Used White Water Kayak Buying Guide

Like if this guide is helpful
Used White Water Kayak Buying Guide

A kayak is a narrow, human-powered boat that is shaped much like a canoe. It differs from a canoe in that the hull is largely covered over, except for the small cockpit where the kayaker sits. A kayak is propelled by a paddle, which is usually twin bladed. The kayaker dips the paddle into the water, using it to both power and guide the kayak. White water kayaking is a type of kayaking carried out on turbulent bodies of water, usually rivers. The reference to 'white water' comes from the foam generated by the turbulence in the water, and distinguishes this more arduous form of kayaking from the relatively sedate kind that takes place on calmer water.

A kayaker should not pay over the odds for their equipment. For this reason it is important that before setting out to a buy a kayak, the buyer familiarises himself with all aspects of this popular water sport, the nature of the conditions for kayaking, as well as what one should be paying for new versus used kayaks. This research helps ensure that the buyer picks up a suitable kayak at the right price. Many new to the sport of kayaking turn to kayak retailers or clubs to buy their first kayaks. This can prove to be an expensive exercise. Rather, eBay has a good selection of used white water kayaks, often at better prices.

Types of White Water Kayaks

The last few decades have seen an explosion in innovation in watercraft. The are now a variety of kayaks available on the market. However, not all of these kayaks are suitable for white water work, with many intended for fishing, nature watching, or other gentle recreation on calm bodies of water like lakes and estuaries. The types of kayaks listed below have the necessary strength, manoeuvrability and design features to effectively cope with white water conditions.


The form of 'play' these kayaks are designed for is the energetic, hair-raising sort of play that takes advantage of white water features such as holes and eddy lines. Playboats are also known as freestyle or rodeo boats, which gives a clue to their character. Noticeably short and narrow, with a planing hull and near vertical walls, playboats can be as short as just 2.5 m in length, with a capacity of under 190 litres. This makes them manoeuvrable and frisky; great for cartwheels, loops or spins. Playboats are known to tip easily, are hard on errors, and need respect and experience to be piloted safely. That said, they are rewarding to ride.

Creek Boats

Creek kayaks are even more extreme than playboats. They are designed for the most demanding of kayaking tasks, including plunging over waterfalls and running the gauntlet of narrow, rocky creeks. Creek kayaks are characterised by a short design, with blunt, large volumed ends and a rounded deck to help the boat surface after being submerged. The bow and stern pillars are often reinforced, and the design is generally tailored towards strength and a need to stay afloat against all the odds.

River Running Boats

These are probably the best kayaks for kayakers who are new to white water work, as they are all- rounders, without some of the extreme characteristics of the other two. Generally larger and less skittish than creek boats or playboats, river running boats are typically three metres in length, with rounded, displacement hulls. This type of kayak handles quite predictably, being both stable yet agile.

The table below summarises the differences between the three types of white water kayaking boats.


Creek Boats

River Running Boats

Short and narrow with near vertical sides; the show-offs of white water work; skittish and highly manoeuvrable

Used in extreme white water conditions; hard to sink; thrive on steep and difficult water

Largest of the three; predictable in their handling, yet agile and fast; ideal for the beginner

Only the experience of using several types of kayaks in the water gives the buyer a true sense of the kayak that is right for them. The kayaker should consider joining a kayaking club or visiting on a open day so as to test drive different kayaks. 

Important Buying Considerations

Before setting out to look for a kayak, the buyer first needs to honestly assess their own abilities on the water. When it comes to assessing the variety of kayaks on the market, the kayaker needs to consider specifications like the capacity and weight limitations of the kayak, the quality of construction, and whether to buy a used kayak.

Capacity and Weight Limitations

Kayaks come with either single cockpit, two cockpits, or very rarely three cockpits. As well as deciding on the type of kayak, it is also necessary to consider the weight of the occupant or occupants, as each kayak is rated to accommodate a specific weight range. Along with the physical weight of the kayaker, the buyer should also consider the weight of any gear they may need to take along with them on a white water kayaking adventure.


Although kayaks for general use are sometimes built of other, less sturdy materials, there is not a lot to choose between most modern white water kayaks in this regard, as they are generally all manufactured from high grade polyethylene. This plastic is extremely strong, and unlikely to suffer structural failure. When considering a used whitewater kayak, it is generally safe to disregard scratches and scrapes on the body, as these scratches are not likely to adversely affect the structural integrity of the kayak.

New or Used?

As mentioned above, before buying a kayak, it makes sense to try out as many different types of kayaks as possible. That said, eventually the time comes when the dedicated white water kayaker needs to own a kayak of their very own. The first question to consider is whether to buy a new one, or a used one.

Buying a used white water kayak can be an excellent way to save money, compared with buying a brand new one. As a steady stream of new models of white water kayaks emerges onto the market, many of the more experienced kayakers choose to upgrade their kayaks frequently, and when they do, they have to sell their existing kayaks. Because many kayaking enthusiasts update their kayaks so often, many of the used kayaks offered for resale are just a few years old. A buyer could potentially pick up a used kayak in good condition for half the cost of a new one, or even less.

The next question to arise: where is the best place to buy the used white water kayak? Most kayakers looking to offload their kayaks head on over to eBay, and this is where buyers are bound to find the widest selection of used white water kayaks at the best prices.

How to Find a Used White Water Kayak on eBay

It is relatively easy to track down a used white water kayak on eBay. From the eBay home page, simply type in a search phrase such as 'kayak' or 'white water kayak', if you are looking specifically for white water kayaks, and then press 'send'. In either case, the search brings up numerous listings for kayaks currently listed for sale. You can narrow down the candidates by filtering the search results.

For example, you can specify that you only want to see listings for used kayaks posted by sellers in your local area. If the seller is agreeable to the idea, you can hop in your car and go over and inspect the kayak in person. To specify local listings, you simply set a search radius originating from your postcode.

When you have a few listings for kayaks that interest you, read through the item description and study the photos very carefully. This is especially important when considering used kayaks. Expect to spot the occasional scratch and obvious signs of wear and tear. Be mindful of buying a kayak with obvious cracks and signs of severe corrosion. Also, you should not just assume that the paddle is included. If the seller has neglected to mention either it way in the item description, you can clarify this with the seller by going into their profile and clicking on the contact link.


White water kayaking is a popular sport in which a suitable watercraft is used to ride turbulent stretches of water. Recent years have seen an increase in the variety of kayaks available, and there are now several broad categories of white water kayaks. These vary in their stability and skittishness. The most extreme of these, the creek boat, is able to plunge over rapids and negotiate rocky creeks.

All kayaks are built to cope with most white water work. The all-rounder of the three types of white water kayaks is called the river running boat, and this kayak makes a good buy for a newcomer to this exciting water sport. Experienced kayakers are constantly moving onto the latest in kayak design, and so often sell perfectly good white water kayaks that are just a few years old. For those buyers who know where to look, this makes it possible to find a good, used, white water kayak at half the price of a new kayak, or less. eBay offers a good selection of white water kayaks, including many used kayaks in good to excellent condition. 

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