The Top Fishing Kayaks Available Under 500 Dollars
Kayaks are a versatile watercraft that can have many uses. Walking into a sporting goods store for the first time or pulling a quick search on google can leave you with your head spinning at all the options. When we first got started with kayaking, I was similarly confused and made a few mistakes along the way. I hope to give you some great tidbits of information so you can skip the mistakes and get to happy paddling.
When you're on a budget and trying to get your money's worth of kayak, you've got to make sure that you're making the right long-term investment. You don't want to end up getting something that's not ideal for you or that does not fit you well.
Whether you want to return to a childhood hobby you once loved, you're interested in spending some lazy hours at the lake with your kids, or your joining friends for camping and kayaking; you don't want to break the bank, we get it!
That’s why we gathered up everything we knew, did some more research about the latest models and deals and brought to you, all the options for the best kayaks under 500 dollars! Keep reading to get your paddle on.
Want to see how each kayak compares to the others in the line up quickly? Aside from all of the features and pros/cons above, we rounded up a few more facts for you to review before your purchase. Explore our comparison table below for a side by side of the best kayaks under 500 dollars!
Before we dive in, we want to make sure you know some of the differences among kayaks. We'll also go over what features you may be interested in, and cover a few other topics, in case you're interested in that information for comparison.
You can skim through some of our FAQs below or skip straight to our comparisons of the best kayaks under 500 dollars if you'd rather get right to it.
What is a kayak, and what is its purpose?
A kayak is a watercraft that's similar to a canoe, with origins dating back fairly significantly and even used by the Inuit. A kayak is designed with a lightweight, narrow frame and fashioned with a watertight covering, pointed ends that help it cut through water quickly, and a closed-in top with a small opening for one to several riders to sit in.
Kayaks have come a long way from their original use, as you can imagine. While kayaks and canoes may appear similar, your specific applications will impact what you look for when you invest in one. You might opt for a different kayak if you're planning on spending time in yours relaxing on the lake with your dog and your toddler versus solo paddling in strong ocean waves may require choosing a more optimal craft.
The purpose of the kayak now is to serve your needs. Will you be paddling downriver with friends on a camping trip once or twice a year? Or will you be taking your kayak out every weekend to explore the river in and out of town? Some of us want to bring our kids, dogs, coolers, and fishing gear, while others are happily packing a small snack and bottle of water. Either way, there’s just the right kayak for you, so take all of your needs into consideration.
Are there different types of kayaks?
In your search for kayaks, you may find an overwhelming amount of information, and some of the classifications of kayaks can be confusing. Here’s a look at the different types of kayaks you might read about:
Even though each of these kayaks may have a few unique characteristics, you should remember that they're all created for the same general purpose. When you're choosing the right kayak for yourself or your family, you'll want to go with the one that has the features you're interested in. Keep in mind the type of activities you'll want to engage in with your kayak.
Remember, the label given to the kayak is mostly for marketing purposes, check out the features you're interested in, and you'll be good to go.
What should you consider when making your kayak purchase?
Although you might not be planning to use your kayak every day, the mere thought of hitting the water on your very own watercraft can be quite exciting. Before you make your final purchase, there are a few things to consider.
First, kayaks can be broken down into two main types – sit-in and sit-on-top. By deciding which one of these will work best for you, you can do a quick narrowing of your search. Take a look:
Of course, as mentioned above, there are also inflatable options for those who don't have the means to haul a kayak on the roof of their vehicle, or don't want to. Inflatables aren't a wrong choice for the beginner kayaker who only plans to use it a few times a year. You typically won’t have any issues as long as you choose an inflatable craft with well-tested durability.
How We Reviewed the Top Kayaks Under 500 Dollars
There were several considerations we made when it came to bringing you our top recommendations. There is nothing worse than buying something, taking it out for the exciting first use, and finding out some small design flaw doesn't allow you to enjoy it as much as you had hoped.
We made considerations regarding strength and durability, weight capacity, how well we were able to use the craft, how much others enjoyed the same vessels, how well they stood up to several uses in mixed waters and traveled back and forth. After one too many weekends on the water and countless hours of additional research, we pulled together the best of the best.
Overall Price Range of Kayaks
As kayaking has quickly spread as both a great exercise or leisurely activity, more and more people want to enjoy them, and demand has grown. Lucky for us, and you, that means they’ve come a long way when it comes to affordability.
To start, you can pick up a kayak for right around $200, but don't get too excited just yet. Kayaks in this price range are typically inflatable, not all that sturdy or durable, and they're only meant for the beginner who only plans for a leisurely float on calm waters.
You can find some plastic models for around the same which offer more durability, but they're hard to repair should your vessel become damaged. There are several great crafts in the low to the mid-price range which you'll see below, but for full disclosure, kayaks can reach into the $1000 to $3000 price range easily.
Don't jump out of your pants just yet, those kayaks are for serious business, and usually heavy ocean use so you probably don't need to break your credit card out just yet. Explore some of the excellent options we've gathered up for you below, and you and your wallet can thank us later!
Product Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Kayak for the Money You Want to Spend
Now that you know a little more about kayaks, their uses, their designs, and the typical cost, you might still be wondering which one will be the best for you and why. It’s easy enough to narrow down your search further. Keep the following list of factors in mind when you’re flipping through comparisons:
The Top 5 Kayaks Under 500 Dollars
If you’re ready to get to it, help yourself to our recommendations below!
The 10-foot Sun Dolphin Aruba is a sit-in kayak that is perfect for beginners. Surprisingly durable for its low price, it’s great for leisure rides on calm waters and non-serious use.
As a budget model kayak, this 10-footer does surprisingly well. If you know that you'll be using it for recreational fun and hanging out on the water, it's a great option. It doesn't have a ton of storage space, though there is small dry storage directly behind the seat. It does, however, have superior stability, which is helpful to new paddlers.
At just 40 pounds, a solo user will have no trouble getting this on top of their vehicle. For occasional use in calm waters, the Sun Dolphin Aruba fairs well.
Even for those of you not seriously into fishing, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak has a lot of features that make it worth its surprisingly low price. If you're into fishing or leisure time on the lake or river, you'll want to consider this kayak as a strong contender.
Although this kayak was designed specifically with the fisherman in mind, it makes an excellent choice due to its stability, durability, and extra features. Features such as dual storage spaces and bungee system that's been reviewed to be able to carry a standard-sized milk crate. Its design may not protect you from splashing, so it’s best for warm weather.
This three-person kayak, the Sevylor Big Basin can be used as a comfortable vessel for two or three people to suit your needs. This kayak is an inflatable kayak that's built with a lightweight PVC construction, a watertight tarpaulin bottom that protects it from punctures, and several separated chambers so that a hole won't affect the entire craft.
This kayak is great for couples, families with a small child, or a couple of friends due to its size and accommodations, including a weight capacity of up to 490 pounds. The three seats are adjustable with enough room for an adult at the front and rear, but the middle position may not have suitable legroom for someone with long legs.
You can transport it inflated or deflated, making either option seamless for getting to your destination. Due to being constructed with quality, durable materials, this kayak can be used easily on calm lake waters. It is just as usable in light white rain on the river as well as light break waves in the ocean, giving you multiple options for use.
The durable materials used in the bottom protect against punctures, while keeping the vessel lightweight enough that it still has proper tracking utilizing two-directional strakes and a tracking fin. Due to being a larger vessel, a solo rider may find it a slower ride with fewer hands on deck.
This one-person kayak utilizes Ocean Kayak’s well-known Tri-Form hull combined with both a large center keel and primary and secondary stability to help ensure you stay gliding straight. The Ocean Kayak Frenzy is stable and responsive and is an excellent option for those paddlers with just a little more experience, or who feel serious about taking on kayaking as a regular hobby.
This recreational kayak features a design that allows you to utilize plenty or storage room with many reviewers carrying themselves plus small to midsize dogs. At 43 pounds, it’s not too heavy for a solo paddler to tote around and load on top of a vehicle.
Its design allows for smooth tracking, exceptional stability, and excellent maneuverability. It features a padded back for optimal comfort, even on long rides, and features carrying handles at the stern and bow.
This kayak was made to be user-friendly and offer multiple uses. Its design is such that tandem riders can fit comfortably, and a solo rider of any size can adjust the seating to fit comfortably in the vessel alone. It has superior stability that does come at the cost of less than stellar tracking.
This kayak is capable of some fun paddling in one to three-foot waves in the ocean or for some slower fun on calm waters. Though you may not be able to keep up with friends who are racing down the river, you’ll have a comfortable ride capable of leisurely fun on the water.
The design attempted to keep its weight light at 60 pounds so a smaller solo rider may have a little transport trouble though it’s not impossible. Though it’s at the higher end of the budget, it comes with two paddles, making it a steal by anyone’s standards.
Depending on your various uses and plans for activities, you might find any of these kayaks to be just the right one for you. While we enjoyed paddling on all of these vessels, we had two favorites.
At the lower price point, our recommendation is the Lifetime Tamarack Fishing Kayak which had plenty of space, optimal stability, and excellent accessibility even for beginners.
At the higher price point, the Ocean Kayak Frenzy is 100% worth the investment, sitting right at the top of the $500 budget, this kayak hit all the marks. This kayak features a design stable enough store items like your lunch, water, and best (dog) friend. But it also makes an excellent choice for a solo rider who wants the option of lazy paddling on calm waters or some stronger paddling on less calm waters.
Whichever option you choose, remember to stay safe and enjoy being on the water, what kayaking is all about!