Kayaking can be a relaxing, slow-paced way to enjoy a quiet afternoon. Or it can be a heart-pound sport that requires a select set of skills.
But regardless of the type of kayaking you want to pursue, having the right gear can be the difference between falling in love with the sport or losing interest fast.
If you’re ready to give kayaking a try, keep reading. We’re bringing you a few of the best kayaks for beginners for a variety of styles of paddling.
1. Old Town Heron 9
If you’re brand new to the sport, you may not know what kind of kayaking or type of water you’ll enjoy the most. This means that you need to find the best starter kayak that can tackle a variety of environments.
The Old Town Heron 9 can do just that.
With its wide body, it will remain stable even on choppy waters. But it’s longer length makes it easy to remain on course even on longer paddles. A streamlined, sporty shape means less fighting against the water, which means that even new paddlers won’t wear out as quickly as they might with a larger, bulkier boat.
A large, padded seat and elongated cockpit make it a comfortable fit for paddlers of all shapes and sizes. At just 37 pounds, it’s lightweight enough to easily lift on and off their vehicle and into the water.
While this kayak can easily handle lakes and small rivers, beginner paddlers might struggle to keep it, or any kayak for that matter, stable in choppy conditions or on rapids.
2. Perception Impulse 10.0
If you’re dreaming of long floats down the water or afternoons spent on the lake, this is one of the best kayaks you could choose.
Like the Old Town Heron 9, the Perception Impulse 10.0 is wide enough to make it comfortable and stable for new paddlers. But it’s also long enough, at 10 feet, to make it easy to paddle longer distances.
What sets the Perception Impulse 10.0 apart is all of the space for bringing along gear. While you could easily get started paddling with just the basics, including a kayak, paddle, and lifejacket, this boat has space for bringing a cooler, packed lunch, or other gear to enhance your next paddling adventure.
3. Lifetime Youth Wave
When it comes to choosing the best kayaks for kids, there are a few qualities you should look for.
The first is stability. Kids tend to wiggle and move around, especially when they’re on the water. The last thing you want is a kayak that will tip over if your little one leans to one side to look for darting fish.
The next feature you should look for is the right length. Too long of a kayak will be impossible for small arms to turn.
Finally, you want a boat that is lightweight. Even if your kids won’t carry their own boat, if you’re also toting your own gear, you need something that is easy to pick up and transfer to the water.
The Lifetime Youth Wave is a great choice. Its 6 feet long and just 20 pounds, making it easy to transport, big enough to tackle larger bodies of water, but short enough to make it easy for kids to navigate. It even comes with its own paddle.
The Lifetime Youth Wave can hold up to 140 pounds, meaning its best suited for children 11 and under.
4. Bestway White Cap Inflatable SUP and Kayak
If you’re looking for beginner kayaks that you will get a lot of use out of, this is a great choice.
That’s because the Bestway White Cap Inflatable is both a stand-up paddleboard and a kayak. By simply adding a seat, you can convert this from a fun board for practicing your balance into a kayak that’s ready to hit the river.
Plus, because it is inflatable, its easy to pack for your next vacation or road trip, or to stow away in small apartments or your RV. It even comes with a folding paddle and pump so that you can hit the water as soon as it arrives-just don’t forget a life jacket!
5. Perception Triumph 13.0
Before you choose the best entry level kayak for you, you need to decide whether you want a sit-in or sit-on style boat.
While many of the beginner kayaks on this list are sit-in style, the Perception Triumph 13.0 is a sit-on. This means that rather than having a cockpit with high sides, it is flat, with a curved seat that rests on the top of the boat rather than inside of it.
Ther Perception Triumph is the best starter kayak for flat-water because it’s stable and easy to track
6. Current Designs Squall GTS
If you plan to learn to paddle on the ocean or any large body of water, you need a sea kayak. Longer than recreational boats so that its easier to track in choppy conditions, and designed to sit low in the water to resist wind, a sea kayak not only makes long paddles on large bodies of water more comfortable but also safer.
The Current Designs Squall GTS is one of the best kayaks for new paddlers. At 16 feet in length, it’s easy to track over long distances. It’s also stable enough to keep you upright even in rough conditions.
You can even add a rudder to this model to make it even easier to stay on course.
7. Dagger Mamba 8.1
Paddling down a leisurely river or across a calm lake is relaxing. But if you’re looking for something more exciting, you’ll want to try whitewater kayaking.
This fast-paced, heart-pounding sport can be tough to learn. If you’re going to try, it’s essential to choose a boat that is stable and easy to handle, so that nothing will stand between you and learning how to navigate rough rapids.
The Dagger Mamba 8.1 is a great choice. This creek boat is stable and easy to use, while also being versatile enough to allow you to really enjoy your new sport.
Choosing the Best Kayaks for Beginners
While choosing the best kayaks for beginners is important to planning a fun paddling adventure, its far from the most important planning step.
Before you get anywhere near your new boat, you need to learn how to read the water. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up capsized, which can put a quick and miserable end to any paddling trip.
If you’re ready to start learning, check out this guide for reading a river.