Fishing is an activity as old as time, but kayak fishing has become more and more popular in recent years. It’s gaining popularity, especially for its affordability, and since that’s a priority, I’ve made a list of the best fishing kayaks under $300 -as affordable as fishing kayaks get.
These will help you get on the water and cast your lines to get fish that you would have never dreamed of catching onshore.
So, without further ado, here are the best choices with their pros, cons, and a helpful buying guide at the end in case you need to form a better background.
Intex Explorer K2
Sun Dolphin Bali SS
Sea Eagle 330 Pro
Sevylor Tahiti Hunt
|19.36 lbs.||360 lbs.|
The 5 Best Fishing Kayaks Under $300 in 2021
1. Intex Explorer K2 – Best Budget Option
Being one of the most affordable choices on the market, the Intex Explorer K2 easily makes it to the top of our list. Despite its low price point, it packs plenty of advanced features and gives you a bang for your buck.
It weighs only 23.9 pounds and measures 123 x 36 x 20 inches, so it’s both lightweight and compact enough to be transported and maneuvered with no hassle.
Although it’s a compact kayak, it’s quite capacious with an ability to carry up to 400 pounds. With such a weight capacity, you can bring a friend along and pack all the essentials and gear you need and still have excess.
Furthermore, the Explorer K2 is equipped with adjustable seats that feature backrests, so you can rest assured that your comfort will be maximized.
With the kayak, you’ll get two aluminum oars and a high-output air pump that facilitates the inflation of the kayak and makes the process a breeze.
As for the stability, the Explorer K2 is equipped with a removable skeg that allows you to control directional stability and enjoy fishing for extended periods of time without worrying about the kayak being carried away by the waves.
Finally, the kayak features a bright yellow color that makes it more visible and, therefore, easier to identify in the case of an emergency.
With a bright and yellow color, it’s more visible and easier to identify in case you face an emergency.
- Skeg can be removed
- Visible, vivid, and bright yellow color
- Aluminum oars
- Comfortable inflatable seat
- Doesn’t suit rugged conditions
As far as affordability gets, this one is unbeatable. Especially when you consider the fact that it combines some advanced features, decent performance, and reliable stability. If you’re going to be fishing on a lake, the Intex Explorer K2 would be a great choice.
2. Sun Dolphin Bali SS – Best Stability and Comfort
The Sun Dolphin Bali SS is so versatile and reliable I could hardly believe it’s a fishing kayak under $300. It employs a unique design with a bunch of advanced features.
For starters, it delivers an incredibly stable performance that allows you to stand up and keep your balance to throw casts and drag heavier fish. It also facilitates paddling and tracking.
Moreover, it’s equipped with a secure storage compartment that’s tight and secure to keep all your gear and equipment dry and guarantee no leakages.
Since it’s a sit-on-top kayak, you’ll be getting an open cockpit that you can enter or exit in one smooth jump. Once you’re in, you’ll enjoy the kayak’s large and comfortable seating area, especially that it comes with protective thigh pads, adjustable foot braces, and a paddle holder to give you hands-free fishing.
Finally, the Sun Dolphin Bali SS comes in a bright blue color, measures 120 x 30 x 11 inches, and weighs 44 pounds. So, it’s pretty visible and adequately compact. However, it’s not the most lightweight and can only accommodate 250 pounds.
- Provides maximum stability
- Comes with a dry storage compartment
- Vivid and bright color
- Spacious seating area with an open cockpit
- Protective thigh pads
- Foot braces are adjustable
- A little hard to control and maneuver
- Low weight capacity relative to the kayak’s weight
- Low speed
Combining budget-friendliness and advanced features, the Sun Dolphin Bali SS is one of the best fishing kayaks you can get without breaking the bank. It’s stable, tracks well, and comes with a reliable dry storage compartment. However, it may be a little hard to maneuver and control, so it’s not the best choice if you’re a beginner.
3. Sevylor Coleman Colorado – Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak Under $300
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado obviously focuses on being a budget-friendly kayak, so if you’re really restricted by a budget, you’ll love it.
Although it comes at less than 300 bucks, it employs decent construction and delivers great performance. It’s made of a strong PVC material that makes it suitable for rugged lake paddling.
Weighing 41 pounds, it’s neither too light nor too heavy. But the fact that it can carry up to 470 pounds makes it a great pick as that’s a pretty impressive ratio, especially for an entry-level kayak.
What’s really impressive about the Sevylor Coleman Colorado is its safety and protection features. It employs a tarpaulin bottom equipped with a nylon cover to improve durability and enable it to resist punctures.
Moreover, it employs multiple chambers to guarantee that your kayak will stay afloat, even if one chamber gets punctured. And to maximize safety, the Coleman Colorado uses airtight technology that prevents any leakages.
To guarantee convenience, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado features adjustable rod holders and paddle holders that make hands-free fishing possible.
Finally, the Coleman Colorado is easy to inflate and deflate, delivers reliable performance, and has spacious mesh storage. However, it’s not the most durable option. So, if you want something that’ll last for a long time, you should opt for another option.
- Best choice for budget
- Safe trolling motor
- Airtight technology
- Tarpaulin bottom and 18-gauge PVC construction
- Convenient holders
- Multiple chambers that keep it afloat in case of puncturing
- Does not include a pump or a paddle
- Seats can be uncomfortable, especially for tall people
- Sidewalls can be bulky
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is one of the best fishing kayaks under $300, as it gives you a bang for your buck. At least, for as long as it lasts as it’s not the most durable choice. By all means, though, it’s very reliable and convenient.
4. Sea Eagle 330 Pro – Best for Capacity and Tracking
If you’re on a budget and want to go on a fishing trip with a friend or load up on equipment and gear, the Sea Eagle 330 Pro would suit you quite well with its 500-pound weight capacity.
Not only that, but it’s also quite easy to transport and move around as it only weighs 26 pounds.
The Sea Eagle 330 Pro features two moveable seats that allow you to adjust them according to the position that makes you most comfortable. And although they come with back support, they don’t offer as much comfort as other options at the same level.
Moreover, this kayak comes with two high-quality valves that facilitate inflation and deflation.
On the bottom, there are two skegs that enhance the tracking of the kayak, even at higher speeds. It even takes it up a notch by adding an integral 5-tube I-Beam durable floor that further improves its tracking and increases its speed.
Finally, the Sea Eagle 330 Pro comes with inflatable spray skirts, is NMMA-certified, and is made of high-quality materials that make it very durable.
- Great capacity relative to the weight
- Moveable and adjustable seats
- Decent space for storing accessories
- Two available skegs
- The seats are a little uncomfortable
If you’re looking for a combination of decent tracking, portability, and compactness, the Sea Eagle 330 Pro would be a great choice for you. Well, as long as you can live with the seats being a little uncomfortable.
5. Sevylor Tahiti Hunt – Best Lightweight Fishing Kayak Under $300
This 2-person kayak has a weight capacity of 360 pounds, so you can enjoy a nice trip with your fishing partner and pack all the equipment you need.
It’s covered by a tarpaulin cover on the bottom, which protects it against puncturing and extends its durability.
Moreover, it features backrests that provide you with comfort and make your fishing trip more enjoyable. Both seats can be moved to make place for your equipment, and they’re adjustable to fit your preferences.
The fact that it weighs around 19 pounds means that you can easily transport it from one place to another. Not only that, but its inflation and deflation are fast thanks to the high-pressure hand pump and also super easy thanks to the double lock valves, which makes its overall use convenient.
There’s also a spray cover on the outside to prevent anyone inside the kayak from getting wet from splashes.
The Sevylor Tahiti Hunt comes with a paddle that you can break down to make it more compact in order to facilitate storage.
- Adjustable seats
- Easy to inflate and deflate
- Equipped with splash guards
- Great paddling and tracking even in waves
- Problems with the air pump not fitting properly onto the kayak
- Weight capacity isn’t as high as advertised
- Doesn’t have rod holders
Whether you’re an amateur or a pro on a budget, this affordable kayak will impress you with its stability and durability. Although its lack of rod holders may make fishing a little harder, it’s still a pretty solid choice.
What to Expect from a Fishing Kayak Under $300
What you can expect from a fishing kayak under $300 is what you’re not willing to sacrifice for affordability. A budget-friendly kayak will probably prioritize some features over others, and those features are what you pay for exactly.
For example, you can go for a very stable kayak, but you’d probably have to sacrifice a little paddling effectiveness. On the other hand, if you go for one with good tracking and paddling, you might have to give up on some balance and stability.
On top of that, you shouldn’t expect a very durable model if you’re getting one for less than 300 bucks as those would use soft materials as opposed to firmer, unpuncturable materials. Also, you shouldn’t expect many bells and whistles like footrests, extra cargo space, or fishing rod holders.
What to Look for in a Fishing Kayak
Just because you’re going for a budget kayak doesn’t mean you have to settle for one with poor performance or quality, you just have to focus on the features that are more important to you.
1. The Type: Sit-on-Top vs. Sit-in Kayak
You’ll find kayaks in two variants: sit-on-top and sit-in ones. Both of them are good for different purposes and different conditions.
Sit-on-top kayaks provide you with a lot of space to keep all your essentials on board with a lot of space for movement. However, they aren’t as secure as sit-in kayaks, so they’re better suited for fishing on calm waters where you don’t need to exert much effort into keeping your balance.
Being open, they’re pretty easy to get into and out of with plenty of legroom, allowing you to stretch or bend your knees, according to what makes you comfortable.
However, sit-on-top kayaks are heavier and bulkier than sit-in ones, so they aren’t as portable or easy to move around.
Unlike sit-on-top kayaks, sit-in ones are pretty secure and tight, featuring a small area where your legs go and another where you can store your gear and belongings. This design guarantees that your kayak will remain attached to you at all times.
Generally, both variants are pretty similar except that sit-in kayaks come with cockpits. That’s why they suit fishing in challenging waters that have rather rough conditions.
2. Stability and Tracking
When you’re out fishing, you’ll probably need to stand up at times to gain more power over your casts and drags, and that’s why you need a stable kayak that helps you keep your balance easily.
As a rule of thumb, the wider the beam of your kayak is relative to its length, the more stable it is. So, if your kayak measures 12 feet, its beam should measure more than 30 inches. However, this means that you’ll be compromising some of the stability.
However, you should bear in mind that the wider the beam, the harder it would be to paddle and maneuver.
Tracking refers to how well your kayak can remain on track when underway. A kayak with good tracking means that it’ll be able to hold its course even when a turning force like a sweep stroke acts on it.
Paddling can either maximize or destroy how enjoyable your fishing experience is. I’d recommend getting a kayak that isn’t very responsive when you give it input if you’re a beginner. This is to give you more stability and confidence while you’re learning.
Furthermore, a wider cockpit gives beginners more space to move around and test how different movements affect the balance and stability of the kayak.
However, a more experienced user might want to go for a tighter cockpit in order to get more control over the paddles and enjoy maximum paddling effectiveness.
4. Weight and Portability
How portable your kayak should depend on whether you’ll get it into the water right away or if you’ll have to pull it through some paths before beginning your trip.
Naturally, the longer the path you have to pull it through, the lighter it should be. Typically, sit-in or inflatable models would be the best if you’re looking for a lightweight kayak.
5. Weight Capacity
The bigger the storage space on your kayak, the clearer your deck and the more equipment, gear, and essentials you can bring along. The best storage spaces would be ones that are accessible, tightly sealed, and easy to open and close.
It’s worth mentioning that you should look for a kayak with enough space behind the seat to store a milk crate, a box, or a bucket to keep your things. Criss-crossing bungee tie-downs on the well would be a perfect way around constant clasping and unclasping.
As a rule of thumb, you should buy a kayak whose weight capacity exceeds your weight and the weight of your equipment combined by 100 pounds.
I highly doubt that a fishing trip would last less than several hours, and that’s why your kayak should be very comfortable for you.
An important aspect is the seat. Make sure that it’s padded and adjustable. Better yet, get one with lower back support to maximize comfort. If you’ll be fishing on warmer days, you should opt for a seat with mesh covers for more breathability.
Moreover, look for adjustable footrests that provide proper knee positions for effective paddling.
Self-draining scuppers would also be a great addition. Make sure that they’re located at the lowest point of the cockpit to provide thorough draining.
Looking for the best kayak under $300 isn’t an easy job as budget options usually tend to be less reliable or less advanced. However, the choices I’ve listed are all pretty great and offer decent performance.
If you’re looking for a kayak that provides you with the ultimate combination of stability and comfort, I’d recommend the Sun Dolphin Bali SS.
The Sea Eagle 330 Pro would be an amazing choice for anyone looking for a high capacity kayak with reliable tracking.
Finally, if you’re looking for a very budget-friendly option that gives you a nice bang for your buck, you should opt for the Intex Explorer K2.