Best Fishing Kayak Under $400 in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

If you’re a kayak fishing enthusiast, but you’re on a tight budget, you would benefit a lot from this list of the best fishing kayaks under $400. Of course, you won’t be getting a high-end option, but if you focus on the right features and plan your trips well, you’ll make the best of it.

These include the weight of the kayak and how easy it is to carry on your own, the dimensions, and the storage capacity where you keep your essentials, gear, and equipment.

Let’s delve right into the details, the pros, and cons of each kayak to help you make the best decision.

Our Top Picks

WeightCapacity
Sun Dolphin Excursion
Best Overall Fishing Kayak Under $400
41 lbs.250 lbs.

Intex Explorer K2
Most Affordable Option

23.9 lbs.400 lbs.

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
Best for Safety

51 lbs.

250 lbs.

Sevylor Coleman Colorado
Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak

41 lbs.470 lbs.

Sea Eagle 370 Pro
Best for Weight/Capacity Ratio

32 lbs.

650 lbs.

Sevylor Big Basin
Best Lightweight Option

34.8 lbs.490 lbs.

1. Sun Dolphin Excursion – Best Overall Fishing Kayak Under $400

Sun Dolphin Excursion

This 10-inch sit-in kayak is a brilliant choice for beginner kayakers, especially those who intend to kayak in rivers and lakes.

At 41 pounds, it’s pretty lightweight and easy to maneuver. It’s also made from a high-density, UV-resistant Fortiflex polyethylene material, which makes it stable and enables it to track smoothly.

Despite being a sit-in kayak, it provides you with plenty of space to move in its large cockpit. It’s also equipped with two flush mount rod holders, one swivel rod holder, and a water bottle holder.

Moreover, it provides you with ample storage space to pack everything you need on your fishing trip. It can accommodate up to 490 pounds, so you can have a friend or two tag along and still get plenty of weight to pack whatever you need.

As for convenience, the Sun Dolphin Excursion comes with protective thigh pads, an adjustable padded seat, and footpads, a shock cord deck rigging, and incorporated carrying handles so you can easily transport it from one place to another.

Pros

  • Relatively lightweight
  • Strong and durable construction
  • Decent storage space
  • Rod holders
  • Adjustable foot pad and seat
  • Shock cords

Cons

  • Price varies according to the color you choose
  • Not as easy to carry as other inflatable models

Bottom Line

The Sun Dolphin Excursion combines affordability, convenience, and stability while flaunting a nice design with durable construction. Although it’s not as easy to carry around and transport, it’s one of the best fishing kayaks under $400 you’ll find out there.


2. Intex Explorer K2 – Most Affordable Fishing KayakThe 6 Best Fishing Kayaks Under $400 in 2020

Intex Explorer K2

The Intex Explorer K2 makes it to the top of the list as it’s one of the most affordable yet reliable fishing kayaks out there. At less than a hundred bucks and plenty of advanced features, it gives you a huge bang for your buck.

It only weighs 23.9 pounds and measures 123 x 36 x 20 inches, which means that it’s both compact and lightweight, so it’s easy to transport and maneuver.

Despite these modest dimensions, the Intex Explorer K2 can accommodate up to 400 pounds, which is a superb ratio. With this weight capacity, you can go kayak fishing with a friend and bring along a good amount of gear and equipment.

Moreover, the Explorer K2 comes with comfortable seats equipped with backrests that you can adjust to the position that makes you relax the most. It’s also equipped with two aluminum oars and a high-output air pump that helps you inflate the kayak smoothly and quickly.

And to get the maximum directional stability, the kayak comes with a removable skeg that enables you to enjoy fishing for long durations without worrying about the kayak drifting off.

With a bright and yellow color, it’s more visible and easier to identify in case you face an emergency.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • Skeg can be removed
  • Visible, vivid, and bright yellow color
  • Aluminum oars
  • Comfortable inflatable seat
  • Portable

Cons:

  • Doesn’t suit rugged conditions

Bottom Line

In terms of affordability, the Intex Explorer K2 is as budget-friendly as it gets. It’s packed with many great features that make it the perfect choice for lake-fishing.


3. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 – Best for Safety

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

Although it’s a budget fishing kayak, the Tamarack Angler 100 offers great value for the price.

For starters, it’s made of high-density UV-protected polyethylene, which makes it highly durable and extends its lifespan.

When it comes to the inner construction, it’s just as well-thought. With adjustable padded seats and back support, two flush-mounted fishing holders, and a top-mounted holder, this kayak provides you with a simple, comfortable, and enjoyable fishing experience.

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 comes with front and rear shock straps to prevent any emergencies and a 6″ storage compartment where you can store all your essentials and equipment without them getting wet.

However, at 51 pounds, it’s not the most lightweight kayak. Despite its deep hull tracking channels that facilitate transportation, if you’re not going to get your kayak straight into the water for fishing, you should check out a more portable option like the Intex Explorer K2 or the Sevylor Big Basin.

What’s more, it can only accommodate 275 pounds, which means you can’t splurge on gear and equipment.

Finally, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is a pretty steady kayak as it comes with chine rails and a stable bottom. However, this means that you’ll be compromising speed.  

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Decent storage space
  • Flat bottom for extra stability
  • Adjustable, padded seats with back support
  • Plenty of leg space

Cons:

  • Doesn’t suit choppy waters
  • Common hull cracking issues

Bottom Line

With high durability and stability, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is a top-notch kayak under $400. Unless you’re looking for speed or want to fish in shifting waters, this one’s a pretty solid choice.


4. Sevylor Coleman Colorado – Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak

Sevylor Coleman Colorado

Unlike the Tamarack Angler 100, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado gives priority to the budget-friendliness aspect. If you’re on a really tight budget, the Coleman Colorado is a good choice.

That’s not to say that it lacks in terms of construction and performance. This kayak is made of a strong PVC material that makes it suitable for rugged lake paddling.

At 41 pounds, it’s not too light or too heavy, but the fact that it can accommodate up to 470 pounds is quite impressive, especially for an entry-level kayak.

Moreover, Colorado comes with many safety and protection features. For one, it’s equipped with a tarpaulin bottom that utilizes a nylon cover to enhance durability and make it puncture-resistant. On top of that, it employs multiple chambers to ensure that it stays afloat in the case that one chamber gets punctured. To seal the deal, it uses airtight technology that leaves no space for leakage.

For convenience, the Coleman Colorado comes with adjustable rod holders and paddle holders to pave the way for hands-free fishing.

Finally, it’s easy to inflate or deflate, has spacious mesh storage, and reliable performance. However, if you’re looking for ultimate durability, you shouldn’t count on this one.

Pros:

  • Best choice for budget
  • Safe trolling motor
  • Airtight technology
  • Tarpaulin bottom and 18-gauge PVC construction
  • D-Rings
  • Convenient holders
  • Multiple chambers that keep it afloat in case of puncturing

Cons:

  • Does not include a pump or a paddle
  • Seats can be uncomfortable, especially for tall people
  • Sidewalls can be bulky

Bottom Line

The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is one of the best fishing kayaks under $400, as it has great value for the price. It’s super convenient and reliable. However, it’s not the most durable choice, so if you want something that withstands rugged use, go for another choice.


5. Sea Eagle 370 Pro – Best for Weight/Capacity Ratio

Sea Eagle 370 Pro

The Sea Eagle SE370 Pro is a lightweight, inflatable kayak with a deluxe package. It features an easy setup process, smooth paddling, durability, and steadiness.

It only weighs 32 pounds, yet it can accommodate up to 650 pounds, which means that you can go kayak fishing with two other friends.

There are two support skegs at the bottom to enhance tracking, so you can use this kayak in whitewater, in a lake, or even at sea.

However, its storage space isn’t as capacious as other options, but it’s enough to pack plenty of your day’s catches.

Moreover, its construction is solid and able to withstand considerable impact, especially thanks to the Polykrylar hull material design that improves the strength of the kayak and enables it to withstand sharp objects, including even dog nails.

The sturdy air valves and removable inflatables eats are nice and convenient additions, although the inflatable seats may not provide as much support.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced kayaker, you’ll enjoy what the Sea Eagle SE370 Pro has to offer, especially considering its price level.

Pros:

  • Versatile
  • Great performance
  • Relatively lightweight and easy to transport
  • Sturdy build
  • Three fishing rod holders
  • Adjustable seat and foot pads

Cons:

  • Subpar support with inflatable seats
  • Minimal room for storage

Bottom Line

Lightweight, easy to transport, and employing a sturdy build, the Sea Eagle 370 Pro is a great fishing kayak overall. However, despite its 650-pound weight capacity, it doesn’t provide plenty of storage space as other options. It’s the ideal choice if you’re three anglers going on a trip together.


6. Sevylor Big Basin – Best Lightweight Option

Sevylor Big Basin

Although it takes some time to inflate this kayak, this time goes into making it capable of handling heavy-duty tasks and rugged use as well as making the Sevylor Big Basin a safe kayak to use.

It employs an airtight design that prevents any leaks and a Boston valve that makes its inflation and deflation as easy as ever.

Moreover, this kayak comes with adjustable seats that you can fix according to your preference for the position that feels most comfortable to you.

There’s also a free spraying kit that works on blocking any splashes to keep the kayak dry at all times. The PVC construction also ensures that your kayak can withstand a storm while the stable cover keeps you safe in case of an accidental puncture.

And even if you face a puncture, you’ll still stay afloat as the Sevylor Big Basin utilizes multiple chambers.

Pros:

  • Suits rugged use
  • Tarpaulin made for superior protection
  • Leak-proof with an airtight system
  • Features multiple air chambers
  • Adjustable seats
  • Ample protection for kayaking

Cons:

  • The cockpit is a bit congested
  • A little difficult to clean and dry

Bottom Line

If you’re willing to sacrifice some cockpit space in order to have a very lightweight fishing kayak, the Sevylor Big Basin would be an ideal fishing kayak under $400 for you.


What to Expect from a Fishing Kayak Under $400?

What you should expect from a $400 fishing kayak is what you’re not willing to sacrifice. In other words, a budget kayak would prioritize certain features over others, and those features are exactly what you get for the money you pay.

In essence, you could go for a highly stable kayak, but you’d have to compromise some of the paddling effectiveness. Similarly, a budget kayak with good tracking and paddling would probably lack in the area of balance and stability.

On top of that, affordable kayaks tend to use soft materials as opposed to the firmer, non-puncturable materials found on high-end ones.

You also shouldn’t expect many bells and whistles like fishing rod holders, footrests, or extra cargo space.

What to Look for in a Fishing Kayak

You don’t have to settle for a kayak with poor performance or quality just because you’re opting for a budget one. Just consider the things you prioritize from the important features found on fishing kayaks, and these include:

1. The Type: Sit-on-Top vs. Sit-in Kayak

Kayaks come in two variants: sit-on-top kayaks and sit-in ones. Both of them are great for different purposes and mainly different conditions.

​Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Sit-on-Top or SOT kayaks provide you with a lot of space to move around or keep your equipment on board but aren’t the more secure option. That’s why they’re preferred if you’re going to fish on calm waters where you don’t need to try too hard to keep your balance.

They’re also very easy to enter and give you plenty of legroom, allowing you to bend or stretch your knees according to what makes you comfortable.

However, SOT kayaks tend to be heavy and bulky, so they’re less portable than sit-in ones.

Sit-In Kayaks

Sit-in kayaks, on the other hand, are quite secure and right with a small area where your legs go and another where you can store your belongings and fishing gear. Such a design ensures that the kayak always remains attached to you.

After all, they aren’t much different than SOT kayaks, except that they come with cockpits. That’s why they suit adventures in challenging waters that don’t have the calmest conditions.

2. Stability and Tracking

It’s probable that you may want to stand up while fishing to gain more power over your casts, and that’s why you need a stable kayak that enables you to balance yourself easily.

Usually, a wide beam is associated with stability, especially in proportion to the length of the kayak. For example, if your kayak measures 12 feet, its bream should be more than 30 inches. Otherwise, you might be compromising a significant amount of stability.

It’s also worth mentioning that the length of the beam must be proportionate to the length of the kayak. For example, if your kayak measures 12 feet, the beam must measure more than 30 inches. A narrower beam might cause your kayak to lose a significant amount of stability.

However, those are usually hard to paddle and maneuver, so you should look into the most suitable combination for yourself.

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.

3. Paddling Experience

How responsive the paddling is should match your level. So, if you’re a beginner, you should opt for something that isn’t too quick to turn when you give it input. This gives you more stability and confidence while you’re still learning.

Moreover, wider cockpits are better for beginners as they provide more space to move around and experiment with how different movements affect the balance and stability of the kayak. 

However, if you’re a more experienced user, you might want to opt for a tight-fitting cockpit to have more control over the paddles and get more effective paddling.

4. Weight and Portability

Despite the advances in technology and construction, kayaks are getting heavier. So, you have to consider whether you’re going to get your kayak straight into the water or have to drag it through some paths before doing so. The latter scenario requires a lightweight model, which would probably be a sit-in one or an inflatable one.

5. Weight Capacity

To keep your deck clear, you’ll need a kayak with plenty of storage space to keep your equipment, gear, and valuables away from any water. Make sure that the storage spaces are easy to access, tightly sealed, and easy to open and close.

Moreover, there should be enough space behind the seat to store a milk crate, a bucket, or a box to keep your stuff. Bungee tie-downs that criss-cross the well are a great addition that spare you constant clasping and unclasping.

As a rule of thumb, your kayak’s weight capacity should be 100 pounds more than your weight and the weight of your equipment combined. This is to ensure that it has enough capacity to support you and your belongings.

6. Comfort

When you’re out on a fishing trip, it’s likely that you’ll spend hours on end in your kayak, and that’s why you should look for maximum comfort.

This includes the seat, which should be padded and adjustable. One with lower back support would also maximize comfort along with adjustable footrests that provide proper knee position for effective paddling. If your seat has mesh covers, it’ll add breathability and make the seat more tolerable on warmer days.

Moreover, you should look for self-draining scuppers, especially ones that are located at the lowest point of the cockpit, to provide thorough draining.

Final Thoughts

While the six options I’ve picked out are all qualified to be the best fishing kayak under $400, there are one or two that stand out.

For one, the Sun Dolphin Excursion suits anyone that’s looking to get a little bit of everything -affordability, storage space, portability, and capacity.

However, if you’re really tight on budget and want a lightweight option as well, I’d recommend the Intex Explorer K2.

The Sea Eagle 370 Pro is the best option if you’re going to be fishing on choppy waters and in rugged conditions.