Rather than watching out for the price, I think the features of a kayak matter a lot. A kayak with deeper hulls with some extra storage works better for kayaking. And the size between 9-12 feet long and 3 feet wide is more than enough for any beginner, so why spend more when you can get all these features in a kayak for under $500.
Whether you’re thinking of a sit-in or sit-on kayak, an inflatable or hard-shell kayak my list of the 12 best kayaks under \$500 got you covered here. In this list, I’ve compiled the top kayaks that are not best for beginners but also work best for experts. Moreover, their material, size, and operation are super easy no matter you’re kayaking alone or with a trainer.
Meanwhile, the kayaks will also entertain you with their features explained alongside pros and cons. So, if you’re ready to get the best kayak for less than 500 dollars then just head over to the list and pick anyone, because all the products are tested and explained alongside the advantages and disadvantages.
Before reading the long and detailed article, if you’re short of time, here is a quick recommendation of the top 3 kayaks that came out as the best when tested in a deep lake.
Best Pick: Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak
Budget Pick: Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable Set
Staff Pick: Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
Trusted Brand: Pelican | Weight: 44 Pounds | Material: Plastic | Color: Fade Black Green & Light Khaki | Max Sitting Capacity: 275 Pounds | Dimensions: 114″ X 30″ X 13.25″ | Length: 114 Inches
The Pelican Sentinel 100x kayak is a perfect choice for both experts and beginners looking for a durable and convenient kayak than can bump into the rocks. The kayak’s hardshell plastic material is solid enough to take on serious impacts. So, no worries about small rocks on the shore.
To make your kayaking adventure to the next level, the kayak is designed to keep your comfort in mind. The ExoPak removable storage compartment makes it easy to whether you want to carry some items with you or you can remove it to keep your kayak lightweight.
The multi-chin hull ensures that you ride safe and fast and catch a fish earlier than ever. The solid and flat bottom hull passes the ABYC Standards to ensure that each move is smooth and buoyant.
The Pelican sit-on-top kayak has excellent weight carrying stability, to carry up to 275 pounds weight. Where you can ride with your water cooler, bottles, fishing accessories, and safety gear. So, you don’t leave anything behind that needs while kayaking.
Trusted Brand: EMotion| Weight: 45 Pounds | Material: Hard Shell | Color: Orange | Max Sitting Capacity: 1 person | Dimensions: 108 x 31 x 14 inches
You’ll be stoked about the Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top Kayak because it’s a great option if you’re looking for an affordable kayak that is still high quality. This kayak is perfect for beginner paddlers, with a weight of only 45 pounds, so it’s easy to transport and maneuver.
The hard shell makes it durable and stable in any conditions, while the bright orange color ensures you’ll be visible on the water. With a max sitting capacity of 1 person, this kayak is great for anyone looking to get out on the water and have some fun.
Whether you’re looking to learn the basics or have some fun on your next fishing trip, this no-frills option has everything needed. The kayak is made out of high-density polyethylene which means that it’ll be tough enough for any situation underwater.
The sit-on-top design makes sure you won’t be anything holding to take off into river mode with rod and line in hands. So, fishing is easier with this versatile kayak for under $500.
Trusted Brand: Intex | Weight: 43.64 Pounds | Material: Plastic | Color: Red | Max Sitting Capacity: 2 person | Dimensions: 12’7″ X 3’1″ X 1’6″ | Max weight capacity: 400 lThe Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is perfect for spending a lazy day out on the water with a friend. This kayak is made from durable plastic and has the ability to carry weight up to 400 pounds, making it perfect for larger individuals or groups.
The red color is eye-catching and vibrant, perfect for drawing attention to your boat as you paddle by. With a weight of only 43 pounds, this kayak is easy to transport and quick to set up, so you can spend more time enjoying yourself and less time preparing.
With its comfortable seats and easy-to-use design, the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is a great choice for anyone new to kayaking or looking for a great, affordable kayaking experience.
The Intex Excursion Pro kayak is tough and lightweight made with a laminate PVC construction to avoid any damage from abrasion. Plus, the high-pressure inflation provides extra rigidity and stability, which means that kayak is excellent for both beginners and experienced kayakers.
The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak is designed with ample storage space in the bow and stern, you can bring along all the supplies you need for a day on the water. Moreover, the removable and adjustable mounting bracket means you can add on accessories like GPS systems and fish finders.
At last, when your adventure is over, simply pack up the kayak into the included carry bag and be on your way. So, overall a perfect kayak for a person who loves going with the full package
Trusted Brand: Lifetime | Weight: 18 Pounds | Material: High-Density Polyethylene | Color: Green | Dimensions: 72 x 24 x 9 inches | Max weight capacity: 130 lb
Looking for a kayak perfect for kids aged 5 and up? Look no further than the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak which is made of high-density polyethylene to ensure the durability and safety of your kid.
The Kayak comes in an attractive green color with 72 x 24 x 9 inches dimensions and has a weight capacity of 130 pounds. So whether your little one wants to paddle around solo or join you on a family adventure, the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is ready for anything.
Weighing only 18 pounds this lightweight kayak is easy to transport, with molded finger handles on each side. Plus, the sloped end with a swim-up step makes it easy to re-enter the kayak from the water. So, a perfect kayak where your kids can enjoy kayaking and swimming at once.
Finally, This Wave kayak is perfect for young paddlers. It’s easy to transport and even a 13-year-old kid can still use it with ease. The toggle on the front makes it perfect for easy to go. If you’re looking for a great youth kayak, this is your right choice.
Trusted Brand: Intex | Weight: 25 Pounds | Material: Plastic | Color: Green & Blue mix | Dimensions: 9′ X 2’6″ X 1’1″ | Max weight capacity: 220 lb | Style: K1 Kayak
The Intex Challenger Kayak is perfect for budget-minded kayakers looking for a quality product. The kayak is made from durable plastic and has the power to carry up to 220 pounds. The green and blue mix color is eye-catching and can be identified in the sea easily. The Challenger Kayak is perfect for solo kayakers or those new to the sport.
With its lightweight design and easy inflation, the Challenger Kayak is a great choice for anyone looking to get out on the water without breaking the bank. The Intex Challenger is the perfect kayak for anyone looking for a durable and stable inflatable kayak. The kayak is made of welded material that is both durable and eye-catching
To give your more control over the kayak, it comes with a removable skeg that provides exceptional directional movement. The large space in the cockpit provides you with more comfort, so you don’t feel stuck in the cockpit. Overall, The kayak is perfect for anyone looking to enjoy a day on the lake or slow-moving river.
Constructed from rugged vinyl, this kayak is built to last, so you can use this kayak for the next 2-to-3 years. Plus, the kayak comes with an inflatable seat, so you can paddle in comfort.
Further, the Intex Challenger kayak offers you a cargo net to store extra gear and grab lines on both ends of the kayak, so you’ll be prepared for anything. So whether you’re exploring a remote stretch of river or paddling around your favorite lake, the Intex Challenger Kayak is ready for action.
Trusted Brand: Pelican | Weight: 36 Pounds | Material: Plastic | Color: Yellow | Dimensions: 120″ x 28″ x 14″ | Max weight capacity: 275 lb | Style: Sit-in | Length: 120 inches
If you are searching for a lightweight kayak that you can take on solo adventures than the Pelican Maxim 100X Recreational Kayak is a perfect choice. Weighing in at just 36 pounds, this sit-in kayak is perfect for anyone looking for an easy-to-transport and store kayak.
With its spacious 10-foot design, the Maxim 100X is great for lakes and calm rivers, making it the perfect choice for intermediate and recreational kayakers. So get ready to explore your favorite waterways with ease with this yellow-colored kayak.
The Pelican Maxim 100X kayak is made from durable plastic and can accommodate riders up to 275 pounds. At 120 inches long, it’s spacious enough for comfortable paddling, yet easy to maneuver on the water.
Moreover, the Maxim 100X comes with a handy storage compartment so you can stow away your gear while you’re out exploring. So whether you’re an experienced kayaker looking for a new ride or a beginner just getting started, the Pelican Maxim 100X is a great option.
This kayak has everything in the package to save you time on adjusting your belongings and paying attention to the ride. The Maxim 100X comes equipped with a spacious storage hatch, bungee cord for keeping your gear securely in place, and a mesh deck cover to keep out unwanted debris.
But that’s not all. The Maxim 100X also features molded footrests for ultimate comfort, and a drain plug to prevent water infiltration. Plus, there’s even a built-in cockpit table and bottle holder that is perfect for enjoying a picnic lunch during your paddle.
Trusted Brand: Sevylor| Weight: 18 Pounds | Material: Polyester | Color: Blue | Dimensions: 103 x 36 x 30 inches | Max sitting capacity: 1 person
The Sevylor Quikpak K1 is the perfect kayak for anyone looking for a fast, easy setup. This kayak can be ready to hit the water in just five minutes, so you can spend more time enjoying your day on the river or lake. Made with durable PVC construction, this kayak can handle whatever you throw at it.
The 1-person kayak has all the necessary gears that are required for the perfect kayaking experience including a carrying bag and an air pump for quick inflation.
If you do happen to get a hole in your kayak, no problem, multiple air chambers are enough to keep your kayak safe from puncturing. Plus, this kayak is comfortable and easy to maneuver, so you’ll be able to enjoy a great kayaking experience every time. Moreover, the tarpaulin hull (bottom) provides safety from getting punctured.
Finally, the inflatable kayak is designed for easy inflation and deflation and features double lock valves for a fast and smooth experience. While the backrest lets you lean back and enjoy the ride no matter how many hours you spend sitting on the kayak. Overall perfect for 1 person who’s just starting kayaking or has sufficient experience.
Trusted Brand: Solstice | Weight: 23 Pounds | Material: Nylon | Color: Blue | Dimensions: 22.5 x 7 x 15 inches | Max weight capacity: 360 Pounds| Style: Rogue 1-2p Intro.
Paddle the waves in style with the Solstice Inflatable Kayak which is designed for all skill levels and can be easily inflated and deflated for transport. The reliable kayak is made of tough nylon material that ensures a stable, comfortable ride while the blue color is sure to turn heads on the river.
The Solstice Inflatable Kayak is an excellent choice for a durable, versatile kayak that can be used in a variety of settings. This kayak is built with K-80 PVC material, making it strong and able to perform well season after season.
The kayak also easily converts from 1 or 2 person configurations, making it perfect for all paddlers. With its tri-chamber construction, the Solstice Inflatable Kayak is incredibly stable and balanced, perfect for a kayaking adventure on the open water. The I-beam floor helps in getting additional control and stability, while the eye-catching colors ensure you’re always visible.
The Solstice Inflatable kayak’s versatile design and included accessories make it ideal for kayaking, fishing, or simply exploring the great outdoors. The Rogue comes equipped with a drain valve, spray skirts, and 2 D-ring tie-down locations, making it perfect for any activity.
Additionally, the included inflatable kayak seats provide comfort and support during your journey. And with a max capacity of 360 pounds, this kayak can accommodate even the largest adventurer. So get ready to experience some unforgettable kayaking fun with the Solstice Inflatable Kayak.
Trusted Brand: Emotion Kayaks | Weight: 48 Pounds | Material: Polyethylene | Color: Orange | Dimensions: 120 x 30 x 14 inches | Max weight capacity: 275 Pounds| Style: Guster 10
Looking for a great sit-inside kayak that’s comfortable, stable, and easy to maneuver? Then the Emotion Guster kayak got you covered here. The excellent kayak is made of durable polyethylene and weighs just 48 pounds, making it easy to transport.
The adjustable seat back and seat pad are padded for comfort, and the orange color is sure to stand out on the water. The Guster is also incredibly stable, thanks to its wide hull design, making it a great choice for beginners or anyone looking for a relaxed kayaking experience.
With its ST Performance Hull, the kayak’s performance increases, and the direction are smooth, which gives you complete control over the kayak maneuvering. Plus, the front and rear shock cord straps keep your belongings locked with the kayak, no matter how fast you’re going. So whether you’re out exploring your favorite river or just enjoying a day on the lake, the Emotion Guster is the perfect kayak for you.
This sit-inside kayak’s oval hatch gives you added storage beneath the deck, and the shock cord straps keep loose items secure. The kayak also comes equipped with two handles on each side for easy carrying in water. So, overall a perfect kayak that can accommodate you with your extra gears so you can enjoy kayaking without worrying about anything else.
Trusted Brand: Intex | Weight: 35 Pounds | Material: Polyethylene | Color: Yellow | Dimensions: 10’3″ X 3′ X 1’8″ | Max weight capacity: 400 Pounds| Air Chambers: 3
Thinking of a great way to enjoy the outdoors with a friend or loved one? Then try Intex Explorer K2 Kayak which is a stable and comfortable inflatable kayak that is perfect for two people. The kayak is perfect for all skill levels no matter you’re just starting out or already have experience in kayaking. Further the aluminum oars and a high output air pump in the package witness the safe kayaking.
The Explorer K2 is made with durable puncture-resistant material, so you can relax and enjoy your time on the water without worry. And if you’re looking to do some fishing while you’re out kayaking, this kayak comes equipped with fishing rod holders, so you can cast a line while you paddle.
This kayak is made of lightweight polyethylene and only weighs 35 pounds, making it a great option for those who want to enjoy a day on the water without having to deal with cumbersome equipment. The kayak’s bright yellow color makes look attractive and visible in the water. So whether you’re exploring a nearby lake or paddling down a river, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is sure to provide hours of fun.
The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak’s polyethylene construction makes it sturdy and durable, while the removable SKEG provides extra stability and control. And because it’s designed for smaller bodies of water like mild rivers and lakes, you might not be able to use it at sea.
Trusted Brand: Sevylor | Weight: 37 Pounds | Material: Polyvinyl Chloride | Dimensions: 30.1 x 11.6 x 19.2 inches | Max weight capacity: 2-person
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado kayak is perfect for those who enjoy fishing. This kayak is made with tough 18-gauge PVC construction that can withstand lakes and mild rivers. The kayak is NMMA certified, meaning that it meets all safety standards, so no worries about the material quality.
Further, the kayak can accommodate up to two people, making it great for couples or friends who want to enjoy a day out on the water together. The Colorado Kayak comes with two fishing rod holders, allowing you to relax and fish while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
This top-of-the-line kayak features a puncture-resistant tarpaulin bottom and 840D nylon cover, so you can rest assured knowing your kayak is well protected. Additionally, the multiple air chambers provide protection from any deflation hazard. So, overall the kayak is safe from any danger you expect in a kayak.
This tough little kayak is perfect for anglers, with quick set rod holders that make it a snap to set up your gear. And if you want to amp up the fishing action, you can add a trolling motor using the Sevylor trolling motor fittings.
With the help of double-threaded Boston Valve, inflation and deflation can be done quickly without wasting too much time. And the paddle holder means you can keep your hands free for other tasks.
You won’t like to leave your drinks and cookies behind, that’s why to keep you refresh all the time, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado kayak comes with mesh storage pockets, so you keep your belongings closer than ever. Moreover, in summer D-Rings will be highly effective to attach your sun-cap or scarf.
Trusted Brand: KUNPENG | Weight: 03 Pounds | Material: Polyvinyl Chloride | Dimensions: 13.35 x 10.04 x 4.02 inches| Max weight capacity: 2-person|
The KUNPENG 2 Pieces kayak comes with two floating barrels that provide stability while you’re standing or fishing, so you can stay on your feet and make those hard-to-reach casts. The barrels are also great for keeping your kayak upright in windy conditions. So whether you’re paddling into a headwind or trying to land that big fish, the KUNPENG 2 Pieces Kayak Outrigger Stabilizer has got you covered.
The small kayak is easy-to-use that’s perfect for fishing or just exploring your local waterways. Made from durable PVC fabric and featuring two pontoons that make it incredibly stable for all types of skill level kayakers. Plus, at only 2.6 pounds, there is no more hassle in carrying these small kayaks.
Kunpeng’s kayaks come in two pieces that easily fit into your trunk or storage closet. And with four pieces of PVC wafers that help stabilize the kayak, you can be sure of a smooth and enjoyable journey.
This kayak is made from reliable material, so it’s soft and flexible which means you won’t have to worry about it being too stiff or uncomfortable. So, overall perfect choice for kayaking with a partner.
Before you buy a kayak and neglect any important part of the kayak you must have to pay attention to the kayak material, and its different parts. Until you don’t know about the parts of a kayak you might unable to buy a perfect kayak for your next adventure. So, before making a purchase look into the parts and their usage.
The bow is the very front side of the kayak which heads to your traveling destiny. The bow is always on the front side of the kayak which is a universal rule. While the rear area behind the cockpit is called the stern. Almost all kayaks have different designs of bow & stern for a specific purpose. So when buying a kayak for either whitewater or touring purposes, you must understand the purposes of both bow & stern. And it only depends on your buying intent and your kayaking plan.
So, whitewater kayak is manufactured to ride near the shore of the sea and they have snub-nosed bows for easy maneuvering and control. That is good for a beginner. Also, they have a shorter stern and bow to keep your kayak safe from rough surfaces.
While touring kayaks are designed with longer and slimmer bow and stern to cut through the water more efficiently, and usually they are used for the long run in the sea.
So, finally, you can decide what type will work better for you, so that you don’t waste your money and time just because of the wrong selection of bow and stern.
If your cockpit is in the center of the kayak then the top area between, bow-to-cockpit and stern-to-cockpit is called the kayak deck. Under the kayak, there are tie-down bungees to place your belongings to avoid them getting wet. Bungees can be either on the stern or bow side, or both where you can place your cooler, extra paddles, and other essentials. So, when making a purchase ensure that a kayak has enough space in the deck where you can secure your essential kayaking gears.
In the kayak, the place where your sit and operate your kayak is called the cockpit. Usually, there are two types of kayaks; keyhole cockpit and ocean cockpit. Both have their pros and cons.
Keyhole Cockpit: are easy to get into and out of. They are easy to operate and generally 16-20 inches wider and 30-32 inches long. If you think the keyhole cockpit works better for you make sure that they are adjustable and provide more legroom to lift a knee.
In contrast, ocean cockpits are more difficult to get into and out of as they come in 16-20 inches wide and 21-26 inches long. But as they are made especially for long tour kayaking they have smaller holes and give you complete control over the kayak. Moreover, you can use a cockpit skirt to cover the hole which keeps the water away from the cockpit.
You don’t want to place your legs in trouble especially when you are kayaking. That’s why considering comfortable footrest in a kayak will make your journey easier. Sometimes, you may be unable to find a footrest in the kayak and you have to spend extra money to buy footpegs/foot braces. So, if you don’t want to spend the extra money and still have less experience in screwing footrests in the kayak, then buying a kayak with a durable footrest will be a wise decision.
The bottom of the kayak that sits below the water is called the kayak hull. Kayak hull is the most crucial element to consider when buying a kayak because they help you in smooth kayaking. Typical kayak hulls have two main types;
Displacement hulls come in a rounded shape and are used to displace water equally according to the weight of the kayak. Displacement hulls are stable in rough waters and hold the kayak using buoyancy.
Planing hulls: keep the kayak lifted above the water and have a flat bottom shape. The angled sides keep the kayak on top of the water.
So, which one is safe and fast? Both types of hulls are safe and work according to the conditions. But planing hulls ride at high speed on flat water, while the displacement hulls work better in deep water and large waves.
You know the material is the only thing that increases the life of any product. Similarly, the rule also applies to kayaks. Typically, kayaks are made of four materials;
High-density polyethylene (HDPE) Material Kayaks
Usually, kayaks made with plastic tend to be made with polyethylene material. Polyethylene material kayaks are durable and come at a low price. They make your kayak flexible and prevent rust on the surface. But having an HDPE kayak may feel heavy and hard to repair when cracked.
Fiberglass material kayaks are lightweight, easy to repair, and comfortable maneuverable. So, when faced with any crack there is no issue in repairing it. But they might cost you more than HDPE kayaks.
Thermoform material kayaks give a shiny and sleek look to any kayaks just because of the advanced plastic lamination on the surface of the kayak. They are affordable and look premium in design. Typical, Thermoform material is a mixture of polyethylene and fiberglass material, which you can call a mid-range material kayak.
Inflatable kayaks are made with PVC and Hypalon material which are the least expensive and portable. But they are not as reliable as other materials due to more chance of getting damage. But if used on smooth, and clear water surfaces they work well.
So, finally considering your budget, and place of kayaking you can analyze what material kayak will be the best option for your next kayaking tour.
Sit-in kayaks are more efficient because you’re lower to the water and can use your legs and feet to propel yourself. Sit-on kayaks are more comfortable and stable, but they’re not as efficient because you’re higher off the water. So, if you want to get places quickly, go with a sit-in kayak. If you want a relaxing ride with plenty of stability, go with a sit-on kayak.
The most stable type of kayak is typically a sit-on-top kayak. These kayaks have a wider hull that stays stable all the time. Typically, sit-on kayaks are lightweight and easy to maneuver than traditional ones. Sit-on-top kayaks are ideal for beginners or for people who want to enjoy a leisurely paddle on calm waters.
The easiest kayak to get in and out of is the Pelican Sentinel 100X and it is wider and has the most stability. A wider kayak will be more stable because it will be less likely to tip over, and it will be easier to get in and out of because you will have more room to place your feet.
I hope this article has helped you decide which is the best kayak under $500 right for your needs. Remember to always choose a model that is safe for your experience level and follow all safety precautions and the manufacturer’s guide comes with every kayak.
If you’re a beginner and just starting, the recreational Emotion Spitfire Sit-On-Top Kayak might be a good option. The kayak is generally easier to maneuver and costs you less than other kayaks with the same features. If you’re looking for something more specialized, the Pelican Sentinel 100X kayak will work best for you.
For example, if you want to go fishing, these are kayaks designed specifically for that purpose. Ultimately, the best kayak for you is the one that completes your needs and is under your budget.
Hey there kayak lovers! I’m Jay Schwartz, the author here at Kayak Guidance! You know water sports – you know me! My life is all about it. Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Fishing, Snorkeling and so much more. I love to share my passion and knowledge with all of you.