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New to Kayaking? 8 Best Kayaks for Beginners Revealed!

By: Dave Samuel
Updated On: May 13, 2024

As a seasoned kayaker, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of selecting the right kayak for beginners. The journey to find the ideal kayak can be as winding as a river, each turn presenting new options like the Pelican Sentinel 80x or the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105, known for their stability and user-friendly designs.

In my latest roundup, I’ve detailed the top eight kayaks that promise to enhance your first paddle adventure. But what makes these models stand out among the plethora of choices available?

Let’s explore the unique features that could make one of these kayaks the perfect companion for your water-bound explorations.

Here is a Quick Overview of Our Best Kayaks for Beginners in 2024

Image Product Price
Pelican Sentinel 80x
Pelican Sentinel 80x
  • Material: RAM-X (HMWPE)
  • Length: 8′
  • Max Capacity: 225 lbs
  • Material: Polyester
  • Length: 9′
  • Max Capacity: 250 lbs
Perception Flash 9.5
Perception Flash 9.5
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Length: 9’6″
  • Max Capacity: 325 lbs
Bestway Hydro Force Inflatable Kayak Set
Bestway Hydro Force Inflatable Kayak Set
  • Material: Inflata-Shield™ Puncture Resistant Material
  • Length: 10′
  • Max Capacity: 397 lbs
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105
  • Material: N/A
  • Length: 10’6″
  • Max Capacity: 325 lbs
Wilderness Systems Pungo 120
Wilderness Systems Pungo 120
  • Material: N/A
  • Length: 12’2″
  • Max Capacity: 325 lbs
Perception Rambler
Perception Rambler
  • Material: One-piece roto-molded polyethylene
  • Length: 13′ 6″
  • Max Capacity: 550 lbs
Perception Hi Five | Sit on Top Kids Kayak
Perception Hi Five | Sit on Top Kids Kayak
  • Material: N/A
  • Length: 6′
  • Max Capacity: 120 lbs

1. Pelican Sentinel 80x (best kayak for beginners)

Best Kayaks for Beginners: Pelican Sentinel 80x | Sit-on-top Recreational Kayak
Image Source: Amazon
Length8′ (100″)
Weight34 lb / 15.2 kg
Hull DesignTwin-arched Multi Chine Hull
Maximum weight capacity225 lb
MaterialRAM-X (Multi-layer high molecular weight polyethylene (HMWPE))
StorageStorage platform with bungee cords
Key FeaturesLightweight, easy transportation and storage, affordable price, high impact resistance, comfortable and efficient seating position

Why is the Pelican Sentinel 80x the ideal kayak for beginners? Its stable twin-arched multi-chine hull offers excellent safety and ease of use for new paddlers. You’ll find it incredibly forgiving as you navigate through calm waters or near the shore.

Plus, it’s enhanced with additional flotation, ensuring that it remains buoyant, even if you’re feeling a bit unsteady. At only 34 pounds, you can easily carry this kayak from your car to the water. It’s built from durable high molecular weight polyethylene, so it’ll withstand bumps against docks or branches.

The multiple storage options let you stash snacks, water, and safety gear without a hassle. Whether you’re a teen or a small adult, this kayak’s size and weight capacity make it a perfect match for your aquatic adventures.

Best For: Beginners and smaller paddlers seeking a stable, easy-to-transport, and safe kayaking experience.


  • Exceptionally stable design suitable for beginners.
  • Lightweight and easily portable at only 34 pounds.
  • Constructed from durable high molecular weight polyethylene for longevity.


  • Limited seating capacity for only one person.
  • Weight limit of 225 pounds may not accommodate all potential users.
  • Specific color option may not appeal to all preferences.

2. AQUAGLIDE Noyo 90 (kayaking for beginners)

Best Kayaks for Beginners: AQUAGLIDE Noyo 90
Image Source: Amazon
Best ForRecreational Paddling
Max Capacity250lbs
Seating1 Person
DimensionsL 9′ x W 35″
Boat Weight21 lbs

The AQUAGLIDE Noyo is ideal for beginners seeking a stable and comfortable kayaking experience. If you’re planning day trips or longer excursions, this kayak guarantees you stay dry and secure.

It features a quick release fin, drain plug, and Boston valve for easy inflation and water management. Plus, there’s plenty of storage with zip-open dry compartments and an accessory strap. Weighing just 21 lbs and measuring 9 feet by 35 inches, it’s light enough to handle but spacious enough for a comfortable ride.

It can support up to 250 lbs, making it versatile for various users. Though some taller individuals might find it a tight fit, the majority praise its stability and ease of assembly. Just keep an eye on those Boston valves and be prepared for adventures in any season!

Best For: Beginners and casual kayakers looking for a lightweight, stable, and easy-to-manage kayaking experience.


  • Lightweight and portable, making it easy to transport and handle.
  • Features such as quick release fin, dry compartments, and accessory straps enhance functionality.
  • Stable and comfortable design suitable for various water conditions.


  • Boston valves may present challenges during inflation.
  • Tight fit for taller individuals, which might limit user comfort.
  • Some reports of manufacturing defects and missing parts on delivery.

Also Read: 9 Best Kayaks for Big Guys: Your 2024 Adventure Awaits!

3. Perception Flash 9.5 Sit Inside Kayak (great kayak for beginners)

Best Kayaks for Beginners: Perception Flash 9.5 Sit Inside Kayak
Image Source: Amazon
Length9′ 6″
Deck Height12.5″
Boat Weight41 lbs
Max Capacity325 lbs
Additional featuresPadded Seat with adjustable backrest, Molded handles, Rear storage, etc

If you’re starting out in kayaking, the Perception Flash 9.5 Sit Inside Kayak offers exceptional stability and easy handling, making it a top choice for beginners. Crafted in the USA from durable polyethylene, this lightweight kayak weighs only 41 lbs, yet supports up to 325 lbs.

It’s equipped with rod holders and ample rear storage for your gear. You’ll find the adjustable foot braces enhance comfort, making it ideal for various water conditions. Plus, its earth-tone color blends nicely with natural surroundings.

Rated 4.4 out of 5 stars by users, the Perception Flash 9.5 isn’t only practical but also provides great value for your money. Whether you’re paddling on calm coastal waters or exploring gentle rivers, this kayak ensures a pleasant and safe journey.

Best For: Beginners looking for a stable, easy-to-handle kayak that offers both performance and comfort.


  • Lightweight design makes it easy to transport and maneuver.
  • Stable and comfortable, suitable for various sizes of paddlers and water conditions.
  • Good storage capacity with rod holders and rear storage area.


  • Lacks dedicated dry storage compartments.
  • Some reports of delivery delays and issues.
  • Best suited to calm waters, may not be ideal for more challenging conditions.

4. Bestway Hydro Force Inflatable Kayak Set (recommended kayak for beginner)

Best Kayaks for Beginners: Bestway Hydro Force Inflatable Kayak Set
Image Source: Amazon
Inflated Size10 ft. x 10 in. x 35 in.
PersonFits up to 2 Adults
Weight Capacity397 lbs.
MaterialInflata-Shield™ Puncture Resistant Material
FeaturesInterlocking Release Valve, Wraparound Grab Rope, Firm and Ridged Flooring, Interchangeable Fins Storage cord and net included,
IncludesKayak 2 Paddles, Hand Pump, 2 Fins, Carry Bag

Ideal for family outings on calm waters, the Bestway Hydro Force Inflatable Kayak Set offers a stable and comfortable kayaking experience for both adults and children. You’ll find it’s perfect for drifting on lakes, rivers, or even calm ocean areas.

This kayak can accommodate up to two people, supporting a total weight of 397 lbs. It’s crafted from durable Inflata-Shield material, which effectively resists punctures, ensuring a worry-free ride. The cockpit is spacious, featuring a rigid inflated floor for added comfort and safety.

It includes two adjustable inflatable seats with backrests, making your journey more enjoyable. Setup’s a breeze with the included Air Hammer hand pump, and the kayak is easy to transport with its handy grab ropes and carry bag.

Best For: Casual kayakers and families looking for a stable, easy-to-use option for calm water adventures.


  • Lightweight and portable with easy setup using the included Air Hammer hand pump.
  • Durable Inflata-Shield material provides puncture resistance.
  • Comfortable seating with adjustable inflatable seats and backrests.


  • Not suitable for rough waters or strong currents.
  • May feel snug for larger individuals.
  • Included paddles could be of higher quality; upgrading recommended for better performance.

Also Read: Best Modular Kayaks 2024: Top 10 Reviewed & Rated!

5. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 (best sit on top kayaks for beginners)

Best Kayaks for Beginners: Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105
Image Source: Amazon
Length10′ 6″
Deck Height15-1/4″
Weight55 lbs.
Max Capacity325 lbs.
Seat TypePhase 3 AirPro Seat
Innovative FeaturesReplaceable Skid Plate, Stern Tankwell with Cargo Net, Bow Paddle Park Bungee, etc

Designed for newcomers, Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 offers top-tier stability and comfort, making it a standout choice for beginner kayakers. This premier sit-on-top kayak isn’t only fast and efficient but also tracks straight, allowing you to maneuver with ease.

The Phase 3 Air Pro seating system guarantees you’re comfortable during long paddling sessions, and the Sidetracks accessory rails let you customize your setup for a personalized experience.

You’ll find ample storage with a rear well and a front hatch to keep your gear secure. The padded footrests adjust easily, ensuring ideal positioning while you paddle. Despite some concerns about strap and seat material durability, the overall quality and manageability of the Tarpon 105 make it a reliable choice for your adventures on the water.

Best For: Beginners and recreational kayakers looking for a stable, comfortable, and customizable paddling experience.


  • Excellent stability and comfort provided by the Phase 3 Air Pro seating system.
  • Features like the Sidetracks accessory rails allow for easy customization.
  • Good storage options with a rear storage well and a front storage hatch.


  • Issues with the durability of straps and seat material reported by some users.
  • Rusting of the magnetic drink holder has been a concern.
  • Some reports of the Dry-Tec box being damaged upon delivery.

6. Wilderness Systems Pungo 120

Best Kayaks for Beginners: Wilderness Systems Pungo 120
Image Source: Amazon
Seating Capacity1, Phase 3 AirPro Seat
Length12′ 2″
Weight49 lbs.
Max Capacity325 lbs.

The Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 Recreational Kayak offers excellent stability and comfort, making it a perfect choice for beginner paddlers. It’s designed for small to medium-sized users and stands out as the best-selling sit-inside kayak.

You’ll find it has top-tier speed and performance paired with a reassuring level of stability. The Phase 3 Air Pro seat supports you with its ergonomic design and airflow, ensuring comfort throughout your journey.

Additionally, the kayak features adjustable foot rests and thigh pads, enhancing your comfort while on the water. The Pungo dashboard, equipped with a dry box, cup holders, and various storage options, adds convenience. There’s also a sealed rear Orbit hatch for secure gear storage, rounding out its practical features perfectly for any beginner.

Best For: Small to medium-sized paddlers looking for a stable and comfortable sit-inside kayak with excellent features for recreational use.


  • Phase 3 Air Pro seat offers superior ergonomic support and airflow for enhanced comfort during long paddling sessions.
  • Includes a Pungo dashboard with a dry box, cup holders, and ample storage options for convenience.
  • Features a stable design with best-in-class speed and tracking performance, suitable for beginners and intermediate paddlers.


  • Some users reported issues with damage during shipping, affecting the kayak’s condition upon delivery.
  • The low seating position may be uncomfortable for some users during extended use.
  • Minor design flaws such as shallow cup holders and occasional missing components like the dashboard.

Also Read: Sit-On-Top vs Sit-In Kayak: Uncover the Best Fit for You

7. Perception Rambler | Sit on Top Tandem Kayak

Best Kayaks for Beginners: Perception Rambler | Sit on Top Tandem Kayak
Image Source: Amazon
Boat Weight78 lbs
Max Capacity550 lbs
ConstructionOne-piece roto molded construction
FeaturesRoomy molded-in seat, Additional mold-in center seat, Removable padded seat and backrest, Bungee cord lashes
DurabilityUV, impact and abrasion-resistant design, Rust-resistant hardware

Are you seeking a stable and versatile kayaking experience? The Perception Rambler 13.5 tandem kayak might be your best match. Ideal for beginners, this kayak is praised for its stability and durability, thanks to its high-density polyethylene construction.

It comfortably seats two, making it a great choice for partner paddles on lakes, ocean bays, or slow-moving rivers. You’ll find the roomy design not only enhances stability but also maneuverability, which is essential for new paddlers.

The kayak includes spacious adjustable seats and easy-access storage, ensuring you’re comfortable and your belongings are secure. While some users have noted its weight as a challenge for solo handling, its tracking ability and high weight limit of 550 pounds make it well-suited for larger paddlers.

Best For: Large or beginner paddlers seeking a stable and versatile kayaking experience.


  • High stability and maneuverability suitable for beginners.
  • Durable one-piece roto-molded polyethylene construction.
  • Spacious design with adjustable seats and ample storage.


  • Relatively heavy, making it difficult to handle alone.
  • Some users reported the need for better seat comfort.
  • Occasional issues with delivery and condition upon arrival.

8. Perception Hi Five | Sit on Top Kids Kayak

Best Kayaks for Beginners: Perception Hi Five | Sit on Top Kids Kayak
Image Source: Amazon
Kayak Weight21 lbs
Max Capacity120 lbs
Age Range5-14 (up to 120 lbs)
PaddleHigh quality, kid-sized kayak paddle included
FeaturesElevated seat, Molded-in footrests, Bow carry handle, Can add deck pads, paddle leashes and tethers, and Solo Mount-compatible accessories

Why not start your child’s kayaking adventure with the Perception Hi Five Kids Kayak, which includes a paddle and is perfect for youngsters up to 120 lbs? This sit-on-top kayak offers a stable, compact design, making it ideal for young paddlers excited to learn and develop their skills.

The elevated seat ensures they get a better view and stay drier while paddling. You’ll find that the kayak’s quality build and the kid-friendly paddle enhance both safety and fun, promoting physical activity and exploration.

Parents have noted its suitability for children from ages 4 to 10, ensuring long-term use. Feedback highlights the kayak’s stability and ease of use, making it a favored choice for family water adventures, especially during these times when outdoor activities are more vital than ever.

Best For: Young children eager to start their kayaking adventures, suitable for ages 4 to 10 and up to 120 lbs.


  • Stable and compact design ideal for young, beginner paddlers.
  • Includes a kid-friendly paddle that enhances safety and fun.
  • Elevated seat provides a better view and a drier, more enjoyable ride.


  • Some customers reported the packaging to be too thin, potentially risking damage during shipping.
  • Limited to children up to 120 lbs, not suitable for older or heavier kids.
  • Replacement paddles were needed in some instances, implying possible issues with original paddle durability.

Also Read: Ultimate Guide For Top 10 Spots for Kayaking in Chicago

Factors to Consider When Choosing Kayaks for Beginners

When you’re just starting out with kayaking, there are several key factors you need to take into account to guarantee a good experience on the water.

First off, you’ll want a kayak that’s stable and safe, making it easier to handle and less likely to tip over. Additionally, think about the kayak’s weight and how easy it’s to carry, as well as whether it’s comfortable to sit in for long periods.

Stability and Safety

Choosing the right kayak as a beginner primarily involves selecting one that offers exceptional stability and safety features. When I started paddling, I quickly learned that a wide, flat hull design works wonders in keeping the kayak balanced and upright in calm waters. Kayaks with multi-chine hulls are also great because they provide additional stability, which is important when you’re still getting the hang of moving through the water.

Moreover, it’s important to look for kayaks equipped with safety features that can assist in emergency situations. Features like flotation devices help in making sure the kayak remains buoyant if it capsizes, and grab handles aid in easily pulling yourself back in. I found these features invaluable during my initial paddling attempts, as they greatly lowered the stress of dealing with unexpected situations.

Another tip I’d share is to choose a kayak with a low center of gravity. This design enhances primary stability, making it less likely for you to tip over when you’re just sitting and enjoying the scenery or fishing. A stable platform not only keeps you safer but also boosts your confidence, allowing you to focus more on mastering your paddling skills and less on staying afloat.

Weight and Portability

After discussing stability and safety, let’s now consider how the weight and portability of a kayak impact a beginner’s experience. For those new to kayaking, managing a heavy kayak can be quite intimidating.

Lighter kayaks are notably easier to transport, making them ideal for beginners. They’re less cumbersome to maneuver from your vehicle to the water and back, which is a huge plus.

Portability plays a critical role as well. Kayaks that are easy to carry enhance the overall kayaking experience. If you’re just starting out, look for models with built-in handles or other features that aid in carrying the kayak. This makes it much easier to handle the kayak comfortably on your own.

Additionally, if you’re short on storage space or prefer a kayak that’s easy to take on road trips, consider compact or foldable kayaks. These can be especially convenient, fitting easily into the trunk of a car or stored in a closet at home.

Inflatable kayaks are another great option for beginners. They’re not only lightweight but also simple to transport and store when deflated. This flexibility allows you to explore a variety of waterways without the hassle of a rigid, heavy kayak.

Ease of Use

To guarantee a smooth start in kayaking, beginners should prioritize kayaks with stable hull designs for enhanced balance and ease of use. When I started kayaking, I quickly learned that a stable hull isn’t just about preventing capsizes; it’s important for building confidence on the water. Stability means you can focus more on the scenery and less on staying upright.

Beginners should also consider kayaks that are light enough to carry easily. My first kayak was lightweight, which made it a breeze to transport to and from the water. This ease of transport can greatly enhance your kayaking experience, as you’re less likely to be discouraged by the prospect of moving a heavy kayak.

Moreover, I’ve found that kayaks with user-friendly features, such as durable construction and good maneuverability, are essential. These features help make sure that your kayak can handle different water conditions and is forgiving of beginner mistakes. I recommend looking for kayaks that offer a balance of these qualities to help simplify the learning curve.

Lastly, ample storage is a must-have for beginners. It’s great to have enough space to store your essentials and any safety gear, making your kayaking trips both enjoyable and secure.

Material Durability

Understanding the durability of materials used in kayaks, particularly polyethylene, is essential for beginners looking to make a smart purchase. Polyethylene, or PE, stands out due to its high molecular weight construction, which offers remarkable longevity and toughness. This makes it a top choice for traversing various water conditions without worry.

PE kayaks boast impressive resistance to UV rays, which is important for maintaining the kayak’s integrity over time. They’re also resilient against abrasions and general wear and tear, making sure that your kayak remains in good shape, even with frequent use. Its inherent flexibility is a significant advantage; it helps the kayak absorb impacts more efficiently, reducing the risk of cracking if you bump into obstacles or debris.

When evaluating kayaks, it’s important to take into account not just the durability but also the weight and stiffness of the material. PE is generally heavier than some other materials, which can impact handling and transportation. Additionally, while PE is tough, its repairability should be considered; although it’s durable, having options for easy fixes can prolong your kayak’s life further. Choosing a kayak with a balance of these traits will guarantee a rewarding and lasting paddling experience for any beginner.

Storage Options

After exploring the durability of polyethylene in kayaks, let’s also consider the importance of storage options for beginners. When you’re starting out, having a kayak with ample storage is crucial. Look for models with dry compartments and hatches; these are vital for keeping your items dry and secure. Bungee cords are also handy for fastening gear tightly to the deck.

Additionally, built-in features like dashboard trays and cup holders enhance convenience, allowing easy access to snacks and drinks while on water. Rear storage wells are perfect for larger items that you might need on your trip, such as extra clothing or a picnic basket. It’s important to check the kayak’s total capacity to make certain it can handle all your gear without compromising stability or performance.

Don’t overlook extra features like rod holders, which are great if you plan to fish, or accessory tracks and gear loops that make it easier to customize your setup. Some kayaks even offer customizable storage options, including adjustable seat configurations and removable containers, allowing you to tailor the space according to your specific needs. Opting for a kayak with versatile storage solutions will make your paddling adventures both comfortable and enjoyable.


Choosing the right kayak as a beginner isn’t just about hitting the water; it’s about comfort, stability, and safety.

The Pelican Sentinel 80x and AQUAGLIDE Noyo are great for their stability and storage.

The Perception Flash 9.5 and Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105 prioritize comfort and ease of use.

For families, consider the Bestway Hydro Force.

Remember, the best kayak for you depends on your specific needs and the environments you plan to explore.

Happy paddling!

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