Buying first kayak -- seeking advice

Hi All,

I’ve found this website extremely helpful as I go through my search looking for a new kayak. I’m interested in a touring style kayak as I only plan on using it for calm waters to combine with camping trips. Since I’m on a budget, I’ve been looking into used kayaks through and local classifieds. I’d love some help on the following questions I’ve got so far:

(1) Since I’m looking into a used kayak, what in particular should I be checking for to make sure it is in acceptable condition (e.g., warping, damage, etc.)?

(2) I found someone selling a Necky Gannet in my local area and from the reviews this looks like a great entry level kayak; however, it is 8 years old and he’s selling it for ~$500 – this seems like quite a lot for this kayak, is that right?

(3) Are there other good sources for finding used kayaks? So far the selection seems limited on Craigslist (perhaps bc of my location, I’m in Austin) and sites like eBay also didn’t have much either (and shipping was really expensive too).



Demo day near you
Just found this at Austin Canoe and Kayak ( - demo days coming up March 20-21. This is a good environment to just hop into boats and get a feel for them, and to pick the brains of manufacturers reps on the beach about boats.

Not a direct answer to your question I know, but it’s a good opportunity near you.


– Last Updated: Mar-07-10 2:38 PM EST –

Check the classifieds here - there's a QCC 400 listed in Texas that would be a good choice, although it's on the large size - very stable. The listings change frequently, so keep looking.

PS - I second Celia's recommendation - I went to several demo events before buying anything. Going used is still the best way to start in my opinion.

does it come with anything?
If it is $500 for the kayak, decent paddle, pfd, skirt, etc etc etc it might not be a bad deal.

I have also found that in my area it’s feast or famine for used boats, you won’t see any for a while, then all of a sudden you’ll see 3 or 4 each day, then nothing again for a while. It may just be you need to keep your eye open for a little longer

Kayaks are simple enough that most damage is fairly obvious. Check the bottom near the stern – I’ve seen boats that were worn through from being dragged on paved surfaces. One question to ask is where it was stored – poly boats do degrade with long-term sun exposure.

Do go demo boats. Demo days are a great learning opportunity. If you start building a list of boats you like, shopping the classifieds gets easier.

Sellers meet 1/2 way…
…and more alot of times. Search the whole country. At minimum you’ll get an idea of what you want and approximate pricing.

another source…
check Kijiji…

just use common sense when buying used… watch out for thin spots in plastic hulls…any cracks, repair jobs? are all the seat anchor points secure / unbroken ? are the pedals structually sound? …personally i think $5oo for that boat is too high/ offer them $300! ( or less ) No one ever keeps their 1st kayak anyways. So buy cheap…you’ll get a better understanding of what you want/need after using the 1st one a season. good luck

Just a thing as too old?
Thanks to everyone for all the advice. I also think $500 seemed to high for the Gannet, but I will keep on the lookout for used deals as I’m a beginner and checkout the demo day to learn more and potentially find a deal.

One last thing – is there such a thing as “too old” for a (polyethylene) kayak? From the comments it sounds like I just need to look over the kayak carefully and make sure it wasn’t stored in the sunlight, just want to be sure.

I found a posting for a Perception Acadia (12 foot) around ~$300 and am planning to check that out soon.

Too old
Fiberglass kayaks last a long time, plastic ones not as long. You can patch up fiberglass boats, should last two decades.

Try the boat in the water. You will know if it is your boat. Buying a boat should always be an emotional decision.

I now have two boats, they are my 4th & 5th in less than 4 years. These two are keepers, I love them both. The one quality boat I had that I decided was not for me was pretty easy to sell for 150 less than I paid for it two years earlier.

Perception Acadia (12 foot) ~$300
When $300 12 foot or longer boats are available. Leave work, go straight there with cash and pick it up fast. Deals don’t last and most any 12 footer or longer that fits you (sit in it first) will be a good boat and get you one the water soon.

Then start saving for your next boat. After you get that you can easily sell the first boat for what you paid for it.

If the boat is plastic and faded of chalky stay away from it.

Even if you bought the too high price Gannet and used it for a year an resold it for a fair $300 your cost per paddle could be less than $4 per trip.

My advice would be to buy the kind of kayak that looks as much like a canoe as possible, or better yet just buy a canoe :slight_smile:

if you are going on trips 10 + miles look at a sea kayak. 16 feet +

splashing around a pond any rec boat , under say 15 feet will do. this works on slow rivers and most inland stuff.

if you want white water you would want a different creature all together.

my boat is new but i have a friend with a 13 year old plastic capella and it is stored (left) outdoors. that boat is fine and i use it when i visit.

if you are looking at used boats you should land a decent enough boat for $500.oo you could get a decent rec boat fron costco for that , new! with a paddle and deck.

i would think sea kayak.