Written by 11:53 pm Kayaking, Kayaking Boats

My Best Kayaks for Beginners (Comparison & Buying Guide)

(Last Updated On: July 1, 2021)

QUICK ANSWER: MY BEST KAYAKS FOR BEGINNERS

MY BEST KAYAKS FOR BEGINNERS COMPARISON:

PRODUCT FEATURES PROS/CONS   PRICE
NRS STAR OUTLAW II

Suits beginners with its high stability and the right price
Length: 12’2″
Width: 38″
Type: Inflatable
Kayak maximum capacity: 400 lbs.
Kayak weight: 41 lbs.
Features: 16″ rocker – Bow and stern handles for easy carrying – Drop-stitch floor insert – PVC-coated polyester
Compact
Tracks very well
Very stable with its 38″ width
Climb over waves with it rocker
2-year at least warranty
Light
Abrasion resistance
Includes a repair kit
Easy storage and transportation
Can be pricey for some
Needs to be dry before storage
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on
Colorado Kayak
AIRE TRIBUTARY TOMCAT

Suits heavy beginners with its load capacity of 500 lbs and the right price
Length: 12′ 6″
Width: 38.5″
Type: Inflatable
Kayak maximum capacity: 500 lbs.
Kayak weight:44 lbs.
Features: Adjustable seats – One-way Summit II air valves – Includes a repair kit – Cargo loops to tie in gear – Bow/stern carry handles
Stay rigidly inflated even after 6 years of use
Can easily handle class III-IV water 
May be pricey for some
Just 1-year of manufacturer warranty
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on
Outdoor Play
FEELFREE LURE II OVERDRIVE

Best for beginners with dogs or ones that want to move with a pedal
Length: 14ft. 2in
Width: 36 in
Type: Rigid – Sit-on-top 
Kayak maximum capacity: 475 lb
Kayak weight: 114 lbs
Features: Dry storage – Patented Gravity Seats – Patented Wheel in the Keel – Sturdy molded-in handles for easy transport – Built-in Bow, Stern and Side Carry Handles – Two Fishing Rod Holders – Adjustable seat backrest – Rear overdrive Pedal System – Removable sonar and electric sonar pod
Overdrive, Motordrive, and rudder ready
Stable for standup fishing
Relatively lightweight
Platform keeps your feet firmly planting while standing
The hull allows the boat to roll and pitch over waves
Limited storage space
High price
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Water Outfitters
AQUAGLIDE CHINOOK 120

Stable inflatable kayak with a nice price and high load capacity
Length: 12 ft
Width: 37 in
Type: Inflatable
Kayak maximum capacity: 550 lbs
Kayak weight: 29 lbs
Features: Breathable high backrests – HexShell 600-denier ripstop polyester makes it puncture resistance – Front and rear bungee storage areas – Paddle holders keep your paddles in place when not in use 
Easy storage in a closet or a trunk
Plenty of room for a dog and gear
Good tracking, even with just one fin
Durable
Storage requires it to be dry
One user said it is pain to inflate, but an electric pump will speed up the process
Check Price
on
REI

MY BEST KAYAKS FOR BEGINNERS REVIEWS:

NRS STAR OUTLAW II

  • Length: 12’2″
  • Width: 38″
  • Type: Inflatable
  • Kayak maximum capacity: 400 lbs.
  • Kayak weight: 41 lbs.
  • Features: 16″ rocker – Bow and stern handles for easy carrying – Drop-stitch floor insert – PVC-coated polyester
  • Pros: Compact – Tracks very well – Very stable with its 38″ width – Climb over waves with it rocker – 2-year at least warranty – Light  – Abrasion resistance  – Includes a repair kit – Easy storage and transportation
  • Cons: Can be pricey for some – Needs to be dry before storage

AIRE TRIBUTARY TOMCAT

  • Length: 12′ 6″
  • Width: 38.5″
  • Type: Inflatable
  • Kayak maximum capacity: 500 lbs.
  • Kayak weight:44 lbs.
  • Features: Adjustable seats – One-way Summit II air valves – Includes a repair kit – Cargo loops to tie in gear – Bow/stern carry handles
  • Pros: Stay rigidly inflated even after 6 years of use – Can easily handle class III-IV water 
  • Cons: May be pricey for some  – Just 1-year of manufacturer warranty

FEELFREE LURE II OVERDRIVE

  • Length: 14ft. 2in
  • Width: 36 in
  • Type: Rigid – Sit-on-top 
  • Kayak maximum capacity: 475 lb
  • Kayak weight: 114 lbs
  • Features: Dry storage – Patented Gravity Seats – Patented Wheel in the Keel – Sturdy molded-in handles for easy transport – Built-in Bow, Stern and Side Carry Handles – Two Fishing Rod Holders – Adjustable seat backrest – Rear overdrive Pedal System – Removable sonar and electric sonar pod
  • Pros: Overdrive, Motordrive, and rudder ready – Stable for standup fishing – Relatively lightweight – Platform keeps your feet firmly planting while standing – The hull allows the boat to roll and pitch over waves
  • Cons: Limited storage space – High price

AQUAGLIDE CHINOOK 120

  • Length: 12 ft
  • Width: 37 in
  • Type: Inflatable
  • Kayak maximum capacity: 550 lbs
  • Kayak weight: 29 lbs
  • Features: Breathable high backrests – HexShell 600-denier ripstop polyester makes it puncture resistance – Front and rear bungee storage areas – Paddle holders keep your paddles in place when not in use 
  • Pros: Easy storage in a closet or a trunk – Plenty of room for a dog and gear – good job of tracking, even with just one fin – Durable
  • Cons: Storage requires it to be dry – One user said it is pain to inflate, but an electric pump will speed up the process

HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR BEGINNER KAYAK:

WHAT IS THAT YOU REALLY WANT?

Before you head out in search of the best beginner kayak, you first have to figure out what you really want. Are you looking for a low entry kayak with the intention of upgrading to a more advanced kayak in the future? Do you want something you can go fishing with? Are you buying a kayak you can tag along a friend? There are different types of kayaks we have in the market and it will make a lot of sense if you first have an idea of what you really want to do with it.

For beginners, a sit on top or recreational kayak will make a lot of sense. These are the options for calm and river kayaking. However, if you are looking at doing more extreme adventures like whitewater paddling, you need to get a boat that is a little bit more specialized and in this case a sea kayak. A recreational boat should never be used in oceans and also big lakes.

TYPES OF KAYAKS

We have quite a number of kayaks in the market. Each is designed to handle different conditions. Here are some of the most popular types of kayaks.

  • Recreational kayaks: These are some of the most common types of beginner boats. They don’t come with any serious design and typically made to handle gentle rivers, or flat lakes or any other less demanding kayaking activity. Recreational boats are quite comfortable and easy to handle. They are also incredibly affordable.
  • Fishing kayaks: As the names suggest, these are meant for serious kayakers who also happens to be serious anglers. They come with generous space for your fishing gear and also to make you comfortable. If you know you are going to do some serious fishing, you need this kind of boat. However, ensure it comes with other handy features like rod holders and even an anchor.
  • Touring kayaks: These boats do so well on open water on long trips. They are well designed and they are usually all about speed, efficiency, and long journeys as well. They come with adequate space to store your camping gear. They are also designed to handle some unique paddling situations like sea kayaking.
  • Tandem kayak: These are special designs of kayaks. Unlike the rest, they are made to take in more than two paddlers. Unless it is a sit on top, they often come with two separate cockpits. So for people who want to tag along with a friend, this is the best option. Tandem kayaks are also for those auctioned packed family outings
  • Foldable/inflatable kayaks:  If you are looking for something that is highly portable, you need to invest in a foldable or inflatable kayak. They can be easily folded down or even blow up to fit into your backpack.

SIT IN OR SIT ON TOP

Deciding on which one to go for between these two, at times, is a matter of preference. However, as a beginner is it important you know what each one is all about. That will help you make a very informed choice.

  • SIT ON TOP:

This is quite popular and that is because of a number of reasons including durability, ease of use, self-bailing and also simplicity. Since you sit right on top, you get to enjoy a lot of room for your gear, goodies and also a lot of room to wiggle around. These are the best for fishing and recreational purposes.

What makes them great: Sit on top boats come with a lot of practical benefits. First, they are more beginner-friendly. They are quite easy to get in and out. They are also self-bailing and with them, you really don’t have to worry about water getting into your boat. They come with one drawback though; they are only suitable for warm weather. You are also likely to get really wet from water dripping off your paddle and splashes from waves.

  • SIT IN INSIDE KAYAKS:

As the name suggests, part of your body is enclosed in the inside of the cockpit. With this option, you get protected from the elements. Plus, you can easily attach another feature called the spray skirt and that gives you greater protection from water and wind.

What makes them great: These are the best boats for cold weather conditions. Secondly, since you have that low profile, you can easily control the boat for you will experience less wind resistance. Plus, since you get that lower center of gravity, sit-in kayaks are highly stable.

STABILITY

When starting out, stability should be your first priority.  The last thing you want is finding yourself tipping over. So when looking for the best beginner kayak, take your time and find a stable kayak that can handle a bit of rocky movement.  When it comes to stability, we have two main types; primary stability and secondary stability.

  • Primary stability: This is actually the kind of stability you get when you are on calm water, performing those low motion movements, entering or even exiting the kayak and or even you are just still.
  • Secondary movement: This basically refers to how stable your boat when you are in rough waters, like white water kayaking. It is also could mean that the stability you get when you are traveling at high speed.

In the end, if you want to achieve these two great stabilities, you need to go for a kayak with a flatter bottom. That alone will allow you to achieve the best stability. However, you should be ready to sacrifice a few things. First, you will lose the ability to make a turn real quick. Bottom line; you will have to decide what is more important to you before you could make a choice between these two.

FEATURES TO LOOK OUT FOR

When getting started out, obviously, you may not be aware of all the features you would need your kayak to offer. Here are some of the most important features you need to ensure your boat comes with.

  • Gear compartments

If you know you are going to be carrying a lot of kayaking items like fishing gear and also food, you need to find out the number of storage options you are getting from that particular boat. Some boats offer better storage space than others; you might want to go for one with a lot of storage space.

  • Portability:

If you don’t want to have any issues when it comes to transporting your kayak, ensure you go for a lightweight design or one that can be collapsed into a packable size. In this case, you can’t go wrong if you choose an inflatable kayak. They can be deflated and packed into a really small size. That is not even all; most of them are now durable and can handle rough use.

  • Comfort

In this case, we are going to focus on the seat. Since you will be seated on it for the better part of your kayaking, you need to ensure you are getting the highest level of comfort. Designers have in the past tried to refine this part of the kayak and we now have some of the most comfortable seats ever designed. However, other than just looking at the seat, you might also want to ensure you are getting enough space in the cockpit. You need a kind of space you can move freely without feeling like you are a constraint in a corner.

Last modified: July 1, 2021

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