our picks!

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.

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 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 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 Paddle
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak Paddle

Best Kayaks for Beginners Reviews

​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 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

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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