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Buying a Used Yak

Yak Wisdom | read time 2 minutes

One Mans Trash? is …

You really shouldn’t dig in other peoples trash…yuck.

Buying a used kayak is certainly a viable and cost effective means to get into yakking — but, with the cost of yak production getting lower by the year, it’s not a necessity.  Personally, choosing between a new $200 kayak and a $175 used yak that is essentially the same, I’ll cough up the extra.  However, if you’re looking to get your hands on some of the higher-end yaks, but don’t have the money or can’t justify spending the money to get one new, buy used.  Someone that jumped in over their head can expect a big loss and you can turn that into your gain.  The more the market is flooded with new yaks, the lower the resale value on kayaks.
If you are dead set on buying a used kayak, there are a few things that you need to look for.  The first thing to ask a potential seller is “why are you selling your yak.”  They may want to upgrade, get out of yakking altogether, or there might be something wrong with the yak they’re trying to sell you.  If the seller is fidgeting, smells of stale beer and urine, wearing an FU hat, and says he’s selling the little alien boat because he needs money for crack….get outta there quickly because he’s a crack head!  When buying something used from a stranger don’t go alone and meet in a well-lit public place.  You will save yourself a lot of anxiety. It’s not always “stranger danger.” Just use some common sense.  Most yakkers are pretty cool people and want you to enjoy the sport as much as they do.

As a rule, most used kayaks will show signs of wear and that’s unavoidable.  Rocks and small gravel will cause minor scratches and nicks on the bottom of the yak.  It’s commonly referred to as “rash.” Though unpleasant to look at, it won’t effect performance or cause any major problems while yakking.  If they are excessive and cover the majority of the kayak, it shows that the yak was abused and might be hiding other more serious problems.  In other words, if it looks like last year’s bird nest, don’t buy it.  When examining a used kayak, look for patches!  They can be well hidden and painted to where they are almost camouflaged.  The patch may hold fine, but I (probably like the seller), would not want to risk it.  You don’t want to be 4 miles up that well-known creek, with no easy way out, wondering if that 30 bucks you saved was worth it.  Also check for small cracks and UV damage.  If a kayak was not cared for or stored properly, the sun can cause some serious damage.  Though less conspicuous visually, warps and bends underneath the kayak can cause a lot of problems while you’re in the water.  They cause distinct changes in the boat’s float and can prevent the yak from tracking properly, which can cause you to expend a lot of extra energy trying to head straight and approaching rapids at the correct angle.  

If the yak has paddles, rudders, and or other amenities, make sure they all work correctly.  The extra bells and whistles translate to higher prices and even more money for repairs.  If it all possible, get the yak in the water and check it out yourself.  If not possible, look for the aforementioned questions and decide if the money you’re saving justifies the means.  


A few great yaks around $500