If you are new to the world of kayaking, it’s not that easy to decide which kayak you should buy. Like with most things, your first consideration is probably the price point. As a newbie, you probably don’t want to spend too much money, so it’s advised to look at some cheap kayaks first before making a bigger investment down the line.
In this post, we’ve put together a list of what we think are the best inexpensive kayaks in 2021 along with a buyers guide for those still on the fence about buying one.
Quick Answer: The Best Cheap Kayaks of 2021
How to Choose a Budget Kayak: A Buyer’s Guide
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the best beginner kayaks. But, we understand there’s a lot that goes into choosing a kayak, whatever the price. So before moving on to our reviews of the best budget yaks we’ve found we thought we’d cover a few important features and questions you’ll need to think about before purchasing yours.
Things like the dimensions, weight capacity, cost, and hull thickness all will play a factor in ensuring you make the right choice.
Look for Specific Features for Different Activities
Depending on how you plan to use your kayak you might want to look for one with different specific features. Of course, it goes without saying you’ll want to look for good durability, easy to control, steady balance, and tracking features. You’ll also want to consider the type of material that the kayak is made from. This can have a big effect on durability and performance out on the water.
Budget Kayak for Whitewater
You don’t have to spend a fortune for a kayak that can handle whitewater. You can be ready to hit the rapids for well under $500. That being said, not all inexpensive kayaks are suitable for running all class rapids and you’ll need to look at the class rating to see if it’s suitable and can handle the stresses of a fast-flowing river with obstacles.
Budget Fishing Kayak
If you’re buying a kayak to get more time on the water for fishing then you’ll want to look for one with specific features to help you. For example, you might want a pedal kayak to leave your hands free for holding the rod or even built-in rod holders.
Other things you’ll want to prioritize are a comfortable seat and extra storage space for all the gear you might need on your trip.
Stability is a key feature of all types of kayaks, whatever budget they are. If you’re a beginner and this is your first kayak purchase you’ll want to opt for a kayak with a wide flat bottomed hull as the wider the hull the more stable the kayak will be. Inflatables are often the most stable due to their high buoyancy and
You might think that when buying an inexpensive kayak you’ll be giving up some durability. While that might be the case with some brands and models it’s not always true as you’ll see in the reviews from previous customers. Customers that have purchased some of the kayaks on the market in our top 10 list have reported they’ve lasted for over 10 years and are still going strong.
But, you always want to look for a robust, durable, and rugged kayak to avoid a leak or puncture. If you have an inflatable, we’d advise you to have a repair kit handy for an emergency. You’ll also want to ensure that the inflatable has multiple air chambers for safety.
Tracking refers to how your kayak moves while you steer. A Kayak with bad tracking will go off course. Your weight, how much gear you have, the shape of the kayak’s hull, and whether you have a skeg (rudder) or not can all affect how well your kayak tracks. The better tracking your kayak has, the easier it will be for you to paddle and go in the direction you want to go.
While kayaks can come in a variety of shapes and sizes at a huge range of different prices, generally if you have less money to spend you’ll want to look at an inflatable kayak. You might have to compromise on some high-tech specifications, but you can always upgrade in the future.
You can also opt for one that included all the other accessories you might need like paddles, a pump, a repair kit, and a case.
The Best Brands of Cheap Kayaks
There are a number of great brands of cheap kayaks. The key here is to find one that is durable, well-made, and fits your needs as far as the type of paddling or touring you want to do. Some of our recommendations for good low-cost kayak brands are (in no particular order): Sea Eagle, Sun Dolphin, Intex, Sevylor, and Pelican. Make sure to read the reviews from previous customers too before you make a purchase.
The Best Affordable Kayak Reviews
Now that we’ve had a look at some of the features and questions that might affect your purchase, here are our reviews of the best budget kayaks in 2021 to help you choose the right one for your needs. Price-wise, we’ve drawn the line at under $500 as we think if you’re spending more than that it’s not really a budget kayak.
#1. Sea Eagle SE330 Affordable Inflatable Kayak
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly kayak to ‘dip your toe’ into kayaking without breaking the bank then the Sea Eagle 330 is the best option. It’s both a tandem and inflatable kayak that has very fast inflation and deflation and can carry over 500 pounds of weight.
As it’s an inflatable is so easy to store as it packs down into one backpack which also means it’s very easy to transport and convenient to take with you to more remote locations. It’s super durable as it’s made with heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl and so able to withstand a good amount of wear and tear.
We chose the Sea Eagle SE 330 as our number one choice as it’s a complete package. It comes with two paddles, two seats, a foot pump as well as a repair kit so you won’t need to make any additional purchases. With hundreds of five-star reviews worldwide, great customer support, and a solid design and build, the Sea Eagle SE330 is easily the best budget kayak on the market.
#2. Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-in Recreational Kayak
- Lightweight and easy to carry with Front and Rear T-Handles for Easy Transport this Sit-In kayak has a maximum capacity of 275 lb....
- Includes a Storage hatch with bungee cord and a Storage Platform with a Mesh Deck Cover to store all your gear for your trip on...
- The Shallow V Chine hull Design provides good stability and maneuverability while providing very good performance.Do not use...
In at number two is the very popular Pelican Maxim 100X sit-in-kayak. Unlike the Sea Eagle SE330, it’s a hard shell kayak but is still lightweight weighing only 39 lbs. The T-handles at the front and rear make it easy to transport too.
It’s very durable and is made from a RAM-X impact-resistant material, meaning it can withstand all the knocks and bumps that are inevitably going to happen on the water. We love that it comes with a very convenient dry compartment to store your valuables and stop them from getting wet. But, sadly it doesn’t come with a paddle or any accessories so you’ll need to purchase some additional items.
But even so, it’s very reasonably priced and is one of the top choices for those looking for a kayak on a budget.
#3. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak For Fishing
- Super tough laminate PVC with polyester core: Light weight and highly resistant to damage from abrasion, impact and sunlight
- High pressure inflation provides extra rigidity and stability, with high pressure spring loaded valves for easy inflation and fast...
- Includes 2 removable skews for deep and shallow water, 2 floor mounted footrests, 2 integrated recessed fishing rod holders, 2...
For anyone looking for an affordable fishing kayak to use we’d suggest taking a look at the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak. Not only is it well within most budgets, but it’s also made for anglers and comes with a number of features that you’ll be sure to appreciate when casting off out on the water.
The 3 layers of laminate PVC that this kayak is made out of is lightweight but incredibly strong to ensure you don’t suffer any punctures. It’s also made to be high abrasion-resistant. Easy and quick to set up, you’ll be ready to go in 5 minutes with the inflatable pump that’s included with it. You’ll also get two aluminum oars so won’t need to purchase anything else to get going.
#4. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
- Comfortable for anyone: Kayak includes an adjustable inflatable seat with backrest; Cockpit designed for comfort and space
- Dimensions: Inflated size 10 feet 3 x 3 feet x 1 feet 8 inch; Maximum weight capacity: 400 pounds
- Directional stability: Removable SKEG for directional stability
Up next we have another option, the Intex Explorer K2. It’s another very affordable inflatable kayak from world-renown brand Intex. It’s incredibly low cost and probably one of the most affordable ways to get out on the water.
The Intex Explorer K2 is made from heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl and can hold over 400lbs of weight. That being said it’s a lot cheaper than the Sea Eagle SE330 and the materials won’t compare to that one. But, we love that it’s a complete kit and comes with a paddle plus all the other accessories you need (carry bag, pump, padded seat) so you’ll be ready to head out and paddle straight away. For more info on the Intex Explorer K2 and get the best price click below.
#5. Sevylor Quikpak K1 Sit On Top Inflatable Kayak
- 5-minute setup lets you spend more time on the water
- Easy-to-carry backpack system turns into the seat
- 21-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use
The Sevylor Quickpak K1 is a cheap sit on top inflatable kayak. It’s designed to be used on flat water and could be a good option for someone new to kayaking. It’s very easy to set up and can be blown up in under 5 minutes. It has multiple air chambers to ensure that even if one starts to leak or is punctured you’ll remain afloat. It is also considerably comfortable and comes with a seat and backrest for support.
Like the other three inflatable kayaks we’ve looked at so far it comes with everything you need to get started straight away including a bag, and pump and as you’d expect, it comes with a paddle making it a great affordable sit on top kayak for new and experienced paddlers alike. For more information, to read reviews and get the best price, click the button below.
#6. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Kayak
- Constructed of UV-Protected High-Density Polyethylene. Stable Flat Bottom. Deep Hull Tracking Channels. Stability Chine Rails
- Multiple Footrest Positions for Different Size Riders. Adjustable Padded Seat Back and Seat Pad for Comfort. Front and Rear Shock...
- Two Flush Mounted Fishing Rod Holders. One Top Mount Fishing Rod Holder
Another budget fishing kayak worth checking out is the Lifetime Tamarack Angler sit-on top yak. Constructed from high-density Polyethylene it’s incredibly strong and can withstand the knocks and stresses that can happen while paddling. As well as being strong it tracks very well and had good stability due to its flat bottom hull and tracking channels.
With a max capacity of 275lbs, the Lifetime Tamarack is not able to carry as much as some of the other kayaks we’ve looked at but it should be plenty. But, we did like the 2 x 6″ storage compartments to ensure your valuables are kept safe and are within easy reach. An essential feature of sit-on-top kayaks. It’s also got some features for the anglers among you with two built-in fishing rod holders to make casting off easy.
All in all, the Lifetime Tamarack is a great little affordable kayak that customers report is very comfortable due to its adjustable seat back, footrests, and seat pad. Get the best price on this sit-on-top kayak by clicking below.
#7. Perception Sound 10.5 Kayak
- The best value in sit-inside kayak fishing for larger paddlers; also great for general recreational use
- The Sound dashboard includes two mounting points for our Solo Mount accessory system
- Tri-keel hull creates ultimate stability and smooth steering
Up next we have the Perception Sound 10.5-foot sit inside kayak which is another hardshell kayak made with high-density polyethylene. It’s one of the bigger kayaks in our round-up coming in at 10.5 feet in length and 29.5 inches wide but even so, is surprisingly lightweight at only 46 lbs making it easy to transport.
It sadly doesn’t have any dry compartments which is a shame and definitely a negative but you could purchase a dry bag or a towable if you needed it. Other notable features are the adjustable foot braces to ensure it’s really comfortable on long days out on the water. We also love that it has two-rod holders and so is ideal for an angler who didn’t want an inflatable looking for a budget kayak for fishing.
#8. Sun Dolphin Aruba SS, 8-feet version
- Great for rivers and lakes
- Adjustable padded seat back
- Light weight design easy to carry
And last, but by no means least we have the Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 8 foot Kayak. It’s a low-cost, sit-inside hardshell kayak that is very popular with beginners and those new to kayaking looking to purchase a cheap kayak to start out on. At only 8′ long, it’s incredibly easy to maneuver and tracks well in the water making it easy to paddle and control.
It ticks all the boxes when it comes to durability and is made from very rugged high-density Polyethylene with added UV protection so it won’t fade when exposed to lots of sunlight. On top of all that it weighs only 27 pounds so is very portable with easy-carry handles at the front and rear and a max capacity of 260lbs. All in all, the Sun Dolphin Aruba is one of the best low-cost kayaks on the market and well-deserving of a place in our list.
Frequently Asked Questions for Buying a Cheap Kayak
How Much is the Cheapest Kayak?
How much is the cheapest kayak is hard to say exactly given the rapidly changing nature of online sales, it’s probably safe to say that the cheapest price you’ll find a kayak for is around $100. You might find one slightly cheaper in a sale though.
That being said, just because you can find one for that much doesn’t mean you should buy it. The cheaper kayaks like this aren’t likely to be very durable and you’ll likely be replacing it in a short time.
How Much Should you Spend on a Kayak?
How much should you spend on a kayak is a hard question to answer as it depends on your own personal situation. On the low end, you can get away with spending as little as $150 but we wouldn’t recommend it.
At the high end of the spectrum, you could easily spend thousands on a kayak however this is not really necessary especially if you are just starting out and have no experience paddling or touring. Anywhere between $250-$600 would be fine depending on what kind of kayaking you want to do as well as how serious you take it (how many miles per year; how much time spent practicing).
How Much are Used Kayaks Worth?
For those that want a deal on a cheap kayak, buying used is a great option. The amount you’ll pay will depend on the make and model of the kayak, how long it has been since it was purchased new, as well as when/how/where it was stored (directly exposed to extreme temperatures or moisture can warp the hull after time).
It also depends on what kind of shape it’s in. A good way to determine how much a used boat is worth and whether or not you’re getting ripped off is by taking the cheapest new price you can find and knocking off 30%.
How Long will a Cheap Kayak Last?
How long will a cheap kayak last will again depend on a number of different factors. Just because it was cheap doesn’t mean it won’t last long but you will likely have to replace it in a few years. Things like manufacturing method, design, and attention to detail can affect the longevity of your kayak.
It will also depend on how often you use it, how you treat your kayak (do you drag it down a boat ramp or lift it out of the water on a roof rack), how often you store it, and whether or not you replace parts as soon they are worn. The best way to extend the life of your cheap kayak is to treat it with respect, keep it stored in a dry area, and replace parts before they wear out.
Conclusion: Which one Should you Buy?
That wraps up our post on the best affordable kayak of the year, we hope it helped you make the right decision. It’s a common misconception that kayaks have to be expensive. It really doesn’t have to be the case.
You can often get out on the water for a lot less than you might imagine, you can definitely buy a kayak for under $500 and a lot of the models in our list are considerably cheaper than that.
If you’re still unsure about which is the one, we’d highly recommend the Sea Eagle SE330. The build quality, included accessories, reputable Sea Eagle brand, and amazing reviews all point to it being one of the best kayaks for the money. We know you’ll love it too and it wins our top position for best-rated cheap kayak in 2021.
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