So you’ve decided to take up kayaking! Kayaking is an invigorating sport that be enjoyed alone or with friends. Kayaking allows you to get closer to nature from a unique angle. We’re certain that after your first glide out on the water, you’ll be hooked!
Before you can get to exploring, gliding, splashing and having fun, you need to get yourself a kayak. Seems simple, right? But not all kayaks are created equal.
Buying your first kayak, however, can be quite intimidating. There are so many types of kayaks, brands, paddles and various other accessories out there that it can become quite overwhelming. There are vast differences in prices of kayaks as well as the features of different kayaks and to make the best purchase for the type of kayaking you are looking to do, you need to do some research.
Reviews of the Best Kayaks for Beginners
1. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two
- Enjoy sun and surf with a friend or a furry companion with the kayak's three seating positions, which support solo, tandem, or tandem paddling with a child or pet.
- A pair of Comfort Plus seats provide four-way adjustability, generating a custom fit and greater slip prevention over molded seats.
- Patented overlapping foot wells allow center-seated paddlers to settle in and brace their feet comfortably. Hatches - None
This is a great kayak for anyone looking to get started in the world of tandem kayaking. This kayak is very lightweight for it’s size, and versatile in the fact that you can use this kayak as a one or two person kayak.
The seat welds are moulded in and the foot holds are adjustable (the kayak has overlapping footwells). This kayak is easily transportable due to its side carry handles. This kayak is great for kayak surfing or for kayaking on stiller rivers and lakes.
2. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1 Person Kayak
- 5-minute setup lets you spend more time on the water
- Easy-to-carry backpack system turns into the seat
- 21-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use
This inflatable one person kayak can hold up to 400 pounds which is impressive! This kayak is beyond easy to transport as it can actually be in a backpack. The material (21 gauge PVC vinyl) of this kayak is very durable despite being inflatable.
This inflatable and very comfortable kayak is perfect for adult kayaking beginners.
3. Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
- 18-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use
- 1000D tarpaulin bottom and 840D nylon cover provide durable protection from punctures
- Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured
Another great inflatable starter kayak from Coleman, this 2-person fishing kayak is perfect for tandem kayaking but can also easily be used as a solo kayak. This kayak is also made up of various inflatable sections, meaning that if one section becomes damaged or punctured, your kayak will stay afloat!
This kayak is perfect for those who want to start kayaking specifically to fish, as it has built in rod holders. A Sevylor trolling motor can also easily be mounted onto this kayak.
4. Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-in Kayak
- Large open cockpit with adjustable padded seat with high back support
- Convenient gear storage with shock cord deck rigging
- Adjustable foot braces
For those looking for a sit-in kayak. The Sun Dolphin Aruba is a recreational kayak (the largest selling kind of kayak in the world) that was specifically crafted as an entry level river kayak for those new to the sport.
The kayak is made of plastic and is both strong and well structured as well as lightweight, a great pro for newcomers. This kayak comes with built in spray deflectors which is part of what makes it the perfect beginner kayak for use on lakes and rivers. The cockpit is large making getting in and out of this sit-in much easier and the cockpit is spacious and fitted with foot braces.
5. Emotion Spitfire Sit-on-top Kayak
- Built in padded crs + ultra Lite seats. Two Quick release seat backs with padding
- Rear tank well with cargo net lacing. Skeg wheel for enhanced tracking & easy transportation. Storage hatch for added storage beneath the deck
- Molded-in freedom footwells for comfort and secure foot bracing. Four carry handles to assist in transport
For those looking for a sit-on-top kayak. The reviews for this kayak as a beginner kayak is off the charts. This boat is well crafted and stable, as well as short and light weight. This kayak is comfortable, it is equipped with removable padded seating and moulded footwells.
This kayak is also great for those just getting into the sport, who do not have roof racks yet, as it can easily fit into the back of a van or a SUV.
What to Consider when Buying Your First Kayak
Before you splash out on a kayak, as it can be an expensive purchase, you need to ask yourself a few questions. The answers to the questions below will guide you to the perfect kayak.
Are you kayaking on the sea, in rivers or lakes?
There are specialized kayaks for every environment you could possibly kayak in. Some kayaks are versatile and work well in various environments, and others are much more specified.
How much money do you want to spend?
Your budget plays a big part in the type of kayak, and the type of features you will be able to get.
Usually when you start out in a new sport, you do not go for the priciest equipment available, because for all you know, you might not even enjoy the sport that much and might even decide that you do not want to continue with it (most likely not with kayaking! But, I digress).
If you do have a little experience, you may want to spend more on your kayak.
How often are you going to use your kayak?
Once again, if you plan on using your kayak often, you would do better to spend a bit more on it. Maybe look into the material your preferred kayak is made of and find a more durable one, as wear and tear is inevitable with any sporting equipment.
Are you kayaking alone or with friends?
If you are going to be kayaking with family or friends or even taking your furry friend out on the water with you, you will obviously need to be looking at a tandem kayak instead of a single seater. The tandem kayak market is large, there are even some kayaks out there that can be converted from a tandem to a single. There are many options and if you do the research you will find the kayak that suits your needs.
How heavy are you?
You need to figure out much you weigh and how much any gear, food, water etc you would be taking on your kayaking trip with you would weigh. If you are heavier (or kayaking with a friend or a dog), you will obviously need a bigger, sturdier kayak.
How much storage space do you need?
Different kayaks have different amounts of storage space. If you are going to be using your kayak for longer trips, to get to camping areas or for fishing, you should be looking at kayaks that have adequate built in storage spaces.
How will you be transporting your kayak?
You don’t have to drive a 4×4 to transport a kayak, but it sure helps! Some of these boats can be more than a little heavy! The method in which you will be transporting your kayak dictates what type of material it is made up of and added features you can look at when buying one.
Inflatable kayaks are also a great option for newcomers to the sport. They are easily transportable and you can get a great idea of what works for you before committing to a more expensive purchase.
Do you want a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak?
The difference in these types of kayaks is fairly obvious from the name. You sit on top of the one, and you sit inside of the other. So which do you need for what?
- Sit-in kayak: if you are going to be kayaking in colder environments, this is the kayak for you as you are less likely to get wet. These kayaks are stable and very roomy, but they take more effort to get in and out of. Sit-in kayaks are also prone to flooding.
- Sit-on-top kayak: if you are kayaking in a more tropical climate, this is the boat for you. They are easy to get on to but you will get wet. These boats have holes for draining so you do not have to worry about the kayak flooding.
Now that you have answered these questions, you should have a more clear idea and direction on the type of boat you will need. Take this information with you online or to your nearest sporting goods store and you should be the proud owner of your perfect kayak in no time!
How to Use Your New Kayak
If you are a total newcomer to the world of kayaking and have absolutely no idea how to actually get out onto the water and use your kayak, don’t worry! The beginning steps are easily learned and there is a wealth of information available. Below we have compiled a shortlist of a few of the key starting practices.
Learn how to properly launch your kayak
The first step is getting your boat into the water. How you will launch your kayak will depend on how long, wide and heavy your kayak is, and whether it is inflatable or not. Information on launching kayaks exclusive to your kayak are all available online.
Learn how to get in and out of a kayak
If you make up your mind to buy a sit-in kayak, you will need to learn how to easily and safely get in and out of your kayak. There are hundreds of videos online that give you step by step visual examples of this process.
Learn proper techniques for paddling your kayak
Paddling is arguably the most important aspect of kayaking. If you do not know how to paddle properly, you will not enjoy your kayaking experience. Videos and paddling instructors are your best bet for learning proper techniques for the paddle you have chosen.
Learn how to adjust your kayak properly to your body
Your seat and footwells can be adjusted to aid you in your kayaking. Your kayak being properly adjusted can put you in the correct physical position to make your paddling easier and more effective.
The most responsible action to take before heading out onto the water is to go for a kayaking lesson, if possible. Kayaking instructors are passionate and knowledgeable, and will give you the best possible advice.
Important Tools and Accessories for Your First Kayak
While deciding on a kayak is the most important step, you are not ready to get onto the water unless you have all of your accessories. Kayaking is an inherently more dangerous sport, so you need to come prepared!
A paddle is the most important tool you will need to be able to kayak, without it, you literally cannot go anywhere. A good and high quality paddle will actually make the action of paddling less strenuous for you. The length and narrowness of the right paddle for you will also depend on the type of kayaking you will be doing.
After equipping yourself with a good paddle, it’s all about technique, so be sure to do your homework via books and videos to make sure you are getting the most out of your kayaking experience.
A First Aid Kit
The importance of a first aid can not be overstated, especially if you are new to kayaking and being on the water in general. You should never go out onto the water without a first aid kit and a clear knowledge on how to use the materials in your first aid kit.
As mentioned above, there are many types of kayaking to be done. White water kayaking is quite the adrenaline rush and is a little more dangerous in nature than say touring or fishing kayaking. If you intend to white water kayak, your helmet is your best friend. This is definitely one of those accessories that you splurge on, for your own safety.
A Personal Flotation Device
You should never go out onto the water without one of these. Make sure to get extra if you intend to kayak with others, especially children. They even make ones for dogs!
Stow this away in your first aid kit. You never know when disaster could stroke and a whistle could mean the difference between being located or not in such a time.
A Pump and a Sponge
Unwanted water in your kayak is a problem. If you are using a sit-in kayak then you are most likely going to experience flooding at some stage. So you have to consider how you are going to be pumping the water out of your kayak. These pumps and sponges are easy to use and relatively inexpensive.
If you are using a sit-in kayak then a pump and sponge are considered to be essential safety equipment.
A Rope or a Cord
Ropes and bungee cords can be used to perform various useful tasks when it comes to kayaking. From securing your gear onto your boat or securing your kayak to your vehicle for transportation, to being needed in an emergency, you should always have some extra rope or bungee cord stowed away in your kayak.
Safety and Instructional Books and Videos
Before beginning your journey into the exciting and seriously fun world of kayaking, you really need to get yourself acquainted with the many techniques and safety aspects of the sport.
There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of resources for you to check out. Highly rated books and DVDs created by experienced professionals are available for viewing or purchasing online.
Do your homework to ensure a safe kayaking adventure for you and your loved ones!