Best Kayaks For Beginners: Full Product Guide (July 2022)

1. Pelican Argo 100X
(Best Overall)

Length: 10’ (305 cm)
Width: 28″ (71 cm)
Weight: 36 lbs. (16.3 kg)
Capacity: 275 lbs. (125 kg)

The most popular beginner-level kayak, mainly due to its wide availability and great pricing. At 36 lbs (16.3 kg), it is also very lightweight. You can literally grab it one-handed and carry it around.

10Expert Score

In my opinion, the best all around kayak for beginners. - Adam

  • Lightweight
  • Strong
  • Comfortable
  • None at this price

2. Wilderness Systems Pungo 120
(Runner-Up Overall)

Weight: 49 lbs (22 kg)
Length: 12’2” (371 cm)
Capacity: 325 lbs (147 kg)
Type: Sit in

The Pungo 120 features Wilderness Systems’ proprietary hull design which blends a wide base with a relatively flat bottom. Additionally, since the front and rear of the boat feature a slight chine, this kayak screams stability on the water without sacrificing its inherent tracking prowess over longer distances. 

10Expert Score

Exceptional kayak for beginners, slightly more expensive. - Adam

  • Proprietary hull design
  • Plenty of storage
  • Comfortable seat
  • Somewhat expensive

3. Intex Explorer K2
(Best Budget Kayak)

Length: 10’3” (312 cm)
Width: 36” (91 cm)
Weight: 30.6 lb (13.9 kg)
Capacity: 400 lb (180 kg)

Intex Explorer K2 is best used for short recreational paddles on small, calm bodies of water. Its compact size, lightweight construction, and low price make it an easy first step into kayaking.

9.5Expert Score

If you are looking for an inexpensive tandem kayak, this is your best bet . - Adam

  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Only for calm waters

4. Perception Rambler 13.5
(Best Tandem Kayak)

Weight: 78 lbs (35 kg)
Length: 13’6” (412 cm)
Capacity: 500 lbs (249 kg)
Type: Sit on top

Featuring a wide, mostly rounded hull that offers impeccable stability in calm conditions, the Rambler 13.5 is a solid choice for paddlers that enjoy sticking to sheltered waters. Its spacious deck area and high maximum weight capacity are able to accomodate 2 adult paddlers.

9.5Expert Score

Another great choice for a tandem kayak, somewhat on the heavier side but one of the best out there for beginners. - Adam

  • Wide hull
  • Extra space
  • High weight capacity
  • Heavy

5. Lifetime Tamarack Pro 103
(Best Fishing Kayak)

Type: Hard-shell sit-on
Material: High-density, UV-protected polyethylene
Size: 12′ 3″ (312.42 cm) x 31″ (78.7 cm)
Weight: 57.5 lb (26 kg)
Capacity: 300 lb (136 kg)

Crafted from UV-protected high-density polyethylene, the Tamarack Angler is designed to be a rigid, durable kayak that performs well on the water. Many users report that the kayak offers enough stability to allow them to stand while fishing. 

9Expert Score

If you are looking to explore fishing in a kayak, this is the best choice. - Adam

  • Good stability
  • Lightweight
  • No seat padding

6. Perception Flash 9.5
(Best For Rivers)

Length: 9 ft 6 in | 2.9 m
Width: 28.5 in | 72.4 cm
Weight: 41 lbs
Best Use: Flatwater, slow-moving rivers, coasts

The Perception Flash 9.5 is a decent river kayak, especially for beginners that only plan to tackle slower-moving rivers. It is affordable and provides the value most beginners are looking for in a kayak, along with some versatility. 


8.5Expert Score

Best beginner option for river kayaking. -Adam

  • Great stability
  • Excellent tracking
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Not comfortable for a long day on the water

7. Pelican Sentinel 100X
(Best For Dogs)

Length: 9 ft 6 in | 2.9 m
Width: 30 in | 76.2 cm
Weight: 42 lbs
Best Use: Recreational kayaking, fishing

The Pelican Sentinel 100X kayak is a great beginner kayak whether you decide to bring your dog along for the ride or not. Sit on top kayaks often provide more space for an animal companion to ride along, and this model is stable enough to allow for some movement aboard without issue. 


8.5Expert Score

A roomy sit on top kayak stable enough to hold you and your canine companion as you paddle. -Adam

  • Affordable
  • Stable
  • Only for calm waters

8. Old Town Heron 9XT

The Old Town Heron 9XT is one of the best beginner kayaks picks because of the overall value. It is an affordable option that provides a high level of versatility, allowing paddlers to enjoy lakes and slow-moving rivers. The cockpit, adjustable seat, and bracing system are pretty comfortable for the average person.

8Expert Score

A versatile kayak that is great for beginners. -Adam

  • Roomy
  • Adjustable
  • Easy to carry
  • Doesn't track well
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