Kayaking is easy to get into with only a few essential pieces of equipment – a life jacket, paddle, and, obviously, a kayak. And yet, it gets a reputation of a relatively expensive water sport, which makes many newcomers wonder:
How much does a kayak cost, exactly?
That’s the question I aim to answer with this guide on kayak prices – so be sure to stick around!
What Influences The Price Of A Kayak?
In the process of choosing a new kayak, if you had a chance to browse the market a little bit, you probably noticed something interesting about kayak prices:
They can vary – and drastically so, might I add.
Why do some models cost next to nothing while others cost a not-so-small fortune, though? And what’s the difference between cheap and expensive kayaks?
Or, to sum it up in a straightforward question:
What exactly influences kayak prices?
It generally comes down to the kayak’s construction and features – but that would be the overly simplified version of the answer.
For a more detailed take on what influences the prices of kayaks, check out the factors listed below:
- Brand – Big-name brands often come with a hefty price tag attached to them; smaller brands tend to keep the pricing in the easy-on-the-budget range.
- Construction & Material – Roto-molded polyethylene kayaks are usually the cheapest available option. On the other end, you have kayaks made of composite materials. And right in the middle, bridging the gap both in pricing and performance, are thermoform kayaks. Oh, and don’t forget inflatables; they’re the definition of portability on a budget.
- Weight – If you want a lightweight hard-shell kayak, you’ll likely have to pay more to get it. Ultra-light ‘yaks made from composite materials, such as Carbon fiber or Kevlar, also happen to be the most expensive ones.
- Load Capacity & Onboard Storage Options – Increased storage space and a higher load capacity will typically cost you more, especially when paired with a lightweight hull design. Even the most basic kayaks will feature onboard storage, such as a tank well or bungee rigging, but water-tight hatches are usually found on mid-range and higher-end models.
- Solo & Tandems – Two-person, or tandem, kayaks will cost more than one-person ‘yaks. They are longer, have a higher capacity, and need at least two of everything – paddles, seats, cup holders; you name it.
- Specialized Gear & Accessories – A stripped-down, bare-necessities ‘yak that includes no additional accessories will, understandably, cost less. A fully-rigged kayak, with seats, paddles, rod holders, gear tracks, and other extras – might cost more upfront, but you’ll save money in the long run.
- Steering System – Included steering systems, such as rudders and skegs, tend to add to the kayak’s cost but can be a worthwhile investment in terms of improving its tracking performance.
- Propulsion Method – Paddle-propelled kayaks are cheaper because they don’t require any additional equipment propulsion-wise. But once you add the pedal drive system into the equation, you can expect the kayak’s price to go up – by a lot. Motor-powered ‘yaks are another giant leap in cost.
Another thing to note here is that different types of kayaks – and all the performance and design characteristics and features they offer – will also have varying price tags attached to them.
Average Cost Of A Kayak: How Much Are Kayaks?
By now, you’re probably aware that, when it comes to kayak prices, it’s hard to speak in definite terms – but how much do kayaks cost on average?
Here’s an overview of the average cost of a kayak by type to give you an idea – albeit a rough one – of what does a kayak cost.
Recreational Kayak Prices
Recreational kayak prices are much more palatable than other specialized kayaks and generally stick to a $300 to $1000 price range.
Beginner recreational kayaks – easy-to-use all-around performers with a generic design – are reasonably priced, starting at around $300. If you want more storage, comfort, and something a bit less generic, expect to pay a bit more than that, though.
Fishing Kayak Prices
If you’re buying a fishing kayak, you should set aside at least $500 to $750 for a decent sit-on-top fishing kayak. Once you start adding kayak fishing-specific features and outfitting, such as extra storage options, fish finder and GPS consoles, and rod holders, the cost goes up, too.
High-end fishing kayak prices can hit the $2000 mark – especially if you opt for a pedal-drive kayak.
Whitewater Kayak Prices
Whitewater kayaks start at around $700 to $850, but that depends on the type of whitewater kayak you’re getting. Some of the best whitewater kayaks tend to run closer to the $1000 mark, with some models going up to $1400.
Touring Kayak Prices
Touring kayaks are generally the most expensive type of kayak you can get your hands on; their prices start at around $1000 to $1200 and go up to $2000 – or more – for high-end models.
You are getting a longer, sleeker, more efficient, and highly durable kayak that’ll handle rougher waters and long, multi-day trips, though. The cost is justified by the performance these types of kayaks bring to the table.
One might think that touring and sea kayaks are the same thing – and people use the terms “touring” or “sea-kayaking” interchangeably in conversation; however, there are significant differences between these two types of boats.
For example: even though both can paddle on open water like large lakes or coastal waters, but only one is meant to explore inland waterways while also being able to carry heavier loads (such as camping gear) – but their pricing is similar.
Inflatable Kayak Prices
Inflatable kayaks are generally affordable – for the most part, anyway. You’ll find inflatables that cost next to nothing – as in, less than $100 – but you’ll also find some that can reach the $1000 mark.
A higher price point brings about more puncture-resistant materials, drop-stitch floors, multiple air chambers, and, in the case of ducky kayaks, whitewater-friendly ratings.
Tandem Kayak Price
The average price range of tandem kayaks can vary because they’re available as hard-shells and inflatables. The more affordable ones can cost between $500 and $800, but they can go well over the $2500 mark, depending on the type.
Tandem touring kayaks, for example, tend to be the most expensive.
Folding Kayak Prices
Folding kayaks are awesome, but they don’t come cheap. They are a great choice for people who like to travel, take long trips into remote places, camp and hike because you can take them with you wherever you go, due to their small size. Simply unfold it when it’s time to use the boat – once finished, fold it up and put away until next time!
But this flexible comes at price, with models staring around $1800, going up to $2500
Kids Kayak Prices
Youth or kid-sized sit-on-top kayaks can cost as little as $100 for the most basic models. The good news for parents of aspiring paddlers is that kids kayaks – even the more “advanced” ones – usually don’t go over the $500 mark.
Used Kayak Prices: How Much Should I Pay For A Used Kayak?
The average cost of a used kayak will depend on several factors – including the current state of the kayak and its original retail price. In that sense, I can’t provide a definite price range for used kayaks.
But here’s a rule of thumb for deciding how much you should pay for a used kayak – roughly 50 to 75 percent of the kayak’s original price.
So, when it comes to used kayak prices, find out what the model in question costs new – and go from there.
Check our handy guide for some tips on buying used kayaks,
Why Are Some Kayaks So Expensive?
Wait, two grand for a tiny plastic boat? These kayak manufacturers must be out of their minds!
But that’s the thing with expensive kayaks:
You’re not paying for a tiny plastic boat – far from it.
So, if you can’t help but wonder why some kayaks are so expensive, here’s a quick overview of what you’re getting when you decide to spend a few extra bucks:
- Higher level of precision construction-wise and performance-oriented design
- Higher-quality materials, including more durable blends of plastic or composite materials, such as fiberglass and Kevlar, that improve the kayak’s UV- and impact-resistance
- Enhanced comfort and convenience, provided by the adjustable cockpit outfitting, a better seating system, and more attention to details
- Better range of accessories – both included and optional – and additional features, such as gear tracks, rod holders, skid plates, cup holders
- Improved weight capacity and more onboard storage options, paired with a lighter hull
- Additional steering systems, like skegs and rudders, and alternative propulsion methods, such as pedal drive systems
“You get what you pay for,” goes the saying – but, with high-end kayaks, you also pay for what you get.
Could you go without some of these features and save a few bucks?
Yes, you could – which brings me to my next point.
Are Cheap Kayaks Worth It?
You get what you pay for – or do you?
I have nothing against affordable kayaks. I’d say that, as long as you know what to look for, you can find some fantastic kayaks on the budget-friendly side of the market. This round-up of best budget kayaks proves my point:
Getting into kayaking doesn’t necessarily have to cost a small fortune.
There’s a subtle – but oh-so-vital – difference between “affordable” and “cheap,” though, and it’s a difference you’re going to notice the second you set foot in the kayak.
When I say “cheap,” I mean cheaply made kayaks you’d often find at local discount department stores for less than $100. You can’t expect much in terms of performance, durability, or comfort from a kayak that costs next to nothing.
And it likely won’t foster your love of kayaking, either – which is a real shame.
But that doesn’t mean that all inexpensive kayaks are a waste of money. Play your cards right – choose wisely and be prepared to give up some bells and whistles – and you’ll be surprised by what the lower price range has to offer.
Do Kayaks Hold Their Value?
The answer depends on several factors.
Yes, generally speaking, most kayaks tend to hold their value pretty well over the years and will avoid rapid depreciation – if they’re well taken care of, that is.
Depreciation is inevitable – but the actual rates might vary. You can generally expect your kayak to depreciate at a rate of about 20 percent during the first year and then drop to a 10 percent depreciation rate with each following year.
That’s merely a rough estimate, though.
Type of kayak, construction, and materials, high demand, current state, maintenance effort; it all plays into how well a particular kayak would hold its value over time.
For example, a high-end kayak made of Kevlar that wasn’t used much and was well taken care of will hold its value and depreciate a lot slower than a polyethylene – or “Tupperware” – kayak.
Certain factors can affect the kayak’s depreciation rate, causing it to lose value much faster than it should – factors such as:
- Inadequate storage and exposure to extreme temperatures and the elements
- Prolonged and direct exposure to UV rays
- Poor or irregular maintenance
- Physical wear and tear
- Dragging and improper handling during transportation
What Is The Best Time To Buy A Kayak?
Timing your purchase right and lining it up with the seasonal sales and discounts ensures that you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
So, what time of year do kayaks go on sale, exactly? And what is the best time to buy a kayak?
It would be best if you generally kept an eye on the latest offers year-round, but here are examples of the best times to find great deals and buy a kayak:
- Off-Season – Prime kayaking season typically ends in late August or early September. Retailers are hoping to get rid of their last season’s stock during the off-season, and many kayaks will be on sale.
- Holiday Deals – Vendors, big-box retailers, and dealers might offer deals on Memorial Day and during the Christmas holidays in December. Also, don’t forget about Black Friday; it can be a fantastic opportunity to get a kayak at a discounted price.
- Buying Last Year’s Models – Whenever new kayak models get released, there’s a pretty good chance that retailers will put the last year’s stock on sale, offering the earlier model at a discounted price.
- “Demo Sales” – Some stores will sell new models used as showroom display kayaks or demo kayaks at a slightly lower price.
How Much Do Kayaks Cost: Quick Summary
For those wondering, “How much should I spend on a kayak,” the answer isn’t as simple as you might’ve hoped. In fact, it depends on a lot of different factors – and it’s a call you should make for yourself.
As for how much do kayaks cost, here are some general price guidelines for each of the different types of kayaks:
- Recreational Kayaks – $300 to $1000
- Fishing Kayaks – $500 to $2000
- Whitewater Kayaks – $700 to $1400
- Touring Kayaks – $1200 to $2000
- Ocean Kayaks (Sea kayak) – $1000 to $1800
- Inflatable Kayaks – $100 to $1000
- Folding Kayaks – $1800 to $2500
- Tandem Kayaks – $500 to $2500
- Kids Kayaks – $100 to $500
- Pedal Kayaks – $1200 to $2000