When embarking upon the decision to purchase a used kayak, you must know how to inspect a used kayak you want to buy. It is absolutely possible to purchase a solid boat with integrity. Some ardent kayakers just want to upgrade and take very good care of their gear. You can pay half that of a new boat, or even less for an older boat. To inspect a used boat do so in person; photographs can't capture nuances of damage.
- Do an overall visual inspection. Check apparent wear and tear. A kayak can be older and still be in good condition, but heavy usage can manifest itself in delamination. Notice discolored or wavy areas. Are there dents or patches?
- Check for structural damage. When you find a discolored or wavy area, put the boat on a softer surface and press your hand gently on the area in question. It is a problem if you hear creaking.
- Check the seams. On a fiberglass used kayak you can note wear and ensure there is no evidence of separation. On an inflatable kayak the seams may have a type of tape covering them. If it is the same material as the seams, it may indicate the tape is the main attachment for the seams. Investigate this.
- Look for a hairline crack across the hull. This can prove to be structurally costly in the future.
- Check seaworthiness. Take it for a test run. Look for small leaks.
- Inspect the interior of the kayak with a flashlight and mirror. Don't worry about scratches, but be concerned with deep cracks. On an inflatable boat remove the hatches and float bags to thoroughly inspect the interior.
- Ask questions. Find out how the kayak was treated, how often it was used, and where it was stored. Storage is important because sunlight can be very damaging.
There are various online resources for purchasing a used kayak. Do not let the fact that you are buying a used boat discourage you. It can be well worth the expense to purchase a piece of equipment that is just as good as new. You may be able to find outing clubs who have sales. Also when you start talking about wanting to buy a used kayak you may find a friend or co-worker who just happens to have a boat they don't need anymore.