Best Kayak for Beginners

2023 Best Kayak for Beginners – The Ultimate Buying Guide

Kayaking is becoming more and more popular among people of all ages and abilities. A great way to enjoy the great outdoors, exercise and have fun on the water.

However, choosing the right kayak for beginners can be overwhelming with so many different types and options.

This detailed guide presents the top 10 best kayaks recommended for beginners in 2023 based on stability, comfort, ease of use, and affordability.

We provide detailed reviews of each kayak along with pros and cons, key features and specs to help you decide on the best choice for your needs and skill level.

It also comes with a purchase guide that explains the points to keep in mind when choosing a kayak for beginners, so you can shop with confidence. let’s start!

In a hurry? Here is our winner from all overviews.

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

4.7Our Score

This Intex Explorer kayak is one of the top recommendations for beginners due to its excellent combination of stability, affordability, and ease of use.

Why the Intex Explorer K2 is Our Top Pick:

  • Very stable 36” wide beam design
  • Adjustable inflatable seats for comfort
  • Front cargo net for accessory storage
  • Rugged heavy-duty vinyl construction
  • 3 separate air chambers for safety

Top 10 Kayaks for Beginners Compared

Intex explorer k2 kayak
Our Pick
Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable tandem

– 400 lbs
– 10 ft
– 35 lbs
– Removable skeg
– Adjustable seats
– Directional stability.

Intex Challenger k2 kayak

Intex Challenger K2 Inflatable tandem

– 400 lbs
– 9 ft
– 27 lbs
– Cargo net
– Inflatable I-beam floor
– Easy setup

sevylor quikpak k1 review
Sevylor Quikpak K1 Inflatable solo

– 400 lbs
– 8 ft 7 in
– 25 lbs
– 5 minute setup
– Multiple air chambers
– Backpack carry bag

Lifetime Tamarack review boatni
Lifetime Tamarack Hard shell solo

– 275 lbs
– 10 ft
– 52 lbs
– UV-protected high-density polyethylene
– Stable chine hull
– Adjustable seat

Sit-on-Top Kayak - Sentinel 100X kayak
Pelican Sentinel 100x Hard shell solo

– 275 lbs
– 9 ft 6 in
– 44 lbs
– Exoskeleton
– Storage hatch
– Ergonomic seat

Sun Dolphin Aruba boatni review
Sun Dolphin Aruba Hard shell solo

– 250 lbs
– 10 ft
– 40 lbs
– Paddle holder
– Adjustable foot braces
– Open cockpit

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak
Intex Excursion Pro Inflatable tandem

– 400 lbs
– 12 ft
– 37 lbs
– Rod holders
– Mounting bracket
– Removable skeg

Lifetime Youth Wave review boatni
Lifetime Youth Wave Hard shell solo

– 130 lbs
– 6 ft
– 18 lbs
– Reverse chine hull
– UV-protected HDPE
– Lightweight

Perception Pescador kayak review boatni
Perception Pescador Pilot Hard shell solo

– 375 lbs
– 12 ft 6 in
– 64 lbs
– Adjustable seat
– Removable pod
– Emple storage

Aquaglide Chelan kayak review boatni
Aquaglide Chelan Inflatable tandem

– 550 lbs
– 11 ft
– 41 lbs
– Removable seats
– Bow/stern grab handles
– Rod holders

Top 10 Kayaks for Beginners in-depth review

The article covers the top 10 kayaks for beginners in detail, comparing specs, features and pros/cons of each model. It also includes a comprehensive buying guide looking at key factors for beginners like stability, capacity, hull design and more.

1. Intex explorer K2

Intex explorer K2

4.7Our Score

*Don’t forget to check the latest deal. Maybe it’s running on special discounts. If you will feel happy to buy a deal at the best price then you should check out the price as soon as possible.


  • Type: Inflatable tandem
  • Weight Capacity: 400 lbs
  • Length: 10 ft
  • Weight: 35 lbs

If you’re looking for an affordable, portable and stable two-seater inflatable kayak, the Intex Explorer K2 is your entry-level choice. This kayak is made from durable vinyl and features an inflatable I-beam bottom for added stability and comfort.

It features two adjustable inflatable seats, a removable skeg for directional stability, front and rear grab handles and a cargo net for additional storage. The bright yellow color ensures good visibility and safety. Set up is quick and easy with the included high performance pump.

For calm lakes and rivers, we like the wide beam design of the Explorer K2. For an inflatable model, the kayak feels very stable and safe. Two seats provide plenty of legroom for the paddler. It weighs only 35 pounds, so it’s easy to carry and carry.

Overall, this is a great value inflatable tandem kayak for new paddlers looking for stability and the option to bring friends and kids along.


  • Great price for a two-person inflatable kayak
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Removable skeg improves tracking
  • Cargo net for extra storage
  • Adjustable seats accommodate different sizes


  • Not suitable for choppy water or whitewater
  • Limited tracking capability in windy conditions
  • Less durable than hard shell kayaks

2. Intex Challenger K2 Kayak

Intex Explorer K2 For 2 Person

4.7Our Score

*Don’t forget to check the latest deal. Maybe it’s running on special discounts. If you will feel happy to buy a deal at the best price then you should check out the price as soon as possible.


  • Type: Inflatable tandem
  • Weight Capacity: 400 lbs
  • Length: 9 ft
  • Weight: 27 lbs

Another top-of-the-range inflatable kayak from Intex, the Challenger K2 is a streamlined, sporty option with excellent stability and maneuverability for beginners. It has a bright green design with two inflatable seats and a backrest for your comfort.

The kayak is made from durable vinyl and features an I-beam bottom and flat skeg for smooth tracking. The Intex includes two 86-inch aluminum oars, a heavy-duty pump for quick inflation, and a carry bag for easy transport.

We like the front cargo net for storing loose items while paddling. The Challenger K2 also features front and rear grab handles, an inflatable floor and three compartments for added safety. Setup takes just 10 minutes.

This is perfect for beginners looking for an affordable tandem inflatable kayak. It has a smaller profile than Explorer and is faster and easier to use. The Challenger K2 works very well on calm rivers and lakes.


  • Affordable two-person inflatable boat
  • Fast setup time
  • Luggage net for extra storage space while paddling
  • Faster with a flat design
  • Multiple air chambers for safety


  • Not as wide as other tandem kayaks
  • Fairly short backrest
  • Tracking is not particularly good in windy conditions

3. Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak

Sevylor Quikpak K1 Kayak

4.6Our Score

*Don’t forget to check the latest deal. Maybe it’s running on special discounts. If you will feel happy to buy a deal at the best price then you should check out the price as soon as possible.


  • Type: Inflatable solo
  • Weight Capacity: 400 lbs
  • Length: 8 ft 7 in
  • Weight: 25 lbs

The Quikpak K1 is Sevylor’s popular inflatable kayak designed to be easy to carry and easy to set up. It fits in a compact backpack and can be carried over the shoulder.

To inflate the kayak, simply unfold it from your backpack, attach the hand pump and you’re ready to go in just 5 minutes. Durable 21 gauge PVC construction and canvas hull make it durable enough for lakes and calm rivers.

This kayak features multiple air chambers for safety, a padded seat for comfort, adjustable footrests and a bungee storage area. The seat can be adjusted to two positions using the integrated D-rings. We also like the dual lock valves for quick inflation and deflation.

At just 25 pounds, the Quikpak K1 is a great lightweight solo inflatable for beginners who value portability. Easy to carry and store in your car. The performance of the kayak is also very good for its size. Perfect for fun adventures and relaxing paddling trips.


  • Inflates and deflates in just 5 minutes
  • Highly portable backpack design
  • Lightweight at just 25 pounds
  • Durable 21 gauge PVC construction
  • adjustable padded seat


  • Not as stable or spacious as tandem kayaks
  • The material is thin and prone to punctures
  • Limited storage with no hatches
  • Not great for choppy water

4. Lifetime Tamarack Kayak

Lifetime Tamarack Kayak

4.5Our Score

*Don’t forget to check the latest deal. Maybe it’s running on special discounts. If you will feel happy to buy a deal at the best price then you should check out the price as soon as possible.


  • Type: Hard shell solo
  • Weight Capacity: 275 lbs
  • Length: 10 ft
  • Weight: 52 lbs

The Lifetime Tamarack is one of the best-selling recreational kayaks thanks to its stability, durability and affordability.

Manufactured in the USA from UV-protected high-density polyethylene and specifically designed for beginners with a wide, flat hull design for added stability.

We like the stable articulated hull, which prevents tipping and improves tracking. This kayak features a large cockpit with an adjustable padded seat and backrest for comfort on long paddles.

There are several footrest positions for different heights. Other key features include front and rear shock cords for gear storage, dual flush mount fishing rod holders behind the seat, and a rear bungee lock storage hatch. The Tamarack weighs 52 pounds and comes with a carry handle for portability.

Overall, this is a great entry level kayak for calm lakes and rivers. Very stable and easy to get on and off. Lifetime Tamarack offers a great value package with an included paddle and his 5-year limited warranty.


  • Flat hull bottom for excellent stability
  • UV protected polyethylene construction
  • Comfortable padded seat and backrest
  • multiple footrest positions
  • 5 year limited warranty


  • Quite heavy at 52 pounds
  • Limited storage compared to others
  • slow tracking speed
  • No rudder or skeg

5. Pelican Sentinel 100X Kayak

Pelican Sentinel 100X Kayak

4.5Our Score

*Don’t forget to check the latest deal. Maybe it’s running on special discounts. If you will feel happy to buy a deal at the best price then you should check out the price as soon as possible.


  • Type: Hard shell solo
  • Weight Capacity: 275 lbs
  • Length: 9 ft 6 in
  • Weight: 44 lbs

The Pelican Sentinel 100X is a sit-on-top recreational kayak designed for stability, durability and performance. Made from a single layer of impact resistant RAM-X material for a stiff, light and durable construction.

We like the exoskeleton design, which improves stiffness while keeping weight down. The wide, flat hull shape provides excellent primary stability for beginners.

There is an easy access storage hatch at the front and an integrated storage platform with bungee at the stern. Comfort features include an adjustable ERGOFORMTM padded backrest, molded knee pads, and molded footrests for quick adjustment.

The Sentinel has excellent tracking thanks to its deep V-joint hull and rounded bottom. A carrying handle makes it easy to carry.

This is the perfect mid-range recreational kayak for beginners looking for a durable and lightweight hardshell design. It has ample storage facilities and a comfortable cockpit. Sentinel works very well in calm rivers and lakes.


  • Rugged single-layer RAM-X construction
  • Comfortable ERGOFORMTM seat and padding
  • Storage hatch easily accessible from the front
  • Great stability due to wide hull
  • Great value for a hardshell kayak


  • Limited accessories (no paddle included)
  • Small foot wells can feel cramped

6. Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Kayak

Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Kayak

4.4Our Score

*Don’t forget to check the latest deal. Maybe it’s running on special discounts. If you will feel happy to buy a deal at the best price then you should check out the price as soon as possible.


  • Type: Hard shell solo
  • Weight Capacity: 250 lbs
  • Length: 10 ft
  • Weight: 40 lbs

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is a popular entry level kayak known for its stability, maneuverability and affordability. It features an open cockpit design with a large seating area and adjustable padded seats and backrests.

This kayak has adjustable footrests, thigh pads and paddle holders. At the rear is storage space with a bungee cord deck attachment and bungee tie-down straps. We love the UV stabilized Fortiflex high density polyethylene construction for protection.

Short skeg and shallow V-hull improve tracking. A carry handle allows you to easily transport the 40 lb kayak. The Sun Dolphin also comes with a paddle.

Overall, the entry-level Aruba 10 offers a great balance of stability, comfort and performance at this price point. Effective in calm rivers and lakes. The open cockpit design makes boarding and exiting easy. Inexpensive recreational kayaks.


  • A complete package (including a paddle) is offered at a great price
  • Protective UV stabilized HDPE construction
  • Excellent stability and operability
  • Paddle holders and thigh pads for added comfort
  • Short skeg improves tracking


  • Limited storage space
  • Average seating comfort
  • Paddle quality is ok

7. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

4.4Our Score

*Don’t forget to check the latest deal. Maybe it’s running on special discounts. If you will feel happy to buy a deal at the best price then you should check out the price as soon as possible.


  • Type: Inflatable tandem
  • Weight Capacity: 400 lbs
  • Length: 12 ft
  • Weight: 37 lbs

The Intex Excursion Pro is a sturdy inflatable kayak suitable for two adults. Made from laminated PVC with a polyester core and high pressure expansion for maximum stiffness and durability.

This kayak comes with 2 removable skews, 2 adjustable bucket seats, front storage bag with bungees, 2 fishing rod holders and accessory mounting brackets. The 12ft long design provides excellent tracking and speed.

The included footrest is comfortable, and two spring-loaded valves allow for quick set-up and take-down. The Excursion Pro comes with 2 aluminum paddles, heavy duty pump, carry bag and repair kit.

Overall, this is he one of the most durable inflatable tandem kayaks on the market. The high pressure construction feels very sturdy. Perfect for long paddling trips or fishing with a friend or partner.


  • Durable 3-layer PVC construction
  • Removable skeg for tracking
  • Rod holder and accessory holder
  • Quick inflation/deflation valve
  • Carrying bag included


  • Heavy for an inflatable at 37 pounds
  • Tracking is still not particularly good in windy conditions
  • Takes a long time to inflate and deflate

8. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

4.3Our Score

*Don’t forget to check the latest deal. Maybe it’s running on special discounts. If you will feel happy to buy a deal at the best price then you should check out the price as soon as possible.


Type: Hard shell solo
Weight Capacity: 130 lbs
Length: 6 ft
Weight: 18 lbs

The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak was developed specifically for children ages 5 and up. Its short 6-foot length and 18-pound lightweight construction make it easy for kids to maneuver and carry to the water’s edge.

An entry kayak with excellent stability thanks to its inverted hull shape. Easy to get on and off with wide stance and swim up step. There are paddle mounts for support and thumb pads for comfort on each side.

We love the durable, UV-protected polyethylene construction for long-term outdoor use. Kayak is available in bright green or blue for better visibility. Comes with a 3-year limited warranty.

For parents looking to get their child started in kayaking, the Lifetime Youth Her Wave is the first choice for affordability, safety and ease of use. Teach proper paddling technique and confidence on the water.


  • Designed for children ages 5 and up
  • very stable and light
  • Easy entry and exit with swim steps
  • UV and impact resistance
  • Paddle mount supports grip


  • Holds just 130 lbs
  • Very narrow and no space to stretch your legs
  • Limited storage space without hatches

9. Perception Pescador Pilot Kayak

Perception Pescador Pilot Kayak

4.2Our Score

*Don’t forget to check the latest deal. Maybe it’s running on special discounts. If you will feel happy to buy a deal at the best price then you should check out the price as soon as possible.


  • Type: Hard shell solo
  • Weight Capacity: 375 lbs
  • Length: 12 ft 6 in
  • Weight: 64 lbs

The Perception Pescador Pilot is a popular sit-on-top fishing kayak with excellent stability and gear storage. It is made of single-layer polyethylene and has a 3-keel hull for enhanced tracking and performance.

We love the removable Pilot Drive pedal system for hands-free propulsion. The stadium-style seat is highly adjustable and features a mesh backrest to keep you cool.

There are gear rails for rigging accessories. Storage options include enclosed bow hatches, large aft tank bays with bungees, molded rod holders, and stern-mounted tackle box crates. The kayak has carry handles and slide plates for a long service life.

This is an excellent choice for beginners looking for a stable, customizable fishing kayak with lots of accessories. Very handy for all day paddling and fishing trips.


  • Detachable pedal drive system
  • Comfortable padded pilot seat
  • Plenty of storage for gear holders and rod holders
  • Skid plate protects the hull
  • Very stable standing platform


  • Expensive for a beginner kayak
  • Quite heavy at 64 pounds
  • Setup can be cumbersome for beginners

10. Aquaglide Chelan Tandem Kayak

Aquaglide Chelan Tandem Kayak

4.2Our Score

*Don’t forget to check the latest deal. Maybe it’s running on special discounts. If you will feel happy to buy a deal at the best price then you should check out the price as soon as possible.


Type: Inflatable tandem
Weight Capacity: 550 lbs
Length: 11 ft
Weight: 41 lbs

Last but not least, the Aquaglide Chelan is a versatile inflatable fishing kayak for two adults. He comes with two removable and adjustable seats to accommodate different setups.

This kayak comes with bow and stern grab handles, his two flush-mount rod holders behind each seat, rear storage platform with bungees, snag-free footrests, and bow/stern D-rings. The durable nylon top is coated with a UV- and abrasion-resistant polycryller.

We love the electronically welded drop-stitch construction that makes the kayak super stiff. Pointed arches and grooves on the underside improve directional stability. A repair kit and travel backpack are included in the delivery.

Aquaglide Chelan combines the superior stability, extensive fishing capabilities, and portability of an inflatable boat in her one kayak. A great choice for tandem for beginners who want to paddle with a partner.


  • Removable seat for solo/tandem
  • Drop-stitch construction increases stiffness
  • Bow/stern grab handles for easy transport
  • Plenty of fishing rod holders and storage space
  • Travel backpack included


  • Expensive for an inflatable tandem
  • Heavy for an inflatable at 41 lbs
  • Difficult to inflate to high pressure

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Beginner Kayak

If you’re new to kayaking, choosing your first kayak can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming with all the different types, sizes, and options to consider. There are some important factors to consider when buying the best beginner kayak.

Type of Kayak

There are four main types of kayaks: recreational kayaks, inflatable kayaks, fishing kayaks, and touring kayaks. Recreational kayaks are great for beginners because they are wide for added stability and have large, open cockpits that make it easy to get in and out.

Inflatable kayaks are easy for beginners to handle and easy to carry. Sit-on-top fishing kayaks have great stability when casting. Touring kayaks are slender and mostly suitable for experienced paddlers.

Kayak length

For beginners, kayaks under 12 feet in length are easiest to maneuver and transport. 8-10 feet is ideal for good control. Long kayaks over 12 feet follow very well, but are not as easy to turn.

Weight capacity

Choose a kayak that can safely support your weight with additional gear. Kayak capacity is typically 250-500 lbs. This includes water, clothing, essentials, and more.


As a beginner, stability should be your top priority to ensure safety and confidence. A wider kayak beam improves initial stability. A flat hull is also more stable than a round hull. Seat kayaks are safer.

Storage and Gear

Most recreational kayaks have a large open cockpit for storing loose items on the floor. Some vehicles have dedicated stowage hatches and tie-down straps for additional cargo space. If you have a lot of luggage, look for a model with ample storage space.

Comfort Features

Comfort is important as beginners have to get used to being on the water for long periods of time. Look for seat/backrests, footrests, adjustable handles and backrest pads. The thigh pads and high backrest make it comfortable even on long paddling tours.

Hull Design

The shape of the kayak hull affects the stability and maneuverability of the boat. The wide, flat bottom and rounded edges are safe for beginners. A shallow V-hull or tunnel hull provides a balance of stability and speed. Sit-on-top kayaks make getting around easy.


A skeg is a fin on the underside of the kayak that provides more directional stability when paddling. A removable skeg helps control tracking in windy conditions. Beginners should consider kayaks with skegs for more manageability.

Cockpit size

A larger open cockpit makes it easier to get in and out, perfect for beginners still honing their technique. The free cockpit also gives you more room to adjust your seating position. Sit-on-top kayaks have a very open deck area.

Paddle holder

A convenient paddle holder or bracket keeps your paddle safe during paddling or fishing breaks. It prevents beginners from accidentally falling into the water.


Bright colors such as yellow and orange ensure good visibility and safety. Some kayaks incorporate reflective accents or LED lights to increase your visibility on the water.


Inflatable kayaks are the cheapest, ranging from $200 to $600. Prices for recreational hard cases range from $300 to $1,000. A quality fishing kayak or touring kayak costs over $1,000. Set your budget and find the best-equipped kayak for the price.


Look for kayaks that come as a complete package with paddles, pumps (inflatables), carry bags, repair kits and any other necessary accessories. This eliminates the additional cost entirely. Customize with storage racks, rod holders and gear rails.

Kayaking Accessories for Beginners

Investing in a few kayak accessories can make your time on the water safer, more comfortable and more convenient. Here are some recommended accessories for beginners.

Life Jacket – Wearing a USCG approved life jacket or life jacket is essential for your safety. Look for a comfortable model that allows easy movement.

Helmet – Protect your head in the rapids. Choose a lightweight, breathable helmet.

Eye protection – Wear sunglasses or goggles with retention straps to protect your eyes from sun glare, wind and splashes.

Gloves – Protect your hands from blisters with neoprene, rubber, and fingerless padded gloves.

Water Shoes – Wear non-slip wading/lunch shoes to avoid slipping. Look for materials that dry quickly.

Dry Bag – Keep your gear and valuables dry in the roll-up dry bag. Look for durable ripstop nylon or vinyl bags.

Car Rack – Securely transport your kayak with a roof rack or towbar rack. Anchor the boat using the bow/stern line.

Skirt – Neoprene splash skirt keeps water out of seat cockpit (for whitewater kayaks).

Bilge Pump – Uses a small hand or electric pump to quickly remove water from the hull.

Anchor System – Uses anchors, ropes and bags to drop anchors and hold position on the water.

Safety Whistle – Use the whistle attached to the lifejacket to call for help if needed. Headtorch – Weatherproof LED headtorch for hands-free use when paddling at night.

Dry Box – Keep your electronics and snacks dry and organized in a waterproof plastic case.

Paddle Leash – Always use a paddle leash to avoid losing your paddle in the water.

Frequently Asked Question

What is the most stable kayak for beginners?

Wider sit-on-top recreational kayaks are the most stable. Look for flat, wide hulls over 30 inches wide. Inflatable kayaks are very stable even when fully inflated. A wider kayak can slow you down, but it can also help beginners feel more confident.

Are inflatable kayaks good for beginners?

Inflatable kayaks are a great choice for beginners due to their stability, affordability, and portability. With a durable PVC construction, the highly rigid inflatable performs similarly to a hardshell his kayak. Easy to carry and store.

What size kayak is best for a beginner?

A kayak less than 12 feet long and 30 inches wide is recommended for beginners for optimum control, maneuverability and directional stability. 8-10 foot kayaks are great for lakes and calm rivers. Paddling in wide open water will go longer.

How much does a decent beginner kayak cost?

Entry level inflatable kayaks cost around $200 to $400. Expect to spend between $400 and $800 for a good entry-level hard-shell recreational kayak for quality materials and accessories. Additional equipment and consumables are subject to additional charges.

What should I look for when buying my first kayak?

Above all, we focus on stability and ease of use. Note the wide beam, flat floor, large cockpit, thigh braces and ample load capacity. Comfort features such as padded seats and adjustable footrests are highlighted. Additional storage space is also useful.

Should I start with a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak?

For absolute beginners, we recommend sit-on-top recreational kayaking. Since it is an open deck, boarding and disembarking is smooth and comfortable. Seat kayaking requires more technique. Once you’ve mastered the basics, sit down.

How do I transport my kayak to the water?

The safest is a car roof rack that carries the kayak hull. Use bow/stern safety lines. Another option is a towbar carrier. For short distances, placing the kayak on foam blocks on the roof of the car also works well. Have a friend help you lift and carry the heavy kayak.

Final thoughts on choosing the best kayak for beginners

Kayaking is a fun and challenging sport that can be enjoyed by anyone with the right beginner kayak. When choosing your first boat, focus on stability, comfort, ease of use and versatility.

Consider your local paddling conditions, typical riders and budget and choose the ideal option that will allow you to develop your skills safely.

Remember to put safety first by wearing a life jacket, learning the proper technique and respecting your skills. With patience and practice, kayaking allows you to explore breathtaking destinations only accessible by water.

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