2018 Best Sit-In Kayak (Under $500!)

What’s The Best Sit-In Kayak for $500

If you’re like me and you don’t like being on top, a sit-in kayak is probably for you.  This isn’t a list of the BEST kayak out there, it’s a list of the BEST sit-in kayak UNDER $500.  Being on the lower end of the price range, these are all very well made and will do great with typical, recreational use.

With a sit-in kayak, you do usually gain more storage space.  Having extra storage like this is great for multi-day kayak camping trips and single day adventures.  If you’re checking out this list then you’ve probably already decided on a sit-in kayak.  Great choice!  If you’re getting a kayak to take camping, check out our kayak camping gear list for some tips.

You may have read the article Best Sit On Top Kayaks for under $300, and you may be wondering why the sit-in list is more expensive.  Sure, there are probably enough kayaks under $300 to make a list, but nothing I’d recommend.  So I had to raise the minimum up just a tad.

If however, you can afford just another $100 more than that, at the bottom of the article is my choice for the best sit-in kayak for under $600!

Anyway, here’s the list, in no particular order, for the Best Sit-In Kayak Under $500!

Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-In Kayak

Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-In Kayak
Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-In Kayak (Citrus)

Available in 7 vibrant colors, the Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-In Kayak is great for anyone wanting to get started with kayaking.  It has a 250 lb. weight limit, but people have stated it holds slightly more.  It’s 10 feet long and weighs about 40 lbs.  You should have little problems loading, unloading and carrying this kayak.

It features a large open cockpit which makes it convenient getting in and out.  Once you properly position your feet with the adjustable footrests, you can rest your thighs on the protective pads.  Having these thigh pads make long paddles much more comfortable.

Behind the padded and adjustable seat is a storage compartment.  Shock cord deck rigging is strategically placed for holding down your gear. It includes a water bottle holder, carrying handles and a paddle holder.  

Sun Dolphin Boats have been making kayaks for years.  This kayak, along with most, is made from a High-Density Polyethylene material making it very durable.  

Check prices here for the Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-in Kayak

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Vapor 10 Kayak

Old Town Vapor 10 Sit-In Kayak (Sunrise)
Old Town Vapor 10 Sit-In Kayak (Sunrise)

Doing your research and poking around forums, you’ve probably heard of Old Town Canoes.  Since 1898 they’ve been making boats of some kind.  With those many years of experience, you can bet they build some quality products.  

At only 10 ft., this kayak can hold it’s own with a 325 lb weight capacity.  Features like an adjustable comfort flex seat and Glide Track foot bracing system, make this kayak the perfect choice for any beginner.  From fishing at your favorite lake to an afternoon trip down the creek, paddling around on this Old Town Vapor will be a blast. 

The Vapor 10 also has a drain plug which isn’t typical of most sit-in kayaks.  It’s a very nice addition that can save you time once you’ve taken on water.  If you have help, the built-in carry handles make transporting easier.  You may need a little help too since this thing weighs 47 lbs.  

Another cool feature of the large cockpit is the molded tray.  It’s almost like a mini dashboard for your kayak.  You can have your water bottle resting in the holder and an energy bar in the tray.  Very convenient.  

The one drawback to the Vapor is the lack of storage.  The only area for gear storage is the stern dry well.  It’s basically a molded “pocket” in the rear of the kayak.  As you can see in the picture, it’s not a very large space and has no lid.  Since there’s no lid, anything in here would need to be strapped down (no strapping provided).  Even without the larger storage space, this is still a great sit-in kayak for under $500.  

Check prices here for the Old Town Vapor 10 kayak.

Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Kayak

Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Kayak
Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Kayak (Red)

Another Sun Dolphin Kayak, the Aruba SS is the bigger brother.  Your weight capacity increased to a whopping 395 lbs!  Like the Old Town, this one weighs 47 lbs, which puts it on the slightly heavier side.  The retractable carry handles make a quick job of transporting and won’t get in the way.

At 12′, this kayak tracks very well while still providing maximum stability.  The large padded seat and thigh pads make paddling all day, painless and enjoyable.  The foot braces are adjustable as well.  

If you like kayak fishing, the Aruba SS has flush mount fishing rod holders already installed for you.  These are great if you’re like me and want as many lines in the water as you can.  

With the Aruba SS, you’ll get front and rear storage as well as deck strapping to hold down any loose gear.  The side paddle holder is a lifesaver when you need an extra hand.  I don’t know how many times I’ve relied on a paddle holder so I could feed my face.  

If you’re looking for something to paddle the lakes and rivers and maybe do some fishing, check prices here for the Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Kayak

Dagger Zydeco 9.0 Kayak

Dagger Zydeco 9.0 (Freeze)
Dagger Zydeco 9.0 (Freeze)

Owning a Dagger myself, I can certainly attest to their durability and performance.  As you can see with the name, this kayak is 9 ft long.  It weighs almost 37 lbs but only has a 220 lb weight capacity.  So if you’re a larger guy or gal, check out one above or keep reading to see what my top pick, under $600 is.

Dagger has been making kayaks for years and their products are great.  A Dagger Zydeco was the first kayak I ever bought.  I’ve had it down Class III rapids and it took me on a 43-mile solo camping trip.  

The adjustable seats are very comfortable and I never walked away with back pain.  Even after an entire day of paddling down a river, fighting currents and hitting rapids, nothing would hurt when I got to camp.  

Unfortunately for the Zydeco 9.0, there is no real storage.  There is deck strapping that you can use to hold down some gear, but no storage compartments at all to speak of.  Little disappointing for me, but if you don’t need the extra storage, then this is one of my top picks.  Check prices here for the Dagger Zydeco 9.0 Kayak.

The Best Sit-In Kayak Under $600 is…

Well thanks, you’ve made it this far.  Or maybe you just read the top and skipped right on down here.  Either way, I appreciate it.

So my very top pick for a sit-in kayak on a slightly larger budget is the Dagger Zydeco.  

“Wait… You said that was under $500…”

 It is, and it isn’t.  When I said my first kayak was a Zydeco, it was, but it was the Zydeco 11.0. Check it out!

Dagger Zydeco 11.0 Kayak

Best Sit-In Kayak Under $600
Dagger Zydeco 11.0 Sit in Kayak

Just like it’s smaller sibling, the Zydeco 11.0 is a very sturdy and durable kayak made by Dagger.  Adding the 2 ft. provides enough rear storage for a waterproof storage well.  As I’ve said before, even though it says waterproof, always use waterproof bags.  

Being longer, the weight limit increased to 325 lbs.  That’s more my style.  Not that I’m 325 lbs, but I do like to carry a lot of stuff when I camp.  I like my stuff and the Zydeco lets me bring it.  I’ve had gear strapped to the top and the well stuffed to the top and I never toppled.  

The seat is truly a comfortable feeling.  It really makes you sit properly which in turn makes your paddling stronger I feel.  

I do love this kayak and I occasionally bring it down the lake to paddle around and do some fishing.  It tracks extremely well and honestly, I’ve never lost my balance in it.  I’ve certainly come close PLENTY of times, just never taken the plunge.  I really recommend this one if you can afford to up your budget $100.  Check prices here for the Dagger Zydeco 11.0 Kayak.

Too Many Choices!

Now I’ve laid out the nominees for best sit-in kayak for under $500, who’s the winner?  Just like youth sports today, they all get trophies!  

Honestly, all of these kayaks are going to be great for a beginner who wants to paddle around on lakes and rivers.  The real choice you need to make is what features you like more.  Does having the extra storage appeal to you?  If so, I’d go with Aruba SS.  

There are plenty of shops around that actually rent out kayaks if you want to test them out first.  If this is an option for you, I’d suggest you do it.  Nothing can explain the feeling of sitting inside a kayak quite like sitting in a kayak.  Usually, for under around $50, you can give it a shot before committing. 

Did I leave out a good sit-in kayak under $500?

Jamie Wilkinson

I'm a fervent lover of the great outdoors, having spent countless hours soaking in the tranquility and beauty that nature offers. My passion for kayaking and camping has led me to explore numerous waterways and campgrounds, each journey adding to my treasure trove of experiences. Through KayakCampingWorld.com, I aim to share these adventures and insights with you. My hope is to inspire fellow outdoor enthusiasts and provide valuable guidance, whether you're paddling your first kayak or setting up camp for the hundredth time. Dive into my articles, and let's embark on this outdoor journey together!

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