Regardless of how and and where you plan to paddle, kayak prices are often a determining factor in purchasing a kayak. There is no one set answer to the question, “how much does a kayak cost?” As with other kayak-related queries, kayak cost varies with style of kayak and—most importantly—kayak construction and features.
This article breaks down the simple question, “what does a kayak cost?” into numerous categories to help guide you in selecting the right boat for your budget.
What is the average cost of a kayak?
The cost of a kayak reveals tradeoffs in design and comfort. For example, kayaks sold at box stores like Walmart and Costco are amongst the cheapest on the market—often selling for $500 or less. However, these entry level recreational and fishing kayaks are extremely limited in performance, features and intended use. You’ll find basic outfitting, including rudimentary molded seats and less comfortable back support, reflecting the fact that these kayaks are meant for shorter outings on the water.
Performance is similarly lacking, with the focus on stability rather than efficiency and glide. Cheap box store kayaks are made of heavy plastic and are cumbersome to carry. Inflatable kayaks are often found in this category as well; these models are somewhat lighter, more portable and easy to store—but they’re further lacking in paddling efficiency and notoriously short on durability.
Sporting goods and outdoor store kayaks sold at places like Dunham’s Sports, Bass Pro and Dick’s Sporting Goods are somewhat more expensive, often in the $500 to $1,000 range. These models are still recreational and fishing kayaks meant for use on calm sheltered water, however added price means greater comfort and more convenient features, such as ergonomic carry handles. This price-point is also dominated by heavy plastic kayaks that are difficult to move around between storage areas, your car and the launch.
The average cost of a day touring kayak—the ideal choice for someone willing to invest in an enhanced paddling experience and wishing to improve their skills and spend more time on the water, is about $1,500. You’ll often find this type of 12- to 15-foot kayak sold at outdoors stores with a paddling department, such as REI or MEC. At this price you’re investing in a kayak that will be more fun to paddle over longer distances, complete with safety features (such as two watertight bulkheads) that make it safer for trained paddlers (with practiced assisted- and self-rescue skills) to use in open water conditions.
The price of a day touring kayak increases significantly with material and lightness in weight. For example, a plastic day touring kayak may cost $1,200. On the other hand, a top-of-the-line composite day touring kayak (constructed of fiberglass or ultralight aramid or carbon fiber) can cost over $3,000.
Prices for dedicated fishing kayaks from respected manufacturers are similarly wide-ranging. Expect to spend around $1,000 to $2,000 for a solid sit-on-top fishing kayak with angler-specific features like rod holders, accessory gear tracks, transducer capability and tank well. Sophisticated technology like pedal drives—which keep your hands free for casting and catching—increase the cost of a fishing kayak. If you’re ready to invest in a top-of-the-line pedal drive kayak for serious, feature-rich fishing, the price tag ranges from $3,000 to $5,000.
Finally, sea kayaks cost between $1,500 and $5,000, depending on construction (rotomolded plastic is cheapest). These kayaks are sold at specialty paddlesports stores and they’re aimed at buyers who take paddling seriously, including overnight and expedition kayakers, and fitness paddlers. At this price you are purchasing a kayak that’s been carefully designed for performance, safety and comfort.
This category is defined by kayaks that are capable of paddling long distances efficiently; include critical safety features like bulkheads and smaller cockpits for use in open and exposed water; and feature comfortable seats and thoughtfully arranged outfitting, such as ergonomic seats and thigh braces that promote comfort and paddling efficiency.
How much does a used kayak cost?
The price of a used kayak often mirrors the price of a similar new one. In general, a “good deal” for a used kayak is about half of its retail price. However this metric varies from model to model, and especially between the different categories of kayak (e.g., recreational versus sea kayak).
Age is the biggest influence of used kayak cost. Several variables go along with age: an older kayak will have seen harder use (or longer storage)—its hull may be damaged by impact, abrasion or UV radiation; and older kayaks often feature less refined comfort features, such as basic (uncomfortable) seats and outfitting.
It’s fair to say that a cheap, box store kayak that’s in decent shape and sold on the used market shouldn’t cost more than half of its retail price. However, some specialty sea kayaks, including high-performance, British-made touring kayaks, are harder to come by and hence demand higher prices—even if they’ve been used.
It’s critical to do your research and know the retail price of the boat you are considering. It’s just as important to inspect a used kayak for damage that may compromise its paddling efficiency, safety and comfort and therefore decrease its value.
Prices by type of kayak
The price of a “decent” kayak also varies by type of kayak. Here’s an overview of what to expect.
Whitewater kayak cost
You may think that the smaller overall dimensions of a whitewater boat would mean this type of kayak is cheaper than all the rest. However, the typical price for a new whitewater kayak is about $1,000, or about the same as a day touring kayak. At this price you’re getting a brand new whitewater kayak with comfortable outfitting and a capable design.
Like downhill skis or mountain bikes, whitewater kayak designs are often tweaked on an annual basis—meaning that it’s possible to find great deals on the used market, especially in regions with strong whitewater communities, such as the Ottawa Valley, Pacific Northwest or the U.S. Southeast.
Recreational kayak cost
Recreational kayaks have a large price range, dictated by where you shop for your kayak. A Walmart or Costco kayak often runs less than $200. Meanwhile, the popular Wilderness Systems Pungo 125, a recreational kayak with upgraded comfort and safety features, retails for $1,100 (USD).
Sea kayak cost
The price of a sea kayak varies with its construction material. The cheapest (and most durable) sea kayaks are made of rotomolded plastic and cost about $1,900; by comparison, a state of the art sea kayak in fiberglass or lighter weight aramid fiber runs between $3,800 and $5,000 for a single (doubles cost upwards of $5,800).
How much do fishing kayaks cost?
There’s huge variability in fishing kayak cost, depending on where you buy the kayak and the accessories and features it has. For example, a cheap Walmart fishing kayak can be purchased for under $300. Outdoors box stores like Bass Pro sell fishing kayaks for under $500.
But if you want to invest in top-of-the-line (especially if you want features like a pedal drive to keep your hands free for angling), expect to invest $2,000 to $5,000 into a new fishing kayak.
How much does a single kayak cost?
Because single kayaks are available in all types of kayaks (and all constructions), there’s a huge range in prices—from $100 for a kid’s recreational kayak to $5,000 for a carbon fiber sea kayak or first-rate fishing kayak. Best to divide single kayaks into various usage categories to define what’s a reasonable price.
Recreational kayaks: $100 to $1,200; day touring kayaks $1,000 to $2,000; and sea kayaks $2,000 to $5,000.
How much does a 2-person kayak cost?
Similar to single-person kayaks, the cost of 2-person kayaks varies considerably by type and construction. You can purchase a 2-person recreational kayak for well under $1,000 (2-person inflatable kayaks run under $500); in contrast, a high-end composite tandem sea kayak retails for nearly $6,000.
Clear kayak cost
If you’re lucky enough to find a clear polycarbonate kayak, anticipate paying a premium for the unique perspective these recreational kayaks afford. Clear kayaks cost between $1,500 to $2,200.
How much do inflatable kayaks cost?
Inflatable kayaks are generally the same price as entry level recreational kayaks. You can purchase an inflatable kayak at Walmart for well under $500.
Kayak with motor price
A select few fishing kayaks are available with motors. For example, the Brooklyn Kayak Company sells a 13-foot fishing kayak equipped with an electric trolling motor for about $2,000. DIYers may be able to retrofit an existing fishing kayak with a trolling motor to save money.
Pedal kayak prices
Pedal kayak prices range from $1,300 to nearly $5,000. This style of sit-on-top kayak is often designed for kayak fishing, with the distinct advantage of allowing the kayak to be propelled hands-free.
Sit-on-top kayak prices
Sit-on-top kayak prices vary depending on design and features—with distinct lines drawn between different retail locations. Sit-on-top kayaks are cheapest at box stores like Walmart or Costco, where you can pick up a basic model for under $200. In contrast, a tricked out sit-on-top fishing kayak with ergonomic seating and plenty of accessories can cost $1,500 or more at outdoors stores like Bass Pro and Cabela’s.
Sit-in kayak cost
There’s a vast array of sit-inside kayaks meant for a host of applications—and an equally large range of prices. Entry-level sit-inside kayaks sold at department stores like Walmart and Canadian Tire can be purchased for $500 or less. Meanwhile, advanced sea kayak designs crafted in space age materials cost up to $5,000. Price points for various styles of sit-inside kayaks are outlined throughout the rest of this article.
Prices by brand
As with all consumer goods, the brand of a kayak plays a huge role in determining its price. Here’s a list of common kayak brands and typical prices.
Bonafide kayaks cost
Bonafide manufactures sit-on-top kayaks for fishing and recreational use. Bonafide boats feature upscale outfitting and options for standing and paddling—a benefit for anglers. Bonafide kayaks cost around $1,100 US for most models.
Dagger kayak price
Dagger is a great choice for enthusiasts looking for a safe and reliable kayak with reasonable performance that won’t break the bank. The brand makes a range of whitewater, recreation and day touring kayaks, including the popular Stratos line, which retail for around $800 to $1,500 US.
Eddyline kayak prices
Eddyline is a well-established manufacturer of recreation, fishing, day touring and sea kayaks, crafted from durable and lightweight thermoform plastic. Its models range in price from $1,299 US for sit-on-tops to $2,099 US for a well-equipped fishing kayak, and $2,649 US and $3,349 US for single and tandem sea kayaks, respectively.
Emotion kayak price
Emotion produced cheap recreational kayaks that were sold in big box stores. The brand was acquired by Lifetime, which remains available at the same retail outlets and price point. In general, you can purchase an Emotion (Lifetime) kayak for under $500.
Feelfree kayak price
Feelfree kayaks are meant for beginner kayakers looking for more comfort in a recreational boat. Its fishing and recreational sit-on-top kayaks retail for $549 to $1,500 US, depending on the model. Pedal-drive Feelfree fishing kayaks sell for $2,400 to $2,969 US.
Hobie kayak cost
The popular watersports brand Hobie produces sit-on-top recreational and fishing kayaks with the option of paddling, pedaling or even sailing. True to its longstanding tradition of quality and innovation, Hobie kayaks are unique and fun to paddle, pedal or sail.
Prices range from $1,500 to $2,000 US for a paddle- or simple pedal-drive kayak, or $3,000 to $5,000 US for a more advanced pedal-drive fishing or sailing kayak.
Hurricane kayak prices
This small manufacturer of recreational and touring kayaks builds boats from strong and light thermoform plastic. Hurricane prices range from $1,000 to $2,000 US.
Jackson kayak prices
Jackson Adventures makes a huge range of whitewater, fishing and recreational kayaks. All of its kayaks are well designed, with comfortable outfitting and safety features. Prices range from around $1,500 US for whitewater kayaks and recreational kayaks; and $1,100 to $1,749 US for paddle-powered fishing kayaks (about $3,349 US for pedal-powered fishing kayaks).
Liquidlogic kayak prices
Liquidlogic produces whitewater and recreational kayaks that are sold in paddlesports specialty shops. Its kayaks are well-made and thoughtfully designed, with prices ranging from around $800 US for recreational sit-on-top kayaks to about $1,000 to $1,300 US for recreational sit-inside kayaks and whitewater kayaks.
Native kayak prices
Native Watercraft specializes in affordable and accessible sit-on-top kayaks for serious anglers. Prices range from $849 to $2,599 US, depending on the model.
Ocean Kayak price
Ocean Kayak is a well-established brand that invented the sit-on-top kayak style decades ago. Its recreational boats are still among the best available, with thoughtful design features and comfortable outfitting. Prices range from $600 to $1,500 US for paddle-powered models.
Oru kayak cost
This innovative San Francisco-based kayak brand produces unique folding kayaks that are perfect for those looking for good performance in a recreational or touring kayak that doesn’t require a garage for storage. Oru kayaks cost between $899 and $1,999 US, depending on the model.
Perception kayak price
Perception is another American brand producing more advanced recreational and fishing kayaks—ideal for enthusiasts looking for a safe and reliable kayak with reasonable performance at a decent price. Most Perception kayaks retail for under $1,000 US.
Seaward kayak prices
This Vancouver Island-based manufacturer produces composite fiberglass and aramid sea kayaks that are popular for kayak trippers and outfitters. Seaward offers single and tandem sea kayak designs, ranging in price from $3,425 to $4,650 US.
Sun Dolphin kayak prices
You’ll find Sun Dolphin’s lineup of discount kayaks sold in box stores like Dunham’s Sports and TSC. Sun Dolphin kayaks are meant for casual use on calm and sheltered water; prices are generally well under $500.
Tiderace kayak price
These British-built composite sea kayaks are favored by advanced sea kayakers who like to paddle in rough water. Tiderace kayaks have limited distribution in North America. Prices range from $3,900 to $4,100 US.
TRAK kayak price
TRAK manufactures a unique folding sea kayak with an internal aluminum frame and durable fabric shell. Its TRAK 2.0 design is ideal for globetrotting paddlers seeking a capable boat for use in challenging waters, with enough storage for multi-day trips. A TRAK kayak is also a good choice for those without the space to store a full-size sea kayak. A new TRAK kayak lists for $3,599 US.
Viking Kayaks price
Viking produces fishing kayaks as well as a sleek sit-on-top surf ski for fitness paddling, all constructed in durable (and budget-friendly) rotomolded plastic. Prices for all models range from $1,399 to $1,599 US.
Prices by store
Kayak prices Walmart
As with its other consumer goods, Walmart is known for cheap kayaks—typically under $750. It’s important to recognize the significant performance, comfort and safety limitations in purchasing such a kayak: Walmart kayaks are meant for casual, near-shore use in calm water. However, if that’s all you want in a kayak, you won’t find many cheaper places to buy.
Kayak prices Amazon
Amazon boasts similar kayak prices to Walmart, with the advantage of a well-established online marketplace that offers free shipping to your door. Prices are similar to Walmart: generally well under $1,000, with many recreational kayak options selling for $500 or less. Bear in mind these kayaks come with the same performance, comfort and safety limitations mentioned for Walmart kayaks (above).
Specialty retailers listing higher-end kayaks on Amazon may charge more, particularly for day touring kayaks (expect to pay the usual shop rates for these boats, eg. $1,000 to $2,000).
Prices by material
Material (or, more correctly, weight) plays a huge role in kayak price. Here’s a rundown of common kayak materials and the prices you can expect to pay for each.
Plastic kayak price
In any given category of kayak, plastic construction will always be your cheapest option. Plastic is heavier than other kayak materials, and consequently more cumbersome to load on a car and carry around.
There’s a huge range in plastic kayak price, with recreational kayak prices ranging from $200 to $1,000; day touring kayaks varying from $1,000 to $2,000; and plastic sea kayaks running from $1,500 to $2,500.
Carbon fiber kayak price
Carbon fiber is a space-age material that’s used in the lightest sea kayaks. Expect to pay over $4,500 for a carbon fiber kayak.
Fiberglass kayak price
Fiberglass kayaks are also quite expensive; this material is often indicative of a quality design, and usually restricted to day touring and sea kayak categories of kayaks. Fiberglass kayak price ranges from $3,000 to $5,000, depending on the model.
Wooden kayak price
Wooden kayaks are a special category. DIY wooden kayak kits with everything you need to build your own kayak are available for under $1,200. By contrast, a fully built, handmade wooden kayak costs $5,000 or more (if you can find one).
How much should I spend on a kayak?
Ultimately, the question of how much should I spend on a kayak comes down to your paddling aspirations—and, or course, your budget. Saving a few bucks and buying a cheap Walmart kayak is fine if you plan to paddle casually, making short outings on sheltered water. However, your skills will quickly exceed the capacity of such a boat if you plan to paddle more seriously—and you’ll be frustrated with a basic, inefficient and uncomfortable design.
Weight is another major consideration: A lighter kayak is a wise (albeit more expensive) investment if your paddling reality requires you to transport your kayak to and from the water. Retail prices for new kayaks will always be inflated compared to used. One compromise solution, especially if you live in an area with a robust paddling community, is to search the used market for the kayak of your dreams. You may find a gem that meets all your needs for a fraction of the retail price.