Shopping for a used inflatable tandem kayak?
You’ll come across plenty of used inflatable tandem kayaks on buy-and-sell websites like Craigslist, Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace. Buying a used tandem inflatable kayak is a good way to score an inexpensive kayak for family fun and kayak fishing that doesn’t require a large space for storage and transports easily in even the most crowded minivan. However, it’s important to do your due diligence to find the best tandem inflatable kayak for your needs.
Your first step is to research the specific attributes of the 2 person inflatable kayak model you are considering. Our Paddling Buyer’s Guide is the ideal place to start. If you think you’ve found a contender, consider the following advice to make a good used purchase:
- Many inflatable tandem kayaks are cheap, and therefore more impacted by wear and tear compared to more expensive and well-built kayaks—especially in areas like the inflation valves and hull. Start by examining the overall condition of the kayak. Open up the package and inflate it. In the process, listen for air leaks in the valves and tubes and watch for any stains and mold, which may reveal the kayak was stored wet. Is there any fading in the kayak’s deck (top) or hull (bottom)? Fading reveals UV damage, which will compromise durability. Make sure there are no missing parts; check for seat(s) and seat back(s), deck rigging such as grab lines, skeg (a removable fin that slides into the hull) and pump, if included.
- Minimal outfitting is common in most inflatable kayaks. Take a close look at comfort features like the seat (is it supportive for your body type? Does it hold air?). Foot rests are critical to give you purchase on the kayak to paddle efficiently and are often absent in cheap tandem inflatable kayaks; if they’re present, make sure they’re functional and appropriate for the leg length of both paddlers.
- Outfitting is the critical interface between the paddlers and kayak, including the seats, back supports, thigh rests and foot rests. Often these features lack refinement in budget-priced tandem inflatable kayaks. They’re also usually air-filled, so be sure to check for leaks. Examine these parts individually and consider how well they work together as a whole—the easiest way to achieve this is by sitting in the boat (and ideally paddling it) to make sure it feels comfortable. Think about how long you’ll be sitting in the kayak. If it’s uncomfortable in a quick test, how will it feel after an hour? Outfitting often comes down to personal preference; there’s no one-size-fits-all. One of the drawbacks of most cheaper inflatable kayaks is substandard outfitting. Take a close look and consider investing in a more expensive kayak if you plan on more serious paddling.
- The only way to fully appreciate the comfort and performance of a kayak is to try it before committing to a purchase. Arrange a meeting place with the seller that allows you to take a few moments on the water. Bring your usual paddle (and your typical paddling partner) and dress in what you plan to wear while paddling. Be sure to assess how easy the boat is to enter and exit.
- In general (that is, before Covid-19 put a premium on outdoor equipment) the typical starting point for a used kayak in moderate condition was about half its retail price. All that’s changed in the wake of boat shortages brought on by the pandemic, but you can use it as a starting point in haggling a fair price.
- If you’re offered a PFD as part of a used kayak sale make sure it’s in good shape, fits properly and is Coast Guard approved for the location you’ll be paddling.
For more tips on what to look for when selecting a used kayak, read our article How To Buy A Used Kayak.