There are a number of reasons you may be looking to buy a used kayak. Perhaps you are new to the sport and don’t want to spend money on a new boat until you are sure you like kayaking. Maybe you already own a few kayaks and want to try out a new style for cheap.
Whatever your reason, make sure you are a discerning buyer when looking for a used kayak. Just because you aren’t paying money for a new kayak doesn’t mean you shouldn’t approach the search well informed and ready to analyze what is for sale. Follow our guide on what to look for in a used kayak and start your search for the right boat with confidence.
Buy the right kayak for your paddling preference
Not all kayaks are alike. Design, materials, shape and weight will vary based on the kind of kayaking the boat is intended for. In our Paddling Buyer’s Guide, we group kayaks into recreational, racing and training, and touring categories.
Recreational kayaks are wide, stable and great for beginners, children and those nervous about being on the water. While many have a sunken cockpit with outfitting, some recreational kayaks have open cockpits. These are referred to as sit-on-top kayaks. Recreational kayaks are great for flatwater paddling and short trips.
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Touring kayaks are longer, narrower and have more storage than recreational kayaks. They are designed for longer trips and come equipped with storage for food and equipment, and hatches with lids that can be removed. Most likely, your touring kayak will be a sit-inside design. They are designed to track well in the water and some will have a skeg or a rudder.
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Racing and training
Racing and training kayaks are usually even narrower than touring kayaks and many are made of ultra-light materials like carbon. They are designed for speed and performance; the tradeoff is much less stability than recreational kayaks and less storage than touring kayaks.
VIEW ALL RACING & TRAINING KAYAKS
Give the kayak a once-over
Jack Elliott of White Squall Paddling Centre in Southern Ontario says the first glance you take at a used kayak will tell whether the boat has been looked after. Take special note of frayed ropes, how clean the kayak looks and any indications it has been stored outside.
It’s usually a good sign if the seller handles the boat with care off the water. Neal Ross-Ross, who saw hundreds of boats come and go when he was the manager of Ontario’s Boatwerks kayak shop, says, “If [the seller is] careful with the boat around you while selling it, that’s a good indication they have treated it well.”