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Best Kayaks Under 1000 Dollars – Our Top Picks for 2024

Exploration Junkie is reader-supported. If you buy through links on this page we may earn a commission, at no extra cost to you.  As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. At the time of publication, all listed kayaks were $1000 or less.

Not so long ago, kayaks were so expensive that kayaking was seen as a sport for the rich. But this is no longer the case as advancements in technology mean that manufacturers have a wider range of materials to work with. This combined with the design experience of the manufacturers has led to the production of many quality kayaks that come at an affordable price.

$1000 is a decent amount of money and you could get a yak with excellent performance and top-notch features for a budget of or below $1000. These kayaks come in different sizes, are made of different materials, have different propulsion methods thereby offering you a lot of options to choose from. Thus, choosing a kayak can be a bit complex, especially for beginners.

But don’t worry! All the research has been done for you and I have compiled a list of the best kayaks under $1000 available on the market today. Continue reading to learn more about these kayaks.

The 7 Best Kayaks Under 1000 Dollars for 2024

BKC TK181 Tandem Kayak

BKC UH-TK181 12-foot 5-inch Sit On Top Tandem 2 Person Fishing Kayak with Paddles, Seats, and 7 Fishing Rod Holders included

 out of stock
as of April 23, 2024 7:22 pm

If you are the type that loves to fish during a kayaking expedition, then you should take a look at the BKC TK181. This is because this kayak has a number of features that make fishing easy. For example, you’ll find 4 flush-mounted rod holders and 3 articulated rod holders on this yak. In total, you have 7 rod holders and this allows you to get multiple lines in the water at once. Talk about fishing made easy.

The BKC TK181 can also be used for tandem kayaking as it can accommodate two people. And this means you can bond with your friends, family, or significant other over a kayaking trip. I like that the seat of this vessel is well-padded and cushioned as this makes you very comfortable. The seat even has an adjustable strap that allows you to assume different sitting positions.

This kayak performs excellently on water and can take on both calm and choppy water. There’s a spacious waterproof storage bag where you can keep your items away from water. And the twin paddle rests lets you and your partner catch a break from paddling and go hands-free without the risk of losing your paddles.

 Quick Specifications

  • Type:  sit-on-top kayak
  • Kayak size:  12’5” ft x 34 x 20 in / 378 x 87 x 50 cm
  • Kayak weight:  68 lbs / 31 kg
  • Weight capacity:  595 lbs / 270 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1-2 persons


  • Ideal for fishing enthusiasts.
  • Very comfortable thanks to the padded seats and adjustable straps.
  • A stable vessel that performs well in stable and choppy waters.
  • Very easy to operate.
  • High weight capacity.
  • Very durable.


  • N/A.

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Kayak

Advanced Elements AE1007-E AdvancedFrame Convertible Elite Inflatable Kayak , Red, 15ft

 in stock
5 new from $725.00
1 used from $698.46
Free shipping
as of April 23, 2024 7:22 pm

The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame kayak is an inflatable kayak and thus comes with the many benefits that this type of kayak offers. This kayak is very compact and can be easily transported anywhere. The compact design also makes storage easy as you can literally store this yak anywhere you want in your home.

This kayak performs excellently on water thanks to the reinforced bow and stern, skeg, and hard edges. You’ll be gliding across the water with no difficulty. This kayak is also very stable and is very difficult to capsize.

The body of this yak is made of 3 layers of double-coated rip-stop fabric and this makes the AdvancedFrame resistant to scrapes, cuts, leaks, and punctures. Advanced Elements subjects each product to a quality assurance test which involves a process of inflating, pressure, and testing the performance of the kayak.

It’s very easy to inflate/deflate this kayak, and the spring valve ensures air does not leak from this kayak after being inflated. I like the high support and adjustable padded seats that come with this kayak as they make your kayaking experience more enjoyable.

The storage compartment is very spacious and will easily accommodate your lunch, first aid kit, and other gear. A load capacity of 300 lbs means this kayak can seat two adults with some light cargo.

 Quick Specifications

  • Type: inflatable kayak / sit-inside kayak
  • Kayak size:  180 x 32 x 12 in / 457 x 81 x 30 cm
  • Kayak weight:  52 lbs / 23.5 kg
  • Weight capacity:  500 lbs / 229 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1-2 persons


  • Compact and portable.
  • Good stability and will not capsize.
  • Easy to maneuver.
  • High load capacity.
  • Durable construction.
  • Very comfortable.
  • Reinforced bow and stern.


  • No footrest but this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. You’ll need something to push your leg against when you are paddling on moving water though.
  • Carry bag could be better designed.

Pelican River Gorge 130X Tandem Kayak

Pelican Tandem Recreational Kayak | River Gorge 130X Tandem, 13 Feet

$769.99  in stock
as of April 23, 2024 7:22 pm

The Pelican River Gorge s an excellent kayak that is capable of accommodating two people thanks to the impressive weight capacity of 500 lbs. This kayak is easy to carry especially for two people. The two retractable handles even make it easier to carry this yak.

The River Gorge is a sit-on-top kayak and this makes it easy for you to enter or exit the vessel. You are exposed to the elements which is a good thing in hot climates as the wind and occasional water splashes keep you cool.

A kayak is only as comfortable as its seat and Pelican River Gorge has a high-quality seat that’s well-cushioned and padded. You’ll also find an adjustable backrest cushion and molded footrests for better support and comfort. All these features mean you can go on a long kayaking expedition on this kayak with ease.

There is a spacious two quick-lock hatch that will hold your gear and also secure it thanks to the bungee lacing. This kayak moves well on water thanks to the efficient hull design and the paddle tie-downs help hold your paddles when you want to go hands-free. The fact that this kayak has been proven to be long-lasting means you are buying a durable product.

 Quick Specifications

  • Type:  sit-on-top kayak
  • Kayak size: 13 ft x 34 x 15 in / 396 x 86 x 35 cm
  • Kayak weight: 76 lbs / 33.1 kg
  • Weight capacity:  500 lbs / 227 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1-2 persons


  • Retractable handles make it easy to carry and transport.
  • Well-padded and cushioned seat provides excellent support and comfort.
  • Very spacious.
  • Good speed.
  • Easy to paddle.
  • Durable.


  • N/A.

Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135 KayakOur Top Pick

Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135 | Sit Inside Recreational Kayak | Tandem Kayak | 13' 6" | Red

$1,329.00  in stock
2 new from $1,249.00
Free shipping
as of April 23, 2024 7:22 pm

The Wilderness Systems Pamlico is a kayak with an impressive performance on the water. Thanks to the signature rounded hull design, the Pamlico is a very fast kayak as it moves across the water with ease. The high weight capacity of 500 lbs allows two people to use this kayak. And if you are the only one kayaking, you can always convert this yak for solo use.

I like that this kayak is easy to paddle for one person. With two people, paddling becomes almost effortless. The phase 3 AirPro seats incorporated into this kayak by Wilderness Systems is one of a kind as it makes this kayak super comfortable thanks to the generous padding and cushioning. Also, the seats are fully adjustable and have a ventilated mesh that will keep you cool when paddling on hot days.

This is an excellent tandem kayak that will make paddling fun for two people. With a high weight capacity of 500 lbs, this kayak is capable of carrying two people and their gear. And if you are the only one kayaking, you can easily convert this kayak for solo use.

The signature rounded hull of this vessel confers swift acceleration, allowing you to cover long distances in a short amount of time. It’s also very easy to paddle this kayak, especially when there are two people on it.

 Quick Specifications

  • Type:  sit-inside kayak
  • Kayak size: 13’6” ft x 31 x 14 in / 371 x 79 x 35 cm
  • Kayak weight: 72 lbs / 32.7 kg
  • Weight capacity:  500 lbs / 227 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1-2 persons


  • High weight capacity.
  • Very fast.
  • Very comfortable and easy to paddle.
  • Good stability. Easy to maneuver.
  • Waterproof storage hatch.
  • Durable.


  • No major shortcomings.

Wilderness Systems Aspire 105 Kayak

Wilderness Systems Aspire 105 | Sit Inside Recreational Kayak | Adjustable Skeg - Phase 3 Air Pro Seating | 10' 6" | Midnight

$1,059.00  in stock
4 new from $1,059.00
Free shipping
as of April 23, 2024 7:22 pm

The Wilderness Systems Aspire is a high-performance recreational kayak that’s designed for beginner kayakers as well as intermediate kayakers that are looking to expand beyond flat water. Thanks to the easy handling and maneuverability, you’ll be ruling the waters and have endless fun when you go kayaking.

The compact design of the Aspire comes in handy when transporting the kayak. Storage is also easy as the yak requires minimal storage space. Thanks to Wilderness Systems’ industry-leading Phase 3 AirPro seat, the Aspire provides you with ultimate comfort, adjustability, and breathability during your kayaking expeditions.

Thanks to the molded-in dashboard, you can keep smaller items like drinks and your phone close to you. There is also a dry storage hatch that keeps your gear safe and dry. The retractable skeg helps you stay on course in current and wind. Thanks to the high-quality material used to manufacture this kayak, the Aspire is a very rugged and durable vessel that will serve you faithfully for a very long time.

 Quick Specifications

  • Type:  sit-inside kayak
  • Kayak size: 10’6” ft x 32 in / 320 x 81 cm
  • Kayak weight: 48 lbs / 22 kg
  • Weight capacity:  400 lbs / 181 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1 person


  • Excellent performance on the water.
  • Easy handling and maneuverability.
  • Compact design.
  • Convenient dashboard.
  • Comfortable seat.
  • Durable.


  • No major shortcomings.

Perception Pescador 12 Kayak

Perception Pescador 12 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak with Front Storage Well | Large Rear Storage and Dual Rod Holders | 12' | Dapper

$1,043.14  in stock
as of April 23, 2024 7:22 pm

The Perception Pescador kayak is an excellent vessel designed for kayakers of all sizes and skill levels. Larger paddlers will find the Pescador very comfortable and go on to have a memorable kayaking expedition.

Thanks to the high-quality polyethylene and one-piece roto-molded construction, this kayak can withstand UV, impacts, and abrasions. The Pescador is very comfortable thanks to the comfortable Seating System with thick ventilated padding and adjustable seatback for superior support, fit, and comfort.

Fishing enthusiasts will also like the rod-holders that come with this kayak as it makes the vessel fishing ready. The size of the Pescador was carefully designed by Perception to make this kayak wide enough to be stable on the water so as not to capsize and also sleek enough to move across the water at a good speed.

There is spacious rear storage where you can store your gear. The storage space also has bungee lacing to help secure your gear as you paddle.

 Quick Specifications

  • Type: sit-inside kayak
  • Kayak size: 12’ ft x 32 in / 365 x 81 cm
  • Kayak weight: 63 lbs / 28.5 kg
  • Weight capacity:  375 lbs / 170 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1 person


  • Easy to paddle.
  • Comfortable.
  • Excellent combination of stability and speed.
  • Very rugged and durable.
  • Spacious rear storage.


  • No major shortcomings.

Driftsun Rover 120/220 Tandem Kayak

Driftsun Rover 120 Inflatable White-Water Kayak Inflatable Kayak with High Pressure Floor, EVA Padded Seats, High Back Support/Includes Action Cam Mount, Aluminum Paddles, Pump

 in stock
as of April 23, 2024 7:22 pm

The Driftsun Rover is a very compact and durable kayak that’s easy to carry and store. Inflating the Rover is also very fast and you are just less than 5 minutes away from getting on the water.

The heavy 1000D Reinforced Layered PVC side tubes coupled with the heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin bottom makes this kayak extremely rugged. As a result, this kayak can easily withstand punctures, cuts, tears, UV, abrasions, and so on.

This kayak is very stable and easy to maneuver thanks to the rigid high-pressure drop stitch floor, removable tracking fin as well as ample rocker profile. You can expect the Driftsun Rover to perform well in both flat and rough water as this kayak is capable of withstanding class III and IV rapids.

There’s a camera mount on the front of this vessel which will come in handy when you want to take videos or images during your kayaking expedition. I must also mention the optimum comfort this kayak provides thanks to the well-cushioned seats and adjustable footrest.

 Quick Specifications

  • Type:  inflatable kayak / sit-inside kayak
  • Kayak size: 8.5 ft x 36 in / 259 x 91.4 cm
  • Kayak weight: 22 lbs / 9.9 kg
  • Weight capacity:  300 lbs / 136 kg
  • Person Capacity: 1-2 persons


  • Easy to store and carry.
  • Easy to inflate.
  • Very stable and easy to maneuver.
  • Can withstand class III and IV rapids.
  • Comes with a camera mount.
  • Long-lasting.


  • Instructions on the included manual could be better.

Best Kayaks under $1000 – The Guide 

Now that you know the best kayaks under $1000 available on the market, I’ll be taking you through an extensive buying guide. The aim here is to provide you will all the information you need to know about kayaks so you can make an informed decision when buying one and consequently choose a yak that will meet all your needs.

Sit-Inside vs. Sit-on-Top Kayaks

There are two main types of kayaks namely sit-on-top and sit-in kayaks. Sit-on-top kayaks have a molded-in depression on top of the vessel so you actually sit “on top” of the vessel as the name suggests.

There are many advantages of a sit-on-top kayak such as easy entry and exit, exposure to the elements (which is a good thing in summer or hot climates as you get cooled), spacious storage space, and more room to maneuver.

Fishing enthusiasts are especially fond of sit-on-top kayaks as the large storage space means they can bring crates on the yak and the spacious cockpit allows them to move around more in the yak. However, sit-on-top kayaks are not ideal for use in colder climates as being exposed to the elements in such conditions is not desirable.

Sit-in kayaks are the conventional type of kayaks, In a sit-in yak, you actually “sit in” the kayak. This type of kayak shields you from the elements and can be used in both cold and hot climates.

Sit-in kayaks are usually not used for fishing as they have limited storage space and the enclosed design restricts your movement in the yak. However, this type of kayak is ideal for racing activities or if you simply intend to paddle on the water.

Rigid vs. Inflatable Kayaks

Another way to classify kayaks is by their design and we have rigid and inflatable kayaks under this classification. Inflatable kayaks as the name imply need to be inflated with a pump before use. When inflatable kayaks are deflated, they can fit into a backpack or similar-sized carry bag and this makes it extremely easy to transport or store this type of kayak.

It’s the unrivaled ease of storage and transportation that inflatable kayaks offer that has led to an increase in their popularity over the years. However, inflatable kayaks are easily affected by the elements more than rigid kayaks and require more maintenance.

Rigid kayaks are made of materials like fiberglass, composite, and are generally sturdier and more durable than inflatables. However, they are not as easy to carry or store especially if you don’t own a car or have enough space in your home. Rigid kayaks can withstand the elements better than inflatable kayaks and also require less maintenance.

Best kayaks under 1000 - guide

How to Choose Your Kayak

Materials – Durability

The type and quality of materials used to manufacture a kayak have an effect on its durability. Polyethylene, PVC, Rotomold, and ABS are common materials used to manufacture kayaks. Polyethylene is especially favored because it is very cheap and durable.

However, the material is susceptible to UV damage. PVC and rotomold are also susceptible to UV damage. However, manufacturers are now designing these materials to be more resistant to the effects of UV.

Composite (fiberglass, kevlar, and carbon fiber) is another material used to manufacture kayaks and they have the advantage of being lightweight and durable. However, these materials are very expensive and manufacturers generally tend to use other materials to produce kayaks.


How comfortable a kayak is has a large effect on how enjoyable a kayaking expedition will be. A kayak that performs excellently on the water will not provide the kayaker with an enjoyable experience if the seat is not comfortable as the kayaker will start experiencing pains and aches after some time on the water.

Always make sure to buy kayaks that have well-padded and cushioned seats as well as an adjustable footrest. If the seat of your kayak isn’t very comfortable, you should consider getting an after-market kayak seat especially if you intend to go on long kayaking expeditions.

Weight & Portability

You should put the weight of your kayak into consideration as it’ll determine its portability. Inflatable kayaks are the most compact and portable kayaks you’ll find on the market and are great for people seeking unparalleled ease of transport and storage.

Should you decide to go for a rigid kayak, consider how far you’ll have to carry the kayak from your car to the shore. You may want to go for a lighter yak if it is a long way to the shore. However, you can simply eliminate any trouble that may come with lifting your yak from your car to the shore by using a kayak cart.

Weight Capacity

You should consider the combined weight of yourself, your partner, and your gear when choosing a kayak. Then go for a kayak that can comfortably carry this load. Going over the weight limit of your tandem kayak will be counterproductive in the long run as the yak will wear out faster thereby compromising its durability.

Final Thoughts

$1000 is a very decent amount of money and you’ll be getting a kayak with superb performance and durability for a budget below $1000. Yes, there are good quality kayaks below $200 and also below $500.

However, by paying a bit more and going for yaks under $1000, you are opening yourself to a world of more possibilities. Ultimately, you get what you pay for and your first experience on a kayak below $1000 will tell you that you’ve made the right decision by paying extra and you’ll definitely get value for your money.

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