Cheap Kayaks -- but Good Kayaks

A Man Sits in a Kayak on the Water Near Cypress Trees
My friend, Don Richards, Enjoys an Afternoon Adventure in his Kayak

This page about cheap kayaks is intended to show you the wilderness kayak I own, use, and enjoy.

In case you happen to be looking for a low-cost, stable, and dependable paddle craft, I want to tell you about how pleased I've been with my very good but low-cost little kayak.

Don Richards, Keystone Heights Kayak Man

Essentially, I lucked into this very good but cheap kayak one day when I met Don Richards, a retired guy from the small North Florida town of Keystone Heights near where I live who sells kayaks, mostly because he likes people and he likes boats and about anything to do with boats.

Fortunately for me, a few years ago I saw this guy in downtown Keystone Heights getting out of his car with a "Kayaks For Sale" sign on the side. I asked him about it, and we ended talking for hours about kayaks, fishing, and wilderness trips.

To make a long story short, we've become good friends since then. In fact, you'll see him here and there on the pages of this site. He loves outdoor adventures, and he's usually ready to accompany me on any wilderness trip, no matter how wild or remote it might be--and some of my trips can be pretty wild and remote.

He's one of the few who have accompanied me on cross-country backpacking trips through the Big Cypress National Preserve.

Anyway, Don and I took some daytime float trips and did some multi-night backpacking trips. Somewhere along the way, I ended up buying one of his good and cheap kayaks.

At $395.00 for a fiberglass--not a plastic--kayak, I knew it was a hard-to-beat deal. I loved my new cheap kayak from the outset. They come in a variety of colors, but I got a bright yellow one because it's easy to see in case of a wilderness emergency.

A Most Memorable Trip With a Good Friend

One very memorable adventure Don and I took in which we used our fiberglass kayaks was a three-or-four-day run down Florida's beautiful and wild Blackwater River. Our good and cheap kayaks performed beautifully.

A Man Paddles his Kayak Down the Blackwater River
Here's Me Paddling My Kayak Down the Blackwater River

Storage

We had all our stuff stashed into the bow and stern compartments of our little kayaks. Here, you can see the empty bow compartment of my kayak.

A View of a Kayak's Bow Compartment
The Empty Bow Compartment of My Kayak

We traveled pretty light. Each of us carried a small tent each, a sleeping bag, food, water, clothes, backpacking stove, cameras, and few odds and ends. But using both the bow and stern compartments, everything fit with maybe even a little room to spare.

One thing I wondered about was would I need a pedal or some similar place in the bow on which to brace my feet. From my experience, the answer is "no." Having nothing there is no problem at all. Anyway, they'd just get in the way of me stowing my gear.

Besides, with gear stowed, my feet often end up resting on the gear.

Flotation Material

Both the bow and stern compartments have flotation material to keep the craft afloat if the cockpit were to fill with water.

Molded seat

The time spent sitting in the kayak is made easier with a comfortable molded, contoured seat.

A View of a Kayak's Molded Seat
A Comfortable Contoured Seat with a Back

Sooner or later, however, no matter how good a kayak seat is, you need a break from sitting and paddling. Here, we've pulled into a little sand bank while Don makes a phone call. I'm amazed his call went through from out here, but then again we were less than three miles as the crow flies from Interstate 10. That can be a long way if you're not a crow.

A Man Makes a Cell Phone Call on a Remote Sandy River Bank with two cheap kayaks in the background.
Taking a Break on the River

Simple Wilderness Transportation

In fact, here on the banks of this peaceful river, Interstate 10 and all its frenzy seemed a world away. We were where we were only because we had our kayaks to take us there. I love the way a little paddle boat can open up the wilderness to you by providing simple transportation.

At night, we camped on the river bank, and each day we got back into our trusty but little cheap kayaks, and headed farther downstream, sometimes fishing along the way.

A View of Tents and Kayaks on a Riverside Sandbar
Kayak Camping on the Blackwater River

Sit-Inside Fiberglass Kayaks

These monetarily cheap kayaks are made of fiberglass, which according to a lot of people, myself included, handles better than plastic. Fiberglass is more rigid than plastic, with less "give" to it, so it cuts through the water a bit easier.

I know about fiberglass versus plastic kayaks because I also own a plastic sit-on-top kayak that I use for snorkeling and sometimes for wilderness travel when I want to be in a sit-on-top instead of a sit-inside.

I like sit-on-tops in hot weather when I want to get in and out of the water easily. For cooler weather, or those times when I'm not so keen to get in the water, I like the drier environment of a sit-inside.

With Don's sit-inside kayaks, you can stay fairly dry. You can easily splash water on your lap with the drips running down your paddle if you're not careful, but with a bit of care, you can mostly avoid doing it.

Other specs are: length of 12 feet, overall width from one outside to the other, 32.5 inches, and weight 38 pounds. Don routinely picks them up by himself and hoists them on the trailer. Two people slight of build should be able to carry one easily by the handy bow and stern handles.

Cheap Kayaks on the Trailer
Our Kayaks Loaded on Don's Trailer


Limitations

What you plan to do with a kayak plays a large part in determining what kind of kayak to get. For open sea, for instance, you generally want a long sleek kayak for easy paddling with a rudder for good tracking, and plenty of room for gear storage.

A lot of sea kayakers like the "feel" of fiberglass or kevlar better than plastic. Fiberglass and kevlar just seem to cut through the water easier, but they can be very expensive, especially those made of super-strength kevlar.

Other kayaks are made for snorkeling, some for running whitewater.

In my opinion, Don's cheap kayaks are ideally suited for day trips or multi-night trips on Florida's rivers, bays, and channels. They're stable. They cut through the water nicely. And and they track well, even without a rudder. These are the things most of us Florida kayakers want in a kayak.

They're probably NOT for:

  • Open Sea Kayaking, especially where there are large swells or waves
  • Snorkeling or SCUBA diving
  • Running whitewater rapids

Other Things to Know

A lot of Florida outdoors enthusiasts, myself included, have bought these cheap kayaks but good kayaks from Don over the years, and have been very happy with them.

Of course, he can tell you a lot more about them than I can, as he does in this video I took of him while we were kayaking around Salt Springs. So, here's Don explaining his kayaks in a way that only he can do.



Essentially, all I can say is I own one and recommend them to anyone who wants a general Florida inland-waters recreational kayak with somewhat limited offshore use.

He's had quite a few people from far outside Florida call him and want to buy one of his cheap kayaks. Shipping, however, would raise the cost to an unreasonable level, so it's probably out of the question to ship one.

If you can pick it up, however, or if he can deliver it within an acceptable distance to Keystone Heights, Florida, you're in luck.

How to Contact Don

There are two ways to contact Don; 1) Use the Contact Form below, or 2) Just pick up the phone and call him at 352-473-2821.

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Contact Don Here

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Happy Kayak Trails,

Reid