Thrift Shop Finds: Many Questions

I returned home from a long bike ride to my wife telling me she bought two kayaks for her and our two kids to use. The boats pictured below are owned by people we know, were stored mostly in their garage and are $100 for the pair. The owners are older and no longer paddling and my wife thought the boats might be good to paddle in the protected harbors/close to shore where we live. My wife used to sea kayak with me and has no illusions that these boats are anything more than a cool thing to do in the summer instead of playing video games or renting paddle boards at the local park. We’re not taking them out to the sound or circumnavigating the island!

My kids have paddled kayaks before during camp and while on vacation with us.

The boats are about 9-10 feet long and have sliding pegs. No visible cracks but I’d go back in better light to check. My kids are bean poles like me; both are 5’6" and only 14!

The kids will need PFDs and a paddle for each boat. I stopped by the local Dicks Sporting Goods and I didn’t recognize a single brand of paddling products; most of it was Field and Stream brand (stores went out of business here), so I’m out of my comfort zone knowing what’s good and what’s crap at that store.


  1. Worth it? They’re in a church thrift shop so it’s basically a donation. I don’t see any downside provide the kids can sit in them comfortably

  2. What paddle length should I be looking at? They don’t need performance anything, so I’m happy with the $49 F&S brand…just have to know length.

  3. What is the quality of Field and Stream PFDs? The Dicks had a wall of PFDs, pick any color or camo pattern you like! Most were bulky with wrap around straps. Again, I’m not looking to spend a lot of money but I also know a bulky poorly fitting PFD can be miserable.

  4. Storage. I’m still debating where to put my kayak when it comes. No room in garage for these. Am I a horrible person if I throw a tarp over them and rest them on the ground? I can’t see the point of building a big rack for these and 1 sea kayak. (I was going to put the sea kayak on a pair of rests made from lumber and webbing)

Thanks in advance.

No photos of the boats were included.

Thank you. So busy with my questions, I forgot to upload.

If there are no cracks in the hull, those boats are fine for their intended use – small inland waters in benign conditions. Their only thing I would do for added safety is to add flotation bags (or glued on chunks of foam) in the stern and bow. Kids will be kids and can flip the kayak in flat water. You would not want the boat to sink or do a “cleopatra’s needle”. The kids can still climb back in, or climb on top of the overturned hull.

$100 for a pair of rec kayaks (with intact) hulls is a good buy for the “right” usage.



Agree with Sing 100%.

Most any standard size paddle likely would do fine. In the $50 range, you are probably looking at 230 or 240 cm.

PFDs have to meet a coast guard standard, so all will do the basic job of keeping ones had out of the water. The important part is to get one that is comfortable, otherwise the kids won’t wear them. Best to take the kids down and try on the PFDs and find ones they are comfortable in.

Buy some real PFDs from a paddling shop instead of Chinese ones from Dick’s.
NRS is good through the mail.

Boats are spoken for. In the time it took me to discuss with the Mrs, someone in the thrift shop determined they aren’t for sale, that they’ll be auctioned. I don’t understand what the thinking is, trying to drive up the price on 20 year old plastic boats considering they were earmarked for the trash a few days ago. Oh well.

Add your name and phone number on a USCG “if found” sticker to each kayak. Make sure the kids know if they flip, they may need to swim to shore. Both look good for your intended purpose.

If you do end up getting them, they would be worth $100 to $150 each since both are a decent brand and 20 years is not bad for a poly kayak that has been stored properly and neither looks sun damaged or oilcanned from the photo you posted.

I have known folks who bought Onyx brand PFD’s for themselves and kids – usually under $50, USCG approved and not bad in terms of construction and features. I just would not expect them to last very many years since the materials and stitching are not as high quality as you would find in a better grade like NRS or Astral.

I have that exact PFD. There are a number of variations of MoveVent PFDs. I find it comfortable except for the insulating effect on hot days. Clears a high back SOT seat.

But no niceties at all. No attachment points, you have to get a little creative to get your safety accessories (whistle, light, etc) attached. No pockets. Bare bones.

Mine’s coming up on three years, looks fine, fabric and stitching. After the pool sessions it looks really nice and clean! I think the manufacturer suggests replacing them after 3 or 5 years or something.

I agree with @Willowleaf. Put in a bid for them. You might get lucky and get them for about what you were going to pay for them.