How to Choose a Kayak for Beginners : The Ultimate Guide 2021

You can enjoy the natural beauty around you and have fun when kayaking. It helps get fresh air in secluded locations. Whether you like to have fun, fish, exercise, or sightsee, you can get into the deep sea with your kayak and give yourself a good time!

Kayaking is the best option for reaching beautiful beachside campgrounds, exploring an estuary, and enjoying wonderful views that you could not see from the shore. Owning a kayak sounds exciting but it may be a bit confusing to choose the right kayak for you in the first place.

In this article, we are going to give you some ideas about how to choose the best beginner’s kayak for you. Here are some key ideas to focus on-

You have to decide first where you are going to do kayaking. Is the kayaking place a river, a lake, or a seacoast? This may help to narrow the choices.

Do you like a sit-on-top or sit-in kayak? You could choose as per your choice.

A kayak’s price highly depends on its materials and it is a big fact in the durability and weight of your kayak. You have set your budget according to this.

The size and shape of the kayak may affect cargo space and handling. You should not avoid this factor when choosing a kayak for you.

Where would you paddle your kayak?

Water type is not an important factor for kayaking but it is helpful thinking about the environment where you are going to explore.


We are not talking about Lake Superior here! If your destination is close and the weather is in your favor, you could go with either a sit-in kayak or sit-on-top for having fun. If waves appear, a traditional sit-in kayak would be the best choice for you.


The coast is the place where waves, currents, wind, tides, and other things would come. Thus, a sit-in boat with a skeg, fixed fin, and a rudder probably works best. However, if you prefer to go swimming or planning for kayak surfing, you could choose a sit-on-top and enjoy your day.


If you plan for kayaking on a big river, you would need a sturdy and stable craft that could turn quickly. That may be a stable and short sit-on-top or a traditional sit-in kayak.

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Lakes and rivers

If you want to use the kayak in both still and flowing waters, you could choose a short recreational sit-on-top or sit-in kayak. They come with a skeg and such set up would be helpful for you to turn quickly when your skeg is upper as well as tracking when it is down. A rudder would be useful but you may find it on longboats.

Different types of kayaks

Kayaks could be classified in various ways including their structure, where you will sit, how to use them and if they’re built for any particular purpose.

Sit-in kayaks

These types of kayaks could track straight, move fast and they also have enclosed cargo compartments that make it perfect to paddle to your destination. Added considerations:

If the water and air are cool, you would be comfortable paddling sit-in kayaks.

You could add a spray skirt. If you want them to get completely swamped, you would need a trash pump. Moreover, you have to know the process of doing a wet exit.

Your body parts like knees, feet, and butt inside your kayak would provide you better control that is useful to paddle in big waves and you could enjoy kayaking more.

Paddling is easier and efficient.

These types of kayaks could offer you more storage.

Sit-on-top kayaks

These types of kayaks are user-friendly and they are suited for having an amusing day for fishing or just for enjoying the water and nature.

Sit-on-top kayaks are versatile that makes them a good choice for beginners.

As you would get splashed, these kayaks are suited to enjoy warm environments.

It is easy getting off and on that provides better stability.

The scupper holes would allow the water to drain.

Hull type

Probably you want to know about the bottom shape of the kayak which is called the hull. Hull design could make a change in stability and performance on the ocean. There are 2 kinds of stability-

Primary or initial stability is the stability of your kayak when you are getting into it at first. This means the chances are less to flip while you step first into the boat and sit.

After starting paddling, the stability you gain is called secondary stability. The chances of rolling over become less when you start to move on the water.

Let’s move towards the types of hulls that you should consider.

Flat hull

A flat hull could be maneuverable and stable. It could offer you the best primary stability. The flatter your hull, the more stability it could give. These types of hulls are great for the people who do kayaking in flat-water conditions. these could be the right choice for a beginner.

Rounded hull

These hulls are better than the flat hulls because the round edges could increase speed. They also allow easy travel on the water. they could offer you secondary stability more than others.


V-shaped hulls could cut over the water that helps your kayak travel straightly. They are suitable and ideal for long-distance or touring trips and recreational paddling. As they provide less primary stability, you may feel your kayak a little unstable. These hulls could provide you secondary stability.


These types of hulls are very stable as they combine the secondary and primary stability of rounded and flat hulls. The only problem with these kayaks is- they are a bit slower.


Chine is how the boat’s bottom meets the sides either in a round soft chine or a hard chine with several angles. Softer chine is more likely to increase the secondary stability of the boat.

Weight capacity

You should not forget to check the weight capacity of the kayak before buying because they vary. They may be listed clearly when you go to buy one. The weight capacity includes your body weight and other extra items such as gear, fishing tackles, and coolers.

Width and length:

The narrower and longer kayaks could go straighter and faster. If you have a short and wide kayak, you would find it easy to turn and stable but it may get slower. As a beginner, you should choose a wide kayak because it is better to learn kayaking slowly.

Touring kayak is long, about 14-18 feet that is suitable for handling big rivers, lakes, or large waves. A recreational kayak is about 8-13 feet long which makes it efficient for small rivers, creeks, lakes, and other still waters.

You should measure the kayak’s length according to your height especially if you are buying a sit-in kayak. For having a great experience, you would need to ensure that you fit well inside the kayak.

For instance, a twelve feet long kayak is better for a six feet tall person. Moreover, adjustable footrests could help to accommodate the height in the kayak. With the help of it, taller people could fit in small kayaks and short people in long kayaks.

You have to be comfortable and confident with the choice. After finding the right kayak, you would find the correct paddle. It is best to learn some basics of kayaking before you start to jump on the water with your kayak!

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