I have been a huge fan of Linux ever since I was as kid, about 13, or 14 years old. I started off toying around with Ubuntu and even then I found it to just be, well, pretty inconvenient. The good news is, this is really no longer the case - there is a much much great amount of widespread support for Linux as well as program alternatives to your typical Windows or macOS suites, and i think it was about a year, almost a year and a half ago that I made the full switch to Arch. Now, I wanted to recommend one particular flavor of Arch Linux that I think you will really enjoy, and there is truly something for everybody. You'll notice I marked both Arch Linux & Manjaro, and while those are both going to be good experiences - albeit, Arch is going to be much more, well, as they say, "the Arch Way" (don't let that intimidate you - you will need to read the wiki, the forums, don't be afraid to ask questions etc, but as long as you do those things, it's honestly just a matter of following instructions) - And with Manjaro, you're going to have a lot more stability.
What I would much rather recommend and I honestly can't stress how great these guys are in particular enough! That would be Arco Linux - they are a project that will walk you from Point A - your very first Arch-flavored install - to point Z and beyond, where you will learn the skills to even build your own Arch ISO images and essentially make your own custom Arch flavors! It's a great deal of fun and I can't even tell you how helpful the whole community is.
I didn't see them listed on the drop-down selections, but please don't hesitate to look them up. Second to that, I would suggest Manjaro. Then Arch would be third, but I would still recommend that, if you find it challenging, you go with a project that isn't really "traditional" Arch, but perhaps an Arch installer such as Arch Labs, or Anarchy Installer. Manjaro also has Manjaro "Architect" and it's a good tool for have "TUI" (terminal user interface, go not quite 'graphical') guiding you through the process, but it's also not going to stop you from breaking stuff lol. That's really meant to be the experience - you go through trial and error and learn and quite frankly will continue to make mistakes but it's ALWAYS rewarding to learn new things, even years later! Even stuff you may think "crap, why did I not realize this!?" after 2 years of daily use haha. It's a wonderful experience and offers a lot of opportunity for growth and understanding of *nix operating systems in general.
I think a great learning path would be to start with Arco Linux - just go to their website, and it will seriously walk you right on through it and hold your hand the whole way - if you want!! - you can also jump as far ahead as you feel comfortable! And then, once you start to get the hang out things and really feel like you understand it, I would recommend trying out some of the more modern and complex filesystem architectures. The most common would be something like LVM or LVM on LUKS (Luks is a disk-encryption, and LVM is Logical Volume Management, and enables you to take atomic "snapshots" for quick data recovery among other neat things), and there is also BTRFS, and ZFS, and all sorts of combinations and configurations.
The second option of Manjaro is going to be just as enjoyable as well I am sure, and you can even get acquainted with a more familiar interface that way if you prefer, and then work your way toward the more complex stuff. I promise it will only be complicated to others when you are explaining it with excitement ;) It truly is a lot of fun, especially if you like troubleshooting.
Now, as far as Kali is concerned, you should understand that it's not going to offer you much if you're really considering Arch vs Kali like you say. I say this because, the tools which Kali comes equipped with, are very intentionally and specifically designed for sophisticated penetration testing (hacking, if you like). If you are looking to get into hacking some stuff, and I will just assume for good reason ;) Then even still... I think Arch is your better bet. You need to have an understanding of what it is you are trying to break into before you will even begin to become proficient at it. Just imagine if I handed you a full soldering it, complete with micro-electronic bread-boards and circuitry blueprints, and I told you it was all in front of you for you to assemble a component, that you had no idea what would even be doing in the bigger machinery it was destined for. Well. I think it's kind of like that. Now, there are certainly discrepancies between bones that make up both Arch and Kali, but they are very similar with the exception of their package management systems, which are mostly what you will be learning to deal with first. Both of these systems (unless you chose an even more alternate route, such ad Void Linux, which is well, Arch, but lacking a very key .... uhm... You know, that is where it gets tricky! But interesting) My Point is, there are enough similarities betwen t the two systems at a core level, but at the same time, they are radically different.
Here's how you should weigh it, in my humble opinion: 1) Do you want to learn intricacies of the underlying systems? 2) Do you want to be presented with an easy to use interface, but with a bunch of tools you don't maybe have use for, or at the least, will have to learn and all of which have different purposes that are very specific? 3) Do you want to have the freedom to expand and build in any direction you please? 4) Do you want to specifically go down the "hacker" path?
Well, 1 and 3 are explicitly Arch I am referring to, and as you probably guessed, 2 and 4 are Kali... but also Arch!!! You can form it into ANYTHING you want. There is even (I would argue) MUCH more radical, fully equipped "hacker" suite called Black Arch that you can just ... install on your Arch System that you already have running, if you wanted to one day. Or install it outright from the beginning!
Hope this helps! Here are some links :) ARCO Linux Manjaro Linux GitHub - Various Arch Install Scripts/Guides Anarchy Linux - Arch Linux Installer ARCHFI - ArchLinux Fast Installer ALIS - Yet another ArchLinux Installer/Helper!
These are just what I have come up with very quickly. There are many more! I encourage you to go to DistroWatch and look at some of the Arch derivatives there as well!!
Among the top listed there you will find Manjaro and ArcoLinux, as well as another fantastic derivative called EndeavourOS
Honestly, I hope you have a ton of fun!! I know it's brought me lots of joy and I am happy to be able to share just a bit of it with you if only the resources to get you started!!!
Personally I am a long-time Arch user and now I use Manjaro on (almost) all my hardware machines. Virtual machines (VMs) are another matter, the distribution depends of VM role.
Manjaro is more stable version of Arch.
Certainly, a lot of that is definitely attributed to their vetting of updates as opposed to the classical rolling-release approach, not to suggest they aren't rolling AFAIK nowadays, of course.
Ironically... I am using Ubuntu for some VM's hah. For a server, I actually found it's really handy to keep a really minimal installation of vanilla Arch, locked down pretty hard of course, but on a small partition to boot into just in case you have to do some odd repairs that were server-breaking - which for me, heh... Well I like having that installation :)
Recently I've just begun using Artix Linux and was looking at Obarun and Parabola. I have to say ... the transition is only really noticed when I am dealing with any other systemd OS - things do feel a bit more natural, for instance even though it's a totally different beast, I've got Rocky Linux up and running on a bare metal testing rig right now & I love it because everything comes naturally hah. But aside from that... I would actually highly recommend, if you ever feel up to some disro-hopping, like if that's you're thing lol - definitely give an OpenRC init OS a try. I even played with Gentoo which was ... fun, and took quite a while haha.
I wouldn't recommend manjaro, if you install packages from the AUR, and you most probably will. They hold back the AUR updates for a week. And since arch is a rolling distro, this breaks the system. Quite often.
I agree with you here, hadn't necessarily factored in how they handled the AUR packages ... actually that is surprising to me only because it would seem as though yay, paru, trizen, whatever it is you're using as you're AUR helper, would normally be point directly to https://aur.archlinux.org/ no? I have never looked into it so far. Now, I definitely have had issues with stuff that they, or likewise other Arch-based distros, have chosen to include from the AUR a packaged version in their own repos. Good example would be a lot of the minor changes in pacman.conf - seems like recently when this happened, a lot of those packages just busted lol. Well really I am complaining too much. It was just yay and easily remedied at that heh.
EndeavourOS seems to be taking the charts now from what I have heard in terms of the more popular "easy" Arch. Kind of interesting how they have grown pretty nicely and I feel they do have a stable product. Plus much less .... hmmm... not sure of the word I want to use here. Let's just say, the minor frustrations of trying to something like, for example, build some packages in a cleean-chroot with devtools. Oh, what is that you said? No no no... we have a manjaro-specific version in fact lol. Then you end up not building a custom install or whatever you set out to achieve, but you get all of that damn branding and stuff too.
I've been using arch linux for the past 3 years, but I don't recommend Arch Linux if you just jumped into Linux System, a debian based linux like kali, ubuntu or debian itself is more beginner friendly and kali can be used to learn security and pentesting. if you want to learn in a hard way, arch linux is a good option.