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Best Whitewater

Kayaks for Beginners: Tested & Reviewed

Best Options and Reviews

Published March 19, 2018 | Updated July 7, 2022

Whitewater kayaking is an awesome sport that allows you to enjoy the water at its fullest. Aside from being a fun getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you will also have a chance to experience the great outdoors and feel some of its natural beauty.

However, if you are new to the sport, there’s no way for you to tell if your whitewater kayak is the right one for you until you have tried them all out. That’s why today I will take a look at the 5 best whitewater kayaks for beginners that I have tested in the past few weeks.

I have tested different types of whitewater kayaks sold in the market, especially for beginners. After riding them in different situations, I will talk about them in detail and recommend them according to their performance and outcomes.

Best Whitewater Kayaks For Beginners: Summary

Top 5 Best Whitewater Kayaks for Beginners

Here are the top 5 best whitewater kayaks for beginners that you can consider buying in 2022. I hope my recommendation will help you in your buying decision and you will get the best one according to your needs and budget.

So, let’s get started with the first one.

1. Pelican Argo 100X Whitewater Kayak

240+ Reviews

The Pelican Argo 100X Whitewater Kayak is a lightweight single-person kayak that will let you explore the world with minimal effort. This kayak is designed for personal use, so it’s small and easy enough to carry around in your car or on the go.


Size: 10 feet in length and 2 feet 4 inches in width

Material: Plastic

Weight: 36 lbs

Weight Limit: 275 lbs

Kayak Type: Single Person Kayak

Detailed Review

The Argo 100X has a durable plastic hull with a high-density foam core and a double-layer deck. The high-performance, lightweight, and comfortable seat is made of molded foam with an integrated backrest, making it perfect for beginners.

The adjustable foot braces support your feet, allowing you to sit comfortably in the cockpit and keep them dry from water splashing up from below.

The Argo 100X has a compact size that makes it easy to transport and store, making it ideal for those who love to travel alone or take their kayaks out on vacation only.



  • It is lightweight, making it easy to transport.
  • This is very affordable, which makes it a great choice for beginners.
  • It has a very large capacity, which is great for those with lots of gear on the river.
  • This is very easy to paddle through rapids and waterfalls because of its stability features.
  • Not suitable for heavy adults


The Pelican Argo 100X is a lightweight, sit-in kayak. It’s perfect for solo paddlers who want to explore the watery depths of their local lakes, rivers, and creeks. The Argo is made from quality materials and is easy to transport on a roof rack or in a car trunk.

2. Driftsun Rover Inflatable Whitewater Kayak

220+ Reviews

The second on my list of best whitewater kayaks for beginners is Driftsun Rover. It is a single-person whitewater kayak that is designed for recreational paddlers. With an excellent weight capacity, you can be confident in your safety and comfort while enjoying this sturdy single-person kayak.


Size: 8 feet 5 inches in length and 3 feet in width

Material: PVC

Weight: 22 lbs

Weight Limit: 300 lbs

Kayak Type: Single Person Inflatable Kayak

Detailed Review

The Driftsun Rover comes with an adjustable center fin that you can use to help balance the boat as it moves through the water, allowing you to paddle without worrying about tipping over or losing control of your vessel. This feature also allows you to set up your boat in any fashion that suits your needs when going out on the water.

The Driftsun Rover also features an adjustable seat for both sitting down and standing up inside the boat during training sessions or races. This will provide you full control over how much support or support there will be available when paddling through rough waters at high speeds.



  • It’s a good-quality inflatable kayak that can easily inflate and deflate.
  • The seat cushion is comfortable.
  • It comes with a carrying bag that makes storing it easier.
  • Not suitable for rough whitewater


The Driftsun Rover is a single-person kayak designed for whitewater. The kayak has been designed to be easy to use and maneuver, making it perfect for beginners. It is made using durable materials and can easily inflate in less than 6 minutes.

3. Pelican Maxim 100X Whitewater Kayak

430+ Reviews

Maxim 100X is a great choice for whitewater and recreational kayaking. This lightweight one-person kayak has a sit-in design and is for beginners. It features a high-performance hull design, which helps it glide downstream with ease. The responsive deck design makes it easy to balance and control your speed, making it ideal for beginners or those new to kayaking.


Size: 10 feet in length and 3 feet in width

Material: Plastic

Weight: 36 lbs

Weight Limit: 275 lbs

Kayak Type: Single Person Hard Shell Kayak

Detailed Review

The Pelican Maxim 100X is a lightweight sit-in kayak that’s great for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. It’s made from high-quality polyethylene plastic, making it durable and easy to repair if you get into trouble in the water. Plus, it comes with a 10′ length and is ideal for shorter paddlers who want an affordable option for recreational use.

The open cockpit also makes this kayak ideal for cruising around on the water with friends, so you can enjoy the day without worrying about getting wet. The Maxim 100X is also very stable, so it won’t weigh you down when you are out on the water.



  • The Pelican Maxim 100 is a great kayak for beginners, as it is easy to use and provides a stable ride.
  • It has a sturdy construction that will hold up under rough conditions.
  • It is lightweight, so it can be easily transported by car or public transportation.
  • It’s not the cheapest kayak out there, but you get what you pay for.


With its low profile and easy-to-carry design, the Pelican Maxim 100X Recreational Kayak is perfect for getting out on the water with friends or family. If you are looking for the most beginner whitewater kayak, then this kayak will be a perfect choice.

4. Driftsun Voyager Inflatable Kayak for Beginners

220+ Reviews

The Driftsun Voyager is the perfect choice for any novice paddler who wants a comfortable and stable ride while enjoying the beauty of nature on whitewater. This tandem kayak has everything you need to get started: two paddles, comfortable seats, a double-action pump, and a carrying bag.


Size: 11 feet in length and 2 feet 11 inches in width

Material: Polyvinyl Chloride

Weight: 27 lbs

Weight Limit: 450 lbs

Kayak Type: 2-Person Inflatable Kayak

Detailed Review

The Driftsun Voyager Inflatable Kayak for Beginners is the perfect choice for anyone wanting to try kayaking for the first time or for those who want an easier way to get started. It’s made with a durable, waterproof material that will protect your gear from getting wet if you accidentally spill something on it.

The Voyager also included a high-quality air pump that allows you to inflate and deflate it easily, so you can take it anywhere without worrying about buying a new one. The kayak is also big enough that it won’t be uncomfortable for two people.

The Voyager comes with everything you need to start, making it a perfect choice for anyone out there.



  • This kayak is very stable and easy to control.
  • It’s not heavy, so you can carry it easily.
  • It’s made of durable material, making it sturdy enough for beginners.
  • Some parts of the kayak can be difficult to inflate


The Driftsun Voyager is a great inflatable kayak for beginners. It’s comfortable, easy to transport, and has everything you need for a fun day on the water. So, everyone can enjoy having a great day on this best whitewater kayak for beginners.

5. Intex Challenger Inflatable Whitewater Kayak

25,000+ Reviews

The last one on the list of best whitewater kayaks for beginners is Intex Challenger Inflatable Whitewater Kayak. It is a great kayak for beginners and experienced kayakers alike. It’s light, easy to carry, and has high-quality features. The Intex Challenger has an inflatable seat and backrest that are both adjustable so that you can find the perfect fit for your body type.


Size: 9 feet in length and 2 feet 6 inches in width

Material: Plastic

Weight: 25 lbs

Weight Limit: 220 lbs

Kayak Type: Single Person Inflatable Kayak

Detailed Review

The Intex Challenger Kayak is a great option for those who want to try out whitewater kayaking but don’t want to spend much money. This deal includes a durable inflatable kayak and two aluminum oars, which are easy to use. This set is designed for leisure paddling, not professional racing.

The kayak is long enough for stability and lightweight to easily carry around. So, it’s not meant for heavy use. The kayak comes with a hot oil pump that inflates and deflates the boat in under 10 minutes.

It is made from heavy-duty plastic and has double seams that prevent leaks during rough water conditions. The boat is comfortable to sit in; it has an adjustable seat back, making it easy to get in and out of the water comfortably.



  • It’s a great choice for beginners and children because of its lightweight and easy-to-use design.
  • It has an adjustable seat that makes it comfortable for adults and children.
  • The Intex Challenger is made from durable materials, so you can use this kayak for a long time without worrying about its punctures or leakage.
  • It comes with a carrying bag that is easy to store away when not in use.
  • There is no waterproof storage area


The Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable is a great way to get into whitewater kayaking, and it’s much more affordable than buying an actual kayak. It is specially designed for people new to whitewater kayaking and unsure if they want to spend the money on a real kayak.

What is the difference between a whitewater kayak and a regular kayak?

The difference between a whitewater kayak and a regular kayak is how they handle the water. Regular kayaks have an open design, and they’re built to float on top of the water. Whitewater kayaks have closed designs and are meant to be submerged in water, so they have more buoyancy.

Regular kayaks are great for taking on lakes or rivers. They can easily get you up and down rivers and lakes, and they won’t tip over easily unless you go too fast or head into rough waters.

Whitewater kayaks are designed for rough terrain like rapids, where regular ones would be difficult to control. They can also handle waves better than regular ones because they’re more buoyant.

Can you use a recreational kayak on the whitewater?

You can use a recreational kayak in whitewater, but only if you are an expert.

Whitewater is a river or stream with many rapids and waterfalls, so it’s not for the faint of heart. Recreational kayaks are stable and easy to control when going through rapids, but they aren’t designed for whitewater. That’s because whitewater is full of rocks, holes, and other obstacles that recreational kayaks aren’t designed to handle.

If you are an expert kayaker, who knows how to maneuver around these obstacles, then sure, you can use your recreational kayak on whitewater. If you are not an expert and just a beginner, you shouldn’t do it.

Is white water kayaking hard?

Of course, whitewater kayaking is harder than regular kayaking because you will have to deal with rocks, rapids, and several wild things during whitewater kayaking.

The real challenge is dealing with rocks, rapids, and other obstacles. But, there are also ways to manage these things, and you can learn that with time.

How long does a whitewater kayak last?

It depends on your usage and the type of kayak you have. If you have a hard shell kayak and use it regularly, its lifespan would be between 2-4 years.

On the other hand, if you are not a regular kayaker, it would last around 5-7 years.

But, if you own an inflatable whitewater kayak, its lifespan is slightly less than the hard shell, and it would last around 2-6 years, depending on your usage.

How to Choose the Right Whitewater Kayak?

So now you must be wondering how to choose the right whitewater kayak because you are a beginner and don’t know what to look for in a kayak.

So, here are some important things you should consider while choosing the best whitewater kayaks for beginners.


You should look for a kayak that’s the right size for you. The right size depends on your height, weight, and desired paddling style.

If you are a beginner, start with a kayak that’s about 2 to 4 feet longer than your height. For example, if your height is 5 to 6 feet, choose a whitewater kayak that is 8 to 9 feet long. This size is also good for children who are just starting out.

Similarly, if you are an intermediate paddler, look for one between 9 to 10 feet long.

Finally, if you’re a more advanced paddler, you can choose the bigger size but remember, bigger-sized whitewater kayaks tend to be difficult to handle.

Kayak Volume:

Volume is a key factor for whitewater kayaks. A small volume will make it harder to get around, but you’ll also be able to handle rapids and quick water better. A larger volume will allow you to fit more gear and people, but it will also take longer to get through rapids and can feel heavier in the water.

So, choose the kayak according to the volume and your kayaking needs.

Hull Shape:

The hull shape of a kayak is one of the most important aspects, as it determines how well you’ll be able to get around in your boat. The hull should be round and wide enough to keep your kayak safe from rapids and rough areas.

The best hull shapes have a large half or full round area at the front and rear of the boat, which allows for easy maneuverability and safety.

So, choose the one with a round-shaped hull shape to easily go through whitewater.

Cockpit Size and Shape:

Cockpit size and shape are also important when choosing a whitewater kayak. If the cockpit is too small or not shaped well, it can be difficult to maneuver, especially if you carry a lot of gear.

The best way to avoid this problem is to look for a boat that has a decent (not too large or too small) and comfortable cockpit. You must ensure your forearms have enough room to maneuver without being cramped or pinched.

Width and Rocker:

A wider kayak will be more stable, but it will also be harder to turn. A narrower kayak will be easier to turn, but it can feel less stable. Rocker is how far the front of your kayak sticks out from the water when you paddle. A higher rocker means you will be able to roll over easily, making it easier to get up on top of waves and move quickly through rapids.

So, choose your whitewater kayak according to the width and rocker. You can compare your needs with the size of the kayak and its rocker.

Best Whitewater Kayaks for Beginners: Conclusion

So, these are some best whitewater kayaks for beginners that you can consider buying in 2022. All these recommended kayaks provide great performance, especially in whitewater, and I have tested them by riding them for yours.

So, I hope my recommendations will be helpful for you in making a buying decision.

Jay Schwartz author of Kayak Guidance

About the Author - Jay Schwartz:

Hey there kayak lovers! I’m Jay Schwartz, the author here at Kayak Guidance! You know water sports – you know me! My life is all about it. Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Fishing, Snorkeling and so much more. I love to share my passion and knowledge with all of you. 

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