Kayaking isn’t the easiest sport to get into; price is a major constraint. You can’t believe how mind-blowingly expensive some of the decent kayaks are.
While rentals seem like a viable solution, they’ll definitely kill you with their exorbitant charges.
On the other hand, buying a used kayak shouldn’t be in your list of options. Or rather, it has never crossed my mind because I’ve had a fair share of disappointments on Craigslist on several occasions.
Don’t get me wrong, though.
You can find a nice used kayak, but you’ll definitely have to make too many compromises, especially if you don’t know what to look for.
There’s also certainly a significant distinction between the premium kayaks and budget kayaks that more than justifies the massive price variations.
But here’s the thing, you don’t have to dig deep in your pockets for a nice kayak.
See, when I was starting out, I was fortunate enough to come across a budget listing on my usual internet browsing—a new kayak going less for 300.
Of course, I didn’t think much of it, but I thought it would be a nice purchase to use until I saved up enough for a quality kayak.
Plus, it was only $300, so I guessed I couldn’t really go wrong because I would probably recoup the money if it wasn’t for me.
But as it turned out, the kayak was much more than I had expected.
While it didn’t have the frills and frays of the $1,000+ kayaks, it was a decent option, well-made, and with a reasonable performance.
Today, I don’t ever think I would want to go for the expensive or alternative options. These inexpensive purchases have proven to be saviors, and are everything I’ve ever wanted in a kayak.
I’ve a collection of budget kayaks in my garage, and if you’re interested in any of them, I’ll share the details.
In the guide below, I’ll share my top 5 recommendations of the best kayaks under $300.
Table of Contents
The Best Kayaks Under 300 On The Market
#1 Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe - EDITOR'S CHOICE
We recently moved to Vancouver with a dream of exploring the waters, and the Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe has made it a reality.
We’ve had it for several seasons now, and we couldn’t be happier.
It can accommodate both of us, our small dog, and a bag of snacks and water. Even better, it has an awesome tracking performance and has made our time in the water more enjoyable.
Features and Benefits
The real convenience with the Eagle 370 Deluxe was portability.
We bought it because it’s lightweight enough to bring it with us almost everywhere our adventure takes it. It can deflate to a compact design in a moment, enough to pack in my backpack and toss it in my trunk.
Simply put, this kayak is an awesome option for paddlers who love the water but don’t want the hassles associated with the old-fashioned rigid-style fishing kayaks.
It would be easy to assume the Eagle 370 Deluxe is flimsy, especially for such a lightweight and inflatable kayak.
We also thought so, but the experience has become much more than expected.
The kayak features sturdy synthetic construction, which takes on anything Mother Nature throws at it.
I’ve dragged the Sea Eagle over coastlines full of jagged rocks, shells, and pebbles. I’ve also hit submerged river rocks, tree stumps and bounced over them. It hasn’t given up on me.
It’s sturdy that I don’t have a problem bringing my labrador with me. I think it would take some real effort for her claws to pop the kayak.
The closest I’ve come to puncturing the kayak is when I had hooks and knives on board. If possible, I would suggest you keep them off the kayak and be really careful when casting and landing fish.
Otherwise, the Eagle 370 Deluxe is gonna last for years to come.
Eagle 370 Deluxe has made us want to go for water adventures frequently.
It’s such a comfortable option and pleasant to use.
In particular, the longer version, the 370, has decent legroom for two average-height adults.
Plus, it’s easy to move the seats, so they face the same way or face each other to just relax-awesome!
My only issue was with the adjustable seats. The Deluxe package has lighter, less firm seats. They’re not particularly comfortable, especially when riding for extended periods.
But, you may choose to bump your budget a bit and go for the “Pro” package. It has DKS adjustable padded seats, which are firmer and have more back support.
We mostly use the Sea 370 Deluxe as a two-person unit, and we’ve found it quite easy to maneuver.
It’s no different from the regular touring kayaks, provided you’ve rudder fins.
However, it takes more elbow grease to move from one point to the other than the hard-shell kayaks. The good news is it melts away the extra calories and increases your upper body strength.
It feels rigid when fully inflated and will effortlessly bob over the 3 ft swell and take on the ferry wakes and chaotic chops like a champ.
Stability is also nice, and I’ve never felt anxious like I’m about to capsize while getting in. It doesn’t wander from side to side like most kayaks do.
But, excellent stability comes with a price. Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe isn’t an especially efficient hull.
It comes to a halt quickly once you stop tandem paddling, and it’ll require a decent effort to keep moving.
It’s not a huge dealbreaker, but if you’re used to the sleeker hulls, you might feel like you’re pushing through the water instead of gliding.
But overall, the performance is reasonable by all means, and I find it quite nice, especially for the price.
Size and Dimension
I’m 6′, and I use it with my 5’8″ wife.
We’re not too concerned about going out even with our dog because the Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe has ample cargo space and offers maximum capacity.
It’s marketed for three users, but I recommend it for two.
We fit nicely on the deck and even leave space for our day’s out goods & supplies such as a small ice chest, rope, water bag, and water containers.
Ease of Use
Using the Eagle 370 Deluxe is a breeze.
It inflates under 10 minutes and takes the same time to dry and roll up.
The foot pump is fine, but ensure the inflation caps are secured.
After deflation, also make a habit of drying it with a towel, or it’ll develop mildew.
#2 Intex Explorer K2 Kayak -- Budget Kayak
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak has turned out to be more than I expected for the price admission.
It’s an inexpensive kayak, but with a performance rivaling some of the more expensive fishing kayaks.
I was drawn to this kayak because we’re constantly on the move, and I didn’t want to carry my more expensive kayak and worry about it getting stolen, damaged, or anything like that.
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak seems like the perfect choice.
Features and Benefits
I chose the Intex Explorer K2 Fishing Kayak because of its portability and ease of setup.
It might be unwieldy for the less muscular guys, but definitely way better than having to haul a trailer with a kayak on it, then worrying about strapping and finding a place to turn around.
With the Intex Fishing Kayak, you simply throw it in your bag, toss it in the back of your truck, and go. Simple!
I also wanted a kayak that feels sturdy, and the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak seems to tick this box.
The synthetic material used seems durable, especially for the price point. It’s impressively heavy-duty, and I feel confident in its ability to handle accidental contact with rocks, jagged surfaces, or branches.
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak’s skin is tough, and even after scraping against pointed branches, I’ve had no problems with holes, leaks, or failing valves.
I’ve also enjoyed the yak a couple of times with my dog and haven’t experienced any popping .
Simply put, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak seems like a solid use for long-term use, and I don’t see like I’ll be replacing it anytime soon.
Using the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak has been a pleasant experience.
It has extended our time in the water up to two hours without our legs getting cramped.
The seats also have much better back support, especially when fully inflated. I can comfortably lean back without the padded seat back bending in half.
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak provides an incredible tracking performance using the included removable skeg.
When I paddle fast, it tracks in a straight line and is speedy enough, but the drifts and the rear start swinging out some when I let off.
It’s not a big deal, and the trick is to keep on paddling.
The lightweight kayak also handles the fairly strong currents in the river, and you shouldn’t have a problem navigating the kayak.
Of course, it’s not as fast as a rigid kayak, but it’s not a huge issue for me, considering I cough $300-$400 less.
I also found the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak to be a great option for swimming in the middle of the lake. It’s quite stable, and re-entering is easy and doesn’t feel like it’ll slip.
It’s also stable in a fast-moving river, and all you need to do is sit nice and lower, and with the slightly wider profile, you shouldn’t have a fear of rolling over.
This is a critical benefit, especially considering I love kayaking alone in a semi-secluded river.
Size and Weight Capacity
I chose the 2-seater Intex Explorer K2 Kayak because it could accommodate me, my better half, and our dog.
It has a generous kayak weight capacity of 400 pounds, which is more than enough for us. We even bring some fishing gear and extra supplies for the day, including a cooler, gallon of water, and other gear.
Ease of Use
We’ve taken this kayak a couple of times and found it a real pleasure to use.
It’s easy to set up, easy to carry, and stow away.
Inflating takes less than 10 minutes and is super easy.
The inflation double lock valves are the only thing I would love to see changed on the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak. They’re a bit flimsy and tend to let the air escape when you pull the air pump out after inflation.
But again, for the price point, we figured out the brand had to cut some corners somewhere.
Overall, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is an amazing value for the money and a great kayak.
#3 Sevylor Big Basin -- Most Versatile Kayak
The Sevylor Big Basin is one of the few quality kayak purchases you can get under 300.
It’s also a versatile kayak, and I bought mine to use for shuttling between my anchored boat and shore. I also needed a kayak for beachcombing, picnicking, and fishing. The Sevylor Big Basin seemed like a great choice.
Features and Benefits
Out of the box, Sevylor Big Basin feels ultra-lightweight.
It’s so light that I didn’t have a problem hoisting it single-handedly onto the top of my bigger boat’s cabin or getting it down without drama.
The kayak is also inflatable and has the real convenience of breaking down after use.
I simply deflate the kayak, and it compacts a size small enough to stash in my bag and store in my trunk.
Out of the box, I could also tell the Sevylor Big Basin fishing kayak was built to survive the hardship of river paddling and recreational kayaking.
The nylon cover fabric is tough, so punctures have been quite rare. The construction is also much sturdier and nicer than most fishing kayaks I’ve tried before.
I’ve brought my Lab on board, and I’ve not experienced any issues so far. The material covering is so thick that it hasn’t popped under my dog’s claws.
Plus, I’ve dragged it on the rocky beach, and it has been fine.
And even after several seasons of use, the tarp bottom has attracted mold or worn out due to direct sunlight exposure.
Simply put, the Sevylor Big Basin is well-constructed and quite tough.
Sevylor Big Basin is rated for three users, but I suggest using it only with two paddlers.
We took out the middle seat on our kayak to stretch our legs out from the back.
The only markdown with the kayak’s comfort is the seats. They don’t offer sufficient back support and are hard on the back, especially for the longer trips.
However, I purchased a third-party Crazy Creek Adjustable Seat to use, giving me the much-needed back support.
We’ve used the Sevylor Big Basin on lakes and rivers, and it’s steady and stable. Minor wind conditions have also never been an issue.
Sevylor Big Basin’s signature feature, at least in my opinion, is the wider beam.
The side of the inflatable kayak is fairly low, so it’s not particularly a dry ride. The choppy water will easily splash in.
But the good thing is if you’ve mobility issues and balance problems, it should be easy getting on this kayak.
It’s also extremely stable, and the kayak handles the windy conditions nicely. I’ve been out with white caps and 20-30 inches waves, and it provides an exhilarating yet relaxing ride.
Size and Maximum Weight Capacity
We bought this tandem kayak because of its higher kayak weight load.
I needed a kayak to bring a friend, my dog, and day supplies. The Sevylor Big Basin seems like a great option.
It has a generous capacity of 490 pounds, which is enough to accommodate everything we need for the day.
But I wouldn’t want to try a multi-day camping trip for two. There’s not much extra room, and a couple of supplies & fishing gear for the day’s pack pretty much fills it.
Ease of use
A big benefit of the Sevylor Big Basin is it can be deflated and stowed.
Inflating is equally a breeze and doesn’t take much of my time.
But I’d recommend you get a quality electric pump for faster inflation. You’ll still need the provided foot pump to finish off the inflation.
As with most kayaks below 300 on our list, Sevylor Big Basin also comes with several accessories such as a pedal and a duffel bag.
In addition, the kayak has a little bit of storage space on the front and back. The storage hatch offers an airtight system to keep my gear secure.
The vague instructions are the only dealbreaker with the Sevylor Big Basin fishing kayak. They’re not detailed as I would have wished.
#4 Sun Dolphin Bali Sit-On-Top – Value for Money Kayak
I bought the Sun Dolphin Sit-On-Top Kayak a few years ago after my previous purchase broke down.
So far, I can’t complain, and I’ve been more than impressed.
While it’s marketed as a beginner sit-on-top kayak, it’ll work well for experienced recreational paddlers who don’t want to spend an arm and leg on a yak.
It’s a fun sit-on-top kayak, ideal for casual paddling, touring and fishing.
Features and Benefits
Bali SS Sit-On-Top Kayak arrived in excellent shape, and I’ve not had any issues with it.
It’s a lightweight pick, and I love that it’s easy to carry and that I can stash it in my Honda Minivan, all by myself.
It doesn’t come with fishing rod holders, and while that might be a dealbreaker for some, I prefer it that way to fix the flush rod holders of my choice.
Sturdiness is top-shelf on the SS Sit-On-Top Kayak.
I’ve used it for several seasons, taking it in the lake a couple of times every week, and it has held up well to the rough treatment.
They sit on the top, the kayak itself works great and is comfortable to use.
I’m 6’ and have no problem stretching my legs all out, thanks to the open cockpit design.
A padded backrest is also a bonus and keeps my back in an upright position.
Plus, it’s stable, and when I lean to the sides quite a bit, I don’t worry about tipping or anything.
I couldn’t be happier with the performance of the Sun Dolphin Sit-On-Top Kayak.
It takes some effort to push through the water, but on the other hand, it gives some good exercise and helps build muscle mass.
I’ve only had the sit-on-top kayak for a short while, and I’ve lost 10 lbs.
Stability is also nice, and my better half (still learning) had no problems using the kayak.
While we were concerned with the number of reviews that stated tips, ours was untippable.
I’ve even put it in some really tricky situations and even had to climb out multiple times to get over fallen trees and have never felt unsteady.
Plus, I always take my fidgety Lab with me, and it has never felt like it’ll lose stability even after he launches himself out of it for fun.
Tracking on this sit-on-top kayak is similarly nice, especially for my riding style. I’m not a power stroker or racer, yet, I can effortlessly navigate this old bird against the currents and winds.
Size and Capacity
Sun Dolphin Sit-On-Top Kayak has a decent kayak with a maximum weight capacity of 395 pounds.
It’s the perfect option for me, my better half and dog,
We always have a 60 lbs lab at the front and our gear and supplies at the back, and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to capsize.
Ease of Use
Sun Dolphin Bali SS Sit-On-Top Kayak provides a pretty decent experience.
Inflation and deflation are a breeze, and packing isn’t challenging either. It compacts to a decent size, enhancing the overall portability.
However, some improvements make the experience more pleasant.
For example, I added carry handles on the port for easier transport and launch.
The deck part on this sit on top kayak was also slippery, so adding a non-skid tape to the deck helps with the traction.
Sun Dolphin Bali Sit-On-Top Kayak comes with plenty of accessories, including a side drink holder, rod holders, portable accessory carrier, dry cubbies, paddle, repair kit, and bungee cord.
#5 Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak – Best Inflatable Kayak for Kids and Youths
We live at the lake, and I thought the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak would be a decent surprise for my son on his 7th birthday.
As it turns out, it has been much more than I expected. He was excited to have his “own kayak.”
Features and Benefits
He can’t carry it yet; the kayak weighs 18 pounds, it is still heavy and bulky.
But he loves the independence of having a kayak of his own, especially considering many other toys are too big for him.
It’s not hard for me to move around, and I can effortlessly load the boat and paddle in the back of my truck.
The kayak is also exactly as pictured and really sturdy for the price. It’s well made and will last a long time.
The yak isn’t too fragile on the class iv rapids, scraping over rocks and tree stumps. In fact, it’s even better than some other high-end kayaks. The durability and craftsmanship of this kayak model are awesome.
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is a decent inflatable kayak for the money, but one thing I’ll be looking into is investing in an adjustable seat.
The available seat is quite basic and has no backrest. Using it is tedious, considering we tend to stay out in the water for several hours at a time, and after a while, he wants to lean back into something.
There’s nothing fancy with this kayak, and you won’t win any race.
However, it floats well, and we’ve used it to paddle down the class iv rapids.
It doesn’t feel like it’s going to tip, but obviously, you need your kid to have a safety life jacket.
I love that my son can bounce on this one, water fight with a water cannon, and even sit sideways and dangle his legs over the sides without the kayak capsizing. The hull I designed to resist getting turned over succeeds at that.
The yak also has a swimming platform, where my son can launch himself in the water and get back on the boat with the least effort.
Size and Maximum Weight Capacity
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak doesn’t have the most generous weight capacity.
However, at 130 pounds, it’s more than enough for my son.
It even leaves some extra space and kayak weight for the day’s supplies and so much more.
Ease of Use
Using the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is a breeze.
It inflates and deflates in a breeze.
The yak has also proven to be quite easy to steer, and I can’t feel happier than how my son is getting the hang of it.
He started paddleboarding on his knees, but now he can stand up on it, launch himself in the water, swim around and climb back all by himself.
Best Kayaks Under $300 Buying Guide
Choosing the ideal kayak under 300 can be nerve-wracking with a range of options to select from.
The good news is I’ve done the hard part for you.
I’ll share some of the handy tips to consider in your next selection in the guide below.
What to Expect from a Kayak Under 300
There’s not much difference between the budget kayaks and the premium options. Of course, I don’t have to tell you that premium kayaks are more sophisticated, which is mainly the reason behind the massive price cut.
While the experienced paddlers might have the extra sophistication handy, beginners and intermediate paddlers don’t need it as much.
Most of the touring kayaks in the 300 range have basic features to get paddleboarding.
And if you’re good at selection, you might even come across some models that are good, if not better, than some of the more expensive options in the $500 or $600 range.
But generally, most of the yaks under 300 are basic and suited for calm water use, such as lakes and calm rivers.
Beginners will, in particular, find the yaks under the 300 range quite handy as they provide them with all the basics they need to master kayaking.
The weight capacity kayak will also support a heavier weight load.
While the expensive yaks will always win over the budget options, I would recommend beginners to stick with starter options, even if they’ve the budget for the premium option.
Beginner paddlers don’t need the premium features on the premium yaks. Plus, they don’t know how they’ll develop the new hobby.
The durability of recreational kayaks under 300 is also quite reasonable. As with any kayak within any price point, the longevity of kayaks under 300 will depend on the maintenance.
Types of Kayaks Under 300
Kayaks are mainly categorized into two groups:
1) Sit-inside kayaks
2) Sit-on-top kayaks
On a sit-inside kayak, you actually “sit inside” a kayak.
Your legs are beneath the kayak and shielded from the elements.
It’s actually a helpful design in colder climates when you need protection from the biting cold.
Sit tops kayaks are suitable if you plan to go for some swimming, thanks to their open cockpit design.
The Sit on top design leaves your body exposed and might be the ideal choice in warmer climates.
Rigid vs. Inflatable Kayaks
Away from the sitting position, the choice of material also determines the classification of kayaks.
Generally, kayaks are made out of inflatable materials or rigid materials.
The inflatable yaks are the most popular because of their portability. Once deflated, they can compact to the size of a backpack for easier carrying.
On the other hand, rigid kayaks are the traditional form of kayaks and are typically designed from wood, ultra-light carbon fiber, or composite materials.
They’re sturdier than the inflatable yaks but with limited portability.
Factors to Consider when Selecting the Best Kayak Under 300
The section below will discuss the crucial factors you need to consider when selecting the right kayak under 300.
The choice of material is a critical element when choosing a kayak.
Generally, quality inflatable kayaks are designed out of PVC material. But some of the higher-end brands use polyethylene for kayak bodies.
You also need to pay attention to the bottom section because it takes most of the abuse and punishment.
I recommend you choose a kayak with a tarpaulin bottom because of its sturdiness and wear resistance.
High Weight Capacity Kayaks
Weight capacity measures the amount of load a kayak can hold.
It’s an important element, especially if you’ll be carrying some extra equipment with you.
So, along with your weight, consider an estimate of the weight of your goods to determine the weight capacity.
The other thing to consider with the weight capacity is the number of paddlers an inflatable kayak can accommodate.
Sole kayaks, for example, are ideal for one person only. Tandem kayaks, on the other hand, will accommodate two users comfortably.
The stability and performance of a kayak are mostly determined by the size of the hull or kayak width.
For example, kayaks with a wider hull provide better stability and are ideal for starters. On the other hand, narrower hulls are suitable for speed and tracking abilities.
Check to see how a kayak is constructed and whether it can take a beating. Consider its longevity and how practical it feels.
Secondly, check to see whether it has safety features. The presence of add-on safety features is a bonus.
Storage Space/ Storage Hatch
Most of the recreational kayaks under three hundred bucks have hatches for storage space.
If you’re planning to invest in a solo kayak, a single hatch/ storage compartment would be sufficient.
But if you plan to take your kayak with friends or family, consider an option with multiple stern storage hatches/storage compartments.
Accessories on a kayak under 300 are hard to come by.
However, some options still provide users with extra features.
Some extras include kayak rod holders, reel, repair kit, and fish finders.
In a kayak, other critical accessories you should seek include anchor, bungee cords, life jackets, and knife pliers.
Best Kayaks Under 300 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What is the right kayak for me?
A: The right kayak depends on your paddling demands.
Remember kayaks; some are better suited for angling or even class iv rapids use than others.
Kayaks are also available in different shapes, sizes, colors, and prices.
But ideally, I would recommend picking a kayak that is best in quality.
Q: What color is ideal for kayak fishing?
A: Yellow and camo are ideal for fishing trips because of their visibility. They’re bright enough to spot even from long distances.
Q: How do I transport a kayak?
A: It depends on the type of kayak.
Inflatable yaks are easy to transport since all you need is to deflate and pack them into a carry bag.
But for a rigid kayak, you’ll need some elbow grease. You’ll need to strap a kayak on the roof of your kayak.
Q: What is a sit-inside kayak?
A: Sit-inside kayaks are exactly like its name suggests.
It lets the paddlers sit inside or rather underneath the kayaks.
The sit-inside kayak is the most popular form of kayak and probably what comes to mind when you hear the term kayak.
One of the benefits of this design is it keeps your body shielded from elements.
However, these kayaks don’t have the freedom to sit on top kayaks.
Sit on top kayaks, expose you to elements, and be ideal for warm conditions.
They’ve an open cockpit design with ample storage and let users easily access gear.
Q: How do I choose a stable kayak?
A: The most stable kayak has a wide hull.
But understand that stability comes at the expense of speed. The wide hulls aren’t as maneuverable as the narrow hulls.
Q: Does a recreational kayak have a weight limit?
A recreational kayak can only support a certain weight.
When determining the weight of a recreational kayak, you need to account for the paddler’s weight and then add eight of all the items and accessories you plan to bring with you.
The total weight shouldn’t surpass the yak’s weight capacity.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our winner for the best kayaks 300 is the Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe.
It’s an awesome option that checks on all the boxes for the best kayak.
The yak is sturdy and can take a rough beating. It also has an awesome tracking performance, and I simply love how it maneuvers in the water.
Comfort is also nice, and while certainly not premium, it won’t leave you cramped or pain in your legs after a long session of paddling.
I would recommend it.