You’ve just decided that you’d like to buy a new beginners kayak for either yourself or someone else – great! Getting started off in the world of kayaking can be one of the most enjoyable things out there. It’s an engaging sport, and one that you can really use to explore different areas of the world and what surrounds you that you would never have been able to before.

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When buying a beginners kayak for the first time, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself quite overwhelmed by the number of choices and options that are available from the market. Fear not! We aim to provide you with all of the information that you could possibly need before entering into the market of beginners kayaks.

In this guide, we’re going to have a thorough rundown on a number of different types of kayaks, as well as the features that you should be looking for in a beginners kayak. In addition to these, we’ll also provide a number of product reviews covering some of the best beginners kayaks available for you to buy today.

Kayaking is a great water sport to get into – not only does it allow you to explore, it allows you to further your abilities both physically and mentally. Kayaking has a number of different areas that are truly able to cater to everyone – whether you’re after a quiet day on some calm water with a fishing rod or a wild day on the waves, you can do it all on a kayak.

Why Is Choosing A Good Beginners Kayak Important?

If you’re new to the sport and are keen to get started, the last thing you want is to be quickly put off the sport as the result of a bad purchase. There are a vast number of different types of boat on the market, each of which are suited to their own disciplines. Before we take a look at the best beginners kayaks available, we’ll go through a short guide on some of kayaking’s fundamentals – including kayak styles, materials, size, durability, construction, features, and how each influence your overall experience on the boat.

Features To Look For In A Beginners Kayak

A Stable Kayak

This is arguably the most important feature in a beginners kayak. If you’ve never paddled a boat/kayak/canoe solo before, then you’re definitely not going to be used to the motion of paddling along and keeping good even balance at the same time. A kayak that has a short and wide design will make this new experience as easy as possible. Stockier designs are much harder to capsize, and will allow you to focus on practicing your stroke before worrying about tipping the boat over. Should you get more into the sport, you may then want to try a less stable boat.


A boat that isn’t too heavy is also an important point to look out for in a beginners kayak. Heavy boats are, of course, more difficult to paddle along the water due to the extra weight. A lighter boat means that you won’t need to put as much effort into paddling, and you can instead focus on your stroke style and effectiveness.


Portability can be a very important or not so important factor when looking at a beginners kayak. The chances are that, if someone is a beginner, they’ve most likely not fitted roof racks/purchased a van etc that’s able to move around a large hard shell kayak. It’s therefore important to look for one that’s easy to move around if you do fall into this category. The most portable kayaks are obviously those that are inflatable. When looking at kayak specifications, those that are shorter, lighter, and obviously inflatable are among the most portable available.

In addition to features that you should be sure to look out for in a beginners kayak, there are also a number of basic concepts that you should be aware of before making any purchases. For example, would you be more suited to a sit inside or sit on top kayak, would you be better with an inflatable or hard shell boat, and what length of kayak would suit your needs best?

Inflatable vs Hard Shell

The primary and most obvious advantage of an inflatable kayak is the extreme level of portability and convenience that they offer. Storing and transporting an inflatable kayak is not difficult at all – after use, it can be quickly deflated and simply packed away into the back of a car. At home, it can be stored away neatly in a cupboard. Transporting and storing a hardshell kayak on the other hand, is considerably more difficult – you’ll need a larger mode of transport that will accommodate the boat or a way of mounting your boat on the roof. To store a hardshell kayak, you’re going to need a pretty large space, and ideally something like a garage.

Modern inflatable kayaks are extremely durable. Dependant on your confidence though, you may want to closely consider a hard shell as opposed to an inflatable. Whilst inflatable kayaks are difficult to puncture, it doesn’t mean to say that it’s impossible. As a beginner, it’s far more likely that the kayak is going to get more harshly handled, making it more susceptible than it normally would be to wear, tearing and puncturing. A hard shell boat on the other hand, is able to offer the maximum level of durability. Whilst dragging it over the ground won’t do it any good for sure, it’s not going to tear or puncture it. There’s no doubt that hard shell boats do offer a great level of durability.

Sit On Top vs Sit Inside

It is generally accepted that beginners are better suited to a sit on top kayak. Sit inside kayaks can be very constrictive since they enclose the entire bottom half of the body. Whilst they offer advantages, these are not normally relevant at a beginner level.

A sit on top kayak allows far more freedom in terms of being able to move about. They also allow you to feel in general more confident. For example, in the event that the boat were to capsize, you’d be able to easily jump off as opposed to being more stuck in a sit inside boat.

The Best Beginners Kayaks

Now that we’ve went over a number of points and pieces of information on kayaks in general, let’s take a look at the best beginners kayaks available today.

Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu – Beginners Tandem Kayak

The Malibu Tandem is a classically excellent kayak for beginners. It allows beginners kayakers to go out and learn the ways of the sport together – something that can install great confidence in both new paddlers. Alternatively, it allows a less confident paddler to go out with someone that’s more confident until they learn the ropes.

The Malibu Tandem is a sit on top boat. There’s plenty of room for sitting on top and is not at all restrictive to the paddlers lower body. In addition to spaciousness, the Ocean Kayak Malibu Tandem has comfortable foam seating that’s adjustable. If you like, it’s possible to take a third passenger in the middle of the boat.

The Malibu Tandem can support a load capacity of up to 425 lbs. Whilst that might sound like a lot of weight, which it indeed is, three people plus luggage could exceed this in some circumstances. This tandem offers some storage area at the hull of the boat, as well as dry storage sections more central to the boat.

Key Points

  • 12’ in length
  • 34” in width
  • Tandem kayak with the potential for a third small passenger
  • Comfortable and spacious
  • Can support up to 425 lbs of load weight
  • Different footrest positions to accommodate different leg lengths

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Wilderness Systems Aspire 100

The Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 excels in both aesthetics and performance. The Aspire 100 is 10 feet in length and 27 inches wide – these dimensions make for a boat that’s not too long and thin, but not too short and wide either. It’s a great style of boat to learn to kayak on.

One of the main great points about the Aspire 100 is that it’s sure to last past the point of being a beginners kayak. It’s an extremely usable and facilitating kayak, including adjustable footrests that caters for different paddling positions very well, waterproof storage, and ample top-deck storage with bungee cords to secure your items. The seat on the Aspire 100 is very comfortable too, being adjustable and well-padded.

For a beginners recreational kayak, the Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 is an extremely well kitted out boat. It’s able to handle calm water as well as slower moving waters. Extra features on the Aspire 100 include a cup holder, soft touch handles, as well as leg padding for added comfort when you’re moving across the water.

Key Points

  • 10’ in length
  • 27” in width
  • Ample storage – the Aspire 100 has both wet and dry storage on board
  • Packed full of features for a beginners kayak and thus likely to be useful for longer
  • Load capacity of 325 lbs

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Sea Eagle SE370 – Inflatable Tandem Beginners Kayak

The Sea Eagle SE370 is the second tandem beginners kayak on our list of recommendations. The difference is though, is that the SE370 is an inflatable! Since the SE370, it offers an extremely large amount of space and load capacity that can be stored into a compact package. It’s extremely easy to store and transport when deflated.

This Sea Eagle can carry up to three people (with the third passenger being a small child or dog). A lot of new buyers worry about punctures on inflatable options, particularly beginners. The SE370 is reassuring and very durable indeed.

Storage onboard the SE370 is ample. Items can be stored towards the hull or stern of the boat once inflated. Including passengers, the SE370 can support an extremely impressive load capacity of up to 650 pounds. What’s even more impressive is that the SE370 weighs a mere 32 lbs!

Whilst the SE370 is perfect for beginners due to it’s spacious and comfortable design, it can also be used on some rougher waters too. This means flexibility should you find that you’re getting more involved with the sport.

Key Points

  • 12.5’ in length
  • 34” wide
  • Large load capacity of 650 lbs
  • Can carry up to 3 passengers
  • Constructed from extremely durable polykrylar PVC

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Ocean Kayak Scrambler 11

The Ocean Kayak Scrambler is another very flexible beginners kayak that offers great performance and usability. For a beginners kayak, it’s well equipped with extra features that make the experience that bit better.

The Scrambler 11 is 11’6.5” long and 29.5” wide. These dimensions make for a kayak that tracks extremely well in a straight line, whilst not being too difficult to handle and move around when you want to. It’s a very versatile boat that can suit some different water types.

One of the features that the Scrambler 11 boasts is a replaceable skid plate. Beginners may not be confident in bringing their boat into dry land properly without damaging or scraping the bottom. That’s what the skid plate is for. However, should the skid plate reach the point that it’s excessively worn, it can be replaced.

Due to the fantastic handling and ease of usability that the Scrambler 11 offers, it could be a great boat for installing confidence into newer paddlers.

Key Points

  • 11’6.5” in length
  • 29.5” in width
  • Excellent tracking and overall handling abilities
  • Replacable skid plate
  • Paddle holder
  • Good storage availability