If you are here you probably know what a recreational kayak is. However, if you do not know, FYI a recreational kayak is for people who are casual paddlers and are mostly limited to flat waters such as lakes and slow-moving rivers and bays.
With their users in mind, recreational kayaks have some characteristic design features such as a larger cockpit opening for easy entry and exit. They also have a wider beam and this gives them more stability and is usually 12 feet or shorter making them lighter, easier to handle, and less expensive.
However, due to their wider hull design, they don’t track as well and move relatively slowly when compared to other kayak types.
That was a brief overview of what recreational kayaks are. They, at the moment, make the largest segment of kayak sales and this is due to many reasons including how affordable they are.
In recreational kayaks, you are not exposing your kayak to extreme conditions and are not expecting much from it. This scenario opens up quite a few options when it comes to the material of construction and this gives you different choices. This includes the inflatable kayaks which are currently the most affordable kayaks around.
Our Picks For 12 Best Recreational Kayaks Under $500
The table below enlists our picks and a few of their attributes to give you a general idea. On the other side of the table, we will discuss each in detail and what is and what is not good about them.
|Old Town Kayaks Vapor 10||Sit-in||325 Lbs||Solo|
|Sundolphin Aruba 10- Foot||Sit-in||250 Lbs||Solo|
|Advanced Elements Kayak||Sit-in||300 Lbs||Solo|
|Lifetime Tandem Kayak||Sit-top||500 Lbs||Tandem|
|Ocean Kayak Frenzy Kayak||Sit-top||325 Lbs||Solo|
|Advanced Elements Sport||Sit-in||250 Lbs||Solo|
|Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person||Sit-top||490 Lbs||Tandem|
|Intex Challenger K2 Kayak||Sit-top||400 Lbs||Tandem|
|Bluefin SUP Stand Up||Sit-top||287 Lbs||Solo|
|Emotion Spitfire Kayak||Sit-top||350 Lbs||Solo|
|Perception Sound 9.5 Kayak||Sit-in||300 Lbs||Solo|
|Pelican Maxim 100X Kayak||Sit-in||275 Lbs||Solo|
1. Old Town Vapor 10 Recreational Kayak – Get Comfortable And Get Going
The Old Town Canoe Company had humble beginnings in the late 19th century. Currently, they are one of the very few businesses from Maine to achieve legendary status nationally. They are currently the world’s oldest manufacturers of canoes and kayaks. You would agree with me that you have to be really good to stay for this long.
Vapor 10, as you can probably guess, is a 10-foot kayak. This sit-in kayak has a single-layer linear polyethylene construction and this is pretty much the norm these days in entry-level kayaks. This material is lightweight and inexpensive. Overall construction is pretty impressive and you can hope that this kayak will last you some time.
Aesthetically, Vapor 10 comes in a number of vibrant color combinations. My personal favorite is the Cloud which incorporates different shades of blue and white. These colors make these kayaks highly visible and this is a good safety feature to have. You will love the smooth finishing this kayak has.
Why this kayak makes our list is because of its huge cockpit at 19.5 x 48 inches and its other comfort-oriented features. These include an adjustable foot brace system. It also has thigh pads, so you can get in a more settled and easy position.
One feature which is mostly compromised in entry-level kayaks is the seat. Vapor 10 has what the company calls a Comfort Flex seat. I would have to say this is not the best seat you are going to find but it is not that bad either. I would love to have some more padding on the bottom and back. However, you can add a bit of cushion to make it better.
Performance-wise, don’t expect it to be a speedster but you would love how stable it is. It essentially is very hard to topple. Its high deck catches a lot of wind and this can make it lose speed. Its short length makes it highly maneuverable and it tracks okay. These points make it one of the best recreational kayaks for beginners.
2. Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Recreational Kayak – Rugged Construction Makes It Last
Sun Dolphin makes a number of recreational kayaks that are affordable and durable. Aruba 10 is easily their best-selling model at the moment. This series also has Aruba 8 and Aruba 12 which are 8 and 12 feet long respectively. Aruba 10 itself is a 10-foot sit-in kayak.
This kayak has a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) construction and this makes it durable and impact resistant. However, HDPE itself is not UV resistant and to counter this fact Sun Dolphin has used Fortiflex reinforcement and this protects against UV rays. This gives kayak color-fastness and improves its longevity.
When it comes to storage, there is not much to talk about. I mean at 10 feet what can you expect from a kayak. However, Aruba 10 has a storage area at the stern with 6″ D X 8″ W X 11″ L dimensions. It also has a bungee cord to secure your gear. This area is hard to access when you are on the water and is not particularly watertight. There is a bottle holder at the bow end which is easy to access.
Performance-wise, I have to admit it performed better than I had expected. As said earlier, its V-shaped design gives it good speed. Its wider cockpit at 17 inches makes it stable, but it does lead to some speed loss. It tracks well when in motion but when starting out it is a bit wobbly. As you can expect from a short kayak, Aruba 10 is easy to maneuver. Therefore, overall it ticks more boxes than you can expect from a short kayak.
What makes matters better from the comfort side of things are the adjustable thigh pads and footrests. These features give you a comfort level that is good enough that you can spend two to three hours on the water without getting tired.
You would love how portable this kayak is. At only 10 feet and 40 pounds, you can easily carry it to and from water and it does not take much space for storage. There are two T-handles, one each at bow and stern, and these make transfers even easier.
3. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Recreational Kayak – A High-End Inflatable Kayak
Advanced Elements has been around since 2006 and over this time has produced some innovative inflatable kayaks. AdvancedFrame is one such kayak and has some impressive features to boast about.
One obvious concern about inflatable kayaks is their durability. AdvancedFrame utilizes PVC tarpaulin as its hull material. It consists of three layers, in which the middle layer of polyester fabric is sandwiched between two layers of vinyl. This construction gives this kayak one of the best constructions you are going to find in inflatables.
Tarp is resistant to almost anything. Therefore, you can tick the durability concern off your list. The addition of extra towels makes it highly puncture resistant and it can withstand dog claws.
In addition to that, this kayak has a multiple-chamber build. Therefore, even if one chamber loses air, you still have others to take you ashore.
Inflation is not the fastest. It takes about 10-15 minutes and is a good warmup to get you started. I like that it has a pressure relief valve which makes sure that kayak is not over-inflated. This is an important feature to have especially when you are in hot weather and that can lead to increased air pressure which can damage the chambers.
One relief is its huge weight capacity at 300 pounds. However, people over 6 feet might feel cramped because of short leg space.
In terms of storage, it would be unfair to expect some ground-breaking storage options from this small kayak. On the low end, you have a nice bungee network where you can keep your camping gear secure. You can also stash some of your stuff at the back, but there is nothing to secure this and you would need some additional strings to keep it secure.
The seat consists of adjustable back support which is made up of foam and provides good enough comfort. This seat is removable and this also helps in transport and storage. The seat also has a back pocket where you can keep some of your valuables, but keep them in an additional pouch as the area is not watertight.
4. Lifetime 10 Foot Tandem Recreational Kayak – Versatile and Capable
This next entry on our list of best recreational kayaks under $500 is unique in the sense that it is a two-person or a tandem kayak. It essentially is a sit-on-top kayak and this gives it some characteristic advantages. These include freedom of movement and you do not have that claustrophobic feeling which you can experience in a sit-in kayak.
When we talk about its construction, this 10-foot kayak has a high-density polyethylene as the base material. Moreover, it has undergone UV protection treatment. This combination makes it durable and impact resistant. In terms of design, you will like its tunnel hull design and this makes it stable and difficult to topple.
One feature which you are likely to not find in most recreational kayaks and makes this kayak more versatile is its enhanced rocker. In simple words, it is the lift of the front end of the kayak. With enhanced rocker, this kayak can handle some heavy waters.
This tandem kayak has a width of 36 inches and this increased height/width ratio also improves its stability.
As discussed in earlier entries on the list, it is the seat that gets compromised in budget kayaks and this is also the case in this kayak. Although you get two seats, these more specifically are just backrests which you need to clip to the kayak. There is not much padding and these bottomless seats do not provide much comfort.
The comfort side of things is somewhat improved by multiple grooved footrests. The leg space may be a bit cramped for two adults. Therefore, I would suggest you use this kayak for solo adventures or maybe with a kid at best.
I said you can turn this kayak into a fishing kayak, but adding just three-rod holders does not make it a fishing kayak. There is not enough room for both people on board to cast their lines and you do not have much space for your catch or your tackle.
In terms of storage, you have a 6-inch dry hatch at the stern which you can use to store some of your valuables. There is also a bungee strap at the front end and you can secure some of your stuff there. In short, you
5. Ocean Kayak Frenzy Recreational Kayak – For A Pleasant Solo Adventure
Ocean Kayak is the world’s leading manufacturer of sit-on-top kayaks. One thing their kayaks are famous for is their eye-catching color combinations. The kayak at hand, Frenzy, is pleasant to look at and would definitely make your whole experience better.
However, Frenzy is not all about looks. It had a solid single-layer polyethylene construction and this makes it impact resistant and durable. Polyethylene kayaks are slippery and this makes their transport easy.
What makes transport to and from the water a piece of cake is its lighter weight at 44 pounds and a number of handles. You have handles on the sides and also on the bow and stern.
On the water, due to its compact build, it is easy to maneuver. Its tri-hull design is your traditional “V” hull but it has one additional hull on each side. This gives kayak much-needed balance and stability. Speed is not a strong suit for Frenzy and thus don’t be surprised if it deceives you in a friendly race with your buddies.
What really impresses me most in this kayak is its storage ability. It has a molded-in seat well where you can keep your valuables. There are also spacious bungee-secured areas at bow and stern. Thus, to come up with such storage options at 9 feet is truly remarkable.
If you are wondering about the seat, you would be glad to know that it features a Comfort Plus seat. This provides good back and bottom support. However, it is a bit on the narrow side at dimensions of 23 x 15 x 2 inches.
6. ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Sport Recreational Kayak
This is the second AdvancedFrame kayak on our list and apparently they both look similar. However, there are some changes both in terms of construction and ability. So, throwing this kayak into the mix would give you a couple of options to choose from. However, both of them are my favorite inflatables for their quality construction and feature-rich nature.
AdvanceFrame Sport has basically two air chambers. One is the floor and the rest of the kayak or the outer shell is a single chamber.
However, it has three layers in which inflatable bladders are contained in a zipped fabric cover. This construction allows the bladders to be replaced if needed. The hull has a puncture-resistant PVC tarpaulin construction. It has electronically welded seams. Overall, AdvanceFrame kayaks have excellent durability and you don’t even have to worry about punctures.
From a comforting side of things, Sport has a contoured high back seat and this clips on in the inner tube. The backrest is rigid enough to support your weight. What adds to the comfort is the floor. It basically is not a high-pressure floor. It is lovely and soft and gives you a nice lift and supports your bum pretty well. Even if you have a bad back or tight hamstrings, you would love how comfy this kayak is. The wide cockpit also ensures that you get in and out of kayak easily.
For storage, you have a bungee lacing at the front. It is about 8 inches from the cockpit and has D-rings. Therefore, you can easily and tightly secure your stuff if you want to take some of your stuff with you. There are also D-rings on the stern end and you can also use this area to stash some of your stuff, but there is no bungee lacing and you will need to add some of your own.
AdvanceFrame Sport can hold up to 250 pounds or 113 kg. This in comparison to AdvanceFrame which is the original kayak is low by 50 pounds. This good weight capacity together with a wide cockpit does allow you to get your pet along for a ride.
This kayak weighs 11.5 kg or 25 pounds and this is a weight that most people can easily handle. For transport, you have two molded carry handles, one each at the bow and stern. These assist in the transport of kayak to and from water. Otherwise, you can always put this on your shoulder to carry. When deflated, the carry bag can easily fit the trunk of any car. For storage, you can literally store it anywhere you want.
7. Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Recreational Kayak – An Affordable Family Kayak
Sevylor has been in business since 1948 and produces all sorts of water sports and recreational products. Their product on hand, Big Basin, has multiple air chambers. This feature might seem irrelevant to your overall kayaking experience, but in real life, it can literally be a life-saver. What this does is that if one chamber gets punctured, you always have other chambers to take your ashore.
It utilizes an 18-gauge PVC as base material and has a double I-beam floor of tarpaulin. The I-beam structure gives the floor much-needed rigidity and stability. The overall construction gives it durability and makes it corrosion and abrasion-resistant. When inflated, it is 12 feet 3 inches x 3 feet 1 inch.
Although it is marketed as capable of accomodating three people, you will be hard-pressed to fit three adults comfortably in this kayak. There will be cramped leg spaces and not much room to work with the paddles. It is better for two adults and a kid or a pet.
Performance-wise, it does not have any ground-breaking features. It has a removable skeg that you can choose or not add to the bottom of the kayak. This improves its tracking to some extent but if you are in some heavy waves tracking is not that good.
What it is good at is its stability. Its wide hull at over 3 feet ensures that you are stable and practically there is very little chance of this kayak toppling over. All these factors make it a good kayak for flat waters such as lakes and ponds.
When it comes to inflation, you can achieve this in 5-10 minutes. It incorporates three Boston valves for its three air chambers. This makes inflation easy and in addition, they have a smooth profile which makes sure that they don’t snag onto anything. The package does come with a pressure gauge but does not come with an air pump which is a bummer
for an inflatable kayak. However, you can easily use a mattress pump for this purpose or an air pump from an earlier inflatable. Inflatable kayaks are unmatched when it comes to portability and the same is the case with Big Basin. It deflates to a fraction of its size and you can easily put it in a carry bag
which you get with the kayak. In addition, it has four carry handles to transport kayak to and from water. Moreover, it weighs in at 34.8 pounds or 15 kg which you can manage yourself and with your partner.
8. Intex Challenger K2 Recreational Kayak – A Best-Selling Inflatable Kayak
One company that has established itself as world leaders in inflatables is Intex. I would guess that every second person has used at least one of their products. In inflatable kayaks, they have quite a few best-selling models and find little competition in their price category.
The reason they are so popular is the value of money. Imagine getting an 11.5-foot long two-person kayak for under $100, can you? probably not. This is what Challenger k2 has to offer.
With a 30-gauge vinyl construction and an I-beam floor, you have a kayak that is durable and rigid. Vinyl is not the most puncture-resistant material out there, but it can take a few pokes and hardships. This kayak has a two-chamber build and this is a good safety feature to have, as discussed earlier.
Challenger K2 is a short inflatable kayak and these two features play a huge role in defining its performance on the water. Short kayaks are easy to maneuver and so is this kayak. Inflatable kayaks are more stable than most hard-shell kayaks and K2 with its I beam floor is impressively stable.
Inflatable kayaks don’t track that well, but this kayak comes with a removable skeg which improves its tracking. When it comes to speed, you have a streamlined design in action and this gives you much-needed speed, but you can’t bet on this, so don’t get much excited about it.
Therefore, in short, Intex Challenger K2 performs better than you would expect from a budget inflatable kayak.
For inflation, you have a high-output manual pump. This is further helped by Boston valves. There are two of them, one for each chamber. They are your one-way values, which means they are either taking air in or letting it out. Inflation takes about 5-7 minutes.
As said, the best thing about Challenger K2 is the price. What increases the value of money even further is that it comes with all the accessories you need. From paddle to carry bag and repair kit to air pump, you get all.
All these qualities make it one of the best recreational kayak for beginners.
9. Bluefin Stand Up Inflatable Paddle Board with Kayak Conversion Kit
Are you tired of kayaks with cramped leg space, worry no more. With this convertible paddleboard, you can stretch your legs the way you want.
Bluefin started in this very decade but produces quality products that can match the big boys. Their lineup contains a range of paddleboards. They have the entry-level Cruise series and the premium Cruise Carbon. Although both of these series have same-length models in 10’8″, 12′, 15′ and come with the same accessories, they differ in their construction.
Although they both have close-meshed drop-stitch construction, the Carbon version has two air chambers and utilizes carbon rails that have Flex Reduction System. These features mean more security and rigidity in the Carbon series. However, the Carbon series comes at nearly twice the price of your entry-level Cruise series.
In this section, we will limit ourselves to the Cruise series because it falls under our price category and performs exceptionally well. They have a 1000 Denier PVC construction and this makes them incredibly durable and capable. You can inflate them all the way up to 28 PSI.
The 10’8” version has dimensions of 327 cm x 15 cm x 77 cm and with a weight capacity of 130 kg or 287 lbs can hold a single rider with a pet. The board itself weighs approx. 11 kg or 24 lbs.
For conversion to kayak, our subject of interest, you need to attach the removable seat. You can do this by attaching to the D-rings on the deck. You will also need to make the paddle into a double-sided one as opposed to single-sided in paddleboarding.
I am really impressed by the quality of accessories Blue paddle boards come with. For example, you get a four-part fiberglass paddle which is more impact resistant than the cheap aluminum paddle you get with most budget kayaks. In addition, you get a heavy-duty backpack that has padded straps for additional comfort.
10. Emotion Spitfire 8 Recreational Kayak – A Solid Kayak That’s Light On Pocket
eMotion Kayaks is manufacturing a wide range of kayaks and their accessories. Their hard-shell sit-on-top kayak which makes our list is Spitfire 8. It is an 8-foot long and 31.5 inches wide kayak. And if one kayak that fully fits “good things come in small packages” adage is this one.
Spitfire has high-density polyethylene construction and this is the material of preference for most entry-level kayaks these days. It is lightweight and UV and corrosion-resistant. On the whole, you can expect this kayak to last you a good time.
Performance-wise, you can expect this kayak to perform reasonably well in most aspects. For example, as you can expect from a small kayak, it is easy to maneuver and it can literally spin on a dime. What impresses me the most about this kayak from the performance side of things is the speed. It is easy to get going and maintains good speed. Its high width to length ratio ensures stability which is the hallmark of most recreational kayaks.
For storage, you have a dry hatch in the cockpit. However, this hatch does not have a basket of any sort and is not absolutely watertight. This means you can’t store your valuables like cell phone or wallet. In addition to this, you have front and rear tank wells. These have bungee cords to secure your gear.
One thing which matters a lot in recreational kayaks is the comfort. I mean you are mainly sitting and if you are not comfortable, it can ruin the whole experience. Fortunately, Spitfire 8 has one of the best seats you are going to find in this price range. Although it has no padding, the seat itself is rigid and provides good back and bottom support. For additional comfort, you can easily add a cushion of some sort, but for most people, the default seat should work. What makes your experience even better is the multiple grooved footrests.
This kayak made into our best kayaks for women list and one major factor behind that was it is easy to transport. It weighs only 45 pounds and also has front, rear and side carry handles. Moreover, it can easily fit in the back of your SUV or truck. I would reiterate that it is one of the best recreational kayaks for a woman.
11. Perception Sound 9.5 Recreational Kayak – Good Build with Solid Performance
This 9-foot-6-inch sit-in kayak has a high-density roto-molded polyethylene construction. This makes it durable and corrosion-resistant.
Due to its small size, as you can expect, it does not have many storage options. It does not have any watertight compartments or hatches. However, there is a small dashboard panel with bungee cord where you can keep some small items for the trip like your cell phone. Moreover, there is a rear tank well with bungee cord and you can use this for coolers or other similar items.
The cockpit has dimensions of 22″ x 56″ and this makes it very roomy. You have enough space that you won’t feel cramped. What improves comfort even further is the thick-padded seat, in which you can adjust the backrest to your favorable position. There are also quick-adjust footrests and everybody can change their position as per their preference.
Sit-in kayaks because of their lower central gravity generally are very stable. In Sound 9.5, this is further helped by a tri-keel hull design. This hull design also improves kayak’s tracking. However, because of its small width at 28 inches, it is not stable enough to stand on. Moreover, because of its streamlined design, it has good speed and because of its small size is easy to maneuver.
I know you will be glad to know that this kayak has two-rod holders. This is a nice feature to have and makes this otherwise simple recreational kayak more valuable.
For transport, you have two built-in handles, one each at the front and rear ends.
12. Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-in Recreational Kayak – Performs Better Than Most Rivals
Pelican has been in business for nearly five decades now. They manufacture some innovative and feature-rich kayaks. This last entry on our list for best recreational kayaks under $500 is Maxim 100X, which is their 10-foot long sit-in kayak. It weighs 36 lbs or 16 kg, so it is a relatively lightweight recreational kayak.
When it comes to construction, Maxim is different from most of the hard-shell entry-level kayaks you are going to find in today’s market. It has what Pelican calls RAM-X polyethylene construction.
This essentially is high-molecular-weight polyethylene and the kayak has three-layer construction. The outer layer consists of vibrant color and has undergone UV protection treatment. The middle layer has high-density plastic. The last layer which acts as floatation has foam blocks.
As a result of this construction, you have a kayak that is impact and even chemical resistant. It differs from your regular HDPE kayak in that it is more wear and friction-resistant. They also use twin-sheet thermoforming and this makes the kayak lighter and stiffer.
For a 10-foot kayak, Maxim 100x has good storage options. You have a dry hatch at the bow. You can put some of your valuables in there. What makes this area even more useful is that on the dry hatch you have a bungee cord that you can use to secure some of your gear. In addition, at the rear end, you have a tank well with mesh cover to store some additional gear.
For transport, you have two T-handles, one at the front and one at the rear end. In addition, the lighter weight of the kayak and its short size make it highly portable and easy to store.
It is important to talk about the seat in recreational kayaks. Maxim 100X has an Ergoform Seating System which has good padding and adjustable backrest. The Ergoform seat adapts according to the body shape which increases the comforts of the seat. There are also molded footrests.
Touring Kayak Vs Recreational Kayak - A Short Comparison
When we talk about kayaks, touring and recreational are terms that are mostly used interchangeably. However, there are a few differences. The main difference is the purpose or the type of paddlers who use these kayaks.
Recreational kayaks are mostly used by beginners or intermittent paddlers. They are mostly limited to lakes and slow-moving rivers. These excursions don’t require the kayak to have any advanced features. Therefore, recreational kayaks are mostly without features such as rudders or skegs.
In addition, to make them suitable for beginners, they invariably have a wide cockpit. This wide cockpit is there to provide easy access to and from a kayak. Moreover, this makes the kayak more stable. Moreover, as users don’t expect much from recreational kayaks they are not that robustly built and use polyethylene as material which is relatively cheap.
Touring kayaks, on the other hand, cater to more advanced paddlers. Moreover, they are designed to handle more demanding conditions. This fact requires them to have additional features so that they track well and provide good speed. Therefore, they are longer and thinner.
Touring kayaks, in addition, have a more aggressive hull design and this requires some level of mastery to handle. Because of such demands, touring kayaks are feature-rich and are made up of better material such as carbon fiber. This makes them lightweight, durable and more expensive.
Brief Buyer’s Guide for Best Recreational Kayaks Under $500
There are quite a few things which you need to consider before buying a kayak. However, when you have set your priorities and budget beforehand, it narrows down these factors.
As you know by now, recreational kayaks are made for less-demanding conditions, this takes the performance burden off them and price burden off you.
Here are some of the important factors which are important when going for recreational kayaks.
Type of Kayak - Defines A Lot of Things
As said earlier, recreational kayaks have the largest market share and this leads to all sorts of companies and types of a kayak to try their luck. Broadly speaking, there are two types in the sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks. You can argue for a place for inflatables and convertibles, but they themselves are either sit-in or sit-on-top.
In sit-on-top kayaks, as you can guess, you sit on top of the kayak. However, in sit-in kayaks, you sit in the cockpit. This fact gives both these types of kayaks some characteristic features both in terms of general experience and performance of the kayak.
In sit-on-top kayaks, all of your body is exposed to the environment. This has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, if you have sensitive skin that is prone to sunburns, you are at a higher risk with increased exposure. However, you won’t have the claustrophobic feeling which you can have with sit-in kayaks.
Performance-wise, SOTs are generally more stable and provide ease of movement. Moreover, in the case of a capsize, you can easily get out of one. Therefore, sit-on-top kayaks are preferred options for nervous paddles and those who would like easy access to and from the kayak.
Sit-in kayaks provide you some protection against the environment be it water, sun or wind. Moreover, on water, they perform better than their counterparts in terms of tracking, maneuverability, and speed. However, they do restrict your movement and this can be a problem for a few people.
Comfort - What is Recreation Without Comfort?
When out for recreational kayaking, you want an easy time out. This is what it is all meant for, isn’t it?
When in a kayak and on water, there are quite a few things that determine your comfort but none is more than important than your seat. This becomes even more important if you have a bad back or back knees.
Therefore, we should go for a kayak which has a good seat. However, in this price category of under $500, you may have to search a bit harder. This is because what determines the price is the material of construction and to fit in this budget companies are not left with much room in the budget to work on “other” areas.
Seats are mostly the compromised features and this is probably due to the fact that everybody can have their preferences when it comes to a comfortable seat and secondly you can always go for an off-the-market seat to replace the original one.
Durability - Determined By Material
One thing that is of utmost importance in almost anything and not kayaks alone is the durability. This is determined by the material and this eventually defines the price of the kayak.
The $500 kayaks are your entry-level kayaks. In this category, you are mostly going to find hard-shell kayaks which are made of polyethylene or inflatable kayaks which are made up of different puncture-resistant materials.
Polyethylene is cheap but it still is quite durable. In polyethylene kayaks, you can look for kayaks that have undergone some kind of reinforcement to make them more durable. It is important for PVC kayaks to have undergone UV resistant reinforcement which makes them color-fast and this increases their longevity.
In inflatables, keep an eye out for the number of chambers, floor construction and the gauge of the material used. These kayaks use materials such as vinyl or PVC, tarp, Hypalon, etc. You are going to find Hypalon and some other newer materials in high-end inflatables and rafts.
However, in budget inflatables, you are going to find nylon or PVC tarpaulin. However, if you have to choose among these go for PVC tarpaulin and this is what we see in AdvanceElement inflatables.
In addition to the above factors, there are a few other things that you need to consider. These include weight capacity, number of persons you want on board, storage options in a kayak and its own storage and portability.
Recreational kayaks give you an affordable option to enjoy the calming experience of kayaking. They are especially great if you are going to try kayaking and see how you feel about it and move towards higher-end options in fishing and touring kayaks.
In our list, we have tried to include some of the best recreational kayaks under $500 you are going to find in today’s market. Because we are not expecting much from recreational kayaks in terms of performance, you don’t have to be feature conscious. A simple kayak with good stability and comfort level would do.
We have included a few tandem kayaks which would provide you the great ability to enjoy nature with your family and friends.
Lastly, we have put forward a simple buyer’s guide without any technical terms for beginners to get hold of what to look for in these entry-level recreational kayaks.
We hope this piece will help you find your next best buddy. If you have any questions, do post them below and we would love to respond. Keep visiting for up-to-date content and to-the-point reviews