Kayaking for Beginners – Where to start

Hey, Thanks for accompanying me on my journey into the realm of kayaking.


Where do we start?

In this post we are going to start with the kayaking basics for beginners. What’s that mean? Well, for me, that means:

  • Deciding why we want to take up kayaking
  • Choosing the proper kayak for our needs
  • Choosing the right accessories to get us started
  • How much do we want to spend

These are just a few things we want to think about as beginners.

Why Do You Want A Kayak

Why are you looking for a kayak?


Here are a few examples of reasons to get a kayak. I am sure there are many more.

  • Fishing
  • Getting closer to nature/exploration
  • Competition
  • Shooting the rapids
  • Exercise
  • Stress Relief
  • Adventure

My Story

My story starts after I moved to Branson, Missouri. I was staying in a campground right on Lake Taneycomo, which by the way, is filled with trout.


I have always loved fishing, and had grown up doing so. Although, I hadn’t done any fishing in years and I had never done any trout fishing.

Anyway, I had taken a job at the Bass Pro shop next to the campground, thus, I was surrounded by all those outdoorsy folks and fishing equipment.

Long story short, I ended up with my fishing license and a fishing pole. As I learned to fish for trout from the bank, I soon realized I needed to get out in the water a little more.

I had been on larger boats, but living in a RV full-time, buying a pontoon boat was not really an option. I entertained the idea of a kayak, as they are small, manageable for one person and mobile.

Then I realized there are a multitude of different styles, sizes, and functionalities in the world of kayaks. Who knew!

I started looking at them a little more diligently and soon found several co-workers that had a little knowledge of them. Then by happenstance I was fortunate enough to win a contest at work, and guess what? The prize was a kayak. My very own red kayak, with paddle. Thus, my journey begins!

My first reason for wanting one was for the fishing. That would soon change and expand.

So, why do you want a kayak?

What Kind of Kayak Do You Need

What are you going to do with your kayak?

Photo by Richard Dudley

This will surely impact your decision on the style of kayak and how much you are going to spend on one. There are so many styles out there and they have different functions and price points. Not to mention weight considerations.

I am a larger person, so I definitely wanted one that would not sink with me in it. Fortunately, the one I won at work would do the trick in this category.

The one I have is an Ascend D10T model. It is a sit-on top type of kayak, which I do prefer. Don’t like the idea of being stuck in it if I tip over.


If you are just out to have fun, get closer to nature and float down a few streams and lazy rivers your choices are wide.

You can get a basic sit-in style kayak just about anywhere these days. Any where from Tractor Supply, Walmart and even Amazon, just to name a few.

Of course, there are the more well-known sporting stores like Cabelas, Bass Pro and Academy, where you can also go for some advice on your purchase.

Kayaks come in many styles. Everything from inflatable, sit-in, sit-on, fishing kayaks, wooden kayaks, plastic kayaks, and poly kayaks. So many options!

They also come in varying lengths, from 6′ youth on up to 14′. You can check out my post about kayak styles here!

Image by Paul Brennan

If you are looking to do some fishing, you may want to choose a fishing style kayak. Although, I have met folks that buy a basic kayak and do everything they want with them. It really is a personal choice.

Obviously, if you are looking to shoot the rapids in a rushing river, go out to sea or compete in races, you are going to want to look a little deeper into the choices out there. For the purpose of this article though, we are just focusing on the basics.

What Do You Need To Get on the Water

Well, after you have decided on the kayak that fits you, you are going to need some basic accessories.

Safety first and foremost. A life jacket is a must. I am a really good swimmer, but I would never consider going out on the river without a jacket or some type of PFD (personal flotation device).

Again, the style is a personal choice and they range in price and styles. I personally bought a regular standard PFD that was made for use in kayaks. They are made a little different from a standard PFD, as you are sitting really low in a kayak. Also, you want to be comfortable. So try them on before you buy one.

Photo By Denise Hunter

Next you will need a paddle. You certainly do not want to end up “up the creek without a paddle”. Not all kayaks come with them, depending on where you purchase your kayak. They do come in different lengths. So, choose one that fits you. I have a longer one, and I really like it. My kayak is a little wider than most, so the shorter ones don’t work as well.

Image by David Nisley

Although, it is not necessary for getting out on the water, a nice accessory to have is a dry bag. This is a bag made to keep personal items, such as your cell phone, wallet, etc., dry while out on the water. I wouldn’t go without mine, as I carry my phone with me at all times in case of emergency.

What’s This Going To Cost

Photo by Sufi Nawaz

Again, as a beginner, I discovered that the price of a kayak can range from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars.

Of course, you could always embark on searching out a used kayak, there are some great deals out there if you look for them. Fortunately, I did win mine, so technically I did not pay for mine.

The retail price of mine was about $450. The paddle would have been about $50. Ultimately, I ended up paying $200 to replace the back glass on my pick-up from when my husband picked the kayak up to take it home. That my friends is a whole other story!

Needless to say, the cost is going to be dependent on your personal budget.

Let’s Get on the Water

So here are a few of the basics to getting started on your kayak journey. We talked about the why, the what for and the essentials or bare basics.

We touched a bit on the budget. So are you ready to go on a journey to find your dream kayak?

If not, that is okay. Keep checking back for more information about my personal journey and we will delve a little deeper into the kayak world.

Till Next Time!

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11 thoughts on “Kayaking for Beginners – Where to start”

  1. Hi. I enjoyed your article. I didn’t know there was so many different types of kayaks. Looking forward to reading more about your kayaking adventures and recommendations.

  2. Great information. I like how you add details that are needed and that answer any question I might have while reading through the article. Very useful and helpful.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow, who knew there was so much to know about Kayaking? I have never thought about fishing from a kayak but now after perusing your site and reading some of your articles I might pick up a new hobby.
    This article in particular is a great starting point for me – Thank You!

    • Chuck, Thank you for sharing some of your time with me here. Kayaking is a great way to burn some calories, relax and regroup. Fishing is silly fun on a kayak. I highly recommend it. Please come back often and ask away if you have any questions.I would also love to hear about any adventures you have.

  4. Yea! I moved to Iowa in March and I live two blocks from the Mississippi River. Every day when I go walking by the river I think about going kayaking. There are many smaller outlets that I could kayak and I just want to do it. 

    Your article has enlightened me as to how to go about choosing a kayak and the equipment that I will need to go along with it the sport. Thank you so much.

    • Derrick that is so awesome. Kayaking is a great way to get out and explore. You will definitely have to let me know if you get one and what you get. I want to here about your adventures.

  5. I always thought a kayak was just for having fun and getting some exercise on the water. My son has a kayak that he takes out on the ocean quite often and his friend has a double kayak to be able to take a passenger or two people paddling. 

    But I would never have thought that one could do fishing from a kayak. I thought the kayak would topple over when you brought the fish in as you would lean over too far to the one side. Great to see the many options one has. 

    • Fishing in the kayak is so much fun. I guess catching a big fish would certainly prove to be a challenge, lol. Kayaking has so many benefits. I highly recommend trying it yourself sometime. Sounds like you son has a great time with his. Does he have all the accessories he needs? Makes for great gift ideas.

  6. How much of the James River is able to be traveled with a family new to kayaking? We want to do a multi-day trip, but at the same time we are all adventure seekers and love to push ourselves! Nothing over a 1 to 1.5 adventure scale.


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