How To Buy A Kayak For Beginners – Kayak Buying Guide

Every single kayak that exists will float in every body of water that you put it in. There are however specific kayak models that are better suited for different environment. Kayaks are very similar to many other things as far as selection is concerned. You want one that is well suited to the task you’re going to put it up to and not overly excessive. This is because it just works better. Out of the two very basic water ecosystems, inland and offshore.

Both have their own set of circumstances  where a certain make and model will work better than another. How to buy a kayak sounds difficult but it really isn’t. Follow these kayak selection tips so you can pick the best ride.

Where Will Your Kayak Be Used?

Man in white shirt and sunglasses inside an orange kayak.

Lakes And Ponds

Almost every single yak available on the market will work well on a pond or a fairly calm lake. There isn’t a whole lot of selection that you need to be aware of if these are the only places that you are going to take them. For this reason you may select speed as the determining factor or you may choose efficiency in storing your gear.

Most ponds and lakes are for the most part, very easy to kayak in. This is  also where inflatable yaks are the most popular.

Rivers and Canals

Water bodies such as rivers, canals, streams, and reservoirs are incredibly diverse. Some can be peaceful and others are full of so much white water that it gets dangerous. They normally have unpredictable weather patterns and wave tendencies certain environmental changes can affect how safe were not safe these water bodies are. For this reason it is important to have a ride that will hold up to big waves and allow you to get back to shore safely.

Oceanic Saltwater

Oceanic saltwater kayaks are the best of the best performers. Many people have a problem riding kayaks in the ocean because of how dangerous conditions can get. These are very similar to streams and other unpredictable bodies of water. For this reason, you want a very special and condition specific kayak so that you can traverse the Pacific and Atlantic safely. They may also be more money to purchase but in the end, its worth it.

Different Kayak Types And Their Uses

There are two basic types of kayaks to choose from. First there are sit-on-top kayaks and then there are sit in kayaks. Sit-on-top kayaks perform how they sound. All you have to do is sit on top of it and paddle. Sit in kayaks are the opposite in that they have an opening in the top where your legs enter the hull.

Both can work extremely well and there really isn’t a specific option to which one you should try. However, we do suggest trying a sit-on-top kayak first just because they are easier to exit if you fall over. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into some subcategories.


Recreational models are always sit-in varieties. They are shorter in length and they also possess a bigger opening than a touring kayak does. As the name implies, they are for recreational purposes exclusively. From a scientific perspective, they do not go very fast at all and they do not tolerate waves very well. Instead, they are more for enjoying a day at the park. Use these in lakes, ponds, slow-moving rivers, and still water.


Touring version models are built for Speed, agility, and endurance. This is the one you want to bring with you when you will be on the water for a long time. These ones are best suited for saltwater travel as well as long excursions. They are very fast but they are also very heavy and not suitable for those just starting out. Try another one first.


Whitewater kayaks are actually the exact opposite of the recreational model. They encompass a very aggressive style of water abuse. These are specifically designed to stay stable in heavy waves, fast-moving rapids, and other rough and tough conditions. Some people also like to race in them. This is a model that can go where many others can’t. This also drives their price through the roof.


Inflatable kayaks may not seem that durable but this is largely dependent on how well you take care of it. They are actually very versatile and the environments that they can go to. They also have the added benefit of letting the air out and transporting them in the trunk of a car.  Since they function almost identically  to every other one, they are just as prone to damage has other models if not more so. At least half of the time, this is not a problem because most people will not take an inflatable kayak to a place that can pop it.

Fishing Kayaks

Although fishing can be done in every single kayak, there are certain ones that are made and equipped specifically for fishing. Out of every variety that exists, the fishing kayak is my favorite for obvious reasons. They come in quite a few designs but the one thing they have in common is that fishing is the goal. Because of this, they may have accessories such as rod holders, cargo storage, an anchor lock, and other things. Take this one with you if you are fishing ponds, lakes, and almost calm or completely calm rivers.


What on Earth is a tandem model? To be very direct and to the point without causing any confusion, it is a regular kayak with more than one seat. These can be great for couples, siblings, friends, or parents to enjoy a day of fun on the water. It can also help you teach others. The most common model is a two-seater but there is also a three, a four, and sometimes even more than that.

What Size Kayak Should You Buy?

Of course the size of the kayak is going to depend on the type as well. You should try to select the model that you are comfortable driving. It needs to have enough room, but you should not feel small in the center. To be honest, there is no right or wrong answer as to what size you should buy. Something to remember though is that the bigger the boat is, the heavier and more cumbersome it is to transport.

Professional kayak rider in an orange kayak in a turbulent river.

Do You Want To Take It A Lot Of Places?

Which one is best? Well, I can’t tell you. There is no easy answer. It is only what works best for you. If your main goal is to have a kayak that you can take pretty much everywhere, I normally suggest the most versatile one. A sit-on-top, recreational model. Now, look. I know what you’re thinking. Don’t take this the wrong way.

Stick with me for a second. There is no law that says you cannot take a recreational model into dangerous water. You can. Chances are though, you are reading this post for a reason and that reason is likely because you want to know the best one to buy. Well, there it is.

It will not be the best one for everybody but I know it will be the best for beginners. You can take that to any pond, most lakes, streams, and rivers, reservoirs, and it even holds up well to saltwater as long as you are careful. It also will not cause you to invest your right kidney as some of the others may.

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Considering Prices, Budgeting, And Financial

Since most kayaks are not generally cheap, the old saying of “you get what you pay for” it’s not always true. I have seen great quality boats for very low prices. I have also seen dangerously expensive boats made in China from bad materials that I don’t even feel comfortable taking out on the water.

Most places offer payment plans as well as competitive prices. The proper amount that you should expect to spend should be anywhere from five hundred dollars all the way up to seven hundred fifty.  Any more than that and you start getting into the high-tech trophy-winning, whitewater, deep-sea, outrigger canoe builds. All of these are the same basic idea with better materials. That’s it. This usually does not justify the price difference.

Where Are The Best Kayaks Available?

There are quite a few places that supply great boats to consumers. When selecting a place, always do your research. Your best bet to get a great one is to purchase one from an online retailer with a lot of good reviews as well as a good customer warranty. I generally venture towards places like Amazon because they sell a lot of good items for the best prices.

Giving Your New Boat A Test Drive

I do not often see this talked about near as much as I think it should be. The very first thing you should do when you received your item is to take it out on the water and test it. You need to give it the entire treatment. Be sure to see that your new boat can do what you want it to do. You also need to see that it fits you and that you can use it on a daily basis if that is what you want.

I have yet to meet the person who has purchased a new car or truck and has not driven it to see how it drives. Likewise, you should do the same with every kayak that you add to your arsenal. Take it to a local pond, get inside, paddle,  and see how well it does. This is important because the last thing you want is to make an investment and it not pay off. Flip it over a few times, turn it around, and really press the limits.  You can find defects and other annoyances easier this way.

Video Walkthrough About Good Kayak Selection

How To Buy A Kayak For Beginners – The Entire Method

  1. Find out where you want to take your kayak.
  2. Select a kayak type that goes best with what you will be using it for.
  3. Make sure that the size of the raft fits you well as a person.
  4. Select an option that you can afford.
  5. Purchasing the kayak online or from a retailer.
  6. Test riding

Out of all of the things that are difficult about riding in a kayak, how to buy a kayak is not hard at all. to put everything together, the criteria consists of deciding what places to kayak in, picking the type that fits that terrain the best, ensuring that the boat is not to big or small for your personal stature, making positive that it will not drain, your bank account, performing the actual purchasing transaction, and finally giving her a go once you get it.

That is the entire process from start to finish. If you like this post or want to talk about something, leave a comment below so that we can continue to discuss the matter further on a deeper, more personal, level.



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