10 Best Kayaks Under $500: 2021 Guide

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If you’re on a budget and are searching for the best kayak under $500, you’re in the right place. In this article, I review the top 10 best kayaks under $500 so you can find a boat that suits your price range and unique needs.

It should come as no surprise that kayaks are rather pricey, but that being said, you can still find some super solid options for less than half a grand. 

Whether you’re looking for an inflatable or hardshell, sit-in or sit-on-top, fishing or recreational, you’ll be able to find a kayak under $500 for all of your water-filled adventures.  Ready? Keep on reading to see my personal top kayak recommendations.

Quick Answer: Best Kayaks Under $500

Name
Image
Weight
Length
Width
Max Capacity
Price
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Lifetime Hydros Angler41 lbs8' 5"29"225 lbs$$
Pelican Sentinel 100x44 lbs9' 6"30"275 lbs$$$
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak36 lbs10' 5"32"300 lbs$$$
Perception Flash 9.541 lbs9' 6"28.5"325 lbs$$$
Sevylor Coleman Colorado41 lbs10' 9"39"470 lbs$$$
Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top45 lbs8'31.5"240 lbs$$
Pelican Sonic 80X37 lbs8'29"225 lbs$$
Sevylor Big Basin35 lbs12' 3"37"490 lbs$$$
Intex Explorer K230.6 lbs10' 3"36"400 lbs$
Emotion Guster Sit-Inside47 lbs10' 30"275 lbs$$$

10 Best Kayaks Under $500

Looking for a kayak that won’t totally break the bank? Check out our reviews of the top 10 best kayaks on a budget to find a boat that’s perfect for you.

Lifetime Hydros Angler

Weight: 41 lbs | Length: 8′ 5″ | Width: 29″ | Max Capacity: 225 lbs

Features: Combination Tunnel hull design | Multiple footrest positions | Swim up deck w/ bungee lacing | Adjustable quick release seat back

For one of the best beginner kayaks under $500, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than the Lifetime Hydros Angler. This sit-on-top model is ideal for fishing, recreation, and simply getting comfortable out on the water, with plenty of room for storage both in the front and back of the kayak. 

This kayak is known for its stability and tracking with a Combination Tunnel hull design created to keep you from rocking around and paddling in a straight line.

Transporting this baby will be pretty easy as well, seeing as it’s only 38 pounds. Coupled with a convenient T-handle, getting it in and out of the water is a total breeze.

A final bonus of this best kayak under $500 is the comfort factor, which is near 100. This boat comes with an adjustable quick release seat back and multiple footrest positions so all paddlers can have a pleasant day on the water. 

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Pelican Sentinel 100x

Weight: 44 lbs | Length: 9′ 6″ | Width: 30″ | Max Capacity: 275 lbs

Features: EXOPAK removable storage compartment | Fishing accessories | Adjustable footrests | 2 accessory eyelets | 2 paddle holders | Smartphone holder

This timeless boat is certainly one of the best kayaks under $500 and great for paddlers of all levels. It’s a supreme starter boat but will serve more advanced kayakers well if they’re looking for a dependable option. 

Crafted with durability and convenience in mind, you won’t run into any trouble when you bump into rocks with this kayak as the hardshell is designed to take on serious impact. In terms of convenience, the boat is outfitted with details that will delight fishers and recreational kayakers alike, such as the removable storage compartment, additional flotation in the hull and a flat bottom for ultimate stability.

Other features of this boat include adjustable footrests, accessory eyelets, paddle holders, and fishing conveniences like rod tie downs and flush mount holders. But best of all is the smartphone holder which allows you to take selfies as you paddle! 

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Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak

Weight: 36 lbs | Length: 10′ 5″ | Width: 32″ | Max Capacity: 300 lbs

Features: Aluminum rib frame design | Multi-layer construction | Multiple air chambers | High support, adjustable padded seat

If you’re looking for the best inflatable kayak under $500, this boat from Advanced Elements definitely makes the cut.

A sturdy sit-in model, this boat is built to perform. Not only is it incredibly easy to set up and get in the water, but this kayak is perfect for touring thanks to the aluminum frame that doubles as a skeg for better tracking. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a devoted tracking fin!

You’ll be able to use this kayak year round thanks to its sit-in design, which allows you to attach a spray skirt when needed to stay completely dry even in colder water. It’s also crafted from reinforced PVC so you won’t have to worry about punctures in rough swell. 

And since it’s an inflatable kayak, this bad boy folds up and fits into a duffle bag for stress free transport and storage. Definitely worth $500 in our books!

Perception Flash 9.5

Weight: 41 lbs | Length: 9′ 6″ | Width: 28.5″ | Max Capacity: 325 lbs

Features: Adjustable seatback | Molded-in rod holders | Multi-chine hull design | Convenient dashboard | Sealed stern storage

This kayak goes out to all the leisure paddlers out there! If you’re hoping for a chill day out on the water, the Perception Flash 9.5 will definitely do the trick. 

This extremely stable and sturdy kayak is perfect for day voyages and relaxed paddles around lakes, rivers and calm coastal waters. Since it’s a shorter kayak, it gets top marks in maneuverability, even in the tightest spaces, so you won’t have to worry about getting stuck in narrow streams.

You’ll find yourself totally at home as this model goes above and beyond to create conveniences for a long day paddling. There’s an easy access dashboard that allows you to stash items you may need frequently, along with a cup holder and small gear storage. When it comes to bigger items, everything will find a home in the 10 inch rear storage hatch, which will keep all your gear nice and dry.  

On top of this, there are also molded-in rod holders in case you feel like fishing, adjustable foot braces for paddlers of different heights and a high backed seat for ultimate comfort. Plus, sprayskirt compatibility if you hope to take it out for a spin in the colder months. 

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Sevylor Coleman Colorado

Weight: 41 lbs | Length: 10′ 9″ | Width: 39″ | Max Capacity: 470 lbs

Features: 18-gauge PVC construction | 1000D tarpaulin bottom w/ 840D nylon cover | Multiple air chambers | Berkley Quick Set rod holders | Motor fittings | Boston Valve

A dependable tandem inflatable, it’s hard to believe this awesome kayak is under $500! Paddle through rivers with ease or enjoy a relaxed day fishing out on the water with this number.

If you’re apprehensive about an inflatable kayak, you won’t have to worry about puncturing the Sevylor Coleman Colorado as it’s crafted from tough 18-gauge PVC with a tarpaulin bottom and nylon cover. Whether you scrape over a rough river floor or bounce against rugged shores, you can count on this kayak to keep you floating and on board. Plus, the multiple air chambers are always well appreciated.

Designed with fishing in mind, this kayak features Berkley quick set rod holders, allowing you to angle your pole exactly to your liking, along with paddle holders creating a completely hands free experience, to say… crack a cold one. 

Staying organized is a breeze with the mesh pockets lining the spacious interior, and the Boston Valve makes it extremely easy to set up and deflate the boat when the time comes. 

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Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top

Weight: 45 lbs | Length: 8′ | Width: 31.5″ | Max Capacity: 240 lbs

Features: Ultralite seat | Rear tankwell w/ cargo net lacing | Storage hatch beneath deck | Molded in paddle holders & footwells | Self0bailing scupper holes

This no-frills option to a top pick anyone seeking a basic kayak under $500. Though it may seem pretty standard, it boasts enough top-notch features to make the cut as one of the best in its price range.

The high-density polyethylene body makes this puppy pretty much untouchable on the water, making it ideal for learning the basics or casual paddling on rivers, lakes, or close to the shore. The sit-on-top design also makes it a quality choice for fishing, should you want to bring a rod along. 

You’ll have an easy time traveling with the Emotion Spitfire as it’s a mere 45 pounds, but don’t let that fool you… It’s one of the most stable on the water thanks to its hull design, which gives it superb tracking, too. 

When it comes to storing your gear, you’ll find a place for it all with a rear tank well and cargo net lacing in the front and back of the boat, along with a spacious storage hatch. 

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Pelican Sonic 80X

Weight: 37 lbs | Length: 8′ | Width: 29″ | Max Capacity: 225 lbs

Features: Open cockpit | Lightweight | Twin tunnel for easy maneuverability | Self-bailing | Tankwell with bungee cord storage | Molded footwells

Anyone looking for optimal maneuverability would agree that this is among the best kayaks under $500. Thanks to the short 8 foot body, you’ll be able to twist around sharp curves and navigate tight spaces with ease.

This is also a superior boat for smaller paddlers or people who don’t want the hassle of a large kayak.

Best for recreational use, paddlers will feel right at home on this stable boat, which will eliminate much of the stress when it comes to learning how to kayak. However, even more advanced paddlers will appreciate the lightweight design and how easy it is to cover long distances using minimal effort. 

Great for long afternoons out on the water, the Pelican Sonic 80x comes complete with a bottle holder, padded backrest, molded footrests and a generous storage platform secured with bungee cords for all the gear you’ll bring along.

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Sevylor Big Basin

Weight: 35 lbs | Length: 12′ 3″ | Width: 37″ | Max Capacity: 490 lbs

Features: Heavy-duty PVC construction | Tarpaulin bottom | Multiple air chambers | Boston Valve | Adjustable seats | Spray covers

A larger inflatable fit for three, this is one of the best kayaks under $500 due to the incredible value it provides. While three fully grown people may be a bit tight in this boat, it’s roomy for two and can still be paddled comfortably by one if you want to go at it solo with plenty of space.

This kayak is best on calm waters but can generally handle a variety of conditions like slightly choppy waters or small rapids. That being said, the sides of the boat are rather low, meaning you should expect to get splashed if the water isn’t still. 

Obviously one of the biggest perks to this kayak is that it’s inflatable, and though it’s a whopping 12 feet on the water, it can fold up and fit in the trunk of your car no problem. On top of this amazing feat, the kayak has adjustable seats, a durable PVC construction, and multiple air chambers just in case. 

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Intex Explorer K2

Weight: 30.6 lbs | Length: 10′ 3″ | Width: 36″ | Max Capacity: 400 lbs

Features: Adjustable seat w/ backrest | Removable Skeg | Puncture-resistant vinyl | 3 air chambers | 2 paddles | Pump & Carry bag

For a foolproof budget option, we’d be remiss to not mention the Intex Explorer K2. This inflatable tandem kayak is a stellar option for a couple or pair of friends hoping to take to the water together.

Reaching just over ten feet in length, this kayak is a smaller option, but that makes it all the better for maneuvering and stability. And while it’s a shorter kayak, the cockpit is still rather roomy with a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds and adjustable, inflatable seats.

This kayak will do best on smaller bodies of water like lakes and calm rivers, and will withstand whatever’s thrown at it with the puncture resistant vinyl body.

Other aspects that set this apart as one of the best kayak under $500 include a removable skeg for advanced tracking, two paddles, a rigid l-beam floor, three separate air chambers and Boston valves to inflate the boat in the blink of an eye. 

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Emotion Guster Sit-Inside

Weight: 47 lbs | Length: 10′ | Width: 30″ | Max Capacity: 275 lbs

Features: Front & rear shock cord straps | Adjustable padded seat | Oval storage hatch beneath deck | Adjustable footbraces | Ledge lock paddle keeper

This sit-inside kayak is a quality option if you’re looking for a hardshell boat under $500. And though it’s easy on the wallet, it’s anything but cheap, with a high-end design and heavy duty construction to last you for years to come.

A 48 pound vessel, you’ll find this kayak rather lightweight and functional for a range of activities. Take to lakes, rivers and even the ocean in this bright orange number and stay warm and dry while cutting through waves thanks to the closed cockpit.

You’ll even be able to take this kayak on overnighters due to the spacious, sealable storage in the back of the boat and the bungee cords in the front. Plus, you won’t have to worry about comfort on long paddles as both the seat and footrests are fully adjustable to your preference.

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Key Considerations for Buying the Best Kayaks Under $500

When it comes to buying a kayak for under $500, here are some key considerations to keep in mind before purchasing.2 Kayakers

Type of Kayak

When it comes to buying any kind of kayak (regardless of budget) the type of kayak you choose is one of the most important considerations.

First off, you’ll have your choice between a hardshell and an inflatable kayak.

Hardshell kayaks are:

  • Durable thanks to polyethylene construction
  • Highly versatile
  • Heavier

On the other hand, inflatable kayaks are:

  • Comfortable
  • Easy to transport & store
  • Pretty durable if made from PVC

Once you’ve decided whether you want to invest in a hardshell or inflatable kayak, you’ll also have to choose whether you want a sit-on-top model or a sit-in kayak.

In short, sit-on-top kayaks are:

  • Best for fishing
  • Easy to get in and out of
  • Great for warm weather
  • Beginner friendly
  • Less restricted due to open deck
  • Increased storage space

Then you have sit-in kayaks which have a closed cockpit design which is:

  • Best for colder conditions where you may get splashed
  • More stable due to lower center of gravity
  • Compatible with spray skirts

When it comes to choosing the right type of kayak, it all boils down to personal preference and what you’re going to be most comfortable paddling, transporting and storing. 

Primary Use

It also helps to know what the primary use of the kayak will be when buying one for under $500. 

While some kayaks may perform beautifully on rivers and streams, they may capsize quickly in rougher waters. Alternatively, while some kayaks are made to cut through choppy waves, they may be cumbersome on quieter waters.

Furthermore, not all kayaks are made equally in terms of features and functionality. For example, if you’re planning several overnighters in your kayak, you’ll want one with more storage space, while day trippers may opt for lighters, less spacious models. Fishers will relish in a kayak dedicated for angling, while casual paddlers may prefer a recreational kayak. 

Before buying a kayak, determine your primary use for it so you can choose a boat that’s specifically designed for the adventures you intend to take it on. 

Durability

Durability is a key consideration when it comes to buying a kayak under $500 because although you aren’t spending a ton of money on it, you’ll want a boat that’s going to last you for many years to come, rather than splitting apart after a couple of uses.

Overall, durability mainly comes from the material the kayak is made out of.

Hardshell kayaks tend to feature polyethylene, which is ultra durable, especially if you plan on knocking into rocks or scraping over rough ground.

Inflatable kayaks are best when they’re constructed using high quality PVC which should also withstand a fair amount of bumps and jostles without puncturing.

While you may not be spending your life savings, take the time to look into the materials of the kayaks you’re considering and compare this with your primary use. This should enable you to choose a kayak that will be your adventure companion for a long time coming. 

Storage Space

Weekenders rejoice! If you want to take your kayak on plenty of overnight trips, you’ll find that there are lots of options under $500 that make this possible.

When choosing a kayak, consider the amount of storage space there is in any given boat and if this is enough to fit all your gear.

Beyond just the physical space available for stashing your equipment, keep the maximum weight capacity in mind to make sure that you won’t be sinking your fully loaded kayak any time soon.

Features

A final consideration when it comes to buying the best kayak under $500 are any additional features that may come with it.

Whether we’re talking fishing rod holders, lockable storage compartments, or a paddle included with the purchase, it’s worth looking into any “extras” your prospective kayak may have to add more value to your buy. 

Best Kayaks Under $500 FAQs

Still have some queries about finding the best kayak under $500? Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers:2 person kayaking on a beach

What is the best inflatable kayak under $500?

When it comes to the best inflatable kayak under $500, our top pick would have to be the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame, thanks to the quality build and high end design.

However, if you’re looking for a two seater or simply some more space, you can’t go wrong with the Sevylor Big Basin for paddling with pals.

What is the best fishing kayak under $500?

If you’re looking for the best fishing kayak under $500, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado is at the top of our list. It provides incredible value, is super convenient to store and transport, and has accessories that are extra useful when it comes to fishing like rod holders.

What is the best recreational kayak under $500?

The Pelican Sonic 80x is one of the best recreational kayaks on our list under $500 thanks to it’s short body and superior maneuverability.

If you’re looking for a more traditional sit-in recreational kayak, the Emotion Guster is certainly a close runner up. 

What is the best kayak for beginners?

Whether you’re looking for a cheap or expensive kayak, for beginners, the Pelican Sentinel 100x reigns supreme when it comes to a starter boat. 

Not only can it be used for a range of activities, but its stability is unparalleled, making it a great choice for learning the basics and enjoying paddling for years down the road. 

Are kayaks under $500 safe?

While more expensive kayaks may have additional safety features, kayaks under $500 are generally pretty safe as well. It’s worth reading the specific features of your prospective kayak to ensure it ticks all the safety boxes… When it comes to inflatables, make sure to buy something with additional air chambers!

If this is a concern of yours, it may be worth splurging on a more expensive kayak for added peace of mind. 

But so long as you wear a proper PDF and have knowledge of emergency procedures out on the water, you should be just fine in a budget kayak. 

If you’re a beginner or simply looking for a solid kayak to muck around on that’s not going to cost a ton, you should be able to find exactly what you’re looking for in the picks above.

Travel Must: At the risk of sounding like your parents, make sure you get travel insurance before hitting the road. Trust us, it’s one of those things you don’t want to leave home without. We recommend either World Nomads or Safety Wing, depending on the type of traveler you are.

There you have it, our complete list of the best kayaks under $500 for your paddling pleasure. If anything, this list should prove to you that you don’t have to drop a ton of money to get a quality boat. 


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