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Are you looking for the best, cheapest kayak out there today?
Look no further my friend, in this article you will learn about several low cost models and comparing them. Additionally, I put together weeks of research (Reddit threads, YouTube videos, forum reviews) when writing this article so take advatange of the time I spent so you don’t have to.
As adrenaline junkies and watersport fanatics, you are always on the hunt for the best, inexpensive equipment reviews before making your educated purchase.
We get it, hobbies can be expensive!
But they don’t have to be.
The best kayaks in the world have a wide price range, enabling the budding weekend kayaker to find the perfect kayak for their needs and uses. Remember, a lower price doesn’t exactly mean a lower quality kayak.
Maybe you are trying kayaking for the first time, or you are just looking for a reliable, inexpensive kayak so you can get out on the water immediately; we’re sure to have a kayak you will like in our guide below.
We will take you through the kayak buying process step-by-step, guaranteeing that by the end of this article, you will be more than ready to choose your next kayak.
At the end of our guide we have our top 10 of the best cheapest kayaks on the market today.
In a hurry? We’ve got you covered, we created a table to compare our top picks on this list.
Lifetime 90118 Manta Tandem Sit on Top Kayak with Paddles and Backrests, 10 Feet, YellowOur top pick for good reason, this is the most versatile kayak on our list (and top rated). The Lifetime Manta is a tandem boat that is lightweight, recreational, and designed for single or tandem use.
Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak, 10 Feet, Olive GreenAt 10’ this Lifetime model can handle up to 3 people with a max weight of 500 lbs which is perfect for small families. Another super stable kayak which is why it’s #2 on our list.
SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 SS Sit-in Kayak (Citrus, 12-Feet)Great for lakes and rivers, the Aruba 12 SS is a sit-in kayak made for a sole paddler. We couldn’t make the top 3 without a bit of diversity, but that’s not the only reason we picked it. With extra storage for gear, this is ideal for anyone looking for a utility.
Making such a purchase can prove difficult to find the right kayak for you, especially on a tight budget.
You might want to find the cheapest kayak out there, but believe us, you’d be making a HUGE mistake. Consider the following aspects before clicking the checkout button on your new kayak:
Lifetime Manta have paddled their way into our #1 spot for the best budget kayak available for recreational users.
This sit-on-top kayak has plenty of uses and is ideal for family fun out on the water.
The Manta comes with three molded seats, with two sets of paddles and two padded backrests so you and your family (or pets) and enjoy long days out on the water.
This vessel is incredibly stable, mainly because it is sit-on-top and has a tunnel hull, a design feature aimed to no tip over during use. There is plenty of foot wells for comfort and a mast receiver receptacle for use if needed. Although very stable, the Manta is not suitable for use on rough seas or strong currents.
Transportation makes this kayak a dream to take out for a day trip or weekend away.
It’s small enough to fit in the back of a pickup truck and features front and back handles for easy carrying to and from the water. Another great feature on this kayak is the storage options; a large cargo area at the bow complete with bungee cord straps.
The Lifetime Manta is an excellent choice for all recreational and beginner kayakers looking for a durable, versatile kayak that is sure to last a long time.
The Lifetime Manta surely deserves its place on our list!
Lifetime Sport provide the fishing community with a great value choice for this fishing kayak.
It’s designed for fishing, but this kayak is highly versatile for a wide range of activities on the water.
It’s short design means it can be easily transported,even though it comes with three molded seats; you can take the family out or even the family dog can come along for a paddle.
The doggo can even move around in this kayak as it’s wide plastic hull adds to its stability, you can even stand up in it if needed. Tracking is easy enough for one person to handle and it wouldn’t be a fishing kayak without the four fishing rod holders.
There’s an abundance of storage on board, featuring a 6-inch storage hatch and plenty of room at the bow on deck.
Not ideal for rough seas, but this kayak can handle coastal bays, calm rivers, and lakes,this kayak deserves the #2 spot on our list of the best cheap kayaks out there today.
At number three on our list, The Sun Dolphin Aruba SS deserves its place so high up on our list.
At 12 feet in length, and 29.5” beam width, this kayak is highly stable in the water and very difficult to tip.
The SS model of the Aruba is one of the most popular, cheap kayaks on the market today. Yes, it’s large, but it doesn’t detract from its ability to track well.
Durability is another main feature of this vessel.
The hull of the Aruba is UV-protected and constructed using polyethylene.
Not that you intend to, but this kayak can take considerable damage with no effect.
The added features for this kayak include adjustable foot braces, seat, and thigh padding. There is only a small, 6-inch storage compartment but it’s waterproof so your phone or camera will stay nice and dry throughout the day.
Check out 5 major reasons to get SUP Kayak Hybrid.
by: Old Town Canoes & Kayaks
Throughout the kayak community, The Old Town are renowned for building some of the best kayaks available on the market today.
The Heron 9XT is dubbed a recreational kayak, meaning it is highly versatile for a range of activities.
Similar to the Aruba SS, the Heron 9XT has a 28.5” beam width which provides excellent stability on the water.
At 9.5 feet in length, the Heron 9XT is perfect for beginners who need added stability; Less speed, more stability.
As with most kayaks on this list, this one features adjustable foot braces, seat, and thigh pads.
There’s not a boatload of added features on here, The Old Town keep their extras to a minimum in order to provide you with the best quality kayak for a reasonable price. We can’t argue with that!
Tandem kayakers rejoice! The Intex K2 is one of the best cheap kayaks available on the market today.
Designed for all skill levels,this has a very stable 36” beam width.
If you’re only planning on kayaking calm lakes,then you can remove the skeg if needed, but it is handy when you’re out in strong currents.
Tracking can prove difficult on the inflatable kayaks, possibly due to the drag on the material, but on this tracking is a dream, even for one person.
Granted, the Intex K2 is on the larger side at 10 feet, but you will get more room to get comfortable when out paddling for the day.
Being inflatable, the K2 can be stored and transported easily and even comes with paddles and a pump, meaning you can carry it to the water and plug in the pump. You’ll be out on the water within minutes!
This also comes with adjustable seats so you have the added comfort without the added price tag.
All kayakers should seriously consider the Intex Explorer K2, you won’t be disappointed!
Check out my review on kayak seat pads by clicking here.
Are you an angler on a budget?
This is one of the best cheap kayaks out there that’s perfect for your needs.
It’s a sit-on-top with a 30” beam width, so you’re sitting above the plastic molded hull. The beam width allows for added stability, but should you tip, you can escape easily as you’re not enclosed within the hull.
Yes, it’s stable, but being 10 feet in length and 30” wide, tracking can prove difficult for absolute beginners.
As an angling kayak, there’s plenty of added features for you to salivate over. There are three-rod holders, two of them are flush mounted; The third-rod holder is on a swivel close to the cockpit.
If you like storage options, this one comes with a waterproof storage section and additional shock cord rigging.
How could we forget the Portable Accessory Carrier (PAC)?
Your PAC’s on here which can be easily removed and can either be pulled behind or used as a backpack. Just know you will not be short of storage options if you buy this kayak!
When looking for the most affordable kayaks, you will probably want to consider lightweight and portable.
This is where the Sea Eagle 330 excels. At just 26lbs, you can carry and transport it easily, and it packs down small enough to fit in your car trunk.
Even though it’s small, this kayak is able to carry an adult and child, or even two smaller adults. Versatility is our word of choice for this one. The Sea Eagle 330 can be used on ocean waves, flat water, and even whitewater up to class III.
Durability was definitely on the agenda when designing the Sea Eagle.
The hull features high-frequency welded seams, not to mention it’s sun resistant, meaning you can paddle out on lakes as well as out on the ocean.
For beginners, this kayak is easy to track, store, and transport.
The added features include two skegs which improve stability and bow and stern carry lines, not the mention the lashed down inflatable spray skirts.
I have written a separate guide on best lightweight kayaks. Check it out.
If you’re looking for a compact kayak, then the Dagger Zydecco 9.0 will is up there with the top available today.
Similar to the Heron 9XT, the Zydecco 9.0 is designed for stability on the water, but at just 28.5” wide, it’s unlikely to beat the stability of kayaks over 30” in width.
On the smaller side, the Dagger Zydeco 9.0 allows for great tracking. Considering this weighs 48lbs, it’s up there with the best as far as tracking and stability are concerned.
There are not too many extra features on this kayak, but it does have the adjustable seat and foot braces, along with rigging storage available.
The Dagger isn’t ideal for longer trips, but for river rapids and short trips are perfect unless you need to take plenty of gear with you.
Not too much to rave about, but the Dagger Zydecco 9.0 gets a respectable number 8 spot on our list.
Another low-cost kayak as Dagger Zydecco is Ocean Kayak Frenzy, check out its review.
Similar to the SS12 version, Sun Dolphin’s Aruba 10 proves to be a modified version with the company creating a simplified design.
The Aruba 10 is a very popular choice for kayakers, and being within the affordable price range, you’re getting a lot of quality for your money.
Designed for stability, the Aruba 10 is pretty much tip resistant and virtually indestructible due to its high-density polyethylene andUv-protective coating.
Being sleek and lightweight enable anyone to paddle with ease across lakes and rivers, and the tracking on this kayak is sublime.
For the kayaker looking for added comfort, the Aruba 10 is complete with adjustable seat and backrest, adjustable foot braces, and thigh pads.
What about storage?
Storage is another added bonus with a holder for your paddle, front storage net, and even a dry storage section in the rear!
They are still nicely designed, which means they reach #9 on our list.
See our in-depth review of the Aruba 10 here!
A sit-on-top kayak that provides added comfort with an adjustable padded seat, backrest, and multiple foot resting positions for those long days out on the water.
For cash-strapped kayak anglers, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is a great buy.
The durability of this kayak means it could last you many years, as long as you take good care of it and carry out yearly maintenance if necessary.
The Tamarack Angler 100 is made from blow-molded, high density polyethylene and is also UV-protected, ensuring your kayak stays in good shape throughout its lifetime usage.
If safety and stability is a concern, the Tamarack Angler is equipped with stability chine rails and deep tracking channels that help avoid capsizing.
Transportation is also made easy for you as this kayak comes complete with front and rear carry handles.
It’s a fishing kayak, so it comes complete with two flush-mounted rod holders (one is adjustable), and it has the extra features of storage space in the form of two hatches located below the deck.
These inflatable versions are highly durable and very lightweight compared to the molded counterparts;
These are ideal if you’re on a super tight budget.
Not only are they easier on your wallet, but are also less costly to own and care for meaning you are more likely to keep your inflatable kayak for many years.
This is because the inflatable kayaks are easy to maintain and repair, and there are plenty of patch kits out there to deal with any punctures or tears in the vessel.
The best part of owning an inflatable kayak is that you don’t need to transport it on a roof rack or trailer! All you need to do is deflate your vessel, pop it in your trunk, and inflate it when you’re at your favorite spot.
Not only that, but inflatable kayaks are super easy to store, so there’s no need to build a garage extension or anything.
In fact, most inflatable kayaks can be packed down to the size of a small suitcase.
The sit-on-top (SOT), exactly what it says; you’re seated on top of the kayak deck instead of being enclosed within the hull.
We recommend these kayaks for anyone planning to kayak during the summer, or someone who paddles throughout the year in warmer climates.
SOT’s are also perfect for beginners as it’s easier to maneuver on the water, though you might get wet from your paddle splashes. A SOT kayak is super easy to get in and out of, and being above the deck you can easily jump out for a swim on those hot summer days.
There is a huge variety of this kayak type available, but the best, cheapest kayaks in the world are made of plastic. Some manufacturers even design inflatable SOT kayaks for the recreational user.
A sit-inside (SIK) kayak is the more traditional type of kayak compared to the SOT kayaks, where you are sitting enclosed within the hull of the kayak in a cockpit.
There’s plenty of designs for various purposes and terrains, including specific activities such as sea kayaking, kayak racing, and even river rapid kayaking.
For beginners, you will need training on how to enter and exit the kayak safely, including how to recover once your kayak capsizes. This can be the daunting fear for complete beginners, but trust us, once you get the hang of it you’ll never want to leave the water!
SIK manufacturers vary their materials and features of each design, but as with the SOT’s, the plastic and inflatable versions are the cheapest kayaks available.
You’ve all heard of tandem bicycles, so why not tandem kayaks?
A two-person kayak is the BEST choice for friends or couples looking to go for a paddle.
Manufacturers have also designed these kayaks in a wide range of materials and options for sit-in or sit-on-top are available. You Have no excuses for finding the best, cheapest kayaks out there!
If you need space for a third person (or doggo), some of the tandem kayaks come with space available for an extra seat so you don’t have to fork out for more than one kayak for your family trips to the river.
This is a more complicated purchase for the kayaking angler.
Choosing the right fishing vessel for your hobby needs a lot more consideration than simply looking for the best, cheapest kayak out there.
The first aspect to think about is the additional storage and capacity you may need to cater for all of your equipment and paddles.
Due to the extra capacity required for your fishing trip, consider your plan for transportation. It’s great once on the water, but transporting a heavy kayak takes some thought and planning.
There are many designs and features available to the kayaking angler, some cheaper material alternatives such as plastic or inflatable versions are available.
But with kayaks designed for fishing, you may need to consider various accessories you require before getting a full fishing experience in your new kayak.
It can be very costly, but follow this guide and shop around until you find the cheapest kayaks for your needs.
We get it. Cheap isn’t the word that springs to mind when looking for the best kayaks out there.
However, you can still buy highly durable kayaks on a budget but first, you must consider the most important features you NEED on your kayak.
“But I just want a kayak to paddle in the water”.
If extreme sports and fishing aren’t on your list of activities, there’s still a few other features of your new kayak you need to take note of:
Nobody likes capsizing in their kayak, take it from us. Stability is crucial to your kayak specifications so pay close attention to the weight, width, and length as it could have various effects on your kayaking experience.
Take it from us, a kayak with a width greater than 30” almost always provides users with stability, but anything under 24” and beginners will find themselves struggling to stay balanced and are more likely to capsize.
Weight is one of the most important factors when choosing your new kayak.
Too light or too heavy and you will find yourself grappling to keep your kayak stable.
35-50 lbs are ideal for kayak stability so keep these numbers in mind if you’re adding accessories.
Finally, the length of your kayak also plays a huge role in stability.
For example, if you’re an ocean kayaker, you should be looking at kayaks longer than 12 feet. Any shorter and you may find your kayak cant handle the choppy ocean waves too well. If you’re only planning for lake and river trips, 9-10 feet is pretty much ideal.
For beginners to the kayaking world, tracking is another word for describing how well the kayak steers when in use on the water.
The kayaks with the best tracking provide the least possible resistance in the water.
Remember though, a wider beam will create a lot more resistance and the most stable kayak probably isn’t going to track too well.
Anything under 28” is an ideal beam size for a kayak to track well, any wider and there’s way too much friction on the water. Beginners will most definitely have a hard time navigating on a wider kayak so keep these factors in mind when considering your next kayak purchase.
When searching for the best cheap kayak, you must consider the activities you will be doing the most.
For example, the white water kayaker will want to consider the Dagger Zydeco 9.0. If you’re just out for a paddle every once in a while you can skip this section.
If you’re an angler, you shouldn’t try to modify your simple kayak for fishing.
You are far better off in the long run buying a kayak designed specifically for angling as it will be more durable and will have all the features and accessories available for fishermen.
Do yourself a favor and spend a few extra dollars for the peace of mind knowing your kayak can handle the years of fishing you have planned for it.
Inflatable kayaks are the ideal design for anyone aiming to enjoy a range of kayaking activities, and probably the most cost-effective way to get out on the water without breaking the bank.
Keep your eyes peeled for the inflatable kayaks featured in our top 10 list.
Leaks, dents, tears, and deflation. Just a few of the things many kayakers worry about, especially those with inflatable kayaks.
When it comes to durability, there are a few elements to take note of when searching for your next kayak. Inflatables are so well designed by manufacturers that they have repair kits to have your kayak back on the water within minutes.
Probably the most durable kayak we have experienced is constructed using a fiberglass hull, but you will pay a pretty penny for one of those so don’t expect to find one in our top 10 list.
The majority of kayak hulls are constructed with some form of “poly” material, such as polyethylene.
The “poly” compounds are added to the base material to create a strong, durable hull for your kayak. When looking for durable kayaks, those made with poly materials are usually more durable.
Do you know, kayaking has health benefits too. Check them out.
Now you know exactly what to look for in your next (or first) kayak, you’ll hopefully have found a kayak that’s perfect for your needs and lifestyle without having to take a bank loan to afford your favorite one.
Consider carefully what activities you want to do on the water, the main features you need for your kayak, and the storage and transportation required.
Once you have gone through the guide and our top 10 list, you should be well informed to purchase the best cheap kayak for you to enjoy your time out on the water. Happy kayaking everyone!
About the Author Chet Thornberry
My name is Chet and I'm a surfer living in Cocoa Beach. I created this blog to put my experience with surfing, skimboarding, bodyboarding, and paddleboarding to good use (pretty much all things water sports).
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