Best beginners kayak

Best Beginners Kayak – Complete Guide 2020

If you are reading this article, you probably are novice searching for the best beginners kayak in 2020, right? Well, you are in the right place, as we are going to look deeply at what you need to start your journey. From the best kayaks for beginners, to what you need to know before buying one, to some terminology you might find useful in the future.

We will not only help you with your choice but make you enjoy your first kayaking experience. And don’t worry. No matter if you are searching for a kayak to enjoy your vacation with family or friends or for fishing, we got your back.

Our Picks for the Best Beginners Kayak in 2020

Terms That Every Kayak Beginner Needs To Know

  • Stability – The quality of being stable. The kayak stability could be further broken down to primary and secondary. The primary or initial stability is related to the initial steadiness of the kayak on the water. On the other hand, secondary stability refers to the ability of your yak to stay stable when tipped on its side, especially in rough waters.
  • Tracking – The ability of a kayak to go in a straight line, no matter the circumstances. A kayak with good tracking performance could easily keep its course even when side currents exist.
  • Maneuverability – The quality of being maneuverable. Kayaks with good maneuverability enable the paddler to easily steer their boats.
  • Maximum Weight Capacity – The amount of storage a kayak can carry, counting your own weight as well.
  • Spray skirt – A waterproof cover for a boat or kayak, placed around the kayaker, to keep the cockpit dry.
  • Scupper holes – Opening cuts, put specifically to drain the water that got inside the kayak.
  • Hatch – An opening in the kayak that allows you to reach the storage compartment.
  • Rudder – A primary part of a boat, ship or kayak used for the steering of the watercraft.
  • Skeg – An extension of the boat or kayak, that has rudder attached on the centerline.
  • OutriggersStabilizers in the form of pontoons, that can be added to a kayak for stability.
  • Personal Floatation Device (PFD) – An equipment, usually in the form of a vest, that helps its wearer to float on water in case of emergency. It is an essential safety gear and every beginner should be equipped with PFD.

Best Beginners Kayak in 2020 – Reviews

Now that we looked at everything we need to know when entering the world of kayaking, we are going to help you pick. We will present you with a list of the best beginners kayaks, based on everything we said and looked at so far.

Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 Kayak

Best for recreational paddling

We are starting our best beginners kayaks list with Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 kayak. A great pick if you are about to start kayaking. This watercraft is 29 inches wide and its length is 12 feet. It is made of high-quality polyethylene. The weight of the boat is 49 lbs, making it really easy to be carried. The maximum capacity of this yak is 325 lbs. Its size and weight make it have incredible balance, stability, and speed.

If you are thinking about a long day journey, this sit-in kayak offers great comfort to his owner. It has a fully adjustable seat made out of mesh fabric for better airflow. Not only that, but the cockpit is spacious enough for you to move freely. Actually, there is also thigh and knee padding around the cockpit to keep you to maintain your all-day comfort and protection. And a Slidelock XL foot brace system for all sizes of paddlers.

When it comes to storage, this yak has plenty of it. There is kayak console right in front of the seat, that features a dry seal hatch with easy to access compartments to put your lures and gear. A large Orbix Stern hatch is located at the back of the yak. You can keep plenty of gear and valuables inside it. You can be sure they will stay dry.

A really good feature is the cup holder located on the kayak console. Next to it is the bungee deck rigger, where you can put even more gear. And if you are picky, you should know this kayak comes in different colorways from which you can choose.


  • Durable
  • Suitable for lakes, rivers, and oceans.
  • Excellent maneuverability and stability
  • Good speed
  • Really comfortable
  • Plenty of storage
  • Removable kayak console
  • Different colorway


  • Not many features for people who think of using it for fishing

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two 12-Feet

Best tandem kayak for beginners

Speaking about the best beginners kayak in 2020, we just couldn’t leave this yak out. 12-feet Malibu Two by Ocean Kayak is a sit-on-top tandem kayak, but can still be used solo easily. However, there is a third seating position, meaning you can go tandem paddling and bring a child or your favorite pet as a company.

Made out of Single-Layered Polyethylene, this yak is as durable as it gets. And, it measures 12 foot long and 34 inches wide. Actually, the maximum capacity is 425 pounds, making it enough for you, your partner and everything you want to bring on this adventure. When it comes to transportation, you should not worry as it is lightweight and compact. And, it comes with bow and stern carry handles for easy carrying.

The comfort you will feel while sitting in the Malibu Two is pretty good. The specially made Comfort Plus seats provide a rarely seen four-way adjustability. That generates a custom fit and greater slip prevention over molded seats. And, the patented overlapping foot wells allow center-seated paddlers to settle in and brace their feet comfortably. Both the bow and the stern seat are wide enough for you to move around freely and stretch when needed.

Now when we speak about storage, the tandem Malibu, just like most of Ocean Kayaks, offers up Gaspachi hatches. Gaspachi hatches are sealed compartments that you can open and make into usable compartments. The bad thing about that is you have to install them yourself.

Before we conclude the review of Malibu Two, you should know that it comes in 3 different colorways you can choose from. Not only that, but this is one of the most popular tandem kayaks on the market and there we can assure you that it will be a great first choice for a beginner kayak.


  • Really durable
  • Great stability
  • Can be used solo
  • Comfortable
  • Spacious
  • 2 Comfort plus seats included
  • 3 Colorways


  • Not so suitable for fishing
  • Storage hatches need additional installation

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Angler Kayak

Best fishing kayak for beginners

Wilderness System comes again on our list, this time with Tarpon 100. This kayak is not only beautifully designed but beautifully made as well.

The Tarpon is a perfectly balanced kayak no matter what perspective you look from. It is perfectly suitable for fishing as well as recreation. Its length is 10 feet. And, it’s 30.5 inches wide. The boat weighs 55 pounds, making it not that hard to transport. The maximum capacity is 325 pounds. The height of the deck is 15.25 inches, meaning you won’t experience a lot of water in your kayak.

Wilderness System made Tarpon 100 to endure all kinds of environment. The design of Tarpon 100 was engineered with an extraordinary hull flare that allows the kayak to have perfect tracking and stability while still being well responsive.

Tarpon 100 comes with the ergonomically designed Phase 3® AirPro seating system that offers both back and leg support. By the many fantastic reviews by customers, we can assure you the comfort Tarpon 100 provides is one of the best in the market. Not to mention the Keepers XL Foot Brace System, giving comfort to people with longer legs.

There is just too much space for fishing gear and everything you want to bring with yourself on Tarpon 100. We are going to start with the Gear Storage pockets located right in front of you for easy reach. You can put smaller objects there like lures or your phone, wallet or keys. Then we have the big Orbix Bow and Midship hatches. This is where you can put your larger gears and keep them dry and safe. Last but not least is the tank well with bungee, where you can put your cooler or dry bag.

Tarpon 100 also has also plenty of useful features. Starting with a cup holder, it has also self-bailing scupper holes that allow the entered water to drain freely. It has SlideTrax™ Accessory System, that allows you to add additional accessories, without making holes on the kayak. There are also 3 carry handles for easy transportation.

Overall it is hard to say anything bad about this kayak and that is why it’s on our best beginners kayak list. Great for fishing, great for recreation, you will not be disappointed if you stop on this one.


  • Great endurance and durability
  • Stable and maneuverable
  • Comfortable
  • Storage compartments
  • Self-bailing scupper holes
  • Phase 3® AirPro seating system


  • A bit heavy
  • A little bit slow for its size

Ocean Kayak Frenzy

Best solo kayak for recreational purposes

Another product by Ocean Kayak comes in our selection for the best kayak for beginners – Ocean Kayak Frenzy. Unlike Malibu Two, this is a kayak for solo paddling only. However, this kayak is also made for recreational purposes, so if you are searching for a fishing kayak, this one is not the most suitable for you.

Ocean Kayak Frenzy is a really compact, portable and durable sit-on-top kayak. It is 9 foot long and 31 inches wide. The maximum capacity is 325 lb. On the other hand, it weighs only 44 lbs. and comes with bow and stern carrying handles. So, the launching of the boat is not an issue here.

Stability is undeniably the best thing from everything this yak offers. It is well responsive and stable, with maneuvering also being on point. It behaves well both in rough and calm waters. Ocean Kayak renewed its hull and made it Tri-Form, combining both primary and secondary stability. The long center keel is what makes the tracking of this boat inch-perfect.

Again, just like Malibu Two, this yak’s comfort is fantastic. A durable, four-way adjustable Comfort Seat that supports the longer day paddlings. And, the 18-inch seat is big enough for larger people. Both the seat well and the footwells are molded-in. There is also a molded-in cup holder which is always a great detail.

The stern tank well with removable bungee that Frenzy offers is big and you can put your dry bag with food and gears there. But don’t forget this is mostly an entertainment kayak so don’t overdo it with the capacity.

If you are looking for a small yet useful kayak for you to enjoy your vacation and just have fun, then this is the right choice for you. We are pretty sure that if you spend your money on this product, you won’t be disappointed.


  • High-quality and durable
  • Excellent stability and maneuverability
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Comfort plus seat included


  • Not made for people who are bigger
  • Not so suitable for fishing

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Dirigo 106

Best high-quality kayak for recreational paddling

Here comes the Dirigo 106 Recreational Kayak produced by one of the most famous kayak manufacturers – Old Town Canoes & Kayaks. So, right from the bat, you should know this yak is not only beautiful looking but great on the water as well. The popularity that it has in the kayaking world is a solid proof of that.

When it comes to size, Dirigo 106 Recreational Kayak is really portable. It is 10 feet 6 inches long. Its width is 27.75 inches. It weighs only 42 pounds and has a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds. Because of its compact size, transportation won’t be a problem at all. Its size has a lot of other privileges as well. Dirigo 106 is actually the smallest, but most maneuverable from the Dirigo series. Not only that but its the easiest to paddle, making it perfect for kayaking novices. With that comes the question about stability and we can assure you that its excellent.

When it comes to comfort, this yak really performs well. Starting with the really spacious cockpit, it has everything you need to enjoy the perfect trip – contoured Poly cushioned seat and glide track foot brace system. Actually, it has easy-grip tight pads and small, but great features like the cup holder and glove box hatch for small things like keys or phone. And, we shouldn’t forget the paddle keeper when you need to rest your hands a little.

The storage this kayak offers is also decent. It has the specific for Old Town kayaks Click Seal stern hatch with a bulkhead. Therefore, it has the space to be filled with a medium-sized bag full of all the gear you need. There is also a deck bungee where you can put even more of your gear.


  • High-quality and durable
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Great stability and maneuverability
  • Comfortable
  • Enough storage space
  • Plenty of colors available
  • Contoured Poly cushioned seat


  • Not so good tracking
  • Nos many features for fishermen

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Best affordable inflatable kayak for recreation

Intex Challenger K1 is an extremely popular inflatable kayak. Due to its affordable price and excellent quality, it is a common choice for many beginners in the kayaking world.

Made with rugged vinyl construction and built for performance, this kayak has an inflatable I-beam floor, a low-profile deck and side chambers for stability, comfort, and functionality. It is compact and lightweight (27.1 lbs) so transportation will not be a problem. Although it is very compact when deflated, the inflated dimensions of this yak are very good (108 x 30 x 13 inches).

The colors of the kayak are a little bit exotic for our personal taste. However, the safety of the boat is higher with these eye-catching graphics due to the increased visibility in the water.

Another positive thing here is the quick inflating and deflating of Intex Challenger K1, which gives you the opportunity to spend more time paddling in the water. This inflatable kayak is not with the highest buoyancy, but it is well enough considering the maximum weight capacity of 220 lbs.

Summarizing the above Intex Challenger K1 is a good choice for an entry level kayak. If you have a limited budget your options will not be so much so you can consider this one. However, this kayak could not be suitable for all purposes, but it performs very well covering the basic needs of a kayaking beginner and this fact explains its excellent rating in Amazon.


  • Affordable price
  • Compact, lightweight and portable
  • Comfortable
  • Fast to inflate and deflate
  • Durable


  • Not so suitable for open waters
  • Not so high-quality paddles

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Best affordable tandem kayak for recreation

Our second inflatable kayak pick is again produced by Intex and it is called Explorer K2. Exactly as Intex Challenger K1, this 2 person kayak is produced of UV and puncture resistant 30-gauge vinyl and has an inflatable I-beam floor for stability.

Made with high-quality materials, this inexpensive kayak is very durable and maybe this is the main reason for being liked and well rated by its users. Two inflatable seats with backrests provide very good comfort for the paddlers. For the easy transportation and lifting the manufacturer has equipped this double kayak with carrying handles.

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is designed with upturned head and tail ends. Painted in yellow and black, Intex Explorer K2 fully contrasts with the water and guarantees not to be missed by the other boats. Based on its safety additions this inflatable kayak is US Coast Guard approved.

The inflating and deflating is easy and could be made in just a few minutes, with the Boston valves and the hand pump. This 2-person inflatable kayak is very compact and really lightweight (35 lbs). The inflated dimensions are 20 x 36 x 123 inches. However, the official maximum weight capacity is 350 lbs., but based on the customer opinions it could fit 400 lbs.

As most of the budget kayaks, Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is not a multi-purpose kayak. Very suitable for recreational kayaking in lakes and mild waters, but you should bear in mind that it is not a heavy-duty kayak.

All in all, Intex Explorer K2 Kayak could be assessed as an excellent level inflatable kayak. Suitable for light paddling, relaxing in calm waters with a friend or kayaking with a dog, this kayak is a real bargain and we couldn’t miss it in our best beginners kayak selection.


  • Affordable price
  • Compact, lightweight and portable
  • Comfortable
  • Fast to inflate and deflate
  • Durable


  • Not so suitable for open waters
  • Not so high-quality paddles

Sevylor Quikpak K1

Sevylor Quikpak K1

Best cheap inflatable kayak for beginners

Sevylor Quikpak K1 is the one more inflatable kayak in our best beginners kayak list. This yak has 21-gauge PVC construction and durable tarpaulin bottom. It features multiple air chambers which allows you to safely get back to the shore if one of the chambers is punctured. This kayak weighs approximately 16.5 lbs and offers very good portability with its seat convertible to a backpack in which the deflated kayak could be packed.

Sevylor Quikpak K1 provides excellent comfort compared to its competitors in this price range. The backrest and multi-position foot give great comfort for long outings. It is suitable for the enthusiasts who would like to kayak with a dog as it gives enough room for the legs and for the pet. As additional benefits, this kayak provides useful cup holders close to your hands and a cargo net for storage of your gears.

The maximum weight capacity is approximately 400 lbs, but many of the big kayakers comment that they have faced difficulties balancing on their kayak. Despite this, most of the people seem to really like this inflatable kayak.

Overall Sevylor Quikpak K1 provides great value for money with its durability, comfort and small extras. You should definitely consider this inflatable kayak as it is one of the best choices in this price segment.


  • Inexpensive kayak
  • Compact, lightweight and portable
  • Comfortable
  • Fast to inflate and deflate
  • Durable


  • Not so stable
  • Not so easy maneuvering

How To Choose The Best Beginners Kayak For You?

What is the most appropriate kayak size for you?

One of the many questions you should ask when choоsing the best beginners kayaks for yourself is what is the most appropриate size to go for. You can answer that yourself. The first thing you should consider is your own size. Then you should look at your own weight. Of course, try to pick something that can carry you and your gear without any problem, so you can feel safe and comfortable.

Overweighing the kayak can mean too much leaning in the water and eventually a bad ending. Since you are searching for your first kayak, you don’t need to go for something really big at the beginning. Get used to kayaking at first.

Where are you going to paddle?

Another really important question is where are you going to use the kayak – in a lake, river or in the open waters of the ocean? The reason you should ask this is that not every kayak is suitable for all kinds of weather conditions and waters. For example, most of the hard-shell kayaks can endure almost every kind of condition. Inflatables, on the other hand, are not so suitable for oceans or tough weather conditions.

For what purpose will you use your kayak?

Probably the most important question when choosing the best kayak for newbies is what are you going to use it for – fishing or recreation.

You are probably wondering why is there such a big difference. Many kayaks have features made especially for anglers – adjustable rod holders, larger storage space and bungee cords for gears, paddle parks, etc. If you are not planning to use it for fishing, you will probably not end up using any of them. And, most probably the more features the kayak has, the higher will be its price.

Now, when we say there is a difference, that does not mean you can’t buy a fishing kayak to enjoy the sunny days of your vacation or trip. We are just making sure you choose the best thing for you.

Age of the paddler

Now, of course, you might be choosing the kayak for someone else – a toddler, a teen or for another adult. If the kayak you are searching for is for a kid or a teen at a young age, then you probably would need a smaller stable watercraft. There are no needs for many features. The most crucial in this case is the safety and stability of the boat. And, you can always consider something bigger if they enjoy the world of kayaking in the future when they grow up.

In case the newbie is an adult, then you should consider his size and weight. And, the purposes for which the kayak will be used – recreation or fishing.

How many paddlers fit the kayak?

Last but not least. Are you thinking of kayaking solo or not? Many tandem kayaks are made nowadays, so you can enjoy a fishing journey or a day off with a partner. If you want to bring someone with yourself, maybe you should lean towards choosing a tandem kayak. But don’t worry. Some tandem kayaks can still be paddled alone. You can still go out and enjoy some time alone.

What To Look For When Buying The Best Kayak For Beginners


Stability is a huge factor when choosing the best kayak for beginners. You need to know you are safe before stepping foot in a watercraft. Almost all modern-day kayaks have thought of that and are as stable as possible. Most big companies on the market even make additional stabilizers, known as outriggers, that you can add to your boat for extra stability.


Another really important consideration. Nowadays kayaks are made really durable. A lot of the hard shell kayaks are made of UV protected material, to keep them safe even from the harness of the sun. Inflatable kayaks are usually made out of rugged PVC so they endure all kinds of abuse. Still, doing research never hurt anybody.

Size and Weight

Size and weight is another thing you should not ignore. The kayak should be large enough to fit you comfortably. And, you should be able to move it as easily as possible to the water. The bigger and heavier the kayak, the harder it is to find space for it and transport it around. Think about where you are going to store it and how are you going to carry it.

Maximum Weight Capacity

Maximum weight capacity is something we already discussed. You really need to look at the capacity of the yak before buying it. If you overload your boat, this will negatively impact its stability, speed, and maneuverability. Think about everything you are bringing – fishing gear, food, small items, etc. And never forget to add your own weight.

Storage compartments

Many kayaking novices underestimate the importance of the storage space. But after their first paddling, they realize it. Everyone brings on his trips valuable items like phones, wallets, keys or just a cam. And, of course, you want to keep them dry and safe. So, you need to pay attention to the storage hatches available in your new kayak.

Actually, storage compartments are one of the most important considerations if the kayaking newbie is going to use it for fishing. Most of the fishing kayaks, have additional storage space for fishing gears and tackle boxes.

Portability and Storage

Portability and storage is something you should have in mind also. Where are you going to store your kayak? How much space it will take? Will it be exposed to the sun or not? How are you going to transport it?

If you consider buying a hard shell boat, you should think in advance about transportation and storage. A lot of people choose to buy inflatable or folding kayaks exactly due to the lack of storage space and their portability.


And last but not least, you should consider the comfort of the kayak. At the end of the day, you are going to spend a lot of time on it. If you are going for a long day at the river or lake, you better feel as comfortable as possible. Adjustable seats and foot brace systems are great features to look for.

Types Of Kayaks For Beginners

As someone who is probably new to kayaking, you need to know what types of kayaks are suitable for beginners.

Inflatable kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are a great choice for every beginner. The main benefit of the inflatable yaks is the portability and versatility they offer. Most of the inflatable kayaks are produced of durable and lightweight materials. But, at the same time, they come at a really affordable price.

As you may guess by the name, inflatable kayaks are usually inflated by a pump. And, when deflated you can store them in a bag. So, you should not bother where are you going to store your boat. The maintenance is also relatively easy – you should always try to fully dry the inflatables before packing them in the bag.

Another positive here is the easy transportation of the deflated yak. However, you should bear in mind that you will need a few minutes for inflating on site.

Hard-shell kayaks

Hard shells are the next type of kayaks suitable for novices. However, there is a huge variety of materials used for the production of hard-shell kayaks – polyethylene, carbon, fiberglass, and others.

Actually, the fiberglass and carbon are the most widely used materials for high-performance boats and they are commonly used by the seasoned kayakers. However, they are not so easy for maintenance and their price in most of the cases is very high, so, they are not the best beginner kayak option.

The most popular and used by the casual kayakers are the hard shells produced of polyethylene. The boats made of polyethylene are known as durable and relatively easy to maintain.

Inflatable vs. Hard-Shell Kayak

So what is better – an inflatable kayak or a hardshell one? This is a big debate in the kayak community and if you ask us, its all about personal choice.

In general, hard-shell kayaks provide more stability and speed in the water. In most of the cases, they also offer better maneuverability and tracking.

However, inflatable kayaks are far easier for transportation and storage. And, in general, they weigh less than the hard shells.

Sit-On-Top Style

Sit-on-top kayaks are a very popular choice of the kayak beginners due to their open cockpit. This specific design means that the seat is positioned on top of the kayak body and allows more space for you to move and stretch.

Actually, another benefit of this open design is that it allows you to easily re-enter the boat if you fall into the water. This is a very important consideration for every kayaking novice.

Therefore, the open cockpit also has another specific. If you use a sit-on-top kayak, there is a high probability you will get wet due to the open cockpit. But, most of these vessels are equipped with scupper holes to easily drain out the water. So, the sit-on-top style is very suitable for recreation during the warm summer days.

Sit-In Style

The sit-in style of kayaks is the most widespread in the kayaking community. The design of these yaks allows the paddler to sit inside the kayak body. The major positive here is that the vessel provides excellent protection for your lower body. And, it keeps your body warmer and dry when the weather outside is cold. You can also add a spray skirt that will not allow the water to enter the cockpit.

However, the fact that the paddler is sitting inside the cockpit could impose some restrictions on lower body movements. Another drawback here is that this style of kayaks is not so easy to re-enter if you capsize.

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