During the spring and summer, one of the best ways to enjoy getting close to nature is on a kayak.

Whether you’re slowly paddling away on a serene lake, battling rushing rapids, or exploring a vast ocean, kayaking is a sport that brings peace and relaxation.

While kayaking is a lot of fun, you need to consider its cost if you want to enjoy the sport more often.

The cost will depend on your equipment, how often you go out kayaking, and how much you’re willing to invest.

Here’s how much kayaking costs, from your gear to all the miscellaneous equipment you will need.

How Much Does it Cost to Kayak?

When calculating the cost of kayaking, it’s not enough to simply consider the single price of a kayak. Sure, it may be the biggest cost, but the cost of the other necessary gear can also add up quickly.

Cost of a Kayak

You can purchase kayaks online and in brick-and-mortar stores.

Amazon offers several types of kayaks, although they’re usually for beginners. You can purchase second-hand kayaks from sites like Craig’s List.

Large sporting goods stores usually have kayaks as well. These stores have a wide selection of kayaks for various skill levels, and it’s easier to choose the right size, type, and weight for you.

If you want high-end professional kayak models, visit specialty shops such as REI.

Beginner kayak

Beginner kayaks have a large sitting area to make it easier to get in and out of the kayak. They are also heavier compared to more advanced models.

The increased weight makes them sturdier and more suited for beginners.

Beginner kayaks generally cost around $250 to $300. However, take note that beginner kayaks are not meant to last, so you’ll likely get around five years of use at most.

Inflatable kayak

Inflatable kayaks are a great choice if you want a cheap kayak that you’ll only use for a summer or two. Most inflatable kayaks are less than $100 and are available in large sporting goods stores. 

You should only purchase an inflatable kayak if you plan to use it for a season. These kayaks are only meant for small bodies of water with a calm surface and are not recommended for white water or ocean use.

Fishing kayak

Fishing kayaks are specially designed with a large cockpit and storage room since you’ll need lots of room to hold your gear and any fish you catch.

Fishing kayaks can carry one to two people.

Since these kayaks are built to be used on lakes and oceans, they’re sturdy and lightweight. A quality fishing kayak will cost you at least $300. 

White water kayak

The second-most expensive type of kayak, white water kayaks are designed for rapids. These kayaks are sleek and lightweight, but durable and strong.

Depending on the size, they can hold one to three people.

Considering the size and strength of white water kayaks, you should expect to spend at least $1000 for one.

Ocean kayak

Ocean kayaks, also known as touring kayaks, are by far the most expensive type of kayak. They are strong and durable since they are designed to be used in rough waters. High-quality ocean kayaks are typically made from polyethylene to not be too heavy.

If you love kayaking regularly on open water, investing in an ocean kayak is smart. They’re built for long trips and can easily hold at least two passengers and all your gear.

Cost of a Paddle

After your kayak, the next important piece of equipment that you need is a paddle. The material and length of the paddle will determine the cost.

Basic paddles have aluminum shafts and plastic blades. These cost anywhere from $30-$80 per piece and are popular with beginners and recreational kayakers.

Mid-range kayaks cost around $50-$90 apiece, with both blade and shaft made from fiberglass.

Professional paddles are made from carbon fiber and carry a hefty price tag of around $100-$300.

Personal Flotation Device

You will need to wear a personal floatation device (PFD) no matter where you kayak. Most kayaking locations will not allow anyone to go out on the water without a PFD, and many states legally require them.

A PFD can cost anywhere from $45 to $150 depending on the size, material, and brand. It’s a good idea to get the best quality PFD you can afford, even if you’re only going to use it occasionally.

Kayaking can be unpredictable even if you’re out on a closed body of water or a location that you are familiar with.

Miscellaneous Gear

Your miscellaneous gear costs will depend on where you want to go kayaking and what you want to do.

For example, if you’re going out fishing, you’ll need to consider the cost of your cooler and fishing gear. For white water kayaking, you need to get protective headgear.

No matter what type of kayaking you do, a dry bag is essential for protecting your valuables from water spray.

Dry bags cost anywhere from $10-$30 depending on the size and the material.

Do I Need a Permit for Kayaking?

Six states require kayak owners to register their vehicles, namely Alaska, Illinois, Ohio, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Minnesota.

In Pennsylvania, kayak owners are required to register their kayaks if they will kayak in locations registered under the state’s Fish and Boat Commission.

Registration fees cost around $30 and are good for 2-3 years.

In Oregon, kayakers are not required to register their boats, but they will need to purchase a Waterway Access Permit from either the Oregon State Marine Board or the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

You can choose the duration of the permit that you need. A permit good for one week is $5, one good for a year is $17, and one good for two years is $30. If you want to get your permit online, you’ll need to pay $2 in additional fees.


Finally, you should consider the storage costs of your kayak. When you’re not using your boat, you’ll want to keep it safe in an indoor storage facility.

If you have space in your garage, you can get a freestanding rack for around $175 or mounted wall hooks for around $70.

You can also opt to have your kayak stored in a storage unit for around $65 per month.

What Can Influence the Cost of a Kayak?

There are several factors that influence the cost of a kayak, namely:

  • Brand - Popular brands will be more expensive compared to smaller brands or generic kayaks. However, branded kayaks usually have the advantage of being covered by a warranty.
  • Material - The higher the quality of the material, the more expensive a kayak. Plastic and inflatable kayaks are much more affordable compared to fiberglass or carbon fiber ones, but they are not as durable. Cheaper kayaks also have limited use compared to expensive ones.
  • Weight - Ultralight-weight kayaks are considered to be top of the line in the kayaking community. Since they are usually made from carbon fiber, expect to pay a premium amount.
  • Rider Capacity - The more people fit in a kayak, the more expensive it will be. The boat needs to be longer and roomier, and have enough space for everyone on board.
  • Storage Space - Similar to rider capacity, kayaks with large storage space are pricier than ones with limited storage space. What’s more, high-end models may even feature hatches to keep the storage space waterproof.  

Renting vs. Owning

If you only go kayaking on vacation, owning a kayak might not be worth the expense of purchase and storage.

Renting one might be a better option for you.

The price for kayak rentals can vary depending on location and season.

Expect to pay more if you want to rent a kayak at a tourist destination in the middle of peak vacation season!

Renting can also be a better option for you if you don’t have a vehicle that can transport a kayak properly.

Is a Second-Hand Kayak Worth It?

Purchasing a second-hand kayak can help you save money since the cost of a used kayak is roughly half the price of a brand new one that is a similar type.

However, make sure that you know how to inspect a used kayak to see whether it is still functional and safe to use.

Skip buying second-hand kayaks for beginner models since these can quickly turn brittle if not maintained and stored properly.

Generally, buying a second-hand kayak would be best if you want to purchase a white water kayak or ocean kayak without spending too much money.

Since these kayaks are going to be used in demanding situations, make sure that you know exactly how to inspect a second-hand unit before you buy it.


So, how much does kayaking cost?

Depending on the type of kayak, paddle, and gear you need, you can expect to spend at least $500 for all your equipment and any necessary fees.

The price can quickly climb up if you want to have a professional kayak model.

If you’re just starting out with the sport and you want to invest in a good kayak without breaking the bank, a fishing kayak might be the best option for you.

They’re versatile, sturdy, and roomy.

Have fun paddling on your next kayaking trip!