What to Look for When Buying A Used Kayak?

When was the last time you spent some quality time in nature? More importantly, how did you spend that time? For Kayaking lovers, nothing could match the joy of enjoying natural serenity and relaxation while paddling through their kayak with their partners, friends. Each windmill stroke and close-to-water view makes the experience memorable.

In addition to the pure joy kayaking brings, it comes with a plethora of health benefits too. Kayaking can help you develop muscle strength, improve your stamina, aid in weight loss, and offer a complete body workout. Needless to say, very few things can provide a combination of fun with wellness like kayaking.

If you’re an experienced kayaker or planning to get started, buying a kayak is probably the first thing you would do. However, kayaks come with a reasonable price tag, ranging between $500 to $1,500 or even higher. For someone planning occasional trips, this price tag could be a discouraging factor.

If you’re short on budget, looking for used kayaks for sale could offer a solution to your budgetary constraints. However, instead of jumping on the first deal, it is critical to understand how to buy a used fishing kayak that serves your requirements.

When does it make sense to buy second hand kayaks?

  • If you rarely go for kayaking, a second hand kayak is a right choice.
  • If you’re exploring your interest in kayaking and don’t want to overspend, used beginner kayaks will allow you to test the waters.
  • If you need an additional kayak for a couple of trips only, choosing a used kayak could save a couple of hundred dollars.

How to choose a used kayak

Seek details like the age of Kayak, storage, and usage conditions

Instead of looking for a used fishing kayak that looks cool, dig into critical details, such as the age of kayak. Ask the owner if he still has the original paperwork. In case the owner doesn’t have any paperwork, check the serial number of the kayak, located at the rear end. The last two digits of the serial number reflect the age of the used kayak.

The next thing to inquire about is the storage condition of the kayak. Ideally, the kayak should be stored inside, avoiding direct, regular exposure to sun or water. Direct exposure to the sun could reduce the life of a kayak, especially inflatable kayaks. Similarly, if a kayak is stored on the ground, its hull is likely to deform, so avoid buying it.

How did the previous owner use the kayak? Find out if it was used frequently and under what conditions. Rough usage could lead to damages, so be precise. Ask the seller why he wants to sell it. Ask some general questions about the owner’s experience with the kayak. It’ll give you a fair idea of the quality and what you should expect.

Choose a kayak to match your requirements

What is the primary purpose behind buying the kayak? Kayaks vary in design, weight, shape, and material depending on the purpose it is used for. For instance, a kayak built for touring will have larger storage capacity, longer in size, and feature an in-built seating arrangement. 

On the contrary, an inflatable kayak is suitable for beginners, and it comes with average built quality for occasional usage. Some of the common purposes include recreational usage, racing, touring, and training. Find out what you intend to do with it and choose a kayak accordingly.

Inspect for any damages or repairs

It is quite common to have minor damages on second hand kayaks. What is important is that you’re aware of the damage, and it shouldn’t have any impact on the performance of the kayak. Minor damages such as surface scratches are okay, but you should be careful about chips, cracks, or any holes and gouges. 

The same applies to a deformed hull, chipped gel coat, or rot in case of wooden kayaks. If your preferred fishing kayaks require minor repairs, inquire about the cost of the repair and fraction it in the asking price accordingly. 

Take the used kayak for a demo

When looking at used kayaks for sale, make sure to take the kayak for a test paddle before making any decisions. It is one of the best ways to identify potential problems. See if the kayak feels comfortable, especially the seating. You might spend a considerable amount of time paddling through this kayak, so the seating should be comfortable. 

See if your legs, hips, and knees have ample space to paddle for long durations. Similarly, make sure that you can easily balance and maneuver the kayak. A test drive can help you identify any leaks or other functional issues. Treat it just like buying a used car. You wouldn’t buy one without driving.

Seek help from a friend (experienced kayaker)

Expert opinion is always appreciated, especially if you are looking for beginner kayaks. It is quite common among new kayaker to ignore operational issues in excitement. An experienced kayaker, on the other hand, will be wary of any potential problems with the kayak. Furthermore, he would be able to recommend the right kayak for your needs.

Seek accessories and parts you might need

What kind of accessories you need for your kayak will depend on your usage. Accessories like pedals or a safety kit, life jackets are a must for every kayaker, so they should be available with the used kayak. On the contrary, if you are eyeing a used fishing kayak, you will require an anchor set or a rod holder. Similarly, if you are buying a kayak for touring, consider purchasing a solar charger or GPS watch for successful navigation. When looking for a good-quality used kayak, prioritize its operability over accessories. You can always buy accessories later.


Buying a used kayak comes with some setbacks, but as long as you can manage minor repairs without spending too much, it could help you save money while giving a joyful experience. You may want to carry an emergency repair kit to address minor problems during your trip. Being a little cautious and following these tips will help you find the right used kayak for your adventures.

Are you a first-time kayaker? Did you buy a used kayak before? We’d love to hear about your experiences.