If you are shopping for the perfect boat for a beginner kayaker, consider a few pointers before selecting your vessel. The most important factor to consider is who will use the boat?
If the kayak will be purchased for a child, several are specially designed for young paddlers. These boats tend to be lighter and easier to handle than those designed for adults, but they accommodate less weight than a standard kayak.
If you are new to kayaking and in the market for an inexpensive yak to learn how to maneuver in the water, you may want to consider an inflatable. Inflatable kayaks are less expensive than their hard shelled counterparts, and they are an excellent option for the economy-minded explorer.
If your heart is set on a hard shelled model, you will need to decide between a sit-on-top or a sit-inside body. Both can be great for beginners. Your decision is based entirely on your preference and comfort level.
Would you prefer to sit inside a cockpit with the body of the boat surrounding you? Or would you rather sit on top of the structure with unrestricted freedom?
To assist you in making your decision, we’ve compiled this list of the 10 best kayaks for beginners.
1. Lifetime Wave Youth Kayak
The Lifetime Wave Youth Kayak is consistently Amazon’s most highly rated model of the beginner kayaks designed for children. The sit-on-top Wave is six ft. in length and the boat weighs a mere 20 pounds.
Recommended for children from ages 5 to 11, this kayak will accommodate up to 140 pounds. Select from three vibrant colors: Blue, Yellow or Pink. The Wave ships with its own paddle, so when the boat arrives, your young navigator can hit the water right away.
2. Coleman Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
The Coleman Quikpak K1 can be stored and carried in the backpack, which is shipped with the boat. If you intend to take your yak with you on your hike or bike trip, the K1 weighs less than 20 pounds.
When inflated, the watercraft measures 8 ft. 7 in. long. This highly rated bestseller is an excellent choice for the adult beginner.
3. Intex Challenger K1 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
The Intex Challenger K1 is another popular, affordable inflatable that is a great beginner’s vessel for kids and adults. The top rated Challenger K1 is a sit-inside model that ships with everything you need!
Along with the watercraft, you get a high output air pump, an 84 in. double-paddle aluminum oar and cargo netting to keep your gear in place. The low profile design provides the beginner with excellent tracking and control.
The craft is 9 ft. long when inflated, and can accommodate up to 220 pounds. The Challenger K1 is a favorite of customers, consistently showing up as a Number 1 Bestseller on Amazon.
The Intex Challenger K2 model is similar, but designed for two paddlers instead of one.
4. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron Junior Kids Kayak
The Old Town Canoes and Kayaks Heron Junior will keep your junior kayaker paddling for years to come. This stylish hard-shelled, sit-inside craft is available in Cloud (shades of blue) and Sunrise (shades of reds and yellows).
At 26 pounds, the boat is light enough for the beginner to carry from a transporting vehicle to the water without a great deal of effort. The Heron Junior is equipped with an internal foam billet so if the boat tips over while offshore, it will not sink.
This yak is designed for smaller paddlers with a weight limit of 115 pounds.
5. Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
Though this yak is considered to be a sit-on-top, the proprietary tri-form design provides a small cockpit for the paddler; the boat is more like a cross between a sit-inside and a sit-on-top.
The tri-form hull design ensures excellent tracking and stability. This craft is 9 ft. in length and weighs 43 pounds. Removable bungees keep cargo in place in both the hull and stern storage compartments.
Maximum weight capacity for the Frenzy is 325 pounds.
6. Emotion Glide Sport Kayaks
The seatback adjusts for comfort and folds completely down for storage. The molded foot rests help to keep the paddler comfortable while navigating.
The boat measures 9 ft. 7 in. in length, weighs just 46 pounds and reportedly tracks well for a craft of its size. The Glide Sport is available in bright Lime Green and vibrant Blue.
7. Emotion Spitfire Sit on Top Kayak
The Spitfire is a hard shell, sit-on-top craft with a removable padded seat back. The ST Performance hull design ensures stability and maneuverability, even when steered by the smallest kayaker.
The 8 ft. long Spitfire is designed for one paddler, and can accommodate up to 245 pounds. This craft is available in Red and Green.
8. Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
Though designed for two people, one can easily handle this yak on a solo trip. The boat is constructed in several sections which inflate independently of one another. If one section is punctured, the boat will not sink.
You have peace of mind knowing that you can get back to shore should the unexpected happen. However, with the 1000D tarpaulin bottom, the Colorado is practically impossible to puncture during excursions.
Reviewers note that this yak can maneuver through rivers and creeks, over rocks and rough vegetation, without any damage. A Sevylor trolling motor can be mounted on the boat. Additional features include rod holders and paddle mounts.
9. KL Industries Sun Dolphin Journey SS
This boat is a sit-inside model, but the cockpit is open and roomy so it feels more like a sit-on-top. Foot braces adjust for the paddler’s comfort, and flush mount rod holders keep the rods in the action and the paddler’s hands free.
A swivel rod holder is also mounted on the body of the craft. A portable accessory carrier is included with the kit, which can be used as a backpack or tow-behind storage on the water. The Journey SS can accommodate up to 250 pounds.
10. Sun Dolphin Aruba
The Aruba is another beginner’s kayak that is always listed as one of the top five entries of the Amazon Bestsellers list. Available in Blue or Red, the Aruba is a stellar starter yak for a novice adult.
The 10 ft. length may be a bit too long for a small child to control. Weight capacity is 400 pounds, with plenty of storage to haul your gear.