Used Sea Kayak Buying Guide

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Used Sea Kayak Buying Guide

A sea kayak is an open water version of the more common river or whitewater kayak. Sea kayaks are longer and sleeker than their river counterparts, and can be up to 8 metres in length. What they lack in comparable manoeuvrability they make up for in comfort, higher cruising speeds, and storage capacity. The sport of kayaking has grown significantly in recent years, as more and more outdoor enthusiasts are taking up activities that provide good exercise without harm to the environment.

Sea kayaks are available in many sizes and construction materials resulting in a wide range of prices. Anyone considering the purchase of a used sea kayak can benefit greatly from learning about the various types available, materials used in kayak building, and optional accessories. Since any used item offered for sale has experienced some level of deterioration, it is important to discover as much as possible about the various features and components. There is wide variety of used sea kayaks and accessories available on eBay.

History of the Kayak

Evidence for the use of kayaks for hunting and travel goes back over 4000 years. They appear to have originated amongst the native people of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. These early designs were built from light wooden frames and seal or sea lion hides. The wood and hide or fabric combination survived until the 1950s, when the use of lighter and more durable fibreglass materials took over. Rotation moulded plastic designs were first produced in 1984. They represented a significant departure from the traditional version and were the first sit on top style. The most recent iterations for the serious kayaker have a nylon skin over an ultralight frame.

Benefits of Sea Kayaking

Sea kayaking is obviously beneficial to the arms and upper body in general because the single paddle that propels the craft is held in the hands. Sea kayaking also develops the entire trunk and legs. The legs are a fundamental aspect of paddling because they are used constantly for balance and to apply pressure against the kayak for stability. Besides the clear cardiovascular benefits, there is direct muscular work in the chest, shoulders, arms, and back. As paddling is low impact, there is little in the way of stress on the joints. Even when paddling slowly, the meditative and cognitive aspects of peacefully gliding across the water are beneficial.

Types of Sea Kayak

The range of prices for used sea kayaks is significant, in the same way that the price varies for new models. The initial factors to consider include whether there is typically going to be one person or two using the kayak, the available budget, and the individual preferences with regard to weight and size. Cockpit size can become critically important in the event that the kayak capsizes and there is a need to exit it quickly.

Single Sea Kayak

The most common type is a single sea kayak that accommodates one paddler and storage space for camping gear and other necessities. Single kayaks are obviously the best choice for those who tend to kayak alone or with a group of dedicated solo enthusiasts. They are lighter, which is a significant advantage when it comes to transporting them on land. A single kayak is always less expensive than a tandem of similar quality. However, it is worth considering the pros and cons of buying two singles rather than a tandem sea kayak.

Tandem Sea Kayak

Couples and families with children are well served by a tandem sea kayak. Often the skills and physical strength abilities of any two people are so diverse that combining them within one unit is the best way to maximise their efficiency. Communication is enhanced and there is less of a chance of one person becoming separated from the other in the water. Tandem kayaks also offer the opportunity to continue moving when the weaker paddler tires and needs to rest. Many people enjoy the closeness offered by tandem kayaks that can be diminished with two single models.

Sit On Top Sea Kayak

Sit on top sea kayaks are defined by a cavity that is part of the kayak's hull, which is where the paddler sits. Sit on top kayaks are wider and flatter to accommodate the higher centre of gravity. They are also more stable, which can be a big advantage when travelling with children, or photography and fishing equipment. Size parameters make them more difficult to manoeuvre. Sit on top sea kayaks are the better option for those who kayak mainly close to home and do not expect to travel great distances with the vessel.

Sit In Sea Kayak

The more traditional type of kayak is the sit in or touring kayak, which enables the paddler to sit lower, allowing for a narrower and sleeker design. Touring kayaks are typically lighter, which is a big advantage when the inevitable transport situations occur. Since the cockpit is part of an open hull, kayakers usually wear a spray deck or skirt to keep water away from the inside of the boat.

Inflatable Sea Kayak

Inflatables make a lot of sense for travellers without a lot of spare room. This style is easily inflated with hand, foot, or electric pumps that can be powered from a car. They are the least expensive style and are handy for camping and other situations where space is at a premium.

Summary of Types of Sea Kayak

The table below describes the types of sea kayak and their advantages and disadvantages. Find out which type is offered by a seller and how it performs in different wind conditions before buying.

Type of Kayak




Freedom of travel


Better for fishing

Communication can be more difficult


Less expensive than two singles

Better when travelling with children

Cumbersome when travelling solo

Less combined storage

Sit on top

Greater stability

More comfortable in hot weather


Whole body exposed to the elements

Sit in

Greater speed and manoeuvrability

Bulkhead with sealed hatches

Can feel wobbly

Most expensive style


Easy to transport



Must be inflated

Less manoeuvrable

Less durable

There are a number of variations within each category that affect price and performance. Read as much as possible about each type prior to deciding which one to buy. Most importantly, consider the primary use for the sea kayak and how frequently it is going to be in the water.

Sea Kayak Features and Accessories

A rudder is mounted to the stern of some kayaks to facilitate turning. Typical designs employ foot pedals on either side of the hull that are wired to the rudder and enable the kayak to turn in the direction of the depressed pedal. The rudder itself can be raised to prevent damage when approaching the shore line or dragging the kayak along a sandy beach.

A skeg is an important kayak feature for windy conditions. It is essentially a short, elongated keel positioned in the middle of the stern directly in front of or in place of the rudder. A skeg can be an invaluable aid for keeping the direction of the kayak straight in cross winds, but does not help with turning. Many kayak purists argue in favour of a skeg only, as they feel the presence of a rudder is unnecessary as they can turn with just a paddle.

The most important kayak accessories to consider include:

Factors to Consider when Buying a Used Sea Kayak

The ultimate benefit of a used sea kayak is that it allows the buyer to purchase a top quality model at a reasonable price. Other than possibly acquainting a child with the concept of kayaking or providing infrequent kayakers with a diversion, there are few reasons for anyone to consider a starter or beginner level kayak. These styles become unsatisfactory quickly for anyone who intends to use them in open water. While they may be durable, they are sluggish, heavy, and cumbersome to paddle. They can also be unsafe.

Capsizing Sea Kayaks

It is important to be certain that any sea kayak floats properly in the event of capsizing. Some provide buoyancy at one end only, resulting in vertical flotation. A safe sea kayak floats horizontally, even with the added weight of the kayaker. It then becomes simpler and safer to bail and use a bilge pump to remove water from the interior compartments.

Commitment to Sea Kayaking

Those who are uncertain about their participation in the sport should spend some time renting a kayak before making a purchase. Rented kayaks are generally well built and durable enough to withstand constant use. After a few outings most people have a good feel for the boat style and a better understanding of the features that are most suitable to their individual preferences.

Buying Used Sea Kayaks on eBay

The place to start looking for used sea kayaks is on the eBay home page. The process of finding just the right kayak is greatly simplified with the use of the search tool that you can find on every page. If you have decided to buy a used single kayak for example, then enter that phase into the search field. This directs you to page with all of eBay's current listings. Once there, you can narrow the search further  based on features of the kayak. eBay provides some search tips to help you to find the right sea kayak.


While sea kayaking may have begun as a travel necessity, today it is seen as an invigorating and fun outdoor activity that the entire family can enjoy. Anyone can handle these lightweight boats, given the number of options available. The British Isles offers some of the most highly regarded kayaking destinations in the world. Many novices are astounded by how simple the sport is to master. After purchasing the kayak and some accessories, it is essentially an expense free recreational activity.

eBay provides a complete online resource for used sea kayaks. From the comfort of home, buyers can find a wide range of products. The entire buying process can be completed in minutes and the kayak is delivered directly to your door. In addition, as the sellers on eBay may incur very little overhead expenses and the competition is keen, the prices are nearly always be affordable, especially when buying a used sea kayak.

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