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What Are the Best Kayaks for Beginners?

If you are just getting started on your kayaking journey, then you might be wondering how to wade through all the options. Finding the right kayak can feel like a daunting task. But here are some tips and advice to help you feel more confident in your kayak purchase.

Consider Kayaking Style

. . . is vitally important.

In this case, “style” doesn’t refer to the color scheme but what type of kayaking you will be doing. Are you looking to paddle flat water (ponds, lakes, bays) or are you hoping to reach the whitewater game (rivers, streams, flowing water)? Deciding what kind of kayaking you will be doing will inform which type of kayak to purchase.

Types of Flatwater Kayaks

  • Recreational
  • Touring
  • Sit-on-top
  • Pedal drive
  • Inflatable

Types of Whitewater Kayaks

  • River Runners
  • Creek boats
  • Playboats
  • Old School
  • Inflatables (Duckies)

This isn’t a comprehensive list of all types and styles of kayaks because there are hybrids and exceptions, but it is a pretty good sampling of the styles of kayaks you are likely to see as a beginner.

Most beginners are drawn to the sit-on-top style of kayak. They are easier to get on and off. They don’t usually require a bilge pump or sponge as there isn’t a cockpit to collect as much water. Reaching your gear is usually easier on a sit-on-top kayak, and you can add a trolling motor if you want your kayak ‘motorized’ – this BKC PK11 Single Kayak comes equipped with a trolling motor. And lastly, there is less likelihood of getting stuck if you capsize as you just fall off, instead of needing to release yourself from the cockpit of a sit-in type kayak.

If you are thinking about fishing with your kayak or just tooling around on flat water: Brooklyn Kayak Company’s BKC RA220 11.5-foot Single Sit-on-Top is an excellent option.

Consider Kayak Size & Shape

. . . impacts performance

As a beginner, you are likely building up your strength, balance, and stamina. So, you will want a kayak that considers all those things.

  • You will need a certain amount of strength to paddle and a heavier kayak will wear you out faster. So, beginners tend to look for lighter weight in a kayak. Sometimes, that means they are attracted to inflatable options. While those are sometimes good, you need to weigh that pros and cons. Inflatable kayaks have a shorter lifespan and are prone to punctures and leaks.
  • Kayaking requires balance and core strength. Beginners are likely to want a wider ride initially. And if you are fishing and flatwater kayaking, you may never have the need for a thinner kayak. Wider kayaks are more stable and can usually carry more weight in gear.
  • If you are just getting out on the water, you will probably find that you need to build up your stamina. A kayak that is long enough to track well, but short enough to turn efficiently will help save your energy.

For an excellent beginning kayak, check out Brooklyn Kayak Company’s BKC PK11 Pedal Sit-on-Top Kayak (with pedal drive). It is lightweight (so you don’t wear out), compact (so you can transport it easily), stable (a sit-on-top), and agile (at 10.5 feet it is stable enough for a newbie, but agile enough for an expert). In addition, the pedal drive system is highly efficient so you can go hands-free and save some energy as you build up your stamina.

Consider Ease of Kayak Transporting

. . .is a limitation

Another thing to consider as you contemplate a kayak purchase is how you are going to transport your new friend. It is one thing to pick the exact make, model, color, style, and price. . . but it is another thing to schlep it to the lake and hoist it on your roof rack.

As you make you decision, consider the overall weight of the kayak - not just for passengers and gear - but for how easily you can lift it, by yourself or with a buddy. Can it slide in the back for your SUV or will it need to be mounted on a rack? And once you get it home, do you have a safe and secure home for your kayak?

Once you’ve answered all these questions, you can begin the hunt for your perfect kayak. And since everything is better with a friend, you might want to consider a tandem kayak. There is safety in numbers, you can halve the weight (and work), and multiple the fun. Brooklyn Kayak Company’s BKC PK14 Angler Sit-on-Top Tandem Kayak is excellent for including a partner in the adventure.

Consider sharing

. . .  is caring.

Lastly, if you’ve never been out on a kayak before, it might be best to come alongside a friend who has some experience or search out a local kayaking group. Find someone who will let you sit in a kayak and paddle around awhile. It can go a long way toward informing you of the type of kayak you prefer. They can also speak to the quality and longevity of their yak, or ones that they recommend.


You could also consider renting a kayak or asking questions at your nearest kayak shop. Or browse through the extensive collection of kayaks at Brooklyn Kayak Company



Get on the water faster with Brooklyn Kayak Company.

We are committed to providing high quality kayaks at a competitive price. High quality materials, genuinely helpful service, easy online ordering, and to-your-door delivery.

Because we use our own products, our kayaks are designed by kayakers for kayakers.

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