Kayak Buying Guide

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Kayak Buying Guide

For those looking to buy a kayak and looking forward to happy days and holidays on the water, there are a few humps to get over before making the purchase. Kayaks can look great in the brochures, on the manufacturers’ websites, and in online shopping outlets like eBay, but there are a few practical concerns that will need to be addressed before anyone commits to buying one.

Firstly, not all kayaks are the same. Many are built for specialist purposes and styles these days. Some are more stable than others and, with some, it might not be possible to fit all your day equipment into the kayak. Kayaks are an expensive outlay and it is easy to make a poor choice and end up wasting a lot of money. Here are some pointers on what to look for when buying a kayak on eBay. By following the instructions in this guide, you will be equipped with the knowledge needed to acquire the right kayak for you for the best price, and to get the most enjoyment out of it.

What is Required?

Knowing what is actually needed is the key starting point. Kayaks are increasingly being designed to be specialist boats, built for certain paddling styles. For those looking for a kayak that comes into an easily defined category, like a sea kayak, this is easy. However, if a boat is required that will be right for every occasion, then the buying process, whether on eBay or in a bricks and mortar store, can be trickier.

Kayak buyers on eBay will want to establish precisely what it is they want from their kayaking. It can help to list the kind of activities they want to take part in with their kayak. This is the time to be realistic. If a kayak is designed for rivers, it is not going to function properly on the ocean. Likewise, a kayak designed for a grade two river will not cope well with a grade four.

Some of the key questions kayak buyers need to answer are:

  • What sort of kayaking do they generally do and where do they do it?
  • How skilful are they or will be in the future?
  • How far do they plan to take this kayaking interest?
  • Will it remain just a hobby or do they see themselves turning professional?

Other considerations in buying the perfect kayak on eBay include weight and height of the user. A substantial amount of research is required.

Online Research

Quick research has never been so easy, thanks to the Internet. Anyone can go online and search for reviews and articles with advice on the different styles of kayaks available, and eBay has several buying guides designed to help the online shopper make an informed choice. One great place to start is kayak manufacturers’ websites. Buyers should make a list of their criteria and then another list of boats that fit into these requirements.

Websites of kayak sellers can be helpful because they usually put a variety of kayaks together, so their features can be compared. An eBay search for kayaks will also bring up a variety of boats that can be directly compared with each other. Finally, forums where people talk about first-hand experiences of their kayaks can be valuable sources of information.

Types of Kayak

Kayaks come in a number of categories. Here are the main ones.

Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are good for beginners who will use them in calm conditions. They are stable craft but do not work so well in inclement weather. The main features are:

  • Usually come with a smaller storage area and be generally deployed for day trips.
  • Most range from ten to 12 feet in length and make getting in and out easy, thanks to the big cockpit.
  • A wide beam offers good stability.
  • A rudder for steering is rare among recreational kayaks.
  • In short, they are affordable and stable but don’t keep their course like a touring kayak will.
  • Models to consider: BIC Sport Tobago Blue, Aire Tomcat Tandem, Ocean Big Yak

Touring Kayaks

Touring kayaks are also referred to as sea kayaks. They are designed to travel a long way on open water.

  • They offer stability when the weather is inclement.
  • These kayaks are around 12 to 15 feet in length
  • The design of their hulls makes it easy to get lift in choppy waves.
  • The storage areas come with sealed covers so that equipment stays dry.
  • A rudder is the norm on these kayaks, making for easy turning.

Touring kayaks can be divided into day touring kayaks, which are light and manoeuverable, and multiday touring kayaks, which offer plenty of storage for more adventurous outings. In short, touring kayaks perform better than recreational kayaks and offer more storage. On the downside, they are slightly less affordable and have smaller cockpits.

Models to consider: Perception Sundance, Elite Straight 120, Dagger Blackwater.

Sit-on-Top Kayaks

For those just beginning their kayaking career, sit-on-top kayaks could be a good gentle introduction to kayaking.

  • Ideal for children and swimmers.
  • The hull is completely sealed
  • Seats are moulded on top, which makes them easy to escape should they capsize.
  • These kayaks are wider than traditional kayaks and they tend to be slower.
  • There is no need to be concerned about water ingress, as the kayaks come with self-bailing drain holes. This ensures that these kayaks are good for fishing and using as a base to dive and swim from. They tend to be common in hot countries.
  • In summary, they offer a safe, high ride but are slow and expose the rider more to the elements.

Models to consider: Perception Scooter, Islander Hula 8.5, Emotion Spitfire.

Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are not toys and are quite sturdy. They are blown up with electric pumps and have compartments that offer increased buoyancy.

  • They deflate to a very small size and can be carried in a bag.
  • They are around ten to 15 feet long and are light and easy to turn on the water.
  • On the downside, more effort is involved in paddling and they are slow.
  • In short, high portability and ease of storage are major plus points with the inflatable kayak.

Models to consider: Sevylor Tahiti Classic, Stearns Inflatable Pivot, Hobie Mirage i12s.

Short or Long Kayaks?

Whether the buyer chooses a short or long kayak will depend on what their priorities are. This table summarises the pros and cons of each:

Short Kayaks

Long Kayaks

Easy to manoeuvre

Easy to use on long distance

Quick turns

Keep a better straight line

Ideal in estuaries, small lakes, rivers

Good for open water and smaller water bodies


Quite heavy

Less wind-affected

Can take heavy loads without losing performance

Easy to transport.

Extra glide per stroke means efficiency on the water


Quite quick

Ideal for beginners and children.


Features of Kayaks

Here are some of the features that kayak buyers can look out for when buying a kayak on eBay.


Controlled by foot pedals, rudders are flat blades that steer the boat. Cables go from the pedals to the rudder so the blade can be moved from left to right. Rudders can also come hinged so that they can be lifted over obstructions in the water, like seaweed.


Hatches allow quick access from the deck to equipment kept within the boat: They allow gear like sleeping bags and cameras to be stored. Improved design has largely quelled fears about waterproofing issues. In general, smaller hatches are better from a watertightness point of view.


The bulkheads are waterproof walls that divide the inside of a kayak into sections. They keep different types of gear separate and also offer some buoyancy reassurance in the event of capsizing.


The kayak seat is probably the biggest variable when buying a kayak. Seats vary enormously, but they are relatively easy to replace or adjust. When checking the kayak seat, look for a low centre of gravity with enough lift to keep legs comfortable. Make sure there is good lumbar support at the back and that comfort is generally good.

New or Pre-owned?

Prospective kayak buyers may be tempted by the idea of a brand new kayak, However, after a couple of outings, that new kayak will doubtless have a few scuffs and maybe a tiny dint or two, and it will stop looking like a brand-new kayak at all. In fact, at this point, buyers might start to question if buying second-hand might not have been such a bad idea after all.

Since a new kayak immediately depreciates as soon as it leaves the seller, the appeal of the second-hand market – where boats can still be bought that are within their warranty – is strong. There are some fantastic affordable kayaks to be found, particularly on online shopping sites like eBay.

However, it is still vital to apply the identical buying criteria as if it were a new boat being bought. That pre-loved online kayak might look like a bargain, but it will not be so much of a good deal if it won’t do what the user needs it to.

The principal place that used boats are found is on the Internet. Lots of kayaking sites have boats for sale and eBay has the widest variety of kayaks and equipment for sale.

Kayaks are well-built these days but are bound to come with one or two scuffs and scratches from general use. So check them over thoroughly. Places to give special attention to include

  • beneath the seat
  • the cockpit area
  • the bow and stern.

Check to ensure it’s all bolted solidly, too (see below). Remember that buying a used kayak on eBay might mean that there is no manufacturer’s warranty or guarantee, so any checks done at this stage will be in lieu of that.

Final Details

Once that kayak is bought, there are still a couple of things to tackle before getting out onto the water. One of the most important is to complete the warranty card and send it back to the manufacturer. Then, check that the bolts and fittings are all in good condition.

Specifically, these checks should include:

  • If there is a rudder, check the cotter pins and wire for rust or fraying
  • Check for hull damage or cracks
  • Use a torch to check inside the cockpit for cracks
  • Check the deck rigging, bungies, bolts, and grab loops
  • Put the kayak on a foam mat then fill it with water to test for leaks
  • Don't worry about gel-coat cracks – they are normally just cosmetic
  • Adjust the seat for how you like it.

If any of these kayak parts need mending or replacing, there is no better place than the eBay kayak listings. Assuming all this is in order, kayak buyers can now start to enjoy their time on the water.

Find Kayaks on eBay

Before placing a bid for a kayak on eBay, buyers should be sure they know exactly what they want to buy. They should also do some research on the seller – checking their feedback and getting familiar with how protection offered by eBay and PayPal works.

To find kayaks on eBay, select Sporting Goods, then Canoeing and Kayaking, then Kayaks. Anyone wanting to filter their search from there can select the Advanced link to the right of the main Search button. From there, they can enter keywords or an eBay item number, exclude specific words, and buy using price, location or various buying format (Buy It Now, Auction, or Classified Advert).

Searchers can even choose how they wish results to be displayed, for example, by best match, distance, price or condition.

Find out about the eBay Seller

Finding out as much information as possible on the eBay seller will usually pay off before committing to buy a kayak. Here are some key questions to ask.

  • How good is the seller’s feedback rating?
  • How many sales has the seller made?
  • What is their positive-negative ratio?
  • What do buyers say about their kayaks?
  • Does the seller offer money-back guarantees on kayaks?
  • What are the terms and conditions?


    The type of kayak bought on eBay will depend on many factors, such as build, weight, height, and the sort of kayaking the buyer is intending to do – whether on open water or in rivers. Level of expertise is also important to the type of kayak the buyer will end up with. Before buying any kayak, research, research and more research is the key.

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