How Old is too old to buy?

I’m looking at a WS Tempest 170 for sale used. It’s about 12 years old and has the wear to prove it. I have attached links of the hull. Is this too old/ too many scratches? Thanks.

I have an old plastic 17 foot kayak that’s more scraped up than that, so overall I don’t think it’s a problem if the price is right. But since it’s clearly well used, also look for severe sun fading on the deck which could weaken the plastic, and check the bottom at the stern. Some people drag their kayaks with just the stern in contact with the ground causing the plastic to wear through completely there.

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A lot of that should buff right out.
OK as long as no soft spots or cracks, just don’t pay a lot.

I can get it and a spray skirt and pump for $575. Do you think that is fair?

Youtube of a guy mending scratches by melting tarp into the kayak

I have not tried this but it looks interesting. I think in the vid he claims the melted tarp is stronger than the original plastic.

I really enjoy my Tempest 17! Good luck OP.

My 10 year old kayak looks that scratched up. Of more concern would be serious oilcanning and UV damage.

Back when I used to sell XC skis we sold P-Tex “candles” which were just sticks of polyethylene plastic which was what the synthetic ski bases were made of. You used the stick like old time sealing wax, melting it with a torch or lighter and dripping the material into deep gouges to fill them. Once the patch cooled, you shaved down the excess with a sharp scraper to level it out. I’ve seen some posts elsewhere of people doing this to HDPE boats.

But those look like superficial scratches. Nonetheless, price seems a bit steep. I have paid less for similar vintage and type touring kayaks which included a good quality paddle, PFD and spray skirt in the deal. $500 is the most I would offer if the boat is in good condition otherwise.

But, in the end, it is how much you are willing to pay for what you want and what they are willing to accept. No hard and fast rules on buying used.

In general for plastic boats - aging has a few primarily worries:

  • aging of plastic. As plastic ages, especially in prolonged exposure to the sun, it becomes more brittle and can crack. The plastic used does have UV inhibiters in it, so we are talking of many years of cumulative exposure before it is an issue. Boats not stored in the sun can last for a few decades, so 12 years old is not necessariliy an issue. Compare plastic in spots exposed to sun to those not *under straps, inside hull versus outside, etc.). If color is much lighter in exposed areas versus not exposed areas, that shows that it has been exposed to a lot of sun.
    On this specific boat, likely not an issue, but check for color differences anyway.

  • wear, like the scratches you see. Not a huge worry for most, unless scratches are more than a quarter inch deep or so. We did have a thread here where a boat wore through in the stern keel from being dragged a lot, and that could be an issue also. Cracking from the plastic becoming brittle is usually more of a concern (see aging above).
    On this specific boat, the images you show are all fine. My boats have more scratches than that. I just ignore them.

  • design - older boats have some design concerns. Cockpits openings were smaller, seats were often less comfortable, they may not have deck lines, and in real old ones, my not have bulkheads. These can impact comfort and safety. Most any commercially built boat from 2000 and beyond has at least all the standard safety items (deck lines, bulkheads, etc.).
    On this specific boat, the design is pretty current. Some boats may have slightly more comfortable seats, but not a big deal for most.

$575 is a decent price for that boat, if it passes the checks I suggest above AND is a boat that fits your needs/body size/etc. But do check hatch covers, as they do get a dry rot over time. They are available and replaceable, but at about $100 each for the large ones. If the hatches are gone, the good deal price can become not so good a deal price. A non-workings keg is not as big an issue - can be fixed if you are handy for the cost of a cable, or probably $50-100 if you have a shop do it.

If the kayak overall has the amount of wear and use that the bottom shows, I’d only look to pay $350-$400. But I’m a bargain hunter, and you also have to consider that this is the time of year when everyone is looking for something to buy so the bargains are rare.

More important than the scratches is how it was stored.

If it was stored out of the sun, the plastic will still be fine. If it was left in the sun the plastic might be drying out. That will cause more trouble.

Older boats are sometimes better made, more time was taken when WS was a smaller company.

I agree with Wolf if it passes the stated criteria. Start with $350 and negotiate. Almost every seller starts with the price even they think is too high.
Accessories are typically worth zip in pricing.

Just for comparison: I sold a WS Tsunami 145 two years ago that was about 12 years old then. It had fewer scrapes on the bottom than yours. I sold it with a paddle for $500 and had several people lined up to buy it. My impression is that WS kayaks are well-known and people will pay a premium for them. More importantly, though, is how well the boat fits and suits you.

By the way I’m in the Hudson River Valley, maybe boats might be more expensive here than where you are. Prices are definitely regional. A boat like that for $350 wouldn’t last an hour here.

I thought the OP was asking about a senior beginning paddler wanting a boat.


Condition matters a lot more than age. Some plastic and fiberglass boats start to come apart after exposure to UV light.

I am currently repairing an Old Town Guide 18 built in 1953. It is wood and canvas construction and is getting some new white cedar ribs and red cedar planks, new canvas, filler and paint. I have paddled a lot of rivers in that old boat in the last 25 years.

Me too

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