The 5 Best Kayaks Under $500 [Reviewed] – 2018 Buyer’s Guide

Kayaking is an amazing water hobby. If you own kayaks, you are free to explore rivers, lakes, and oceans. Kayaks are incredibly transportable, allowing for them to go with you to all of these bodies of waters.

However, kayaks also have a varying cost to them. They can be purchased at a mere $100, all the way up to several thousand dollars. For many paddlers, it is important to buy a kayak on a budget, but also something reliable and durable. 

To purchase the best kayak, you must also decide on its intended use, whether for recreational purposes, for fishing, or other activities. 

The 5 Best Kayaks Under $500 in 2018


Product Name

Kayak Weight

Weight Capacity


Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 10-Foot Sit-in Kayak

40 pounds

220 pounds

Dagger Kayaks Zydeco 9.0 Kayak

49 pounds

220 pounds

PERCEPTION Sound 10.5 Kayak

49 pounds

335 pounds

Perception Pescador 10.0 Kayak, Sea Spray

52 pounds

325 pounds

Sevylor Colorado 2-Person Kayak Combo

40 pounds

470 pounds

Kayaks are some of the most versatile boats in existence. To purchase the best kayak and still remain on budget, there are several features you want to look for. First and foremost, you want to ensure your kayak is stable in multiple bodies of water.

Most paddlers enjoy kayaking in rivers and lakes. Ensuring your kayak is buoyant in two or more of these bodies of water is important. Rivers make a challenging environment because a river can quickly change from flat water to rapids and back again. 

Third, most kayakers want to ensure they will be comfortable in their kayak and that guests who use it will be comfortable as well. This means choosing a kayak which is suited for tall and short kayakers.

Finally, it is important to ensure that your kayak tracks well on the water. Without that, you'll not likely to enjoy your kayaking adventure.

5 Best Kayaks for Under $500

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

The Sun Dolphin Aruba does not have a great record on its ease of paddling.

This is because the width of the kayak is great it has more resistance in the water, which can make it harder to move.However, it is reported as a very stable kayak.

This may be due to the short length and weight of 40 pounds. This weight and length combination, in addition to being made from a durable (and UV Fortified Polyethylene) makes this kayak sturdy in calm lake and river locations.

The Aruba does not come with paddles or other accessories. This can be a negative for kayakers, as you have to spend additional money on kayak paddles.

The Aruba has thigh padding, but it does not have knee padding. Thigh padding can be great for learning into sharp turns.

Kayak Seat
The seat of this kayak is adjustable, as is the seat base. These features make this kayak incredibly comfortable for a variety of kayakers.

One comfort feature that may not be as great, however, is the cockpit size. Though the cockpit is long enough for kayakers of varying heights, the entrance to the cockpit is rather small.

For taller kayaks, or those with long legs, a word of caution. It may be rather difficult to get in and out of this kayak. This also means that for paddlers who like to kayak with their legs bent at an angle above the cockpit, this may not be the best kayak for you.

Reviewing the Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 10 Further

Another feature with the Aruba which adds comfort is the electronics console. This is a great place to store devices! The Aruba does have some harsh plastic edges, and the electronic console is one of those places. Be careful when you utilize this area of the kayak.

Additionally, this kayak features a PAC or Portable Accessory Carrier. This mean there is a piece of the kayak which can pop out and be towed behind the kayak, leaving a well storage area in the kayak.

This is reportedly waterproof, which is a major perk for many kayakers. It is still often recommended that you use a dry bag for any storage on a kayak. The Aruba SS sometimes struggles in terms of steering. Due to the wide beam and the short length of the kayak, it meets a decent amount of resistance in the water.

This kayak is not recommended on even a class 2 river, which means it is only recommended for lake kayaking or very gentle river kayaking. Be extremely cautious taking this kayak on rivers which may have a higher class of rapid or can quickly change in current.


  • Good padding
  • Electronic console
  • ​Very Stable in the water
  • ​Not too heavy to travel with
  • ​Lake friendly


  • Does not come with paddles
  • Small entrance cockpit
  • ​Difficult to steer
  • ​Not ocean friendly
  • ​Not river friendly
  • ​Difficult to paddle

2. Dagger Kayaks Zydeco 9.0 Kayak

Much like the Aruba 10 SS, the Dagger Zydeco 9.0 comes in at 40 pounds of boat and 9 feet of length. This kayak is incredible stable in the water.

That being said, it has a rather short deck height of only 14 inches. It is recommended that this kayak not be taken on anything higher than a class 2 rapid, which is one level higher than the Aruba.

This affords some variety of terrain, meaning if your kayaking situation suddenly changes, your kayak should handle the difference. However, it still should not intentionally be taken on very difficult river or ocean scenarios.

Like the Aruba, the Zydeco does not come with its own paddles. This means an added expense. The Zydeco is very lightweight, at only 40 pounds. This is a major perk, because a solo kayaker can carry this kayak quite a ways to reach the best possible body of water.

It is also incredibly comfortable for tall kayakers. The cockpit has a large opening and is large itself--it also has a slide lock brace system. This system is adjustable while using the kayak.

Further Reviewing the Zydeco 9.0

Adjustable features on this kayak are the seat, the seat base, and the foot pedals. Again, all of these are adjustable while inside of the kayak, making it comfortable for a variety of kayakers.

Aside from just thigh pads like the Aruba has, this kayak has knee pads as well. If you do face a tricky water scenario, these will keep you comfortable as you take sharp turns.

Though this kayak still does not have the best record for tracking, or turning, well, it does do better than the Aruba. If you are looking for a boat strictly for speed and sharp turns, this may not be the best boat for you.


  • Lightweight
  • Very stable
  • ​Lake friendly
  • ​River friendly
  • ​Adjustable foot pedals
  • ​Adjustable Seat
  • ​Knee pads
  • ​Thigh Pads
  • ​Better Tracking Boat


  • Does not come with paddles
  • Not ocean friendly
  • ​Not great for speed
  • ​Short deck

3. PERCEPTION Sound 10.5 Kayak

The Perception Sound 10.5 is designed for fishermen. However, anyone looking to go out on the water can really enjoy this kayak.

First and foremost, this kayak has a stabilizer hull. This means the hull is made from polythylene and is molded. No pieces are put together to create this kayak.

It is one solid piece. As it is molded, it means this kayak has less resistance in the water, ultimately creating a smoother, more stable ride. Additionally, this kayak weighs 49 pounds and is 10.5 feet long. While this is comparable to the Aruba, it ensures that it will stay steady in the water.

Like the Aruba and Zydeco, this kayak does not come with paddles. Nothing says comfort quite like the Perception. This kayak, like the Zydeco, has a foot brace system, which means kayakers of varied heights can enjoy this kayak.

It also has an adjustable seating system, this system is very usable while riding in the kayak. Also, this kayak has thigh pads and knee pads in it, which allow for comfort when taking sharp turns. These pads also provide comfort when riding rough water.

Reviewing the Perception Sound 10.5 Kayak Further

This kayak has phenomenal tracking, mostly due to the stabilizer hull. It prevents any sort of resistance due to the kayak being pieced together.

Some additional features on this kayak are meant specifically for fishermen, but are helpful to all kayakers. First, this kayak has molded in rod holders. If you are not a fisherman, this does not mean much to you, but it does not detract from the kayaking experience in any way.

This kayak also has a storage compartment behind the seat designed just for tackle boxes--this storage compartment is very easy to reach.

If you do not plan on bringing a tackle box or are not a fisherman, this is still an excellent storage compartment for you. However, this is an open well, not a waterproof compartment, so be aware of what you are putting inside the storage unit.


  • Lightweight
  • Fisherman oriented
  • ​Molded fishing pole holders
  • ​Adjustable foot brace
  • ​Adjustable seats
  • ​Thigh pads
  • ​Knee pads
  • ​Lake friendly
  • ​River friendly
  • ​High weight capacity
  • ​Stabilizer hull
  • Excellent tracking
  • Great storage


  • Not ocean friendly
  • No waterproof storage
  • Does not come with paddles

4. Perception Pescador 10.0 Kayak

The Perception Pescador 10.0 is a unique kayak on this list, as it is a sit on top kayak.

Sit on top kayaks have a molded top where the kayaker sits.

This allows the kayakers to be more comfortable in the kayak, as they are free. This also means that if the kayak would tip, the kayaker would not need to perform an eskimo roll to get out of the kayak.

As far as stability goes, it can be difficult to keep the kayak steady as it requires a little more balance from the kayaker. The Pescador, though, has a 29 inch beam, which makes it a fairly balanced boat. This kayak does not come with paddles.

As far as comfort goes, this kayak has amazing features. Knee pads and thigh pads line the inside of the kayak, meaning if the water gets rough or the kayaker takes tough turns, the kayaker can lean against the pads. This provides excellent comfort.

More on the Pescador 10.0

Additionally, the seat and the seat brace is adjustable. These are easy to adjust while kayaking. This makes it easier for taller kayakers and kayakers of all heights.

The Pescador is heavier than the other kayaks on this list, at 52 pounds for 10 feet of kayak. While this means that it is easy to drag this kayak across sand to get to the water--if you are hoping to carry this kayak, it may not be the right choice for you.

Tracking is great on this kayak. The weight, combined with the beam and the length of the kayak, allow it to turn smoothly in the water.

It is also excellent for getting up to a high speed in this kayak. If you hope to use your kayak to go quickly or to race, this may be a good option for you.


  • Very comfortable
  • Adjustable seat
  • ​Thigh Pads
  • ​Knee Pads
  • ​Easy to pull across sand
  • ​River & lake friendly
  • Easy to kayak quickly
  • ​Good tracking
  • Good handles


  • Not ocean friendly
  • Heavier than other kayaks
  • Does not come with paddles

5. Sevylor Colorado 2-Person Kayak Combo

Surprisingly, this kayak can handle up to class 3 rapids. It seems odd that the plastic kayaks we have seen so far are only made for class 2 rapids, but due to the tarpaulin bottom on this kayak, it can withstand those rapids.

This kayak is also recommended for lake use. It is not recommended for ocean use as it cannot handle above a class 3 rapids and the ocean’s rapidly changing currents can cause issues.​

Additionally, if this kayak does spring a leak, it has multiple inflated chambers. This means that only one chamber will deflate if a leak is sprung.

The Sevylor Colorado 2-Person Kayak comes with two paddles. The paddles have to be put together and can be difficult to put together.

Other features with this kayak are a pump for inflating it and a pressure gauge. The pressure gauge is viewable while you are in the kayak. The pump is extremely lightweight and easy to use. The kayak also comes with a storage bag. The storage bag can fit the pump and the deflated kayak inside of it.

Also, this kayak has a 1 year warranty. Many kayakers are nervous when purchasing an inflatable kayak, as they are worried that the kayak will spring leaks. This warranty does provide some comfort to those concerned about the integrity of the boat.

More on the Sevylor Colorado Kayak

As far as comfort goes in this kayak, riders of all sizes will enjoy. The weight capacity is 470 pounds, which means it is very difficult to weigh it down so much that it tips over.

Because this kayak deflates and comes with a storage bag, it is easy to keep this kayak in your car at all times. This makes it great for solo riders.

In addition to being able to store in it your car easily this also makes it easy to carry to your body of water of choice.

Most inflatable kayaks are not known for tracking well--this is due to the lack of rigidity in the hull. However, this kayak is among the best tracking kayaks for inflatable kayaks. This is partially due to the tough bottom on this kayak.


  • Stores well
  • Can hold two riders
  • ​Solo kayakers can use
  • ​Lake friendly
  • ​River friendly (up to class 3 rapids)
  • ​1 year warranty
  • ​Pressure Gauge
  • ​Paddles
  • ​Storage Bag
  • High Weight Capacity


  • Not ocean friendly
  • Does not track well

How to Buy a Kayak Under $500

Kayak under $500

When choosing a kayak for under $500, it is important to ensure you are also choosing the best option for your situation. You want to make sure the kayak can be used in your favorite body of water.

This means ensuring your kayak is river friendly, lake friendly, and ocean friendly. You also want to make sure the tracking is excellent on your kayak.

Additionally, if you want to watch your finances, make sure your kayak comes with the adequate additional items. Finally, make sure your kayak is idea for the various people who may be using it.


It is rare to find paddles included with a kayak, but some kayaks like the Sevylor have this feature. If your kayak does not come with paddles, remember that paddles will be an additional cost. This can vary from $25 to $125 or more.


To buy a kayak successfully, you must know what body of water you're looking to go on. If you are hoping to kayak on a river, pay attention to the rapids and what class your kayak can handle.

Most kayaks are lake friendly, if this is where you're looking to go. If you are hoping to use your kayak on the ocean, it is recommended you purchase a kayak meant for ocean kayaking.

Often ocean kayaks are more expensive, so keep this in mind before buying. For river kayaks, you want a beam which is a little more narrow and you want to purchase a kayak which has an excellent reputation for tracking and speed.

This is similar to ocean kayaks. You often want an ocean kayak to have a high deck or to have a kayak skirt which can be purchased with it. A kayak skirt is a piece which covers the cockpit entrance and adheres to the paddler’s waist. This prevents water in difficult currents from flooding the kayak.


Often, when purchasing more reasonably priced kayaks, multiple people will be using them. Make sure your kayak can fit kayakers of various heights.

Also ensure it has the right padding for how you intend on using it. If you hope to use it for rough water, you probably want to have thigh and knee padding.

If you plan on taking sharper turns, knee padding is a must. However, thigh padding may not be as important for you, as you will not be pushing up against the side of the kayak as much.


Finally, tracking is important for any kayak. Tracking is the way a kayak turns and handles in the water. As stated previously, it is crucial that kayakers who want to kayak in the ocean or on rivers have a boat which has superior tracking. In rough water situations, it can be important to be able to maneuver quickly.

Even if you do not plan on using your kayak for speed or for rough waters, it is important to be able to turn well and guide your kayak where it needs to go.

By having a kayak with good tracking, kayakers can ensure there kayak will not be damaged when in rough waters. If an obstacle suddenly appears in front of you, good tracking means those objects can be quickly avoided.

Our Final Review 

When choosing a kayak, and trying to stay within a budget, it is important to ensure you get the kayak with the best tracking. It is also important to ensure it has good additions for the cost.

Remember to check the different bodies of water the kayak can successfully be used in. You want to ensure the kayak can be used where ever you hope to use it.

To purchase the best kayak under $500, you absolutely must know what you hope to get out of your kayak. Only then can you measure the quality of the kayak you are considering purchasing.

Each of the kayaks on this list have different strengths, but they all are incredibly stable in the water. As always, enjoy out there in the water!

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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