The 7 Best Inexpensive Kayaks of 2018 | Cheap Kayaks Reviewed

Whether purchasing your very first kayak or adding “just one more” to your collection, many paddlers find themselves on a limited budget.

Many kayaks, whether a fishing kayak or a sit-on-top, can cost upwards of $2000 for a quality boat. However, several inexpensive kayaks have surfaced in recent years, ones that don't necessarily compromise on solid build, quality, and usability.

For that reason, the following list is comprised of some of the best kayaks for the least amount of money. While these kayaks may be cheap, they are really the best bang for the buck.

7 Top Inexpensive Kayaks on the Market


Product Name




Sun Dolphin Aruba SS

8, 10, 12 feet

28 inches

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron 9XT

9 ½ feet

28 ½ inches

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

10 feet, 3 inches

36 inches

Sun Dolphin Journey 

10 feet

30 inches

Dagger Kayaks Zydeco 9.0

9 feet, 1 inch

28 ½ inches

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10

10 feet

28 ½ inches

Dagger Torrent 10.0 Kayak

10 feet, 1 inch

30 ½ inches

Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

10 feet

30 inches

While there are many considerations when purchasing a kayak, one of the largest is often price point. For many who are purchasing these kayaks with saving money in mind, it is important to purchase the very best and cheap kayak possible.

However, you must also consider the tracking ability of the kayak, the stability, durability, and which activities the kayak is designed for. 

We don't doubt that the more expensive kayaks will be of much higher quality, but you don't need to spend as much to get a great paddling experience. 

7 Best Inexpensive Kayaks in 2018

1. Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Sit-in Kayak

The Sun Dolphin Aruba SS is a sit-in kayak which comes in lengths of 8, 10 and 12 feet. The SS model of this kayak is simply the most popular, low price point kayak on the market today.

To begin with, the Aruba SS had a beam of 28 inches. This is decently wide for a kayak.

This wide beam, combined with a maximum 12 foot length, means that the kayak is extremely stable in the water. It would be difficult to tip this kayak.

Many kayakers grow concerned with such a wide beam, because it often means the kayak looses tracking ability. However, for the Aruba, the lightness of the kayak--only 27 pounds--preserves the ability to track.

The major perk of the Aruba is its durability. The hull is UV protected and it is made from very durable polyethylene. It is hard to damage this yak.

Some added bonuses are: an adjustable seat, adjustable foot braces, thigh padding, and a small storage compartment. The key feature here is the storage compartment. This storage compartment is a small, 6 inch compartment, but it is waterproof.


  • Lightweight
  • Multiple length options
  • ​Durable
  • ​UV protected hull
  • ​Adjustable seat
  • ​Adjustable foot braces
  • ​Thigh padding
  • ​Wide beam


  • Minimal extra features
  • Very small storage compartment

2. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron 9XT Recreational Kayak

Old Town is another phenomenal kayak builder. Their Heron 9XT is a recreational kayak, which means it is not specifically designed for one activity, such as angling.

The beam on this yak is 28 ½ inches, which is a bit wider than the Aruba SS. Again, this provides excellent stability in the water for kayakers.

The length of this kayak is a little different than the Aruba SS. Instead of options, the Heron 9XT comes in at a solid 9 ½ feet. This is just between two of the Aruba sizes, and leaves the kayaker with less speed and more stability.

Tracking is a little trickier with this kayak than with the Aruba, as the kayak weighs in at 39 pounds. This, combined with the shorter length and the wide beam can cause a little more resistance when paddling.

Other features on this kayak are: an adjustable seat, adjustable foot braces, and thigh pads. As you can tell, there are not many bells and whistles on this boat. But Old Town Canoes and Kayaks is not a company especially known for lots of extra features. Their goal as a company is to provide quality yaks at reasonable prices.


  • Adjustable Seat
  • Wide Beam
  • ​Stable
  • ​9 ½ feet
  • ​Recreational Kayak
  • ​Adjustable foot braces
  • ​Thigh Pads


  • Heavier (39 pounds)
  • May struggle tracking

3. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2, Person Inflatable Kayak

This kayak is easily the best inexpensive inflatable kayak. Intex has designed the K2, which is a tandem kayak, or allows two people.

An additional feature for this inflatable kayak’s stability is not only the unshakable 36 inch beam, but the removable skeg. A skeg is a piece which attaches to the bottom of a kayak and helps counteract the currents.​

Tracking is about as excellent as can be on an inflatable kayak. The material tends to drag a little more, and with such a wide beam it definitely struggles more than other kayaks on the list. However, measuring just over 10 feet allows this kayak a little extra freedom when paddling.

Some extra features on this kayak are the adjustable seat, bright colors for safety, and the fact that it stores incredibly easily. Keep this in mind as you are purchasing this boat. The boat comes with paddles and a pump, so all you need to do is carry the boat to the water’s edge, plug the pump into the boat and voila. You have a kayak.


  • 10 feet 3 inches
  • Bright safety colors
  • ​Very stable
  • ​Inflatable
  • ​Easy to travel with
  • ​Comes with paddles
  • ​Two adjustable seats


  • Does not track well
  • Can puncture easily

4. Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak

Sun Dolphin has also managed to create the best inexpensive fishing kayak. This cheap angling kayak is a sit on top kayak, which means the kayaker literally sits on top of a plastic hull.

As far as stability it concerned, a beam width of almost 30 inches provides excellent stability. Even if this kayak did tip, the fact that it is a sit on top allows kayakers to escape easily.​

Tracking is decent in this kayak. It can be a little tricky because of the 30 inch beam and only 10 feet of length, but overall it handles pretty well.

Further Review of the Sun Dolphin Journey

Because this is a kayak designed for angling, it has a lot of great perks. First, there are three rod holders on this kayak. Two are mounted directly to the kayak, called flush mounts. The third is a swivel rod holder near the cockpit.

There is also a waterproof storage compartment and extra storage with shock cord rigging. A final storage option is the PAC, or Portable Accessory Carrier. These can be popped out of the kayak and used as a backpack or pulled behind the kayak.

The PAC is a key feature of many Sun Dolphin kayaks--the extra storage afforded by them is priceless, especially if towed behind the kayak. If the storage is towed, it does not add to the weight capacity of the yak.


  • Portable Accessory Carrier
  • Waterproof storage
  • ​Adjustable foot braces
  • ​Three rod holders
  • ​Sit on Top
  • ​30 inch beam
  • ​10 feet of length


  • Difficult tracking

5. Dagger Kayaks Zydeco 9.0 Kayak

Another of the best kayak makers is Dagger. Their Zydeco kayak is another phenomenal, but small kayak which has some great recreational features.

The Zydeco is very similar to the Heron 9XT. With a length of just over 9 feet and a width of 28 ½ inches, this boat is going to be very stable in the water. However, it will not as stable as the kayaks with a beam of 30 inches or more.

That being said, the length and width of this kayak allow it to track a little better in the water. When you add in the fact that the Zydeco weighs approximately 48 pounds, it ranks pretty high as far as stability and tracking are concerned.

Dagger’s Zydeco only has rigging storage, but it does have adjustable foot braces and an adjustable seat. There are not quite as many bells and whistles on this little yak, but it does show up as one of the best cheap kayaks on the market today.

This kayak is ideal for rapids kayaking, but if you are hoping to take much gear with you, think again. The Zydeco simply does not have enough storage to really keep your gear safe.


  • Decent tracking
  • Decent stability
  • ​Adjustable seat
  • ​Adjustable foot braces
  • ​9 feet long
  • ​28 ½ inches wide
  • ​Rapids friendly


  • Very little storage
  • 48 pounds

6. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak

The Vapor 10 might be Old Town Canoes and Kayaks most popular recreational kayak. This is routinely used as a recreational kayak and as a fishing kayak.

First, the stability on this kayak is comparable to the Aruba. With the kayak itself measuring 10 feet and the beam measuring 28 ½ inches, the kayak is steady in the water.​

More on the Old Town Canoes Vapor 10

The length allows it a little more freedom with tracking. However, the weight of this kayak is higher than most of the others on the list. Weighing in at 55 pounds, it can be difficult to steer precisely where you want it.

Some added features are: an adjustable seat, paddle rest, thigh pads, knee pads, adjustable foot brace, stern day well.

The stern day well may be a drawback for some--like the Zydeco, this means there is no waterproof storage. However, the stern day well also makes it extremely easy to reach your gear. This can be very ideal for those planning on spending a decent amount of time out on the water.


  • 28 ½ inch beam
  • 10 feet length
  • ​Very stable
  • ​Adjustable seat
  • ​Paddle rest
  • ​Thigh pads
  • ​Knee pads
  • ​Adjustable foot brace
  • ​Stern Day Well


  • No waterproof storage
  • 55 pounds
  • Does not track well

7. Dagger Torrent 10.0 Kayak - Lime

Another kayak by Dagger, the Torrent is designed for recreation activities and not rapids.

Like the Journey, this is a sit on top kayak. This means that the kayaker literally sits on top of the kayak itself, allowing for an easy escape should the kayak tip.

With a length of 10 feet and 1 inch and a width of 30 ½ inch, this kayak is rock solid in the water. It provides a very solid boat that is not easily tipped.​

However, it weighs in at 48 pounds. This higher weight combined with the beam of over 30 inches can create some resistance when it comes to tracking.

The Torrent certainly has more bells and whistles than other kayaks on this list. It has a small waterproof compartment in the cockpit area. It also has an adjustable foot lock system, and thigh straps.

Thigh straps are not always an ideal feature. Most kayakers prefer thigh braces, but these thigh straps keep kayakers tied into the boat. This can be helpful in difficult currents, but would hinder one’s ability to easily escape the kayak in case of tipping.


  • 10 feet, 1 inch
  • 30 ½ inch beam
  • ​Stable
  • ​Sit on Top Kayak
  • ​Small waterproof storage compartment
  • ​Adjustable foot lock system
  • ​Thigh straps
  • ​Kayaker can stay safe in difficult currents


  • Difficult tracking
  • Thigh straps, not pads
  • ​Seat is molded, not adjustable
  • Harder to get away from the kayak if it tips.

8. Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

The Aruba 10 by Sun Dolphin is a kayak similar to the SS. However, the standard Aruba 10 is a little more simplified than the SS.

To begin with, the Aruba 10 is 10 feet in length with a 30 inch beam. This beam is 2 inches wider than the SS, which may not seem like a big deal. However, this adds stability to the kayak while removing the kayak’s ability to track well.​

Additionally, this kayak weighs in at 40 pounds, which is quite a bit heavier than the SS. As you can already tell, the SS has a much better tracking ability than the 10. That being said, the 10 is a very popular kayak, as it is very reasonably priced.

Other features on this boat involved a padded seat with a very easy to adjust backrest, shock cord rigging over all storage areas, a day well, adjustable foot braces, and a water bottle holder close to the cockpit.

Further Review of the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

The biggest perk on this boat is the day well. Even though it is not waterproof and does not provide much protection over your gear, the day well is rather large and you should be able to reach it very easily while you are out on the lake or river.

Also take note--the shock cord rigging is everywhere on this kayak, even over the water bottle holder. This allows most water bottles to fit in this storage area and holds your gear tight. The rigging is also very easy to remove.


  • 10 feet
  • 30 inch beam
  • ​40 pounds
  • ​Adjustable back rest
  • ​Shock cord rigging storage
  • ​Day well
  • ​Adjustable foot braces
  • ​Water bottle holder


  • Wider than the SS
  • Heavier than the SS
  • Tracking is worse than on the SS

How to Find & Buy an Inexpensive Kayak

Inexpensive Kayak

When buying a cheap kayak, you must consider what the most important features of your kayak will be. If you know you will be participating in a specific activity, it is important to choose a kayak which can accommodate those activities.

However, if activities are not of especial importance to you, there are several other features you must consider. One such feature is the stability of the kayak. You want to make sure that the kayak will not easily tip in the water.

A possibly more important feature is the tracking of the kayak. Tracking simply means the kayak’s ability to turn in the water and be steered by the kayaker. Finally, a risk with purchasing any inexpensive item is that they will not last a long time.

However, choosing a kayak made of the appropriate materials can provide excellent durability.

Specific Activity

When choosing an inexpensive kayak, you may want to decide on the activity you will be participating in most often. For instance, if you plan on kayaking rapids, you want to consider the Zydeco. If you buy a boat like the Vapor, your kayak simply will not be able to withstand the rapids.

If you will primarily be spending your time fishing, purchase the Journey, as it is outfitted with some extra features for fishermen. Some DIY-ers feel they can modify their kayaks themselves, but this often proves to be challenging. It is worth a little extra money to know your kayak can handle the angling.

Finally, if you hope to do a blend of all kayaking activities, or you hope to mainly just tour with your kayak, purchase a recreational kayak. This are more of the average kayaks--they are decent at most activities and leave you feeling comfortable.


When considering stability of your kayak, you must pay attention to the width, length, and weight of the kayak.

A kayak of a width more than 30 inches will almost always provide excellent stability for the kayaker. If the beam width is under 24 inches, it suddenly becomes much more difficult to keep the kayak balanced.

Additionally, the length plays a large role in this, depending on where you will be kayaking. If you are planning on ocean kayaking, your kayak really must be longer than 12 feet. If it is not, the kayak will not handle the waves well enough. For standard lakes and rivers, a length of 9 or 10 feet should be just fine.

Finally, the weight of the kayak definitely adds extra stability. If a kayak is between 35 and 50 pounds, you can rest assured that the kayak will be fairly stable. However, when kayaks get much heavier or much lighter, they can become unstable in the water.


Tracking is another word used to describe how the kayak steers. For best steering scenarios, kayakers want their boat to have the least possible resistance.

Obviously, a wider beam creates more resistance, so typically boats which are very stable are not going to track as well. For a boat to track very well, the beam must be right at or under 28 inches. Much wider and the boat begins to cause too much friction in the water.

As with most objects, the heavier something is the harder it is to control. This is the same for kayaks. If your shorter kayak, meaning under 12 feet, weighs much more than 50 pounds, it can become difficult to steer in the water. Keep this in mind as you are considering a kayak to purchase.


Many kayak owners worry about their kayaks springing leaks or, in the case of inflatables, deflating. That being said, there are a few key elements to look for when shopping for a kayak.

If you truly want to ensure your kayak will last a long time, you want to purchase a fiberglass hulled yak. However, this are the most expensive boats on the market.

Instead, a good method to follow is the “poly” test. Most hulls are made from a material which begins with “poly”, such as polyethylene. The poly in these words simply means that the ethylene (or other base ingredient) has been paired with many other compounds to create a durable hull.

If you cannot purchase a fiberglass hull, ensuring that your kayak’s hull is fortified with many different compounds promises a long lasting hull.

Additionally, for those of you who are inflatable kayak owners, you must keep in mind--these kayak companies are excellent at designing and preserving their kayaks. If you truly run into an issue with your kayak, you can always purchase a repair kit to keep your boat working perfectly.

Our Final Say on the Best Inexpensive Kayak

Considering which activities you will be involved in, the stability of your kayak, the tracking ability of the kayak and the durability of the kayak are all key features.

If you do not consider these features you run the risk of regretting your purchase, and if you are on limited funds anyway, this is too much of a risk.

Instead, research each of the kayaks on this list very carefully and choose the one best suited to your kayak passions.

KayakBest is among the largest and most dedicated kayak review sites. We aim to help enthusiasts discover the best tips and products for an enjoyable paddling experience.

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