Headquartered in the heart of Austin, Texas, the team at RetailMeNot is kind of obsessed with kayaking.
How could we not be? After all, we’re headquartered in sunny Austin, Texas, where an abundance of pristine rivers and lakes provide the perfect setting for paddling. It’s kind of the ultimate free summer activity. On any given weekend, if not on our bikes, you can find us — slathered in sunscreen and decked out in outdoor gear — gliding around Lady Bird Lake on colorful kayaks.
As paddling enthusiasts and savings experts, we know a thing or two about hunting down deals on reliable kayaks. So if you’re on the hunt for cheap kayaks for sale that won’t sink to the bottom of the lake, you’ve come to the right blog.
Full disclosure: There aren’t tons of options when it comes to cheap kayaks under $200 — mostly, you’ll be dealing with inflatable and youth models. That said, there are some excellent inflatable and youth options for recreational kayakers who are just starting out.
And so, after hours of research and 10 gallons of sunscreen, we’re bringing you the six best cheap kayaks for under $200. And to help you make sure you pick the right product for your lifestyle and preferences, we’ve included a buying guide with a few key considerations to keep in mind when browsing cheap kayaks for sale.
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, Two-Person Inflatable Kayak
One of the top-selling inflatable models on the market, the Intex Explorer K2 is ideal for small bodies of water and short trips. The sturdy, spacious kayak can hold up to two paddlers weighing up to 400 pounds combined. The kayak includes two seats, two aluminum oars and a high output air pump for ultra-fast inflation.
Things to Consider: The vinyl exterior is fairly durable, but can tear on rocks or debris. Should the exterior become torn, the kayak comes with a repair patch kit. Note that legroom and space can be a little tight and the seats can get uncomfortable, so the Intex Explorer K2 isn’t recommended for long trips.
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddles
At six feet long, the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is designed for paddlers ages 5 and up weighing up to 130 pounds, making it a good choice for youngsters, teens and even petite adults. The tough little vessel is suitable for exploring small and larger bodies of water alike, including rivers, lakes and the open sea. Featuring an ergonomic cockpit, the kayak is comfortable enough for longer trips.
Things to Consider: Some reviewers report that handles are shallow, which can make the kayak tricky to carry out of water.
$99.98 at Home Depot.
Intex Challenger K1 One-Person Inflatable Kayak Inflatable Set
One of the best cheap kayaks for sale, the Intex Challenger K1 is a great starter vessel if you plan on taking solo voyages. Designed for one person, the 9-foot kayak holds up to 200 pounds. Aluminum oars, cargo net and repair patch kit are included. We found the legroom was adequate for riders under 6 feet tall.
Things to Consider: None of the kayaks included in this list are suitable for strong rapids or strong ocean currents, and the Intex Challenger K1 in particular has a low profile that can take it water even in the milder currents if you’re not careful.
$76.90 at Amazon.
Sevylor Quikpak K1 One-Person Kayak, Inflatable
For us, the biggest benefit of the aptly named Sevylor Quikpak (get it… “quick pack”?) is its ease of portability. Its clever design lets you carry the deflated kayak in its own backpack. Inflation and assembly take about five minutes, and the backpack folds into a seat. When inflated, the one-person kayak is around 8.5 feet long and holds an impressive 400 pounds.
Things to Consider: This ultra-compact portable kayak doesn’t have much in the way of storage. With two small skegs, the tracking — or how well the kayak moves in a straight direction — isn’t suitable for serious kayaking or much more than the occasional leisure trip.
$153.98 at Amazon.
Bestway Lite-Rapid Inflatable Two-Person Kayak
The Bestway Lite-Rapid is another decent inflatable kayak suited for leisure trips on calm waters. Around 10.5 feet long and able to carry up to 350 pounds, it’s still fairly lightweight (27 pounds) for such a large vessel.
Things to Consider: A bag and pump are not included, so you’ll need to purchase them separately.
$139.99 at Academy Sports.
Pelican Solo Youth Kayak: Amazon
The Pelican Solo Youth Kayak features a unique twin tunnel hull design, which helps improve maneuverability, stability and safety overall. This beginner-friendly kayak is 6 feet long and holds up to 100 pounds. It includes a bottle-holder, molded seat and footrests.
Things to Consider: The Pelican Solo Youth doesn’t come with seat or backrest, so you may want to purchase one for comfort.
$189.99 at Amazon.
Things to Consider When Buying a Cheap Kayak
Before you make your purchase and head out on the water, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your kayak’s manufacturer recommendations and general kayaking safety tips. Here are a few of the most critical considerations to keep in mind when shopping for and using a low-cost kayak:
- Stick to Leisure Trips on Calm Waters – Lower-price kayaks — especially inflatable ones — aren’t designed for rapids, strong currents or big waves. Inflatable kayaks, in particular, can be harder to control than their heavier, hard-shell counterparts and more susceptible to wind and waves. With an inflatable kayak or low-cost kayak, you should stick to calm rivers, ponds and small lakes on clear, sunny days rather than long journeys over choppy waters during adverse weather conditions.
- Beware of Punctures – It may seem obvious, but it’s worth stressing: Even the most durable inflatable kayaks can be punctured, so avoid water with rocks or debris. It’s inadvisable to venture far from shore or journey great distances in an inflatable kayak. You should also avoid dragging an inflatable kayak on the ground, especially over gravel or rocks.
- Plan on Replacing Your Kayak Every Couple of Years: Cheap kayaks under $200 make good starter vessels, but you should plan on replacing or upgrading after a couple of years of use, tops. To make sure your kayak lives a long, healthy life, make sure to properly wash and store your kayak between uses.
All that said, inflatable kayak technology has come a long way over recent years, and a quality inflatable kayak should be able to provide years of fun for the average recreational user. Just be sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions and review basic kayaking guidelines. For more information, get kayaking safety tips or learn more about what to know when buying a kayak.
(Psst! Looking for an affordable cooler to bring along on your kayaking trip? Check out our 10 favorite YETI cooler alternatives.)