The price tag of a kayak can vary so much that anyone new to the hobby might be confused as to just where their money is going. This article will explain all the details so you can understand the ideal balance between money and performance based on your needs.
A kayak’s cost can be significantly different, and it can be hard to understand why until you do some research.
- Kayaks prices vary widely, so there is no ‘standard’ figure for how much a kayak costs. It can depend on multiple factors.
- What purpose a kayak is designed for, the materials used in its construction, and if it needs more skilled labor to make it all determine the price.
- There is so much choice available on the market that it’s well worth researching and figuring out exactly what you need to avoid overpaying.
What Will the ”Average” Kayak Cost?
The price range for an average kayak will vary from $100 to $1000 and upwards.
Firstly, it should be understood that there is no ‘average’ kayak. They are all designed for different purposes, and there can be an ocean of differences between the price of a recreational kayak and a whitewater kayak, for example.
You could pick up a very cheap inflatable kayak for $80, but a high-performance touring kayak could set you back over $1000!
Throughout this article, We’ll look at the more common and cheaper kayak options and progress toward the more expensive ones. As with nearly any tool or piece of sports equipment, there will be differences in cost between kayaks of the same type, so use your due diligence when shopping for a kayak.
ALSO READ: Why are kayaks so expensive?
- Recreational kayaks can cost roughly as low as $300 and as high as $1000.
When most people think of kayaks, they’ll think of a recreational kayak. In a nutshell, they’re designed for beginners, are usually quite stable, and tend to be on the cheaper side. But there are always more expensive options.
Generally speaking, higher costs come from more storage space and better materials. Recreational kayaks are entry-level, which means most manufacturers want them to appeal to as many potential customers as possible, which means lower-priced kayaks.
Depending on your location, you might get very cheap kayaks (sub $80 potentially) from general stores, but they will always be the lowest quality option.
- Fishing kaykas can cost anywhere from $500 to upwards of $2000.
Fishing kayaks make up the second kind of accessible kayak. The kayaks cost a little more than recreational kayaks, as they tend to be bigger and more specialized and come with extra storage space.
The advanced pedal drive fishing kayaks will always cost more. Depending on your location, you might find cheaper fishing kayaks that hover around the $300 mark. They’ll get the job done, but they’ll also be bare-bones regarding features.
These kayaks cost more, but manufacturers understand that most fishing enthusiasts are willing to pay more.
How Much Does an Inflatable Kayak Cost?
- Inflatable kayaks can cost around $100 to over $1000.
Inflatable kayaks share many similarities between fishing kayaks and beginner-friendly recreation kayaks.
In fact, it’s not uncommon to see newbies paddling an inflatable recreational kayak, and for very good reason! Inflatable kayaks are:
- Easy to control
- Hard to capsize
- Can handle a lot of weight
- Surprisingly sturdy
It’s also not uncommon to find inflatable fishing kayaks on the market; their extra stability and good weight capacity lend themselves well to this role. Another advantage of inflatable kayaks is that they’re easy to store and transport.
Simply deflate them and shove them in the back of a car, and on a warm and calm sunny day, they can double up as a lie-on float.
What Are The Most Expensive Kayaks?
The above kayaks can be classed as the more basic kayaks, but there’s more information on the more advanced ones below.
Here’s where things get exciting (and perhaps a little scary on the wallet/purse). While most people understand a fishing kayak or a recreational kayak, it can take a bit of experience and research to get your head around some of the pricier kayaks.
It’s not just the power of marketing. The kayaks below are all built differently, generally from higher quality materials, and can’t be produced to scale as easily. This tends to notch up the kayak prices significantly.
- Sea kayak prices start at $1700 and go up to around $5000.
A sea kayak can be classified as a touring kayak, but not all kayaks are the same. These kayaks are designed to go beyond the confines of the beach; they need to be sturdy enough to handle ocean conditions and agile enough to slice through the waves.
Sea kayaks can be constructed from carbon fiber, aramid fiber, fiberglass, and other materials that cost a pretty penny. They are built to maximize performance and these are not beginner-friendly kayaks.
- Tandem kayak prices can start from around $500 and go up to around $2500.
Tandem kayaks are kayaks that can fit in 2 to a maximum of 3 people. There are both inflatable and hard shell variants of tandem kayaks.
Tandem kayaks tend to be on the expensive side due to size and manufacturing; due to their size only specialist shops tend to stock them. The market for these is small, and prices tend to spike sharply instead of increasing gradually.
Tandem touring kayaks will nearly always be the most expensive (and largest) kayaks.
- Touring kayak prices can start at around $1000 and go well upwards of $2000.
Touring kayaks can sometimes cause confusion as many different subfamilies of kayaks fall under this umbrella. One example is sea kayaks, but they’re specialized enough to have their own price range.
Touring kayaks can also get very large, due to being designed for anything from a big day out on your kayak to a multi-day expedition. They come with many features and extra storage rooms and are constructed out of resilient materials.
- Whitewater kayak prices tend to hover around $1000 with higher-cost models hitting around $1500.
Whitewater kayaks are nearly always smaller, which is most likely why their price ranges don’t vary as much. The downside to this is that new models are going to be expensive.
On the plus side, this type of kayak is often compared to mountain bikes, which are notoriously updated by manufacturers annually. You can usually get reasonable quality second-hand whitewater kayaks or you can find stores doing deals on older models they haven’t shifted.
Why Are Certain Kayaks Cheaper or More Expensive?
The cost of a kayak can vary wildly, but the price ranges above should point you in the right direction when looking at the price tag on your newest purchase.
The sections above briefly touched on some of the factors that determine kayak price, but below, you’ll learn everything you need to know to understand why some kayaks have a steep cost.
Brands can also be a big factor, a Hobie kayak (a brand that’s known for pedal kayaks and beginner kayaks) will tend to cost more due to popularity.
If two kayaks have similar functions, are made of the same materials, and both seem to have good customer reviews then it’s usually a more popular brand that makes the difference in cost.
Used or Second-Hand Kayaks Will Always Be Cheaper
Like nearly anything, new kayaks will always cost more than a used kayak. Old kayaks can be fine, but the newer you are to kayaking, the more it’s recommended to avoid secondhand hulls and opt for new kayaks.
You can find used kayaks everywhere, plenty of people sell them in online marketplaces, and sometimes specialty stores can put you in touch with vendors who sell used kayaks in good condition.
The main disadvantage here is that you don’t always know what you’re getting. The less knowledgeable you are about kayaks, the more likely you are to be ripped off. Unlike a larger store, it might be impossible to get your money back.
Many people selling a used kayak will often knock a good chunk off its original retail price. However, you should beware of a kayak being sold for too cheap, (unless you know the seller well), as that can be a potential red flag.
On average, used kayak prices can be 75 to 50 percent of the original retail price of the hull.
Materials used in construction have a huge say in the overall cost of a kayak. Composite kayaks, for example, will nearly always be cheaper than polyethylene (plastic kayaks).
It’s not that more advanced materials are safer; the material choice is often a design and performance decision by kayak manufacturers. You’re getting better functionality from more expensive materials, but you pay a premium.
Standard kayaks can have components made from cheap but durable plastic, but more expensive kayaks can be made from fiberglass and kevlar covering.
Specialty Kayaks Are More Expensive
The more niche and specialized a kayak gets, the more the cost increases.
For example, a tandem kayak is often expensive, but a tandem touring kayak is even more expensive. Some variants of kayaks are also even more pricier because they’re much harder to design.
Folding kayaks are the perfect example of this. A good folding kayak will cost around $1800 and it’s not uncommon to find them costing around $2500.
Why are folding kayaks so expensive? As the name suggests, they are built to be tucked in and transported easily by people who might be going on long trips to further out places. They are harder to design, have a limited number of interested buyers, and cost more to manufacture; therefore, the kayaks’ cost increases considerably.
Another example of this is seen in the world of kayak fishing. Some fishing kayaks can be deceptively cheap, but depending on where you’re fishing, you might need a pedal drive system to move hands-free. Most kayak manufacturers are aware of this, and most retailers will then hike their prices considerably.
How Can You Keep Kayak Costs Down?
There are multiple handy things you can do to help keep the cost of a kayak down to reasonable levels. It’s easy to sink money on features you don’t need or be lured into thinking you need an advanced kayak with its accompanying hike in cost.
Cheap kayaks can definitely get the job done fine, especially for a beginner. That said, be aware that there is such a thing as too cheap. Kayaks made from the cheapest materials available or not constructed to last long will fall apart or get damaged much more easily.
When You Buy Matters
Like any sport, kayaking has off seasons and peak times. Depending upon where you’re located, the start of a new kayaking season tends to be when most kayak manufacturers will launch their latest models.
This is probably the worst time to buy, as most stores will try to make the most money possible.
The best time to buy kayaks is right at the end of the season. The older models that haven’t been sold will most likely be placed on discount sales. Stores that haven’t managed to sell their stock will lower their prices, and you’re more likely to find a good quality new kayak at a decent value for money.
Buy Only What You Need
For many new kayakers, buying that one really good kayak for more money now than purchasing a few over the years can be tempting. This might seem like a perfectly logical way to save money, but it’s not the best plan.
Most dedicated kayaks are going to go through more than one kayak through their experience. For example, you might not love whitewater kayaking, so forking out for a high-end recreational kayak would be a waste of money.
It’s better to purchase a few solid kayaks over time, as your skill and understanding of what you want out of kayaking evolves.
As long as you take care of your old kayak, it’s not hard to sell it to someone else and “trade up”. This is especially true for the cheaper, beginner-friendly models; the more high-end advanced kayaks tend to be more difficult to sell second-hand.
Look For Older Models
As mentioned, you can buy kayaks that are 2 or 3 years old that have absolutely fantastic features at lower price ranges simply because the store doesn’t want to completely lose out on money before manufacturers launch newer kayak models.
However, like iPhones, not everyone feels comfortable intentionally buying older kayaks – stores will often try to downplay older models compared to newer ones.
The fact is, unless you need cutting-edge kayak performance, an older and cheaper kayak will serve you very well for a long time. This can be a great way for beginners to get into more specialized forms of kayaking once they’ve decided what they like.
Should You Rent or Buy?
Having your own kayak can be a great feeling, but renting is a good idea if you only intend to dabble in kayaking occasionally.
Renting is also great if you’re unsure about investing in a new kayak.
However, if you know you like kayaking and will do it semi-regularly, then it’s nearly always worth purchasing your own. You’ll save money in the long run and know the kayak you’re using is up to the job.
The price of a kayak can go from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. So, if you’re wondering, “How much does a kayak cost?” there’s no one size fits all correct price tag.
There are a lot of variables at play, but researching what you need and learning what different kayaks do can help you understand some of the factors behind the cost of a kayak.
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