Best Sam’s Club Kayaks For 2023

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

Sam’s Club is one of the original bulk purchase, member-based wholesalers in the United States. It offers its members great prices on a variety of food, pharmacy and household items, including a limited selection of kayaks. It’s tough to beat the prices of kayaks sold at Sam’s Club.

Just bear in mind that a Sam’s Club kayak is best for paddlers who intend to make occasional outings on flat and sheltered water. Consider using your membership benefits to purchase a Sam’s Club kayak if you want to experience paddling but have no specific aspirations to paddle in anything more than quiet water and beginner conditions.

Sam’s Club kayaks include options for families, with kids kayaks and other designs perfect for taking to the cottage, cabin or beach. Several Sam’s Club kayak models are meant for anglers. The selection of kayaks at sold at Sam’s Club is limited compared to sports-focused box stores, but you’ll still find a good variety of sit-on-top kayaks (with open decks for easy entry and exit) and fishing kayaks (with features like rod holders and live wells, specific to anglers). A single sit-inside kayak model, featuring an enclosed cockpit and deck to protect the paddler from the elements, is available.

Sam’s Club kayak brands include Lifetime and Emotion, both of which offer good value in general-purpose kayaks. Prices range from under $100 for a plastic kids’ kayak to $500 for a two-person sit-on-top kayak. Two-packs are available for several of the most popular kayaks at Sam’s Club, all selling for under $800.

The kayaks at Sam’s Club are meant for beginner use on calm, sheltered water; don’t expect to find any high-performance kayaks. Also note that these boats have serious safety limitations for use in exposed, open water. Sam’s Club kayaks are also less refined in terms of paddling speed, maneuverability, handling and comfort. Furthermore, Sam’s Club sales associates cannot be expected to have the same breadth of kayaking knowledge as a dedicated paddling store. Simply put, you get what you pay for in a kayak in terms of performance, comfort, safety and shopping experience.

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.

But with all this in mind, a wholesale kayak from Sam’s Club might be ideal for your needs. Our review of kayaks sold at Sam’s Club will provide you with the knowledge you need to determine if this is a good shopping destination for you.

Top picks: Best Sam’s Club kayaks for 2023

The following Sam’s Club kayaks have received the highest star ratings by reviewers in our Paddling Buyer’s Guide. See and review all Sam’s Club kayaks here.

Shop for Sam’s Club kayaks

Sam’s Club primarily sells Lifetime brand kayaks, with a few additional models from Emotion. These brands specialize in basic kayaks for recreational paddlers, especially casual anglers, families and beach enthusiasts looking for budget-friendly boats to use occasionally in sheltered water locations, such as inland lakes, ponds and quiet rivers.

Most kayaks at Sam’s Club are sit-on-tops, which have open decks to accommodate paddlers of all sizes and skill levels. Sit-on-top kayaks are ideal for sunny days and warm water; this style of open-deck kayak is also the most common for fishing kayaks. Kids’ models, singles and tandems are available. By comparison, the limited selection of sit-inside kayaks sold at Sam’s Club are decked (or partially decked), providing shelter from the environment—though sometimes more challenging to enter and exit due to the enclosed cockpit seating area.

Expect to find the best selection of Sam’s Club kayaks in the spring; late summer and fall is the best time to find kayaks on clearance. The links below will take you to our comprehensive Paddling Buyer’s Guide, where you’ll find all the best kayaks at Sam’s Club, including specs, prices and reviews, offering an unbiased view of what’s available from this American chain wholesaler.

Shopping for a used Sam’s Club kayak?

Used kayaks are abundant on buy-and-sell websites like Craigslist, Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace; depending on your location, you’ll find some second-hand Sam’s Club kayaks listed. Sam’s Club kayaks offer outstanding value in beginner kayaks for family fun—and many options are available in different styles and from several manufacturers.

Taking the time to research the specific attributes of the make and model of Sam’s Club kayak you’re considering is your first step in making a wise purchase; our Paddling Buyer’s Guide is the ideal place to start. Once you’ve found a contender, consider the following advice.

Overall condition

Examine the overall condition of the kayak. Sun damage and soft spots on the hull (apply firm pressure to all parts of the kayak to test for stiffness—it shouldn’t feel spongy) are good ways to determine a kayak’s condition. After that, examine the deck (top) and hull (bottom) 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).

Kayaks sold at Sam’s Club 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.


Cheap Sam’s Club kayaks from manufacturers like Lifetime often feature bare bones outfitting. Take a close look at comfort features like the seat (is it padded and supportive for your body type?). Foot rests are critical to give you purchase on the kayak to paddle efficiently and are often absent in lower-priced kayaks; if they’re present, make sure they’re functional and not damaged by grit or sand.

The seat, back support, thigh rests and foot rests form a critical interface between the paddler and kayak. Often these features lack refinement in budget-priced Sam’s Club kayaks. Examine these parts individually and consider how well they work 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. Think about how long you’ll be sitting in the kayak. If it’s uncomfortable in a quick test, how will it feel after an hour?

Outfitting comes down to personal preference; there’s no one-size-fits-all. 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 from Sam’s Club, be sure to assess how easy it is to enter and exit the cockpit.

Wear A Life Jacket
  • Everyone, even strong swimmers, needs to wear a life jacket at all times when on the water. It is extremely difficult to put a life jacket on once you fall into the water. Even a light wind can blow any paddlecraft away from you, faster than you can swim.
  • Buy (and wear) a comfortable Type 3 or S life jacket specifically designed for paddlesports.

Make a deal

In general (that is, before Covid-19 put a premium on outdoor equipment) the typical starting point for a used 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

Accessories are key elements of fishing kayaks; if you want to do some kayak angling, make sure you examine features like rod holders, gear tracks and live wells.

If you’re offered a PFD as part of a used kayak sale 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 from Sam’s Club, read our article on How To Buy A Used Kayak.

Sam’s Club kayak buying guide

It’s pretty near impossible to live by the adage, “try before you buy” when purchasing a kayak at a wholesale outlet like Sam’s Club. However, you’re advised to do whatever you can to test paddle before you make a purchase. Test paddling will provide you with insights on how a kayak performs on the water (in terms of speed and handling); fits your body and maintains comfort in the seat and back support; and its weight and portability for getting to and from the water.

There are ways to make shopping for a Sam’s Club kayak feel less like a leap of faith. Maybe you have friends or family who already own a kayak from Sam’s Club that are willing to share for a short outing or two? This sort of experience, even in a kayak of a similar style, provides a sense of what’s available in recreational kayaks; paddling also allows you to appreciate how different kayak design elements fit your body and perform.

General wholesalers like Sam’s Club will never offer the same expertise as a specialized paddlesports retailer. If you’re serious about paddling and want to develop your skills and make an investment in a dedicated hobby, you are better off shopping elsewhere.

As mentioned earlier, Sam’s Club kayaks make excellent budget-friendly choices for those who plan on paddling sporadically—and only in calm, sheltered conditions. Remember you’re not going to find high-end, performance kayaks at Sam’s Club, but this reality may fall exactly in line with your recreational paddling needs.

Stay Clear Of All Other Vessels
  • Know the “Rules of the Road” Navigation Rules that govern all boat traffic and stay out of the way of all other vessels.
  • Never assume that power boaters can see you. Avoid high-traffic areas whenever possible. Proceed with caution when you can’t avoid paddling near boats. Dress for visibility.

Sam’s Club kayak reviews

Reading reviews is a great way to narrow your options when shopping for a kayak. This is especially important if you will be unable to paddle a boat before you buy, and if you are shopping at a store where the staff lack paddlesports expertise. To help select the right kayak from Sam’s Club, read our expert reviews below.

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