If you are just starting out in the kayaking world we recommend that you opt for a high-quality beginner kayak. This will help you to fall in love with this beloved outdoor activity. Similar to canoeing, kayaking allows you to go into higher surf as well as is great for solo use. Kayaking is an excellent sport whether you bring a friend or go solo.
Easy to portage, kayaks come with double sided paddles that make it easy to maneuver on your own. Once more advanced, you can even take this sport to the next level by taking on the open ocean or handling the waves crashing around you on a white water experience. There has never been a better time to get started loving this sport. To help get you on your way, we have made a list of the eight best kayaks for beginners.
How To Choose The Best Beginner Kayak – Buying Guide
Kayaking can be an incredibly serene and meditative experience. A comprehensive upper body workout, this will feel like much more than a simple exercise but rather a fun activity. Great when going on solo trips, or bring the whole family, kayaking is easy and can take you places you wouldn’t normally be able to go. The small design allows you to go in just about any body of water from narrow rivers to the vast open ocean. Kayaks for beginners come equipped with storage areas which allow you to go for quick hour long paddles or extend your trip into a week long camping experience. Easy to maneuver and a relatively stable ride makes this sport easy to learn and quick to fall in love with.
Before you go out and buy your first kayak there are some things you should understand about these boats.
What Is The Best Kayak For Beginners?
A key feature that distinguishes the best starter kayaks is stability. Not only do you need to wrap your mind around sitting on the water, but the motion of paddling in a kayak is unlike any other water sport. Getting the right balance to paddle and move around in the open water will take time. Starting out with a more wide and buoyant ship will instill the confidence you need to graduate to the longer and skinnier rafts. Having a lightweight boat will also increase ease, especially for beginners, as you will not have to paddle as hard to glide across the water. Before you go it is important to know that, as with any water sport that takes you into the open water, it is important to carry a safety life jacket on board at all times. The US coast guard will monitor that this is done and it will increase your peace of mind on board.
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These are kayaks that sport a hard, typically plastic, material. They are a bit more difficult to transport as they can’t be made smaller or stuffed into the trunk of your car. Keep in mind that you will have to carry these to the water’s edge. Depending on your strength and dexterity it may be difficult to get this off the roof of your car and to your launch point.
The rigid material allows you to throw them around in and out of the water. You don’t need to be overly careful with how you dock or enter them as the material is more forgiving than inflatables. They also offer great stability with a wide base and high side walls. These are the traditional kayaks you will find. A hard shell will provide lots of peace of mind and are great for those with dogs, or who worry about the prospect of inflating your boat every time you look to use it. This simple kayak for beginners is ready to go when you are, without any setup time.
Most people would agree that recreational kayaks are the best type for newcomers to this sport. They are kayaks for beginners that will do a lot of things well but won’t limit you to a specific situation. For example, fishing kayaks have been designed to be wider and better at stability and less for speed. With that being said, a touring kayak will be great for speed but not the best for fishing.
A recreational kayak will be able to keep you entertained for entire weekend trips, or a short trip to the lake after work. It will allow you to learn and grow your experience and confidence on the water while being forgiving and fun at the same time.
Types of Beginner Kayaks
Just like any boat, there are many different types and shapes of kayaks. Each one has it’s pros and cons and should be thoroughly researched before you decide on one. The two major categories are inflatable and rigid kayaks. There are subcategories for each, but beginners need to learn and focus on these two main types before deciding on the best rig for them.
Rigid Kayaking can be an incredibly serene and meditative experience. A comprehensive upper body workout, this will feel like much more than a simple exercise but rather a fun activity. Great when going on solo trips, or bring the whole family, kayaking is easy and can take you places you wouldn’t normally be able to go. The small design allows you to go in just about any body of water from narrow rivers to the vast open ocean. This beginner kayaks come equipped with storage areas which allow you to go for quick hour long paddles or extend your trip into a week long camping experience. Easy to maneuver and a relatively stable ride makes this sport easy to learn and quick to fall in love with.
Being able to deflate and throw in the trunk of your car is the main feature of inflatable kayaks. They are easy to bring to the water and only require quick inflating. Made of heavy duty material, these are exceptionally durable and most are puncture resistant. With modern advances, these boats are more durable than ever before. Even safe to bring your dog with you these boards are often lighter and much easier to use, especially when portaging.
Features of these include removable skegs – the tracking fin system, I beams for added structure support, and inflatable seats that can add comfort and support. They usually come with packages that allow you to buy and drive to your favorite spot.
When you are looking to purchase the best beginner kayak there are many things you should consider. The item in the package is an important part of the kayaking experience. Not having to search and purchases added items can not only save you money but get you on the water enjoying yourself quicker.
Since these obviously do not require inflation they don’t need a pump. Look for packages that include paddles and everything you need for the seat. Don’t worry, both of these are easy to set up. There are also skirts that can be purchased for areas with high spray or rough water and keep your lower half dry and comfortable.
Since this type of kayak for beginners requires inflating the main thing to look for is the pump. Being able to quickly and easily pump this to its recommended PSI will get you on the water with ease. Paddles and inflatable seats are typically also included and make it easy to start paddling on the water. Repair kits are also included but are rarely needed.
There are a few different styles of beginner kayaks you can choose from. If you are just starting out in the sport you may want to look for the best kayak for beginners so that, you can do many things well instead of one thing excellent.
A 2-person kayak will be best if you are looking for something for your entire family. It has two seats which allow you paddle with your kid or even bring your dog along for a ride on the water.
If you are more of a do it yourself kind of person a single seat kayak will do the trick. These will often have more of a variety to choose from. A fishing kayak is one version that has been specifically tuned for stability and fishing. It will have more space for things like gear and even a cooler and tackle box.
If you live in a small apartment or don’t have the ability to transport your kayak you can look into inflatable kayaks. They don’t take up lots of space and can be transported in the trunk of a car. They also offer many of the same features as rigid body kayaks.
White water kayaks are a whole different beast. They will be more watertight than normal kayaks. This type will also have a different shape as they need to move through the water gracefully. If you are planning on taking your kayak through white water, make sure it is rated for that activity. You could find yourself in danger if you take another type into these waters.
Recreational kayaks are what most beginner rigs will be. They are great all around boats. You will be able to paddle lakes and calm rivers with ease. You get all this for a reasonable price without breaking your budget.
If you’re looking for the best kayak for beginners that can go for weekend trips or on the ocean you will want a touring kayak. These will have lots of storage space and a longer body than regular kayaks. The hull will have a long nose and tail which adds stability while making paddling easier.
Sit On Top Vs Sit Inside Kayaks
Most beginners prefer a sit on top style kayak. This allows them to have their legs and body free from being enclosed. Sit inside kayaks can make people feel claustrophobic and not allow them to push the boundaries like a sit on top would.
The materials your kayak is made from will affect nearly every aspect of your kayaking experience. This includes how heavy it is, how much it will cost and how it rides in the water. When you’re new to kayaking we suggest getting a boat made from a polyethylene material. This gives you a durable boat that can take a beating while you learn the ins and outs of kayaking.
More expensive boats can be made from fiberglass or even carbon fiber. Both of these types of materials make the boat more expensive, but also lighter and more agile. With that being said, they won’t be able to stand up to abuse from rocky shores like that of a more plastic boat.
A longer boat will be something you grow into. Beginners will appreciate a boat on the shorter side. This will make it easier to maneuver through the water. Knowing that your boat will be able to take corners better will allow you to play your route through the water, that’s why the best kayaks for beginners can range from 6.5 feet to over 13 feet.
Width And Depth
As we said, the best kayaks for beginners also needs to be of a certain width and depth. This will ensure the boat will be less prone to tip in the water. A wider boat will give you the ability to move around without feeling as if you are going to tip over and fall into the water. But a wider boat will be slower in the water and can take more effort to paddle.
You will also want a boat that sits lower in the water. A lower center of gravity will also make the boat more stable. This works in the same way as a higher car will have body roll when going around corners. When a low center of gravity is combined with a deeper boat you have a near perfect entry-level kayak.
There are a few features you should be careful when looking for the best entry level kayak.
- A kayak paddle clip will be able to free up your hands so you can do other things, like take photos, fish, or even jump into the water without your paddle floating away.
- We suggest getting the most comfortable seat you can. This will make your trips as long as you want and not be dictated by your discomfort. Some seats are able to be removed and upgraded, but that takes time, effort and money. Finding a kayak with a comfortable seat will save you all of these things.
- If you can, find a boat that has a removable skid plate. This is a piece of material that sits at the bottom of your kayak. Its job is to protect your boat from.
As we mentioned earlier a beginner boat should be as stable as it can be. Even though this will sacrifice things like speed and turning it will allow you to build confidence in your kayak and being on the water in general.
If you need extra stability you can look into stability aids. They are essentially inflatable pontoons that you fit around your boat. Even though they can make paddling a little difficult they can be great for getting used to being in a kayak on the water.
Since you are getting used to nearly every aspect of your kayak you will want one that is durable. This means being made out of a material that will stand up to rocky shores and taking the occasional bump. We like boats that are made from a polyethylene substance. This is a fancy way of saying plastic. You may hesitate when you hear this, but it’s actually a great material for kayaks. Companies have designed this material to be lighter and more durable than in the past.
Other Useful Gear
Kayaking is all about the gear you bring with you. There are a few pieces that will help make your time learning this sport much easier and safer.
- No matter what your skill level you should always wear a helmet and personal flotatation device (PFD). These are essential pieces of safety gear that can save your life in dangerous situations.
- Water shoes will help protect your feet from sharp rocks especially in the ocean. They are inexpensive and will allow you to launch your boat with confidence and have your feet dry in no time at all. We don’t recommend using flip flops as they can actually be dangerous when launching. These shoes can get lodged between rocks and even cause you to fall.
- If you are kayaking in cold water, or offseason, you will want to wear a wetsuit. Cold water can wreak havoc on your body and can even cause hypothermia. A wetsuit can add an extra barrier between you and the water and give you the time to get out of it and back onto your boat.
- A dry bag or backpack will give you extra storage space for your sensitive equipment. Nobody wants to spend a day on the kayak, find the best campsite only to find that all their gear is soaking wet. A dry bag will give you the peace of mind that your gear will be as dry as when you first put it in the bag.
- Dive knives aren’t just for scuba diving and snorkeling. They can come in handy when you’re on your kayak as well. If you somehow get yourself tangled you can simply cut yourself free.
Q: How To Kayak As A Beginner?
Kayaking is an incredibly popular sport as it is relatively easy to do and there are so many options to get into. Whether your hope is to use your kayak for fishing or camping you may want to start with some lessons to get the hang of things. Kayaks are a bit trickier than canoes as you will have to steer and propel yourself in a single stroke. Before you get in the water you will want to know the right clothes to wear for the occasion. It is important to always pack a change of clothes in a dry bag just in case you do fall into the water.
Having the right kayak for your skill level is ideal. Not all are best suited for new kayakers are made equally and having one specifically designed for beginners will help to make learning easier. Look for boats that have a wider base. This will give you more stability when you are paddling and in rough water. You can also use your legs and hips to help you get a smooth stroke through your paddle.
Kayaks are considered boats when in the water and therefore require a life vest to be worn. This can save your life in the event of an unexpected trip into the water. If you do fall in, be sure to get yourself back into the water as quickly as possible in an effort to stay safe. When you are just learning how to kayak it is important that you always do so with a buddy. This is important for your safety as you will have someone there to help you in case of an emergency.
Q: How To Choose A Beginner Kayak?
Before you start shopping for your new kayak you will want to be as well informed as possible. As kayaking is such a popular sport, the market is heavily saturated and you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed with the selection. If you understand the kayak lingo, you are more likely to have an easier time in your selection process. It is important to have a few things figured out before choosing your next kayak.
Knowing the key features to look for, the different types of kayaks and the price points they come with will help your buying process go a lot smoother. To start, you will need to decide on the biggest factor: whether you want a sit-on-top kayak or the more traditional sit-in kayak. This will greatly help in reducing the number of options for you. Narrowing down how you intend to use your kayak will be a great help in deciding the type of kayak. Create a budget. Knowing how much you are willing to spend before you shop will help you stay on track.
While you’re a beginner and are looking for a kayak that suits your skill level, it is important to realize that you are likely going to be using your kayak for years. As they are a relatively big investment it is ideal to buy one with enough features to hold your interest. Be sure that the kayak you choose has enough storage space for your intended use. Camping kayaks, those that are used for multi-night trips, will require a lot more storage than a recreational boat.
Q: What Kind Of Paddle For Kayak Beginners?
Most kayaks these days will come with a paddle. This will be good enough to start with, but you may want to upgrade when you get more comfortable on the water. If your kayak package doesn’t come with one there are a few things you should look for including the materials used to make it, the width and shape.
A beginner paddle will usually be made with heavier materials like plastic. You can upgrade this to a fiberglass blade if you want something a little lighter. The width of the paddle should be at least 26 inches wide. This will allow you to paddle without moving it around too much to get from side to side. The blade can also be symmetrical or asymmetrical. This will affect how it reacts when you put it in the water. Beginners will usually want a blade that is symmetrical.
Q: What Do You Wear When Kayaking?
When heading out for your day on the water, you will likely be wondering what you should wear. Well, this depends largely on where you are kayaking. It is important to consider the temperature of the water before deciding on an outfit, not simply the air temperature. As you are sitting in the water, you should wear clothing that is suitable for falling in the water, even though you plan to stay dry.
In tropical climates you will have a wider choice of what to wear. While it is suitable to paddle in simply a bathing suit, you will want to consider the sun. The reflection of the sun on the water will act as a mirror doubling your sun exposure. This can lead you to get burnt much faster than on the beach. For this reason, we recommend wearing a light layer of clothing to act as a sun protector for your skin.
In cooler climates, you will need to pay more mind to how you dress. The key to success here is layers! Wearing layers will help to ensure that you are able to keep your body temperature ideal throughout the whole day. It doesn’t only matter the type of clothing you wear but the material your clothing is made out of is also important. Materials such as cotton are not desirable for kayaking as they soak up water and can leave you feeling cold quickly.
Instead, opting for wool clothing is best. When wool is wet, it still keeps you warm acting as an insulator which is incredibly important. The difference between cotton and wool could be life saving if in cooler climates. Being wet is the biggest contributing factor to getting hypothermia. Regardless of how well you are packed, be sure to always pack a pair of dry clothes along with you in a waterproof backpack. This way if you do end up in the water, you have something to change into.
Q: What Equipment Should I Bring When Kayaking For The First Time?
Your first time out on the water, you are likely going to need more gear than you would on an average trip. A packing list should include first and foremost a life vest. This should be worn at all times but at the very least should be brought on board. You will also need to bring along some first aid device. While you will likely not have any incident on the water, it is always better to be properly prepared.
You will also want to pack plenty of fresh drinking water. This will help you
Q: How Safe Are Kayaks?
Kayaking is an incredibly safe sport. Enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels, this sport is widely popular. Companies work hard to ensure that boats are designed with ultimate safety in mind. Beginners are advised to take short trips out to calm, still water until they have built up their confidence levels. It is also important to ensure you have a buddy with you for all of your trips.
While kayaking is generally quite a safe sport, it is still important that you take safety precautions. These most important being the use of a top rated big and tall life vest. Personal flotation devices should be worn at all times when paddling on the water, especially by beginners. While these boats are designed to be quite stable you still have a fair chance at capsizing. This becomes even truer when just learning.
It is also recommended to pack a set of dry clothes in a waterproof bag to help you in the event of an emergency. Likewise, you will want to have a basic emergency kit on board. This should include extra drinking water as you are incredibly exposed to the elements when out for a day on the water.
Globo Surf Overview
Moving your activities to the water can be a very rewarding experience. Kayaking provides not only an excellent upper body workout but also a great way to relieve stress. The reviews about the best kayaks for beginners agree that it’s important to get a boat that is both durable and has a ton of stability. With the proper boat, kayaking can be an incredibly fun experience. All the boats on our list will take you through your learning and intermediate paddles allowing you to go into still water and mild surf with ease. We don’t recommend using these through rough rapids or for extended periods in unpredictable waters such as the open ocean.
Fishers often turn to kayak for beginners so that they have the flexibility to get to the places that regular bigger boats will not allow. Watch as you have endless opportunities with these lightweight and easy to transport boats. You’ll be a kayaking expert in no time with these boats that are designed for people just like you.
More Kayak Reviews:
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- Lightweight Kayak
- Tandem Fishing Kayak
- Kayak Seat
- Motorized Kayak
- Fishing Canoe
- Ocean Kayak
- River Kayak
- Kayak Anchor
- Kayak Trolling Motor
New to kayaking or have a kayak on our list? Let us know how you like it in the comment section below.