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How Much Does Kayaking Cost?

While kayaking can be a relatively inexpensive hobby, it’s essential to know how much of an expense kayaking can be, especially when you add up all of the separate equipment and other costs involved.

So how much money does kayaking cost anyway?

The average price of a kayak can range anywhere from $150 to over $3,000, depending on the size and purpose of your kayak. You also need to factor in additional costs for gear, including your paddle ($50-300), a lifeline kit ($50-100), a life jacket (average price $40), a kayak seat ($20-200), plus a dry bag and phone case (each costing around $20), and other fees.

This article will help you understand the average costs that come with investing in your own kayak and the necessary gear that goes with it.

3 Different Kayaking Skill Levels

Beginning Kayaks ($150-300)

Back view of a person paddling on an inflatable kayak

The most inexpensive kayaks are built for beginners, and are typically made out of plastic or fiberglass.

The pros of buying a cheaper kayak are that they’re affordable and reasonably durable, but they do come with cons as well. For example, you can’t expect a plastic boat to last as long as a carbon fiber boat. 

Inflatable kayaks are also a very affordable option for beginners. Inflatable kayaks are more portable than traditional touring kayaks, and they’re also easier to store.

You may be able to find an inflatable kayak that also works as a fishing kayak, and the cost is likely to be lower than the price of a traditional fishing kayak — not to mention that it’s an extremely lightweight boat!

For the reasons mentioned above, many people prefer to try inflatable kayaks before they venture into the world of hardshell touring kayaks. 

The average price range of an inflatable kayak is anywhere between $100-500. 

Intermediate Kayaks ($300-700)

A mid-range recreational kayak or touring kayak is still reasonably cheap, but the materials from which it’s made are of higher quality, such as fiberglass or a composite.

The pros of going with this type of boat are that it’s lightweight and durable.

The cons of this type of kayak are that it may cost a little bit more than a beginner kayak, and that the materials may wear out over time.

If you buy an intermediate kayak, be sure to maintain it properly in order to prolong its longevity.

Expert Kayaks ($700-3000)

Two people riding kayaks in whitewater

The average price of this type of kayak isn’t cheap. 

But since it’s made from more expensive materials that are lighter and stronger, you can expect to get years of use out of an expert kayak.

The pros of opting for an expert kayak are that it’s lightweight, durable, and offers a smooth ride.

The cons are that you’ll have to maintain your kayak more frequently, meaning you’ll spend more money on upkeep.

Many specialty kayaks, such as fishing kayaks, whitewater kayaks, folding kayaks, and sea kayaks, fall into this category. 

Of course, it is possible to find cheaper models of these kayaks, but they are typically made for those with kayaking experience who are willing to invest in their boats. 

A pedal-drive system kayak also falls into this category, and it typically costs anywhere from $900-3,800. 

These sit-in kayaks are propelled by foot pedals that need a deep cockpit to house them. 

Tandem kayaks usually cost more than your average kayak. But when you consider the fact that you only have to buy one kayak instead of two, it can still be a great option for two people. 

What You Need For Kayaking

Now that you know how much your kayak should cost, we also need to consider all of the gear you’ll need for kayaking! 

If you’re planning on doing some serious kayaking or fishing, then plan to spend anywhere between $200-3000.

If you’re planning a longer overnight kayaking trip, you’ll also need to add camping gear to this list.

Kayak Paddle

Multiple different colored paddles leaning up against a wall

You can’t go anywhere in your kayak without a paddle, so be sure to buy one that fits your boat! 

Kayak paddles can cost anywhere from $50-300, depending on the type you get and the brand of your kayak. 

A whitewater kayak or sea kayak requires a paddle that can maneuver through rough waters, while your average recreational kayaks work well with standard paddles.

If you purchase a tandem kayak, make sure the length of your paddle will not interfere with your partner. 

Kayak Lifeline Kit & Life Jacket

If you plan to go out into the water solo, then you’ll need a kayak lifeline kit, which ranges in price from $50-100. 

This device connects to your boat and will keep you afloat in case you get knocked out of your kayak. 

While we’re on the subject of lifesaving gear, remember that you’ll also need a life jacket. 

The average price of a life jacket is around $40, but the cost tag can range from as low as $6 all the way up to $350.

Do your research to find out which type of life vest is right for you. 

Kayak Seat

Depending on how much time you plan to spend in your kayak, a comfortable seat is essential!

There are many types of seats available at different prices, ranging from $20 to over $200.

If you plan to take long trips in your kayak, or even multi-day trips, you will quickly find that a comfortable seat is worth the investment.

Dry Bag

You’ll need a dry bag (a waterproof bag) to store your belongings. These bags range in size and price, but you can expect to spend around $20 at most stores.

You’ll find a dry bag especially vital if you are going to be boating on the open sea or in coastal waters that have waves to contend with. 

Dry bags are also necessary for sit-on, solid kayaks that don’t have a cockpit. 

Waterproof Phone Case

If you plan to bring your phone with you on your kayaking trip, then investing in a waterproof case is worth it! 

The average cost of a simple waterproof phone case is around $20, but you may have to spend more for a case that can survive the depths of an ocean or river.

Other Fees

Depending on whether you can choose to rent a kayak or buy one, the fees you’ll pay will vary. 

Your kayaking expenses will also depend on whether you’re looking for an afternoon of fun, or several years of kayaking experiences. 

Either way, be sure to do your research ahead of time to know what costs will be involved.

What’s the difference between a beginner and an expert kayak?

A beginner kayak is made from less expensive materials, so it’s more affordable than an expert kayak.

Expert kayaks also include specialized models, like fishing kayaks.

A fishing kayak comes complete with additional features, like rod holders and maybe even a fishing rod. These kayaks might also offer more storage space for fishing gear and other accessories. 

Ocean kayaks can be made for kayak surfing, and are another example of a specialized boat.

On average, expert kayaks cost between $700-3000.

Why would you need to buy a high-quality kayak paddle?

A higher quality paddle will help you paddle more efficiently and safely when you’re out on the water, which means that you’ll have an easier time kayaking! 

Kayak manufacturers usually produce paddles that are customized to fit certain kayak models. 

What is a dry bag?

Woman swimming while carrying a dry bag on her back

A dry bag (or waterproof bag) will keep your items safe and dry, even if they fall out or get wet! They’re typically made to float and come in a variety of sizes and prices.

What’s the best seat for kayaking?

This depends on your comfort level, how long you plan to be out on the water, and whether you’ll be on large lakes or choppy ocean water. 

There are many different types of seats from which you can choose, with prices ranging from $20-200.

Kayaking is a great way to get in shape, see all that nature has to offer, and enjoy being outdoors.


Kayaking can be one of the most fun ways to get out on the water, so go out and try it! 

Before investing in an expensive kayak, equipment, and related kayaking fees, consider renting one first. This is a great way to have a blast and save money.

If you love it, then go ahead and buy your own boat to use whenever you want!

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