How Much Does Kayaking Cost: A Guide to Kayaking on a Budget 

How Much Does Kayaking Cost

Before you dive into the popular sport of kayaking, how much does kayaking cost should be one of your biggest concerns. Not everyone can afford to drop hundreds of dollars on a hobby and kayaking is definitely the type of activity that can cost a lot in the beginning. However, if you know what to look for, it can be a relatively affordable sport and one that even someone on the tightest budget can enjoy.

Starting Costs

Kayaks aren’t cheap, and it will be the most expensive thing you’ll need to buy. There are many different styles and types of kayaks on the market, ranging from rigid to inflatable and single to tandem.

The best inflatable kayak is perfect for anyone on a budget, especially for those who are interested in learning more about what is sea kayaking and the type of kayak to use for deep sea fishing.

A single or tandem inflatable kayak will be several hundreds of dollars cheaper compared to a standard or tandem rigid kayak. These days, many inflatable models are incredibly durable, making them a safer option for sea angling or for use in choppy waters.

Many come equipped with bladders or air chambers, which can work as a failsafe in the event that the inflatable kayak is punctured. Yet, punctures and severe damage are no longer the same concern they were just a few years ago, thanks to manufacturers who now use ultra-durable puncture resistant materials.


Aside from the initial high cost of kayaking, maintenance can also cost you big. But by properly maintaining your kayak you can cut down on this cost as well.  The more time you spend providing routine maintenance on your kayak, the less you’ll spend on repairs.

Maintenance can involve washing down and cleaning the kayak after each use and making any necessary repairs and patches immediately.

With an inflatable kayak, you’ll need to deflate it in order to transport it home, but it should be inflated again once you’re home in order to allow it to properly dry. Failure to dry out an inflatable kayak can lead to mold growth.

While there are a lot of other items and accessories you’ll need for your kayak, before you decide to buy any extras, ask yourself whether or not you really need them

If you’re an angler, we recommend you pay the extra cost for rod holders, if your kayak doesn’t come with them, as a way to prevent losing your rods on the water. While some anglers prefer to use four or five rod holders, you really only need to use two or three. However, a larger kayak can require more.

A GPS is a popular accessory for kayakers, especially for those who enjoy sea angling. However, we recommend learning how to read traditional nautical charts and maps to not only save on costs, but it can also be a lifesaver if you do have a GPS and it ends up falling in the water or the battery dies.

While you can definitely save money on kayaking costs by eliminating the accessories you don’t really need, make sure you always buy the necessary safety gear, such as lights, flares, patch kits, and lifejackets. The Stearns adult Watersport Classic vest is a great choice.

Buying a Kayak

Buying a Kayak

When you’re shopping around for an affordable kayak, you’ll need to first consider where you plan on paddling. This is probably the most important question to consider. If you plan on sticking to calm waters such as lakes and ponds, then you’ll find that single, sit on top models are relatively affordable.

But if you plan on sea angling, then you’ll need a higher priced, solidly built kayak that tracks well and is easy to maneuver. Ocean kayaks are designed to hold up in rougher waters, whereas a kayak designed for flatwater can be easily destroyed or damaged.


What’s your budget look like? While inflatable kayaks are the more affordable choice, starting off at around $250, they’re not quite as sturdy or versatile as a rigid model. Many are more designed for beginners who prefer flatwater.

However, higher priced inflatable kayaks are also designed to withstand the dangers of rough waves. These kayaks typically start at $350 for a very basic model and around $500 for a kayak that’s equipped with plenty of bells and whistles.

Aside from the kayak itself, you’ll also need to buy a paddle. A fiberglass paddle can cost an average of $100, while a lightweight carbon paddle can cost as much as $250.

If you’re a beginner, then you definitely need to purchase a life jacket. Unfortunately, the costs won’t stop here.

Kayaks can come with a wide range of options and accessories from rod holders to customized seats, and additional storage.

Once you’ve purchased a kayak, keep in mind that you’ll need to figure out how to transport it, unless you’ve decided to go with an inflatable model.

If you have a truck, you’ll be able to load and unload any type of kayak easily. If you aren’t planning on traveling far, they can be secured with some bungees, rope, and blocks placed under the kayak.

If you purchased a large rigid kayak and you don’t have a truck, then you’ll need to purchase a kayak rack. These racks can cost anywhere from $150 up to $300. A locking kayak rack can cost as much as $450, but it can be well worth the extra cost in order to protect your investment.

Final Thoughts

When you’re out on the water in your new kayak, it can be a great, affordable way to spend the day. But the initial cost you can expect in terms of the kayak itself, accessories, safety gear, rack, and GPS, can add up if you don’t know where to look or how to pick out a decent kayak. Often, you can find great deals such as inflatable kayak starter packages which come equipped with everything you need including a kayak, rod holders, life jacket, paddle, and more.

You can also determine what type of gear you’ll need to get started by checking out kayaking forums, where you’ll find great tips and advice on the type of must-have gear you’ll need for your first kayak setup.