The best kayaks for beginners

This fun and often exhilarating sport requires a certain amount of judgement when it comes to choosing the correct kayak.

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Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker looking to ease your kids into the world of whitewater or you’ve joined the uni kayaking club and require a decent beginner boat that’ll handle some choppy rivers, choosing the best kayak for your requirements isn’t as easy as it first seems. 

There's where we come in.

How to choose the best kayak

The saying ‘you don’t sit in a kayak, you wear it’, is something you must keep in mind if you’re planning to purchase a boat for your first uni booze up/kayaking trip. Remember you’re attached via a spray deck, so buying a boat that you can easily pop out of if you capsize, or roll back up in if that’s something you’ve mastered, is something to consider. 

Alternatively, kayaks are a great purchase for family excursions and exploring holidays. These types of kayaks don’t require a spray deck, as the chances are you’re gonna be cruising down quiet rivers or doing some gentle exploring of the caves around a sheltered bay. 

You’ll find that junior kayaks will have a wide, sturdy base, while beginner white water kayaks will combine a relatively wide bottom with a narrow front and back for carving through rapids. 

A narrow kayak will probably fair better for speedy explorations, while inflatable ones are better suited to relaxing river rides or sea cruising. 

So, to ensure that you purchase the best kayak for your requirements, we’ve pulled together a range of boats designed for different river conditions and purposes. Find out more by reading on below.

The 6 best kayaks

1.Riber Kayak One Seat - Sit In Style

Beginners will appreciate the sturdiness of this kayak

Specifications
Best for: Beginners
Accessories: Spray deck
Material: Polyethylene
Seater: 1
Reasons to buy
+Sturdy, wide base+Large cockpit
Reasons to avoid
-Not for high grade rivers 

The notion of rolling is a daunting one for any beginner, so purchasing a kayak with a large cockpit is a good way to go. It means if you capsize, you can pop your deck and climb out easily. Longer and more sturdier than some kayaks, this one should be fine for conditions ranging from gentle seas to grade 3 rivers; anything more fierce and control could become too difficult. Reviewers love the sturdiness of the kayak and appreciate the additional storage section, which makes it a great one for relaxing exploring holidays too.

2. Riber Kayak for Juniors - Sit On Top Style

For juniors looking to get to grips with the motions

Specifications
Best for: Juniors
Accessories: None
Material: Polyethylene
Seater: 1
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly sturdy+No cockpit
Reasons to avoid
-Not for rapids

Understandably, if you and your partner are a seasoned kayakers, you’ll want the kids to start early, that way they’ll be racing down grade 3 rivers by the time they’re 10 (you wish). Anyway, the wide base of this kayak gives it a great level sturdiness on flat or mildly foamy rivers, while zero cockpit means your child won’t be stuck if they happen to capsize. With the means to store dry bags or paddle leashes, this is certainly one to go for if the family holiday is looming. 

3. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

An inflatable kayak, handy for holidays

Specifications
Best for: Inflatable
Accessories: 2 aluminium oars, high-capacity hand pump and repair patch kit
Material: Vinyl
Seater: 2
Reasons to buy
+Can be easily packed away+Quick to blow up
Reasons to avoid
-Bear in mind river levels 

This kayak is all about comfort when you’re cruising on the couples holiday, thanks to the adjustable inflated seats and large cockpit. It’s sturdy yet narrowed shape keeps it stable yet streamlined, making it easy to power through mill ponds or slightly choppy waves. Alternatively, it’s great for paddling flat to ripply rivers. Supplied with oars, a pump and a puncture repair kit, you’ll have everything you need for some stress-free exploring. 

4. GoSea Voyage Family 2+1 Tandem Sit On Top Kayak

For two people and the dog

Specifications
Best for: Family holidays
Accessories: 2 oars
Material: Linear low density polyethylene
Seater: 2
Reasons to buy
+Bags of room+Middle seat position for single kayakers
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy and slightly awkward to transport 

Unlike the inflatable 2 seater above, there’s no way you’re going to squeeze this one in the back of the car. However, if you’re unsure about the water levels, you can still head down the river with this one without the worry of busting a hole in the bottom. There’s a seat at the front and the back; alternatively, you can switch up the seating position to 1 middle seat if you’re heading out on your own. There’s bags of room in this kayak, so much so that GoSea say there’s space for a small additional passenger - child or animal- or room for some luggage if you’re planning on finding a nice spot on the river bank for a pitstop.

5. Bic Sport Rigid Bilbao Fishing Kayak

A kayak that comes with a few fishing bells and whistles

Specifications
Best for: Fishing
Accessories: N/A
Material: Thermoformed polyethylene
Seater: 1
Reasons to buy
+Built to glide on water+Included 2 watertight compartments and pole supports
Reasons to avoid
-Other accessories come at an additional cost 

Built for fishing, this boat boasts great stability and minimal draught, which means you can creep up on a shoal of fish without announcing your arrival. Once you’re in a good spot, you can retrieve your fishing gear from the front and rear compartments and set your pole up in the designated holder. You can prime this boat for the great outdoors further, with a range of accessories including a compass, GPS and signalling lights - just bear in mind that it all comes at an extra cost. 

6. Point 65 Raider Sit In Kayak

A narrow kayak for covering mileage

Specifications
Best for: Speed and touring
Accessories: N/A
Material: Polyethylene
Seater: 1
Reasons to buy
+Narrow for gliding through water+Comes with a dry store
Reasons to avoid
-Not for gnarly water 

If you love an exploring holiday and require a decent boat to get you around, this one is a good buy. It’s narrow, which means it should glide through the water and cover good ground with each stroke. You can attach yourself to this kayak with a spray deck, which is good if you’re looking to cover some mild white water. You can store any essentials in the rear of the kayak, while a large cockpit means you should be able to hop in and out of the boat as and when there’s something worth exploring on the river bank.

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