How to Overcome the Fear of Kayaking

The fear of capsizing in the middle of open water can scare us to death, especially if you are using a sit-in kayak. How do you get out of your boat and swim for the top while submerged under water?

To find yourself in a paddling situation outside of your comfort zone can be one of the worse feelings for someone who has had terrible experiences in the past. The scary feelings and thoughts we have may never go away.

Fortunately, we can take action and do things that make us all the braver and wiser. Let’s take a closer look at the best ways to overcome the fear of kayaking, and become brave for the open water.

The 7 Essential Tips to Becoming Braver Than Your Fear of Kayaking and the Water

It takes a little bit of effort and a lot of energy and time to break fears that we have, especially when it comes to the large bodies of water that we aren’t looking to spend every day of our lives on.

Go through these tips with an open mind and let yourself fantasize on finally conquering your fears by becoming a braver version of you.

1. Take Kayaking Lessons From a Certified Teacher

Getting the right training from the right person is essential. Safety in any water sport is vital, and learning from the best is step one of overcoming your fears.

How do we find the right instructor to learn from? Ask them what their credentials are, then ask to watch them teach other students.

We want to hear certain things from our potential instructor:  “I am an ACA certified instructor.”

This tells us they have the technical know-how, a keen understanding of safety and rescuing, and can teach individuals and large groups of people effectively.

Do you want to make sure ACA indeed certified them? Take a look at the database of certified instructors in different water sports, including kayaking.

You can learn how to paddle correctly, how to roll a kayak, and how to stay safe and apply self-rescue techniques when you are in the water.

2. Join an Experienced Group of 3 or More Paddlers for Support

There is strength in numbers.

If two brains are better than one, we can only imagine how awesome it is to have four. When you first start out, it can be essential to join up with a local group of paddlers to venture out into the wilderness.

You can do it alone, but if you find yourself frightened and unable to take action when the time matters, we want to be around good people for help.

After your kayaking lessons, ask around to see if anyone wants to take part in a kayaking group. You can also ask the instructor for suggestions on people you can connect with.

What if you can’t find anyone? Take to the digital web and try searching on Facebook and Twitter. You can use search terms like “kayak,” “kayaking” and “paddlers” along with your local town, city, or area name.

Introduce yourself, meet up with them for the first time, then see if you can put your kayaking lessons to the test. Don’t forget to ask for everybody’s phone numbers and emails for contact afterward!

3. Come Prepared With All the Right Safety Gears

Safety is no joke. We want to make sure we have everything we need to prevent any catastrophe from happening during an innocent day out in the water.

Capsizing, falling overboard, and drowning are all serious scenarios that should be respected and prepared for. The right gears can help mitigate the risk to any serious catastrophe from happening to you.

For starters, wearing the proper personal flotation device can help reduce your risks of drowning or other incident that we might not have thought about beforehand.

How do you ensure to come prepared the next time you go kayaking? We recommend carrying a checklist. We wrote a brief guide on things you should wear here. It should serve as a great starting point on important things to bring with you and the proper attire to wear.

4. Explore the World Wide Web and Find Videos of Other People Kayaking

Since we have access to the Internet and its entire glory, we can probably try to make use of it!

Doing a quick search on Google or YouTube can bring up search results of videos other people post of their trip venturing out onto the water. You can use search terms like “river kayaking,” “kayaking trip” and “kayaking lessons” can give you a greater insight to paddling in your boat thanks to the collective experiences of other people.

For example, check out this video on how to front ferry while kayaking:

5. Pace Yourself by Starting Small and in Easy, Calm Water

It might be a no-brainer to suggest starting your kayaking adventure in easy, calm water, but we’ve heard stories of people going straight for sea kayaking or river kayaking and getting caught up in a terrible situation.

Nobody got seriously hurt though! But sometimes we forget to set aside our ego, our embarrassment, our desire to prove that we can kayak and start off in a place that is way above our skill level.

If you find yourself afraid of the icy waters, crashing into fellow kayakers, or capsizing, give yourself time to take in all the little nuances that make up each danger and the overwhelming emotions that come with them.

By the way, there is no rush. The water will be there next week or the week after that. Even if you have to walk away, you can come back next time. Talk with your kayaking pals, instructor, or your partner.

Then, when you are back onto your feet, keep the pace up until you become a pro paddler.

6. Slowly Increase the Amount of Time Spent in Your Kayak Seat and the Water

For those with severe terror to the water and kayaking, it can take a lot of time, patience, and baby steps to becoming braver than your fears. Learning how to take baby steps can become an essential skill not only for kayaking, for other challenges we might face in our lives.

One key baby step is to monitor how much time you spend seated in your kayak while in the water. You can track this with a pen and paper, or chart it on your monthly calendar.

As you find yourself spending more and more time training, learning, and becoming brave, you can look back at your past successes with pride.

Pat yourself on the back for us because you were a better ‘you’ than yesterday!

7. Tap Into Your Imagination and Commit to Learning Visualization

We promise this isn’t some mumbo-jumbo technique pulled out from thin air. The art and science of visualization has been well-documented and can be seen used by world-class sports professionals.

The great thing about visualization is that you can do it wherever and whenever. All you need is some peace, quiet, and some time alone.

How can you start visualizing? There are two ways you can go about overcoming your fears.

The first method is to visualize the way you perform. Take note of the step-by-step process when it comes to kayaking. We want to envision all the things you can do as you imagine climbing into your boat and going out in the open water for the day.

The act of visualizing the course of actions we take help us anticipate and emotionally prepare for what is to come. It makes the situation known to you and the fear familiar.

The second method is to visualize negatively. This is where you spend some time looking at all the things that can go wrong and the consequences of the worst-case scenarios.

Whether it is drowning or capsizing because of a wave or while in a river, or finding yourself struggling to stay afloat in the water, we want to become again aware of the fear that drives our emotions and critically think about what it is we can do when we are in those situations.

Visualization gives us a chance to solve problems before they even happen. It allows us to recognize the fear for all its detail, break it down into specific problems, then let you to tackle the challenges one by one.

Armed with the right knowledge, some experience from your lessons, and the chance to watch videos of other people’s experiences, you can practice making the right decisions and judgment calls. This can give you self-confidence in your ability to kayak well.

Over time, as we continuously practice visualization, we become more aware of what is going through our minds and heart. That way, we can find it in us to brave the water and enjoy kayaking for what it can be: a sport and leisure fun.

Our Closing Thoughts

It can be difficult to break through the fear that holds us back from kayaking. Understanding and trying to follow the methods we listed above can help you find courage to brave the water.

Do your best to not take things so hard on yourself, don’t forget to breathe, and always look forward to all the fun you can enjoy. Good luck!

Why Are Kayaks Different Lengths?

There are several types of kayaks with each their own purpose. This design for the maximum utility to serve the purpose changes the appearance and size of the kayak. Let’s take a closer look at what each kayak type does and their typical dimensions to fit their job description.

The 3 Different Kayak Sizes and Their Dimensions

Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are typically sit-on-top designs for leisure use and comfort. Storage and space is not a priority, so we tend to find recreational designs not as long compared to other types. They do, however, have wider beams to provide better stability.

Recreationals tend to be 12 feet and under in terms of length. Their width may be anywhere between 27 to 36 inches. For sit-in kayaks, the cockpit can come in different shapes, but tend to be either oval or squarish in design, with 36 inches or greater in length and 20 inches or greater in width.

An example of a recreational kayak is the 10-feet Sun Dolphin Aruba and the inflatable 9-feet Intex Challenger K1.

Fishing (Angler) Kayaks

Kayaks built for fishing can also go by the name anglers. Angler kayaks are built to be stable laterally. This stability allow fishers space to carry fishing gear and equipment, for casting a fishing line, and for shuffling on the boat.  Some fishers may mount an electric trolling motor for driving the kayak which puts a higher demand for stability. This type of boat may also be lengthier than recreational kayaks to provide better tracking experience.

Anglers tend to be between 10 to 14 feet in length. They have wider beams (width of the kayak) than recreational kayaks that can be as wide as 42 inches long.

An example of a fishing kayak is the 13-feet Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost.

Sea and Touring Kayaks

Sea or touring kayaks tend to be long in length. They are built to stroll through water for longer miles. The designs provide better speed and gliding experiences for the longer distance, as well as extra storage space for carry-ons. The boats are built to be seaworthy, designed to ride wave water proficiently and for comfort during the longer times spent in the water. However, for their speed and performance, this design tend to trade off maneuvrability and stability with shorter boat widths.

Sea or touring can have a length ranging between 12 to 20 feet, or up to 24 feet for tandem. The width tend to be between 18 to 24 inches.

An example of a sea/touring kayak is the 16.5-feet Riot Kayaks Brittany and the 13-feet Perception Kayak Conduit.


Kayak length chart for 3 main types of kayaks: recreational, fishing, and sea and touring.

Does The Length Of A Kayak Matter?

The length of a kayak does not matter significantly in evaluating the capability of a kayak. At most, when you store a kayak for using the next time is when the length might play a role. We explain further by addressing what a kayaker may want to look out for when choosing the right kayak.

Sit-in Kayak Cockpit Dimensions Matter for Getting in and Out With Ease

When it comes to sit-in kayaks, the width and length of the cockpit hole is essential for both comfort and safety. The width of the hole addresses the waist size while the length of the hole is more about the ability to climb in and out of the cockpit.

The length tends to be an underestimated issue and its dimension should be watched out for. Typically, 32 inches or greater in length is suitable for individuals taller than 6-feet. It can allow for a comfortable “butt drop” followed by scooting the legs into the cockpit. 28 inches or less as a length can make climbing in and out of the cockpit uncomfortable.

As for the width, this will depend on the individual. Anything cockpit width greater than 20 inches is sufficient for most individuals. 18 inches or less can be uncomfortable for wider individuals.

Design Focus and Hull Design Affects Kayak Performance

As for the length of the kayak itself, this may not matter as much. The overall design of the kayak for a particular purpose, particularly the hull (bottom of the boat) has a higher impact to your kayaking experience. Some things the hull affects are the following:

  • Stability: How well a boat resists tipping over under normal water conditions
  • Tracking: How well a boat stays in a straight line while on the move
  • Speed and glide: How well a boat moves and it’s potential for higher speed
  • Maneuverability: How well a boat turns

Storage Compartments for Keeping Your Things on Board and Secured

Storage is another consideration point in deciding what kayak you may choose. After considering what items you may want to carry with you, we want to consider the storage capability of each model on its own merit. Recreational kayaks tend to have either one or no storage compartments while fishing kayaks tend to have multiple storage compartments of three or more.

Although length doesn’t play a huge role in the amount of storage space available, it can be used as an indication of whether a boat potentially have storage space and warrant further research.

What Are Kayaks Made Of?

There are three main categories of materials used for constructing kayaks: Polyethylene (plastic), Composite (blend of several ingredients), and Wood. Let’s take a closer look at what each does, the good traits about each and the bad traits as well.

3 Types of Kayak Materials


Polyethylene, also known as plastic, can be heated and converted into a tough and waxy-textured material that can be unaffected by the water and support a decent amount of weight very well. We find this type of plastic in different grades used in the seats of boats, flotation devices, bulk-heads, and paddles.

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  • The low weight of the boat makes it easy to carry and float
  • The low cost makes this material affordable for any beginner paddler

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  • The degree of quality and grades of polyethylene can affect the performance and lifespan of the boat, which can be difficult to assess
  • Use of lower grade plastic can affect the weight and durability of the boat


Plastic may not look as great as other types of kayaks, but they make up for it in affordability while still being highly durable. For new kayakers starting out, polyethylene is perfect for the few trips in a year. It is cheap, floats well, and gets the job done. They also tend to weigh much less than other materials.


Composite includes several materials made from laminates of fiberglass, aramid, carbon fiber, or a blend of the three. Kevlar and graphite composites also contribute to this material group. The use of these materials provides a higher quality of kayak with increased performance and durability. Boats made with composite materials tend to be light-weight, with an overall design and hull that is stiffer than plastic for better tracking and maneuvering in the water.

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  • They are faster and much more responsive in the water
  • The weight can be significantly lighter especially with the use of carbon and aramid
  • Can be easily repaired by searching online and following the guidance of a few YouTube kayak repair videos

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  • The high price relative to other material types
  • The stiffer material makes it fragile and susceptible to breaking when directly crashing into rocks or falling off your roof rack


Composite tends to look shinier and much more attractive than plastic. Although they can cost much more, their performance in the water is noticeable. For the committed kayaker, composite kayaks will be a worthwhile investment.


Wood kayaks use a wooden deck and hull that is typically covered in fiberglass, resin, and varnish to protect the wood layer from damage by moisture or other environmental factors. The wood makes the boat as durable as any other synthetic composite construction. It provides flexibility for the kayak to bend and absorb shock. Wood is also structurally efficient, making wooden boats light and float well on the water. There is also a selection of different types of wood available that can change the appearance, durability, weight, and performance of the boat.

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  • An endless number of designs and styling available for wood
  • Composite is just as strong as any other boat
  • Noticeably lighter for carrying vs. fiberglass counterparts
  • Stitch-and-glue kits available may not require an advanced wood-worker to build

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  • It can cost you to purchase from a craftsman or a lot of energy and time to build it yourself


Wood tends to look amazing, with the ability for the craftsmen to carve unique designs and style the boat. However, the amount of labor required to make wood kayaks tends to make up the bulk of the cost. It may also be difficult to find quality wooden boats built by reputable craftsmen.

Which One Is Right for You?

There are several ways to pick the material for yourself.

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  • Do you intend to use the kayak several times during the year?
  • Are you interested in kayaking frequently as a sport or for leisure?
  • How important is quality to you?
  • What budget do you have in mind?


Depending on your answers, you may look for a kayak that fits your budget or for long-term use.

One consideration from Kayak Dave and Alex from is whether you want to invest a little more money as a commitment to kayaking.

For some people, they may be interested in kayaking as a workout. Others may want to purchase a kayak for the occasional leisure paddling.

Our Closing Thoughts

Our general recommendation is for most people with a limited budget and simply want to test the waters out. The best type of kayak would be made with polyethylene. This minimizes your initial investment and the risk of mental distress from damaging your boat accidentally.

Whichever the case is, we hope this article helps to understand how each material type can benefit you and the challenges they may have.


What Muscles Do You Work When Kayaking?

Kayaking, as innocent as it can appear, makes use of many muscles. Unlike weight lifting, you are not isolating and targeting muscles. Although it appears emphasis is on the upper body and arm strength, we can be surprised to know the bottom half of the body is also contributing to the paddling motions.

In a previous article, we looked at how kayaking can be a good workout. The answer is: yes! The fantastic thing about kayaking is how you can control the intensity of the exertion required to propel your boat forward. Kayaking can become a cardio-intensive workout and build muscular strength as it puts a demand on both the endurance and power you have to paddle in the water.

Let’s take a closer look at how each of the specific muscle groups works together for kayaking.

How the Pros Train for Kayaking

Take a look at the video below first to see how the enthusiasts train for their kayaking, both in the gym and in the water.

The inspirational video shows how training can look like in the gym with weights, then how it looks like as an exercise routine in the water. Strong currents might appear scary for beginners, but this is what we can potentially work towards.

When you start out, enjoying the calm waters and learning how to paddle efficiently will be vital. Make sure you have the right gear and chose the right starting kayak to make things easier in the water.

Kayaking as a Workout

The flexibility to adjust the amount of resistance and intensity by changing the amount of effort you put into a paddling stroke can be seductive. For first-time paddlers, you won’t be surprised at how exhausted you might feel at the end of a session in the water. Simple as it the motions might be, paddling can put a high demand on your entire body.

You can do sprints in the water, long sets, increase the power behind each stroke, or adjust the grip on your paddle. All these little decisions can make use of many different types of muscles in your body at different degrees of demand.

What Muscles Does Kayaking Work?

Let’s explain how each of your muscle groups is involved in kayaking:

The Back Muscles

Every stroke may appear to be a single arm repetition, similar to a dumbbell row or seated cable row. However, the biggest muscles on your back, the latissimus dorsi (A.K.A. “lats”) draw torque power from the lower body and translate it to the upper body and arm movement. As one arm rows, the other arm extends and stretches.

Your lower back will also be involved in much of the paddle. The lower back provides the proper posture for the rest of your upper body to paddle properly. The wrong paddling technique can be strenuous so the backs do their work to set the right posture.

Make sure you install an adequate seat backrest with proper support. At the end of a paddling session, your back muscles may feel much more tired than expected and need to relax.

The Shoulder Muscles

Any arm-related exercise will include the shoulders. We find the rear head of the deltoids, which is the muscle that forms the contour over your shoulder, will be placed under tension as it contracts and elongates for every stroke.

Paddling does have a greater impact to the shoulder than typical back-isolated workouts. Since there is no linear direction as to how paddling is done, you can expect your shoulders to feel sore after some twists and turns in the water. The rotation of the shoulder can be demanding, and the assistance of the shoulder blades in pushing the kayak forward can be a good workout.

The Upper Arm Muscles

The triceps work more than the biceps for paddling, however, both are affected. The torque required for paddling with double-ended paddle blades provide a consistent workout for both arms. As one arm pulls the paddle through the water, the other arm extends and pushes forward to provide the extra torque power to drive the kayak.

As we begin to kayak, we tend to paddle with more of with our arms than our body. The same holds true for other sports such as golfing and baseball batting. However, as we become more proficient in our technique, despite the arm muscles contract to provide power, more of our body becomes involved in the motion.

The Forearms and Grip Muscles

The forearm and finger muscles also play a role in the paddling motion. This might be arguably the most important part of kayaking.

This muscle group handle and maneuver the paddle in a way that involves rotating, flexing, and extending the wrists. Both your forearms and hands will be tested for its endurance as you paddle at any and all degrees of intensity.

Hold on tight. The hands become the pivot point for the paddle rotation. The improper grip means less power. Also, the last thing we want is to lose our paddles!

The Ab Muscles

Although kayaking appears to involve the twisting of the upper body and power of the arms, the abs and lower body play an essential role as the muscle groups connecting point with the kayak.

The rotational movement places a demand on your abdomen and obliques. Torque is needed to generate power from the lower body. As you paddle, you may naturally contract your abs (squeeze) to support the upper body movements.

The core of your body is constantly working to maintain stability in or on your kayak. Balance is important to remain afloat and not capsize your boat, especially for smaller boats such as racing kayaks.

The importance of your ab muscles cannot be overstated. A large part of balance and stability is having the proper posture. The core muscles being the bridge between the upper and lower body will play an essential role in paddling forward and backward.

The Chest Muscles

Pectorals, being the bigger muscles known to be our chest, may not feel as though they are being used well. They do make up the bulk of the upper half of your torso. An exercise in the gym you can equate paddling and the use of your pec muscles to is the seated machine chest press. The difference is how you push with one arm and pull on the other, then alternate for a paddling motion.

The chest is placed under pressure for every stroke. Add in the necessary torso rotation and you will find a workout that involves both your pectorals and the abdomen to put power behind your paddle strokes.

The Leg and Hip Muscles

Surprising to most watchers of the kayaking sport, the legs are an essential part of paddling in a kayak. The engagement of the entire leg might not be done in the same manner as a squat or while your walk and run, but they bend and turn as your torso and arms drive the kayak forward.

The legs provide the connecting contact point with the entire kayak, and proper bracing against the interior walls or deck can help with paddling forward, maneuvering and turning, stability, and when you roll a kayak. The hips also provide a connecting contact point with the kayak, and has demand on it to provide powerful twisting and turning motions.

The next time you hit the gym to work your “kayaking muscles”, never forget to do leg workouts. Don’t skip leg day!

Want to learn more? Check out this video demonstrating the technique behind paddling. We can see a close-up view breaking down the muscles in action:

Beginner Kayak Buying Guide: The 7 Best Starter Kayaks (2018)

For first-time buyers, picking the right kayak can be confusing. Let’s look at what we should know and consider when it comes to buying a kayak for beginners. We also review best starter kayaks that are good for beginners.

Kayaking is such a great sport and a workout exercise. The water sport can include everyone, whether you are a beginner or a professional. The ranges of available boats and the environments in which you can paddle to offer an experience for almost any person to enjoy.

Still waters like lakes and calm rivers are the perfect places for any notice to get started. You can enjoy the scenery or work on your paddling skills. As you become better and familiar with your boat, you can be more adventurous and venture into choppier waters with bigger waves and splashes.

Starting out, there is no sense in getting caught up with the more expensive kayaks. We are talking about the ones that cost over $1,000 with features you might not get around using. Once you decide kayaking is your thing, we can look into specialized designs such as angler kayaks. The good news is that there are many relatively inexpensive yet durable and stable kayaks for you to start out in.

So let’s take a closer look at what needs to be considered, and get you out onto the water as soon as we can.

What really is the difference between a beginner kayak and an intermediate one? How can we tell the difference? We are going to equip you with the basic knowledge, before getting more specific i.e., where you want to go kayaking, do you want to go kayaking with someone?

What To Look For When Buying A Kayak

A good kayak needs to be stable and durable. This is because while you are still on the learning curve, your boat is undoubtedly going to sustain a few knocks! This is not a bad thing, and they should be built for a little rough and tough while you are learning.

It should also be affordable. You don’t jump straight into any sport and immediately buy the best gear on the market. For all you know, it could not be for you and you’ve just blown hundreds of dollars. You can still enjoy the sport without spending too much money. Once you are committed to kayaking, you can branch out and splurge on a some interesting features.

Lastly, the boat should be safe. Although you are going to get wet and make some mistakes along the way, being out in the water is no joke. Wear a personal flotation device and make sure your boat is in a safe and usable condition.

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying A Kayak As A Beginner

We know you’re surely getting excited now, but before you rush out and snap up a brand new beginner kayak, you need to ask yourself a few questions that will enable you to truly buy the best beginner kayak to suit your specific kayaking needs.

  • Will you be learning on your own, or would you prefer to be with a partner? (see: tandem two-seater kayaks)
  • What is your weight, and can your kayak support you with stability?
  • Will you be starting off in very calm waters like lakes and slow moving rivers, or in rough and choppier waters like the ocean or whitewater rapids?
  • Do you want to be out on the water for an entire day or shorter periods of time?
  • How much gear will you be carrying with you?
  • Are you interested in eventually making camp for the night during your trips out in the water?
  • What is the climate and temperature of the body of water you will be kayaking?
  • Are you going kayaking for leisure or do you want to exercise?
  • Do you want to climb into a cockpit (sit-in) or a sit on top of the deck (sit-on-top)?

The Different Types Of Kayaks For Beginners

Sit-In vs. Sit-On-Top

Sit-ins and sit-on-tops are exactly what the name suggests. You sit inside of the cockpit of a sit-in and sit on top of the deck of a sit-on-top. Whether you buy one or the other depends mostly on the environment and your general preference. You may want to choose a sit-in boat and use a spray skirt for less exposure to the freezing water. Alternatively, a sit-on-top can be better for more tropical, warm water.

Both types can become flooded as you paddle or face water waves. Many kayaks are designed to be self-bailing with scuppers (holes) for draining excessive water on deck or inside the cockpit.

So which is better for a beginner? Both are great choices, and there is no wrong answer. Depending on the weather, the climate, the body of water, and your preferences, you may want to be inside or on top!

Single Seat or Tandem

If you enjoy the serene privacy and solitude of gliding across the quiet waters by yourself, you are going to want a one-seat boat. If you are going to bring a friend, family member, or furry best friend, a tandem is necessary. If you are unsure, we would consider opting for a tandem. However, there is no harm in ordering two single seaters!

Inflatable or Rigid

There are two different constructions available: an inflatable design or a rigid design.

Inflatables are primarily made up of PVC, and some are made of a synthetic rubber called hypalon. These boats require a pump to inflate (and are usually are sold with either a hand, foot or electric pump). Inflatable boats are much easier to transport as they can be deflated and folded up. However, you do run the risk of punctures if you find yourself too close to the shorelines, sharp rocks, or paddling into a sharp log. All inflatable boats typically come with a single use repair kit. You can order more repair kits online, like this brand.

Rigid boats are made with various plastics or fiberglass (some are even made out of wood). The specific material does dictate the price of the boat, as certain materials are more durable, reliable, and perform better. This type of material does make the kayak difficult to transport with greater weight and size but last longer.


These boats are great for a relaxing day out on calm water. They can also be ideal for novices with less features and lower price. Recreational kayaks are characterized by larger cockpits for easier entry and exit or wider, usable deck space. They also tend to have a wider hull and are not built for speed.

You can find both recreational single seaters or tandem selections. In any case, the cost tends to be on the lower price spectrum with fewer available features such as storage compartments and mounts for holding rods.

Sea or Ocean 

This type of boat is generally smaller and are constructed with safety in mind. Open water kayaking can be a bit more dangerous with stronger waves involved. You can find this type of sea/ocean kayak is available as either sit-in and sit-on-tops.

Anglers (Fishing)

If you enjoy fishing and want to consider doing so while out in the water, you might be interested in a beginner fishing kayak. These boats can be either sit-ins or sit-on-tops and have good storage space for tackle boxes, coolers, and other gears.

They can come with flush mount rod holders or adjustable swivel rod holders. They also come with deeper tank wells, bungee storages or cargo nets. Anglers are usually built for stability and tend to be wider for carrying more gear.


Whitewater is not the ideal environment for kayakers starting out, but there are some beginner whitewater kayaks on the market. Whitewater boats are specifically designed to be able to take on rapid, intense waters and its nearby terrain, and make quick river-bending turns.

Reviews of the Top Kayaks for Beginners

Below we have compiled a list of the kayaks on the market that we believe are the best choices for those who are just starting out. We have chosen these boats based on the factors listed above, and have also included various pros and cons for each.

1. Sevylor Quikpak K-1

The Quikpak K-1 is a solo inflatable kayak. It is a suitable choice for leisure time out on the lake. Being inflatable, it is easy to transport and get out onto the water, which is important for a beginner who might be going into the water alone. This inflatable boat comes with a hand pump, and even a cup holder to store your water bottle!

What we like:

  • Light-weight for transport
  • Surprisingly stable on the water
  • Good value inflatable
  • Multiple air chambers to minimize the risk of sinking if one of the chambers is damaged
  • Comes with a paddle
  • The seat is high up from the deck so you won’t be sitting in the water

What we didn’t like:

  • No real storage space aside from the cargo net on the bow (front)
  • The paddle included is not very high quality

2. Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Kayak

The Aruba 10 is a lightweight, solo, sit-in recreational kayak. This boat is easy to get in and out of for a sit-in. It is affordable, and can be considered the epitome of a perfect starter kayak!

What we like:

  • Weighs only 40 pounds (18 kilograms), relatively lighter than most rigid kayaks and less difficult to transport
  • Has a maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds (113 kilograms)
  • Comfortable design with adjustable foot braces and high back support
  • The bungee storage compartment in the stern (rear)

What we didn’t like:

  • No seat bottom padding and can be uncomfortable to sit on hard plastic
  • Lack of storage space in this kayak

3. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Kayak

The Malibu is a great tandem kayak for beginners! This is a very stable sit-on-top, which makes it a popular tandem choice on the market. It can seat up to 3 people (two adults plus a child, for example). Although it is a tandem, the Malibu can also be used for solo trips.

What we like:

  • Comes with two adjustable seats with decent backrest
  • Ridged footwell design that gives you options on where to comfortably rest your feet
  • Can be great for both recreational and touring trips in the water
  • The available space for a third smaller seat for a child or dog

What we didn’t like:

  • Weighs about 60 pounds (or 27 kilograms), which is not heavier than other kayaks but hauling it can be a two-person job
  • Not the best at tracking or maneuvering

4. The Sea Eagle 420X

The Sea Eagle 420X is a two or three-person seater inflatable boat. If you are getting into kayaking with your friends, this boat is a suitable choice. The seats are adjustable and removable so you can tailor your setup to what you want to do for the day. When inflated, the Sea Eagle 420X weighs 42 pounds (20 kilograms), making it light-weight and easy for hauling to and from the water.

What we like:

  • Comes with two paddles, a foot pump, a carrier bag, a skeg and a repair kit (just in case of emergency)
  • Depending on how many people will be onboard, can provide a lot of storage space
  • Fitted with easily operated drain valves
  • Made with high quality and durable material
  • Comes with a 180-day risk-free trial and a three-year warranty

What we didn’t like:

  • The carrier bag could be a bit better, but that’s about it

5. The Wilderness Systems Pungo 120

The Pungo 120 is a great sit-in, recreational kayak for beginners that are interested in hitting the river. It weighs 49 pounds (or 22 kilograms) and has a weight capacity of 325 pounds (147 kilograms). It is a fast and stable single seater.

What we like:

  • Built for comfort, with a wide and lengthy cockpit hole for ease of getting in and out
  • Comes with thigh and knee padding for extra comfort on longer trips in the water
  • Uses a multi-chine hull for greater stability
  • Comes with several storage compartments

What we didn’t like:

  • It is a much more expensive and fancier choice

6. The Eddyline Skylark

The Skylark is a sit-in solo kayak that comes in at 12 feet long and 26 inches wide. It is fitted with adjustable foot braces, which give extra support and encourage proper posture. The boat is light-weight and made with durable co-extruded ABS material, and is abrasion resistant. You can paddle across a shallow river bed by accident and the Skylark can survive.

What we like:

  • The padded seat and thigh support
  • Tracks very well
  • The noticeable amount of storage space with two dry hatches and two bungee cord deck storage space

What we didn’t like:

  • Although the Skylark is difficult to seriously damage but does scratch easily
  • The seat could be better

7. Coleman Colorado

The Coleman Colorado is the perfect tandem inflatable kayak for beginners. It is built for fishing, which is not normal for an inflatable boat. The vinyl material is heavy-duty durable and puncture resistant. The maximum weight capacity is 470 pounds (213 kilograms), which is plenty for two adults and carrying on extra gear.

What we like:

  • It is made up of multiple air chambers, meaning if one of them is punctured, you can still stay afloat
  • Very easy to inflate and deflate
    • Comes with a pressure gauge that consistently measures the air pressure within the air chambers to avoid overinflating
  • An incredibly durable material
  • Has a high weight capacity
  • Can be used as a single kayaker if you wish

What we didn’t like:

  • The Coleman Colorado does not come with a paddle or a pump
  • The inflatable walls of this kayak are quite bulky
  • Stronger winds can blow the boat, requiring extra paddling effort

The Best Sit-On-Top Tandem Kayak (2018)

Great moments can be shared on tandem kayaks. We will review the best sit-on-top tandem kayaks on the market.

Sit-on-top tandems come in different designs and features. Many have a spacious deck design for paddlers to sit comfortably on. We look at both recreational, inflatable, and angler fishing kayaks. Here are two of the best recommendation kayaks for tandem paddlers.

Reviews of the Best Sit-On-Top Tandem Kayak

Our Top Pick: Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T

The Skipjack 120T is a spacious fishing kayak. Its hull design offers an easy tracking experience on many bodies of water. You can use it for many bodies of water, including lakes, channels, bays, rivers, and the sea. It floats high, is stable, and can maneuver easily. The Skipjack would work great as a recreational and touring kayak, too. In calm waters, kayakers closer to the center can stand with some ease.

Here is what the Skipjack 120T has to offer:

  • It can fit 3 people with 3 seats
  • The kayak weighs 72 pounds
  • It can support a maximum weight of 500 pounds
  • There are 2 flush mount rod holders
  • 4 mounting points are available for Scotty, RAM, or other brand mount rod holders
  • There are multiple storage options available
    • Two sealed dry hatches
    • A small built-in cup holder for housing smaller items
    • A rear cargo area with bungee straps for larger equipment
    • Two paddle parks along the side to hold paddles
  • 4 carrying handles for easy transporting on and off the water

Inflatable Choice: Intex Explorer K2

The Explorer K2 is an inflatable banana-looking kayak that can seat two people. It comes with two paddles and two inflatable adjustable seats with backrest support. The seats are raised from the deck and the water in the bottom of the boat, making this kayak one of the better choices to stay as dry as possible while still enjoying the water.

Here is what the Explorer K2 has to offer:

  • Heavy duty puncture-resistant vinyl material for durability
  • Self-bailing design
  • Two adjustable inflatable seats with backrest, removable and attached to the deck by velcro strips
  • Maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds (180 kilograms)
  • Two 86-inch aluminum oars
  • Removable skeg
  • Grab line on both ends of the kayak
  • One repair kit
  • One manual air pump

How We Picked

  • Stability for two. We want to look for a kayak that can withstand the wobbliness of two individuals on the deck. Standing is not a necessity but is a nice plus. The kayak should be able to remain upright despite mild waves.
  • Tracking and maneuverability. Tracking is the ability of a kayak to stay on course. Depending on the hull (bottom) design, a kayak may be more or less sensitive to being pushed off course by water movement. Most tandems have a well-designed hull for longer tracking experiences. We find multi-chine hulls are popular and great for stability. This hull design does sacrifice a bit of maneuverability. Maneuverability is how well a kayak can efficiently and quickly turn. It is expected that longer kayaks, such as tandems that are usually 12-feet and greater, will have a greater degree of difficulty to turn.
  • Storage space. Any kayaking adventure for two will need storage space for carry-ons. We look for tandem kayaks that offer bungee compartments, tank wells, dry hatches, and so on for a variety of different-sized carry-ons.
  • (Optional) Fishing features. For those interested in a tandem kayak that may one day serve as a fishing boat, we look for features such as flush mount rod holders, deep tank wells for coolers to store fish, and compartments to hold tackle boxes. Paddle holders will be important for holding paddles and freeing up your hands.

The Competition

Lifetime Sport Angler: The Sport Angler is a popular two-person tandem kayak with three flush mount rod holders in the far back, along with a small dry hatch storage compartment. The front also has a bungee storage on deck for the front paddler but is only great for small items such as a small tackle box. This kayak is great for going over waves and can be great for the open sea. It also has a lot of open space, making full use of the length and width of the kayak. It also comes two paddles, two backrests, and a multi-chime hull for great tracking and stability. We do feel it lacks sufficient storage space, but would be a runner-up recommended choice for us! The seat should be upgraded with a seat bottom for extra comfort.

Ocean Kayak Malibu: The Malibu is another spacious kayak with three seating positions available for a tandem with a child or pet. The positions have molded-in seat wells, gear straps, and skid plates for use. This boat does not have any storage compartments, so can be great for short trips out in the open water.  The seats are comfy, but the Malibu only comes with two with its order.

Intex Challenger K2: We have done a review on the K1 one-seater kayak, and the K2 is no different in its design. There is a nice cargo net in the front for dry bags and carry-ons, and the seats offer sufficient back support and comfort. It is also raised from the deck slightly to keep you out of the water. The kayak might be deemed more of a sit-in kayak as the front paddler will have their legs underneath the bow of the boat, but we decided to include it as a competing tandem kayak. The Challenger K2 comes with two paddles, a manual hand pump, and priced a tiny bit more than the Explorer K2.

Brooklyn Kayak Company UHThe UH Kayak would be an upgrade of the Skipjack 120T. This 12.5-feet sit-on-top angler has the same storage compartments as the Skipjack, except instead of removable compartments in front of each paddler, it uses dry hatches. It also comes with a whopping 7 fishing rod holder, with 3 that are swivel rod holders and 4 as flush-mount. For the serious fishing duo that carries multiple fishing rods, the UH can be a great choice. It also comes with two aluminum paddles and two adjustable seats with backrest.

Is Kayaking A Good Workout?

In short: It can absolutely be. For an hour of touring in open water, you may paddle 500 strokes. For the more serious paddlers, it can be more or less with an emphasis on distance per stroke.

Depending on the type of water, you can be paddling to move only yourself or paddling against raging currents and ocean waves. The longer you paddle, the more of a work out you get.

Kayaking For Fitness

Kayaking can be a great exercise and can be especially good for cardio. You can burn fat and build muscle at the same time through the consistent motion of paddling slow or fast.

Kayaking involves a lot of upper body exertion as you paddling in a sitting position. When done right and for an extended period of time, even the physically fit kayakers can find themselves exhausted and sore.

The paddling movement consists of the back, shoulders, chest, abs, and your entire arm muscles. If you want to tone or strengthen your upper body, kayaking can be at the top of the list for having a good workout.

As an added bonus, you also get some fresh air and vitamin D from being out in the sun.

More extreme kayakers may want to pit themselves against mother nature. Sea and whitewater kayaking would be the progression for “yakker” enthusiasts. As a next level workout, kayakers can choose to paddle upstream, against waves, or down raging rivers.

Here is a video of whitewater kayaking in action:

It goes without saying there is an inherent danger with rough and fast water, so please practice safe kayaking.

Want To Start Kayaking? Here’s What You Need:

We don’t need rough waters to get a good workout. Starting out, all you need is a personal flotation device, a beginner-friendly kayak, a paddle, and some open calm body of water to launch your boat.

You can rent your own kayak at a boat rental shop near a body of water. They can supply you with a life vest, a paddle, and some advice and suggestions on kayaking.

If the nearest body of water to you does not have a rental shop, you can purchase your own boat online. We recommend an inflatable kayak like this one to get started quickly without investing too much. You can get a better sense of how kayaking is for a low price, doesn’t take up a lot of car space, and can be easily transported and moved by one person. If you like what you are doing, you can upgrade to something beginner-friendly.

If you plan on kayaking for a few hours, be sure to check out the list of things to bring with you during the trip. Waterproof sunscreen is a must to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays and a dry bag (like this one) will prove useful for carrying important items like your phone or keys that shouldn’t get wet or lost in the water.

Once you become comfortable with kayaking and find yourself enjoying the work out, you can move onto the more difficult water with waves and currents.

Don’t forget to check the local weather report before kayaking! We hope this article helps.

The Most Comfortable Kayak Seat (2018)

Kayaking is not fun if we find ourselves sitting in an awfully uncomfortable seat.  Let’s take a look at the more comfortable upgrade options available on the market.

An important reason to upgrade our kayak seat has to do with how frequently we find ourselves kayaking. When we do so often enough, our butts may go soft and our backs can hurt. Posture and comfort during long hours on a small boat surface in the open water can become crucial. Our seat is one of the few parts of the kayak we can upgrade that can have a positive impact on our trips out to the water starting today and onward.

Reviews of the Most Comfortable Kayak Seats

Our Top Pick: Surf To Summit GTS Expedition

The GTS Expedition uses a combination of fabric blend, plastic, and foam to provide a comfortable seating experience. The 6-point attachment design provides a triangular rear strapping system to set up the perfect angled backrest support for you. The small funnel design for the seat bottom helps drain cockpit water off the chair.

Here is what the GTS Expedition has to offer:

  • Works great for any sit-on-top kayak
  • An 18-inch tall backrest
  • 2-inch thick seats
  • 6-point rear attachment loops with solid brass snap hooks
  • Drainage channels for water
  • Built-in mesh bungee pouch on the backside

The Budget-Friendly Alternative: Leader Accessories Deluxe

The Deluxe use of fabric blend, plastic, and foam provide a comfortable and supportive design that can be adjusted to your need. It might not be as high off the deck as the GTS Expedition, but the Deluxe durable construction can accommodate most kayaks at an affordable price.

Here is what you get with the Leader Accessories Deluxe:

  • 4 adjustable straps with solid brass snap hooks
  • An 18-inch tall backrest support
  • Drainage channels design for the seat bottom

How We Picked

  • The quality of padding and fabric. Having sufficient cushion can help ease seating for long hours of kayaking. Foam tends to be the more reliable choice. However, the fabric must be well-stitch to prevent waterlogged seats and longer-lasting use.
  • Elevated or not. Elevated seats are preferred. Water tends to enter the kayak during more choppy water conditions. If we were to kayak for hours, we want to avoid sitting in the water.
  • Backrest reliability. Long hours in the boat can be uncomfortable, especially if you find yourself slouching for hours. Being able to sit back and relax on the backrest of your seat can make the difference between a tiring trip and an enjoyable day. The straps to the kayak will play an important role
  • Waterproof! This is obvious, but it must be said. Seat stitching should be top-notch and seat fabric should be waterproof.

The Competition

Ocean Kayak Comfort Plus: This seat is surprisingly well anchored. It supports the backrest surprisingly well and would be a great runner-up as a budget pick.

Ocean Kayak Comfort TechWe can see why this seat can be a choice, with its support hug around the back design. The padding is great, but there just isn’t enough of it. We would like to see more padding on the seat bottom.

Surf To Summit GTS SportThe GTS Sport is an excellent upgrade for those with a bigger budget. It is priced higher than most kayak seats, and for good reason. It is designed with great drainage, uses a high-quality laminated lycra foam, offers a comfortable hugging back support, and comes with a zipper pack. The only drawback is the 13-inch tall back support, which could be higher.

Surf To Summit The Drifter: The Drifter offers a 3-inch high seat bottom that can keep kayakers out of pooling water in their kayak cockpit and deck. The adjustable straps system works well but is attached particularly low on the seat backrest. The cushion and padding are great, and the extra storage pack is an excellent plus for any trip.

Skwoosh Expedition: The Expedition is an interesting seat design. It emphasizes greater support on the lower back with its hug-like design and straps extending from the backrest flaps. The backrest is great, but the seat bottom lacks padding which can make for an uncomfortable seating experience. The upgrade to the Expedition includes a lumbar roll and 2 extra bottle holders.

Kerco Angler-X: The Angler-X design offers a lot of mid-back support thanks to the placement of the straps. The padding is great for both the backrest and the seat bottom and uses an anti-slip surface material so kayakers can have a better grip when sitting. The seat bottom is smaller than other kayak seats. This is great for taking up less deck space and can work great for smaller individuals, but not so great for people with a wider build.

The Best Sit-In Fishing Kayak (2018)

When we go fishing in a sit-in kayak, we want a boat that handles well and makes our fishing trip easier.

Picking the right fishing kayak means picking one that can help carry fishing equipment, comfortable enough for long hours in the water, and can handle water conditions suitable for fishing. Our best recommendation is the Sun Dolphin’s 12-Feet Aruba.

Reviews of the Best Sit-In Fishing Kayak

Our Top Pick: The Sun Dolphin SS Aruba

The Sun Dolphin SS Aruba tracks well and handles great in both calm and mildly choppy water. Although it’s not built for river fishing, it can do everything a fisher needs for a kayak fishing trip. The Sun Dolphin Excursion comes in two sizes: 10-feet and 12-feet. The 10-feet SS Aruba is great as a starter sit-in kayak, but it lacks flush mount rod holders. It seems to be more for recreational use as well. We recommend the 12-feet because it tracks better, is built for fishing, and can carry more weight due to its extra length. It also comes at a very affordable price.

Here is what the Aruba comes with:

  • Three different sized storage compartments
    • A portable accessory carrier (PAC) in the stern of the boat, with a removable sealed storage and bungeed space
    • A bungeed, covered console in front of the kayaker, similar to the glove compartment of a car
    • A front sealed hatch storage with a bungeed bow deck
  • Three flush mount fishing rod holders
    • Two holders facing away from the back of the kayaker
    • One holder on the lid of the covered console
  • Padded seats for back and butt support
  • Thigh pads for leaning your legs comfortably along the side
  • A large open cockpit for a sit-in fishing experience
  • Light-weight design weighing in at 41 pounds (19 kilograms)
  • A maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds (113 kilograms)

As a roomy and comfortable sit-in kayak, it can be great for both touring and recreational trips. The removable sealed storage in the stern can store iced coolers or large tackle boxes. The covered console can hold a pair of sunglasses or phone. The sealed hatch in the front is a bulkhead that can keep equipment placed inside dry. The Aruba does not come with a paddle. A paddle must be ordered separately.

The Inflatable Choice: Intex Challenger K1

We have seen a few other fishers on YouTube use this inflatable sit-in kayak. The Intex Challenger K1 might not track the greatest, but it can easily maneuver on the water. The kayak also lacks rod mounts for holding fishing rods, but you can improvise by using the bungeed cords in the bow to temporarily hold your rod. The inflatable nature of the kayak makes it easy to get started. It makes for a great beginner-friendly fishing kayak.

Here is what the Intex Challenger K1 comes with:

  • One bungeed deck on the bow for carrying gear
  • A manual hand pump
  • One adjustable 84-inch aluminum paddle with plastic blades
  • A maximum weight capacity of 220 pounds (100 kilograms)
  • Light-weight design of 28 pounds (12 kilograms)

It’s a relatively basic inflatable sit-in kayak, but it does the trick. It is a buoyant boat that can support most people. Although it lacks a lot of storage, many fishers opt for the Challenger K1 for its ease of use, light-weight portability, and speedy launch into the water. You can also use it for recreational or touring calm waters, lakes, and rivers. The K1 does not handle well in the ocean due to the stronger waves. If you want a fishing rod holder, you can always create your own do-it-yourself (DIY) rod holder for the Challenger like this one YouTuber:

For more details about the K1, you can check out our review here. There is also a tandem two-seater Challenger K2 model available that is also popular.

How We Picked

There are several items a kayak had to check off:

  • It must have flush mounts. Not just any flush mounts. Good quality flush mounts that can properly hold a fishing rod. There is a limitation to how much space we can work with. If we want to fish, we need to carry our fishing rods with us. The way to do so is with at least one flush mount rod holders.
  • The cockpit is large enough. A cockpit hole too narrow or small makes it difficult to enter and exit the kayak. It can also be very dangerous if your boat capsizes. The width helps larger build individuals fit, but the length is what makes the difference between getting in and out of the cockpit comfortably. There is no right size fit all. However, there is too small and that is not fun for anyone.
  • The seat has comfortable padding. If we are going to sit out in the open water for long hours, we may as well sit comfortably. Cheaper sit-in kayak models tend to leave out the padding for the butt. Although the seat can be easily replaced for better cushioning, the least we want is proper padding to start.
  • There are sufficient storage compartments. We want to be able to carry our gears, like a tackle box or a waterproof duffle dry bag. Having enough storage compartments let us bring additional items like personal items, fishing attire, food, and equipment. If we plan on fishing for long hours, want to make it comfortable and enjoyable.
  • Light-weight and easy to carry. Unless fishers intend to go into rough water territory, the kayak can be light-weight in design and built for easy transportation by hand. This makes for an easy start and end of any fishing trip.

The Best Time To Buy A Kayak During The Year

Retail and online stores do not have great deals during any time of the year.

The Best Time Of The Year To Buy A Kayak

The best kayak deals are usually offered by vendors and dealers during Memorial Day (the last Monday of May) and the Christmas holiday (December). The next best time is at the end of the prime kayaking season, which is around August. During this time, all sellers put out deals to get rid of older models to make way for stocking newer kayak models. Beginner and intermediate kayakers will sell their used boats at half price or less.

Seasonal Deals

However, you may want to keep an eye out during spring and fall. Spring season is when new kayakers begin to buy. Fall is when kayaking slows down.

Specific Months

April and August are good months to begin checking. December winter holidays and January after holidays are good months to check. We may find free shipping as well from both retail stores and online vendors.

Holidays Deals

Dealers, vendors, and big-box retailers will have sales during Christmas (December) and Memorial Days (the last Monday for the month of May).

Finding Used

You can find people selling their barely used kayaks during spring and fall for half price or less. Websites such as Craigslist and local Facebook groups are good starting places to check online.

Older Models

Local dealers may have discounts at the end of the kayaking season, especially for older models. There might not be an additional discount when you buy a kayak directly from a manufacturer. However, it may be cheaper than local dealers. Give them a call to find out the price and if they can ship to you.

Latest Models

At the beginning of the season, you may be able to pick up a new kayak at the end outdoor expos and boat shows. If you can take it off their hands before they pack up, you can pick up the latest models for a few extra bucks off.