Kayaking in general, and recreational kayaking specifically, has been on a skyrocketing trajectory of popularity since about 2015, and its growth curve shows no signs of slowing!
With such a growth rate in popularity, it’s understandable that many people wonder what they’ll pay for a kayak if they decide to buy one (or rent one), and will the price be a lot higher next year?
I’ll guide you through the important stuff and not bore you with the, well, boring stuff about what kayaks cost on average and I’ll give you specific examples that will provide you with an excellent starting point in researching the best kayak for your passion and paddling style.
Table of Contents
What’s the Average Price of a Kayak?
In the U.S.A. the average price of a new recreational kayak is $790, while the average cost of a touring kayak is $1790. The average price of a fishing kayak is $1860 while folding kayaks average $1560 and inflatables average $507.
It’s important to note that these prices are based on unused, current year (or close) models of the most popular styles of kayaks. Specialty kayaks that are made from wood, composites, fiberglass, carbon, or Kevlar will be more expensive on average.
For this article, our team of researchers (yes, there actually is a “team”) dug deeply into every new and used kayak for which we could find a current price.
New kayak prices came from the manufacturer’s suggested retail prices found on their websites, as well as actual prices from certified retailers.
Then, we scoured social media and pre-owned sales websites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to get a better overall idea of used kayak prices.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s deal with first things first!
Should I Buy a New or Used Kayak?
Budget considerations may well determine the answer, but in today’s environment of growing watersports popularity, the cost difference between new and good quality used kayaks is so small, that buying a brand new kayak makes more sense.
You’ll receive the benefit of a warranty (often a lifetime warranty) and ongoing perks from the retailer in many cases.
While used prices for canoes and kayaks have traditionally been close to 50% of new (or 75% for great-quality boats with reputable brands), our most recent research has found that owners of good-quality used kayaks in both Canada and the U.S.A. are asking closer to 90% or more of the new retail price!
Plus, you won’t have to worry about whether or not the used model has any damage that is hard to see on an initial inspection, or if the seller is being honest, or even if the kayak is actually the property of the seller and not stolen!
What’s Wrong With USED Kayaks?
Pre-owned kayaks can come with a lot of usage history and baggage! Used kayaks often come with hidden (or not so hidden) damage from hard use or years of outdoor storage.
And, of course, it’s worthy of note that used kayaks rarely come with a return policy or warranty. That means that buyers would need to be aware of how to assess the quality of any canoe before purchasing.
If you do fork over a wad of cash or e-transfer to the seller’s account, you should know that you’ll likely never see that money again, so it’s best to be REALLY prepared to assess the condition of the kayak you’re thinking of buying.
The good news on this front is that it’s not super difficult to quickly go over every part of a kayak with an overall checkup in about 5 minutes, and if you know what to look for, it’ll give you peace of mind and keep you from being scammed.
Watch out for:
- damage from years of use or poor storage practices
- lack of warranty
- no return policy
- often no chance to test on the water before purchase
Why We Like USED Kayaks
There’s a big market for used kayaks and there’s a BIG reason – PRICE! Because of the circles in which I walk (or paddle), I happen to know that many kayak retailers and outfitters who sell used kayaks, rarely have many (or any) in stock because of the high demand.
Obviously, price is a big deal, but so is peace of mind that comes through knowing that the value of your investment won’t plummet as quickly from now on. So, to sum it up;
We like used kayaks because:
- you won’t be affected as much by depreciation
- the price is usually significantly lower than new
- you may find an extremely good deal from an estate auction
- used is the only option if you’d like a diamond in the rough that you can restore to new condition
What’s Wrong With NEW Kayaks?
We love new things, but, as you might expect, you’ll find an upside and downside to nearly everything.
Watch out for:
- high prices
- immediate depreciation
- negotiations unlikely given low profit margins
- extra costs via sales tax or add-ons
Why We Like NEW Kayaks
While used is a popular option for buying kayaks, there would be no used kayaks at all if people didn’t see any value in buying new ones! Why would I buy new?
We like new because:
- you’ll be able to try before you buy in many cases
- you’ll get personalized attention and all your questions will be answered by the sales staff
- you’ll get a warranty for peace of mind
- you’ll likely have a return period in case you regret your purchase
- your kayak will look much nicer
- you’ll have peace of mind knowing the quality and condition are as they were meant to be
How do You Know if a Kayak is Good?
When buying a used kayak, buyers will generally want to look at a number of basic measures that will give an all-around assessment of a kayak’s condition in the shortest time possible. For example, obvious hull damage should be a red flag, and any item that looks cracked or warped should be cause for concern.
Look for deep scratches, broken or damaged bungee lines, the condition of all hatches and latches and of course, the seat should be in reasonable, working condition.
Other items to look at carefully before you offer a price would be padding, straps, rail condition, bulkhead condition, rudder function (if applicable), the wear and tear on the keel, and the condition of any handles.
A Great example of kayaks on opposite sides of the price spectrum!
Why Are Kayaks Expensive (while some are cheap)?
The price of a kayak (like any other consumer product) is determined largely by a common set of factors including (but not limited to) manufacturing quality and materials, brand name recognition, size, weight, usage or purpose, plus the built-in features and accessories, not to mention the issue of how the kayak is moved on the water!
Kayaks are made with such an array of materials, that prices cannot help but vary from as little as a few hundred dollars to nearly $10,000.
Most recreational and sit-on-top fishing kayaks are made from rotomolded polyethylene (plastic). This material is super durable, but also very heavy, and not that difficult to craft, so it’s relatively inexpensive compared to all other options.
Carbon/Kevlar/fiberglass kayaks are more expensive because of both the materials and the process by which they are manufactured.
Wood and canvas kayaks are even more specialized in design and manufacturing process, so prices will be even higher for this style of kayak.
Brand Name Recognition
No matter what you may think of brand names, they do have an effect on people whether they realize it or not. Sports clothing with a name like “Columbia” are trusted far more than an off-brand from China that costs ten times less. People are generally willing to spend more for the Columbia name because of either quality or a publically perceived level of quality!
The same is true with kayaks. Hard-core anglers will dream about getting a Hobie kayak, while you’d be hard-pressed to find a better touring machine than the Caribou from Current Designs Kayak Company.
There’s no better name on the planet for whitewater and playboating than Dagger kayaks.
All the companies mentioned command a premium price for their products because their names matter!
Use or Purpose
While a high-end angling kayak from Hobie can demand a huge price tag, so too can specialized touring kayaks, especially if made with carbon or aramid kevlar, or wood.
However, a recreation kayak just does not have the air of “specialization” and does not have the potential to inspire a buyer to consider the specialized accessories or the purpose-specific elements of the design like efficient streamlined hulls, or the engineering creativity of the various fishing kayak propulsion systems.
As such, recreational kayaks are expected to be inexpensive, and they largely fulfill that expectation.
Size & Weight
This one seems obvious, but the size of a kayak will absolutely affect the price point. A tandem kayak will rarely (if ever) be less expensive than a comparable solo model. Longer fishing kayaks are always pricier than shorter ones with the exact same features.
The heaviest kayaks are almost always polyethylene, and they also happen to be the least expensive, while materials like carbon or hand-crafted wood, sit atop the pricing food chain.
How Much is the Cheapest Kayak?
Price can be the biggest factor affecting many budget-minded people who just need something to enjoy on the water during a long weekend. For those thrifty price-shoppers, it’s entirely possible to get a new Lifetime kids’ kayak for under $250, and Pelican offers a number of models near the $300 price point.
As for used kayaks in good condition, you can get a kids’ kayak for under $100, though most recreation kayaks range from $300 to $900.
How Much Does a Kayak Cost to Rent?
Renting a kayak can be a great way to get the feel for a specific style or brand of kayak you might consider buying, and most rental companies will offer discounted sales on their used inventory at the end of a season!
Prices for rentals will vary by geographical location, but as a place to start, consider that a solo kayak in Western New York State will cost around $23/hour or $45/day. In the Phoenix, AZ region, renters will pay $30 – $45/day depending on whether the kayak is a plastic or inflatable model, while in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the going rate is around $75/day for a solo kayak.
Of course, companies all over the world will vary, not only in their rental rates, but in their rental practices like whether or not they offer hourly rental options, or if they offer rentals for extended periods of time, or if they sell kayaks.
You can end up researching quite a bit, but this type of research is usually not drudgery and often it’s quite fun!
36 Examples of New and Used Kayaks
Casual / Recreation Kayaks
|Ocean Kayak||Malibu Two XL||$ 999||$ 650|
|Sun Dolphin||Bali 12 ft. SS||$ 300||$ 250|
|Old Town||Dirigo 120||$ 999||$ 800|
|Liquidlogic||Marvel 12||$ 799||$ 600|
|Wilderness Systems||Tarpon 160||$ 869||$ 900 !!!! WHAAAT?|
Casual/Recreation Kayaks Average Prices:
NEW = $790
USED = $640
Sea / Touring Kayaks
|ClearWater Design||Gaspe||$ 1200||$ 500|
|P & H Sea Kayak Company||Capella||$ 1599||$ 500|
|Dagger||Magellan 16’6″||$ 1095||$ 600|
|Current Designs||Sirocco||$ 1899||$ 500|
|Wilderness Systems||Zephyr 160 Pro||$ 3150||$ 2000|
Sea/Touring Kayaks Average Prices:
NEW = $1790
USED = $640
|Wilderness Systems||Ride 135||$ 1050||$ 900|
|Native||Slayer Propel 13||$ 2350||$ 1300|
|Vibe||Sea Ghost 130||$ 1300||$ 700 – $ 900|
|Hobie||Outback||$ 3549||$ 1500|
|Ascend||12T||$ 1070||$ 600|
Fishing Kayaks Average Prices:
NEW = $1860
USED = $1020
|Oru Kayaks||Inlet||$ 972||$ 700|
|Oru Kayaks||Haven TT (tandem)||$ 2189||$ 1200|
|Folbot||Greenland II||$ 2695||$ 600|
|Folbot||Kiawah||$ 1500||$ 800|
|TuckTec||N/A (only one model)||$395 – $ 500||$ 300|
Folding Kayaks Average Prices:
NEW = $1560
USED = $720
|Intex||Excursion Pro K2||$ 499||$ 175|
|Tobin Sports||Wavebreak||$ 250||$ 227|
|Sea Eagle||350fx||$ 1099||$250|
|Intex||Explorer||$ 140||$ 125|
|Advanced Elements||AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak||$ 550||$ 450|
Inflatable Kayaks Average Prices:
NEW = $507
USED = $250
Tandem Recreational Kayaks
|Pelican||Argo 136XP||$ 1099||$ 400|
|Hobie||Odyssey||$ 1500||$ 950|
|Hobie||Oasis||$ 4850||$ 2300|
|Wilderness Systems||Pamlico 135T||$ 1250||$ 700|
|Vibe||Yellowfin 130T||$ 1300||$ 1000|
Tandem Recreational Kayaks Average Prices:
NEW = $2000
USED = $1070
Whitewater Kayaks (Playboats)
|Pyranha||Inazone 232||$ 999||$ 800|
|Dagger||Mamba 7.6 Creeker||$ 1159||$ 900|
|Bliss-Stick||RAD||$ 1099||$ 325|
Whitewater Kayaks Average Prices:
NEW = $1085
USED = $675
|Lifetime||Youth Wave||$ 259||$ 90|
|Old Town||Heron Junior||$ 450||$ 175|
|Jackson||Kids Fun 1||$ 849||$100|
Kids’ Kayaks Average Prices:
NEW = $520
USED = $122
Where do Kayakers Buy Their Kayaks?
Source: 2019 Special Report on Paddlesports & Safety by the Outdoor Foundation
Below is a great example of a well-respected kayak manufacturing brand, BKC (Brooklyn Kayak Company). You can see some great (and exceptionally affordable) options by clicking the image below or the Amazon Link below the photo.
The price of a kayak can vary dramatically from under $100 for a used kids’ kayak to over $10,000 for specialty kayaks built from expensive materials and customized for a specific person or special purpose.
I would suggest that once you determine the general usage of your kayak, you can easily scour Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, etc. for second-hand options in your area, or visit the websites of some of the brands I’ve mentioned earlier in the article (note the links) to find prices and retailers.
It’s always a good idea to consider whether or not you absolutely want a brand new one or if you may consider a good-quality previously owned kayak. I own both, but I always checked used first!
Remember there are a lot of factors that determine the price of a kayak and while it won’t make much of a difference to your wallet whether you know those factors or not, it’s always good to know why you’re paying what you are.
Sources for used kayak pricing information:
1 – Facebook Marketplace (Buffalo NY, Miami FL, Charleston SC, Denver CO, Seattle WA, Atlanta GA, and Los Angeles CA)
2 – Craigslist