7 Best Beginner Kayaks You Can Get For Around $500 [2022]

Kayaking is one of the fastest-growing outdoor activities today. New kayakers are joining with interests in outdoor recreation, shallow water fishing, and whitewater adventures. The relatively low cost appeals to many over other conventional boats.

Did you know that there are many great beginner fishing kayaks available under $500? Here’s my list of the seven best options:

  • Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
  • Old Town Vapor 10
  • Pelican Sentinel 100x Angler
  • Pelican Trailblazer 100
  • Perception Sound 9.5
  • Sun Dolphin Aruba 10
  • Perception Swifty Deluxe 9.5

If you’re a beginner searching for an inexpensive kayak, I’ve evaluated dozens of low-end, high-value options from different manufacturers for 2022. To help make your decision easier, here is a buying guide. All the kayaks included on this list are high-value products that cost more than $500. They work best in recreational lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers and lakes.

Before purchasing your first kayak, you’ll want to think about its length and width, how much storage space it has, how well it maneuvers in different types of water, the size of the cockpit, and what extras come with it.

Another thing to consider is the kayak’s build material. Opting for a rugged plastic kayak would be ideal for those starting out because they are more cost-efficient and easier to upkeep than fiberglass or composite ones.

Finally, when choosing a beginner kayak, it is essential to read reviews from other beginners to get an idea of which kayaks are the best value for your money.

By following these guidelines, you will be sure to find the best beginner kayak.

It’s essential to include the following for any new kayak purchase:

  • PFD – personal floatation device
  • Paddle – check to see if the price includes one.
  • Most states do not require a kayak to be registered or wear registration stickers if it is non-motorized and 16 feet or less in length. Check your state for these regulations.

It’s a great place to start!

#1 Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

The Lifetime Tamarack 10 ft. Angler Kayak is the Editor’s Choice for Best Beginner Fishing Kayak for all the right reasons. This sit-on-top fishing kayak has all the features you need for your fishing trip.

Comfortable seat that is wide, with easy access to the convenient center console. Two covered hatches are great for storing fishing tackle or sunglasses. Add a dry bag to keep valuables safe and dry.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Category: Fishing Kayak
  • Type: Sit on top
  • Length: 10′
  • Width: 31″
  • Carry weight: 52 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 275 lbs

features

  • Adjustable Padded Seat Back and Seat Pad for Comfort
  • Two Hatches for Added Storage Beneath the Deck
  • Two Flush Mounted Fishing Rod Holders
  • Deep Hull Channels for Tracking Performance and Chine Rails for Stability
  • Front and Rear Shock Cords
  • Multiple Footrest Positions for Different Size Paddlers
  • Front and Rear T-Handles for Easy Transport
  • Constructed of UV-Protected High-Density Polyethylene
  • Stable Flat Bottom
  • 5-Year Limited Warranty
  • Paddle Keeper to Secure Your Paddle to the Kayak
  • One Adjustable Fishing Rod Holder

suggested upgrades

  • 6 scupper plugs for really choppy conditions, especially the two underneath the seat (splashes the seat)
  • Stadium seat with a firm backrest provides better comfort
  • Gear track to the left gunnel for accessories.

Cons

  • Can feel a little twist in the cast at times
  • Short butt handle

Pros

  • Great action
  • Good for casting 4 oz. lures or bottom fishing

Conclusion

Four T-bar transport handles make this kayak easy to carry. Molded handles would have been a more comfortable option. It comes with pre-molded footrests, but I prefer the adjustable foot pedals for more flexibility.

Good stability comes from the 31-inch width and the dual Chinese hull. This balance gives you the option to fish from either the sitting or standing position.

You will come to appreciate the convenient paddle keeper, especially when casting! Two molded rod holders keep your rods stowed out of the way when paddling to your honey spot.

The top-mount rod holder is great for holding your rod while you change lures or release fish.

Best feature: the back support to prevent tired backs! 

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#2 Old Town Vapor 10

The Old Town Vapor 10 Kayak is the Editor’s Choice for Best Beginner Recreational Kayak. This kayak is the premier sit-in fishing kayak for this price point.

The extended cockpit design makes it more of a hybrid than a true sit-inside. The Sweep-across dashboard has a cupholder and two storage trays. A groove on each side of the cockpit makes a convenient paddle rest.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Category: Recreational Kayak
  • Type: Sit inside
  • Length: 10′
  • Width: 28.5″
  • Carry weight: 47 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 325 lbs
  • Cockpit width: 19.5″
  • Cockpit length: 48″

features

  • Adjustable Comfort Flex seat
  • Glide Track foot brace system
  • Stern day well
  • Molded-in cockpit tray with cup holder
  • Molded-in paddle rest
  • Built-in carry handles
  • Thigh pads
  • Drain plug
  • Skid plate

suggested upgrades

  • An anchor or stake-out pole
  • Rear hatch upgrade

Cons

  • Can feel a little twist in the cast at times
  • Short butt handle

Pros

  • Great action
  • Good for casting 4 oz. lures or bottom fishing

Conclusion

The seat and backrest are the best developed and comfortable on this list. There is a clever backrest adjustment on each side of the cockpit. Adjustable footrests are well made.

Two standard rod holders and a rear tank well are an included fishing necessities. Screw-down pull straps transport this kayak well, although I prefer molded-in handles.

The best safety feature on this boat is the added styrofoam in the front and rear compartments. Sit-in kayaks are known to take on water and sink when capsized.

Best feature: comes with an anchor trolley

#3 Pelican Sentinel 100x Angler

The Pelican Sentinel 100x Angler is one of the best beginner fishing kayaks designed for spending lots of fishing time because of its features and responsiveness. It is a terrific sit-on-top kayak for slow-moving and open waters alike.

It has a high impact resistance with the ability to regain its initial shape. The multilayer hull comes with a twin-arched multi-chine hull that makes for a great fishing kayak.

The center console is my favorite feature. Dual cup holders and a removable storage compartment below. The sizeable rear tank has additional storage.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Category: Fishing Kayak
  • Type: Sit on top
  • Length: 9’6”
  • Width: 30″
  • Carry weight: 45 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 275 lbs

features

  • Two accessory eyelets
  • Two paddle tie-downs
  • Adjustable ERGOFORM™ backrest with seat cushion
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Carrying handles
  • Drain plug
  • Flush mount rod holders
  • Molded carrying handles
  • Smartphone holder
  • Storage platform with mesh deck cover
  • Console with injected cover
  • Storage platform with ExoPak

suggested upgrades

  • Scupper plugs for heavy water conditions
  • Gear track to the gunnel for accessories.

Cons

  • Can feel a little twist in the cast at times
  • Short butt handle

Pros

  • Great action
  • Good for casting 4 oz. lures or bottom fishing

Conclusion

The adjustable foot pedals are well-made. Four scupper holes make for easy drainage in choppy water.

There are T-bar handles front and back. Molded handles would have been a better and more comfortable solution. There is a black net in place of a front hatch, which I prefer a hatch. The side lift handles are on the inside of gunnels and are not as easy to use.

Best feature: The perform padded backrest with seat cushion and additional flotation material inside the hull make the Pelican Sentinel Angler #3 on the list.

#4 Pelican Trailblazer 100 Angler

The Pelican Trailblazer 100 is a rigid recreational kayak designed for extended time on the water. Beginners will enjoy the simple yet elegant design and roominess.

Some may find the molded footrests less functional than the adjustable foot pedals other kayaks on this list. But the Pelican quality comes through in all details.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Category: Recreational Kayak
  • Type: Sit inside
  • Length: 10’
  • Width: 28″
  • Carry weight: 35 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 275 lbs
  • Cockpit width: 20.5″
  • Cockpit length: 42.5″

features

  • Adjustable ERGOFORM™ padded backrest
  • Bungee cord
  • Carrying handles
  • Drain plug
  • Dual-position bottle holder
  • Molded footrests
  • Storage platform with bungee cords

suggested upgrades

  • Hard plastic seat and backrest could use an upgraded seat cushion with extra padding

Cons

  • Can feel a little twist in the cast at times
  • Short butt handle

Pros

  • Great action
  • Good for casting 4 oz. lures or bottom fishing

Conclusion

The expansive cockpit is roomy enough for the larger riders. 

The Pelican Trailblazer 100 Angler from Pelican International makes #4 on this list as the high-rated sit-inside fishing kayak.

Best feature: the dashboard has a nice storage tray

Due to availability, the Pelican Maxim 100x purchase link has replaced the Trailblazer 100 in this article.

#5 Perception Sound 9.5

A good beginner fishing kayak with some features you would only expect in boats at a higher price point. The Perception Sound 9.5 maneuvers well, even without a skeg or rudder.

What makes this a ready-to-fish kayak is a good size rear tank well perfectly fits a medium-sized cooler. The front dashboard has a nice molded-in tray for a fishing tackle box or other gear.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Category: Fishing Kayak
  • Type: Sit inside
  • Length: 9’ 6″
  • Width: 28″
  • Carry weight: 38 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs
  • Cockpit width: 21.75″
  • Cockpit length: 40.6″

features

  • Comfortable cockpit with Perception’s Zone Seating System
  • Padded adjustable backrest and padding for your legs
  • Unique tri-keel hull tracks well and adds stability
  • Dashboard with molded-in areas for gear
  • A place to park your paddle
  • 2 RAM Solo Mount accessory locations (accessories not included)
  • Self-bailing gear storage well has ample space for a dry bag, small cooler, or fishing gear crate
  • Two molded-in rod holders are within easy reach just behind the cockpit
  • Comfortable, molded-in bow and stern carry handles
  • Drain plug at the stern

suggested upgrades

  • Additional rod holders
  • Additional cup holders
  • GoPro camera mounts

Cons

  • Can feel a little twist in the cast at times
  • Short butt handle

Pros

  • Great action
  • Good for casting 4 oz. lures or bottom fishing

Conclusion

There is a convenient paddle keeper on the right side and across the dashboard. I especially like the cupholder at the front of the seat.

Transporting is a breeze with the Sound’s molded front and rear lift handles.

One feature you will appreciate the most is a raised backrest—firm with plenty of support.

Best feature: Storage tray underneath the seat

#6 Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is a tremendous all-around kayak for the first-time Yaker. It has a good balance as you paddle through a lake or pond.

It has adjustable foot pedals and foam thigh pads for added comfort. The rear storage compartment is not watertight, so you will need to add a dry bag.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Category: Recreational Kayak
  • Type: Sit inside
  • Length: 9’ 7″
  • Width: 29″
  • Carry weight: 40 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs
  • Cockpit width: 17″
  • Cockpit length: 35″

features

  • Shock cord deck rigging
  • Large open cockpit
  • Carrying handles
  • Paddle holder
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Protective thigh pads
  • Adjustable padded seat
  • Storage compartment
  • Water bottle holder

suggested upgrades

  • Front bungee lashing to keep your gear securely in place
  • Stadium seat is an excellent addition since it is sold without a seat pad
  • 10″ hatch with a dry bag in the rear compartment

Cons

  • Can feel a little twist in the cast at times
  • Short butt handle

Pros

  • Great action
  • Good for casting 4 oz. lures or bottom fishing

Conclusion

It is a flat bottom boat that is stable and not tippy but slow when paddling.

I recommend for riders under 200 lbs for this kayak.

Best feature: is the protective thigh pads

#7 Perception Swifty Deluxe 9.5

The Perception Swifty Deluxe 9.5 is an excellent beginner kayak with molded-in rod holders on the front dashboard, and a 10-inch hatch makes the Swifty perfect for fishing.

There are integrated foot pedals inside the large cockpit for stability while paddling. There is plenty of room for a 20-liter dry bag in the bow since there is no dry storage included for this boat.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Category: Recreational Kayak
  • Type: Sit inside
  • Length: 9’ 6″
  • Width: 28.5″
  • Carry weight: 44 lbs
  • Weight capacity: 325 lbs
  • Cockpit width: 22″
  • Cockpit length: 42.25″

features

  • Built for fishing
  • Molded-in dashboard
  • Stable hull design
  • Quick maneuverability and good tracking
  • Multi-chine hull
  • Molded-in handles
  • Keepers foot braces
  • Padded seat back and seat pad
  • Molded-in rod holders
  • 10” round hatch
  • Drain plug
  • Deck rigging
  • Paddle park

suggested upgrades

  • Add a seat pad or stadium seat with a firm backrest provides better comfort
  • Dry bag in the rear compartment

Cons

  • Can feel a little twist in the cast at times
  • Short butt handle

Pros

  • Great action
  • Good for casting 4 oz. lures or bottom fishing

Conclusion

This kayak does not come with a skeg or rudder option, so you will be required to use a paddling technique to track your kayak in the direction you want to go. Expect it to track ok when the water is smooth and not when it hits open waters.

It is a flat bottom boat that is stable and not tippy, slow, but easy to paddle. Small to medium-sized riders (around 5’8″) give good comfort reviews of this kayak. Perfect lake trips.

Best feature: is the five-year limited manufacturer’s warranty

Due to availability, the Perception Flash 9.5 purchase link has replaced the Swifty Deluxe 9.5 in this article.

Summary

So, if you are looking for a great beginner kayak that will last and provide plenty of enjoyment on the water, any of the 7 kayaks above would be a good choice.

With careful consideration of your needs and budget, you can’t go wrong with one of these boats as your first recreational or fishing kayak.

Have you found your beginner kayak? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!

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