Inflatable Kayak Price Expectations

One of the most common questions I get asked when I am out in my inflatable kayak from people who are curious about them is “how much does one of those things go for?”

The truth is that prices can vary quite dramatically and you might wonder what the difference is between a cheaper model and a more expensive one.

There are several factors to consider when looking at price points and comparing the different types of inflatable kayaks.

They can range from around the $250 mark right up to a couple of thousand dollars.

What to Expect From a Low Price Tag (Under $500)

A kayak that is priced particularly low should not be dismissed as garbage.

Many people are not interested in spending a lot of money on a kayak and may not be using it regularly enough to warrant spending more.

Tracking

The lower priced models as a general rule will be fine for cruising around. Typically they do not track as well so they can take more effort to paddle any distance.

In my experience many of them have a lot of yaw movement – where the nose of the kayak goes side to side when paddling, which can be frustrating.

Valves

I have found that sometimes the valves are not as good on cheap inflatables. There are a few different types of valves and some work better than others.

The cheaper valves can be harder to use, take longer to inflate and sometimes (but definitely not always) have leaking problems.

I personally find cheap valves a big deterrent as they can cause trouble down the road.  Not all lower priced inflatable kayaks have them, but some do.

Material

You can definitely tell a cheaper inflatable kayak from a more expensive model. They tend to look more raft like and the material feels and looks different.

Basically the material is not as strong. They are not built to withstand a huge amount of punishment like the higher end models are.

For this reason they don’t tend to last as long and will probably accumulate wear and tear much faster.

That being said, they are much tougher than you might think and even a lower end model will last quite awhile with a little care.

Accessories

I find that the lower priced models are either very basic as far as having little to no accessories or the accessories they do have are kind of cheaply made… which makes sense as the whole point is to keep the price point down.

Sometimes they do not come with a carry bag and I also find that sometimes the seats are not as comfortable as they could be.

Exceptions To the Rule

There are some exceptions to the rule however and certain companies will give you a fairly good product for a really good price.

The Sea Eagle Sport kayaks (SE 330 and SE 370) for example are really well made, have the good valves, have great accessories and are priced very low.

They are certainly not as high end as their more expensive models but these kayaks paddle well and are tough.

I think they still look ‘cheaper’ when compared to kayaks twice the price but the point  is that they are still a great buy if this is the price range you are looking at.

Cheaper models can be a great way to start out without investing a lot of money before knowing whether or not you enjoy the sport.

They can also be great for children to paddle or as a second kayak for family or friends.

The Next Level Up $500 – $1000

Within this price range you will find a large majority of quality inflatable kayaks.

At this price you can usually expect:

  • stronger material
  • good reliable valves
  • a decent warranty
  • better accessories
  • a good carry bag for transporting and storage
  • better tracking and performance

Although the kayaks in this price range can vary as well I find that as a general rule they are more solid, better made and overall perform more as a kayak should.

At this price they are out of that ‘ducky’ stage and perform more like a hard-shell kayak – especially as you get closer to the one thousand dollar price tag.

You will find many of the NRS, Tributary, Sea Eagle, Innova, Airis and Advanced Elements kayaks in this category.

If you have kayaked before and are transitioning to an inflatable then this is the price point you will likely want to look at.

$1000 and Up

At a thousand dollars and up you are getting a high end inflatable kayak.  You can expect some excellent accessories and features, a very tough boat and best of all an awesome performance.

In this price range you are getting a specialty kayak that handles well and paddles great.  You will also probably find a very good warranty.

It is not always necessary to spend over a thousand dollars but if you are looking for the best of the best, price is usually a good indicator.

Most companies and manufacturers will offer a range of models and prices so there are lots of options to choose from.

Click here to view our inflatable kayak comparison charts for more detailed comparisons.

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