Sea Kayak Buying Guide

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Sea Kayak Buying Guide

Sea kayaking is a popular activity that many people enjoy for its relaxing approach to gliding across the water and the views it affords, which cannot be seen from shore. Kayaking is also good cardio exercise, providing a good physical workout for individuals wishing to stay in shape or get into better shape. As the sport of kayaking continues to grow in popularity, more people are in the market to buy a kayak.

With so many options available to kayak buyers, it is hard to know exactly what type of craft to buy. Sea kayaks have unique characteristics that differ from those of kayaks designed for whitewater or competitive kayaking. Knowing what to look for in a sea kayak is the key to getting a boat that performs up to expectations. One can purchase a sea kayak at sporting goods stores, boat dealers, and specialty outdoor recreation dealers. For the greatest in selection and convenience, however, eBay is the place to go. On eBay it is easy to find a new or used kayak from the comfort of home.

Characteristics of Sea Kayaks

Sea kayaks are designed to navigate open water, are suitable for long distances, and provide excellent stability. Sea kayaks, often called touring kayaks, should not be confused with recreational kayaks. Recreational kayaks are designed more for closed bodies of water and short trips, and are not very stable in anything but calm water. When purchasing a sea kayak, one should consider a number of features, including the kayak's length and width, its skeg or rudder, seating capacity, and colour.


Sea kayaks are generally longer than most other styles of kayaks. The minimum length of a sea kayak is 3.5 metres; longer boats, up to 5.0 metres, provide increased stability. Longer kayaks take more time to get up to speed, but paddle easier on longer trips. Longer kayaks also track, hold course, better than shorter models. Moreover, long kayaks glide and maintain their speed more easily, which makes them ideal for the open water and the longer distances often travelled by sea kayakers.


The proper sea kayak width is dependent upon the size of the person paddling and the amount of gear he or she is carrying. Sea kayaks used for multi-day trips are generally wider, enabling them to carry the camping gear that is needed for overnight stays. Widths range from as little as 50 cm to as wide as 90 cm. Wide sea kayaks are heavier and require more exertion to move through the water; however, kayak width also translates to kayak stability: wider kayaks are harder to tip than narrow kayaks. Additionally, wide kayaks are generally easier to enter and exit than are narrower kayaks.


Most people would not consider kayak colour anything more than a personal choice. In some cases, however, colour plays an important safety role: red and yellow kayaks, for example, are easier to spot, which can be a distinct advantage in rough seas. Keeping track of other kayakers in a group outing and helping power boaters to better see a kayak in sea swells is a good argument in favour of a bright-coloured kayak.

Skegs and Rudders

Most sea kayaks have a skeg or rudder to aid in the control of the kayak, especially in strong currents or windy conditions. A skeg is a metal plate located under the stern of the boat; the skeg is usually triangular in shape and can be moved up and down as well as set at an angle from the keel of the kayak. Hand controls in the area of the cockpit allow for movement of the skeg.

Rudders are attached to the top of the stern on sea kayaks, with a hand lever that allows one to lower the rudder into the water. Rudders are controlled by foot pedals in the cockpit.

Seating Capacity

Sea kayaking is often a family or group activity; thus, two-person, double, or tandem kayaks are not an uncommon sight on open-water trips. Much larger than single-pilot crafts, a two-person kayak is often suitable for couples or on parent-and-child trips, where the child is too young to safely pilot his or her own sea kayak.

Kayak Construction Materials

The material from which the kayak is constructed can be the biggest factor in the price of the kayak. A kayak's material largely determines its elasticity, weight, and durability. The most common materials for sea or touring kayaks are polyethylene, transformed ABS, or composite materials.

Polyethylene Kayaks

Polyethylene is a type of plastic and is one of the most popular materials used to construct kayaks. The advantages of polyethylene are that the material is relatively inexpensive, moulds easily, and can be repaired if damaged. The disadvantage of polyethylene is that the sun breaks down the materials elasticity and it becomes brittle. Polyethylene is also one of the heavier plastic materials

Transformed ABS Kayaks

Transformed ABS is a process by which acrylic is placed over ABS plastic, giving the surface a glossy appearance similar to composite materials. The surface performs very well and is lighter than polyethylene. Transformed ABS is also repairable in the event of a ding or scratch.

Composite Kayaks

Kayaks are made from composite materials such as fibreglass and carbon blends are lighter than those made of any other material. A lightweight kayak is easier to move on and off vehicles and transport to and from water. The biggest disadvantage of composite kayaks is that they are expensive: the construction costs of a composite kayak are higher than those made with other plastic materials.

Important Features of Sea Kayaks

In addition to the construction of the boat itself, there are important features to sea kayaks that buyers should look for to ensure that the boat is suitable for its intended use. Key elements to consider include the kayak's hatches, weight limit, accessories, and paddles.

Hatch Lid Design

Hatches are located both fore and aft on the kayak; hatches allow for the storage of gear and, when closed with a cover, provide extra buoyancy to the kayak. Several different types of hatch lids are available, each with different features. Plastic hatch lids have gaskets to seal out water and are held in place with cargo straps. Neoprene covers stretch to seal the hatch tightly, providing a secure seal. Rubber hatch covers snap onto a moulded ring or lip that is like sealing a plastic container, while toggle hatches use a gasket to seal out water and toggles to clamp the hatch in place.

Weight Limit

All kayaks have a weight limit, and exceeding the recommended weight capacity of the kayak is not recommended. Kayak buyers should calculate their weight combined with the amount of equipment they intend to carry and select a kayak that can accommodate the total load. Wider kayaks generally carry more weight than can narrow models.

Kayak Accessories

All kayaks can capsize, so being prepared in the event of flip is the key to quickly recovering from the kayak being swamped. Well-fitting hatches are a way to minimise water intake; however, having a means to remove water is recommended, so kayakers often carry a sump pump. Special dry bags protect stowed gear; an important feature as drying out wet camping supplies is not the way to finish a long day on the water. Spray skirts fit around the kayaker and seal tightly to the cockpit rim to keep water out of the cockpit, making them a must in choppy seas. A personal flotation device (PFD) is also an important accessory for any kayaker and especially for open-water travellers.

Kayak Paddles

There are almost as many kayak paddles as there are kayaks. Sea kayakers use a paddle that is much different that those used by whitewater kayakers. Longer paddles, 220 cm or more, are a popular choice for sea kayakers because of their ability to provide long, gliding strokes. Thought it takes more effort to get the kayak moving with a long paddle, once speed is established the long paddle can maintain the speed with less effort. Wood kayak paddles provide a good feel of the water during strokes, but wood is heavier than other paddle materials. Fibreglass, aluminium, and carbon fibre paddles all are lightweight alternatives to wood and as such are viable options for sea kayakers.

Kayak Car Carrier

While not exactly a kayak accessory, a car carrier makes transporting a kayak easier. Various designs of rooftop kayak car carriers are available. One should look for a model that can safely mount to the vehicle and hold the kayak securely in place, thus eliminating the risk of the kayak coming loose during travel and sustaining damage or, even worse, causing an auto accident.

Buying Sea Kayaks on eBay

Buyers looking for sea kayaks find a large selection on eBay. Sellers offer kayaks both new and used, as well as everything kayakers need from paddles to PFDs to kayak accessories to the kayaks themselves. Buyers can search for kayaks by browsing through eBay's categories and finding the category that includes sporting goods and kayaks in particular. Buyers looking for a specific type of kayak use keywords such as 'tandem kayak' or 'sea kayak' to narrow their search for products matching the keyword description.

Buyers can communicate directly with a seller to ask questions about the product offered for sale via the item's listing page. Buying a kayak on eBay is easy and convenient: one can shop from the comfort of home, without driving around to stores looking for the exact kayak one needs. After careful consideration of all the many options, it is time to make the purchase and pay with one of eBay's many convenient payment options, confident of a safe and secure online transaction. 


Open-water sea kayaking is an enjoyable activity and when using top quality equipment the value of the best product features translates into improved kayak performance. A sea kayak can be an expensive purchase, and anytime one invests a large sum of money, one naturally wishes to be certain of getting value for the money.

Busy consumers can benefit from the ease and convenience of shopping for a sea kayak on eBay, and knowing what to look for helps buyers to make an informed purchase decision. Deciding on a design, selecting the best kayak construction material, choosing the most important features, and selecting accessories are all decisions that kayak buyers must make. Having a kayak that is stable, that glides easily through the water, and that is propelled with the least amount of effort adds to the enjoyment of the activity. With the proper knowledge, getting the sea kayak that performs up to expectations translates into a great deal for the buyer.

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