Whether you are just starting out with the sport or are strapped for cash, buying a used fishing kayak can be a great money saving option while still getting a great piece of equipment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a used kayak and if you know what to look for, you can find a fantastic kayak that can last for years without breaking the bank.
How to Buy a Used Kayak – Tips and Advice to Get the Best Deals
Get Prepared: It is important to prepare yourself before buying a used kayak by knowing what to look for and what you need. These means doing some research and becoming acquainted with the types of kayaks and the terminology involved. Check out brands and styles and figure out ahead of time what you are looking for so you can narrow down your search and find exactly what you need. It is also beneficial to spend some time just watching the gear swap pages so you can get an idea of what the process is as well as the average prices for the items you are interested in. On average you will end up spending around 60% of the price for a brand new kayak, but you may be able to get better deals if you are familiar with the forums.
Know Where to Look: When you are looking for a used kayak there are some reputable places that can help you connect with someone wanting to sell. Good places to start are asking around, checking you’re your local shop, and reputable online sites.
Some of the best used kayak sites include:
Sites like CraigsList and eBay are great options because you might have a layperson who knows very little about kayaks selling great used equipment for vastly underpriced.
Other places to find great used kayaks are sports shops, flea markets and festivals. A festival where kayaking is featured can help you either meet people who can help you find used kayaks, or find someone at the festival who will sell to you directly. Flea markets may not be overflowing with kayaks, but when they are present it will be in areas where watersports are popular and you can find a lot of great deals. Sports shops will often sell used kayaks or allow people to post ads for used kayaks so that can be a great way to get some more information on kayaks while still saying some money.
Ask Questions: Once you kind a kayak you are interested in it is important to ask the seller questions to better gain an understanding as to why they are selling and what kind of condition the kayak is really in.
Some big questions to ask the seller are:
- How old is the kayak?
- How long have you owned it?
- How has it been stored?
- What did you use it for?
- How often did you use it?
- What comes with the kayak?
- What is the kayak missing?
- Has it ever been in any kind of accident?
- What are the damages, if any?
- Why are you selling it?
- If I buy the kayak from you is there a guarantee that nothing is wrong with it and how do I contact you if there is?
If you like the answers and want to buy the kayak it is important to set up a face to face. Some questions that you should ask to help set this up smoothly are:
- Can I see the kayak in person?
- Would you like to meet at a mutually decided place?
- Can I take the kayak onto the water to see how it works?
- Will the seller include things like paddles, PDF, or anything else in the deal?
This is important because you want to make sure the seller is okay with this (if they aren’t, they might be hiding something seriously wrong with the kayak) so when you meet in person the interaction goes smoothly. It is always important to get things in order before the actual meeting takes place so it avoids awkwardness and you can guarantee you get to see what you need to see before buying the kayak.
Be Hands On: A huge piece of buying a used kayak is actually seeing the boat in person. Anyone looking to sell can advertise their kayak to be better than it is. If you want to make sure you are getting a good deal you need to be able to examine the kayak and be able to look for signs that it isn’t worth your money.
When you are able to examine the kayak it is important to look for the following:
- Look at it dry: While the hull is dry it is important to clean any debris or dirt off the inside and outside so you can properly examine the kayak and look for any signs of damage.
- Consider simple fixes you can do: Look for simple surface damages like scratches and consider whether or not you want to spend the money to epoxy them or gelcoat. You should also consider the cost of wax to help bring the kayak back into a shiny state. Grab cords and some wax are simple enough to still consider buying the kayak, but larger fixes should be more closely inspected and considered.
- More complex fixes may require more thought: Rust and corrosion can be a lot harder to fix or replace so looking out for it at the time of inspection is a good way to see just how much extra you would need to pay to fix the kayak up. Specific areas to focus on are the gaskets, deck fittings, worn or frayed cables for skegs and rudder, and elastic deck lines to see if there is deterioration or compromised parts to the kayak.
- Is there sun damage: If a kayak hasn’t been stored properly or has been used enough for significant UV damage then it may be too far gone to be repaired. A lot of direct sunlight can warp the kayak’s hull and make it difficult to use, if not impossible.
- Is there mold: Kayaks stored under tarps can often become covered and filled with mildew and mold. Not only is this disgusting and a nightmare to clean up, certain types of mold can damage and destroy the hull.
- Is it water tight: Focus on high impact areas and the scupper and drive wells. Just to be on the safe side you can fill the hull with a few inches of water and watch to see if any leaks show up. Everything is designed to be water tight and if any of it isn’t then there has been damage to the kayak.
Take a Test Ride: You should also insist on taking the kayak out onto the water for a test ride before buying. This allows you to see other problems that may not be clear when dry on land. Take the kayak out on calm waters so you can properly assess the kayak without worrying about any additional problems while looking for flaws in the kayak.
Look for leaks: When you are on the water it is always important to watch for water in the hull and spot any leaks you might have missed before.
How does it fit: Do you have enough room to comfortably sit in the kayak and navigate the water? If your legs are very cramped it is not a good fit for you. While longer kayaks may seem like a good idea to create some extra storage in the cockpit, they can become awkward depending on the style of the kayak. This is why it is important to really test it out before buying,
Is it comfortable: Does the kayak have a comfortable seat or any kind of seat at all? You will spend a lot of time on your butt when kayaking and you need to make sure you have enough backing in your seat to keep you comfortable and supported for hours at a time. Back support is also important as is the ease of access for the storage in your kayak. You want to be able to access your things without having to strain or risk capsizing.
Does it have the right stability for me: Typically a kayak is designed to either be at its most stable as you initially get in, or to be at its most stable while out on the water. You need to decide which will work better for you and make sure the kayak coincides with what you need.
Is it easy to navigate: While you may not consider it while on a quick test ride, you need to consider how easy it is for you to paddle and turn. Navigating your kayak is something you need to be able to do and if it is difficult for you on calm waters it can be exhausting in rougher scenarios. Consider what kind of kayaking you pan on doing and think about how difficult navigation can affect your journey.
How do the accessories on it work: Test out the paddles, rudders, skegs, kayak anchor trolley and any other accessories that come with the kayak to see if they are all functioning as they should be. It something isn’t working properly you will need to spend money replacing it so consider whether or not you want to take on those extra costs.
Consider the Accessories: If you can get some extra equipment when you buy the kayak that is always good, but it is important to make sure that everything the kayak has new is still their used. This means that if it comes with paddles, closed in storage, seats, or any other features, you should receive them all with your purchase. If things have gone missing it isn’t a good sign that they took proper care of the kayak. Red flags should go up if they are only offering the kayak and is missing key features because typical sellers will sell it all at once when in good condition, not break it up into different items to try to get extra money.
It is also important to make sure that the company that makes the kayak is still in business so you can get spare parts if need be. If the company is no longer around you may be able to negotiate the price down because of the future inconvenience that will be.
How Much Is It Worth: It is always important to find out what model similar to what you are looking for are priced at and a good rule of thumb is to look for the kayak model’s cost when knew and plan to pay between 50% and 70% of that cost. You may end up paying a little less depending on where you buy your kayak, but spending more that 70% of the total cost of a new kayak is not recommended when it has been used previously.
There are many used kayaks out there that are just as good as new ones and don’t break the bank. No matter what kayak you are looking for a used kayak is a great option when you know what you are looking for and ask the right questions. Follow the tips provided and always consider better deals, rather than buy the first or cheapest kayak you can find. Understanding what is really involved when a seller says there are some small problems or basic repairs needed that they want to sell this kayak and want to paint it in the best possible light. And small issues for one person can turn into very large issues for someone who doesn’t know how to handle them. Take your time and really look into the different aspects of the kayaks and what it has been through so you don’t have any surprise issues or buyer’s remorse. When in doubt, wait it out and see if you can find a better offer or a more suitable kayak for your specific needs.