Used Inflatable Kayak Buying Guide

Views 1 Like Comments Comment
Like if this guide is helpful
Used Inflatable Kayak Buying Guide

Kayaks are a great way to explore rivers, lakes, and even the ocean. Because they are smaller than most boats, kayakers enjoy the opportunity to be as close as possible to the water. A kayak can be carried and put into or out of the water by as few as one or two people. They are easy to transport from location to location, and an inflatable kayak is even easier to take along. Their ease of use and easy portability makes them enjoyable for solo outings or getting together with other kayakers in small groups.

The guidelines for choosing a good, used inflatable kayak are similar to those recommended for buying a hard-shell kayak. In order to make a good consumer choice, buyers must first understand why an inflatable kayak may provide the best recreational options. Then, consider how it will be used the majority of the time in order to determine the best type to choose and the available options to look for before purchasing.

Good Reasons to Choose an Inflatable Kayak

Many outdoor adventures find that owning a kayak enhances their ability to explore many more places. When it comes to getting around in the water, a kayak is an appealing option for many people because it opens up new possibilities of places to explore. It allows the kayaker the ability to get into narrow spaces as well as the ability to be on the water quickly and easily without having to launch a boat.

One main reason that people choose to purchase a kayak instead of another similar type of boat is because a kayak is more portable. A hard-shell kayak can fit on the top of the many cars, provided there is a suitable rack in place. It is also reasonably easy for one person to maneuver a kayak onto and off a vehicle for transporting.

As versatile and easy to transport as a hard-shell kayak is, however, their bulk and weight still limit where and how the kayaker will use one. A single individual can handle a moderately sized kayak, but it is still easier to load and unload it from a vehicle with help from a partner. Many people are interested in the independent recreational and adventure opportunities kayaking allows, meaning that they want something they can transport on their own, without help.


While the durability of a quality inflatable kayak is a prime attraction for many kayak enthusiasts, another major benefit that an inflatable kayak has over a hard-shell kayak is that they are much lighter, compact, and can be transported quite easily by an individual kayaker. The fact that they can be deflated, disassembled, and folded to a compact size also means that they can be transported in many more ways than a hard-shell kayak can. For instance, for a short outing, the kind that someone looking for regular recreational exercise may engage in, an inflatable kayak can easily fit into the boot of most cars and still allow space for any other necessary recreational equipment. On holidays, an inflatable kayak can easily be stowed away on an RV or even a sailboat. Their compact size, durability, and ease of use make them very versatile boats, indeed. They are just the thing for a fishermen who is in the market for a small fishing vessel, an outdoors person who desires a way to explore lakes and rivers, or anyone who is looking for a new and exciting way to get exercise and adventure.

Single Person Set-up

An inflatable kayak is relatively lightweight and rather easy for one person to set up with a partner or alone. An electric pump makes it even easier. The fact that such a boat can be kept in the boot of the car, ready for use at any time, can make getting out on the water quickly and easily and on a regular basis possible for people who might not otherwise be able to do that. This is important for anyone who does not find it easy to stick with a recreational activity, which may become an integral part of their exercise program, if the equipment is too difficult to set up and use.

An inflatable kayak's ease of use and portability is also important for the recreational user or fishermen who wants to be able to just drive to the location of their choice, unload the kayak by themselves, set it up, and get on the water at any time. A hard-shell kayak makes these things relatively easy, but still requires much more forethought and planning than an inflatable kayak does.


An inflatable kayak can generally be used the same way as a hard-shell kayak can. They are very durable, handle reasonably well, and are generally able to be used in the same type of situation that a hard-shell kayak is used. In fact, the soft but strong surface of an inflatable kayak resists damage in situations that would either dent of crack a hard-shell kayak.

Choose the Right Kayak Style

Owning any inflatable kayak can provide the adventurer with a number of ways to get out on the water and engage the surroundings. There are, however, a few styles of kayak to choose from, each one better suited for different conditions. For instance, a long, narrow kayak is fast but may be too unstable for some situations. A wider boat may offer the stability some kayakers are looking for.

The choice between the different styles should depend on how the kayak is most often used. The best kayak for a lake fisherman to use may not be the best kayak for use in the ocean surf. The following chart describes the characteristics of each style, and the type of use each one is best suited for.

Type of Kayak


Whitewater Inflatable Kayaks

Rather short, ranging from 1.2 to 3 m long; generally narrow, but often wider to allow for more stability

Touring Inflatable Kayaks

Longer boat, typically over 3 m; may be narrow or wider, with the difference affecting stability, a novice should choose a wider kayak

Recreational Kayaks

Reasonably short, generally less than 3.7 m long, these are relatively wide, between 69 to 91 cm; rather stable and easy for the novice to quickly learn to use; characterized by a large cockpit

Each type of kayak can be used for many different situations. It is wise, however, to choose one that is best suited for the type of kayaking that the kayaker enjoys most often.

The Right Kayak for the Job

The varying size and construction details of each of the different styles make each one best suited for the type of kayaking it is intended to be used. For instance, the relatively short length of a whitewater kayak helps to increase maneuverability. The ability to make quick adjustments is a necessary design feature intended to give the kayaker control on the rivers and rough water conditions this kayak is used for.

A touring kayak is designed for open water, such as oceans and lakes. Their length makes them less maneuverable, so they are not meant for tight turns. However, they are more manageable and faster then a short river kayak, which makes them ideal for exploring large bodies of water.

Recreational kayaks are designed for use in a variety of different situations. These are the type often used by fishermen, nature enthusiasts, and leisure kayakers. The adequate length and width of these kayaks make them ideal for use on relatively calm waters, such as lakes, flat-water streams, and protected seawater. They are not constructed for use in the open ocean or in whitewater conditions.

Available Inflatable Kayak Options

Most of the different styles of kayaks include a variety of options. Just like choosing between the different styles, deciding about the different options that are available will be a matter of personal preference.

Choice Between Tandem or Solo

A tandem kayak seats two passengers and a solo kayak only seats one. There is a reasonable size and price difference between the two. Although they may cost a little more and may take up a little bit more room to store and transport, many people enjoy owning a tandem kayak even if they only rarely take a companion along. The extra space is a good place to store extra gear when a partner is not along.

As with all water sports, is never a good idea to be on the water alone. Kayaking is commonly a group activity, with each member in a solo kayak. A tandem kayak provides a seat for any extra kayakers. It also ensures the kayaker is always ready for company and never has to kayak alone even when not in the group.

Sit on Top vs. Sit Inside

Once the choice between tandem or solo has been made, it is time to choose between the sit on top kayak or a sit inside version. The main differences between the sit inside kayak and a sit on top one are how dry the kayaker remains, the maneuverability of the kayak, and the ability of the kayaker to change positions. Many kayakers prefer the sit on top style for a variety of reasons, including the ability to get into and out of the water quickly.

A major factor when it comes to choosing between these two styles is that a sit on top kayak will not swamp, or fill with water, the way a sit inside kayak can. This may be very important, especially if the kayak will be used in situations where there is the chance that it may flip over, such as in rough waters or on the ocean surf.

Even though an inflatable kayak is very buoyant regardless of whether it is a sit on top or a sit inside version, the sit inside version can still take on quite a bit of water making it impossible to right it again when swamped. While the sit on top kayak may be easier to get back onto in these situations, they also provide little protection from the elements, and the kayaker is bound to get quite wet. This is not appropriate for cold water situations unless appropriate measures are taken, such as wearing a wetsuit.

Why Buy a Used Inflatable Kayak

Owning an inflatable kayak opens a world of adventure that most people only dream about. Like any other kind of recreational equipment, an inflatable kayak can be quite expensive. One way to save on that expense and still enjoy the recreation is to purchase the equipment used. By choosing to buy a used kayak, the consumer has a great opportunity to save on the initial cost, and the savings that can be put towards purchasing an even better model.

Inflatable kayaks are made of very durable material, and can last many years. One that has been taken good care of by the previous owner is likely to still have plenty of use left in it. Many people who decide to sell their used recreational equipment are not selling it because it has worn out. Most people simply decide the sport is just not for them anymore. They want to recoup some of the expense and move on to other adventures.

In these situations, the equipment is still in prime working condition. Purchasing one of these can offer even more value because the purchase may also include accessory items that the previous owner bought to use with the kayak. There are many great ways to accessorize an inflatable kayak, by adding an electric pump or fishing gear. Many people who are looking to sell are willing to let these items go with the kayak at no additional cost. It can also mean more money in the bank for more adventures and reasons to use the kayak.

Things to be Aware of When Buying a Used Inflatable Kayak

When buying a used inflatable kayak, it is important to be concerned with the quality of the kayak. Because it is used, its price should be reasonably low, which means the consumer can afford a higher quality model. The materials used, and the quality of construction of many inflatable watercrafts varies greatly. Before purchasing, find out all you can about the specific model, including any ratings and reviews. Doing so can help ensure that the consumer finds the best value for their money.

Also, because it is a used kayak that may or may not have originally included certain accessories, it is important to know what items it should include and to make sure they are of all there. Commonly, an inflatable kayak package will include a foot or hand pump, a paddle, and the carrying bag. They should be included in the purchasing price. Buying used means that it may also include an electric pump, storage accessories, and perhaps a life jacket or other related items.

Choosing the highest quality inflatable kayak when buying used is always the best choice. However, all inflatable are susceptible to damage at some point in time. If the kayak does not come with one, it is a good idea to purchase a suitable repair kit to have on hand before repairs are needed. The repair kit should repair the type of material used in the specific model of kayak.

Where to Buy a Used Inflatable Kayak

New kayaks are expensive, but a bargain can be found by finding one used from any of a number of different places. Used kayak are sold at garage sales and secondhand stores, as well as flea markets. Some sports shops also sell used equipment. A great way to find a large variety of used inflatable kayaks for sale is to turn to an internet auction site such as eBay.

Buying a Used Inflatable Kayak on eBay

eBay sellers regularly list used inflatable kayaks of all the different types, and with many of the available options. These represent quality, money saving opportunities for any kayaker wanting to invest in one of these great portable watercrafts. Begin your search on the eBay homepage by typing in search words such as "inflatable kayak". You can then limit the results shown by choosing to see only used kayaks.

When purchasing a used inflatable of any type you should always be concerned with the quality of materials and construction used in the inflatable being considered. By investigating the original value of the kayak, and by ensuring that the used kayak is in good condition and comes with all the necessary equipment, you are much more likely to be pleased with the purchase.

Study the listing carefully, noting any mention of damage or missing parts. If the listing is just not clear enough, or if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask the seller. Most are more than happy to answer any questions you may have and even provide more pictures if necessary.


For many people, a good-quality kayak is an invaluable piece of outdoor recreational equipment. An inflatable one is not only durable, able to withstand a large measure of rugged treatment; it is also more portable than a hard-shell kayak, making it an even more versatile watercraft. There are several different types of kayaks, and options within those types. When choosing one, it is important to understand how the kayak will be used most often, as this affects the choice of the type of kayak to purchase.

Because an inflatable kayak can be rather expensive, it is advisable to save money by buying used. Doing so makes more high-quality kayaks available in the average consumer's price range. These higher-quality, value-priced kayaks not only real represent a bargain, they also represent increased durability, usability, and safety.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides