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Used inflatable kayak buying tips and buying used inflatable kayaks


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Home > Used inflatable kayak buying tips and buying used inflatable kayaks

Author: P. Chevrier
March 30, 2004


Used inflatable kayak buying tips and buying used inflatable kayaks

One of the biggest problems when first looking at second-hand or used inflatable kayak, is how to tell if the craft is really what you need. Some inflatable kayaks look very spartan and commercially orientated and therefore are unsuitable for family and sports use, however, these craft may be very tough and provide an excellent safe sea boat albeit without any luxuries. Other inflatable kayak may look very well fitted with comfortable seating, flashy consoles and plenty of instruments, but this does not mean necessarily that the hull is very capable in typical sea conditions. Quite recently a number of inflatable kayak manufacturers have introduced a number of creature comforts which include thickly padded seating with grab handles and other features.

Most makes of inflatable kayaks are a safe bet when looking for a sound investment and used prices are very strong, thus buying a new or used kayak is generally a much better financial proposition than a GRP sports boat or open day boat which tend to depreciate very quickly. Perhaps because of their versatility and general social acceptance in marinas and harbours etc, where sports boats can be frowned upon, that kayaks are new in the majority and to be on the water during a weekend confirms their amazing popularity.

Buying a used, or as the posh used car trade call them, previously owned, inflatable kayaks can be a very confusing and in some cases expensive pastime. Buying a used inflatable kayak should be straightforward providing basic inspection shows no obvious flaws. Generally speaking, what you see is what you get and there should be no reason to suppose that if the tubes and hull appear fair that there are any hidden problems; however, the following obvious tips should provide a guide to the main problem areas.

Repairs Check
Check for major repairs to the
inflatable kayak buoyancy tubes. If there are professional repairs evident, then this should not present any problems; however, half stuck patches may indicate an amateur repair and these should be attended to as soon as possible.

Blown Baffles
Check for blown
inflatable kayak buoyancy tube baffles. This is easily checked by deflating the adjoining tube and inflating the inflated one to sufficient pressure so as to provide a firm and correctly inflated section. Any air transfer will be heard escaping into the deflated chamber. Place your ear close to the baffle (division between air chambers) of the inflated tube to magnify the noise.

inflatable kayak seams are covered by tape which can become detached or start lifting. On some kayaks, this is purely a protective tape covering the main seam below, however, on other makes, especially where the tape is the same fabric as the boat and not just a light weight tape, then this may be main attachment between seams. If the former applies, then is nothing to worry about and a little glue will re-stick the tape easily. However, if the heavier wider tape appears to be lifting, consult an expert before proceeding with the purchase. On certain makes of boat, this can be the beginning of the scams becoming unglued and this can prove very expensive to put right. Some early PVC and polyurethane tubes were particularly prone to seam problems and when unsure as to the type of fabric in use, again, contact the manufacturers or an expert to ascertain the likely problems.

Hull to Tube Attachment
Careful inspection of the
inflatable kayak will show up any problem in this area and common sense should prevail, however, check for tell tale glue stains on the tube which may indicate a previous problem that has been hastily repaired.

Glue Smears
Dark brown smears which are difficult to remove around the
inflatable kayak tube joint may be just a careless clean up job from new; however, it may be a repair so ask the seller and have a go at pulling at the fabric in that area to ensure the stick is good. Tubes that become detached at sea do not amuse the crew, although it has been known to create mirth amongst onlookers.

Hull Integrity
Check the
inflatable kayak hull/floor for serious crazing, especially along the spray rails and chines. Any longitudinal cracks should be treated with great suspicion, but, even worse is a hairline crack that runs across the beam of the hull. This may indicate that the boat has a weakness which could result in an expensive repair or even worse a hull that is flexing due to loss of longitudinal strength through severe use or accidental damage. Any cracks should be checked thoroughly and a surveyor should be consulted if in any doubt. Minor star grazing, compression cracks and chips in the chines are generally cosmetic rather than structurally dangerous. To repeat, whenever in doubt get a surveyor or walk away.

This is seldom a problem although
inflatable kayak floors may become spongy. This can be caused by the floor becoming detached from its bearers or the plywood base becoming damaged through water or fuel ingression.

Check for any obvious damage and condition of the upholstery, seat hinges etc. but, otherwise, nothing particularly serious should occur in this area; however, check the floor attachment area to ensure the seat does not break out.

Complete Package
Finally, check the engine-trailer-
inflatable kayak package are compatible and have been regularly maintained. Kayaks that are hardly used hardly used can be just as troublesome as heavily used craft and vice versa. Outfits that have been properly maintained are usually reliable and well found and can provide a worthwhile investment for the buyer.


About The Author:
P. Chevrier is a successful author and publisher of several online articles in the inflatable boat industry for

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