Looking to buy my first quality kayak (used). Need advice

LOL, for me it’d be a 19 hour drive so you’ll beat me to it. Plus, I already have a nice boat. (But prolly could make room for just one more…)

You gonna go take a look?

1st law of used kayak acquisition…If it looks to be in good shape, buy it. Sell it if you don’t like it


Going to try. I emailed the guy this morning to ask if it was still available and if he thought it would fit my frame. No reply yet.

The Impex Montauk and the Vela are not the same boat at all.

The Vela is on the narrow side but has a surprisingly high deck. My guess is you would be just OK on fit but could get challenged if adding camping gear.

The Vela is a sincerely cool little boat. Has rock solid secondary stability, but some find its approach unnerving. It has a single hard chine so she will whack well over onto that. But I have had this boat in haystacks over my head, as long as I stayed loose the boat was not going anywhere. A coach went swimming that day in the same stuff.

On the less fun side the boat really is prone to weathercocking and in higher winds the skeg doesn’t fully handle it. Unlike most newer boats it has a “tight” bow. Can fix that up with loading a bit heavy in the stern.

I would be concerned about the camping part. The rear part of the boat, which is normally your work horse space for gear, is extremely shallow. It does not take a lot to fill that up after the tent.

Kayak versus canoe comes down to whether portaging is part of the picture. Like it or not, kayaks are a PITA for portage compared to a properly set up canoe.

Still no word from Vela guy. I’m supposed to see Selkie next week. Selkie guy is also selling this boat:

Any thoughts on this as a temporary boat to get me through the summer/resell it once I find something better? I can probably get it for $450.

Summers are short in Minnesota and I’m not finding much for good used kayaks. Canoes are way more plentiful - perhaps I should just go the canoe route this summer so I can get some VNP/BWCA camping under my belt and take more time on the kayak search.

1 Like

Have you read this thread about the Vesper?

So the person who has the Vela and the Vesper is on the smaller side. Find out their height and weight, close to yours you are good to go.

The Vesper would also need at least a float bag for the bow. The Vela is set to go but is fiberglass so likely pricier.

I also wonder if you should forget the longer term kayak for camping this summer, do the canoe for that. And think more about where you would paddle a kayak. For ex bigger lakes where the handling characteristics of the Vela would be good.

If it is cheap enough, addition of a float bag up front would give you a chance to use the Vesper as a beater boat to start working higher end kayak skills for cheap money. A basic fabric and bungied skirt would be fine as long as you don’t mind some water getting in.

I looked at the Vela again and think I am seeing something like kevlar weave inside, so it would be lighter than the norm. So mayhaps the price is fairer than I think. Worth asking. And been kept way more nicely than mine.

Here is my game plan:

  1. Try to get the Vela kayak. Guy is not responding so I don’t know if this will be possible.

  2. If that fails, find a good used aluminum canoe on Craigslist to use for the remainder of this summer. Can find tons of canoes in my price range.

  3. Keep eye on Craigslist for a good used kayak for the remainder of the summer.

I still like the Selkie, just not sure if its right for me after listening to you all and another friend.

1 Like

Even if you get to see the Vela keep in mind that you really want to try it out before purchase to see if it feels good to you. The best kayak in the world is only the best because it’s right for your body.

My guess is that the seller of that boat doesn’t know much about it. They did not specify the brand or model in the ad, and the length they listed is wrong. Maybe you asked questions they don’t know the answer to and are trying to find out?

One thing to keep in mind with a seller who is selling a kayak that looks like a good deal, but isn’t quick to respond, is that he could end up selling it to someone closer while you’re in the middle of your 4 hour drive and not bother to let you know. Craig’s list isn’t “first to inquire gets dibs”. It’s first to show up with the money gets the deal.

Question on the canoe front.

I’m seeing a lot of older Alumacraft/Grumman aluminum canoes for $400-700. They appear to be in good shape and would fit my need for camping on Rainy Lake or BWCA.

As long as they are in good condition and do not leak is there much to worry about? I see a lot of Old Town canoes for cheap as well, but they appear to be a plastic type material. Not sure if I should keep those in mind as well in my search. If I go canoeing it will be with two people - probably won’t go out solo so weight concerns are probably not a big deal.

Found these kayaks and the guy would deliver north to Rainy Lake for me. He believes the Explorer would be a good fit for me.


Love the NDK Explorer & it is priced fairly assuming it’s in decent shape. As with the Selkie though, the 10 inch hatches are not optimal for camping, especially where portages are concerned due to having to unstow/restow often. It is a great kayak especially for open water paddling.

PS - An NDK Explorer HV is my go-to kayak and I use it for remote, multi-day camping.

1 Like

Maybe I’ll consider the explorer then. It is more than I planned to spend, but if it is in good shape, fits well, and is quality then it should last me for quite some time.

Selkie has a lower cost to entry, but it seems like I may have to eventually replace it with a better boat.

If you get the Explorer, you will grow into it. The feel on the water initially will be very different/challenging compared to your 10 ft Menard’s beginner kayak. I strongly suggest you take a paddling lesson that includes basic rescues from an ACA or BCU instructor soon after getting the Explorer (or any new upgrade kayak). It should enhance your paddling skills and personal water safety confidence too.


Quick note on the Vela, it is 15 ft 8 inches as far as I know. Nowhere near 17 ft.

Here is what guy said regarding the condition of the explorer:

“Do have couple other photos from same back yard set, but still hard to see condition of the boat. Well used, not abused. Bottom scrapes. Surface spider web cracks from air pressure/temperature changes around day hatch. Hatch still sealed. New deck lines.“

At that price or even lower if you can negotiate a couple or three hundred less, no problem. The Spider cracks are from leaving hatch covers on while stored or out in the sun for extended periods - that’s a “no no” with kayaks that have excellent sealing hatches, i.e. NDK, P&H, Valley. Hatch covers are only on any of my kayaks while using the kayak - that is when they need to be watertight. I make fabric covers to keep critters out and birds from nesting in the kayaks during storage.

Captain Jack’s Spider Crack stuff if it really bothers you.

Yeah, those hatches are tight. When I first got my Explorer LV I had it across the street in a parking lot from work one hot day. Was going to a paddle after work.

I was involved in the job so it wasn’t until shortly after lunch a coworker asked why I had what looked like mushrooms sticking above my boat. :grinning:

You think I can offer $1,000 or is that low balling?

You have to base your offer off what the kayak looks like once you see it. I approach any used kayak purchase as if the seller is doing me a favor if he does not sell to me. My kayak storage room is limited (down to 5 right now) but I feel that I need about 12 -15 kayaks for every situation and a few for friends to use too. To me, $1000 is not low balling, but you have to weight that based on speaking with the seller.