Best Kayaks Under $1,000 For 2024

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

So you want to buy an affordable kayak and have set your budget. You’re well on the way to getting on the water. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get into kayaking. Even spending just $1,000 can get you a quality budget kayak that performs well.

Selecting the right kayak is essential to maximizing your experience. Finding a kayak that aligns with your goals, skills and the type of water you plan to paddle helps ensure your safety, comfort and enjoyment. Kayaks under $1,000 come in a variety of constructions, are designed for a multitude of purposes and measure in at many different sizes. This adds up to thousands of options to choose from. All these options can be overwhelming, so let us help you find the best kayak under $1,000 for the type of paddling you like to do.

In this comprehensive guide to kayaks under $1,000 below, we’ll share with you the top kayaks under $1,000, provide in-depth reviews for some of our top picks, and delve into the key factors to consider before you purchase, including the type of kayak, construction materials and comfort features.

Top picks: Best kayaks under $1,000 for 2024

The following kayaks have received the highest star ratings from reviewers in our Paddling Buyer’s Guide. See and review all kayaks under $1,000 here.

Shop best kayaks under $1,000

The links in this section will take you to our comprehensive Paddling Buyer’s Guide, where you’ll find all the best kayaks on the market, including reviews, ratings and where to buy. You can choose to filter kayaks by type and application, such as fishing or whitewater, or by the number of paddlers (one-person or tandem), and so much more.

Then, click on specific models to see specs, prices, reviews and where to buy. We’ve also narrowed down the best kayaks at the most popular retailers, including sporting goods stores, outdoor stores, and big box department and hardware stores. You simply will not find a better kayak buyer’s guide resource online.

Buying advice for kayaks under $1,000

Kayaks can range in price from $100 box store inflatables to $4,500 models constructed with the finest craftsmanship and materials. A kayak at the more expensive end of the spectrum might boast a featherlight weight and superior performance, while a model at the very cheapest end of the spectrum might float but not do much else. When buying a kayak for under $1,000, expect to make some compromises in performance, features and weight. However, for the average casual paddler, $1,000 can buy a budget kayak that will suit many types of paddling environments.

With thousands of kayaks available for under $1,000, there is a wide variety in terms of what your budget can get you. Generally, when spending under $1,000, you can expect to purchase either an inflatable kayak or a rotomolded kayak. Either way, the kayak will likely be a recreational kayak, although there are whitewater kayaks, touring kayaks and some fishing kayaks that are less than $1,000.

Learn more about the different types of kayaks and the materials they’re made of.

Recreational kayaks under $1,000

Recreational kayaks are all about fun, stability and value. This type of kayak makes up the majority of the options under $1,000. Recreational kayaks are primarily designed for casual paddling on calm water. They’re perfect for beginner kayakers. Recreational kayaks come in sit-on-top and sit-inside varieties and may feature padded seats for comfort, large and open cockpits for easy entry and exit, and storage compartments for stashing small essentials.

Fishing kayaks under $1,000

There are a multitude of fishing kayaks available for under $1,000. To stay within budget, expect to forgo some of the fancy fishy features often found on premium fishing kayak models, which could include molded rod holders, cushy seating, pedal drives, tankwells, hatches, mounting options or a rudder. Fishing kayaks around $1,000 may be of an inflatable or rotomolded construction. While there are pedal drive compatible kayaks available for around $1,000, expect to pay more for the pedal drive itself.

Touring kayaks under $1,000

Touring kayaks are designed for long-distance paddling and multi-day adventures. While premium sea kayaks retail for well over $1,000, there are a few options for entry-level touring kayaks under $1,000. These kayaks are typically of an inflatable or rotomolded construction. Entry-level touring kayaks may boast better tracking and speed than some of their recreational counterparts, while also having more storage for gear on weekend tours. However, entry-level touring kayaks are still predominantly designed for paddling in sheltered waters and not for ocean journeys. For a true sea kayak under $1,000, the best bet is to keep an eye on used marketplaces and local paddling community gear sales.

Know The Local Hazards
  • Check navigation charts before you launch.
  • Check with those who have local knowledge of man-made and natural hazards, e.g. low-head dams; sweepers, strainers and undercuts; tides and currents; and rocks and shoals.

Whitewater kayaks under $1,000

If you’re into paddling rivers, there are whitewater kayaks under $1,000 designed for navigating tricky rapids and rough water. These kayaks are often made from rotomolded polyethylene, though there are increasingly more inflatable options. Used marketplaces often have second-hand whitewater kayaks selling for well under $1,000.

Accessories for kayaks under $1,000

Some kayaks under $1,000 might be sold by paddleshops as part of a package deal, with a life jacket and paddle included. But most kayaks won’t come with a paddle and life jacket included, and it’s important to keep some of your budget available for these crucial accessories if you don’t already have them. Laws vary by province and state, but generally, the safety items required for kayakers include a life jacket, buoyant heaving line, whistle or sound signaling device, bilge pump and watertight flashlight.

Commonly asked questions about kayaks under $1,000

  • What is the best kayak under $1,000?

    The best kayak under $1,000 depends on the needs of the buyer. To identify the best kayak for you, consider your specific interests and goals for getting a kayak. What kind of features are most important to you? Where are you likely to paddle most often? And with whom? Once you know what you want out of your kayak, you can narrow down the options and compare models to find the best kayak for you.

  • What type of kayaks are under $1,000?

    There are thousands of models of kayaks available for under $1,000. A large percentage of those kayaks fall into the recreational category. Recreational kayaks are easy to use, focused on stability and fun, and often made in an inflatable or polyethylene construction. However, there are also fishing kayaks, touring kayaks, whitewater kayaks and more available for under $1,000, especially on the used market.

  • Where to buy a kayak under $1,000

    There are many places to buy a kayak for under $1,000. Options include paddlesports retailers, directly from the manufacturers, sporting goods stores, big box stores, online shops and online used marketplaces. Whenever possible, it’s always a great idea to buy from a local paddleshop. The staff are usually paddlers themselves and can offer first-hand advice and knowledgeable tips on the best kayaks for the type of paddling you want to do, as well as advice on essential safety accessories and the best places to paddle in the area. Your local shop likely has demo opportunities to try out different kayaks, and might even host get-togethers to connect you to the local paddling community.

How to buy a used kayak under $1,000

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t hard to find a premium kayak reselling for under $1,000. But nowadays, just like the used car market, used kayaks are holding their value more than ever before and reselling at higher prices. However, $1,000 can get you a high-quality kayak, and buying used can be a great way to maximize the value of your money.

When it comes to buying a used kayak under $1,000, here are some things to watch out for:

  • Set reasonable expectations: Research before meeting with a seller so you know what this kayak model typically sells for used, what it sold for new and how long the model has been on the market. Keep that information in mind when inspecting the used kayak. Depending on the kayak’s condition and how recently it was purchased, it might sell for anywhere between 25 to 95 percent of its original price. A carbon touring kayak selling for less than $1,000 might be just 25 percent of its original price and is likely to be pretty banged up. Whereas a rotomolded polyethylene recreational kayak costing $1,000 could be in pristine condition and selling close to its retail price.
  • Condition: Check the kayak’s condition, looking for signs of damage like cracks and dents and other signs of wear, including on the outfitting. Some damage is repairable and doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker, but any damage should be factored into the purchase price.
  • Storage: Ask where the kayak was stored. UV light can degrade materials over time. A kayak that was stored indoors may be in better condition.
  • Previous usage: While some wear and tear will be evident, ask the seller what kind of previous use the kayak has seen. Freshwater or saltwater? Lakewater paddling or river running? How frequently was it used? How long have they owned it? Is the seller the original owner?
  • Negotiating: Don’t hesitate to negotiate the price if you spot damage or discover other concerns that weren’t disclosed before the inspection. But also keep in mind that the paddling community is small, and try not to lowball or waste the seller’s time.
  • Demo: Whenever possible, try to get the kayak on the water and go for a paddle to ensure it’s the right fit for you.

For more tips on what to look for when selecting a used kayak, read our article How To Buy A Used Kayak.

Paddle Sober And Smart
  • Never mix alcohol and paddling. Coast Guard and state BUI (boating under the influence) laws apply to all vessels. This includes canoes, kayaks, SUPs and rafts.

Budget kayak reviews

Read our in-depth reviews on kayaks under $1,000 to discover the best match for you.

Feature photo: Courtesy Evoke


This content was made possible with the support of Ontario Creates.

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