How to Buy a Used Kayak

Many people who would like to take up the sport of kayaking immediately discard the idea upon seeing the cost of a new kayak because even a plastic recreational kayak can be prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, buying a used kayak is a far more cost effective alternative because older model used kayaks can often be purchased for a mere fraction of their original retail cost.

However, buying a used kayak is really no different from buying a new one in that you still need choose your kayak carefully to make certain that you are purchasing the right kayak for your intended purpose. But, when purchasing a used kayak, there are also some additional factors that need to be considered such as its age, its condition and, the manner in which it was stored.

Read on for a guide to what to look for when buying a used kayak

Buy the right type of kayak

If you were planning on spending your hard-earned money on a brand new kayak, would you simply purchase the first kayak that became available or would you be patient and search out one that truly meets your needs? The answer to this question is important because many novice paddlers are prone to make this rookie mistake when buying a used kayak.

So, although you may be tempted by an exceptionally low price or a location near you, the fact is that purchasing the wrong kayak for your intended purpose is destined to end in disappointment. Instead, when looking for a used kayak, the trick is to first determine what type of kayak you need most and then be patient until you find one within your price range that is also with driving distance.

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Thus, if you are planning on fishing out of your kayak, then look for fishing specific kayak. However, if you are simply planning paddling on protected waters where you will not be paddling far from shore or over long distances and are likely to experience very little wind or waves, then a recreational kayak would be a good choice. But, if you are planning on paddling over long distances where you may encounter rough seas, then a touring kayak would be in order.

When looking for a used kayak, it is imperative that you look for one that is well suited for your intended purpose rather than purchasing one that is not regardless of how inexpensive or how close to you it may be.

What to look for when buying a used kayak

Of course, once you do find a kayak that suits your intended purpose, is within your price range and, is within a reasonable driving distance, then the next step is to assess its condition.

Thus, one of the first aspects that you should note is the kayak’s construction. For instance, is the kayak made from plastic, composite (fiberglass, Kevlar, carbon fiber), or plywood because these different materials deteriorate at different rates depending on how often and how long they are exposed to the Sun as well as how they are stored.

Consequently, if the kayak you are considering purchasing appears to be in poor condition, then you should reject it but, if its good condition, then you might want to proceed with the purchase.

When examining a used kayak, some of the things that you should note are the condition of the hull and the deck.

For instance, hull deformation can result when the kayak is stored improperly and thus, you should look for any deformation in the hull such as excessive rocker or flat keels or gunwales.

Also, you should note whether or not the hull has any scratches and, if so, are they numerous and, are any of them excessively deep? While it is true that most used kayaks will have some scratches on the hull, composite kayaks with deep scratches in the hull should be rejected or repaired and the same is true with plastic kayaks with deep gouges.

You should note the condition of the seat, the foot pegs, the hatch covers, and the deck rigging and note whether or not any of them need an immediate replacement.

Furthermore, you should also note whether or any skeg or rudder the kayak may have is in working order and note whether or not any of the parts are exhibiting excessive wear such that they will need to be replaced soon.

But, provided that all of that is in order or, provided that you are prepared to repair any hull or deck damage and/or replace any outfitting, deck rigging or, rudder or skeg parts that require it, then proceeding with your purchase will gain you a good used kayak that is well suited for your intended purpose.

Questions to ask

Once you have determined that your prospective purchase is the right type of kayak for your intended purpose and that it is reasonably good condition, then it is time to move on to the next phase of purchasing a used kayak which is asking the right questions of the present owner.

For instance, one of the most common questions when buying a used kayak is…

How old is the kayak being considered for purchase?

Beside the fact that kayaks deteriorate with age, kayak designs change with time and thus, older kayaks may feel and handle very differently from a new model. Thus, it is always best to test paddle an older kayak before you buy it in order to make certain that it fits you and meet with your expectations.

Before purchasing a used kayak, you should ask the present owner whether the kayak has been stored indoors or out and, if outdoors, whether or not it was stored with a cover over it. Of course, the reason that this question is important is that ultraviolet light from the Sun causes both polyethylene plastic and the epoxy resin that is used to make composite kayaks to deteriorate over time. Thus, the longer a kayak is exposed to the Sun, the faster it will deteriorate.

Provided that the used kayak you are considering purchasing is the right type of kayak for your intended purpose, is in good condition and, both fits you well and performs as you expect it to on the water, then it might very well be the perfect choice for you.

Final Thoughts

Last, although it is not a pleasant prospect to contemplate, the possibility of purchasing stolen property is very real when buying a used kayak. Thus, you should first make certain that you are dealing with reputable individual.

In addition, it is also good to be aware that both plastic and composite kayaks are assigned serial numbers which are either molded into, or written on, the kayak’s hull. Therefore, before purchasing a used kayak, it is wise to check with local law enforcement officers to see if the kayak you are considering purchasing has been stolen.

As long as the present owner is the legal owner, the kayak is of the type that best suites the type of kayaking that you intend to pursue, is in reasonably good condition, is within your price range, and is within a reasonable driving distance, then you should by all means purchase it because doing so will save you a significant amount of money over purchasing a new one.

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