How Much Does Kayaking Cost?

Everybody talks about how much fun it is to go kayaking. The numerous health benefits and how it brings you face to face with the finest nature has to offer. But how much does it set you back? How much does kayaking cost? 

Let’s find out.

How Much Does It Cost To Go Kayaking?

It can cost you less than a hundred dollars to a few more if you want to rent a kayak and gear. If you would rather own your kayak and other necessary gear, you are looking at a thousands-dollar expense. 

Below is a breakdown of the gear you will need for a successful kayaking expedition and how much you will need to shelve. It is divided into kayaking essentials (gear you can not do without) and extras. 

Kayaking Essentials

1. The Kayak

2. A Paddle

3. A Floatation Device
4. Licensing

5. Transportation

1. The Kayak

The kayak is, without a doubt, the central piece of the puzzle. You can not get any kayaking done if you do not have a kayak. How much you will spend on a kayak depends on the type of kayak, which is determined by your expectations of the kayaking trip. 

The type of kayak you need to part waves is different from one that allows you to navigate the swamp taking in all the wildlife. 

Below are the different types of kayaks, where they thrive and what they cost. 

Whitewater Kayak

This type of kayak is designed for quick turns on rocky courses. It is not beginner-friendly, so you might need to take some courses before investing in a whitewater kayak. The speed at which this kayak travels and the bumpy nature of whitewater require you to invest in a quality helmet when shopping for whitewater yaks.  

This type of kayak costs at least $700 and could be as much as $1500, sometimes more. 

Recreational Kayak

Recreational kayaks are short, about ten inches in length, which results in relatively poor tracking compared to the other kayak types. Tracking is the ability of the kayak to continue in a forward motion when you stop paddling. Although tracking is less important with this type of kayak as it is not built for speed but a slow cruise on the water. 

This kayak type costs at least $200 and could be as much as $1000, sometimes more. 

Touring Kayak

Touring kayaks are relatively long, with a lot of room to carry your gear at incredible speeds and much longer distances. If you are looking to go on a trip in a kayak, the touring is just for you as it tracks better than the recreational or whitewater kayak. 

It is the most costly of all the kayak types, coming in at $800 and can be as much as $2500, and in some cases more. 

2. A Paddle

After deciding what type of kayak you need, the next crucial decision is to choose a paddle. You cannot go kayaking without a paddle unless you are okay with being carried about on the water by the currents. 

Choosing a paddle is not a walk in the park. There are several factors to consider. These include the length of the paddle, the material it is made from, the feathering of the blade and the shaft design. 

The most important consideration, which significantly influences the pricing, is the paddle’s material. Below are the different materials paddles as made from and how much they cost: 

Carbon Fiber Paddles

Carbon fiber paddles are the premium. They offer kayakers the most performance due to their lightweight, durable build. They will not break under stress and make it easy to paddle the kayak. 

It costs between $80 and $300.

Fiberglass Paddles

Fiberglass is mid-range, better than plastic, and not as good as carbon fiber. A paddle with just enough flex, not too heavy and relatively durable. There are reports that this paddle-type can chip but is unlikely to crack. It is for aspiring pro kayakers not yet ready to commit to a carbon fiber paddle investment. 

This paddle-type would set you back between $30 and $90. 

Plastic Paddles

These are the most affordable of the three. It is the preferred option for recreational kayakers who are not going anywhere in a hurry but looking to glide slowly on the water. The plastic nature of the paddle makes it susceptible to sun damage and can also crack during use. 

Plastic paddles cost between $25 and $80.

3. A Floatation Device

Many states mandate that adults and children alike have personal floatation devices (PFD) on their person on or around the water. It matters little if you are a good swimmer; you should have a PFD to cover unforeseen, unfavorable conditions. 

There is not much customization as far as PFDs are concerned. The only difference is sizing, with slight variation in price for free, small, medium and large sizes. Regardless, it would cost between $40 and $150 to own a personal floatation device. 

4. Licensing

Some states require you to have a license before putting a watercraft, motorized or not, on their waterways. These licenses are usually very affordable. An example is the Ohio waterway permit that costs approximately $25 for three years. Failure to obtain one of these could see you face hefty fines.

5. Transportation

There’s also that small matter of transporting your kayak to and away from the water. Unless you have a truck or a vehicle with a lot of trunk space, you are left with very few options but to buy a kayak rack. Depending on where you go kayaking, you might need to have two racks. One for where you launch and the other for where you exit the water. Each cost between $40 and $200. 


You do not fundamentally need to have this equipment when kayaking, but having them sure makes for a better kayaking experience. They include but are not limited to the following: 

1. Storage

2. Dry Bags

3. Seat Upgrade

4. Spray Skirt

1. Storage

When you are off the water, you need a safe space to keep your kayak away from curious animals looking to make a home out of your kayak. You don’t want to abandon it outside in the backyard at nature’s mercy. The solution is to invest in wall hooks or freestanding rack for between $40 and $300.  

2. Dry Box

If you want to keep your mobile phone and other effects away from water, you must invest in a dry box. And if you will be on the water for an extended period and have lots of supplies that must stay dry, you should consider getting a dry bag. Bags are much bigger than boxes, which costs between $7 and $25. 

3. Seat Upgrade

The seats with most kayaks are not bad, but they can get better. You can get replacement seats with more padding that afford you more comfort when on the water for between $25 and $100. 

4. Spray Skirt

If your expedition requires you to move fast across the water or in rough waters, you will get a lot of water in your kayak. You can either interrupt your kayaking to remove the water from your kayak, put up with the water which would get uncomfortable or buy a spray skirt to keep the water and cool air away from your lower body. A quality spray skirt will set you back $30 to $100. 

When Should You Rent a Kayak and Other Gear?

You should rent a kayak when you are not yet convinced how much of your time you want to spend kayaking. If it is still a budding hobby and you are yet to develop any long-term skills, you should consider renting a kayak instead. Spending a fortune before you are sure is a highway filled with regrets. 

What Are the Advantages of Owning a Kayak?

Owning a kayak means you get to take things at your own pace. You can be on the water as early or late. You can paddle for as long as you want and visit all the waterways you want.

Unlike tours where there are schedules, your kayaking experience is whatever you make it into. The freedom to decide whatever, go wherever, whenever, is why you need to own a kayak.

What Are the Disadvantages of Owning a Kayak?

The disadvantage of owning a kayak is storage. You will need to haul your kayak everywhere you go, unlike a rental where you just show up, and all you need is right there, but for $50 to $100 an hour.


How much it costs to go kayaking is not fixed. It depends on the type of expedition you are looking to have and how much comfort you want on the water. If you are a casual kayaker, you can do with some of the affordable kayaking options listed above. But if you are a kayaking professional, you will have to splurge a little. Have fun on the water!