You find yourself dreaming of days spent out on the open water. Perhaps you want to fish all alone do find true peace and relaxation. Maybe you’re more of an adventure enthusiast and want to paddle down river rapids. You may just be looking for something new and different. But to do so on a kayak you’ll first want to consider how much does kayaking cost. Knowing some tips before you go on your adventure can help to save you loads of money when experiencing this popular sport.
How Much Does Kayaking Cost?
Whatever the case is, kayaking could be a great new hobby you should consider. You may want to give it a test run before fully sinking your teeth in, but kayaking can open your adventure world up to all sorts of new opportunity. It’s important to understand the costs associated with kayaking, so consider renting versus buying before diving into any investments head first.
To Rent or to Buy: That is the Question
When getting started in the new adventure of kayaking, you may not know if you want to go all in and start buying all your gear, or if you’d rather rent when you want to explore the parts unknown. You may consider renting a few times to get the feel for the sport, and can always begin investing in your newfound hobby later on.
Renting your kayak
Renting is a valuable option in the event that you aren’t sure you’ll fully enjoy kayaking. We think you’ll love it, but just in case. Additionally, if you don’t have the capital to fully invest in your own equipment yet, renting could be a great money saving option while still getting to feed into your adventure seeking side.
Renting a kayak is incredibly reasonable on the wallet. Most venues will charge between $15 and $20 a day per rental. Depending on the plans of your excursion, you could face more fees and costs for additional equipment and gear. A lot of times, renting gives you the options of taking part in different activities offered at the same venue. These could rack up your costs, though, so be sure to consider that in your planning.
Renting your kayak also provides some advantages you may not have considered if you’re just getting into kayaking. Shuttling your kayak to specific launch locations could prove more difficult if you own your kayak. Most venues include shuttling with your rental, but just paying for the shuttle system if you own could cost you the same if not more than renting itself.
General transportation of your kayak could be problematic. You either need car racks or a truck to haul your kayaks and gear, so if you don’t have those or can’t invest, rental is the way to go. Storing your kayak during transport is also worrisome. It’s never fun to worry about the safety of your gear when parking your vehicle and moving out of sight to eat or sleep while traveling.
Storing your kayaks can be a task at home, too, if you are limited on space. The sun can wear down the material your vessel is made of, so you’ll want to keep it out of the elements. Is apartment living your current situation? You may want to just stick to renting unless you think a kayak can double as some large wall art.
Renting your kayak can be rewarding for your trip because the rental venue may have some tips or information regarding current conditions that you wouldn’t have access to if you just pulled up and launched into the water. It should also go without saying that being able to pull your boat out of the water and leave without the packing it back up sounds really great too.
Buying your Kayak
Buying your kayak and gear allows you to personalize your craft to your specific sporting plans. Want to kayak for leisure? Fishing? Rapid running? If you purchase your own vessel, you can do whatever makes your heart happy on the open water.
Another reason you may want to opt for making your own purchase is to avoid standard and worn out boats. The rentals are usually all run of the mill kayaks, unless you seek out a spot with specific sports in mind and relevant equipment. These are also replaced infrequently and used by amateurs, so the odds of them being a little worse for the wear are high.
Some rental locations have limited renting hours and are even only opened during peak seasons. How does one stay constricted to particular time of day or year when the open water awaits? Buying your own gear, the gear you want and need for your adventures, may be the best option if you want to dive into your new passion at any given time.
Buying a Kayak: The Costs
Once you’ve decided that you’re going to buy your equipment, you’ll need to figure out exactly what you want. What type of sport do you plan to take on? Will you be floating and enjoying the sun? Will you be fishing? Rafting through the rapids on a river excursion? These details will make a difference in your equipment and costs.
Different types of kayaks
When it comes to kayaks, the cost for the vessel itself will vary greatly depending on the type of sport you’re planning on doing. Kayaks are not all the same, and therefore will be different in how much pricey they can get.
Recreational kayaks are exactly what you need if you’re planning to take a leisurely ride on a simple and calmer body of water. These kayaks are typically made of plastic and can even be inflatable. They are typically on the less expensive end of the spectrum and usually don’t have as much storage as the kayaks made for sport.
Inflatable recreation kayaks are available for less than $100. Keep in mind that inflatable kayak options could be easily damages and patching the kayak could add up as well. Hard plastic versions can start at around $200 and go up from there depending on size and features.
Touring or Sea kayaks are made for use in large lakes and the ocean. These vessels typically have more storage for longer voyages, and are made of more stable structuring. Touring kayaks will start to run you into the thousands, starting right around one grand and growing depending on the features and specifications.
Sporting or whitewater kayaks will vary depending on what exactly you need them for. Some can be made with extra strong and durable materials while others may be inflatable but made to last in rough waters. Sometimes the flexibility of an inflatable craft works in favor of the sport. The cost in these may run around $500, but could vary greatly. Sturdier crafts, such as this action kayak, could run closer to $1000.
In the event that you aren’t making your kayaking trips solo, a tandem kayak may be a wise investment for you and your kayaking partner to make. These change the on-board dynamic, but could save your cash for other gear if splitting the cost. Tandem kayaks will vary based on the sport and all of the material and style options. Most will begin around $800 for a good tandem kayak.
Be sure to check out our article about How To Choose the Right Kayak for Your Adventure for more details and what you should look for when purchasing a kayak.
Kayaks won’t always include your paddling gear with the boat itself. If this is the case for the craft you choose to purchase, you’ll need to invest in a good paddle set as well. Just as with the kayaks, paddles will vary in cost based on material they are made from and the sport you are looking for. A leisurely kayaking trip wouldn’t call for the extremely sturdy and durable paddles that rapid rafting would.
On average a simple paddle set with cost you around $40. As with anything, the fancier or more specialized you get, the more expensive a paddle set will get, such as this paddle that is more specialized for rapids and more intense sporting ventures. This one only runs up to $65, but keep in mind that every expense will add up, so make sure you shop around and look into exactly what you will need.
Other items that you may find aren’t included with a kayak purchase could be an anchor, paddle floats or leashes, etc . An anchor set could be fairly simple, but you’ll want to shop around to make sure you’re getting something appropriate for your boating location and craft. Some simple kits could run around $30, so you aren’t looking at a huge expense here. Paddle leashes are also relatively simple and shouldn’t cost too much, like this deal found at just $12. There are many things that you should consider when determining which kayak paddle is right for you.
Initially, you probably wouldn’t think about towing your kayak. Once you get the boat, you’ll realize that this is no easy task unless you have the right vehicle. You may need to explore your options in how to haul your kayaks, including looking at car racks like these that can run around $200, or even special dollies such as this one, which will also rack up your cost some.
It Pays to stay Safe
It should go without saying that safety equipment will be a must for any novice or experienced kayaker. This being said, you will have to invest in all the necessary safety gear and kayak accessories when outfitting your very own kayak. You’ll need to account for these costs ahead of time so that you can include them in your planning budget.
A personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket is, hands down, the most important piece of safety gear you will need. The cost of a PFD can vary greatly, so you’ll need to shop around to see what type you want and what is best suited for your needs. Here is a great option to get started with, but depending on the details, you can look at $85-250 spent for a nice life jacket.
A few other small items you may want to keep aboard your new kayak could include a small first aid kit, a compass, and a flare. You can also opt for an air horn or whistle for emergency situations. These items are all relatively low priced, but they are necessary expenses nonetheless.
Based on an average cost of these small items, you won’t break the bank, but you could be looking at an additional $100-200 just for the necessary kayak safety items. Peace of mine has no cost and it’s always better to be prepared than to be up the creek without a paddle… or a whistle to alert anyone you’re stuck.
Aside from the must haves, you’ll need to evaluate the additional gear you plan to take with you on the open water. If you’re planning to take up kayak fishing, you’ll need all the necessary gear and tackle to take with you. For rapid rafting, you may need additional safety gear and a helmet depending on the severity of the rapids. And of course you’ll need a kayak camera to share the videos with your friends.
Keep in mind that these things will all add to your costs, but are necessary for your new hobby! More than likely, these would all add to the cost of kayak rental as well, so buying them to have would likely save you money in the long term. It won’t hurt to roughly estimate both of your options to compare. The goal is just getting you out on the water!
Regardless of how much you spend, keep in mind that you are investing in a rewarding hobby that you’re already interested in if you’re here reading up on how much does kayaking cost you. If you’re brand new to kayaking, start simple and test the waters, (see what we did there?), to determine what direction you may want to go in. There’s no sense in spending a ton of money on special equipment if you aren’t 100% sure that’s something you’re going to use.