Best Budget Kayaks 2020 : Buying Guide & Reviews

Expert Contributor

Jeff Day

There’s nothing like a day trip on the water, and kayaking can be the perfect outlet to let you enjoy the tranquility of calm lakes or the adrenaline rush of whitewater. In our list, we are going to show you some of the best cheap kayaks that are available on the market for people of all abilities old and young, we have got you covered.

Best Budget Kayaks on the Market in 2020

1. Aquaglide Noyo 90 Inflatable Kayak

AQUAGLIDE Noyo 90 Inflatable Kayak

Best Features: Excellent value for a lightweight boat. Inflatable design is great for portability. High-pressure drop-stitch material.

Not all of the same features and specifications are included in inflatable kayaks, and if you are looking for an amazing boat great for touring, but also perfect for inexperienced sailors to feel safe then the AquaGlide Noyo Inflatable kayak is the boat for you.

It features lines you would find in a traditional form but doesn’t restrict you when it comes to portability and price. Made from 1000 denier high-pressure drop stitch material for extra strength, and has a hard bottom floor design that is nearly as tough as standard touring boats available. This boat is an expedition grade boat, that will let you handle meandering rivers, lakes, and pretty much any other body of water with loads of confidence.

This best budget kayak has been designed with recreational paddling in mind, with a quick-release fin, Boston valve, drain plug, zip-open dry compartment great for storage, an accessory strap, molded handles, and a D ring. PAddling fun doesn’t;t normally come at such a low price, so the Aqueglide Noyo is the perfect bargain package.


Capacity: 250 pounds 

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2. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Fishing Kayak - Beige

Best Features: Paddles included. Very stable. Well padded seat and backrest for extra comfort. Lots of storage space. Very portable. Material is UV stable. 5-year warranty.

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 kayak is the best inexpensive kayak for both sailing and fishing, with a padded seat for extra comfort due to this kayak being designed for uses of long periods of time on the water. When it comes to storage there is lots of space, enough for a cooler and any other additional gear when the two extra hatches are in use on the front and the rear of the kayak.

The hull is flat bottomed which makes it stable on the water, and the paddle that comes with the kayak fits perfectly onto the side of the boat attached by the bungees in place. There is also a paddle cradler for extra security that conveniently keeps them at arms reach.

A lightweight boat only weighing 56 lbs, you can carry it around comfortably using the T-handles it contains. There are 5 grooves on each foot brace that helps keep your keet comfortable no matter how tall you are.

The exterior of these inflatable kayaks is made from high-density polyethylene that has been UV stabilized. This best low-cost kayak isn’t the fastest, but what it lacks in speed it makes up for in stability with smaller people being able to stand up with no problems due to the stability chine rails that have been fitted.

An extra perk that comes with this kayak that isn’t usually found in the 5-year warranty, a great addition giving you full security in your purchase.



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3. Intex Explorer K2 2 Person Inflatable Kayak

With Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump

Best Features: Easy to pack and take anywhere. A very popular inflatable kayak. Remarkably affordable.

For a sporty and fun kayak with a streamlined design that makes paddling easy, the Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak is a great choice. The bright yellow design and hip graphics make this inflatable kayak highly visible in the water and are great for experiencing lakes and mild rivers with a friend as this sports kayak fits 2 adults perfectly.

Compact and lightweight, the Intex Explorer is also easy to assemble allowing you to take the fun of kayaking wherever you go. Made from a rugged vinyl construction that gives lots of sturdiness to these inflatable kayaks, especially with the addition of the I-beam floor providing rigidity and comfort. Directional stability is given to this puncture-resistant kayak from the removable skeg, while the inflating adjustable padded seat comes as a pair and with backrests that provide the best comfort.

There is a Boston valve on each side of these cheap kayaks making inflating and deflating quick and easy, a grab handle and line has been placed on each side for the utmost convenience as well as a repair patch kit if you find yourself needing to complete any maintenance, and a U.S. Coast Guard I.D.

Along with all these features, the Explorer K2 Kayak comes with lots of added accessories such as two 86 inch aluminum oars, and an Intex high-output pump that makes inflation and deflation easy.


Capacity:400 LB 

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4. Old Town Vapor 12XT Recreational Kayak

12XT Recreational Kayak

Best Features: Great for rocky shorelines. Generous sized rear storage cargo net. Comfortable paddling due to extra padded seat. Can handle large weight loads.

For a recreational kayak, Old Town has created the Vapor 12XT, affordable kayaks that make boaters feel comfortable and confident in the water. The boat has enough storage on the stern for a complete afternoon on the water with an adjustable seat that accommodates a range of people at different heights, and a hull that feels solid, able to handle any kind of weather conditions.

There are a few extras that come with the Vapor 12 XT one being assured that this boat will be reliable and durable for years to come, bring a lot of fun to the entire family. The shell has been made from polyethylene giving strength to the build, making rocky shores and beaches an easy task to handle. This fishing kayak is easy to transport weighing only 43 pounds, which is light enough to easily hoist onto your car’s roof rack with no strain at all.

You get a few extra bells and whistles and a simple, reliable boat that will bring you and your family years of fun for seasons to come. The polyethylene shell means this baby is pretty much bomb-proof on rocky beaches and shorelines, and at just 43 pounds it’s light enough to easily hoist this kayak onto your roof-top racks.



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5. Pelican Tandem Recreational Kayak

River Gorge 130X Tandem, 13 Feet

Best Features: Great for rocky shores and coastlines. Ideal for couples. Comfy seats and solid footpegs. Great sized middle storage hatch.

If you are looking to get out on the water with your partner and feeling a little hesitant to paddle a boat on your own, the Pelican 13 foot Tandem Kayak could be a great consideration, with a 500-pound weight capacity it will easily carry you and your partner, as well as all of your gear.

This heavy-duty top kayak includes bottle holders, paddle tie-downs to safely store your paddles when they are not needed, molded footrests that provide loads of comfort for people of any size, and secure foot bracing. As well as all of these features there are four accessory eyelets that hold any optional gear onto your kayak that you may have.

The hull design is a twin-arched multi-chine hull that provides extra stability and great tracking that helps propel you forward through the water at great speeds. The seat cushions are padded and the backrest can be completely adjusted to provide lots of comforts and support making your kayak experience that much better out on the water for the day.

All of this comes in at a great price making it an extremely good value for money giving even more attraction to this best inexpensive kayak. A kayak cart is recommended as this boat is a little on the heavy side weighing around 50 pounds, and due to it being a top sit kayak, dry bags will ensure that none of your gear gets wet along with towels and your lunch.


Material:RAM-X Premium Polyethylene

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6. Dagger Zydeco 11.0 Kayak

11.0, Molten

Best Features: Solid and comfortable. Compact for easy transportation. Strong polyethylene structure. Can multiply as a larger playboat.

Take full control and put yourself in command in all kinds of different water environments, from flat-water cruising to moving rivers and inlets the Dagger Zydeco kayak has everything you need. It has been designed for fast acceleration and even more maneuverability than ever before being much more responsive than other recreational kayaks.

The cockpit is comfortable and room providing loads of relaxation while still not sacrificing on performance. CFS-R outfitting rounds out the entire kayak experience with multi-adjust options that provide an overall better fit and functionality. This boat is a hybrid between a play-boat and a creek boat but is extremely lightweight making it easy for transporting.

The foot brace system is a slide lock that is easy to adjust and fits a big range of users and for stowing gear, this kayak features bungee deck rigging. Make sure to get a helmet, spray skirt, and a proper paddle if you are thinking of tackling any whitewater in this best inexpensive kayak, and if the wild coloring isn’t your thing there is also a lime green version.


Capacity:325 pounds 

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7. Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak

10-Foot Sit-in Kayak

Best Features: Reasonably priced. Spacious cockpit. Lightweight and easy to lift. Large load size.

The Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 10-foot sit-in kayak is a versatile model great for water enthusiasts and beginner kayakers alike. The hull is strong and tough crafted from polyethylene that features a deluxe seat that is completely adjustable, with high back support and foot braces that can be modified for different sized users.

Carrying handles are positioned all around this best inexpensive kayak making portage easy, and a convenient storage hatch, and water bottle holders that are only at arm’s length away. Weighing just 40 pounds this little boat is easy to hoist onto your car rack and another great thing about the storage hatch is that it can easily fit a small-sized cooler and dry bag so carrying your lunch and a towel is simple and easy.

Remember to purchase paddles as they are not included in the price of the cheap kayak sales.


Capacity:250 lbs 

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8. Perception Kayak Conduit

Touring Kayak

Best Features: Great price for a quality kayak. Front and rear deck bungees. Excellent beginner kayak for smaller adults and kids. Small and easy to transport.

The Perception Kayak Tribe Heyday is the perfect kayak for entry-level users, providing easy manageability and worry-free handling that makes it a better choice for smaller adults and children who are looking to paddle in calmer waters. The seat is padded with an adjustable backrest that offers loads when it comes to comfort and support, while the foot brace system allows quick and easy adjustment for people with a variety of leg lengths.

Small dry bags can be held with no problems at all with the kayak’s bungee deck rigging, and the one at the front of this fishing kayak has fishing rod holders keeping your fishing setup quick at hand. There are thigh and knee padding that makes sure you are comfortable no matter how long you are out on the water. There is also storage behind the seat that makes a convenient place to keep your lunch safe, secure, and dry along with any other necessary items such as your phone, keys, or wallet.


Capacity:250 pounds 

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9. Sevylor Big Basin Three Person Kayak

3-Person Kayak

Best Features: Space for three people. Multiple air chambers keep the boat afloat even when punctured. Stable in the water. Tracking fin makes navigating easier.

The Sevylor Big Basin Three Person Kayak from Coleman is great to take the entire family on a water adventure, it is a heavy-duty PVC constructed, with a sturdy tarpaulin bottom that is ready for anything from calm lakes to easy whitewater.

There are multiple air chambers all around these best cheap kayaks that will help you get back to shore with having to completely deflate your boat if you do hit a snag out on the water. The seat is completely adjustable making the ride completely comfortable no matter how far you decide to travel. The spray covers included help keep you dry during your trip too.

This three-person inflatable kayak is one of the few that allows for more people making more fun! Don’t forget to order three kayak paddles, and an easy to use and powerful pump as these items don’t come included.


Size:12′3” x 3‘1″ 

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10. Lifetime Youth Six Foot Wave Kayak

6 Feet, Green

Best Features: Highly rated by purchasers. Stable and simple for first-time paddlers. Light enough for your child to pull onshore. Comes with a kid-sized paddle.

If you want to get your children into the world of kayaking then the Lifetime Youth 6-foot Wave Kayak is a great choice. The best cheap kayaks like the Wave have been specifically designed for kids aged 5 and above, or up to 130 pounds in weight. The wide stance offers lots of stability which is great for beginner level users, stopping the child platform from capsizing keeping your kids safe.

The back end is sloped and the sim-up steps allow your little kayaker to re-enter the kayak in the water with ease. Scupper holes drain the cockpit and there are multiple footrest positions for different size riders and the reverse chine enhances the stability making it the perfect choice for kids just getting into the world of recreational kayaking.

This for sale kayak is reasonably priced and even includes a doubled sided paddle in black which is a great addition.


Capacity:130 lb 

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11. Coleman Quikpak K1 Inflatable Sit on Top Kayak

K1 1-Person Kayak

Best Features: Straightforward to pack anywhere. Cheap price. Inflates quickly. Handy front mesh storage for gear.

For the best fishing kayak look no further than the Coleman Quickpak K1 Inflatable Sit-On-Top kayak. This inflatable kayak gives you everything you need from a traditional style kayak but when it comes to the end of the day it folds up into an integrated backpack with padded shoulder straps. The compact size makes it easy to store in the car, and sets up just as fast with a 5 minute setup time.

While you are out on the water expect comfortability from the design that allows you to stretch your legs, back and arms easily. There is also a convenient cup holder for your drinks.

Lift handles are equipped for easy transportation, and the rigid floor is solid with a flat bottom and a three-chamber design that keeps the boats solid shape. Thick PVC and reinforced bottom are part of the airtight system that guarantees no leaks.

This kayak is built for strength being able to hold up to 400 pounds and even includes a paddle that breaks down into a compact size great for storage.


Capacity:399 pounds 

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12. Sun Dolphin Journey 10 Foot Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak

10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak

Best Features: Three fishing pole holders. Huge hatch for stowing gear. Adjustable seat and footpegs for a more comfortable fit. Stable on the water and easy to maneuver.

The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 foot Sit-on-top fishing kayak has everything you need to make your fishing experience more efficient. This 10-foot boat tracks well in the water, and makes paddling easy, with 3 pole holders this is the ideal inexpensive kayak for fishing.

Due to all of this, the sit on top kayak doesn’t snag or cause any problems as the fishing rod holders make sure your equipment is safe. There is also a huge storage compartment on the rear that can stow all of the things in your tackle box.

A lightweight boat only weighing around 44 pounds so transportation and lifting are really easy. There is also a shock cord deck rigging so you can slip your paddle underneath for easy storage. There is everything you would expect and more in this cheap kayak making it the perfect choice for any fisher who wants to get into the water. If you’re a keen angler, why not check out our complete list of the best cheap fishing kayaks?


Capacity:250 pounds 

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13. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak

Inflatable Kayak

Best Features: Many features of hard side kayaks with the portability of an inflatable. Super durable three-layer material resists puncture. Adjustable padded seat for comfort. Built-in ribs in the bow and stern make this kayak track well on the water.

The Advanced Elements Inflatable one-person kayak includes many of the advantages that come with a hard side boat, but the portability of an inflatable. The kayak tracks really easily, even when in fast waters due to the built-in ribs that define the bow and the stern.

Three layers of puncture-resistant material make up the body of this kayak which can be set up in 10 minutes. Even suitable for whitewater with an inflatable coaming around the cockpit that you can attach a sprayskirt too.

The back support system is completely adjustable giving you more comfort for longer, and the bungee deck rigging gives you options to slide dry bags under for easy carrying. There are multiple air chambers all over the kayak in case you get a puncture, but that is not likely with the multi-layer ripstop shell.


Capacity:300 pounds

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Buyers Guide

Seat options

When it comes to seating options you have 2 options it’s choice between sitting in or sitting on top. Sit-in kayaks are designed to have the prow covering your legs, and a cockpit with a seat, while the models that ave the sit on top seating have an adjustable seat that sits on the shell of the kayak.

For colder climates, it is better to use a sit-in kayak due to their closed shells offering more protection from the elements, and they are also preferred due to them having more speed. Sit on top kayaks are the perfect choice for warmer settings, the shell is wider so you have more stability, and even when they capsize they don’t take in any water. For recreational kayaking then these are the best choice.

UV stabilized material

UV stabilized material is a must-have in your kayaks, even if they are inexpensive kayaks, due to it being used outdoor more of the time under direct sunlight, the UV protection helps the cheap kayak to keep its durability not being compromised from any water or sun. All of the top kayaks on sale include this feature showing a mark of quality in the product.


Tracking is another way to describe how a kayak steers, this means kayaks want to have the least possible resistance to create the best possible steering scenarios. Typically a boat that is more stable won’t track, as well as the thinner boats as the wider beams, create more resistance, but for a boat to track very well, it wants to be 28 inches or under. Anything wider will cause the boat to have too much friction in the water.

As with pretty much any kind of object, the heavier it is, the harder it is going to be to control, and this is definitely the case with kayaks. If you have a shorter kayak under 12 feet, but weighs more than 50 pounds then it is going to be difficult to steer in the water, it is wise to keep these things in mind when you are considering what kayaking experience you are looking for,


For the stability of your kayak, it is a good idea to pay attention to the length, width, and weight of your sea kayak. Budget kayaks with a width of more than 30 inches will almost always guarantee great stability for kayakers, but if the beam is smaller than 24 inches then it is going to become much more difficult to keep the kayak balanced on the water.

The length also plays a big place in this as well depending on what kind of kayak style you are going to be doing. If you are going to be on a sea kayak you typically want a length longer than 12 feet, as anything smaller will not be able to handle the waves well enough. For standard lakes and rivers then a length of 9 or 10 feet will be a perfect size.

The last thing to think about is the weight, more weight will definitely add more stability. A kayak between 35 and 50 pounds will keep your mind at bay knowing it is going to be stable on the water, however if you have a kayak that is any heavier or much lighter than they can become unstable.


The durability is a worry of many top kayak owners with the possibility of leaks occurring, or in the case of an inflatable kayak, deflating. All of this being said, there are a few elements you want to look at when shopping for a kayak.

They are the most expensive kayaks on the market but if you want to ensure your kayak is going to last a long time then a fiberglass hulled yak model should be a great choice. If this isn’t an option then there is a good method of following the ‘poly’ test. Most hulls are made from different materials that begin with the word ‘poly’ such as polyethylene. The word poly simply means that the base ingredient such as the ethylene has been paired with another compound to make it a more durable material.

Also, if you have an inflatable kayak then you may already know those kayak companies are great in designing and preserving their kayaks. If you come to an issue with your kayak then there are repair kits available that will help you get back not the water as fast as possible.


Is the quality good enough with Kayaks under $500?

With modern technologies, there are lots of great kayak options for low prices that can give you the strength and durability some of the more top-end brands are offering.

What is the best kayak for a beginner?

The best kayak for beginners on our list is the Perception Kayak Tribe Heyday that offers loads of adjustments for lots of different sized people and stability that will help give confidence on the water and in tracking the kayak itself.

About This Expert

Jeff Day