Kayaking is one of the most relaxing and fun sports to ever engage in—whether you’re a professional or just trying to have fun. This aquatic sports host various activities such as recreational kayaking, fishing, whitewater, surf kayaking—and the list could be painfully long.
Inflatable kayaks are immensely portable and light, making them so popular globally. Furthermore, the rapid advancements in the inflatable boats and kayaks industry have made many people fall in love with kayaking.
However, acquiring an excellent inflatable kayak can be a bit expensive. A top-grade kayak is feature-packed and comes with the best accessories should attract extra dollars. Even so, with the many options in the market, you can still get the best inflatable kayak for less than $500.
In this post, I’ll take you through the 10 best cheap inflatable kayaks under $500.
10 Best Cheap Inflatable Kayaks Under $500
1. Intex Excursion Pro Kayak
The Intex Excursion Pro is fabricated from a premium PVC, making it tougher and perfect for fishing activities. Moreover, this kayak is feature-packed—it comes with mobile seats, backrests, convertible footrest, and mounting bracket for fishing rods.
This inflatable has a cozy cockpit, where you can store your accessories and other fishing equipment. Its high-pressure valves make inflation and deflation easy. Furthermore, it also allows additional air, which improves your craft’s rigidity and stability.
While the Intex Excursion Pro is slightly expensive, it’s worth every penny from your pocket. If you’re a professional angler, buying this watercraft will be a strategic investment as it is durable and convenient for fishing. Besides, it’s certified by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
- The Intex Excursion Pro is made of a strong PVC for durability
- This kayak has a cozy cockpit for better control angles
- It comes with a convertible footrest
- It’s easy to line up, so you can get into the water in less time
- Has storage space for extra fishing gear and other accessories
- Its pressure gauge reads the amount of air in it
- It comes with small legroom, which can be uncomfortable for a large person
- Its paddles are inconvenient for short people
2. Intex Challenger K2
This kayak is a pre-eminent inflatable that costs below $500, making it one of the most pocket-friendly kayaks in the market. Additionally, you can use this kayak in lakes and slow-moving river waters. The Challenger K2 includes all you need to drive straight to the lake and launch from the shore.
It can accommodate two people and has a length of 11.5 feet and a width of 30 inches. This kayak weighs 39.5 pounds and has a load capacity of up to 350 pounds.
Furthermore, this kayak has a low profile, streamlined design to enhance speed, and a rough, 30 gauge, PVC vinyl construction. It includes an integral skeg for directional control and an I-beam floor construction for rigidity and increased initial stability.
Moreover, it has a large, open cockpit with inflatable seats and backrests for comfort while kayaking. Plus, a cargo net for storing additional items in the bow and plenty of storage space behind the seat.
This Kayak is sporty and entertaining, with a smooth design that makes paddling a breeze. Furthermore, it has a bright green color and sporty graphics design that stand out among other sailing crafts.
Additionally, it comes with two 86-inch aluminum paddles and an Intex high-output pump for easy inflation and deflation. It does, however, have only one Boston Valve for inflation and deflation, as opposed to other inflatable kayaks.
Finally, the craft also comes with two aluminum paddles with a high-output hand pump, rubber grips, a patch kit, and a storage bag.
- This inflatable can operate both in lakes and rivers
- The watercraft has adjustable seats and a backrest making your kayaking comfortable
- It has a solid inflatable floor for comfort and rigidity
- This Challenger K2 is constructed by vinyl materials which makes it stronger and durable
- The kayak comes with bright green color and sporty graphics for water visibility while kayaking
- This inflatable comes with metal paddles and an Intex pump for simple inflation and deflation.
- The materials used to make it are hard and puncher free hence can last longer.
- These kayak manufacturers do not provide after-sales services
- If this kayak got a puncher on its base, it could be difficult to patch
- It doesn’t have life-saving equipment
3. Intex Challenger Kayak
The Intex Challenger K1 kayak is one of the most agile and comfortable inflatable crafts available in the market. It has a spacious cockpit and a beam floor which improves stability. Besides, this kayak comes with a cargo net for storing grab lines and excess fishing gear. Additionally, the K1 has a closed deck, so you shouldn’t worry about getting wet.
This craft is among the cheapest inflatable kayaks you can ever buy. You don’t need to purchase any accessories as it comes in a complete package. What’s more, the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak comes in two models—the single-person and the duo model.
The Intex Challenger K1 kayak is affordable, but that doesn’t compromise its quality. Furthermore, this kayak comes with many features to improve comfortability and efficiency. For example, this kayak’s speed is an edge if you’re a kayaking enthusiast who prioritizes speed. Moreover, this K1 kayak is highly portable—just weighing about 28.4 pounds.
However, this craft is made with a fused vinyl structure, which isn’t puncture-resistant, and you may notice small holes at the bottom of your watercraft after your first adventure. However, the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is certified by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), ensuring its safety in use.
- The Intex Challenger K1 has a good cruising speed
- It is easy to line up
- This kayak includes an ample legroom
- It has a spacious and cozy cockpit
- Its skegs are demountable, which is suitable for directional movement
- It can be hard to navigate
- It’s not punctured-resistant
4. ADVANCED ELEMENTS Lagoon 1 Kayak
The Lagoon 1 kayak grabs the third position on this list. This sporty model is suitable for anyone who loves having fun in the water and has additional features such as a foam floor that improves buoyancy, a tracking fin, paddle loops, and inflatable seats for extra comfort.
Besides, this inflatable comes with an inner tube shield making it rigid and durable. You can use it in just about all water surfaces—lakes, estuaries, bays, and mild rivers.
This vessel is small, and most people don’t find it appealing at first sight. Still, some of its features, such as being extremely portable—weighing about 23 pounds—make it a fantastic kayak for any adventure. Plus, it has an electronically welded seam that is easy to repair, harmless to the environment, and increases your craft’s durability.
This kayak comes with excellent accessories such as a repair kit, a carrying bag, and an owner’s manual. Although this vessel does not match the Expedition or the AdvanceFrame performance levels, it costs much less than both—which strikes a balance.
- This kayak is easy to line up
- It’s very portable
- This kayak has an excellent tracking system
- It comes with a one-year warranty
- This inflatable comes with an exceptional valve that is easy to setup
- Its tracking system isn’t very effective
- The Lagoon 1 is not very stable on the water—it’s too shaky on water
- The pressure pump is sold separately
5. Sea Eagle 2 Person Inflatable Sport Kayak
This inflatable is the lightest, most portable, and arguably the most loved inflatable kayak in America. And although it weighs only 26 lbs, this vessel has a carrying capacity of up to 500lbs—in other words; it can accommodate two adults. Further, it has a self-bailing drain valve at its bottom, so you don’t have to upturn your boat to remove water from your kayak’s cockpit.
This craft comes with superb features such as adjustable seats for your comfort, a five Deluxe valve that is quick to inflate (about six minutes), ample storage space for extra gear, an inflatable I-beam structure floor that improves the kayak’s stability, among others. Additionally, this kayak is puncture-resistant as it’s made with a rigid PVC material.
This kayak also includes accessories such as a pressure gauge that keeps track of your kayak’s pressure levels and repair kit, a bow and stern line that holds your kayak fast when traveling, and two skegs that are good for traveling speed and tracking, and so on.
- This kayak is ideal for Class III white water
- The Sea Eagle has storage space for extra gear and other accessories
- It comes with strapped down inflatable spray skirts to prevent excess water in your kayak
- There’s two skegs which improve tracking and speed
- It is light, therefore easy to transport
- Its deluxe seat increases comfortability
- The Sea Eagle 330 is so light that it’s not suitable in severe weather—strong wind can blow it
- It doesn’t come with a tie-rope
- This kayak has a lower performance rate compared to other kayaks
- It’s small and can be crowdy for two persons—but they’ve got a more extensive version
6. Sea Eagle 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak
This is the perfect inflatable kayak model for both professionals and jacklegs out there. This kayak is versatile, compact, and light enough to be carried virtually everywhere—it’s the ultimate answer to kayaking fanatics who want to avoid the bulk hassle that comes with traditional kayaks.
Although this sporty kayak is lightweight (32lbs) and compact, it’s still incredibly steady and long-lasting. It is made of a robust puncture-resistant PVC material and has a floor of I-beam construction. This kayak has a carrying capacity of 650 pounds or three adults—but has space best suited for two adults.
It is packed with unique features such as two skegs on the bottom for better tracking and speed, a five deluxe that you can inflate in ten minutes or less, a pressure gauge, manual instruction, and a repair kit for you. These features make the Eagle 370 model a fair ride in clam water and class III rapids.
This model also includes different kits, aiming at a particular group—from greenhorns to veterans, from sport anglers to fun-seekers. Such flexibility is what makes this kayak famous globally.
Additionally, it can be an excellent ride for both families or solo adventurers. Its generous legroom can allow your long-distance adventures as it can prevent numbness, and you can bring your pet along as well.
- The Sea Eagle SE 370 is light and compact, so you don’t have to worry about traveling with it
- This kayak has unique features making it super-flexible to be used for different courses
- It comes with an extra coated bottom which improves durability
- This kayak model is pocket friendly—it’s relatively cheap
- It comes with two skegs which enhance speed and tracking
- It comes with a pressure gauge which indicates when you need to pump up your kayak
- This kayak is easy to line up—you’ll be in the water in no time
- Its seat webbing can stain the floor hall
- This kayak’s floor hall doesn’t have a pressure gauge
- It comes with weak paddles
- It has no tie-ropes for gear
- Its lightweight makes it prone to wind blowing
7. Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person Kayak
The Quikpak K5 is an excellent yet cheap kayak that you can carry anywhere. This kayak comes with a backpack that is ideal for portability and is very easy to set up—you can convert it from a one-person kayak to a pack in less than five minutes.
The backpack is incredible and can pack everything you need for your adventure—a hand pump, a three-piece paddle, and the kayak itself. Stunningly, you can also inflate the backpack to become the kayak’s seats, and you can zip the covers on the cockpit to act as spray skirts at your cockpit—every item in this package is applicable.
This kayak’s body has different air chambers, which improve rigidity and safety, so your inflatable won’t sink even if one section gets a puncture.
Most people are hesitant to go for this watercraft as they’re uncertain about its durability. However, the Quikpak K5 is made of a rigid PVC material which guarantees durability. What’s even better, this kayak is reinforced with a tarpaulin at the bottom, which is puncture-resistant—so you don’t need to worry about durability.
- The Quikpak K5 model is light and can be carried anywhere
- It is easy to set up
- This kayak is made of a strong PVC and reinforced with a tarpaulin material which makes it durable
- It comes with accessories such as a pump and backpack
- It doesn’t come with enough storage space
- Its tracking system is not up-to-the-mark
8. Intex Dakota K2 Heavy-Duty Vinyl Inflatable Kayak
The Intex Dakota K2 is quite different from the regular kayaks you see around. Besides being extra comfy, this kayak is agile, durable, and fast in the water. It only weighs about 30.6lbs with a dimension of 10.25 by 3 by 6 (L*W*H) and has a carrying capacity of 400lbs or up to two adults.
This 2-person kayak is built of rigid and puncture-resistant vinyl material with an I-beam floor construction for stability and three air chambers. It also comes with a long skeg line and a short one for good straight-line tracking and easy navigation.
The Dakota K2 has inflatable seats that you can adjust and move to your best position in the kayak—the seats even have a backrest to ensure that you’re very comfortable. Additionally, you’ll have two dry bags and a backpack for carrying your kayak anywhere you want.
This kayak comes with excellent accessories such as two 86-oars, an air pump, a grab loop for easy transporting even when your kayak is inflated.
The Intex Dakota K2 is safe and comfortable and arguably the best pick if you want to entirely enjoy your time in the water. Besides, you can carry it alone since it’s very light and doesn’t need lots of space so you can take it anywhere, plus other benefits.
- The Intex Dakota K2 is easy to handle
- This kayak is agile and perfect for speed
- It’s durable—made of a solid and puncture-resistant vinyl material
- It’s effortless to inflate
- This 2-person kayak is portable
- It is very affordable
- Its seats can be challenging to use
9. Solstice by Swimline Durango Kayak
Swimline Durango Kayak is the perfect kayak for you if you’re looking forward to having a wonderful outdoor experience. It‘s very reliable, unlike most conventional kayaks, which are often ineffectual. This kayak is designed with the customers in mind, as it aims to give you an exceptional adventure.
The Durango Kayak is reputable for its top-performance levels, portability, and ease of storage. Its design is easy to use, and you don’t need polished kayaking skills or experience—it comes with additional safety features.
One factor that distinguishes this model from other models is its flexibility—you can convert it from a one or two-person arrangement.
What’s more, it comes with excellent features and accessories that will make your adventure fun and a breeze, such as a repair kit, owner’s manual, removable skeg for tracking, bow and stern covers, a carrying bag.
The Solstice Durango Kayak is light, portable, and easy to transport, making it one of the best inflatable kayaks available for you in the market today. With a combination of significant features and accessories, this kayak will indeed outstrip your adventure expectations.
- The Swimline Durango Kayak is easy to line up
- It’s flexible—can be converted into a one or two-person configuration
- This kayak is light so, you can travel with it easily
- It’s pretty affordable yet durable
- Amateurs, as well as the experts, can use it.
- The backrests of the seats are not so comfortable
- It requires skills to ride in the rough water territories
10. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
The Sevylor Quikpak K1 is a single-person inflatable kayak. The kayak is carried in its backpack with shoulder straps once it has been deflated. The backpack is then unfolded and used as a seat. Although this is an ingenious concept, the seat is unlikely to be as comfortable as a fully inflated seat.
The Quikpak K1 is made of 21-gauge PVC, which can withstand stress and exposure during kayaking. This inflatable has numerous air chambers to avoid a disastrous problem if one of them is accidentally punctured. Furthermore, the tarpaulin base can provide additional protection against scraping and bumping against a submerged obstacle.
This kayak is constructed using PVC materials, making it more solid and durable. The kayak’s bottom is thicker to prevent punctures when dragging it through shallow water or along the shore. With multiple air chambers in the Sevylor Quikpak K1, you’ll be able to paddle to the nearest shore without sinking.
This K1 series is only available for a single person, and it can be set up in less than five minutes and sits on top of your backpack. Simply load this beast onto your back, head to the water, unpack, and go kayaking.
But that’s not all—this craft also comes with a drink holder and a bungee storage space for keeping your luggage while kayaking. This craft has many air chambers that guarantee your safety at all times, and it’s also stable and reliable on light water.
Furthermore, this inflatable has a unique feature which is a backpack system with a double seat. The backpack is used as a seat while kayaking and later used as a transportation bag for your kayak when you are done with your adventure.
This kayak is easy to inflate as it comes with a hand pump. However, you can also use an electric pump to inflate it. However, this hand pump doesn’t have an air meter making it challenging to know the correct pressure for your kayak. Moreover, the water’s temperature can also negatively impact the air pressure in your kayak chambers.
- It requires less time to inflate and set up and increasing your time kayaking,
- This craft has a backpack making its transportation easy Easy-to-carry
- The kayak is made up of 21-gauge PVC materials making it solid and durable
- This inflatable has a Tarpaulin base that provides stability and protection from punctures
- This craft has many air chambers that allow you to float in case one chamber deflates while kayaking
- This kayak is leak-free because it has an airtight system
- It also has a double lock valve for easy inflation and deflation
- This kayak also comes with a backrest that allows you to lean on while kayaking
- This inflatable also has many footrest positions to stretch your legs while riding on the water
- It also comes with a bungee which can store luggage and other accessories safely.
- The kayak skegs are too small, which reduces comfort when riding on them.
- This inflatable paddle is not adjustable and cannot be used by short people.
- This kayak is heavy when folded, so you can’t transport it when you are weak.
What to Look For When Purchasing Inflatable Kayaks
One of the primary factors for most peoples’ preference for inflatable kayaks over hard-shell kayaks is weight. A kayak’s weight depends on material and size, but they must be lighter than the hard-shell kayaks. Typically, a solo-person inflatable kayak ranges from eight to 40 pounds and a two-person from 35 to 65 pounds. A hard-shell kayak 1-person model ranges from 40 to 70 pounds and a two-person from 70-90 pounds.
2. Compact Size
Inflatable kayaks are deflated for easy storage in small indoor spaces if you don’t have a backyard. A reasonably small compact size is also essential for easy transportation of the kayaks as you can simply put them inside your car. Some even come with backpack straps and handles, but you can still buy bags if yours doesn’t come with one.
Any watercraft’s stability is among the most crucial safety concepts and is an essential factor considered by the maritime governing bodies such as the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
An inflatable kayak’s stability is equivalent to that of the hard shell—some kayakers feel that the inflatable kayak is more stable. The inflatable kayaks have a flatter and broader floors than most hard shells. Nonetheless, you’ve to ensure that the air sections are fully or equally inflated. Otherwise, the kayak won’t be stable.
Most people don’t trust inflatables on whitewater or rivers—they usually have deadheads and sharp fallen branches stuck out at the shores—which can damage their inflatable kayaks. Even so, the up-to-date top-quality inflatable kayaks are puncture-free—they are made of strong materials such as PVC, which are puncture-resistant. But to get such top model boats, you’ll have to part with a hefty amount.
5. The Kayak Seating
Kayaks typically come in a single, double, or tri-person seating configuration—with the seats running along their length. The whitewater kayaks often accommodate only one seat, while the vocational kayaks can come with up to three seats. When it comes to the number of seats, you should consider the water condition that you plan to have fun in and if you want to carry friends along.
6. Kayak Accessories
Accessories are critical for paddling activities; they include air pumps, paddles, owner’s manual, repair kits, and whatnots. However, not all inflatable kayaks come with all the accessories. The number and efficiency of these accessories will depend on the model that you purchase. But it’s worth noting that if you opt for top-quality accessories, you’ll have to pay more.
7. Kayak Material
There are three materials used for inflatable kayaks:
- PVC—This material comes from the vinyl polyurethane substance. Its kayaks are not very durable as the Hypalon fabricated ones. But it’s cheap, so if you’ve financial constraints, it can be your best pick.
- Nitrilon—The Nitrilon kayaks came as an alternative to the PVC kayak—they’re new in the market. They’re environment-friendly materials contrary to the PVC materials. They are also more puncture-resistant and perform better in extreme weather conditions.
- Hypalon—This material is a synthetic rubber and is used to fabricate extravagant inflatable kayaks. The Hypalon material is solid. Thus it’s resistant to impacts of intense UV rays, extreme weather, chemical, among others.
8. Kayak Types
If you’re new to kayaking, you should take time to understand the available inflatable kayaks available for you in the market. Itchy kayak is designed for a specific use, and you wouldn’t want to pick the wrong kayak. Let’s see the available inflatable kayaks and their use:
- Touring Kayaks—This inflatable is designed for traveling through flat water. They’re characterized by a thin yet long shape and are flexible as you can use them in fresh and salty water bodies.
- White Water Kayaks—The white water inflatable kayaks have a short and wide shape. This structure can help you navigate the waters with little to no effort since the water motion alone can propel the craft.
- Sea Kayaks—Inflatable sea kayaks come in the same shape as the touring Kayaks—thin and long. However, they have additional features such as the scupper hole that make them suitable for sea navigation.
- Fishing Kayaks—Inflatable fishing kayaks have various lengths—from long, medium, to short. But the clear-cut feature of this kayak is in its round shape at the front and back, which improves its stability.
- Sit-On-Top Kayaks—Inflatable sit-on-top kayaks have lofty seats—which places the paddlers on top of the kayak.
There are tons of cheap inflatable kayaks out there if you love kayaking activities. However, you ought to consider the nature of the adventure that you’re planning to participate in.
If you’re a newbie and can’t guarantee kayaking frequently, buying a new high-end inflatable kayak won’t be necessary. The used inflatable kayaks with good features can be an excellent option for you.
However, if you’re a veteran and would probably go for outdoor adventure every weekend, you should consider buying the high-end product.