How to Choose the Best Beginner Kayak

There are so many beginner kayaks on the market it can be a potential minefield, check out our buying guide to help you narrow down your selection.

Type Of Kayak

For a beginner, it is important to pick up a boat that is really user-friendly. As you probably already know there are a couple of different types of kayaks available.

In this guide, we focus on both Sit on Top kayaks and Sit in Kayaks as these are the ideal beginner kayaks.

Personally, I wouldn’t rate an inflatable kayak as well as a solid kayak but if you want an inflatable look at a SUP as the technology is far superior and will offer a better overall experience.

Sit on top

A sit on top kayak is exactly as it sounds a boat that you sit on top of. This provides quite a few positives, ease of use and durability make these the ideal beginner kayaks.

Sit on tops are designed to be totally user-friendly having for a number of years been used as beach toy, now Sit on Tops have been designed with the user in mind. Creating boats with a purpose. Providing extra functionality and upgrade options makes Sit on tops some of the most versatile boats available,  Have a look at the Best Fishing Kayaks for more information on specific fishing kayaks.

The joy of a Sit on top for a beginner is the security you feel. If you fall or wobble the worst thing that can happen is that you may fall in and get wet. The sit on top will float high, once you flip it over you can simply climb back on. With no need to empty the kayak or find a bank. This has made sit on tops perfect for playing in waves or at the beach. The Sit on top is the ideal boat for all the family to enjoy.


  • Easy to climb back on
  • User-friendly
  • Stable
  • Easily upgradeable
  • Perfect for all the family


  • Wetter ride
  • Colder being exposed to the weather

Sit In Kayak

A Sit in kayak is a little more traditional, Many people think of this and think of either waterfalls orEskimos. When you take a look at the modern beginner kayaks boats these are built with the beginner in mind.

With a large cockpit area so to alleviate any feelings of claustrophobia or entrapment. The seats are large and comfortable offering good support. Many of these offer a good level of adjustment to support the body whilst seated.

The sit-in kayak is certainly a better option for flat and calm waters with all of these boats being very stable. The problems come in choppy or rough waters. When without a spray skirt water can flow into the boat with nowhere to go. To empty the boat you must then make land.

A sit-in Kayak offers the extra warmth of being encompassed within the boat making for a dryer ride.


  • Warmer ride
  • Lots of storage options
  • Good seating and adjustment inside the boat
  • Large cockpit for easy access
  • Super stable design


  • Difficult to empty
  • Difficult to self-rescue
  • Less suitable for rough conditions

Weight Of The Kayak

When you are looking at boats you need to consider the weight of the kayak. This is important as you need to make sure you can easily transport the boat. Can you lift the boat up onto a rack? Can you carry the boat to the water?

You can look at trolleys and carts for transporting the boat also but certainly consider the weight if you have a high vehicle or storage arrangement.

Max Capacity

Be sure to keep an eye on the maximum kayak capacities, as you will need to think about both your own weight plus the weight of your accessories.

Most beginner kayaks have large manufacturers recommended maximum capacities but be sure to stay below this. If your boat is overloaded it can feel sluggish and difficult to manoeuvre and control.

The weight will certainly affect the handling of the kayak so if carrying a lot of accessories be sure to spread it over the length of the boat to keep things stable.


Solo or Tandem

So it is important to decide how many people will be using the kayak. Is it just for one person or do you want to take a friend along for the ride? For a beginner, it is important not to go out alone so sometimes paddling a tandem will be a better option in the event of fatigue or injury. A tandem kayak is a great way to safely introduce friends and family to kayaking


In Conclusion

Buying a kayak should not be a time to worry, it should be a time of excitement.

Starting a journey on a new adventure.

The freedom of watersports opens doors to a whole new series of environments and conditions.

Hopefully, you have taken time to read through our buyer’s guide and narrowed your options down.

With so many great designs on the market, I hope you can cut down your options. The best boat need not be the most expensive or the biggest. The best boat needs to be the one that best meets the needs of the end user.

Really think about the environments you will be using the kayak and make sure you pick up other important safety equipment such as buying the right Life jacket and the Right Paddle for your needs.


Recreational kayak


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