Kayaking is both an enjoyable hobby and a healthy, low-impact exercise. Kayaking is also a great choice to spend time with nature and de-stress from the daily grind of life.
In the middle of the kayak, there is a cockpit where kayakers position themselves to paddle. This is important to know because there are two types of kayaks based on the cockpit type – the sit-inside kayak and sit-on-top kayak.
Sit Inside Kayak
A sit-inside kayak is an enclosed type of kayak where the kayaker needs to position herself inside the cockpit of the kayak. The set-up protects you from splashing water or the coldness of the wind. The disadvantage is the feeling of confinement and not being able to freely get in and out of the kayak.
Sit on Top Kayak
A sit-on-top kayak is an open cockpit where the paddler is more open to moving in and out of the kayak. You are freer to move your legs but there is the disadvantage of being exposed to water and different weather conditions.
Best Sit on Top Kayaks Under $300
Most kayakers, especially those who are new to the hobby, prefer to sit on top kayaks due to the ability to move freely.
To help you find the best sit-on-top kayak, I’m listing the best you can find for under $300 on Amazon. Some of these are affiliate links.
1. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
When we talk about reliable and sturdy inflatable material, nothing beats the Intex brand. Intex boasts years of expertise in recreational water equipment.
In the world of kayaks, one that is the best value for your money is the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak. The kayak can hold up to 400 pounds and can seat two people. Punctures and damage are avoided by coating vinyl and three air chambers. The special valve also assists with fast inflation and deflation.
For its price, the set includes the kayak, pump, two oars, and a repair set. This kayak is great for traveling as the whole set can be carried in a carry bag.
If you are very tall or have longer legs than average, you may find this kayak constricting and short in height.
2. Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable
This is another Intex kayak that is built with reliable vinyl coating and faster inflation and deflation. The set also comes in with the collapsible oar, pump, and a repair kit. It conveniently comes in a carry-on bag.
The difference is the better length at 10 feet providing more legroom than the one mentioned above. It also has a cargo net included that is situated in front providing space for your personal and kayaking needs.
3. Bestway Hydro-Force Cove Champion Inflatable Kayak
This kayak is nine feet in length and fits one person. The maximum weight limit is 220 pounds.
The kayak’s best feature is the backrest that provides great lumbar support. There is also a net that allows you to bring your personal items on board. The wraparound bungee cord allows for easy carry and travel. The cord also allows you to tie it up to a dock and/or anchored spot.
The set comes with a free paddleboard, pump, and a repair kit. The removal fin helps with easy navigation in any water be it in a lake, river, or beach.
Just like any inflatable kayak, inflation and deflation is an advantage in bringing the kayak to any location. This kayak comes in a box but in a carry-on bag.
It is made of PVC material. Also, this kayak is quite lightweight and can be blown by the wind easily, so remember to tie it down or put weights in it to avoid losing it in water or land.
4. Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Sport Kayak
Sea Eagle is another good inflatable kayak brand that will give you good value for the money. The material is durable and easy to inflate and deflate for easy packing.
This model is good for two people and can carry a maximum total weight of 500 pounds.
This kayak features a lashed-down inflatable spray cover that provides extra storage space underneath. The kayak also has two skegs for smooth and easy navigation in the water. It is so durable it can be used in rivers with mild rapids.
The set comes in with two collapsible oars, a repair kit, a shoulder carry-on bag, and two removable inflatable seats. Each inflatable seat provides comfortable back support for the two-man (or woman) kayak.
Although the kayak is durable, the entire set is heavy to carry even with a shoulder carry-on bag. The step-on pump may also not last with continued and multiple uses and you may need to get the automatic pump for convenience.
Like one mentioned above, for taller people, the kayak may seem a little bit constricted at 10 feet in length.
5. EPROSMIN Inflatable Kayak
For a low price, this kayak is durable and functions well. The set comes with two oars, a repair kit, and a waterproof bag.
The kayak is lightweight and easy to bring anywhere. It is also spacious enough to fit two people. The two inflatable backrests also provide comfortable support. There is also a protective flap in the front and the back of the seat as extra storage.
The set does not come in with a pump so, you will need to buy one separately.
6. Yocalo Inflatable Boat
This option is a little more boat than a kayak, but it’s the most affordable price so I want to be sure it’s included. It can also carry up to four people with a maximum weight of 507 pounds.
It is made of durable, environmentally friendly PVC material that provides stability in the water.
Like all the inflatable kayaks, it comes with collapsible oars, a repair kit, and a hand pump. It’s important to note that some buyers did comment that the oars seem flimsy and easily damaged.
Best Kayaks for Kids
7. Lifetime Youth Kayak
Made of high-density polyethylene material, this durable kayak is perfect for your active and adventurous kids. The kayak is good for kids five years old and older. It can carry a maximum capacity of 130 pounds.
The kayak is lightweight and can easily be carried by kids to and from the water. In the water, the kayak provides convenience with its spacious legroom. The sloped back and swim-up step allows kids to get in and out of the kayak easily.
8. Pelican Sit-on-top Youth Kayak
This is another starter kayak for young outdoor enthusiasts, like my daughter. This kayak is made of lightweight and durable RAM-XS impact-resistant material. The kayak only weighs 19 pounds and can be towed by kids in and out of the water easily.
The twin tunnel hull features make this kayak agile, stable, and fast. The kayak also tracks well in water. There is also a swim-up rear deck so kids can board the kayak easily. It is ergonomically designed and provides a footrest, handles, and back support.
The kayak comes with a 72-inch paddle perfect for children and a safety flag that can be mounted at the back of the kayak. This will give you better visuals as your kids navigate the water.
Best Equipment for Kayaking
Aside from getting the kayak, you also need other equipment to help you prepare and enjoy your time in the water safely. Also, although the kayak sets come in with a paddle and manual pump, some may not be as durable and long-lasting.
Read along as I share some kayak accessories you may need.
First on the priority list is getting that life jacket or your flotation device. Everyone should have one while in the water. Below is a list of top-rated life vests you can buy on Amazon.
1. Oceans7 US Coast Guard Approved Child Life Jacket
This life jacket is good for infants, kids, and teenagers. This US Coast Guard-approved life vest is made of quick-drying, breathable, and durable material.
The adjustable open side straps help with the snug fit. The construction of straps and the low neckline prevent the vest from covering your kid’s face and chin when in the water.
2. Four Stohlquist Fit Adult PFD Life Vests
This adult life vest allows for high mobility with a non-restrictive cut. The higher placement of the upper buckle helps reduce any ride up.
3. Hardcore Water Sports Life Jacket Vests for The Entire Family
This life vest has two waist straps that can be adjusted to snug comfortably in the waist. The high-quality fabric and foam set it apart from the other life vests in the market. This is mainly for kids, however, it can be used by adults up to 90 pounds.
There’s also a variety of colors to choose from.
Buyers give it good feedback as it stays in place despite kayaking all day and does not move up to the chin when in the water.
4. 86-inch Intex Boat and Kayak Oar
This paddle is over seven feet long and made of a durable lightweight aluminum shaft. The blade is an asymmetrical spoon shape for faster movement in the water.
This is a collapsible five-piece design for maximum portability. Despite being collapsible, it is still sturdy with drip rings and provides comfortable grips.
When a buyer says she got away fast before her ex could get to her, you know this is the paddle to buy!
5. 86-inch OCEANBOARD Kayak Paddle
This mid-range paddle is good for beginner and intermediate kayakers. The handle is made of a lightweight aluminum paddle that grips well and doesn’t feel cold to the touch. It is also coated with fiberglass that makes it sturdy and strong.
The kayak paddle is not collapsible but it comes with a paddle leash which is a great addition to secure it.
The company also has great customer service that will replace damaged paddles when needed.
6. FLEXTAILGEAR – MAX Pump Plus
This portable air pump is the best solution to inflate and deflate your kayak easily. This device is small and compact and it can fit the palm of your hand, as shown below.
It also helps that the portable pump is lightweight at only four ounces. It’s waterproof and comes with four types of nozzles.
This air pump is convenient not just for your inflatable kayak but floaties, air beds, an inflatable pool, or any of your inflatable equipment for a trip to the beach or for camping.
9. RUNACC Electric Air Pump
This portable wireless pump has a higher battery range at 4000mah. This higher battery capacity means you can inflate and deflate without recharging. This is also compact and lightweight which makes it easy to bring on your outdoor activity.
10. BLUELF Rechargeable Electric Air Pump
The best value for your money is this rechargeable air pump. It’s lightweight and can be used to both inflate and deflate your kayak. This air pump comes with batteries with three types of the nozzle.
It’s electric, so make sure to stay away from the water with it and only use it for 10 minutes at a time to avoid overheating.
Best Sit on Top Kayak Under $300
Kayaking is a fun activity for the entire family. Fiberglass or plastic kayaks may break the bank and be hard to carry to different places.
A good alternative is budget-friendly yet durable inflatable kayaks. These kayaks perform great and the convenience of carrying them anywhere makes them a good buy.
Also, consider buying safety equipment such as life vests, paddles, and a portable inflatable air pump for ease and convenience. I just shared my top picks above.
Have you found the best fishing kayak with an adjustable seat and space for your fishing gear online? When it comes to recreational kayaks, which one is your best choice? Do you prefer tandem kayaks with paddle holders for long trips or something with lots of storage compartments you can take in calm waters in a comfortable seat for a long time?
Find me on Instagram at @ChristinaAllDay and let me know what you’re taking out to go kayak fishing, what you’re putting in your storage area, or even what you’re putting in your kayak cup holder. What’s a good choice for a fishing trip and what’s a great option for traveling long distances in shallow water? Let me know!