Whether you want to paddle into a lake while enjoying the scenic views or you need one for fishing, having the right kayak is essential. You will find a plethora of affordable kayaks in the market, and that can make it daunting to choose a suitable option.
From multiple shapes to the material and type, you have to make a lot of decisions to reach the kayak you've been looking for. This affordable kayak buyer's guide will help you in choosing the kayak based on your preference.
We have classified this guide so you can quickly go through it to look for the factors you should consider when purchasing a kayak.
The place you want to paddle will help you determine the kayak you should buy. As an example, if you're going to paddle in big seas and open water, then go for touring kayaks. On the other hand, if you need a kayak to paddle in quiet rivers and lakes, then look for shorter kayaks.
Overall, the type of kayak you should buy is the first step towards selecting an affordable kayak. Below we have explained some common types of kayaks you will see in the market.
There are a multitude of kayaks designed, mainly depending on the trip length, water conditions, and activities such as fishing. Furthermore, some types have variations available like tandem and solo kayaks. To know more about the kinds of kayaks, check out these common types.
Fishing kayaks are ideal for durability and stability and not speed. Generally, these kayaks have a lot of storage space available to carry your fishing gear without any hassles. You can easily put your fishing rod and anchor lines on these kayaks, which makes them ideal for fishers.
You will find many solo kayaks as these are highly affordable due to the size. If you want to paddle all alone while enjoying nature, then solo kayaks should be your choice. These kayaks can only carry one paddler at a time, and you cannot take heavy gear on them.
Are you planning to paddle with your partner, or want to take your pet with you? Look for tandem kayaks as these are long and have better weight carrying capacity. Some manufacturers offer affordable tandem kayaks, and you can get a decent one under your budget.
Sit on top kayaks are easy to paddle as you don't have to enter inside the cockpit. Furthermore, these kayaks are stable, and you will enjoy your trip. You will find the particular kayaks available in solo and tandem options so you can buy accordingly.
Sit inside kayaks have a cockpit and are good for exposed coastlines. Moreover, these have more dry storage area as compared to other counterparts. Another reason to go for a sit-inside kayak is lightweight.
There are multiple shapes and sizes available in the cockpit, and you can choose the suitable option based on your preference and budget.
If you are a keen paddler who wants to spend most of his time in the slow-moving lakes or rivers, then go for recreational kayaks. The bigger and flatter hull rewards you with better stability, and you dint have to struggle to maneuver the kayak.
However, the bigger size decreases the chances of taking sharp turns.
Touring kayaks are longer in size i.e., 14 to 18 feet, that make them ideal for tracking. Also, there is more storage available, so these should be your choice for multi-day trips. Speed is not an issue with these kayaks due to the narrow shape that glides through the water.
Whitewater kayaks have excellent maneuverability but not have a lot of space due to the size and width. These are suitable for shorter trips and offer good stability on whitewater.
After selecting the type, you need to choose one from inflatable and hard shell kayaks. Inflatable kayaks are durable and long-lasting as these don’t damage easily when colliding with rocks and other obstacles present in the water.
Furthermore, you can quickly pack an inflatable kayak to fit it inside a portable bag. On the other hand, hardshell kayaks require you to get a kayak trailer. Also, these are heavy and cumbersome. You cannot pack a hardshell kayak.
But when it comes to performance, hardshell kayaks are on the top. You don’t have to waste your time inflating and deflating the kayaks. Moreover, these kayaks have better maneuverability.
You can choose the kayak based on your requirements. Both inflatable and hard shell kayaks are available at affordable prices so that you can select one easily.
All types of kayaks have different performances in different regions. You cannot use a touring kayak to paddle in whitewater, as it has some pros and cons. Below, we have explained how you should get a kayak based on the area you want to paddle in.
If you want to use the kayak in still and flowing water, then consider a short recreational sit-on or sit-in kayak. With shorter kayaks, you can take responsive turns using the skeg, and that's why these are suitable for lakes and rivers.
Paddling on the coast means battling with strong winds, currents, and waves, which is only possible with a sit-in kayak with a fixed skeg. If you want to go for a quick dip, then look for sit-on-top kayaks so that you can easily get up the kayak.
The material of the kayak impacts its lifespan and your experience with it. Some materials are heavy, while others are lightweight and durable. There are a variety of materials used to manufacture kayaks, and the materials differ a lot in inflatable and hard shell kayaks.
ABS plastic kayaks are lightweight and offer decent durability. Moreover, the material has excellent UV resistance, and the kayaks have good floatation.
The material comes with the most affordable kayaks. It's heavy and abrasion-resistant. Also, UV rays can damage the material if exposed to direct sun for a long time.
You will see some wooden kayaks under your budget. Wood is hard and heavy, so you have to bear with the material if you need an affordable kayak.
The bottom part of the kayak is termed the hull, which has a significant impact on performance. There are a variety of hull shapes available with respective pros and cons. Furthermore, the kayak's hull will decide the performance and the maneuverability.
The kayak's performance depends on the hull, so it becomes essential to choose the right type:
If you are a beginner, then the flat hull should be your choice. The kayaks with flat hulls are easy to maneuver and manage. You will experience ultimate stability with the kayak so that paddling will be easy and fun.
In a nutshell, flat hull kayaks are best for new kayakers and fishers who have just shifted from a boat to a kayak.
V-shaped kayaks are a bit hard to maneuver, so these are not fit for beginners. If you are an expert kayaker who knows how to handle a kayak, then you can choose a v-shaped hull. The maneuverability of these kayaks is similar to the rounded hull, but the speed differs a lot.
Kayaks with rounded hull tilt in both directions, so it’s suitable for whitewater. The hull seems less stable on quiet water, so if you want a kayak for a smooth experience, this hull should not be your choice.
Pontoon is another hull type that's suitable for beginners. The hull stays upright, so the novice kayakers don't have to struggle a lot to maneuver the kayak. In short, if leisure kayaking is your preference, look for affordable kayaks with a pontoon hull.
The length of the kayak will influence the maneuverability, speed, and some other factors, including the weight. So you should choose the kayak's length smartly to have a fun experience paddling on the water.
Short kayaks offer excellent maneuverability, and these are good for sharp turns. If you are a novice kayaker, then shorter kayaks shouldn't be your choice. Due to the short size, these kayaks are lightweight, and you will find short kayaks in both inflatable and hard shell options.
Longer kayaks are better for tracking, and you will enjoy the paddling experience in a quiet lake. You can go fast and in a straight direction without many efforts. However, maneuvering the kayak can be hard, and you cannot take sharp turns.
The width of the kayaks is equally essential as the length. You will see some wide and narrow kayaks when looking for affordable options. Both types have different performance and floatation.
Wider kayaks have excellent floatation and are good for novice kayakers. On the other hand, narrow kayaks are good for speed, but maneuvering them can be challenging. If you want to enjoy the views without focusing too much on controls, go for wider kayaks.
Narrow kayaks should be your choice if you love speed and are looking for a kayak to paddle it in whitewater.
Checking the weight capacity of the kayak is important to determine the total weight it can carry. Tandem kayaks have more weight capacity than solo kayaks due to the size so two people can easily paddle on it.
Moreover, touring and other long kayaks also have better weight capacity due to the size. If you need one for fishing, you need a kayak with a better weight capacity to carry the fishing gear.
Shorter kayaks like sit-in kayaks have less weight capacity, and these are suitable for solo paddlers.
Heavy and cumbersome kayaks are hard portage, and taking them from one place to another requires a lot of effort. If you are looking for a solo kayak, go for lightweight options to portage a kayak without any help.
Tandem kayaks and touring kayaks can be heavy due to the size, and you need someone to help you in transporting the kayak.
Storage is an essential part of the kayak, as you will need it to carry your gear and some other stuff you need while paddling. Longer and wider kayaks offer more storage and legroom so you can accommodate more items because these kayaks have a better weight capacity.
To know about the storage space available in a kayak, you should check its volume. Here is how the manufacturers describe kayak's volume.
High volume kayaks are best for heavy kayakers that need more space and weight capacity. Also, these are suitable for multi-day trips as you can carry more items.
Kayaks with medium volume have less space than high volume, but you can still carry a lot of stuff. These are ideal for overnight trips, and you should get one if you weigh around 140-180 pounds.
Low volume kayaks are not built for carrying gear. These are suitable for short trips, and kayakers weighing less than 140 lbs should invest in the kayaks.
Most manufacturers are using a volume label on the kayak to help you know about the space it offers. The volume includes everything, such as the cockpit, and other components of the kayak.
The reason why the deck's height matters are the stability you get with the kayak. Tall paddlers have a higher center of gravity, which means lesser stability. If you are tall, then look for kayaks with deeper seat area or lower deck height to neutralize the effect of your height/
This way, you will feel more stable on the kayak, and it'll be more fun paddling with it. Short paddlers can look for a high seating area due to less center of gravity.
If you don't want the hull shape to pinch your feet, then don't forget to check the legroom. Generally, most kayaks are ideal for tall paddlers with feet size US 11 or 12. But if you have a bigger size, then consider the legroom so that you get enough space for your long legs and feet.
Kayaks with more legroom will allow you to keep your feet off the skegs, and you can enjoy paddling with your legs straight, which can be comfortable after keeping the legs folded for a long time.
If you don’t mind investing in a kayak trailer, then a big and heavy kayak can be your choice. On the other hand, if you don't want to use a trailer, then consider inflatable kayaks so that you can pack it after deflating it.
The choice is up to you as hardshell and inflatable kayaks both are available in affordable ranges.
A: No, buying an affordable kayak doesn't mean that you are compromising with the quality. There are a plethora of excellent kayaks available under $500, so you can rest assured about the quality and longevity.
Always make sure to buy branded kayaks that belong to trusted manufacturers. In a nutshell, affordable kayaks are also made using good quality material, and you can rest assured that these will be good for paddling even for expert kayakers.
A: To inflate a kayak, you need an inflation pump. Some manufacturers offer an inflation pump with the kayaks, so you don't have to purchase it separately. But as you are buying affordable kayaks, there may be a chance that the pump is missing.
You will find two types of kayak inflation pumps i.e., manual or electric. The electric pump will draw power from your vehicle's battery, but you can use the manual pump by pressing it with your legs. Electric pumps are expensive, and you cannot use them without a power source.
On the other hand, manual pumps require more time and effort, but you can use them anytime and anywhere.
A: Investing in a few kayak accessories will make the trip comfortable and safe. Here are the accessories you should consider getting.
A: If you want your kayak to last longer then follow these maintenance tips religiously:
A: Just like any other sport, kayaking also has some dangers. It doesn’t matter whether you have a cheap or a super-expensive kayak, these dangers are still there. The best way to avoid any dangers is by choosing the best affordable kayak that remains stable so you can paddle without any hassles.
Check this affordable kayak buyer’s guide to buy the best kayak under your budget.
A: The reason why long kayaks are hard to turn is the size. Bigger size means more force from the water, and that's why turning these kayaks take time. Another factor is the weight. For quick turns, shorter kayaks are better.
A: Yes, you can take your dog on a kayak, provided that you have a kayak with more weight capacity. Always use proper gear when your beloved pet is on board with you, such as a life jacket, and a harness to keep him secure.
A: For fishing, you need a bigger kayak with better floatability and storage. You need more space to keep the fishing gear, which is not possible with shorter kayaks, and that’s why most fishing kayaks are longer and wider.
This affordable kayak buyer's guide is the only way that can assist you in choosing the best out of the rest! We have covered every aspect that impacts the performance of the kayak and your experience with it.
Make a list of kayaks you have considered under your budget and then compare them using the points listed in this buying guide. Affordable kayaks can also be a good choice if you know how to pick an excellent boat. Lastly, go for prominent brands only if you want to buy a durable kayak.
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