Whenever it is time to make a big purchase there is a big decision to make.
Well before choosing among the different models and browsing the offer, most people ask themselves whether to pick the cheaper, budget-friendly option or to go high-end and choose something more expensive.
The same is true for cars, modern gadgets and devices, and even for homes.
Even with smaller purchases, it is often difficult to choose, like with clothes and groceries. Do you go cheap or do you go expensive, and why?
Picking the right kayak is no different. Kayaking, as an activity, depends entirely on what kind of vessel you choose.
Different kayaks mean different features as well as things that you can do in them.
Not all of them are meant for fishing, nor are all meant for touring and exploring.
If you wish to start paddling in rivers, lakes, and seas, you must first decide whether to invest in a more expensive kayak or pick a cheaper option.
And to do that, you have to know what the differences between the two are.
Plenty of Difference
As it turns out, cheap and expensive kayaks have a lot of differences between themselves and it is not just about saving money and buying the more affordable option.
While budget-friendly and bargain options do exist, those that are more expensive simply offer more. It is not often that the high-end choice comes with actually useful advantages.
With other items and commodities, you pay for the brand and for fancy features that are not that usable or useful.
When kayaks are concerned though, what you pay for is what you get which is why buying expensive makes sense.
This however does not mean that cheaper options are not that good. Also, you need to pay attention is it the kayak short or long.
On the contrary, as they simply have fewer features or are less usable in certain situations.
They do not have everything that more expensive kayaks have but they still float, they are capable, and they will get you across the water or keep you on it for however long you want.
However, they are still lacking when compared to the expensive models and in more ways than one.
The best and most commonly used kayaks in this day and age are all made from sturdy, tough, and durable plastic called polyethylene.
It can withstand direct rock and timber hits, it is resistant to the elements and has UV protection, and it is the go-to choice for most modern vessels.
Rough waters are no match for this material and the hulls are made from a single piece, meaning there is nothing to fall apart.
On the other hand, cheaper kayaks are made from cheaper plastic that is not nearly as durable or resistant. It scratches, cracks, breaks, and will last incomparably shorter.
It gets ruined with prolonged UV exposure and not all of these kayaks are made from a single piece of plastic.
Various composites exist but none are as good and reliable as polyethylene. Sure, wooden and inflatable kayaks do exist, but they are not so much a price choice but more of a style or use option.
Again, this is not a universal truth but more expensive kayaks usually look cooler and are designed better than cheaper models.
Less time goes into manufacturing cheaper commodities and the brand behind them favors quantity over quality.
Not with the expensive kayaks though. They look sleek, interesting, and appealing, which all easily attract customers.
A poorly designed kayak is also less fun to handle, carry, and store. Smart design does not only mean good aesthetics but also fundamentals.
Nothing is frustrating or lacking and everything makes sense. Cheap models do float, they are fun to paddle, but that feeling of needing more at every corner never goes away.
This of course is not the case when you invest a bit more and go with the more expensive option.
Expensive kayaks have one of the most important features that kayakers should care about, the dedicated seat.
Regardless of whether it is a sit-inside kayak or a sit-on-top one, a dedicated seat that is adjustable, removable, and most of all comfortable is what you want.
Kayaks without dedicate seats are not at all comfortable as there is no cushioning for the bottom nor the lower back.
Cheaper kayaks save you money but they only have a molded area in the cockpit of the hull where you sit down.
The size of this “seat” may be the same and more than satisfactory, but it is still plastic and there are no features on it. If you plan to fish by kayak check our article.
If you plan to spend hours at a time in your kayak, you need something more serious. It is not just about the seat either but food pedals too which make all the difference for longer trips.
Last but not least, there are the features of the kayak you are browsing.
For most paddlers it is the features that draw in most of their interest and make them choose the kayak. This is especially true for dedicated features that favor a certian activity.
For example, fishing kayaks are more expensive tha regular, recreational models for a reason.
They come equipped with everything a fisherman needs, from ample storage room in the front, back, and in the water-sealed hatches, to bungee ropes and carry handles throughout.
Of course, they also have non-slip floors, spray skirts, rod holders, and cup molds.
Whitewater kayaks are more expensive than recreational and inflatable, even some fishing models. Touring kayaks tend to be the most expensive on average, but there are less of them to choose from.
Then there are special kayaks that can turn into sailboats, those that fit 2 or even 3 and 4 paddlers, and various extra features like pedals, anchor systems, and canopies.
All of these come as attractive features but those kayaks do cost more. Basic, stock models do not have them and all you can do is sit inside, bring a little bit of stuff with you, and paddle away.
Specialized varieties have always cost more and the same is trye for kayaks. It will ultimately come down to what you need from the vessel you but and what you need from it.
Do not try to save a few hundred bucks as you wil only grow to regret it later.