Best Kayaks Under $200: Inexpensive, No Compromise on Quality
Looking for a budget kayak under $200?
As surprising as it sounds, you don’t need to compromise in terms of quality or performance even on a budget.
You can get it all – stability, performance, fun and comfort.
But if you search on your own, finding the right one can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack.
That is why we created this in-depth guide, with all the research and testing done for you.
Without further ado, here are the best kayaks under $200:
Pelican Pursuit 80x KayakPelican makes some of the bestselling kayaks in the market and the 80x is one of their budget offerings. When you are on a budget, you can’t help but get in awe at how an established brand has made a kayak available at such an affordable price.
The Pelican Pursuit is made with polyethylene material which is sturdy and durable. The kayak is well made and with the brand name, it carries a lot of resale value. It comes with a comfortable seat that has an adjustable padded backrest. The seat bottom is hard plastic but as surprising as it is, the seat is still super comfortable. Users report how the back support is good and the seat bottom is molded well for a comfortable ride.
It is a compact and lightweight kayak perfect for those who want something handy yet fun. At just 25 lbs of weight, anyone can carry it on their own. It also comes with a drain plug on the rear, which helps with removing water accumulated in the cockpit. The kayak can support 200 lbs. of weight, which is decent but heavier users often mention using it without any hassle.
It isn’t built for you if you are 6 feet tall. But if you are somewhere around 5 feet 9 inches, it will be comfortable for you. Adults who are 6 feet tall reported that they were able to fit in the kayak but they were not comfortable with the leg room.
The downside is that it doesn’t have any dedicated storage space apart from the bungee cords on the stern that can hold some of your belongings. And since it is compact, you will end up keeping your gear or bag between your feet. This is certainly not comfortable for long rides. Some users resolved this issue by installing a hatch to the rear and adding bungee cords to the front deck. You can even add foot braces to bring more stability to your paddling strokes.
Make sure that you buy a paddle of an adequate length for paddling. If the paddle is too short or too long, it can cause issues with maneuvering. It is short at just 7.5 feet of length, so it is quite easy to maneuver.
Since it is compact and lightweight, you can carry it around on your own. It is also stable on water and doesn’t tip over. This stability is important since many customers buy this for kids. So you can get in and out easily without worrying about tipping.
It is perfect for lakes, ponds and slow moving rivers. When confronted by waves, the kayak takes some effort to track, otherwise it is effortless to maneuver in calm waters. So to kayak on a spot where there are waves or winds, you would need good paddling skills.
Users report how tough this kayak is and how it holds its value after years of use. They mention rubbing rocks and beaching the kayak all the time – sure the kayak gets scratches but it doesn’t get any serious damage. It is tough as a nail.
The best part is that this kayak is also perfect for kids. Even your 7-year old can handle it easily. Or if you are an older adult within the height limits specified above, you can have fun on it as well. It has enough legroom for kids and adults as well.
Users mention taking the Pelican Pursuit 80x in Class I and Class II rapids without any hassle. It has a small turning radius too, so you can make sudden maneuvers easily with this kayak. The downside is that its tracking needs slight improvement, although you get used to it after some time. Users also recommend buying a spray skirt for the kayak if you happen to paddle in a cold area.
One thing missing from this kayak is foot pegs. But you can buy them online and install them in less than an hour.
Overall, the kayak offers great value for money. It has a solid build quality, which is almost unheard of in the low-budget range and it is fun to ride. The kayak is easy to haul around and most importantly fun whether paddling solo or bringing in multiple kayaks with your friends.
- Superior build quality for a budget kayak
- Renowned brand
- Adjustable, padded backrest
- Easy to maneuver
- Bungee cord storage on the rear
- Easy to store/transport
- Small turning radius
- Holds up well in Class I and II rapids
- Overwhelming value for money
- Little storage space
- No dry storage
- No footrests
Intex Challenger K2 KayakThe Intex Challenger K2 kayak is a solid option if you want a quality kayak under $200. It is a two-person kayak with a 400 lbs. capacity. The capacity is not great but can be enough for two average-sized adults. The kayak comes in bright green color that gives it high visibility on water. It is good for safety, since fellow paddlers can see you from a distance.
The kayak is easy to set up. It has two compartments that need to be inflated: hull and the side chambers. The seats are quick to inflate and install. The company provides a pressure gauge so that you can fill up air to an appropriate level. The kayak can be easily dried with a towel. You don’t need to keep it out in the sun for long periods. This is possible due to the single layer of waterproof fabric that it is made of.
The pump, however, is not easy to use. It is tiny which means it will require a lot of time to fill air in the air chambers. But not only that, it doesn’t work efficiently. It requires you to exert a lot of force with your arms while putting on foot on the pump. This can be taxing. Our suggestion is to buy a bigger, more efficient pump to quickly set up the kayak each time you want to hit the water. Another gripe we have is the instructions provided to inflate and deflate the kayak. They are useless. However, you can figure it out on your own.
The kayak comes with a large storage bag, so even if some air gets left inside, you can still put it in the bag without any hassle. The Challenger K2 comes with lightweight paddles that can also be stored in the bag. The boat weighs just 27 lbs, so you can carry it on your own. Moreover, it has ropes running along the bow and stern that allow you to grab it with ease.
The Intex Challenger is decent in terms of build quality. It holds up nice with two paddlers on board. You can even bring a harmless pet but a wild dog can damage the boat. So one must keep this in mind. The Challenger K2 is built with a 30-gauge vinyl, not the toughest of materials, but holds up nice on water. The repair patches that come with the kayak are a bit small, but work well. In our tests, the boat fared so well that we didn’t have to use the repair patches.
The boat comes with two air chambers. So if one was to get punctured, the other one would still keep it afloat. However, this isn’t good enough for you to kayak without wearing a life jacket. When either of the chambers gives in, you will be floating on the floor chamber along with the inflated seats. You don’t want to be in this situation without a life jacket.
The Intex Challenger isn’t going to last five years. You’ll be lucky if it does. But it is better than renting a kayak every time you want to have fun with your family or friends.
The Intex Challenger K2 is easy to maneuver. It stays stable in water, primarily because it stays low in water, allowing you to get in and off easily and paddle with stability. This stability allows it to stay steady even when the weather is windy. The long skeg that runs underneath allows it to move in a straight line. Note that if you don’t attach the skeg to the kayak, it will get unstable and can even tip over, as per our tests. So make sure to attach the skegs if you don’t want to swamp the kayak.
It is a long boat at 11 feet 5 inches, so there is plenty of room for both paddlers to feel comfortable. The paddles that come with the kayak work well but are somewhat flimsy. Moreover, there is no drain plug or scupper hole, so water can accumulate inside the boat until it gets so much that you take it to the shore and flip it upside down to empty it.
The boat is also good when it comes to comfort. For its price, we would say it is a great deal. It isn’t meant for long kayaking expeditions, but it sure can hold up well when you want to go for a short ride in a nearby spot. The inflatable seats attach to the boat with velcro straps and buckles, so you can always find a comfortable position to sit. The seat backrests are comfortable, but could be higher for better support.
The paddles are lightweight and have a soft grip, which is good for paddling. On the front, there is a mesh covering on the bow that allows you to store your belongings.
Overall, the Intex Challenger K2 is a great kayak for someone who wants something for the weekend paddling and doesn’t care much about long-term durability. It is also meant for those who want something compact and portable, something that comes with all the accessories to get started.
- Multiple air chambers
- Adjustable seats
- Comes with all components
- Sit low in water
- Easy to maneuver
- Long skeg
- Average durability
- Tiny, ineffective pump
Sevylor K1 Quikpak Inflatable KayakSevylor K1 Quikpak Inflatable kayak is a high quality kayak for those who want an inexpensive kayak. It is really good for kayaking on slow moving waters. The kayak is quite compact since you can deflate it and fold it down into a backpack.
The Sevylor Quikpak kayak is made with 21 gauge PVC material. The thickness of the PVC is not high, but you can’t expect much in this budget. The bottom is made with tarpaulin. The PVC material, that it is built from, can withstand impact from external objects.
There are five air chambers; two large and three small. Multiple air chambers allow it to stay afloat if a couple of them get punctured. This is a great measure for water safety, but you should still wear a life jacket to protect yourself. The company has built it with an airtight system so that it doesn’t leak. To help with inflation and deflation, the company has provided double lock valves.
The kayak is not exactly lightweight when inflated. So you may need a hand to carry it from one point to the other. The kayak can be set up quickly – you can get going in as little as five minutes.
There is a storage area in the front secured by bungee cords. The seat is also comfortable and the backrest offers enough support for comfortable long rides. The kayak has multiple footrests so that paddlers of all sizes can fit in.
The cockpit is spacious enough for you to extend your legs, unlike other kayaks where you feel cramped in. The kayak comes with a high pressure hand pump, unlike the Intex Challenger K2 reviewed above. So you will be able to inflate the air chambers relatively quickly.
The kayak performs well on water. It comes with two skegs but they are small in size. It tracks okay, but not great. The skegs are useful for reducing the sideways bobbing and weaving as you paddle. The kayak responds to each paddle stroke promptly, which makes it easy to maneuver. It is wide so its stability is also better than other inflatable kayaks.
The kayak can be tied to another kayak – just tie a rope to the handle and have fun tubing. The paddles that come with the kayak are somewhat flimsy, so it will be better if you buy quality paddles yourself.
The Sevylor is a good kayak if you want to buy something reliable, easy to maneuver and fun to ride. It is one of the rare kayaks in the budget range with solid build quality.
- Heavy duty
- 400 lbs capacity
- Multiple air chambers for water safety
- Compact, folds into a backpack
- Easy to maneuver
- Multiple footrests accommodate all paddlers
- Comes with two skegs
- Seat is comfortable
- High pressure hand pump included
- Bungee storage
- Heavy when inflated
- Paddle included, but it is flimsy
Sun Dolphin Aruba 8 SS Sit-in Recreational KayakSun Dolphin Aruba SS is another quality kayak that has many features worthy of a mention in this list. The Aruba SS comes in multiple variants of 8 feet, 10 feet and 12 feet. The 8 feet variant is just under $200, while the 10-feet variant is slightly more expensive. The cockpit is large and the kayak is easy to get in and out of. The kayak comes in bright colors and can be easily seen from a distance.
The kayak is made with UV stabilized fortiflex high-density polyethylene material. HDPE is sturdy and can absorb impact from boulders or tree branches without causing any permanent damage or change in shape in the kayak’s body. UV protection means the kayak surface won’t fade, peel or crack.
Sun Dolphin is an established brand in the kayak market and Aruba is one of their finest kayaks. This kayak is perfect for paddling in rivers or lakes. It comes with a comfortable seat with adjustable padded backrest. It just weighs 27 lbs, so you can carry it on your own. It is 95.5 inches long and 28 inches wide. The kayak can be used on calm lakes, ponds and slow moving streams. You should not use it in waves above one feet, as it doesn’t have the stability or maneuverability to tackle such waves.
The kayak however is easy to handle on calm waters. It can be easily stored in the back of your car or truck. The Aruba comes with a storage hatch on the back where you can keep your items safe from water. The storage compartment, however, is too small and you can only keep small items like your keys or a wallet.
Some users were not able to fit even their cell phone inside it, which is a bummer. There are also bungee cords on the rear to tie any camping gear. It has a beverage holder to keep a water bottle accessible while paddling. The kayak is meant for calm waters and not heavy rapids.
The seat isn’t that comfortable and will hurt your butt. So if you are going to make a quick customization, add a seat cushion. The kayak isn’t as stable as other kayaks mentioned in this list. But it maneuvers well on calm waters. If you want superior stability, go for the Pelican 80X kayak – it has everything one would need in a kayak. It is prone to tipping as well, but one gets used to its stability with time. However, it is completely stable for kids, since they don’t weigh that much.
The flat bottom and short length make its tracking average at best. But it rides well if you don’t go too fast. If maneuverability and stability are at the top of your priorities, this kayak is not for you. T-handles on the bow and the stern allow you to carry it easily without anyone’s help.
The SS model of the Sun Dolphin Aruba comes with a paddle, but it is very basic in terms of quality. One user mentioned catching the blade of the paddle in the water awkwardly which tipped over the kayak. So be careful while you handle the paddle. The paddle is average quality but good enough to get you started.
One downside is that the Dolphin Aruba SS doesn’t come with footpegs. This doesn’t do any good to the already low stability of this kayak and also reduces the comfort level for the paddler.
The kayak, however, doesn’t come with a drain plug which quickly removes the water accumulated inside the kayak. The good thing is you can buy one and install it yourself. It comes with a molded-in paddle holder which you can use when the kayak is parked.
Overall, the Sun Dolphin Aruba 8 SS offers good value for money. It is sturdy, lightweight and fun. But it lacks in comfort, stability and maneuverability. However, if you want a kayak for slow moving rivers or lakes, the Aruba is a great choice. If you can’t compromise with stability or maneuverability, go for the Pelican Pursuit 80x kayak, which is an all-rounder in our books.
- Sturdy and durable
- UV resistant
- Large cockpit
- Beverage holder
- Easy to store and transport
- Carry handles
- Rear storage hatch
- Bungee cords
- Comes with a paddle
- Easy to load/unload on your car
- Good for calm waters
- No footpegs
- Small storage hatch
- Uncomfortable seat
- Average tracking or maneuverability
- Can be tippy, not very stable
Intex Explorer K2 KayakThe Intex Explorer K2 kayak is a solid kayak under the $500 range. It comes with a set of attractive features that make it worthy of a mention in our top picks. The K2 explorer is made of 30-gauge vinyl material that comes with 1200 denier nylon shells. On the floor, there is an I-beam installed that makes the kayak strong and durable.
The kayak is strong enough to resist any knocks or dents from boulders or branches. It feels solid as you sit in it and doesn’t feel like one of those kayaks that will crack or get torn easily.
The bright yellow color of the K2 makes it easily visible which helps with safety on water. But it is not just about safety, the kayak looks sleek and appealing with a sporty design.
It can accommodate two adults at once and comes with a 350 lbs weight capacity. The weight capacity isn’t huge but enough for two average sized adults or one adult and a child. The kayak weighs 31 pounds so it is lightweight enough for you to carry it on your own.
The seats are super comfy and you will stay comfortable even during long rides on the Explorer K2. The backrest isn’t too soft and is just firm enough to provide support. It is also high enough to support your entire back from your tailbone to your upper back.
The seats can be removed and get attached to the kayak using velcro straps and buckles. So you can adjust the seats as needed. The buckles are robust and keep the seats firmly in place. The seats provide enough space but if both adults are 6 feet or more in height, the space will feel a bit tight, especially to the person sitting in the back.
The Explorer K2 is built with meticulous design. It has three air chambers that make it strong and keep it afloat even when either of them gets punctured. However, this doesn’t mean at all that you should paddle this kayak without wearing a life jacket. That will be a fatal mistake.
The grab lines on both sides of the kayak help you easily grab the kayak when it is hit by waves and get more control of the situation. It also has a carry handle that allows you to transport it from one place to the other.
The kayak has a curved bow and stern that help it cut through water. These curves also allow the kayak to adjust quickly to waves or winds. It is inflatable, yet it is by no means a lesser performer than a hardshell kayak in the same budget range. The K2 can even stay stable in choppy water and allows you to have the thrill of an adventure on the water.
The bow and the stern have skirts that prevent the spray of water from getting you wet. The kayak comes with two 86-inch oars that work well but are slightly short. A removable skeg underneath the kayak helps with tracking. The kayak is easy to maneuver, you can easily tackle it both on calm waters and mild waves.
The Explorer K2 comes with an inflation pump that can fill the kayak and seats with air in just 5 to 10 minutes. The pump isn’t very sturdy, but it does the job and holds up well. It also comes with a repair kit and a storage bag to carry the collapsed kayak as well as other components once you are done kayaking. The bag, however, is rather flimsy, so you should buy a quality bag for the long-term. The K2 kayak is made for small rivers, lakes and ponds. It doesn’t do well on big waves or ground swells.
The good thing is that the kayak is highly stable. It won’t tip over easily which means you can be more adventurous with it and have more fun.
There is plenty of storage space on the kayak too. But the paddler sitting in the back may find the legroom a bit lacking. The kayak comes with boston valves that make inflation and deflation quick and easy. The boston valves are there on the side chambers, the floor chamber comes with a normal valve.
Boston valves are great because they work as one-way valves. They restrict the airflow to only one direction as you inflate or deflate the kayak. So when you are inflating, the air can’t escape out of the air chambers and when you’re deflating, the air can’t get inside.
The front profile of the kayak is big, so when the weather is windy or the kayak goes into waves, you will need to be careful to keep it steady and have it move in a straight line. The paddles are a bit short so the paddler’s hands tend to rub against the seams while paddling. This, however, can be solved by wearing gloves or buying longer paddles.
So as you can see, the Intex Explorer K2 comes with a lot of features. It is a perfect kayak if you want something stable, easy to maneuver and fun to ride.
- Good build quality
- Spacious with room for storage
- Easy to maneuver
- Curved bow and stern help with handling and speed
- Multiple air chambers
- Boston valves for quick inflation and deflation
- Accommodates two paddlers
- Comfortable seat with high backrest
- Easy to set up
- Carry handle
- Paddles are a bit short, so your hands may rub on the sides of the kayak
Lifetime Youth Sit-on-Top KayakIf you want a kids kayak under the $200 price, the Lifetime Youth Wave kayak is a solid option. It is designed in an ergonomic way so that kids can easily find balance with it and develop their motor skills while paddling this kayak. The hull design is also meticulously designed to add stability. The hull is designed in a reverse chined shape which allows the kayak to stay stable.
The kayak is really lightweight, more so than other kayaks in this list. It weighs just 18 lbs. It can support 130 lbs. of weight which is sufficient considering it is meant for kids ages 5 and up. The kayak has quality construction, it is built with polyethylene material that is strong enough to absorb impact from boulders or tree branches. The HDPE material is also UV resistant, which means it will protect the kayak’s body from damage from the sun. It won’t fade, crack or peel. The high-density polyethylene material also makes it sturdy and durable.
The Lifetime Youth Kayak also comes with a draining port that drains any water accumulated in the cockpit. Most kayaks don’t come with this feature so we really liked this one. You also get a kid-size paddle with the kayak, so you don’t need to buy anything else to get started with it. The sit-on-top kayak design allows your kids to quickly jump in the water for a swim and climb back in using the swim-up step.
Because of how stable the kayak is, your kids can easily stand on it without tipping it over. You can even have them try fishing while standing on it. The kayak is, in fact, so stable that it doesn’t easily tip over even when you try.
The kayak ensures your child’s safety with a swim up step on the rear. The swim up step is nothing but a small flat platform children can use to get back into the kayak after a swim or if they slip into water accidentally.
Although this is a great feature for safety, kids should still be wearing a personal floatation device when taking their kayaks into the water. Note that the swim up step is only helpful if your kid is strong enough to pull themselves up, otherwise it doesn’t make any difference. It is made with a twin fin design that helps it track well and also helps in surf riding.
Because of its small size and weight, the kayak can be easily stowed in the back of your car. It is so light that kids can carry it themselves from one point to the other. It comes with molded finger handles on each side to make carrying easy for your kids. Kids ages 5 and up can use this kayak. The seat is molded in, so there is no padding. But still it is fun to ride. Another thing to note is that there is no height limit on this kayak, only a weight limit. So if your kid is tall, you can buy it without any second thoughts.
Although the seat doesn’t have any negative reviews, one can use a seat pad in case it feels comfortable, especially for longer kayak rides. You will have to drill holes in it if you want to add your own seat, which is a bit taxing. Also, make sure that you never let your kids ride it without supervision. It comes with multiple foot pegs so that kids of all sizes can fit in this kayak.
One area of improvement is that there should be a hook on the bow to tie the kayak to another boat. There is a hook on the side, but it isn’t practical to tie it there as it will pull the kayak sideways. Another thing we would have liked on this kayak is the addition of a paddle holder, to make it easy for the kids when the kayak is parked.
The kayak comes with a 5-year limited lifetime warranty, so you can have peace of mind with your purchase. Some customers recommend checking the pricing frequently to get the best deal, as the prices tend to fluctuate from time to time.
Overall, the Lifetime Youth Wave kayak is a solid one that offers stability to go into calm waters and mild waves, ease of maneuvering that lets your kids get used to it quickly and the thrill of adventure so that your kids can start fishing and explore the waters early on. This is an all-rounder that will last a long time.
- Solid build quality
- Made with HDPE material
- Easy to maneuver
- Tracks well
- Good for fishing
- Swim-up step
- Draining valve
- No seat padding or backrest padding
- No attachment points to add a seat
- No hook on the bow to tie it to a kayak
Sevylor Fiji 2-Person KayakThe Sevylor Fiji 2-Person kayak is a compelling option if you are looking for a budget kayak. And you would expect so since it is made by one of the leading manufacturers in the industry. The Fiji is a tandem kayak – it can accommodate up to two paddlers. This makes it more fun since you get to kayak with your family or friends.
Or you can paddle with your kids and have them enjoy the water. But if you want to use it for your own use, it can double as a solo kayak too. The seat in the middle can be removed to convert it into a solo kayak, the seat at the back remains fixed.
The Sevylor Fiji is made with 22-gauge PVC material. It is an inflate and isn’t as sturdy as the Pelican 80x but it will still last many years. The PVC material is sturdy enough to resist abrasions and knocks from boulders and branches in the middle of the water. Multiple air chambers ensure water safety by keeping the kayak afloat in case any of the chambers gets punctured. Furthermore, the company has designed it in such a way that it remains airtight. So the air has no chance to leak out, which can cause imbalance and potential accidents.
To inflate and deflate the air chambers without any hassle, the Fiji is fitted with min double lock and double lock valves. The valves have two locking points which ensure there is no air leakage when inflating and make the entire process seamless.
The spray covers on the front and the back ensure that splashes of water don’t enter the kayak and you are able to stay dry. Keep in mind that with the open cockpit design, some water will still get inside anyway.
The Fiji can support 400 lbs. of weight – which isn’t excellent for two adults, but does the job for two average-sized paddlers. The kayak is easy to carry and transport. Once deflated, the kayak folds into just 1 pound of weight. You sure can carry 1 pound into a duffle bag.
The Fiji can be seen as a better version of the Sevylor Tahiti as it is comfortable too. The back seat allows you to get proper back support while paddling. The middle seat is also better than the Tahiti in terms of comfort and back support. Paddlers who have been doing it for decades love Sevylor Fiji. The kayak also tracks well, which is super important when buying a budget kayak since most tend to do bad in this department.
The kayak comes with a double-sided paddle, so make sure to use the paddle correctly or you won’t be able to maneuver the kayak. Inside the package, you also get a repair patch to use when it gets punctured. Fixing a patch takes about ten minutes. The patch is really effective. One thing we would recommend is following the instructions in the user manual to inflate the kayak. Without it, putting different chambers together will be difficult.
The kayak comes with a 90-day warranty to give you peace of mind. We know, 90 days isn’t a lot, but it is sufficient for this price. The downside is that it doesn’t come with any carry handles. So you will struggle a bit while carrying it from one point to the other. However, since it is an inflatable, you can easily store it in your car and don’t have to bear the heavy weight that comes with loading a hardshell on the roof of your car.
The kayak is rather long in size – it is 10’4″ long. So we suggest that you buy a skeg with it to help with tracking. Without it, it will be hard to tackle it and keep it moving straight. It tracks well when a skeg is attached but it still is not meant for white water or high waves. It is best suited for lakes, ponds and slow moving rivers.
When sitting in the kayak, it is better if you sit in the back rather in the middle. The middle seat isn’t as supportive. When kayaking with kids, the rear seat will be better suited for the adult and the middle for the kid.
The hull of the kayak is flat which makes it nimble but also takes away some of the stability you see in other kayaks. The flat hull also makes the kayak a bit difficult to maneuver. But overall, the Fiji is easy to handle and responds to each paddle stroke. It is long, so making turns requires some forethought, but it is fun to ride. The paddle comes in five pieces and its shaft is resistant to corrosion.
Overall, the Sevylor Fiji is a great two-person kayak that comes with balanced features. It is comfortable, stable and tracks well once you attack the skeg. It is inexpensive, yet it can accommodate two paddlers and holds up nice with both on board. It is decent when it comes to maneuvering and handling as well. If you want a reliable inflatable at an inexpensive price, the Fiji is worth your consideration.
- Good PVC material
- Perfect for beginners
- Two-person capacity
- 400 lbs. capacity
- Detachable seat
- Value for money
- Multiple air chambers
- Airtight system
- Easy and quick inflation and deflation
- Paddle and carry bag included
- Repair patch included
- Easy to store and transport
- Users need to buy a skeg separately for tracking
- Installation instructions can be tricky
Sun Dolphin Camino 8 Sit-on Recreational Kayak
If you are looking for an inexpensive kayak, the Sun Dolphin Camino 8 is worth checking out. It has the reliability of one the leading industry brands. On top of that, it has plenty of features that makes it worthy of a mention here.
The Sun Dolphin Camino comes in a sit-on-top style which has many advantages. First, you can get in and out of the kayak easily. This is a big plus since most small kayaks aren’t this stable or open. You can jump out for a quick swim and climb back in. Moreover, the large open cockpit allows you to extend your legs and make yourself comfortable. It is different from other kayaks as it has a square stern and because of its overall shape. This shape is not seen in any of the inflatable or hard shell kayaks you normally see in the market.
The good thing about the Camino is that it is compact and lightweight so you can carry it on your own. Its build quality is impressive and its tough construction shields it from any knocks or hits from external objects like rocks or tree branches.
In a market where kayaks are curved on the bow and the stern to make them fast, the Sun Dolphin Camino defies the norms and makes its own path. The square shaped stern is nothing like you see on other kayaks.
Because of this unique design, the kayak is superior in terms of stability. It is comfortable, sturdy and has enough space for your gear. Hence, by being different and setting high standards for itself, the Camino is able to do better than other kayaks.
The Camino comes with an adjustable padded seat that is comfortable even for long rides on the water. The seat bottom is molded in but doesn’t feel uncomfortable for short rides. The seat is strapped onto the kayak deck with buckles, so you can adjust it as per your liking, even in the middle of the ride. This is one of its biggest advantages.
Users report using the seat comfortably for as long as 3 hours. The seat back is high enough to support your entire back and make rides comfortable.
For longer rides though, it is better to buy a seat cushion to make yourself comfortable. The kayak comes with multiple foot pegs to ensure that paddlers of all sizes feel comfortable. It also has carry handles that let you transport it with ease. The carry handles are given on the front and the rear. This needs improvement because a solo paddler would need side handles to carry it on their own.
The kayak can support 225 lbs. of weight, which is enough for one adult paddler. It also gives you enough leeway to bring your camping or fishing gear.
The Camino has dedicated storage – a large rear tank well can hold your gear secured by bungee cords. There is also a small storage hatch in the front, that lets you store items safe from water. It is only 8 foot long, which means it is easy to maneuver with a short turning radius. You can make the “sweeping stroke” to turn this kayak on a dime. The boat is not meant to be fast, it is made for steady paddle strokes and light gliding.
It has a width of 31.5 inches which is one reason why it is so stable. But this width also allows you to have plenty of room in the cockpit.
The kayak is self-bailing – it drains accumulated water out on its own. This is a big relief as you don’t want to get wet while paddling. It also saves you the trouble of going to the shore to empty all the water when the kayak takes on too much water after being hit by multiple waves.
The kayak is made from highly durable fortiflex high-density polyethylene material. The material is strong enough to withstand impact from external objects. The material is also UV resistant, so it won’t fade, peel or crack due to exposure to the sun.
The kayak is easy to maneuver given its short and stable hull design. You feel in control at all times unlike with many inflatables and hard shell kayaks in the same segment. The Camino isn’t super fast but it is enough for recreation and fishing. You can even take it to your favorite areas away from the shore. Such reach to secluded areas isn’t possible with a larger boat.
The kayak weighs 40 lbs. but there is no side grip, so some users had to buy a kayak cart to transport it on their own. However, it all depends on your physical strength. Most users were able to carry it by themselves.
The Camino comes in multiple color options to suit your liking. You can pick from tangerine, ocean and plain red.
The Camino 8 SS comes with a limited lifetime warranty to give you peace of mind when spending your hard-earned money. It is recommended that you get a good set of paddles with the kayak since cheaper paddles can make paddling mechanical and unpleasant. The kayak glides smoothly with high quality paddles.
Overall, the Dolphin Camino 8 is a lesser known gem. Its unique design gives it the qualities we all look for in a kayak – stability and maneuverability. It is lightweight so easy to transport. More importantly, it is fun!
- Good build quality
- Superior stability
- Easy to store
- Comfortable seat
- Open cockpit
- Sufficient storage space
- Carry handles
- UV protection
- Not fast
- Not meant for rapids or white water
Sevylor Quikpak K5 1-Person KayakSevylor is a leading brand in the kayaks industry and the Quikpak 5 is one of their finest products. The kayak is made with 21 gauge PVC material that is strong enough to resist impact from boulders or branches in the water. The bottom is made with tarpaulin and the boat is covered with a layer of polyester to guard itself from punctures.
The kayak has multiple air chambers, so if one of them gets punctured, others will keep it afloat. The kayak is further tested to be airtight in all areas so that it doesn’t leak after inflation. Leakage can not only cause issues with handling but also be dangerous. To facilitate inflation and deflation, the kayak comes with double lock valves that contain two locking points. The kayak has spray covers both on the front and the rear that prevent water from coming in. Moreover, the sit-in style of the kayak guards you against splashes of water.
The kayak can support 250 lbs. of weight. This is sufficient for an adult paddler, plus you can also bring some gear along. Despite being sturdy, the kayak weighs just 23 lbs when inflated. So you can easily carry it on your own. The kayak comes with an inflation pump, paddle and repair kit for punctures.
When it comes to performance, the kayak does well due to its length and other features. It is 10 feet long and has multiple skegs at the bottom. This makes it good at tracking. The boat sits high in the water but still feels stable. The kayak can easily handle slow moving rivers and lakes. The maneuverability is good and it responds to each paddle stroke.
The bottom part of the kayak is reinforced with tarpaulin and polyester to protect against punctures when you are paddling in shallow waters. However, the upper part isn’t made with the same attention to detail. It isn’t waterproof so it takes on water as you paddle, increasing the kayak’s weight. This also makes it hard to put the kayak away.
The worse problem is that there is no drain plug to remove the water out of the kayak if it accumulates water. The kayak literally becomes a pool of water if you don’t use the spray skirt that comes with it. The height of the kayak also becomes a concern when there is any wind. It will push the kayak in the direction of the wind and paddling will become more difficult. The bow isn’t sharp or pointed, so the kayak doesn’t catch as much speed or track as well as you expect it to.
The Sevylor Quikpak K5 isn’t as comfortable as a $1000 kayak, but it can certainly allow you to spend a pleasant day cruising in a nearby lake. The stock seat is adjustable so you can always find the most comfortable position to sit on. There is plenty of space in front of the seat to extend your legs and enjoy cruising. You can also wedge your knees onto the sides of the kayak to paddle with higher intensity. A small part of the backpack zips over your legs to shield from water. But it also helps you paddle with more intensity. Although the backpack converts into the seat for double utility, it would be better if Sevylor had provided an inflatable seat for thicker padding on the seat bottom. The stock seat starts to hurt your butt after a few hours of paddling.
Although the kayak comes with a paddle, it isn’t easy to use. It comes in three pieces and the pieces don’t stick together securely. The blades tend to get tilted at different angles as you paddle. The shaft also tends to lose its alignment and gets curved. If you want to save yourself the hassle, investing in a quality paddle can solve the issue.
The Quikpak 5 comes in three air chambers and inflating them with the dual-action pump is easy. Dual action means that it pumps in air both during the upstroke and the downstroke. The instructions are easy to follow and the set up is quick. The instructions require you to maintain a particular pressure when inflating, but there is no pressure gauge to measure the pressure.
The seat also works as the backpack. You can deflate the kayak and keep everything into the backpack for easy storage and portability. The pump is fast, but the hose tends to slip out of the valve resulting in air leakage.
The best thing is that the Sevylor has good durability in the $200 segment. Only a handful of kayaks are as well-made.
Overall, the Sevylor Quikpak K5 doesn’t come with any huge frills. But it takes care of the little things. It is easy to use, easy to maneuver, durable, has multiple skegs for tracking, stable and fun. Its greatest strength is the value it offers and that it comes with all the components in the package.
- Good build quality
- Comes with all components
- Folds into a backpack
- Has multiple skegs
- Spray skirt
- Upper part takes on water since it isn’t waterproof
- Paddle is ineffective, loses alignment
- Bow isn’t pointed, limits its speed
Sevylor C001 Tahiti Hunt Fish 2 Person KayakIf you are looking for the best kayak under $200, the Sevylor C001 Tahiti is worth checking out. It is certainly not the most durable kayak out there, but it is fun.
The Tahiti is made with 21-gauge PVC material which makes it decent in terms of durability and sturdiness. To make it safe on water, Sevylor Tahiti has multiple air chambers. Even when one of them gets punctured, the boat will keep floating due to the multiple chambers. It is built with an airtight system so that air doesn’t leak out once the boat is inflated. Air leakage can not only disturb your balance but also put you in danger. The kayak is easy to inflate and deflate. You can inflate it in 10 minutes and deflate it even faster.
The air chambers have double lock valves that ensure that the airflow is in only one direction. So when you are inflating the kayak, air doesn’t leak out and when you are deflating, air doesn’t seep in. The kayak comes with adjustable seats. However, users have complained how the seats don’t stay in place and don’t provide a firm back support for steady paddling.
There are no straps that hold the seat in place, only wedges which are not effective. One user mentioned it is better to lean against the back of the boat instead of using the seat backrest.
On both the front and the rear, the kayak is covered with spray skirts that prevent splashes of water from getting you wet. It comes with carry handles that make it easy to move from one point to the other. It can support up to 360 lbs. of weight, which is decent for two average-sized paddlers.
Keep in mind that the kayak will lose its balance if a single paddler of weight above 200 lbs. tries to paddle this kayak. It is meant for two paddlers, not one heavy paddler.
The good thing about this kayak is that it stays stable when two paddlers are on board. You can take it on small rivers, lakes, ponds and even paddle it against the wind, it will let you push its limits. You can also relax and cruise on it when you want. Many users mention taking it out on the ocean without any hassle.
The kayak also comes with a carry bag in which you can keep it after deflation. To make the best use of this kayak, you need to buy a skeg with it. A skeg or a fin that attaches to the bottom, will help it move in a straight line.
The build quality is decent and there is a 90-day limited warranty on the kayak. Considering the price, the warranty is nice to have. A couple users mentioned how it is not legal to use this kayak as per US Coast Guard. So make sure you are updated with the legal requirements before you hit the water with the Sevylor Tahiti.
Overall, the Sevylor Tahiti is a kayak that means well but lacks when it comes to comfort. It is good for rivers, ponds and lakes and allows you to have fun.
- Decent build quality
- Multiple air chambers
- Spray covers on the bow and the stern
- Carry handles
- Storage bag included
- Easy to inflate
- Easy to maneuver
- Seats aren’t firm, don’t stay in place
- May not be legal as per the rules of US Coast Guard
- Doesn’t come with a skeg
Is It Worth Buying a Kayak under $200?
Whether a kayak under $200 is worth it or not depends on what you need. If you are a beginner or you just want a kayak for recreation, then it is worth it. Not all kayaks under $200 are good, but many of them, like the Pelican Pursuit 80x, are better than more expensive kayaks.
On the other hand, if you are a seasoned kayaker who wants to paddle in white water or rapids, you should invest in a higher quality kayak. For more challenging conditions you have to look for features such as secondary stability, ease of maneuverability, self-bailing features and adjustable seats and foot pegs.
If you are a beginner, a high-end kayak won’t be good. You won’t be able to maneuver it and it won’t help with the learning process.
Another thing to consider is how often you will be using the kayak. If you won’t take it out that much, a budget kayak will be good enough.
Finally, consider who will be paddling along with you. If you are going to take your kid along, make sure you pick a kayak that is stable. Many kayaks under $200 lack stability, so use this guide to make an informed decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Low Price Mean Poor Quality?
No. Low price doesn’t always mean poor quality. For example, the Pelican Pursuit 80x is our number one pick and it has better quality than many more expensive kayaks. Similarly, the Sun Dolphin Aruba and Sun Dolphin Camino are quality kayaks with robust and durable construction.
What do I Get in The $200 Budget?
Many of the kayaks in this budget come with a paddle. Some If you buy an inflatable, it usually comes with a repair kit, paddles, a pump and a carry bag. However, if you want rod holders or mounting points for fishing accessories, you will have to increase your budget.
What type of accessories can I use with my budget kayak?
Even with an inexpensive kayak, you can have a great kayaking experience if you add some accessories. You can buy a kayak cart to transport a hard shell kayak if it is too heavy to carry it with your hands. You can also add a cell phone holder or a beverage holder. Many customers even add a storage hatch in the kayak deck if there isn’t one already. Also, it is useful to have some dry bags to keep your belongings safe from water.
Buying a kayak can impact your lifestyle in a positive way. Not only you get to have fun, the tranquility of being on water is a huge stress-buster. If you take your friends or family along, it can be a good bonding experience.
Our top pick for the best kayak under $200 is the Pelican Pursuit 80x kayak. It has a superior build quality, has a comfortable seat, is compact and lightweight and easy to maneuver. Customers even report riding it in Class I and II rapids without any hassle. So you can guess how good it is.
There you have it – the in-depth guide to the best kayaks under $200.
When you get your kayak, have fun but don’t forget to put a life jacket on.