What determines how expensive a kayak is, is mainly the material used in manufacturing the kayak as well as the design and size of the kayak. These factors have a direct impact on the kayak’s durability, performance, and comfort level.
Despite popular belief, cheap does not necessarily mean poorly made. There are some budget kayaks that can even compete with high-end kayaks in terms of quality and benefits.
When you’re shopping for a cheaper kayak you don’t really have to settle for fewer features or compromise the quality and safety of the kayak. There are several important factors that you need to keep in before making your purchase to get the best kayak for your money.
To help narrow down your option so that you make the right decision here’s a compilation of some of the best cheap kayaks in the market as well as a detailed review of each one of them.
|Kayak||Material||Weight||Weight Capacity||Type||Person Capacity|
|Intex Challenger K1 Kayak||Vinyl, Tarpaulin||23.9 lbs.||220 lbs.||Inflatable||Solo|
|Intex Excursion Pro Kayak||3-Ply PVC||39.01 lbs.||400 lbs.||Inflatable||Tandem|
|Sea Eagle 330||K-80 polykrylkar||26 lbs.||500 lbs.||Inflatable||Tandem|
|Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Kayak||High-density polyethylene||52 lbs.||275 lbs.||Hardshell, Sit-on-top Kayak||Solo|
|Sun Dolphin Aruba 10||Fortiflex polyethylene||40 lbs.||250 lbs.||Hardshell, Sit-in kayak||Solo|
List of the Best Cheap Kayaks in 2021
1. Intex Challenger Kayak – Best Overall
The first recommendation on our list is this solo inflatable sit-inside kayak from Intex. This kayak is ideal for lakes or slow-moving water and it combines many great features at a very cheap price.
The Intex Challenger K1 kayak is constructed from a heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl material with a tarpaulin bottom which enhances the durability of the kayak. It’s decorated with bold graphics which improves the kayak’s visibility.
This kayak can carry one person and has a maximum weight capacity of 220 pounds. It comes with a repair patch kit and 84-inch collapsible aluminum paddles.
It has grab lines on both ends as well as a detachable skeg to add more balance and stability. It also has two separate air chambers to increase safety.
It comes with a removable adjustable seat for added comfort. It has extra storage space for gear with a cargo net for security.
The process of inflating and deflating the kayak is fast and simple as the kayak comes with Boston Cap valves and a high output hand pump. It’s also compact and very light in weight which makes it easy to transport. It even comes with its own carry bag.
Pros Vs Cons
- It’s durable and puncture-resistant
- It’s designed with two air chambers
- It comes with two grab lines and a detachable skeg
- It has extra storage space
- It comes with a paddle, a hand pump, a carry bag, and a repair kit
- It light and easy to carry
- It’s decorated with eye-catching graphics
- It has a low weight capacity
- The material used to make the carrying bag is flimsy
- It’s difficult to dry the kayak completely after use
The Intex Challenger Kayak K1 kayak is perfect for you if you’re a beginner looking for a simple one-person inflatable kayak to get you started.
2. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak – Best Cheap Fishing Kayak
This inflatable tandem sit-on-top kayak is yet another excellent model from Intex.
The kayak is constructed from a strong 3-ply PVC material which makes it highly durable and resistant to impact. This material also allows for high-pressure inflation which provides more rigidity.
The design includes 3 air chambers as well as spring-loaded valves which makes the inflation and deflation process very easy. It also comes with a high-output pump.
The kayak is also very comfortable as it comes with 2 adjustable seats and 2 floor-mounted footrests. It’s also very stable in deep or shallow waters as it comes with 2 removable skegs. On top of all that, it comes with 2 aluminum collapsible paddles and a repair patch kit.
It’s very light in weight for its size, weighing only 39 pounds, and it comes with a carry bag to facilitate transportation.
Despite being light, this kayak has a high weight capacity of 400 pounds. It comes with extra storage space in the bow and stern as well as stainless steel D-rings to tie down additional gear.
It’s equipped with many features that make it perfect for fishing such as built-in rod holders and a removable adjustable mounting bracket for any fishing accessories such as a GPS or a fish finder.
Pros vs Cons
- It’s durable and resistant to impact
- It includes all the essential accessories such as paddles, a pump, and a repair kit
- It comes with 2 adjustable seats and 2 adjustable foot rests
- It’s light with a high load capacity
- It comes with extra storage space
- It comes with 2 fishing rod holders and a mounting bracket
- The aluminum paddles are too short
- The material of the carrying bad is not very durable
The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is the perfect choice for anglers looking for a good fishing kayak with many features and accessories at an affordable price.
If you are an angler and want to check out more options, you can check my guide to the best fishing kayaks under $1,000 here.
3. Sea Eagle 330 – Best Cheap Inflatable Kayak
The Sea Eagle 330 tandem inflatable kayak is one of the best budget kayaks. It’s NMMA certified which also makes it one of the safest kayaks on the market.
The material used to construct the hull is thick K-80 polykrylkar, which makes it puncture-resistant very durable. It’s designed with 3 deluxe one-way valves, 9-inch tubes, I-beam floor construction, and high-frequency welded seams which all add to its rigidity.
The kayak comes with grab lines on the bow and stern as well as with two adjustable inflatable seats. It also includes 2 skegs on the bottom to improve tracking and speed
It’s light in weight, weighing only 26 pounds, and comes with a nylon carrying bag with a shoulder for easy transport. It also has a high weight capacity of 500 pounds.
What makes the Sea Eagle 330 really stand out is that it comes with a deluxe package of accessories including two paddles, inflatable spray skirts, a repair kit, and a foot pump.
Pros Vs Cons
- It’s durable and puncture-resistant
- It’s very stable with good tracking and speed
- It comes with a high-quality carrying bag or easy transport
- It has a very high weight capacity
- It comes with a full package of accessories
- It doesn’t come with sufficient storage space
- The inflatable seats are not very comfortable
The Sea Eagle 330 would be the best option for you if you’re looking for high-quality inflatable kayaks that come with all the essential accessories at a very cheap price.
4. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak – Best Cheap Sit-On-Top Kayak
The Lifetime Tamarack Angler Kayak is one of the best cheap kayaks available. It’s specifically designed with anglers in mind with many impressive features at an affordable.
It made from high-density polyethylene which provides UV protection and overall more durability. It’s designed with a flat bottom and added chain rails to increase stability.
The Lifetime Tamarack fishing kayak is equipped with 3 fishing rod holders. It has adjustable foot braces and a padded seat and backrest for added comfort and support when fishing for long hours.
It has a weight capacity of 275 pounds and it comes with bungee storage on the bow and stern as well as two sealable storage compartments for your fishing gear.
It also comes with T- handles to facilitate transport as well as a paddle and a paddle keeper.
Pros Vs Cons
- It’s durable and UV-resistant
- It’s easy to carry
- It comes with multiple storage areas
- It has a high weight capacity
- It comes with 3 fishing rod holder
- It’s heavy in weight
- The paddle is not very durable
The Lifetime Tamarack is the perfect choice for both beginners and professional anglers looking for a top-quality sit-on-top kayak at a cheap price.
5. Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 – Best Sit-In Kayak
The Aruba 10 kayak from Sun Dolphin is one of the best cheap sit-inside kayaks. It’s ideal for paddling lakes and rivers.
It’s made from a UV-resistant polyethylene material which makes it sturdy and durable. The design increases its stability and gives it excellent tracking properties.
Despite its short length, it’s designed with a large and spacious cockpit. It also comes with a storage hatch in the back and a built-in bottle holder. The weight capacity of the kayak is 250 pounds.
It’s light in weight, weighing 40 pounds, which makes it easier to transport than the majority of hard shell kayaks. It comes with carrying handles as well as an adjustable seat and foot braces.
Pros Vs Cons
- It’s strong and UV resistant
- It’s very stable with excellent tracking
- It comes with a storage hatch and a bottle holder
- It relatively light in weight and portable
- It has a spacious cockpit
- It doesn’t come with any additional accessories
- It doesn’t come with a padded seat
The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is the perfect choice for you if you’re a beginner looking for a reliable and affordable sit-inside kayak.
How to Choose the Best Budget Kayak?
In order to choose the best budget kayak when, you need to know your option by learning about different types of kayaks and consider what each kind can offer you in terms of quality, performance, and other benefits.
The Main Types of Kayaks
Sit-On-Top Vs Sit-Inside
Kayaks are mainly classified into two kinds according to their: Sit-On-Top and Sit-Inside and there several major differences between each design.
Sit-on-top kayaks are designed without an enclosed cockpit which means the paddler sits above the kayak’s deck instead of being positioned inside the kayak below the water level. They’re usually short and narrow which makes them more stable but slow.
Due to the lack of an enclosed cockpit, water splashes onto the surface of the kayak that’s why sit-on-top kayaks come with four holes in the floor known as scupper holes which act as a draining system for water that comes on the deck and prevent it from pooling below the paddler.
They’re ideal for recreational use and beginners as they’re safer because they can be easily entered from the water. They’re also more affordable.
Sit-inside kayaks, on the other hand, are designed more traditionally with an enclosed cockpit so the paddler sits inside the hull of the kayak below the water surface. They’re usually long and narrow which makes them faster and more maneuverable.
The presence of the cockpit provides the paddle with more protection against the elements. However, they don’t have scupper holes.
They’re ideal for going on longer trips and for kayakers with more skill. They can be more expensive than sit-on-top kayaks.
Hard Shell Vs Inflatable
Kayaks are also classified into two kinds according to the material used to manufacture them.
Hardshell kayaks are mainly made from rigid materials such as Kevlar, hard plastic, carbon fiber, or fiberglass. While inflatable kayaks are made from softer materials such as synthetic rubber or inflatable plastic.
Hardshell kayaks are more expensive. That is because they’re highly durable and offer more control to the paddler. However, they’re heavy, difficult to transport, and can take up more storage space.
Inflatable kayaks, on the other hand, are a lot cheaper and more portable. They are light in weight which makes them easier to transport. They can also be deflated to fit in small storage. Their downside is that they may not offer the same level of control and durability as hard-shell kayaks.
Factors You Need to Consider Before Buying a Kayak
There are different kinds of material in manufacturing kayaks each kind has advantages and disadvantages. The kayak’s material affects its durability, so you need to make sure the kayak you’re buying isn’t made from poor quality as this will make the kayak more prone to wearing out over time.
Kayaks made from hard plastic materials are usually durable but heavier in weight while kayaks made from inflatable plastic are less durable but very light in weight.
Kayaks made from composite materials such as Kevlar, carbon fiber, and fiberglass are a lot more durable and light in weight, however, they’re much more expensive than plastic kayaks.
Kayaks made from wood, on the other hand, aren’t that common because they’re very expensive to manufacture and they’re a lot heavier in weight compared to kayaks made from other materials.
Weight and Weight Capacity
The weight of the kayak affects how easy it is to carry and transport. On the other hand, the capacity is the amount of weight the kayak can handle, including the weight of the kayaker and the gear. So, it’s important to take it into consideration to avoid overloading your kayak.
The differences in design between kayaks will affect the amount of onboard space as well as the storage options. To make it simple, the bigger your kayak is; the more space you’ll have to carry more gear.
Shape and Size
The performance of the kayak is affected by its design. Kayaks come in different shapes and sizes, so you need to choose a kayak with the design that best suits your purpose.
The Performance of a kayak basically means two things – speed and tracking. Speed is affected by the kayak’s length and width. Tracking, on the other hand, depends on the shape of the kayak.
The length and width of the kayak can affect the performance. Long narrow kayaks are usually faster, while short wide kayaks will be more stable and track better.
The depth of the kayak also affects its performance. Shallower hulls can offer more resistance against currents and winds. While deeper hulls have more legroom and more storage.
Stability and Safety
The stability of the kayak is also affected by its design.
Wider kayaks have a higher center of gravity, which means they have a higher degree of primary stability.
On the other hand, narrower and have a lower center of gravity, which means they have a significantly higher degree of secondary stability. Both sit-on-top and sit-inside kayaks can be equally safe.
You can learn more about what makes a kayak track straight and more stable here.
There are many features that can contribute to the kayak’s comfort level such as built-in accessory mounts, drink holder, footrests, and pedals. However, the most important factor is the seating area of the kayak.
You need to make sure the seat of your kayak is well-padded with a solid backrest to avoid getting back pains when paddling for a long time
The price of the kayak depends on several factors including the construction, materials, size, capacity, and any additional comfort features.
When you’re buying a kayak you should always consider the buying cost as well as the maintenance fee. When buying any kayak, you might need to spend more money to keep it in a good shape.
Are Cheap Kayaks Worth It?
Whether cheap kayaks are worth it or not mainly depends on the intended use and the peddler’s experience.
Cheap kayaks are good enough for recreational purposes or for casual trips. However, buying a cheap kayak might be a bad investment if you consider kayaking a long-term hobby.
If you’re a beginner, it’s more recommended to start with a reasonably priced kayak that you can use to learn. It will allow you to quickly learn how to adapt to different situations and overall improve your kayaking experience.
Buying a high-end expensive kayak, on the other hand, is worth it if you are an intermediate or experienced kayaker. Keep in mind that you need to understand what you are looking to get out of the kayak and have enough skill and experience to be able to handle these expensive kayak models.
I have another guide on cheap vs expensive kayaks here that can explain things in much more detail.
Frequently Asked Question
When Is the Best Time to Buy a Kayak On a Budget?
The best time to buy a kayak on a budget is by the end of the kayaking season which is during late August and early September and that is because the demand for kayaks will be lower at that time. Another suitable period to buy kayaks is during holidays like Christmas or Memorial day because many stores offer great deals and discounts.
You can check out my complete guide on the best time to buy a kayak here for more pro tips on how to save hundreds of dollars on your next kayak.
What Are the Benefits of Renting a Kayak Instead of Purchasing It?
Renting a kayak has several benefits such as being a relatively cheaper price. You will also not have to worry about concerns like how to store and maintain the kayak. Another benefit of renting is that it will allow you to try different styles and brands without committing to just one which will help build your experience and improve your skills.
How to Maintain Your Kayak?
To make maintain your kayak you need to make sure it’s stored properly away from light, extreme heat, and moisture. That is because exposure to direct sunlight can cause the kayak to degrade faster over time. It’s also important to clean your kayak well before you store it and to get rid of any dirt, salt, or sand on it and that is to prevent any corrosion or mold from building up.
You can check out these ideas for storing a kayak in an apartment for practical ways that work with every space.
Recreational Kayaking: The Ultimate Guide By Ken Whiting (you can get this book on Amazon here)
Kayak your way to Freedom
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