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Buying Used Kayaks – Read This Guide First [Updated 2024]

Kayak Carts

Kayak Carts

Updated on 2/20/2024
Abigail ScottBy Abigail Scott
Hi, I'm Abigail 👋 Since embarking on my kayaking and boarding adventures in 2010, I've navigated rivers and lakes across North America and beyond. With over a decade of experience and countless waterways explored, I'm here to help enthusiasts like you embark on unforgettable water adventures!
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Although renting a kayak is always an option, there is no substitute for owning your own. Unfortuitously, the prices can be exorbitant; specific models can cost well over a thousand dollars or even more. That amount of money is out of reach for many people. Is it possible that purchasing used kayaks is the solution you've been searching for, allowing you to have your cake and eat it too?

However, you shouldn't just accept whatever comes your way. If you know what to look for, you can find a used kayak for a reasonable price without making too many sacrifices in terms of its quality.

This guide can be of assistance in that regard.

Should I Invest In A Used Kayak?

No question investing in a used kayak is money well spent; however, doing so requires careful attention to a few additional factors. I'll go over them in this guide, so there's no need to worry unduly about it. When it comes to purchasing pre-owned boats, there are a lot of different aspects that you need to be on the lookout for. For the time being, keep this in mind.

But please don't misunderstand what I'm saying.

Purchasing used kayaks is not a difficult task; instead, it is simply unusual.

There are many compelling arguments in favor of purchasing a pre-owned kayak, far more than I could cover in a single article. A select few are essential, highlighting the benefits of purchasing previously owned items and making the secondary market an attractive choice.

Consequently, if you are debating between purchasing a brand-new kayak and purchasing a used one, the following are a few reasons why buying a used kayak may be a more practical and reasonable move for you to make:

You are looking for an inexpensive way to get started kayaking to enjoy all of the sport's benefits without having to make significant financial sacrifices.

You have your sights set on a model no longer manufactured because you understand that newer doesn't necessarily equate to better.

You don't want to settle for a cheaper kayak or one that comes from a brand or manufacturer that isn't as well known, so you're looking for one that comes with all the bells and whistles for the same price.

You are unsure whether kayaking will be more than a passing interest, and until you are confident that paddling is something you want to pursue as a hobby, you don't want to overspend on kayaking equipment.

You want to buy a kayak for a child who is still growing, but you don't want to spend a lot of money on a brand new yak because it's likely that they will outgrow it before the end of the year.

You have decided that you want to try out a new type of kayaking, such as kayak tours, and you are hoping to do so on a budget. Both Online And In-Person Shopping Are Your Best Bets When Purchasing A Used Kayak Shopping for Used Kayaks Online

At least one of us has been frustrated by an online shopping experience at some point, but we've all been there. Therefore, I completely understand if you feel a little uncertain about it.


On the other hand, shopping for used kayaks online offers a level of convenience that can't be matched. You will have access to a variety of kayaks, it will be simpler to get in touch with sellers, and you won't have to spend your weekends traveling from one garage sale to another.


The convenience of shopping online makes it worthwhile to investigate the following online resources, which are listed below:


Online Market Places Such as eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace, to name a few, you get the idea. You should have no trouble finding used kayaks online because there is a robust secondary market all year round, and there are numerous options for more advanced searching and filtering.

Forums for Kayaking: Paddling communities are typically very close-knit communities. Join kayaking message boards and share that you're looking to buy a used kayak. There is a good chance that you will come across kayak owners who will assist you, or at the very least, they will be able to point you in the right direction.

Buying Used Kayaks In Person

It's great that you have your heart set on purchasing a used kayak the "old-fashioned way," which means you want to do it in person. However, I feel obligated to warn you that it is going to be a little bit of a hassle:


It is not something you can do from the comfort of your living room; instead, you will need to do things like asking around, going to paddling clubs and retailers, and visiting flea markets and garage sales. And there is no doubt that a little bit more time is required.


Having said that, if you would still instead shop offline, I would recommend conducting some preliminary research online, arming yourself with information, and then consulting the following resources:


Local Kayaking Clubs Getting in touch with local paddling clubs operates in a manner that is reasonably comparable to that of online paddling forums. Talk to the club members and find out if any of them are selling used kayaks or if they know anyone who does.

Garage Sales: If you're looking for a good deal on a pre-owned kayak, look no further than your local garage sale. On the other hand, they are not as dependable, and you won't be able to find used kayaks for sale at every garage sale you go to.

Open-Air Markets and Indoor Swap Meets - You should put on your best bargain-hunting gear, brush up on your skill at haggling like a pro, and then head to the flea market. However, it would help if you kept in mind that there is no assurance that you will find any used kayaks there, similar to garage sales. Try your luck at some of the local water sports swaps meets held in your area.

Retailers are operating locally – Because customers frequently trade in older models in exchange for newer ones, it is possible to find excellent deals in these small, neighborhood shops. In addition to this, you will have access to the shop's staff, and you will be able to request that they keep an eye out for used kayaks on your behalf.

When is the optimum time to purchase a pre-owned kayak?

If you can't believe it, there is such a thing as the appropriate and inappropriate times to purchase a kayak.


If you time your purchase at the right moment, you will be able to save money and have a better chance of emerging from this situation with a better kayak. It is just as accurate for previously owned kayaks as for brand new ones.


Although the prices on the secondary market will, for the most part, be stable throughout the year, this does not imply that you should ignore timing considerations when making a purchase.


Consider that most people only go kayaking during the summertime because the weather is more agreeable.


The vast majority of people start their search for kayaks around that time. At that time of the year, the ever-increasing demand pushes prices up, which is something you want to steer clear of doing whenever possible.


Instead, it is recommended to hold off until the end of the kayaking season, which typically occurs in late August or early September, or until the winter months, and approach the used market. Very few people will be looking to purchase a kayak during the off-season. Still, many of those same people may be interested in selling the kayaks they already own.


Your opportunity to pounce on a previously owned kayak and save a ton of money has arrived!


What kind of price range should I be looking at for used kayaks?

You are likely purchasing a used kayak rather than a brand new one due to financial constraints; therefore, it would be absurd to tell you that price will not be considered in your purchase. It most certainly will, but I wouldn't recommend going into this with a specific price, and this is just good advice in general.


You won't have to worry about purchasing a kayak that doesn't quite meet your requirements just because it's within your price range if you do it this way. If you find a used kayak that is in nearly perfect condition and can perform all of the tasks you require, spending a little bit more money initially will seem like a drop in the bucket in the long run.


However, this does not mean that there aren't any recommendations for how much money you should spend on a used kayak; on the contrary, there are.


In general, you can anticipate paying somewhere between fifty and seventy-five percent of the kayak's original suggested retail price or the amount it would cost if it were brand new.


If you have a specific model in mind, the best course of action would be to look into how much a brand-new version costs at the moment. After that, consider the used kayak's age, condition, and any damage it may have sustained, among other factors, to get a good idea of whether or not the price the seller is asking is reasonable.


What Characteristics Should I Search for When Purchasing a Used Kayak? Your Guide To Purchasing A Used Kayak's Number One Tip Investigate the Model of the Kayak to See If It Meets Your Requirements for Kayaking.

If you want to know how to choose a kayak, you need to decide what kind of kayak you want to buy. There are many different kinds of kayaks. Because kayaking is a versatile sport, individual kayaks do not all serve the same purpose or operate in the same environment. Consequently, kayaks do not all look the same.


Do you want a kayak for recreational paddling, or are you interested in something more specialized, such as a touring kayak? Have you thought about purchasing a used fishing kayak? Or perhaps you're looking for kayaks that are suitable for whitewater?


You need to have a clear idea of the kind of kayak you want before shopping for one, and you shouldn't be willing to settle for anything less.


The part where you have to check all of the features and specifications that you would typically check when buying a kayak does not change; you still have to do that. It is just as essential to make an educated purchase decision right now as when you were looking for a brand new kayak.


Therefore, research the kayak's out-of-factory specifications, paying close attention to details such as:


Design, whether the kayak is a sit-on-top or a sit-inside model.

The building process and materials

The measurements of the kayak, primarily its length and width, as well as its weight

Maximum load capacity

Onboard storage choices consist of tie-downs, bungee rigging, and storage hatches, among other configurations.

Accessory number two is included. Make Sure That You Do Your Research On The Vendor.

In a perfect world, you would purchase a pre-owned kayak from someone you know and trust, such as a close friend, a member of your community's paddling club, or your own family.


On the other hand, we are aware that this is not always the case. The person selling the item may be a stranger you find on the internet. That doesn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence.


For this reason, it is necessary to carry out the essential research once more. The more information you can collect about the person selling the item, the better.


#3: Before You Go, Make Sure to Ask These Pre-Visit Questions

In continuation of the point I made before, I urge you not to be reluctant to inquire.


You are there to determine whether or not this particular yak is the right one for you and whether or not you are getting a good deal for the money you are spending. Even though you are purchasing a used kayak, you still have the right to make an educated decision, and the person selling it to you should be willing to assist you and answer any questions you may have along the way.


Before you go ahead and schedule an actual, in-person inspection, here are some examples of the kinds of questions you might want to pay attention to:


How long has this kayak been in use? When was it bought?

Does the warranty provided by the manufacturer still cover the yak, and if so, can the paperwork be transferred?

Why are they trying to get rid of the kayak?

When not in use, how and where was the kayak typically stored?

Is the kayak's hull damaged in any way, both minor and significant, and does it require any repairs that you should be aware of before purchasing it?

Other than that, what else comes with the purchase? Does the kayak price include accessories like a paddle and a seat, for example?

What is the price that they are requesting for it?

One more time, this has nothing to do with you being intrusive or annoying. Before proceeding any further, it is essential to gather information about the kayak you are considering purchasing so that you do not waste each other's time.


Check the kayak for signs of wear and tear as part of the pre-purchase inspection checklist for used kayaks.

A comprehensive visual inspection is going to be, without a doubt, the single most crucial aspect of this whole process of purchasing a used kayak. Getting a good look at the kayak can tell you a lot about its condition and the amount of wear and tear it has endured, which can ultimately determine whether or not you decide to buy it.


When evaluating a kayak, you should start at the bow and work your way to the stern, moving along the hull the whole time and paying attention to the various aspects that are listed here:


Damage to the hull and evidence of previous repairs – Given that it is a used kayak, a few scratches are to be anticipated. However, all deal-breakers are visible signs of UV damage, cracks in the gel coat of composite kayaks, significant warps in polyethylene plastic kayaks, and hull deformation in thermoform kayaks. It's possible that repairs won't be a deal-breaker, but you still need to make sure they're done correctly.

Check the hatches to ensure that the covers open and close correctly. If not, or if they are entirely absent, is it possible to replace them with something else? Is the seal in healthy condition and able to perform its function of preventing water from entering the hatch?

Scupper Holes: Scupper plugs can be easily replaced, but it is essential to make sure that the scupper holes are an integral part of the design of a sit-on-top kayak's self-bailing system and are in good condition. Some cracks can be fixed, while others are sure signs of water damage. When tandem kayaks or recreational kayaks are transported using a scupper cart, a widespread problem arises.

When you are inspecting a sit-inside kayak, you should check the bulkheads, which are closed off rear or front compartments inside the hull. You should make sure that they are in place, that they are not damaged, and that they function correctly.

Hardware and Fittings During your examination of the kayak, make a mental note of the attachment points and the nuts and bolts, which might or might not be present. Is there evidence that corrosion has taken place? Is there a piece of the hardware that's been misplaced?

Tie-Downs and Bungee Deck Rigging Both the tie-downs and the bungee deck rigging are vulnerable to sun damage, erosion, fraying, and brittleness because they are components of the kayak's external storage system. These cords would show signs of wear and tear if the kayak were not maintained or stored correctly.

Rudder and Skeg: Look for telltale signs of wear and tear on the rudder lines and test the machine to ensure that it is in good working order. Examine the blade of the skeg to look for any signs of damage if the kayak has a skeg that does not have any moving parts.

Footpegs, knee pads, and thigh braces are all components of the cockpit outfitting that should be checked to ensure that they are present, in good condition, and, if possible, adjustable.

Kayak Seats The vast majority of kayak seats are detachable and can be easily swapped out for new ones later. Check for any signs of UV damage and fraying on the center of a used kayak you intend to purchase. Additionally, determine whether or not the seat can be adjusted to provide a more personalized and comfortable fit.

Extras and Accessories It is important to inspect everything else included with the kayak. This consists of rod holders, carry handles, gear tracks, and anything else. Otherwise, you run the risk of believing you are purchasing a fully outfitted fishing kayak, only to discover that half of the extras do not function properly or are absent.

Additional Things to Think About When Purchasing a Used Inflatable Kayak

When purchasing a used inflatable kayak or boat, there are a few other things to take into consideration, which are as follows:


Examine how the item has been kept; if it has not been adequately cleaned and dried after each use, it may have been subjected to damage, which will shorten its lifespan.

Check the material of the kayak for any cracks, especially in the areas where it has been folded, as well as the integrity of the seams and the valves, and make sure they are in good working order.

In addition to this, it is an intelligent move to immerse the kayak in the water and then blow it up with air to inspect it for any cracks or holes.

Because there are currently shortages in the supply chain due to the meteoric rise in the popularity of kayaking, counterfeiters have recognized an opportunity to make a quick profit. Con artists may be selling these clones as "used" or "seconds" when they are brand new in reality. Avoid falling victim to these cons at all costs; counterfeit goods typically do not last as long as their legitimate counterparts and frequently come with defects that compromise their safety features. If something seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is!


#5 Put the kayak through its paces by paddling it around the yard.

You can learn a lot about the kayak's current condition by performing a comprehensive visual inspection. However, there is no substitute for taking the vehicle for a test drive.


At this point, you will discover any issues with the kayak that may not be immediately apparent after a cursory inspection but may still have an impact on its performance. At the same time, it is being used on the water. Additionally, it allows you to get a feel for the yak and determine whether or not it is a good fit for you in terms of the amount of space available, comfort, and stability, among other factors.


The following are some of the things that, in general, can be determined with the help of a test paddle:


When purchasing a touring kayak or a sea kayak, it is essential to consider how comfortable the seating is and whether or not it is suitable for longer paddling sessions and overnight trips.

Can you move around freely inside the cockpit, or does it seem to be relatively confined?

Is it possible for you to comfortably lean your hips and knees against the cockpit's interior?

Are the equipment components, like knee pads and thigh braces, adjustable?

Is the kayak stable enough for your paddling style, and does it feel secure enough for you?

It is simple to get in and out of the kayak when you're using it.

If there are any holes (always check inside the hatches to see if they have a water-tight seal)

Are the cables for the rudder in good working order, and does the skeg move freely without getting stuck?

What kind of tracking performance does the kayak have?

Two crucial aspects to consider are how easy it is to maneuver the kayak and how manageable it is.

If the seller is unwilling to let you test the paddle, this is a warning sign that you should not disregard; there is likely information the seller is withholding from you.


Bonus Piece of Advice: Recognize When to Walk Away to Avoid Being Taken Advantage Of

You have invested a significant amount of time looking through various online marketplaces, making price comparisons, and perusing numerous advertisements, pictures, and other materials; finally, you have discovered what appears to be the yak of your dreams.


And despite this, something doesn't quite sit right in my gut.


There are times when it's better to walk away empty-handed than to purchase a kayak that doesn't quite live up to the standards you've set for it.


It would help if you didn't get the impression that you were being taken advantage of but rather that the money was well spent.


The following are some circumstances in which it may be more prudent to withdraw from the situation:


You are making far too many concessions because you are in a hurry or allowing your finances to become increasingly precarious.

If you feel that the seller, the listing, or the whole transaction isn't quite what it seems to be, you should listen to your intuition and avoid making the purchase.

The pricing seems significantly off as if someone is attempting to sell you a used kayak for up to 95 percent of the price it originally retailed for.

The seller is unwilling to make any concessions, will not allow you to inspect the kayak or take it out for a test paddle, and engages in circular reasoning throughout the negotiation process.

It is possible that the kayak is stolen and the seller is just trying to make a quick buck off of it or that there is significant damage that they are not telling you about. Buying A Used Kayak: Summary in a Nutshell

To be successful when shopping for used kayaks, you must, above all else, be well-prepared and informed. Therefore, carry out your research, ensure that it is exhaustive, and ensure that you keep a few essential considerations in mind, such as the following:

Collect information regarding the precise dimensions, weight, capacity, and other model features in question, such as its length and width.

Please inquire about the kayak's age, warranty, where and how it was stored, and whether or not it has any defects or imperfections that are particularly noticeable.

First, you should give the kayak a thorough visual inspection, and then you should take it for a test paddle to get a sense of how it "feels" and how it performs on the water.

When you make a purchase online, make sure to ask for additional photos and videos.

You should budget to pay somewhere between 50 and 75 percent of the kayak's total retail price.

Learn when to cut your losses and avoid getting taken advantage of.