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.

Comparison Table

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!

Product FAQs

man paddling a kayak

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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?

Are there different types of kayaks?

What should you consider when making your kayak purchase?

How We Reviewed the Top Kayaks Under 500 Dollars

Girl is chilling while in the kayak and enjoying the mountain view

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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

Different colors and style kayaks

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

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:

  • Sit-on-top vs. sit-in – what’s more appealing to you and your situation?
  • Typical use – will you use this kayak once or twice a year, take it out every weekend, haul it on a long drive every weekend, take it out in the ocean often, or spend several lazy days on the lake relaxing, will it be used for severe paddling and exercise or relaxing and fishing?
  • Size – remember that you must fit comfortably in the kayak, a rider with a smaller height and weight may be okay in just a 10-foot vessel while a six-foot-tall rider weighing over 200 pounds may require a 12-foot vessel for a comfortable fit.
  • Accommodations – is the kayak for a single rider, tandem riding, or do you need room for your child or pet?

The Top 5 Kayaks Under 500 Dollars

If you’re ready to get to it, help yourself to our recommendations below!

Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-in Kayak

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.


  • The sleek design is easy to transport
  • Maneuverability for beginner and novice paddlers
  • Best for leisure/not serious use
  • Lower on the price scale
  • Comes in a variety of colors


  • Not a lot of storage room
  • Smaller riders may find discomfort in seating
  • Only good for calm waters

Key Features

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.

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

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.  


  • Two mounted fishing rod holders
  • Two dry storage spaces
  • Cushioned backrest and seat
  • Sit-on-top design easy to get in and out of
  • Excellent stability and decent tracking ability 


  • Not suitable for cooler or frigid temperatures, as you'll get splashed
  • Some reviews state the vessel is not entirely watertight
  • Seat position may not provide lasting comfort on longer trips

Key Features

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.

Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak

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.


  • Features a guaranteed leak-free watertight system
  • Adjustable seats for two or three people
  • Great tracking ability
  • Durable enough for light white water or ocean use
  • Inflatable, lightweight, makes it easy to transport


  • When used with three seats, the middle seat forfeits legroom
  • Must be set out for an extended period to dry thoroughly
  • Not a lot of storage space

Key Features

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.  

Ocean Kayak Frenzy Recreational Kayak

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.  


  • More storage space than several of the other options
  • Handles on bow and stern make transport easy
  • Lightweight design makes it easy for a solo paddler to transport and store
  • Seating features padded, comfortable back
  • Durable enough for the ocean, lake, or river use


  • Better for shorter riders, it’s just over 9 feet
  • Weight capacity is lower than other options at 325 pounds
  • Heavier riders may opt for scupper plugs to remain sitting above the water

Key Features

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.

Lifetime Tandem Sit-on Kayak


  • The design consists of padded backrests for comfort
  • The versatile design can be used for solo and tandem riding
  • Seats sit higher versus other sit-on kayaks to help keep you dry
  • Higher weight capacity than other options at 500 pounds
  • Comes with two paddles


  • The lateral stability comes at the trade-off of less accurate tracking
  • Not very much storage compared to others
  • Some reviewers found transport difficult without a flat area on the side for transportation when necessary

Key Features

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.

Final Verdict

Girl seating at the kayak while watching the sun light

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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!

Featured Image by thatsphotography from Pixabay

Janice Friedman

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