Costco has a good reputation as a place to buy everything, including kayaks. The kayaks sold at Costco are all meant for beginners and include open deck, sit-on-top models that are safe and easy to enter and exit, as well as fishing kayaks with features specific for anglers. Costco also sells inflatable kayaks that are perfect for those who want to experience recreational kayaking but lack storage space.
The makes and models of Costco kayaks vary based on your location, with different offerings in Canada and the United States. In general, if you want to buy a kayak at Costco you’ll find less variety than at sporting good stores and other large box stores, such as Walmart. Costco kayaks are cheaper than those found in dedicated paddling stores and are usually meant for beginner conditions only: flatwater with minimal exposure to wind and waves. If you’re planning to buy a kayak at Costco it’s important that you recognize this limitation.
Like other inexpensive kayaks, Costco kayaks are a tradeoff between a great price and paddling performance and comfort. Don’t expect to get a refined paddling experience in terms of the kayak’s paddling speed, maneuverability, handling and safety features, as well as comfort elements like seating, from kayaks sold at Costco. At the same time, don’t expect any expertise in Costco sales associates when it comes to answering questions and providing guidance on a kayak purchase.
If you want to invest in paddling, shop somewhere else. But if you’re looking for a casual-use kayak that is easy on the wallet, Costco is a great choice. Our review of Costco kayaks will provide you with the essential knowledge to find the best kayak for your paddling needs.
Top picks: Best Costco kayaks for 2023
Best Costco Kayaks
The Bay ST
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Shop for Costco kayaks
Depending on your location, you’ll find a limited selection of kayaks sold at Costco—especially compared to the offerings at other box store retailers, such as Walmart. On the plus side, this makes your decision far easier. You’ll be less overwhelmed by choices of recreational kayaks—all of which generally do the same thing.
The general categories of kayaks sold at Costco include inflatable kayaks (which deflate to allow storage in small spaces); tandem kayaks to enjoy with your partner, child or friend; and fishing kayaks, which include angler-specific features like rod holders and tackle storage areas.
Make an informed decision: The links below will take you to our comprehensive Paddling Buyer’s Guide, where you’ll find every Costco kayak on the market, including specs, prices and reviews, offering an unbiased view of what’s available from this retailer.
Shop by type
Shopping for a used Costco kayak?
Are you searching websites like Craigslist, Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace for a pre-owned kayak? You may come across a used kayak sold at Costco. Your first step in making a good investment is to research the specific attributes of the make and model Costco kayak you’re considering; our Paddling Buyer’s Guide is the ideal place to start. If it looks like you’ve found a contender, consider the following advice to make a good purchase:
Examine the overall condition of the Costco kayak, taking note of fading due to excessive sun exposure. Apply firm pressure to all parts of the kayak to test for stiffness (it shouldn’t feel spongy). Examine the deck (top) and hull (bottom) of the kayak for damage including deep gouges (more than 3 mm or 1/8th of an inch deep); obvious abrasion (especially if the worn areas are a different color from the rest of the kayak); and deformities (which will make the kayak paddle less efficiently). Costco kayaks are made of durable plastic that’s meant to withstand plenty of abuse; some damage is fine, so long as the shape of the kayak remains intact.
For inflatable kayaks sold at Costco take a close look at the condition of the valves to make sure they function as they should and hold air. Examine the fabric skin of the kayak for any worn spots, feeling and listening for air leaks.
Consider the kayak’s outfitting, including comfort features like the seat—is it padded and supportive for your body type? Outfitting is the critical interface between the paddler and kayak. It includes the seat, back support, thigh rests and foot rests. Examine each of these parts individually—do they function as designed, are they jammed with grit or sand? Then consider how well the outfitting works together as a whole. The easiest way to achieve this is by sitting in the boat (and ideally paddling it) to make sure it feels comfortable. A good fit is not only more comfortable, it also enables you to paddle more efficiently.
Outfitting often comes down to personal preference; there’s no one-size-fits-all. One of the drawbacks of cheaper, mass-produced Costco kayaks is substandard outfitting. Take a close look and consider investing in a more expensive kayak if you plan on more serious paddling. If you’re handy, outfitting is easily modified with some glue, foam and DIY time; consider any upgrades you could make to save a few bucks and get a custom fit.
On the water
The only way to fully appreciate the comfort and performance of a kayak is to try it before committing to a purchase. Arrange a meeting place with the seller that allows you to take a few moments on the water. Bring your usual paddle and dress in what you plan to wear while paddling. With a sit-inside kayak be sure to assess how easy the boat is to enter and exit.
Make a deal
In general (that is, before Covid-19 put a premium on outdoor equipment) the typical starting point for a used Costco kayak in moderate condition was about half its retail price. All that’s changed in the wake of boat shortages brought on by the pandemic, but you can use it as a starting point in haggling a fair price.
Add some accessories
Specialized accessories are key elements of fishing kayaks; if you want to do some kayak angling make sure you examine features like rod holders and live wells.
If you’re offered a PFD with your used kayak purchase, make sure it’s in good shape, fits properly and is Coast Guard-approved for the location you’ll be paddling.
For more tips on what to look for when selecting a used kayak, read our article on How To Buy A Used Kayak.
Costco kayak buying guide
The best advice we can offer to any prospective kayak buyers is to try before you buy. Unfortunately, this advice is difficult to apply if you’re shopping for a Costco kayak, since these massive stores are typically located in urban areas, far from the water. Instead, ask your friends if they have any Costco kayaks you could take for a spin. Not only will this give you a sense of what’s available, on-the-water experience will allow you to appreciate how different kayak design elements fit your body and perform.
The important thing to remember when you buy a kayak at Costco is that you’re not going to find any high-end, performance kayaks at this store—and that may be perfectly in line with your recreational paddling and kayak fishing needs. Costco kayaks can make a lot of sense for occasional paddlers looking for an economical choice. However, box store sales associates at places like Costco will never offer the same expertise as the informed professionals at a dedicated paddlesports retailer.
If you’re serious about paddling and want to develop your skills, you will be better off avoiding Costco in favor of a smaller paddling or outdoor shop, and making a more substantial investment in a specialized day touring or sea kayak. Still have questions? Here are expert answers to some of the most common questions about Costco kayaks.
Are Costco kayaks any good?
Costco kayaks are good for entry level paddlers who want a cheap kayak for occasional use in calm, sheltered water conditions. Like any cheap kayak, Costco kayaks are limited in their performance and can be hazardous to use in open water conditions on large lakes or exposed coastlines.
However, Costco kayaks are great if you’re looking for a new toy for the cottage or you want to try paddling with your family at the beach. Costco offers a limited selection of kayaks, most with similar paddling, handling and comfort characteristics, which makes your choice a bit less overwhelming than at some other box stores.
Kayak prices Costco
If you’re in the market for a recreational kayak, you’re probably wondering how much are kayaks at Costco. In the U.S. Costco stores sell a variety of kayaks—including inflatable kayaks, fishing kayaks and sit-on-top hybrid SUP kayaks, for single and tandem use—ranging in price from $219.99 to $579.99. Costco stores in Canada have a more limited selection of kayaks, with prices ranging from $259.99 to $759.99.
When do kayaks go on sale at Costco?
Costco brands itself as a wholesaler, meaning that its products rarely go on sale. Don’t expect to find kayaks on sale at Costco; however, you may get lucky and find overstock kayaks at discounted prices, especially as paddling season winds down in late summer and early autumn and Costco warehouses start replacing kayaks with other seasonal items. Our suggestion is don’t wait for a sale; buy a Costco kayak when it’s available and get paddling as soon as you can.
Costco kayak reviews
Unable to find a Costco kayak you can paddle before you venture to the store to make your purchase? Your next best bet is to read reviews of these kayaks to figure out which one suits your planned paddling pursuits. You’ll find our expert reviews below.