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The cost of a kayak will vary depending on the type of kayak it is, the quality of the construction, and the level of features or performance it has. This can make it difficult to narrow down the cost to a single number.
But to give you a better understanding of kayak prices, we’ve put together a guide to show how much different types of kayaks cost, along with the average amount you should expect to pay for your new boat.
Why Do Different Kayaks Cost Different Amounts Of Money?
Quality Of Brand
As with most things, the higher quality or more popular brands will generally cost more. Some brands will cost more because of the materials they use or the quality of the design and construction.
The manufacturing process or where the kayak is made can also sometimes affect the price. Cheaper brands, for example, often mass produce their kayaks. Very expensive kayaks may sometimes be handcrafted to order.
The materials used in the construction of the kayak are usually what determines its price. Cheaper kayaks are usually made from polyethylene, a type of plastic. However, it’s not just cheaper kayaks that are made from polyethylene, as some pricier ones also often use the same material for durability.
At the higher end of the price scale, you’ll find kayaks made out of composite materials, including carbon fiber, fiberglass, and Kevlar. Composite kayaks tend to be lighter in weight than plastic kayaks and offer better performance on the water, which is what can make them so expensive.
You can also find wooden kayaks, which can often be expensive because of the time it takes a skilled craftsperson to handcraft it. Alternatively, you could build one yourself.
Video: Making A Strip Built Sea Kayak
You can probably find solo and tandem kayaks for a similar price. Just because one has two seats won’t necessarily make it more expensive. Saying that, you will be able to find tandem kayaks that are a lot more expensive than a comparable solo one.
However, if you plan to paddle a lot with a partner, it can often be cheaper to buy one tandem kayak than two solo kayaks. If you want more space for camping gear or other equipment, you might be better off with two solo kayaks, as tandems generally don’t have double the space or capacity of a solo kayak.
Pedal Or Paddle
Adding a pedal drive to a kayak can make it cost considerably more than a comparable paddle kayak. A paddle kayak is propelled by you and your paddle, without any other form of propulsion. A pedal kayak requires a pedal drive system, which is what adds to the overall cost.
The amount of features a kayak has will usually influence its retail price. Basic kayaks will often be cheaper because of their lack of additional features or accessories.
A high-quality seat, for example, can add to the price of a kayak. Cup holders, rod holders, storage hatches and cargo decks can all add to the cost of a kayak.
Other features that can increase the price include rudders or skegs, deck bungees, anchor trolley systems, and others. Having said that, some accessories, such as a paddle, can often be found included on some of the lower-priced kayaks.
What Is The Average Cost Of A Kayak?
As you’ll probably know, the average cost of a kayak will generally differ from the cost of an average kayak. Because the prices vary so wildly between the types of kayaks, the average cost is probably around the $1000 mark.
But to give you a better idea of the average cost of different types of kayaks, we’ve narrowed it down a little.
Recreational kayaks can vary quite a lot in price, depending on their extra features. These types of kayaks are generally aimed at beginners and anyone looking for a stable kayak for paddling on flatwater lakes, bays and slow-moving rivers.
Recreational kayaks start from around $300 for a basic one and go up to around $1000 or more.
Fishing kayaks tend to be very stable and will often have additional features to help you while kayak fishing. Most fishing kayaks will usually have rod holders, gear tracks for mounting accessories, storage space for fishing gear, and other features for convenience. Some will also have elevated seats and transducer scuppers for fish finders.
The price of a fishing kayak can range from around $500 to over $2000 if it has pedals. You can probably get a good fishing kayak for around $800 to $1000.
Inflatable kayaks can be less expensive than traditional hard shell kayaks. However, that’s not always the case, as some of the top-end inflatables can be expensive.
Inflatable kayaks can be cheaper to own as you can generally store them easily at home and load them into the trunk of your car to take them to the lake. This means you can eliminate the need for a trailer or roof rack, or storage fees.
Inflatable kayaks can cost from about $100 for a basic one, up to over $1000 for a top-of-the-line one. A cheap, basic inflatable kayak is probably not going to handle as well as a more expensive one and it may not be suitable for certain water conditions either.
More expensive inflatable kayaks will tend to have drop-stitch technology in their construction, making them more rigid for increased speed and performance. A decent inflatable kayak will probably cost around $600 or $700.
Tandem kayaks are designed for two paddlers, sometimes with room for a third person. These types of kayaks can be found in most categories, designed for recreation or a specific type of activity, such as touring or fishing. They often have two of everything, for example, seats and storage areas.
Tandem kayaks can range in price from around $500 to over $4000 for a tandem sea kayak. An average recreational tandem kayak will probably cost in the region of $1000.
Pedal kayaks tend to be more expensive than paddle-only kayaks because they have the additional component of the pedal drive system, which adds to the cost. These types of kayaks may also require more maintenance in the long run, to keep all the mechanics in tip-top shape.
Pedal kayaks can be useful for fishing, allowing hands-free propulsion. But you can also find recreational kayaks with pedal drive systems too. Pedal kayaks can cost from around $1200 to over $4000 depending on the features and whether it’s a tandem or not.
Touring kayaks can be pretty expensive. These types of kayaks are designed for long distance paddling trips so they should have plenty of storage space for overnight gear and food.
You’ll also find that touring kayaks tend to be designed with comfort in mind, as you’ll usually be sitting in the cockpit for a long time during your paddling adventures.
Most touring kayaks are sit-inside kayaks but there are some models that fall into the touring category that are sit-on-tops. Sit-on-top touring kayaks will tend to be cheaper than sit-inside touring kayaks.
Touring kayaks range from around $1000 to over $4000 depending on the materials used.
Whitewater kayaks often don’t run as expensive as some other types of kayaks. These boats are designed for running rapids and are generally much shorter than standard kayaks.
There are different types of whitewater kayaks, including playboats, creek boats and river-runners. Playboats and creek boats tend to be under 8 feet long so they can be easily controlled and maneuvered in whitewater rapids and rock gardens. River-runners tend to be a little longer, up to around 10 feet, and can be a good entry-level whitewater boat.
Whitewater kayaks can cost from around $700 or $800 up to around $1400.
Crossover kayaks are designed to give you the best of both worlds, by offering good performance on flatwater and whitewater. These types of boats will usually have some type of storage so that you can bring along gear.
Crossover kayaks may also have retractable skegs or other features that can make the boat easier to control on flatwater.
These can be versatile boats and ideal if you plan to tackle various water conditions on a regular basis. A crossover kayak will generally cost in the region of $1000 up to around $1400.
Sea kayaks are designed to be used in the ocean and can generally handle waves, current, wind and even Class I rivers. These are usually sit-inside kayaks that are over 14 feet long. They tend to be narrow for increased speeds on open water and over long distances.
Sea kayaks will also generally have plenty of storage space, usually in the form of sealed hatches, to let you store camping equipment, food, and clothing, for a multi-day or multi-week expedition.
Like touring kayaks, sea kayaks can be pretty expensive. They can range in price from roughly $1000 up to over $6000 because of the variation between brands and materials. An average polyethylene sea kayak will probably cost you around $1800 to $2000.
Folding kayaks are designed to be portable and easy to store at home. They usually fold down into a compact suitcase-size case and then can be unfolded and assembled at the waterside easily.
These types of kayaks are not generally made to last as long as standard kayaks because of the limited number of folds they can handle. However, they can be ideal if you live in a small apartment or if you don’t plan to paddle frequently.
Because of their design and convenience, folding kayaks tend to cost a little more than a standard recreational kayak or inflatable kayak. They tend to start at around $1300 and go up to around $5000 or more for the top-end or high-performance brands.
Are Cheap Kayaks Worth It? Are They As Good As Expensive Kayaks?
As you’ll find with most cheap products, they’re usually not built to last. And cheap kayaks are no exception. While a cheap kayak might seem like a bargain to begin with, it may not have the longevity you expect. Remember the saying, “buy cheap, buy twice”.
Generally speaking, cheap kayaks are not as good as expensive ones. Cheap kayaks often come with cheap accessories and components. The seat, for one thing, will probably not be as comfortable as the seat on a more expensive kayak. And it probably won’t have the same level of support or adjustability.
As well as comfort and quality of craftsmanship, you may also find that a cheap kayak doesn’t perform as well as a more expensive one. This could include the level of stability, speed, tracking, or general handling, which could make it more difficult to paddle.
A very cheap kayak will generally only be suitable for flatwater paddling on calm waters for short periods of time. More expensive kayaks will often be tailored to a particular type of water or activity, with enhanced performance or features for that specific use, such as touring or kayak fishing.
The more expensive kayaks will often tend to be lighter or have a higher quality construction with quality features and finishes. Having said that, expensive fishing kayaks are usually far from lightweight.
If you want your kayak to last a long time and be an investment, it’s probably better to avoid cheap ones. Sometimes you can get quality used ones that can be affordable. Or sometimes sales at the end of the season can offer good deals on kayaks as the outfitters make way for the new season’s stock.
When Is The Best Time To Buy A Kayak?
The best time to buy a kayak will often be at the end of normal kayaking season, typically in the fall. The end of the summer season will often see retailers and kayak outfitters begin discounting their kayaks, usually around August.
Paddling season generally runs from spring through fall in the US, depending on your state. Even in year-round paddling destinations such as Florida and Southern California, retailers will generally follow the same patterns, as their stock is usually dictated by the manufacturers and the release of new models.
The discounts on end-of-season kayaks can often continue through winter. Black Friday will also generally see kayaks on sale, often with bigger discounts than other times of the year. However, with the increase in demand and effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in production and distribution, there may be fewer deals around than in previous years.
The beginning of the paddling season can also sometimes throw out some good deals on kayaks. This generally happens around April and May when outfitters and retailers are promoting their new kayaks for the spring and summer seasons.
Memorial Day can be a good time for sales and discounts in general, and good deals on kayaks can usually be found during the holiday weekend, as retailers push their summer products.
As you’ll see, the price of a kayak will depend on various factors. A good sea kayak will cost significantly more than your average recreational kayak. But if you’re looking for versatility, it might be less expensive to opt for an inflatable kayak or crossover kayak for paddling on a range of water conditions.
Think about what suits you best. And remember to stay within your budget. The best kayak you can afford, with features you’ll use, will probably be better for you than a top-of-the-line boat that’s out of your price range.
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