In an email we received, a person asked, “What is the least expensive 12 foot kayak?”. This was the extent of the question. This vagueness makes it very hard to lead this person to the best possible choice.
If we take the question at face value our email response we would have recommenced the cheapest inflatable kayak we could find. Not giving any consideration to anything else. Pictured below is the Sea Eagle 330 (Priced: $299).
The Sea Eagle pictured above could be the perfect choice for the person who wrote us the email but it very well might not be. Maybe, they wanted a sit-on-top, a hardshell, a single seat kayak. If so, this would not be the right choice.
In our opinion the person who emailed us with the question, “What is the least expensive 12 foot kayak?” is probably a beginner, who is buying their first kayak. It’s not their fault but due to being green behind the ears about kayaking, they lacked the knowledge and terminology to be more specific in their question.
If you are also a beginner here are a few questions to think about and maybe do a little research on to understand better:
- Style of kayak? A sit-on-top (SOT) or sit inside? Tandem seats or one seat?
- Specific water activities? recreational, fishing, touring?
- Water environment? calm lakes, bays, ocean surf, whitewater?
- Is an inflatable kayak acceptable or do you want a hardshell?
- Maximum amount of money willing to spend?
More 12 foot recommendations
We showed the Sea Eagle 330 at the top of the page. We were not using this model as an example to make fun of it. This inflatable has received very positive reviews. Rather, we use it to demonstrate how difficult it is to answer the question about 12 foot kayaks since many different types and styles exist.
Because of the numerous choices we replied with a list of recommendation trying to cover the entire gambit of different styles and water activities while keeping the prices as low as possible. Below you will find a handful of the least expensive 12 ft kayaks available.
The list includes a variety of styles from: sit-on-top (SOT) to sit-inside. Also tandem (2 seats)seats, solo one seat models and we believe their is even a 3 seats on the list. You will find inflatable and hardshell models good for a variety of water environments ( lakes, bays, rivers, ocean surf, whitewater) and a variety of activities: recreational, fishing, touring.
Sun Dolphin Bali ss sit-on-top 12 ft – Recreational
The Sun Dolphin Bali is a great family sit-on top recreational kayak. It’s light weight at 44 lbs. It’s wide, providing great stability for beginners, the large cockpit makes for easy entry and exit. Plenty of owners have left their opinions in reviews.
Sun Dolphin Journey SS Kayak 12 ft – Fishing Kayak
What can we say about the Sun Dolphin Journey sit-on-top that wasn’t already said above about the Bali model? If you look closely at the pictures of the Journey below and the Bali above you should notice the hulls and the design of the cockpits and storage space provided are identical. The only difference is the Journey 12 ft model includes a swivel fishing rod holder in the center. This is considered a fishing kayak.
Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 ft sit inside kayak
Besides being a sit-inside, if you look closely at the image of the Sun Dolphin Aruba below and compare it’s design to the Bali and Journey models above you should also be able to tell this has an identical design.
Are Sun Dolphins a good brand to buy? These are entry-level kayaks. The three models listed above (Bali, Journey, Aruba) each have a price of around $400 – 450. They have receive high overall reviews and do provide quality at their pric point. Great kayaks for beginners who want something inexpensive to learn with before they decide to upgrade to something more expensive.
Pelican Apex 130T Kayak – For Recreation
Is the Pelican Apex 130T a good tandem kayak to buy? The overall score this model has received from customers is 4 out of 5 stars. Reading over reviews it’s always confusing when you hear one person write about it having great stability but then the next guy claims it’s not stable. Read all the reviews.
AIRHEAD AHTK-2 Montana Performance 2 Person Kayak
For the price ($310) the AIRHEAD AHTK-2 Montana 2 Person Kayak provides great value. It is designed to paddle on the calm waters of a lake but also can handle moderate whitewater. It’s light weight and can be stuffed in a duffel bag, making it very portable. It’s extermely stable on the water and can carry up to 500 pounds. See more details and reviews.
Coleman Big Basin TM 3 Person Kayak
This three person kayak is priced under three hundred dollars (retail price: $323). The day we added this model to our website it had received a prefect 5 out of 5 stars rating from customers. Although this only included 5 reviewers in total. The manufacture rates this inflatable model for use in lakes and easy flowing rivers. We are not claiming this is the perfect three men model but its worth taking a look at if you are interested in 3 seats. Product details and reviews.
Old Town Vapor 12XT Kayak
Available in three different bright colors: Black Cherry, Yellow and Sunrise. These bright colors stand out on the water and provide an added level of safety. Overall, Old Town Vapor provides versatility on the water. It will handle any water environment lakes, rivers, or ocean. It’s great for beginners and experienced paddlers. See the best price.
Advanced Elements Lagoon 2 Two Seat Sit-Inside Kayak
The Lagoon 2 is a high performance kayak built to seat two people. No matter if you want to paddle in a lake or in the rougher waters of rivers and ocean surf the Lagoon 2 with its rigid bow and stern reinforcements is going to perform well. This model is priced at $450.
The least expensive 12 ft kayak – Conclusion
Most of the 12 ft kayak models listed above are $400 – 450. I believe there’s one model under $300 and also a model above $500. I am trying to keep quality in mind as well as low price. If these are too expensive then you might be above to find an inflatable for under $200 this might be what you are looking for if you only want a water toy/floating device.
If you want to do even semi-serious kayaking you will more than likely need to spend at least around $400 – 450.