Buying a kayak: top tips

Buying a kayak: top tips

When you’re new to any sport, one of the most daunting things can be the amount of information out there. People telling you what to do, where to do it, what to buy… the internet is packed full of information. To help your separate the wheat from chaff, we’ve compiled some top tips when buying a kayak.

New or second hand?

  1. What are your needs?
  2. What is your budget?
  3. How often will you be paddling?

With so many new and second hand boats on the market, there’s something to suit all needs and budgets. If you’re looking at buying a kayak that’s brand new, check out some youtube reviews of the types of boats you’re after. It might also be worth having a quick chat to your local retailer if you’re splashing the cash, to make sure what you are spending money on is correct.

If you’re buying second hand, check out places like eBay or Gumtree, local Facebook groups and noticeboards at centres. Before you buy the boat, look out for things like repairs, holes or deep scratches. Think of it like you’re buying a car and do all those usual checks.

Best kayak for you

There are so many different types of kayak available, you need to have a think about what you want to do in your kayak before you buy. Do you want to race? Paddle on white water? Perform tricks? Go for a leisurely kayak? Go on sea kayak expeditions? Whatever you want to do in your kayak, you need one suitable for that purpose. Here’s a list of some of the things you can do in a kayak that you might want to think about:

  1. Want to do tricks? Get a freestyle kayak which are easily recognisable and much shorter than a normal kayak, with a flat back and rounded nose.
  2. All about long, relaxing journeys? Get a tourer, designed for taking on miles, these are long and slender with plenty of space to store a picnic!
  3. Want to run rapids? Get a river runner. It’s longer than the freestyle but shorter than the tourer, and designed for fun on the white water.
  4. Into going fast in a straight line? Get a sprint kayak. You’ll have seen these boats on regatta lakes up and down the country, as well as in the Olympics. They’re very, very narrow!
  5. Fancy a try at slalom? You’ll need a specialist slalom boat, designed to ‘dance’ down set courses in the fastest time, picking up as little penalties as possible.
  6. Inspired by sea kayaking adventures? Get a specialist sea kayak. Very similar to the touring kayak used more inland, this kayak has many compartments to store kit and food.
  7. Want to kayak together? You’ll need a tandem.
  8. Something to play around on in the summer? Consider a sit on top or inflatable. You can pick up these kayaks from most retailers for a reasonable price.
  9. Want to do pretty much anything recreational? Look at all-rounder kayaks.

Other things to consider

  1. If you’re looking at buying ‘all the gear’ – kayak, paddle and some basic clothing equipment, take a look at retailer websites who often create bundles for beginners, containing everything you need to get started, at a discounted price. Also check out our kayak clothing guide.
  2. A basic paddle is ok to get started. If you find yourself on the water more and more, think about upgrading. It will not only make paddling easier, but it will also make your strokes more efficient!