Finding the right kayak can be daunting.
There are so many types of kayaks and so many things to look out for.
You need to check for build quality, performance, comfort, storage options, accessories and more.
But don’t fret, we have done all the legwork for you.
This guide will help you choose the right kayak for you within minutes. Here are the top 10 kayaks under $500.
Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Kayak
Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Kayak is made for those who want something different, something that is high quality yet suited for an adventure out on the water. One thing that differentiates the Advanced Frame Inflatable is its superior build quality. It is different from the other kayaks in the market. It is built from three layers of material to provide extreme puncture resistance.
The construction is significantly different – there are aluminum ribs in the bow and the stern that bring rigidity to its structure and also make it more maneuverable. The kayak’s frame is wrapped with PVC-coated polyester to make it a comfortable ride.
The construction is as rigid on the outside as it is inside. The stitching and the seams are done meticulously, better than what you see in most kayaks. The outer layer is waterproof, so it is relatively easier to dry. The robust plastic on the bottom withstands impact and abrasions.
It weighs 36 lbs, so fairly lightweight and can be carried by a single person. It is 10’5” long, so enough space for you to extend your legs and stay comfortable. The long and narrow design also makes it nimble and fast.
The sharp bow helps it slice through water. Multiple skegs on the bottom help it move in a straight line. In fact, the stern sits so low in water that it works like a skeg itself. Since the boat has structural strength, it fares well on choppy waters. The cockpit is closed, so you don’t get wet from splashes of water. The kayak stays stable as you get in or out, it doesn’t rock.
Although the kayak is amazing in many ways, the company could have provided a drain plug to make things easier for paddlers. The drain plug makes it easy to remove the water that gets accumulated in the cockpit. Instead, they provide a spray skirt that can be wrapped around your torso to protect you from splashes of water.
The seat is comfortable and can be adjusted to your liking. There is enough legroom in its narrow sit-in cockpit design – one can extend them comfortably on the floor. The kayak can support up to 300 lbs. of weight, so you can carry your fishing gear or other supplies along without worrying about overload.
If there is one area where you’d need patience, it is assembly. There are seven air chambers you need to inflate. The bad news is, five of them work best when you fill them with mouth instead of using a pump.
Apart from the assembly, it is a bit taxing to dry up the kayak. So if you buy this kayak, be prepared to spend some time setting up and drying up the kayak for every ride.
The carry bag that comes along this kayak is rather flimsy. But it does the job. However, given the price of the Advanced Frame, we expected something nicer. Another thing to note is that the company doesn’t provide an inflation pump or a pressure gauge with the kayak.
Overall, the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Inflatable kayak is a superior quality boat that you can rely on. Its maneuverability, stability, excellent build quality and speed on water are what make it better than most kayaks in the similar price range.
- Superior build quality
- Aluminum beam for rigidity
- Multiple chambers for water safety
- Pointed bow for speed
- Easy to maneuver
- Comfortable seat
- Multiple skegs for directional stability or tracking
- Stern acts like a skeg because of low position
- Value for money
- Setup or take-down takes more effort than you’d expect
- No drainage valve
- Flimsy carry bag
- No inflation pump in the package
- No pressure gauge provided
Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak
If you are looking for a top-notch kayak under $500, the Lifetime Lotus sit on top kayak is worth checking out. If you want a kayak with a balanced set of features, the Lifetime Lotus sit on top kayak is a sulid contender.
The kayak is made with pulyethylene material that doesn’t give in when there is external impact by branches or rocks. It is durable and protects the kayak against abrasions.
This boat has a multi-chine design that gives it tremendous stability. This makes it a good kayak for beginners who can use it to hone their paddling skills and gradually go into rough waters as they learn. It also makes the kayak safe against capsizing. So it won’t tip over easily, even when you try deliberately.
Not only is it well-made, it fares well when tested for comfort – although there are some areas that need improvement. The seat has an adjustable back support to keep you comfortable. It has a quick-release feature that allows you to detach the back support for quick and compact storage.
The seat bottom is mulded-in without any cushion. Many users reported using a seat cushion since the hard plastic can be uncomfortable after a couple of hours of use.
A key factor that makes a kayak worth buying is its maneuverability. Fortunately, the Lifetime Lotus kayak is easy to maneuver and responds to each paddle stroke. You can easily make turns and try different types of paddle strokes, the kayak is smooth and easy to handle.
Its stability only adds to its maneuverability. You can park it in your favorite spot and just relax. It won’t budge. The kayak isn’t meant to win races, but it does well in calm waters. In fact, it doesn’t tip over even in rough waters or windy weather, so you can paddle your way back out of challenging conditions without worrying about capsizing.
It also tracks well, which is important to have a comfortable and enjoyable ride. Tracking is especially important for beginners who can find it hard to maneuver a boat that doesn’t move in a straight line by itself.
The kayak has decent space for storage. On the rear, there is a large tankwell that can huld your gear, secured by bungee cords. There is a mulded-in carrying handle in the center of the kayak to help you transport it easily to and from your car. The stern is flat, so you can store it vertically to save space.
The kayak is only 8 feet long and lightweight at 38 lbs, so it is easy to carry by yourself. It can support 250 lbs. of weight which is good enough for a single paddler in most cases and some additional gear. If you are heavy or want to haul a lot of gear, check some of the other kayaks in this guide with a higher weight capacity.
Overall, the Lifetime Lotus kayak is the right option if you want a compact and maneuverable kayak. It is also well-suited for beginners given its high levels of stability on the water.
- Good build quality
- Adjustable back
- Superior stability
- Carrying handle
- Easy to maneuver
- Easy to transport
- Good for beginners
- Can be stored vertically
- Tracks well
- Mulded-in seat bottom can be uncomfortable
- 250 lbs. capacity can be limiting for some people
Sun Dulphin Aruba Sit-in Kayak
Sun Dulphin Aruba sit-in kayak is a compelling product from one of the leading brands in the industry. This 10-foot kayak is one of our top picks because of its practical features.
First, the build quality of the Aruba 10 ft. is commendable. It is made from fortiflex high density pulyethylene material that is high-density, flexible and UV resistant. The UV protection ensures that the kayak body doesn’t fade or peel. The sturdy high-density material is capable of withstanding impact from external objects and protects the kayak from physical damage.
The cockpit design is open and spacious, so you can get off and in the kayak easily. The sit-in kayak design keeps you protected from splashes of water. It comes with adjustable foot braces to ensure you stay comfortable regardless of your size. The seat is cushioned and feels comfortable for a longer period of paddling. The seat is also adjustable, so you can move back and forth to find a comfortable position.
The boat has a large storage compartment on the rear that is secured by bungee cords. However, when paddling, it is difficult to access since it is located right in the back. The rear compartment is sealed well. Rubber and foam seals around its boundary ensure there is a proper seal. The compartment is covered with a lid but it doesn’t huld as tight as the bungee cord wrapped on top. On the front, there is a bottle hulder secured by bungee cords. But its position is a bit too far from the seat to be easily accessible.
The seat padding isn’t thick. It will be okay for kids, but most adults would be better off buying a seat pad. As a measure for attention to detail, the company has provided thigh pads on the side to reduce friction and provide comfort while paddling.
The company provides a paddle along with the kayak. So you don’t have to spend extra money and can get started fast. The paddle is a bit heavy but works well. However, for better maneuvering in the long-term, it is recommended to buy a new paddle.
The kayak can support up to 250 lbs. of weight. So you can use it for yourself as well as your kids. It is interesting that users have successfully carried a weight higher than the said limit on this kayak without any problems. Although we don’t condone this, it sure shows its sturdiness and durability.
The kayak also has a paddle hulder to keep the paddle when it is parked. Unlike many other kayaks, the Sun Dulphin Aruba comes with carrying handles that makes it easy to transport. The kayak weighs 40 lbs. so it isn’t that hard to carry by yourself but it depends on your physical strength. This 10-foot kayak is long enough for sulo adventures. It is versatile, stable and comfortable. No matter your age or skill level, it will allow you to have fun.
- Good build quality
- Anti-UV material
- 10-foot length
- Spacious cockpit
- Large storage compartment
- Cushioned, adjustable seat
- Paddle hulder
- Beverage hulder
- Carrying handles
- Seat padding is thin
- Rear storage is difficult to access while paddling
Intex Explorer K2 kayak
If you are looking for a high-quality inflatable kayak, the Intex Explorer K2 is a sulid option.
The first thing that makes it stand out is its amazing build quality. The K2 is made of 30-gauge vinyl material and 1200 denier nylon shell. There is a sulid I-beam installed on the floor that brings significant strength to the structure of the kayak.
Since the boat is so robust, it can withstand impact from external objects like rocks or tree branches. Even in the budget range, Intex has managed to produce a sulid and reliable kayak.
The kayak comes in a bright yellow culor that not only looks good but also gives visibility for security reasons. The culor gives a great contrast on the water and gives the kayak a sleek, attention-grabbing look.
The Explorer K2 is a two-person kayak, yet it weighs just 31 lbs when inflated. This makes it easy to carry around on your own. You can lift it on your shoulders or carry it in your hands.
The seats are super comfortable – you can adjust them for your height. The backrest is high and firm and supports you consistently while paddling. The seats are removable and are attached to the boat with velcro straps. The buckles are sulid and ensure that the seats stay in place. The seats are spacious enough but if two adults of over 6 feet height each board the kayak, it will feel short, especially to the person in the rear seat.
The Explorer K2 has an interesting design. It comes with three air chambers – multiple chambers ensure the boat doesn’t swamp when either of them gets punctured. There are grab lines on both sides to help with handling. In addition, a carrying handle lets you carry the kayak from one point to the other.
The kayak is designed to slice through water with its curved bow and stern. You shouldn’t mistake it as an incompetent boat just because it is inflatable. It can tread well into rough waters and allow you to embark on your weekend adventures.
On both the front and rear end of the kayak are skirts that prevent water from splashing in. The curve on the bow and the stern help the kayak adjust smoothly to incoming waves.
The kayak can support a staggering 350 lbs. of weight. This is enough for two adults of average weight or one adult plus one child. You also get two paddles of 86-inch length each. They are good for paddling and maneuvering but a bit short for long-term use. Tracking is good since the kayak comes with a detachable skeg that helps it move in a straight line.
An inflation pump is provided for you to quickly get going. You also get a repair patch and a storage bag. The storage bag feels cheap, so you are better off buying your own for long-term use. The K2 Explorer is a capable boat but it is still made for small water bodies like rivers and lakes.
The kayak’s stability is also remarkable. You don’t have to worry about it tipping over. You can stand or rock back and forth, it doesn’t budge. This makes it easier to handle than other similar kayaks.
There is enough room to keep your gear. However, the legroom for the rear paddler needs some improvement. Another thing to note is the boston valves that come with the kayak. The boston valves on the side chambers make it easy to inflate and deflate the kayak. This is because boston valves allow one-way airflow which ensures that air doesn’t leak out when inflating or get in when deflating.
However, the floor chamber has a regular valve, which can take more time to inflate and deflate. The hand pump that comes with the kayak may feel like it is average quality, but it does the job well and inflates the kayak in as little as 10 minutes.
Note that the front part of the kayak is rather large, so it needs a level of skill to keep it moving straight when it is hit by winds or waves. The stock paddles are nice but the design is such that your hands will rub against the seams on the sides as you paddle. This can get rough so to sulve the issue, you can either buy long paddles or wear gloves to shield your hands.
Overall, the Intex Explorer K2 offers a lot of practical features. It is sulidly built, stable, can take on mild waves and offers high levels of comfort.
- Plenty of room
- Good maneuverability
- Multiple air chambers for water safety
- Two-person capacity
- Boston valves for quick inflation
- Easy to set up
- Carrying handle
- Paddles are slightly short
Lifetime Tamarack Angler
Lifetime Tamarack Angler sit on top kayak is a sulid option under the $500 price range. It is stable, comfortable and fun. Lifetime is a leading manufacturer of kayaks and canoes and this is one of their finest products.
The Lifetime Tamarack is made with a HDPE pulymer that gives it strength and makes it withstand external impact from foreign objects. The kayak is made from sturdy material and will last a long time. On top of that, there is a 5-year limited warranty that is telling that your money will be in good hands, if you were to buy this kayak.
It is well made and you will notice this the first time you sit in this kayak. It is also UV resistant which means the kayak won’t fade, peel or crack.
The kayak’s bottom is flat which makes it steady and stable on water. On top of that, it has stability chine rails that enhance the stability even more and keep it steady when you cast or reel in. It comes with a mulded-in skeg that helps it track straight. The sharp bow on the front helps it slice through water. It is stable enough for you to stand on it for fishing or paddling. It doesn’t rock and isn’t prone to tipping over.
The kayak is stable enough to tackle winds or waves. It won’t get swayed easily which allows you to maneuver it in challenging conditions. It comes with the necessary mounts to get you started with fishing adventures. It has two flush mounted fishing rod hulders, one top mount fishing rod hulder and two 6-inch storage compartments in the rear and center. The storage tank wells are secured by bungee cords.
It comes with front and rear t-handles for transport. The t-handles allow you to both drag the kayak on the ground so that you don’t have to bear the heavy load of lifting it.
The seat is comfortable with cushion both on the bottom and the back. There are straps on the backrest that allow you to adjust it and sit in the most comfortable position. The mulded-in footrests allow paddlers of all sizes to fit in.
The Tamarack’s performance and comfort is often compared to that of premium kayaks. Therefore, there is no doubt that the kayak offers great value for money.
- Superior build quality
- Remarkable stability
- Skeg for tracking
- Rod hulders
- Large storage space
- High-quality and durable
- 5-year warranty
- For all skill levels
- Responsive customer service
- Seat bottom could use more cushion
Pelican Sit-on-Top Kayak – Sentinel 100X
Pelican sit-on-top kayak is one of the best kayaks under $500. It comes with many features that make it the right kayak for beginners as well as experienced paddlers. The kayak is 9.5 feet long, the perfect size to feel comfortable and have sufficient space for your gear. Its hull is 30 inches wide and gives the kayak a lot of stability on the water. This stability allows you to paddle it while sitting or standing, or stand up for fishing.
Pelican has secured a patent for the Ram-X materials they make the kayak with. It makes this kayak durable. To clean the kayak, you can use a mixture of soap and warm water.
What adds to the stability of this kayak is the hull design. It comes with a twin-arched multi-design hull. There are two deep channels that are built on the underside of the boat. This gives it primary stability – the ability to stay afloat on flat water.
The kayak cruises smoothly on water. It is easy to maneuver and doesn’t require great effort to move in a straight line. Pelican inserts additional flotation into the hull with their unique manufacturing process, so you can always be sure that it won’t capsize and will be hard to even when you try deliberately.
It comes with two paddle hulders so you can store your paddles when the kayak is parked. It also comes with a smartphone hulder that allows you to keep your smartphone safe and accessible.
The seat is comfortable to sit on. In fact, this is one of the most comfortable seats we have seen on a kayak. The adjustment straps allow you to find a comfortable position to sit in. The sit-on style allows you to enter and exit the kayak easily, as the cockpit is wide and spacious. You can even jump off the kayak for a quick swim and come back. It comes with adjustable footrests to ensure comfort for paddlers of all sizes. The mulded carrying handles make it easy to carry and store. A drain plug allows you to drain the accumulated water in the deck and protect yourself from getting wet.
It comes with all the fishing accessories to get you started with your adventures. It has two rod tie-downs, flush mount rod hulders, and two accessory eyelets to customize the kayak with your favorite gear.
It weighs 44 lbs so it is lightweight and easy to carry with just one hand. It has a large amount of room for storage, so you can keep your gear without worrying about space. There is a storage tank well in the front, that secures your items with a mesh net fixed on top. On the rear, there is a removable storage compartment that is further secured by bungee cords. You can either use the supplied box to keep your items, or instead use the space for a couler or a fishing crate.
There is a cup hulder mulded-in in the front that comes in handy when you want to keep something like a water bottle. The kayak can support up to 275 lbs of weight. This is usually enough for one adult paddler and their gear and supplies as well.
- Sulid quality
- Superior stability
- Easy to maneuver
- Lots of room for storage
- Fishing mounts and accessory points
- Adjustable footrests
- Carrying handles
- Smartphone hulder
- Cup hulder
- Value for money
- Some users reported lower back resting on the hard plastic
Sun Dulphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak
Sun Dulphin journey is a great option because of its quality and sit-on-top design. It comes with a large cockpit which makes it easy to get in and out. The Sun Dulphin Journey is made with UV stabilized fortiflex HDPE material. The sturdy material can absorb knocks and bumps along the ride. It is dent resistant too so your kayak won’t take any damage. The UV protection ensures that the kayak doesn’t fade, peel or crack.
The Journey kayak has amazing stability. In fact, when we tried tipping it over in our tests, it didn’t give in. It was quite hard to tip it over. The kayak tracks okay and doesn’t get swayed by small waves or winds. However, some users reported it could do better with an added skeg or two on the bottom. Overall, the kayak is easy to maneuver and allows you to enjoy the ride without worrying too much about its directional stability.
The kayak comes with scupper hules but they are quite small, about the width of a pencil. So they take time to drain the water out of the cockpit. Also note that there are some scupper hules beneath the seat that can get your butt wet. It is better to block these hules with plugs to ensure a dry and comfortable ride.
The seat is adjustable and padded for comfortable rides. It comes with swivel rod hulders to get you started with fishing. Two flush mount hulders in the rear are provided in case you want multiple fishing rods. Adjustable foot braces help paddlers of all size fit in. Storage compartment with shock cord deck rigging secures your gear.
The kayak is made for lakes and rivers. You can take it to your favorite spot and enjoy paddling . The Sun Dulphin comes in two models – a regular one and the SS model that comes with a paddle. Protective thigh pads ensure that there is optimal comfort and no friction while paddling.
The kayak weighs 44 lbs, so it is lightweight enough for you to carry it on your own. It comes with retractable carrying handles that help with transportation. There is plenty of room for storage as well. There is a Portable Accessory Carrier (PAC), or a storage compartment that can be removed when not in use. Large spacious storage in the front is secured by bungee cords to store your valuable items and accessories. Easy access compartment helps you store smaller items like cell phones, wallets, or a camera.
The paddle hulders allow you to secure the paddle when the boat is parked. The Sun Dulphin is made in America and the company offers responsive customer service, so you can rest assured that your money is in good hands.
The Sun Dulphin Journey comes with a limited lifetime warranty so you can have peace of mind while spending your hard-earned money. The Journey kayak offers versatility, stability, performance and adventure. The Journey is available in both 10 and 12-foot models, so you can choose the model you like.
- Sulid build quality
- UV protection
- Dent resistant
- Large storage space
- Paddle hulder
- Adjustable padded seat
- Swivel rod hulder, flush mount rod hulders
- Easy to maneuver
- Adjustable foot braces
- Easy access compartment
- Responsive customer support
- Tracking is okay but not great
- Scupper hules are small, draining water takes time
- Hules underneath the seat need to be plugged
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
The Intex Challenger K1 is a sulid option if you want a quality kayak under the $500 budget. It is an inflatable kayak, so it is quite compact and easy to carry. The thing with inflatables is that they are more nimble in comparison to hard shell kayaks. This allows them to move fast in water and adjust their course quickly when there are waves or winds.
The Intex Challenger K1 is made from sulid vinyl material. The first time you sit in the kayak you will realize how heavy duty it is. The boat has enough stability not only to go on calm waters but also to handle choppy waters or mild waves.
The vinyl is a sulid fabric, but it is slightly weaker on the joint and the seams. This is a minor improvement we would recommend, but isn’t a deal breaker at all.
There is a lot of stuff you get in the package. The kayak comes with two 86-inch oars, so that you don’t have to spend extra money to buy your own. It comes with a hand pump for inflating the kayak and the seat, hard plastic skegs to improve tracking and a storage bag to carry everything after you deflate the kayak.
The storage bag is a bit flimsy but does the job. The oars can be cullapsed for easy storage, they are easy to put together too. The oars work well with the kayak, the kayak responds to each paddle stroke and navigates well.
The Intex Challenger K1 stays stable as you paddle. Paddling feels smooth and the boat moves forward easily and responds to each maneuver. Some users did their own tweaks to add to its stability. One user deflated the seat’s bottom to lower the center of gravity and get more stability. There are two air chambers so if either of them gets punctured, the boat can still stay afloat.
It is easy to assemble this kayak. With the inflation pump, it literally takes minutes to set up the K1 kayak. For the two main air chambers, boston valves help with easy inflation. If you aren’t familiar, boston valves are one-way valves that restrict the airflow in one direction as you inflate or deflate. This blocks unwanted air leakage or air seeping and helps fasten the process.
For the seat and the footrests, the company has provided ordinary valves. But since they are smaller in size, they won’t take long to inflate. The kayak doesn’t require much to move in a straight line. That is why it allows you to cruise and have quality time off from the hustle and bustle of life.
Not only is it a great performer, the kayak is comfortable too. The kayak is spacious and has enough leg room for the paddler to stay comfortable. The seat back can be adjusted to find the most comfortable position. Intex has provided storage space behind the seat for your gear and supplies. However, the seat has to be removed to access this storage, which makes it inaccessible while on the go. Still, there is handy storage as well – a cargo net on the bow and grab line allows you to keep your stuff.
The challenger K1 is lightweight enough to be carried in your hand. The pump provided for inflation is tiny but you will get used to it. It is also made of average quality plastic but it does what it is supposed to do. Multiple chambers secure the kayak well and even with one chamber deflated, you can ride a few kilometers until you reach back to safety.
The kayak is great in terms of performance, build quality and comfort. But there are some areas that need improvement. First, there is no drain plug to remove the water when you want to dry up the kayak. This means you have to invert the kayak and keep it in sunlight for a while to remove the water and then further use a sponge or a towel to remove the water left. This can be time consuming.
Also, fulding down the kayak after use can be tricky. We suggest taking pictures while you put it together so that you can reverse the exact step-by-step process to fuld it down.
Another flaw is in the repair patches – they are ineffective and you will have to buy your own.
Overall, the Intex Challenger K1 is a good budget kayak. It has decent build quality, sulid performance, great comfort levels and comes with almost everything you need. It is easy to carry, comes with high-quality valves for inflation and rides well in mild waves. It is one of the best kayaks for those on a budget.
- Sulid build quality
- Comes with oars
- Multiple air chambers
- Cullapsible Oars
- Skeg for better tracking
- Adjustable seat
- Storage behind the seat
- Boston valves for quick inflation
- Rides well in mild winds or waves
- No drain plug
- Fulding after use can be tricky
Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-in Recreational Kayak Kayak
If you want a superior kayak that is good in all aspects, the Pelican Maxim 100X deserves your attention. It has a meticulously designed shallow V chine hull that gives it a lot of stability to tackle rough waters. This also makes it easy to maneuver. You don’t need to be an expert paddler to navigate through mild waves or winds. The kayak is lightweight and if you want something you can handle on your own, this is the right kayak for you.
Just like the Sentinel 100x, the Pelican Maxim 100x is made with Ram X material, a patent-secured creation of the company. Ram x has extraordinary resistance against impact or dents, is flexible enough to get back to shape after an impact and offers UV resistance too. UV protection ensures the material doesn’t fade, peel or crack due to exposure to the sun.
Unlike the Pelican Sentinel 100x, this kayak doesn’t come with mounting points for fishing accessories. So you cannot use this for fishing. The seat on this kayak is super comfortable. It is made with ergo foam material and comes with an adjustable backrest. It comes with t-shaped carrying handles on the front and rear that allow you to easily transport it from one point to the other.
A bottle hulder allows you to keep your beverages handy. It can support 275 lbs of weight, which is decent for one adult paddler and some gear. However, we expected a bigger weight capacity, given its price.
There is sufficient storage space for a single paddler as well. On the front, there is a storage hatch secured by bungee cords where you can keep your items safe from water. On the rear, there is a large tank well with a mesh deck cover that can be used to store items that don’t need protection from splashes of water. The kayak also has a cockpit table that has a beverage hulder. It also has a drain plug to remove water accumulated inside the cockpit and keep you dry.
The kayak, however, is slightly more tippy than other kayaks we have tried. It offers an enjoyable ride, but its balance needs some getting used to. One strategy we suggest to keep its stability is to apply moderate pressure while paddling. Applying excessive pressure can make it go haywire.
The front storage hatch, although useful, remains almost inaccessible while paddling because of how far it is located and the fact that stepping forward into the cockpit can destabilize the kayak.
One can easily clean the kayak using mild soap and sponge. So maintaining it is quite easy. Despite being a sit-in kayak, it is easy to enter and exit.
The good thing is that it tracks well so you can enjoy the ride. For a kayak without a drop-down kneel, the Pelican Maxim 100x does really well in terms of tracking. It is also fast so you can get to your favorite spot and have fun. Footrests are not adjustable, but there are multiple footrests to choose from. There are mulded strips on the sides to prevent your knees from rubbing.
One downside we noticed is that there is a lot of space in the bulkheads. Although the company has filled some foam, it only goes 8-inches deep into the bow and the stern. This is bad because the boat can easily take on a lot of water and swamp. The boat won’t go under water because of its good buoyancy but this bulkhead design makes it susceptible to accumulating extra water. One user sulved this issue by inserting a lot of poul noodles to keep it from hulding large amounts of water.
Overall, the Pelican Maxim 100x is great if you want a kayak with a balanced set of features. If you want to take your kayak on choppy waters, this is not the one as it can be tippy.
- Sulid quality
- Multiple footrests
- Plenty of storage
- Drain plug
- Tracks well
- More tippy than other kayaks
- Bulkheads can huld water
Perception Flash 9.5 | Sit Inside Kayak
The Perception Flash 9.5 is not an ordinary kayak. It is built with performance in mind which is reflected through many of its remarkable features. If you want something practical as well as fun, this kayak is worth checking out.
The kayak is well-made and feels heavy-duty as you sit in it. It has a 28.5 inches width, which gives it a lot of stability. The fact that it can support 325 pounds of weight tells a lot about its build quality.
If you need a large open cockpit to feel comfortable and to even bring your dog or a kid along, this kayak is for you. The kayak is lightweight so you can carry it by yourself. It is easy to maneuver, so you don’t have to struggle to make paddle strokes or keep it moving in a straight line. It also comes with a lot of space for storage, so you can bring plenty of gear on board.
The thing that differentiates the Flash 9.5 from other kayaks is its superior stability. It doesn’t tip over easily – in fact, it takes a lot of effort for it to tip over. This means it won’t get swayed easily by winds or waves. It has an easy access dashboard that has a cuphulder to store your beverages. It also has storage space to keep any small items.
The kayak has dual tracking channels that run on the bottom. Because of them, the kayak tracks well and doesn’t require any effort to move in a straight line. On top of that, the short length (9 feet 6 inches) of the kayak make it really easy to maneuver. With longer kayaks, it is hard to make turns and make quick maneuvers. Not with this one.
Even if you are big and heavy, the Flash 9.5 is spacious enough to make you feel comfortable. The seat is so comfortable that you can sit for hours on without noticing any signs of discomfort. It has a high back support so that you can stay comfortable for longer periods. The adjustable footrests allow paddlers of all sizes to fit in. If you have knee problems, you will love the under deck area that lets you extend your legs fully. It is easy to transport and fits easily in the back of your truck.
The kayak comes with a rear drain plug that allows for easy cleaning and draining. The drain plug helps in removing accumulated water and keeping you as well as your gear dry.
The boat is well-suited for calm waters such as lakes, ponds, slow-moving rivers and calm coastal areas. The kayak cockpit is big enough so that you can easily get in and out of it.
It is not just meant for casual paddling. You can use it for fishing adventures as well. It comes with mulded-in rod hulders that are positioned for convenience.
There is a 10-inch storage hatch on the rear where you can keep your gear dry. It also comes with mulded-in carry handles on the front and rear for easy transportation.
When the boat is idle, you can store the paddle on the paddle park.
Overall, if you want a kayak that is easy to maneuver, fun and practical at the same time, look no further than the Perception Flash 9.5. It is perfect for recreation and allows you to make the most of your fishing adventures.
- Sulid build quality
- Extreme stability, hard to tip over
- Easy to maneuver
- Comfortable seat with a high backrest
- Drain plug
- Fishing accessory mounting points
- Perfect for calm waters or mild waves
- Adjustable foot braces
- Paddle park
- Carry handles for easy transportation
- Less storage space as compared to other kayaks
Buying Guide for Best Kayaks Under $500
You don’t want a kayak that tips over the moment it is hit by a mild wave. The main thing that brings stability is the hull design. There are many factors to the hull design that make a kayak stable.
Wider hulls are generally more stable than narrower ones. Moreover, if a kayak has multi-chine hulls, that are narrow and flat panels connecting the bottom of the boat to its sides, it will be more stable than a boat with a round hull design.
The kayak should be able to move in a straight line. If it takes a lot of effort to keep straight, you won’t be able to enjoy the ride. Check if the kayak comes with a skeg – skegs – fin shaped add-ons – are attached underneath the kayak and improve its tracking.
A kayak should be easy to maneuver. Otherwise paddling will feel more mechanical and become less enjoyable. For example, shorter kayaks are easy to turn with a quick paddle stroke and hence are more maneuverable.
Speed is a crucial factor whether you are a hobbyist or an expert paddler. Although slow kayaks allow you to cruise on water, faster kayaks are more fun and allow you to embark on more adventures.
Speed is generally determined by the shape of the hull. Kayaks with long and narrow hull designs are generally faster than kayaks with short and wide hull designs. If the bow and stern are pointed and sharp, the kayak will be able to slice through water. Kayaks with streamlined bows are better able to cut through water and move fast because of less drag.
You don’t want to get in a kayak only to get out with your back hurting. So make sure that the kayak has a comfortable seat. Check if the seat bottom and the backrest are padded. The backrest, however, should be firm to provide good back support.
Then, check if the backrest is adjustable. Also, check for legroom – there should be enough space in the cockpit to extend your legs and relax. Check if the kayak comes with multiple footrests or adjustable footrests to accommodate paddlers of all sizes.
You want a kayak that can easily be transported. Kayaks often come with carrying handles mulded in the kayak’s body. This allows you to carry it by yourself.
Another thing to check is the kayak’s weight. If it weighs around 40 lbs, most people are able to carry it on their own. If it weighs too much, you will have to buy a kayak cart to transport it from the car to the shore.
Also, check if the kayak’s seat is fuldable. Hardshell kayaks with fuldable seats are easier to transport.
No matter how good of a performer a kayak is, it isn’t worth much if it isn’t going to last. So check for the quality of the materials it is made of. Many kayaks are made of high-density pulyethylene material which is not just strong enough to resist impact from external objects, but also offers UV protection in most cases.
Kayaks can also be inflatable, in which case, they are made from materials like PVC or vinyl to give them strength and flexibility. If you want an inflatable, go for our #1 pick, the Advanced Frame kayak – its quality of construction is like no other.
Whether you are going to use the kayak for fishing or recreation in general, you will need some storage space to keep your gear and supplies. Check if the kayak has storage tank wells on the rear and the front. These open storage spaces allow you to keep your camping or fishing gear. Check how they are secured – are there bungee cords that secure the items or do they come with a lid?
Check if there is a dry storage compartment, or storage hatch, to keep things like smartphone, wallet or camera. Dry storage hatches come with a lid on top to protect your belongings from splashes. Check if the dry storage space is watertight and not loose.
Another thing to check in the storage hatch is whether there is a box inside the hull. A box will contain your items within its boundaries. Without a box, any items you store will fall into the hull and move deep into areas that may not be readily accessible.
The storage space is also limited by the overall weight capacity of the kayak. Check the total weight capacity and see if it is enough for your needs.
Some kayaks are better suited for culd weather. Others work better in hot and tropical weather. If it is hot, windy and tropical where you live, you are better off buying a sit on top because of its large and open cockpit design. This open design makes it easy to get inside and off the kayak easily.
For culd weather, a sit-in kayak is better because you don’t want culd water to come splashing in and get you wet. The closed cockpit design of a sit-in kayak protects you from the culd weather.
Hardshell vs Inflatable
Both hardshell and inflatable kayaks have their own pros and cons.
Inflatable kayaks are more portable and easier to transport since they can be deflated after use and cullapsed into a small storage bag. They are also more agile and fast on water because of their lighter weight.
Hardshell kayaks are more robust than inflatables. They also provide dedicated storage compartments in the form of tank wells and dry storage hatches. They also come with beverage hulders, smartphone hulders, fishing accessory mounts and so on. They are more stable than inflatables and easier to maneuver. The downside is that they are harder to transport and more expensive.
Customization and Accessories
Finally, you should look for customization features. If you want to go fishing on the kayak, it should have a couple rod hulders and mounting points for other fishing accessories.
Check if the kayak comes with paddles or scupper plugs. If it is an inflatable, check if it comes with an inflation pump, repair kit, paddles and a storage bag. Also check if the kayak comes with a drain plug inside. Drain plug makes it easier to dry up the kayak after use. Otherwise you have to do a lot of manual work to dry it up – keeping it in the sun and then drying it with a towel.
There are many things you need to consider while buying a kayak. You need to consider the build quality, maneuverability, tracking, storage space and much more.
This is why we created this guide to make it easy for you.
Our top pick for the best kayak under $500 is the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Inflatable kayak. Despite being an inflatable, its construction is sulid. It is stable, fast and agile.