Best Whitewater Kayaks For Beginners

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Whitewater Kayaks are designed specifically for the unique challenges of paddling rough, fast water. If you live in an area with good whitewater paddling and you plan to partake in this sport then a dedicated whitewater kayak is the best option.

Do not try to use a fishing or recreational kayaks for whitewater kayaking as it may turn out to be disastrous so, the right equipment must be used for the sport.

For a beginner, kayaking can prove to be quite difficult and tricky because of the narrow dimension of kayaks and because of the use of a double bladed paddle. In view of these challenges, BestKayak.ORG have here a careful selection of best beginner kayak for whitewater entry-level kayakers.

Best Whitewater Kayak For Beginners

  1. Emotion Glide Beginner (Entry Level) Kayak
  2. Perception Kayak Conduit
  3. Dagger Kayaks Zydeco 9.0 Kayak
  4.  Advanced Elements Attack Whitewater Kayak
  5. Dagger Kayaks Axis 10.5 Kayak
  6. Riot Kayaks Magnum 80 Whitewater Creeking Kayak
  7. Liquidlogic Remix XP10 Whitewater Kayak
  8. Dagger Mamba Kayak
  9. Jackson Zen Kayaks
  10. Jackson STAR Series Whitewater kayaks

What To Consider When Choosing The Best Whitewater Kayak for  Beginners

1. The length of a kayak is a high point of note when it comes to whitewater kayaking. Longer boats do not turn fast but they track straighter and can be paddled at higher speeds (like in rapids) more efficiently than shorter ones of the same type.

2. Wider boats have more rotational stability. If you are worried about being tipped over, wider boats are the best choice for getting in or out of the boat. The downside of wider boats is that the wider hull creates more drag and friction thus slowing you down and adds extra work to the trip since one then requires more frequent paddles for better propulsion.

3. Deep kayaks have hulls that are way above the water line; they sit high in the water. They are the best for someone who desires more legroom or space to stretch the knees while paddling. However, one has to consider also that the higher the hull profile the easier it is for the boat to catch the wind.

2020 Best Whitewater Kayaks for Beginners

5. Liquidlogic Remix XP10

Liquidlogic is a river runner kayak and it is a  great choice for a beginner in whitewater entry-level kayaking. It carries speed across flat calm lakes and slow moving rivers, suitable for roll practice and ready for rapids.
Remix XP10 has a feature which is the ‘Skeg’ which is very similar to a rudder. It drops down for straight line cruising in the flats and also pulls up in a typical whitewater.

Gears can be packed in its back hatch making the kayak suitable also for cruising and camping.


  • Type: River runner
  • Weight: 49 lbs
  • Capacity: 250-300 lbs
  • Length: 10 ft. 3 in. 

4. Dagger Mamba


  • Type: River runner
  • Weight: 43 – 50 lbs.
  • Length: 7 ft. 6 in. – 8 ft. 7 in. 

The Dagger Mamba kayak is an interesting choice for an ambitious beginner and can grow with the user as he progresses into more demanding whitewater and it comes in so many fun colors. It is not the fastest kayak out there but it is forgiving and possesses great maneuverability. It is also a very stable kayak for beginners to move on water.

Mamba Kayak is a big water superstar and therefore the boat of choice for many of the best sportsmen. Its prototype was used to descend the highest volume whitewater in the world. Dagger Mamba is a cheap whitewater kayak and it comes in different sizes. One must take care to choose one that is just the right size and not too big because of things like edge transitions.

3. Emotion Glide Beginner Kayak


  • Type: Sit in/ Single person
  • Weight: 25 lbs
  • Capacity: 275 lbs
  • Length: 9.5 ft 8in.
  • Other features: Comfortable padded seat and Roto-Molded UV-Protected Linear Polyethylene
This best budget kayak is small, lightweight, agile and it avails the paddler a lot of control. It is ready to paddle fast water, rivers, or narrow passages providing a wide variety of options.

As a result of its short length, this kayak will not be quite as good at paddling longer, straight trips as a lengthy boat. At just over 9 feet long it is just suitable for a good tracking, but short enough to be one of the agilest kayaks.

It has the Ledge Lock Paddle Keeper molded into the side of the boat for easy paddle storage. It holds the paddle with a shock cord lashing. On the deck, both bow and stern, there is a ton of deck lashing. This is an important characteristic for smaller because of the space factor. Note that the Emotion Glide kayak does not have a dry storage on it, which would have been a great addition.

This kayak is a great choice for someone who is in search for the best cheap beginner kayak made with quality in mind.

2. Jackson Zen


  • Type: Creeker/River runner Kayak
  • Weight: 36 lbs
  • Length: 7 ft. 11 in 

The Jackson Zen kayak has a flat and narrow hull profile that affords it a lot of speed. Its shape allows it to break in and out of currents easily and learn how to roll but its narrowness also makes it a little more tilty or unstable.
Using this kayak, whitewater beginners will have more tendency to flip or tip over more often but on the bright side provides an opportunity for a beginner to learn his balancing skills more easily.

Steve Fisher is a whitewater kayaking legend recently traveled to one of his old favorite paddling areas (River Zambezi) and his kayak of choice was the Zen.

1. Jackson STAR Series


  • Type: Freestyle
  • Weight: 29 lbs
  • Length: 5 ft. 7 in 

The Jackson STAR Series is a good starter kayak with great speed, it is easy to surf and to pop off the wave into the air although it is not an inflatable whitewater kayak

Although the freestyle design is produced by most manufacturers in the industry, Jackson Kayaks always has the fastest and most forgiving freestyle kayak designs in the market.

They make learning new tricks easier and even when mistakes are made during paddling, one will most likely not get flushed from the hole or wave that one is paddling.

The volume of the boat is superb for one paddling in heavy whitewater and has to stay in line.
Jackson Star Series have their kayaks closest to the ideal suitable designs from the entry-level boats to the professional ones.

With these varieties to choose from, a whitewater kayaking beginner cannot go wrong.

Hello, I am John. A certified kayak trainer in the U.S. This blog was put together to document the kayaks and other product I use or come about when Kayaking, skiing, hiking, camping and engaging in other outdoor activities. I live in Colorado with my wife an two children.

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