beginner in red kayak

Beginner Kayak Reviews

Buying your very first kayak can be an overwhelming experience if you aren’t equipped with the right knowledge.

There are countless models on the market and it can be hard to distinguish between what makes a good beginners kayak and what doesn’t.

The following post will provide an insight into the different factors that make a good beginners kayak including: size, weight, kayak design as well as other key features.

I hope after reading this review you will have a better understanding of which kayak is going to be the best for your needs.

Last updated on September 14, 2018 3:18 am

Features of Beginner Kayaks

When it comes to searching for the best beginner kayak understanding the different features will help make the decision easier for you.

There are a few crucial things you will need to take into consideration and these include the length, displacement and rocker. There are many more but lets begin with these.

Kayak Displacement

This is the term given to how high above the water or below the water your kayak sites. If there is too much displacement then you’re going to be very high above the water.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it will be much more difficult to manoeuvre and if there is a strong breeze or current your kayak will be moved around easily.

Is your kayak has too little displacement then you will sink and no one wants that!

The displacement is automatically factored into designs for beginners kayaks but they generally account for paddlers who weigh 143lb – 187lb.

If you are outside of this weight range then be sure to double check with the manufacturer or order a very specific kayak.

Kayak Length

Have you seen the professionals who have incredibly long kayaks that seem to slice through water with ease? The longer  your kayak is the faster it will go.

In addition to being long they are also narrow which significantly reduces the drag and allows you to go much faster.

There are a few issues with having such a long kayak though and that includes the inability to manoeuvre them easily.

They are also very difficult to transport around and to store in your home or garage as well.

Kayak Rocker

This refers to the amount of curve in your kayak.

If you picture a kayak in the water if the ends of the kayak are out of the water then this is a pretty big rocker.

If each end is flat with the waters surface then there is virtually no rocker.

The rocker attributes to manoeuvrability as well as stability so if you are a beginner then a kayak with a decent rocker is going to make it much easier to learn and get used to!

Best Kayaks For Beginners

Taking these into consideration let’s take a detailed look at the best kayaks for beginners!

1. Perception R15 Pescadors 120 Kayak

Perception R15 Pescadors 120 Kayak, Red/Yellow

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as of September 14, 2018 3:18 am


  • Comfort Seating System (CSS)
  • Keepers Footbrace
  • Bow Hatch, Stern and Center Day Hatches
  • Tank well with Bungee
  • Comfort Carry

The Perception R15 Pescadors 120 Kayak is one of the best beginner kayaks on the market.

The word Pescador means fisherman in Spanish so if you hadn’t already guessed this is also a fishing kayak- quite a good one at that! 

Key Features

  • Fishing kayak that is great for beginners
  • Sit on top style
  • Stable and durable
  • Removable and adjustable seat
  • 12 foot in length
  • 3 colors available

This is a sit on top style kayak that has plenty of storage areas as well as options to mount accessories for fishing.

Measuring in a 12 foot of 365cm this kayak is quite long yet still is manoeuvrable and doesn’t compromise on speed, space or stability.

It is 32.5 inches wide and weights 64 lbs. The maximum user weight is 375lbs.

There is a two level adjustment seat which doubles as a camp chair as well. It can be lowered for comfort while paddled and raised for more accurate casting.

The chair is completely removable too meaning you can use it on the beach/lake/river where you are kayaking. It also has easily adjustable footrests which allows for users across a range of heights.

As you can imagine a fishing kayak is going to need to be quite stable to allow for casting and reeling in fish. So for this reason fishing kayaks are great for beginners.

This is a durable, stable and well built kayak that is designed to withstand many different conditions.

The Perception R15 Pescadors 120 Kayak doesn’t come with a paddle so that will be something that needs to be purchased separately. It is available in 3 different colors – red/yellow, sand and seaspray.

2. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak, Envy, 12-Feet

2 new from $594.99
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as of September 14, 2018 3:18 am


  • Capacity of one, two, or two plus a child, 375-425 lbs. maximum capacity, perfect for a couple with a child
  • Three seating position, bow, stern and middle for paddling solo, tandem, or tandem with a child. Overlapping foot wells,allow for a center seated paddler to have comfortable foot bracing with side carry handles
  • 2 Comfort Plus seats, three molded-in seat wells, gear straps, patented overlapping foot wells, molded-in handles, skid plate
  • Hull and deck design allows easy stacking of multiple hulls for easy on dock storage,Comfortable whatever your leg length may be

The Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak has a capacity of one, two or two and a child. This is a spacious, beginner kayak that is comfortable and easy to use. 

Key Features

  • Capacity for 2 adults and a child or pet
  • Lightweight yet sturdy
  • Two seat backs included
  • 12 foot long
  • 3 different colors to choose from

This is one of the most popular, compact, lightweight sit on top kayaks that is stable and durable. It can be paddled by just one person or two as well as enough space for a small child or pet.

Included are two comfort plus seat backs which will drastically improve the comfort of your kayak. There are also gear straps as well as overlapping foot wells, handles and a skid plate.

The design of this kayak makes it easy to dock, store and transport. Measuring at 12 foot this kayak will offer stability and ease to begin your kayak journey.

If you are tall or need a lot of leg room then the Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak is a good choice. It is available in three different colors – yellow, sunrise and envy.

3. Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-in Kayak (Blue, 10-Feet)

Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-in Kayak (Blue, 10-Feet)

15 new from $285.80
Free shipping
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as of September 14, 2018 3:18 am


  • Large open cockpit with adjustable padded seat with high back support
  • Convenient gear storage with shock cord deck rigging
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex High Density Polyethylene
  • Spray deflector collar

The Sun Dolphin Aruba Kayak is one of the most affordable and popular beginners kayaks on the market, designed specifically with a beginner kayaker in mind!

Key Features

  • 10 foot long
  • 7 colors to choose from
  • Padded seat with high back support
  • Gear storage area
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • UV stabilized design

Measuring in at 10 foot long this kayak will be easy to paddle and manoeuvre but most of all stable. It has a total weight of 40lbs (18kgs) and a maximum user weight of 250lbs (113kgs).

The cockpit is large and comes with a padded seat that is fully adjustable. It has a storage area for any gear you want to take with you as well as adjustable foot braces making it comfortable for everyone.

The kayak has been built to last and uses UV stabilized fortiflex high density polyethylene meaning it’s going to last.

The paddle isn’t included with this purchase so bear in mind you will also need to order one separately.

Overall the Sun Dolphin Aruba Kayak has been designed for beginner kayakers in mind and great value for money. The hardest choice will be deciding which of the 7 colors you want to get!

Design and Physics of a Kayak

Making a kayak is quite a complex process and there are many considerations that go into the design work. There are, however, trade offs or compromises with the craftmanship of your kayak.

For beginners you want stability over manoeuvrability and speed. The key trade offs include:

  • stability vs. maneuverability
  • stability vs. speed
  • primary vs. secondary stability

Most beginners will want a very stable kayak because let’s be honest, no one wants to be tipping out of them!

Bottom Line

Choosing the best kayak for beginners can be a somewhat daunting task. There are a huge variety to choose from so I hope you found my beginner kayak reviews post helpful! The Sun Dolphin Aruba Kayak is the most popular amongst beginner kayaks but the Perception R15 Pescadors 120 Kayak is also great for beginners and multi functional. 

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