Are kayaks under $300 any good?
Most of the kayaks you’ll find for an under $300 price range are inflatables, although you can find rigid models such as the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak or the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100. The inflatable kayaks come in very handy and can only be considered good depending on the situation or purpose you need them for. They are the best for watersports and fishing in low wave rivers or lakes. Also, they are good for beginners or kids to learn how to kayak. When you find models within this price range that are made of more rigid and heavy-duty materials such as polyethylene, they may not be supported by too many accessories or features you may find in higher-end models. Below are some of their advantages and where they could be improved.
- Space-saving and quick to set up;
- Ideal for beginners.
- Twists in all directions when paddling and susceptible to cross and headwind;
- Slower than other kayaks due to the wider design;
- Mostly for one person (not always the case).
Things to consider before getting a kayak under $300
If you do not want to choose a kayak that you have to find out after the first use that it does not meet your requirements, then take a look at the detailed purchase criteria in our guide. This way, you will find it easier to get the right kayak, even at a low budget.
Have you decided that a budget kayak is a right boat for you? Then you will be presented with the next choice: Which type of construction would you like? They come in three variants: as a rigid hull kayak, as a folding model, or as an inflatable option.
Rigid kayaks like the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 usually have the best handling characteristics. They are stable and can be used in any type of body of water. Also, you can set off immediately with the rigid hull kayak and do not have to set it up first. Unfortunately, this type of kayak is difficult to transport and store, and they are also heavy. Rigid kayaks are usually much more expensive than folding or air kayaks.
A folding kayak can be taken apart, which is why it can be transported without a special trailer and is easier to store. It has a comfortable weight and is easy to drive. However, some kayakers find the rods in the boat annoying, especially since they require regular maintenance. Also, assembly and disassembly take a lot of time.
Air or inflatable kayaks like the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak have a significantly lower price tag, low weight, are easy to transport, space-saving when storing, and quick to assemble. Also, they usually have less draft, which means they can navigate shallow waters. But keep in mind that they are slow. On top of that, they are less robust and can be quickly damaged by sharp objects. Therefore, they are not suitable for white water paddling.
The weight capacity of a one or two-seater kayak ranges from 100 to 500 lbs. The better the construction material is, the better the resistance will be. The lower capacity models such as the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak are suitable for kids, while at the other end, they can be used by adults. Inflatables tend to have more weight capacity than rigid polyethylene models. So, it’s a choice you have to make.
Length and width
There’s a general rule about the kayak length: the shorter, the faster!
The longer the kayak is, the better it glides in the water, which reduces the effort required. At the same time, however, it loses its maneuverability.
The length of a kayak is a crucial factor that affects the maneuverability and speed of the boat. If the boat is very long, it will be less able to maneuver around the curve. However, a boat with a long hull can be moved without much effort because it is very slippery. Inflatable boats usually have a fin that is responsible for directional stability.
The length of the inflatable boat is not a decisive factor for purchase, but it is related to the use of the boat. The most common boats are between 5 and 13 feet long.
For beginners, it is advisable to choose a smaller boat, as these are easier to steer. Still, the intended use should be decisive for the weight.
The weight of the small and medium-sized boats is between 18 pounds for the simplest models and over 55 pounds for higher-quality, larger kayaks.
Seat and footrests
Will the kayak be for one person or several people? The seats should be comfortable and have footrests with enough legroom ideally. The backrests on the kayak can be adjusted to suit your individual needs.
Kayak tours are usually a lot more fun with several people. You don’t have to rent several kayaks because there are inflatable kayaks and rigid models that are designed for multiple people. Typically, there are kayaks with one or two seats. A single kayak such as the Sevylor Quikpak K1 is one of the boats that are particularly common. Two paddlers can sit one behind the other in the 2-seater kayaks such as the Intex Challenger Kayak K2. Both passengers should preferably paddle synchronously to move particularly quickly. The sit-on-top kayaks are available for one or two people.
Large storage space is necessary for long tours and fishing. You may need to stow luggage in the kayak. So, pay attention to what space looks like, especially if you are planning long tours and possibly want to go camping. The storage space should be able to contain equipment such as tents, sleeping bags, and provisions. The storage space may be divided into two compartments, as we have seen with models such as the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100.
The construction material determines the durability of the kayak. Kayaks are streamlined and have little exposure to wind. Thus, a kayak is characterized by optimal straight-line stability and low resistance. They should be made of insensitive materials and be very weather-resistant.
While modern kayaks are often made of fiberglass to give them a certain degree of hardness and elastic energy absorption, this material is not often found in budget models.
On the other hand, high-quality polyethylene, which is very flexible and robust, is often used in kayaks under $300. The white water kayaks are made of this material because it makes them particularly light. Next, the inflatable kayaks are usually made of vinyl or tarpaulin. This material must be puncture-resistant and of higher density for durability’s sake.
If it’s a cheap product, it doesn’t have to mean sacrificing brand assurance of quality and reliability. Watch out for satisfaction guarantees that cover the products for 30-100 days. A warranty of up to 5 years may be enough to cover any possible problem you might need the brand to help out with. However, models with 90-day warranty coverage may not be enough.
What else can be important
Pay attention to the included kayak accessories. Some models come with a set of paddles. Also, ensure there is an include air pump, a repair kit, and a carrying bag (in case of inflatables). For practical uses such as fishing, check various accessories such as handles, a safety line, paddles, or a fishing rod holder.
The accessories are not always included with every boat. But having one can be better than none.