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What Are the Best Tips for Choosing a Used Kayak?

Alex Tree
Alex Tree

Some of the best tips for choosing a used kayak focus on inspecting the boat for obvious and subtle signs of damage that can lead to it being useless within a few months. For example, sun damage and cracks are fine alone, but together they can make a used kayak unrepairable. When a kayak is worn unevenly, some spots of it may become thin and develop holes quickly. In addition, some types of kayaks simply should not be purchased second hand unless in like-new condition. Lastly, it is important to look for odd marks that could eventually become cracks.

It is fairly easy to determine if a used kayak has sun damage from being stored outside for too long. The paint begins to fade, and in severe cases a once dark red kayak might fade into a pink color. Sun damage makes the plastic brittle and difficult to repair should it become cracked. If a potential buyer is considering a sun-damaged kayak, he or she should keep in mind that cracks are sometimes not fixable, and the investment is probably not a long-term one. In fact, some companies that sell second-hand kayaks refuse to fix and sell cracked, sun-damaged kayaks because the crack reopens too soon.

The colors on a used kayak should still be vivid, not sun-worn.
The colors on a used kayak should still be vivid, not sun-worn.

Most kayak experts recommend carrying the boat to prevent damage by dragging. If there is only one person to carry it, however, a kayak will most likely be dragged across sand, grass, or even concrete to the owner’s vehicle. Over time this can cause uneven wearing on the bottom of the boat, and some spots may be worn so thin that holes develop. When shopping for a used kayak, the boat should be flipped over and inspected for uneven wearing.

Some brands of kayaks are simply too ill crafted to be resold and expected to last for years. For example, kayaks sold by very large chain stores may not last as long as a kayak not produced in mass. These kayaks are often thin, marketed toward people new to the sport, and difficult to fix even by experts. In general, a good used kayak can be repaired if necessary.

Sometimes a used kayak has odd marks on it that look similar to stretch marks. These marks are typically caused by people standing or sitting on the kayak when it is not in the water. They will eventually become full-fledged cracks given enough time and stress. It is best avoid used kayaks with such marks.

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    • The colors on a used kayak should still be vivid, not sun-worn.
      By: Janet Wall
      The colors on a used kayak should still be vivid, not sun-worn.