Kayaking is becoming more and more popular as people seek to get in touch with nature and go on more adventures. It’s a hobby that’s simple to learn and one that allows you to escape the rush of your day-to-day. If you want to get started in kayaking, you’ll first need to buy a kayak. You might not know exactly where to start, but it’s not too complicated. Buying the right kayak for your needs requires a lot of research. First, you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to use your kayak. If you need some help in this area, check out our best kayaks of 2018, which have been broken down by use type and price. After you’ve determined how you’re going to use your kayak and set a budget for how much you want to spend, you’ll need to find the best places to buy your new boat.
How We Picked the Best Places to Buy A Kayak Retailers
Quality: Before you purchase a kayak from any retailer, make sure they sell only the highest of quality. Many kayak retailers, especially online retailers, sell “factory seconds” kayaks at much lower prices. While the lower price may be extra enticing, you’ll want to be careful that you aren’t getting a defective product.
For the most part, the retailers we listed here only sell new kayaks. However, places like Amazon and Walmart allow third-party vendors to sell kayaks through their websites. These vendors may sell second-hand kayaks, so be sure to read the descriptions carefully. In general, it’s best to avoid purchasing through third-party sellers on these websites.
Selection: There are tons of different kayaks on the market. Even further, all kayaks are separated into specific categories. Retailers don’t typically carry all the different types of kayaks, so if you’re looking for something specific, make sure the retailer carries at least some of those options.
Online retailers like Amazon offer the most selection, but brick and mortar stores like REI and Cabelas offer selection and versatility in the form of online and in-store stock.
Price: Kayaks can get expensive, especially if you’re looking to purchase a specialized type. Price naturally ties into quality, and as we mentioned in that section, some retailers sell factory seconds. These are lower in price but may cost more in future maintenance or overall durability. Most major sporting goods retailers like REI and Cabela’s sell brand new kayaks. Online or brick and mortar retailers that offer steep discounts may be selling factory seconds.
Price can vary greatly, mostly depending on the type of kayak you’re purchasing. Inflatable kayaks start around $200 for entry-level options and can cost upwards of $1,800 for specialized fishing or whitewater options. Plastic kayaks cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000. Fiberglass kayaks, which are the highest quality and most durable, cost anywhere in the range of $1,000 – $3,000. The best retailers offer a wide variety of pricing to fit anyone’s budget.
Return Policy: Don’t forget to read through the store’s return policy, especially if it’s an online store. Kayaks are big items, and they can be expensive to ship. Most stores will allow you to return the kayak you buy within 30 days, at a minimum. The best retailers offer 90-day return policies, such as Walmart.
If the retailer offers both brick and mortar and online options, they should allow you to return online purchases in store as well as ship it back to the warehouse.
Our #1 Pick: REI
Bottom Line: REI is one of the most well-known outdoor retailers in the world. Founded in 1938, this sporting goods store is backed by tons of history and lots of expertise. REI offers the best return policy we could find. You can return all products within a year of purchase. You can also purchase kayaks in-store or online, and you can return kayaks the same way. If customer service is important to you, REI offers some of the best in the business, and you can get a hold of support through online chat, email, or phone lines. Return Policy: 1 year Pros
- Free in-store pickup
- Free shipping on orders over $49.99
- Excellent customer service and return policy
- Lack of whitewater kayaks
- $35 oversized delivery charge
Our #2 Pick: Amazon
Bottom Line: Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the world. They offer a huge selection of kayaks, and you can find kayaks ranging from recreational to whitewater kayaks. If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping, even on large items like kayaks. You’ll also usually be able to find lower prices here than anywhere else. While Amazon has a solid 30-day return policy, the actual returns process can take a while, and you’ll be responsible for paying return shipping unless Amazon is at fault. Return Policy: 30 days Pros
- Huge selection
- Free shipping with Amazon Prime
- Prices lower than most retailers
- Returns can take up to 25 days to process
- You are responsible for paying return shipping unless Amazon is at fault
- Some selections are low quality
Our #3 Pick: Cabela’s
Bottom Line: Cabela’s is another major player in the sporting goods game. Cabela’s has excellent customer service, both in their stores and online, which serves as a great help if you ever need it. Since this company is so large, you can expect to find a large selection of kayaks in-store and online. Unfortunately, they don’t offer much in the way of whitewater kayaks. Cabela’s offers a 90-day return policy, which is better than many other retailers. Return Policy: 90 days Pros
- Large selection
- Backed by superior customer service
- In store and online purchasing options
- No whitewater kayaks
- Return shipping deducted from the return credit
Our #4 Pick: Dick’s Sporting Goods
Bottom Line: Dick’s Sporting Goods offers a good variety of kayaks, but they don’t offer much in the way of specialized categories like whitewater or touring kayaks. Their pricing can sometimes be higher than other companies, but they offer a good price matching promise. All you need to do is provide a competitor’s ad or website. Return Policy: 60 days Pros
- In store and online purchasing options
- Price matching
- Good customer service, both online and in store
- Shipping is expensive
- Recreation and fishing options only
Our #5 Pick: Walmart
Bottom Line: You might be surprised to learn that Walmart sells a wide variety of kayaks, both in-store and online. However, be aware that Walmart partners with third-party sellers to sell kayaks on their website. If you’re not careful, you could buy a kayak from a second-rate seller. Walmart offers a stellar return policy of 90 days and free shipping to and pick up from a Walmart store. Return Policy: 90 days Pros
- Lots of options
- Support of a huge brand
- Free in-store pickup
- Not all kayaks sold and shipped by Walmart
- No specialized options
Best Place to Buy A Kayak: Find the Best Kayak Prices & Selection was first published to Blog of gadgetreview(Christen)