Whether fishing, tubing, sunbathing, or knocking back a couple of cold ones on the lake, we can all agree there’s no better way to spend the sun-drenched days during summer than on the water; maybe that’s why we all dream of finding that elusive, fabled “friend with a boat.”
For those who have yet to find that friend, we’ve been working on making the boat-life more accessible to the rest of us. For those on a budget, here’s our curated, hand-picked list of the best single-person kayaks under $500.
At the top of our list for value is the Intex Challenger: our pick for when Uber Eats claims the remnants of your paycheck. This inflatable, nimble kayak won’t burn a hole in your pocket, but it will give you everything you need for a day on the water.
With storage cargo nets, a comfortable interior, and a five-minute set-up time, the Challenger does indeed fit its name – challenging competitors to come up with a better kayak at this price tag, but they haven’t yet. This is not only one of the best kayaks under $500, but it comes in under $100 as well. You can find the Challenger on Amazon here.
Sun Dolphin’s Aruba tops the charts in ratings across the board for comfort, handling, and price. It features adjustable seat padding and foot braces for maximum comfort, a tough, lightweight polyethylene body, and extra storage space.
Though not built for rougher waters, we do think it’ll plunge your day on the lake in the next level of summer enjoyment – and if all that isn’t enough, it’s offered in mint-green. You can find it on Amazon here.
For the accident prone among us, there’s the Lifetime Lotus kayak. Unlike the Titanic, this vessel really is unsinkable. It’s built to continuously drain water and the hull design is notoriously difficult to flip.
It’s a wildly popular choice for first-time kayak buyers and experienced users alike. This is the kayak we endorse for your more white-knuckled adventures – or just for the clumsier of us who need the extra help. If you’re interested in this beauty of a beast, give it a look on Amazon here.
When the family yacht’s unavailable, there’s no need to fear: Perception’s Rambler kayak is built for luxury. With features like molded footrests and drink holders, it’s apparent that the Rambler was designed for your lazy day river cruise.
Lightweight, easy-to-maneuver, and wickedly attractive, the Rambler is sure to impress fellow kayakers, and as if there was any further question about this kayak’s intentions of being a good time, it’s available in the color scheme “Funkadelic.” Want to check it out? It’s available on Amazon.
Built for ultimate portability, the Advanced Frame kayak by Advanced Elements is an infusion of an inflatable and folding-frame kayak with all the perks of a hard shell.
Designed for smooth tracking and maneuverability, this kayak deflates and folds up into a lightweight package, tucking snugly into the included duffel bag. If a hard shell doesn’t meet your needs and you don’t mind the set-up time, then the versatility of this kayak is unbeatable. It’s available on Amazon here.
Perception is back on our list with a stable, functional kayak built for a slow afternoon fishing on still waters. This kayak boasts a variety of features essential to the fishing life that you won’t find on many other single-person kayaks under 500 dollars; receptacles for your drinks, a notch for your tackle box, and two fishing-rod holders.
This kayak won’t win you any races, but neither will it tip you into the water while you wrestle an athletic trout. Check it out on Amazon here.
Responsive, durable, and roomy: is there anything else to look for in a kayak? Emotion’s Guster is our first choice for beginners. If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, consider this versatile option that offers something for everyone.
Whether you’re fishing, ocean kayaking, or just searching for a little tranquility, the Guster is built to make it happen. Go take a look on Amazon here.
For the fisherman or fisherwoman on a budget, you won’t find a better option than Sun Dolphin’s Boss. From the front and rear storage wells to the stand-up strap, you will find this kayak is the answer to all of your fishing needs. This is, without a doubt, one of the best kayaks under 500 dollars.
The catamaran hull is the ultimate in stability and the body comes in a sleek camo design so that no one will question your fishing abilities. Check it out on Amazon here.
No matter the purpose for your new kayak, a budget under $500 will open up some pretty sweet options. This was our list for the best single-person kayaks under 500 dollars; a list for our favorite tandem kayaks is upcoming shortly, so keep an eye out. Buy one or three, and enjoy your time on the water. We hope you have a great time out there adventuring.
Check out the gear page of our site for other expertly curated gear recommendations and advice.