Looking for the best budget kayaks for this year?
Getting your hands on a decent kayak in 2023 is easier than ever before, and we’re here to help you narrow down your choices by showing you some of the best budget kayaks on the market.
On top of just being affordable, our picks can compete with the best of them in terms of build quality and longevity, to the point where they render a lot of the most expensive models completely redundant.
Read on to find the perfect budget kayak for you!
Quick Answer: Best Budget Kayaks
|Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3||32 lbs||12' 6"||650 lbs||Tandem Inflatable||$$||View on Amazon|
|Perception Sound 10.5||46 lbs||10' 6"||335 lbs||Solo Hardshell||$$$||View on Amazon|
|Intex Excursion Pro Kayak||39 lbs||12' 7"||400 lbs||Tandem Inflatable||$$||View on Amazon|
|Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak||52 lbs||10'||275 lbs||Solo Hardshell||$$$||View on Amazon|
|Pelican Basscreek 100X Angler||50 lbs||10'||325 lbs||Solo Hardshell||$$$$||View on Amazon|
|Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Kayak||52 lbs||15'||550 lbs||Tandem / Convertible Inflatable||$$$$||View on Amazon|
|Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak||18 lbs||6'||130 lbs||Youth Hardshell||$||View on Amazon|
|Riot Quest 10 Kayak||41 lbs||10'||325 lbs||Solo Hardshell||$$$||View on Amazon|
|Intex Explorer K2 Kayak||30.6 lbs||10' 3"||400 lbs||Tandem Inflatable||$||View on Amazon|
|Lifetime Cruze 100||46 lbs||10'||275 lbs||Solo Hardshell||$$$||View on Amazon|
10 Best Cheap Kayaks Reviews
We feel confident in saying we’ve picked out the 10 best cheap kayaks available in 2023, so you’d be wise to invest in one of the following boats:
Weight: 32 lbs | Length: 12′ 6″ | Width: 34″ | Max Capacity: 650 lbs
Features: Self-bailing drain valves | Inflatable spray skirts | I-beam construction floor | 2 Skegs | Pressure gauge | Bow & stern grab line
If you’ve been keeping tabs on our other articles, you’ll know we think of the Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 as one of the best budget kayaks available today.
With a weight capacity of 650 pounds, this kayak can comfortably seat 3 people and still carry a decently sized haul if need be. On top of all that, you’re getting a sturdy I-beam floor and a PVC construction out of the deal, offering some top-tier protection from punctures and other forms of damage.
The double-skeg configuration gives this thing some amazing tracking that’s well beyond the kayak’s price range, and back pain is a non-issue thanks to the Deluxe Kayak seats. On top of all that, the 5 deluxe valves make inflating the kayak an absolute cinch, and a carry bag and a great foot pump will be included in your purchase, sparing you the hassle of having to shop for peripherals.
Weight: 46 lbs | Length: 10′ 6″ | Width: 29.5″ | Max Capacity: 335 lbs
Features: Sound dashboard w/ 2 mounting points | Tri-keel hull for stability | Ergonomic Zone seat w/ adjustable backrest | Quick-adjust footrests | Large rear open storage
If you’re on the taller or heavier side, this is by far one of the best budget kayaks you can expect to find in 2023.
Whereas your average kayak’s performance is often affected by substantial amounts of weight, the tri-hull system gives this puppy some of the best steering you can hope for a kayak of this price. The Zone Seat is extremely comfortable too, allowing for hours upon hours of continuous kayaking, and the adjustable footrests allow even the tallest of paddlers to stretch their feet without compromising on the boat’s performance.
The rod holders make this the ideal budget pick for anglers too, while the large storage area can easily fit a cooler to keep your haul fresh on particularly sweltering days. You could argue it’s a bit heavier than your average kayak, but the molded-in handles still make it easy to transport without much of a problem.
Weight: 39 lbs | Length: 12′ 7″ | Width: 37″ | Max Capacity: 400 lbs
Features: High impact & abrasion resistant material | I-beam floor | Integrated drain plug | 3 chamber construction | 2 Skegs | Removable / adjustable seats
Intex are well-known for their spectacular inflatable kayaks, and among their impressive catalog, the Excursion Pro Kayak stands out as one of the best budget options.
Although we have some options on our list that are even cheaper, the quality you get out of this particular model is spectacular for how affordable it is. As far as inflatables go, this is one of the sturdiest picks out there, courtesy of the PVC construction and spring-loaded valves. The boat can carry up to 400 pounds, making it ideal for two paddlers looking to do some amateur fishing, and it’s hard to complain about the adjustable seats, too!
On top of the solid aluminum paddles, a high-quality pump is also included, as is a repair patch and a carry bag. The mounting brackets also lets you get a GPS and a larger amount of cargo on board, allowing you to venture deeper into the water without worrying about getting lost or running out of space for your catches.
Weight: 52 lbs | Length: 10′ | Width: 31″ | Max Capacity: 275 lbs
Features: High-density polyethylene | Multiple footrest positions | Adjustable padded seat back | 3 rod holders | 2 6″ storage compartments
This is certainly among the best budget kayaks you can get your hands on, with a high density polyethylene construction that’s built to last you for years to come.
Designed with fishermen in mind, this cheap kayak can hold up to 275 pounds of weight, which is well appreciated when you factor in your gear, cooler, and any extras you may be bringing out onto the water. It’s also outfitted with two flush mounted and a single top mount rod holder, along with a paddle keeper for when you’re ready to cast off.
Other features that make this kayak an impressive pick for the price point are the front and rear bungee storage, the two 6 inch sealable storage compartments, and the adjustable padded seat to keep you comfortable all day long.
Practical and ready for anything, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler won’t leave a gaping hole in your pocket, but still has everything you need for a successful day out on the water.
Read More: Best Fishing Kayaks for All Budgets
Weight: 50 lbs | Length: 10′ | Width: 30.5″ | Max Capacity: 325 lbs
Features: Carrying handles | Bottle holder | Paddle tie-down | Adjustable footrests | 4″ dry hatch w/ storage bag | Storage platform | Ergofit G2 seating system | 6 accessory eyelets
A lot of the best budget kayaks nowadays are inflatables, but if you prefer something a little more old-school, the Pelican 100X Angler has your back.
The 325-pound weight capacity is well beyond what you need for a one-person kayak, so a more experienced fisherman could really utilize this boat to the fullest. Even if you’re still a novice when it comes to fishing, kayaking, or both, the flat bottom hull feels about as stable as your average surface, and the open cockpit gives you a fair bit of space to work with too.
The bungee cords are here to keep your fishing spoils nice and secure, and minor touches like rod holders and bottle holders will keep the clutter in the storage platform to a minimum. If you want to latch some additional gear to the kayak, you’ll even have six accessory eyelets, and once you’re back on dry land and have taken everything off the boat, the two carry handles make it incredibly easy to load this thing onto your car.
Weight: 52 lbs | Length: 15′ | Width: 32″ | Max Capacity: 550 lbs
Features: Built-in aluminum ribs | 3 layers of material | Adjustable padded seats | 3 seat locations (highly versatile) | Optional deck | Skeg | Deck lacing
The AdvancedFrame line of kayaks is immediately recognizable by its trademark red-and-gray design, but what you may or may not know is that, on top of its great presentation, this is one of the best budget kayaks of the last few years.
Thanks to the sturdy, double-coated fabric construction, you’ll completely forget you’re dealing with an inflatable boat, even in relatively rough waters. This thing is a bit heavy for an inflatable, coming in at about 52 pounds, but it more than makes up for that with its 550-pound carrying capacity and two comfortable seats. If all this wasn’t enough, you can give yourself some more open space by opening up the deck, perfect for stretching out your legs or loading some extra cargo onto the kayak.
It’s worth noting that, unlike a lot of our other picks, this one doesn’t come with a pump and other peripherals, but that’s a relatively small price to pay for a boat of this caliber.
Weight: 18 lbs | Length: 6′ | Width: 24″ | Max Capacity: 130 lbs
Features: Designed for kids ages 5+ | Swim-up step | High density polyethylene | Multiple footrest positions | Ultra stable w/ great tracking
Adults shouldn’t be having all the fun when it comes to kayaking, so if you want to get your little tikes started on the right foot, this is by far one of the best budget kayaks for children you can hope to find.
The boat can support up to 130 pounds of weight, making it the perfect pick for a child in grade school. Adult supervision is generally a must when letting your kids brave the waters, but you can rest assured the polyethylene build will be keeping the kayak intact no matter the water conditions. In addition, there’s a step-up ladder in case your kid decides to go for a dip and get back on board.
The boat weighs all of 18 pounds and has finger handles, allowing a small child to carry it on land without any issue. A decent-quality asymmetrical paddle is also included, allowing your kid to get acquainted with the fundamentals of kayaking in no time at all.
Read More: Best Kayaks For Kids
Weight: 23.9 lbs | Length: 13′ | Width: 30″ | Max Capacity: 220 lbs
Features: Puncture resistant | Boston Valves | 2 air chambers
As far as affordable kayaks go, the Intex Challenger Kayak is a great option for those looking to enjoy recreational kayaking. Made of durable, puncture-resistant vinyl material, it is designed for both calm lakes and mild white water conditions.
The kayak features an inflatable I-beam floor for stability and two inflatable seats with backrests for comfort. It comes with a grab line on both ends and welded oar locks for convenience.
The kayak is lightweight and portable, making it easy to transport to your desired destination. With its affordability and user-friendly features, the Intex Challenger Kayak is a great choice for beginners or anyone on a tight budget.
Weight: 30.6 lbs | Length: 10′ 3″ | Width: 36″ | Max Capacity: 400 lbs
Features: Heavy duty puncture-resistant vinyl | 3 separate air chambers | Inflatable I-beam floor | Boston Valves | Carry bag | 2 paddles | Inflatable seats
If you thought our previous Intex entry was affordable, get a load of the Explorer K2, one of the best budget kayaks to come out in a long time.
Whereas the Excursion Pro kayak is better suited for fishing and more intense paddling, the Explorer K2 should be your go-to if you intend on keeping things casual. The boat can support up to 2 people and 400 pounds of weight, all without affecting your directional stability at all.
The boat’s signature feature would have to be its comfortable seats and cockpit, perfect for getting around the issue of cramping and back pain that plagues other beginner kayaks. The I-beam floor and vinyl build make for a very potent combo as far as rigidity is concerned, and the bright yellow color makes the kayak very easy to spot if you do somehow manage to flip it over.
Weight: 46 lbs | Length: 10′ | Width: 30″ | Max Capacity: 275 lbs
Features: Adjustable quick release seat back | Deep hull channels & Chine rails | Multiple footrest positions | Oval hatch beneath deck | Front & rear toggle handles
How could we not include a third Lifetime kayak on our list, given that this brand makes some of the best budget kayaks you can buy?
As far as we’re concerned, this is one of the most stylish boats on our list, and it tops it off with some impressive specifications. Thanks to the chine rails and deep hull channels, this kayak will always do what you want it to do and move how you’d expect it to move. If you decide to use it for fishing, you’ll have an oval hatch beneath the deck that leaves you with a lot more legroom in the cockpit.
With all that said, the boat doesn’t come with a paddle, and we’d advise against using it in unstable waters and on windy days. Either way, it’s a spectacular specimen that exceeds expectations under normal conditions, and it makes for an amazing first kayak if you’re only getting started.
Read More: Best Kayak Paddles
How to Pick the Best Budget Kayak
The great thing about buying cheap kayaks in 2023 is that they come with most of the features you’d come to expect from swankier alternatives. These are some of the things to keep in mind when making your pick:
Regardless of whether you’re looking for an affordable or high-end kayak, size is always something to keep in mind. The short of it is, the length of your kayak should depend on where you intend to use it.
Longer kayaks are more suited for open-water cruising since they’re more stable and move a lot faster, and they’re generally a good pick if you plan on fishing or spending a lot of time out on the water.
If you’re dealing with a river, on the other hand, try to aim below 10 feet, as shorter kayaks turn more quickly and leave you with more room for error in narrow bodies of water.
Just to be clear, it’s worth remembering that longer doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive, although this should be fairly obvious if you took a look at all of our listings.
Nowadays, the best budget kayaks are made of relatively sturdy materials, although there’s a bit of variability between boats you may want to look out for.
While puncture protection is an obvious no-brainer when making your pick, you should take UV and chemical resistance into consideration too. HDPE boats are almost always a safe pick, as they’re quite resistant to the elements and are extremely unlikely to be negatively affected by intense sunlight.
If you know for a fact the weather conditions in a given time window won’t be a concern, you can definitely opt for an inflatable boat instead. PVC boats are a lot more durable than a lot of people give them credit for, and most of them will bounce off of hard surfaces and remain undamaged in case of a low-to-mid speed collision.
Sit-on-Top vs Sit-Inside Kayaks
Your level of experience is a huge factor in whether you should get a sit-on-top or a sit-inside kayak for your upcoming trip.
Sit-on-top kayaks give you a lot more wiggle room, owing to the larger cockpits. These are a safe pick if you want a kayak for casual use close to shore, but you should be ready to get a little wet if you get one of these.
Sit-on-top kayaks, on the other hand, feature more enclosed cockpits, which shifts the center of gravity downward and makes you go faster. The downside here is that it’s harder to get back in the action if the boat flips over, as you’d have to worry about getting back into position and removing excess water once it’s right-side up again.
It should be noted that, despite what your intuition may lead you to believe, there aren’t any significant stability differences between these two types of kayaks. When it comes to keeping a boat upright, the main thing to keep in mind is the hull shape – flat-bottom boats offer better stability in still waters, whereas V-hulls are better when things get bumpy.
While there’s a fair bit of leniency in how you can use most kayaks, there are some that are designed with a particular use in mind.
If a kayak is explicitly intended for fishing, it usually doubles down on that with features like an adjustable seat and rod holders. If your boat of choice doesn’t have these (or just flat-out can’t support a lot of weight), you may want to reconsider.
On the other hand, if you’re just looking to paddle casually, a lot of the peripheral features of angling and sports kayaks do little but add to the pricing. Since you’re reading an article on the best budget kayaks, chances are you’re looking to avoid needless expenses!
Affordable Kayak FAQs
If you still have some questions about finding the best budget kayak, check out these FAQs for some more information.
Even looking beyond our list, it’s unlikely you’ll find a cheaper kayak than the Intex Explorer K2, as its price is comparable to that of the average children’s kayak.
While most (if not all) of our picks are extremely beginner-friendly, the specs on the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 might just make it our number one pick.
All it takes is a couple of hundred dollars, a car to tie it to (if it’s not an inflatable), and a dedicated storage nook in your garage (again, if it’s a hardshell).
This varies from product to product, but generally speaking, you can expect paddles, as well as a pump and a carry bag for inflatables. Some kayaks don’t come with all these features, but this is always made clear from the get-go in every online listing.
And that concludes our list of the best budget kayaks and all the things to look out for when choosing one. We hope we’ve sold you on some of our picks, and if so, consider taking a step beyond window shopping and get to paddling!
Looking for more kayak tips? Check out these guides:
- Best Sea Kayak: 10 Picks for Exploring Open Waters 
- Best Cooler for Kayaking: Top 10 Picks for 2023
- Best Beginner Fishing Kayak: Top 10 Picks for 2023