Best Kayak For The Money

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You want your own kayak but you don’t want too spend much? Maybe you’re trying the sport for the first time or perhaps you just want an inexpensive vessel so you can get out on the water and enjoy the great outdoors?

Kayaking can become an expensive sport but it doesn’t have to be, so where can you get a craft that’s not going to break the bank? We have compiled a guide on how to choose the best vessels for kayaking on a budget (the Lifetime Sports Fisher is #1 by the way). Now everyone can get their hands on a decent kayak!

Best Cheap Kayaks At A Glance



Sea Eagle SE370K_P Inflatable Kayak with Pro Package - Best Fishing Kayak

Sea Eagle SE370K_P

- Easy to carry

- Plenty of room

Lifetime Sport Fisher

- Easy to paddle

- Fishing kayak

Lifetime Manta Tandem Sit on Top Kayak with Paddles and Back Rests - Best Fishing Kayak

Lifetime Manta

- Great visibility

- Mast receptacle

Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak

Ocean Kayak Malibu

- Spacious

- Durable skid plate

Sun Dolphin Aruba

- Maneuver gains

- Storage

Lifetime Wave Youth

- Good for kids

- Competitively priced

Vibe Skipjack 90

- Fishing kayak

- Very stable

How To Choose A Kayak (On A Budget)

Choosing a kayak can be difficult enough without adding a tight budget but you will still need to consider certain things. Most importantly, you should think about the following:

  • Where might you be hoping to paddle, for example, the types of water and the climate?
  • How often do you plan on using it?
  • Will you be using it once a week for an hour or two?
  • Do you plan to use it for long excursions or camping trips?
  • How many people plan on joining you?

Sit-On-Top Kayaks

A sit-on-top, or SOT, is a vessel where you’re seated on top of the deck instead of being enclosed within the hull. These can be a great choice if you’re in a warm climate or will be paddling during the summer.

Being on top of the craft means that you will get wet from splashes. However, some people prefer SOTs because of their ease of use. You can quickly get in and out of the craft and are easily able to jump out for a swim.

They come in a range of materials and styles, but the most affordable option is often a plastic or inflatable recreational kayak.

Sit-Inside Kayaks

A sit-inside, or SIK, is a traditional type of yak where you sit enclosed within the vessel in a cockpit. SIKs come in a range of types, all designed for different purposes and environments, including whitewater kayaking, racing, and sea kayaking.

With a sit-in you’ll probably require some training in order to exit the vessel safely if you capsize. SIKs come in different materials, depending on their purpose but plastic and inflatable yaks are the cheapest.

Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable vessels are very durable and lightweight and can be ideal if you’re on a budget. They’re also easy to maintain and repair, with patch kits available to fix any punctures.

As well as being affordable to purchase, they can also be less costly to own. Most importantly, they don’t require a trailer or roof rack to transport them. You simply deflate it to fit in your trunk and inflate it once you’re at the water.

Because of their compact size when deflated, you won’t need extra storage solutions in your home or garage, as most of them can be packed into the size of a small suitcase.

Kayaks Geared For Fishing

With a fishing yak  you’ll need to consider where you plan on fishing and the extra load capacity that you might need.

Fishing kayaks can also be heavier because of their extra rigging, so think about how you plan on transporting it.

2-Person Kayaks

A tandem can be a cost effective choice if you plan on paddling with a partner. Tandems come in a range of styles for different activities and environments and can be either sit-on-top or sit-in.

Some tandems may also have space for a third person or a dog, so it can be an affordable way to have the whole family out on the water at once.

Top Rated Kayaks For The Money

1: Lifetime Sport (Best Overall)

Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak - Best Fishing KayakPin
  • Length: 10 feet
  • Width: 36 inches
  • Weight: 60 pounds
  • Capacity: 500 pounds

This fishing yak can be a great value choice, as it can be used for a variety of different activities. It features two ergonomically designed seats, which are ideal if you’re spending long periods on the water. You’ll also find there are three molded-in seats, so there’s room for a third person or even your dog.

Its short design means it’s easy to transport in the back of most trucks and it has a durable and wide plastic hull to give it greater stability on the water; it’s even stable enough to stand up in.

It’s easy to paddle either on your own or with a second paddler, and there’s plenty of storage for all your gear, including four fishing pole holders, a 6 inch storage hatch and plenty of room at the bow on the deck.

It could be a good choice for coastal bays, lakes or calm rivers.

Full Lifetime Sports Fisher review

2: Sea Eagle SE370K_P (Best Inflatable)

  • Length: 12 feet 6 inches
  • Width: 30 inches
  • Depth: 10 inches
  • Weight: 32 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 650 pounds

This is an affordable vessel that will let you enjoy time on the water without the hassle of transportation obstacles. It deflates and packs down to just 31 inches by 19 by 8 inches so will easily fit in the trunk of your car.

Designed for two paddlers, this inflatable yak is very durable, with PolyKrylar PVC construction, which is equally suitable for both salt and fresh water and benefits from being resistant to sun damage. The complete package also gives you everything you’ll need - including two paddles - to get out on the water right away.

It takes just 8 minutes to inflate this craft, so you can be on the water in no time. Plus, it has three air chambers, so even if you get a puncture, you will still have enough buoyancy to get you back to shore.

There’s lots of room on this spacious deck, with storage areas at the bow and stern to hold your camping gear, with spray skirts at both ends to protect smaller belongings from splashes.

This could be a good choice if you’re looking for versatility and portability. It’s a stable craft that even has the benefit of two skegs to help you maintain a straight path.

The 600 pound weight capacity helps boost you confidence for buoyancy. Comes with a carry bag.

Full Sea Eagle review here

3: Lifetime Manta Recreational (Tandem)

Lifetime Manta Tandem Sit on Top Kayak with Paddles and Back Rests - Best Fishing KayakPin
  • Length: 10 feet
  • Width: 36 inches
  • Weight: 60 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds

This compact little multi-purpose yak is ideal for family fun. With three molded-in seats, including two padded backrests for each of the two paddlers, this can be a great choice for enjoying the water during the warmer months. It can also be paddled solo.

This sit-on-top craft is super stable, with a tunnel hull which is designed not to tip over. However, it’s not recommended for rough seas or strong currents. There is also a mast receiver receptacle, as well as lots of footrest positions to suit different leg lengths.

One thing that makes this a good value option is that it comes complete with two paddles for recreational use.

It’s small enough to fit in the back of a pickup but it has enough storage for a day on the water, including a large cargo area at the bow with bungee cord straps. It also features front and back carrying handles for easier transportation.

Lifetime review here

4: Ocean Kayak Malibu Two (Tandem)

  • Length: 12 feet
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Weight: 57 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 375 to 425 pounds

This is a pretty spacious kayak, with two Comfort Plus seat backs, that are ergonomically designed to keep you comfortable for longer. There are three molded seat wells, so a child or a pet can also tag along.

This plastic sit-on-top is a durable and lightweight vessel that could be a good choice if you’re heading out for a day or two. There’s lots of room for your gear and even straps to keep it all secure.

It’s a stable craft that’s easy to paddle with either two paddlers or on your own. It has convenient side carry handles and has the benefit of having a skid plate, which will keep the hull’s keel protected from damage.

Malibu Two full review

5: Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 (Sit-in Kayak)

  • Length:10 feet
  • Width: 30 inches
  • Weight: 41 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 250 pounds

The Aruba is a durable polyethylene plastic sit-in yak that can be ideal for lake or flat water use. Being a shorter yak, it’s easy to maneuver and convenient to transport but there’s still lots of room for all your gear.

There is a handy storage hatch behind the seat, as well as a water bottle holder and bungee deck rigging for securing additional gear. The seat is padded and adjustable and there are adjustable foot braces in the cockpit and protective thigh pads to help you stabilize the craft.

> Our full Aruba review (10 & 12)

6: Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak (For The Kids)

  • Length: 6 foot
  • Width: 24 inches
  • Weight: 18 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 130 pounds

The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is a 6 foot yak designed for children from the age of 5 and up to 130 pounds. It is a durable UV protected polyethylene sit-on-top yak that can be a great vessel for kids to learn paddling techniques in and to use on calm summer days at the beach.

It features a stable hull with reverse chine for added flip resistance. It also benefits from self bailing scupper holes in the cockpit area and a molded seat.

The back deck is sloped to create a swim-up platform where kids can easily climb back on after jumping in the water.

One of the best cheap kayaks for little ones.

7: Vibe Skipjack 90 (Fishing Time!)

Vibe Skipjack 90 KayakPin
  • Length: 9 foot
  • Width: 32 inches
  • Weight: 46 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds

The Vibe Skipjack 90 is a 9 foot sit-on-top yak that is designed for stability and ease of use. It can be a great choice for beginners, especially if you’re after an affordable vessel with added features for comfort.

The Skipjack features a Deluxe seat with a padded seat bottom and adjustable padded seat back, which can make longer paddling sessions more comfortable. There is also a center storage hatch for keeping small items dry and there are storage decks at both the front and rear, with bungee rigging.

This yak also features built-in rod holders for fishing and comes with a paddle so you can head out on paddling adventures without delay.


Where Can I Buy A Cheap Kayak?

Online can be one of the best places when searching for a budget kayak, as it can give you access to a wider market.

You can also find cheap kayaks locally, such as in sporting goods stores, as well as in kayak outfitters where they may have used or ex-rental yaks for sale.

Can I Modify A Cheap Kayak For Fishing?

Yes, you can modify it for fishing and other activities by adding accessories, such as rod holders and mounts for electronics.

There are different ways you can transform your yak into an angling vessel, for example by drilling mounting points or using adhesives, or even adapting some of the features that your boat already has.

Are Affordable Kayaks Good For Duck Hunting?

Yes, they can be, since they can let you get closer to the ducks with less disruption than a power boat.

They can be modified to make them more suitable for duck hunting conditions, such as by painting them in camouflage colors and adding accessories that will help you when duck hunting.

Do Cheap And Affordable Kayaks Last Long?

If you look after your yak it should last you a long time.

Cheaper end yaks tend to be made out of polyethylene, which is a durable material and resistant to bumps and scrapes but it can be weakened by UV light, so it might be worth investing in a protective cover for when it’s not in use.

Summarizing Kayaks On A Budget

Now you know what to look for in a budget kayak you’ll hopefully be able to find your own vessel so you can enjoy more time on the water.

Consider what you hope to get from your new yak and what you’d like it to offer you. If there are two of you hoping to kayak together, then a tandem might be better value.

If you enjoyed learning about budget kayaks, feel free to share this with your friends and if you have any comments, please let us know.

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