A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: July 19, 2021
Outdoorsly is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
When the temperatures soar in summer, many people are drawn to the water. There they can cool off and have fun swimming. But there is not only a lot of fun in the water, but also on it. Pedal boats, rowing boats, rubber dinghies – the choice of small watercrafts is wide. Also, the kayaks are very popular. The small and nimble boats are easy to steer, so much so that even children can ride them. Kayaks are among the boats that do not require a license.
In this article, we’ll guide you to choosing the best kayaks under $300. This is practical if you don’t want to be dependent on kayak rental. If you might consider buying one yourself, we’ll tell you what to look for when putting your potential kayak to the test – from the type, weight capacity, length, width, and weight, to warranty, among other critical criteria.
"The Intex Challenger K2 is an 11’6″ long and 2’6″ wide inflatable kayak for two people. This green model is designed for a maximum load of 400 pounds.Sit-in, inflatable, tandem kayak.Closed deck with cargo net.Removable skeg."
"With a body made of PVC and a tarpaulin bottom, the Sevylor Quikpak K1 is a watersport craft for one person. With a weight capacity of up to 400 lbs, it is an inflatable kayak that is designed for you to sit on top.Sit-on-top, inflatable kayak.Multiple air chambers.Double lock valves."
"With the inflatable kayak, you can enjoy the sports that the water offers you. It measures 10’3″ x 3’ and can accommodate 2 people with a maximum weight of 400 lbs in total.Sit-in, inflatable, tandem kayak.3 separate air chambers.Puncture-resistant vinyl."
"The kayak is recommended for kids from age 5 upwards, in as much as they are supervised. It has molded finger handles and footrests in multiple positions.Sit-on-top kayak.High-density polyethylene.Ultra-stable."
The Intex Challenger K2 is an 11’6″ long and 2’6″ wide inflatable kayak for two people. The green kayak from Intex is designed for a maximum load of 400 pounds. Next, this kayak is robustly built and protected against UV rays. The Intex Challenger K2 is delivered together with an air pump, two kayak paddles, a carrying bag, and a kit for the repair.
The high stability is often praised by the buyers of the Intex Challenger K2. Furthermore, according to the customer, the skeg is easy to attach and remove. The assembly of the Challenger K2 takes barely 10 minutes.
A few customers noticed a plastic smell after unpacking, which only went away after a few tours. Note that the inflatable kayak is less suitable for stronger winds than a rigid kayak. The supplied paddles were also too short for a buyer.
What makes it stand out? We like the large storage space the K2 offers. The skeg is also easy to install and remove.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? Some customers noted that they had problems with the Challenger in high winds.
With a durable body and a tarpaulin bottom, the Sevylor Quikpak K1 is a watersport craft for one person. With a weight capacity of up to 400 lbs, it is an inflatable kayak that is designed for you to sit on top.
The construction of the kayak consists of a high-grade 21 gauge PVC and doesn’t in no way tell of its low price. The shorter a kayak is, the faster it tends to be, and the Sevylor Quikpak has found a way to combine storability and dimensions. As such, it measures just 8 feet and 7 inches and has a width of 3 feet. It’s also very lightweight, with only 18 lbs weight. Additionally, the kayak comes with a 90-day limited warranty.
Why are we impressed? It offers one of the highest weight capacity for single-seat kayaks on our list. We also like heavy-gauge material.
What negatives must you be aware of? The 90-day warranty could be more extended. But for the included accessories and the price, we have no complaint.
More features: UV-protected high-density polyethylene, multiple footrest positions, stable flat bottom, adjustable seat back, rod holders, rear and front shock cord straps, two storage compartments, comes with paddle
Made of ultra-high-density polyurethane material, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is a fishing kayak with a sit-on-top design. Protected from ultraviolet rays and other elements, it is durably constructed and comes with an extended warranty that covers it up to 5 years.
This is not an inflatable kayak but a rigid one, which is why the construction is durable. You can use it for fishing in the lakes, rivers, and also in waves because it’s incredibly stable and fast enough. Thus, it’s a good model if you want one of the best fishing kayaks under $300.
Why did it make our list? A lot of users are satisfied with the kayak. It lets fishermen integrate and bring all their tools onboard, like the fish finder, transducer, rod holder, etc.
What is not ideal about it? It weighs 52 lbs and may be a bit of a problem while trying to transport it off the water. But it’s what you get with rigid kayaks, and this is still lightweight enough. Also, its price is a bit unstable, so you might have to wait to see it for under $300.
With the inflatable kayak, you can enjoy the sports that the water offers you. It measures 10’3″ x 3’ and can accommodate 2 people with a maximum weight of 400 lbs in total. Made of high-quality vinyl, this makes it very resistant. It is designed so that all your kayak trips are perfect.
Its yellow and black design makes it more visible in the sea. And to make you more comfortable on the walk, it has 2 inflatable seats that can be adjusted to your needs, with a removable backrest and chair. It also includes a pump so you can inflate it quickly, and it also has 2 oars and a fastening rope in the bow and stern.
What makes it stand out? We like the fact it’s a tandem kayak. It offers enough flexibility and allows the company of a person/pet while having that adjustability. Also, it comes with two paddles.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? An integrated fish rod holder could make it a complete kayak.
Bestway is a big brand in watersport and water facility equipment. And when you find an under $300 kayak made by them, you should be sure you’re getting things right with the purchase. Sold for around a hundred dollars (a few more or less), this is an inflatable sit-on-top kayak with a moderate length of 8 feet and 10 inches and just 3 feet and 3 inches in width.
It is a one-man kayak, but it helps you integrate everything on board for your watersport or fishing. This fishing kayak under $300 comes with a fish rod holder that is built right on and storage areas for your stuff.
What are its best features? We adore the storage space it offers and the built-in fishing rod holder. It’s a cheap fishing kayak under $300 from a good brand.
What could be improved? It doesn’t have a carrying case or bag as advertised.
If you need to teach your kids how to kayak at a young age, without having to spend top dollars, the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is one of the best options on the market for you. The kayak is recommended for kids from age 5 upwards, in as much as they are supervised.
It has molded finger handles and footrests in multiple positions. Made of high-density polyethylene, the construction is stable and robust enough for a one-person ride. Still, the weight capacity of the kayak is very low.
What do we love it for? It’s worth mentioning how lightly constructed it is. It has enough stability, ergonomics, and safety features, which makes it ideal for kids.
What were we disappointed with? The construction material could be more resistant. A few users report problems with leakages.
Things to Consider
We’ve introduced you to our kayaks under $300 reviews. But what should you watch out for when buying these kayaks? Where are they most used? The quality requirements of a new inflatable or rigid kayak are mostly similar. The materials play a key role in this.
The large selection of kayaks leaves you in limbo. Beginners in particular often find it difficult to find the right model for themselves among the wide range of offers. So that you can find your way around the market better, we have summarized the most important purchase criteria for you. In this section, we’ll answer some of the most pertinent questions asked by would-be consumers like you.
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.
Most of these kayaks can be used in shallow water bodies with not too strong waves. White water kayaks are way more expensive because they are intended for use in fast-flowing waters and also for races and slalom. As for the inflatable kayaks, they are not confined to the ocean. They also make great river kayaks. The river is generally an area reserved for rigid kayaks because there is the risk of hitting rocks. Generally speaking, if you want to go down a calm river on a hiking trip, an inflatable sea kayak will do the trick. On the other hand, if your project is to navigate the sea with your inflatable kayak, to go out on the high seas, or to use it as spearfishing support, several points must be checked. By default, a kayak is considered beach gear. This means that it cannot be moved more than 300 from the coast. Some inflatable kayaks have Division 240 approval, which allows them to go up to 2 miles from a shelter or even 6 miles with the right equipment.
The brand criterion can offer you a good way of getting a good model. Most of the reputable brands use standard materials and construction techniques to make their kayaks. But this brand criterion has to be combined with other aforementioned ones and your taste. If you would like to also consider from the brand aspect, Intex kayaks and boats, for example, are top providers in this area. Sevylor, Gumotex, and Seabird are also of high-quality but are way more expensive. Some brands offer kayaks in an inflatable version.
To provide you the value for your money, a good fishing kayak should serve you for at least 5 years. With normal or occasional use, a fishing kayak can last for as long as 10 years. But that’s not to say there are not models that break down after the first few uses in the first few weeks or months. It depends on the material and usage style.
Budget kayaks are ideal models for kids, beginners, and fishing in calm rivers and maybe, in some cases, some white water bodies. You have to decide the number of seaters, the type and design, and the availability of accessories along with the features you want.
Our Editor’s Choice is the Intex Challenger Kayak K2. It is a long inflatable kayak for two people with impressive stability and a maximum load of 400 pounds.
The product that offers the best value for money is the Sevylor Quikpak K1. Thanks to the PVC body and a tarpaulin bottom, it is a reliable option designed for one person. With a weight capacity of up to 400 lbs and multiple air chambers, it will never let you down.
Our Upgrade Pick is the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100. The ultra-high-density polyurethane material makes it a fantastic fishing kayak with a sit-on-top design. It’s no wonder why we’ve included it on our list of the best kayaks under $300!