Okay, so now you know how to use all your whitewater kayak gear. You can get in a kayak, put on a skirt, and use a paddle. Sadly, after your beginner kayak course, you had to return all of this awesome gear to Wet Planet. If you want to keep kayaking, don’t worry! You have already taken the hardest step towards your lifetime journey down the river. Now all you need to do is use that stoke and passion for kayaking to get yourself outfitted and river ready.
Some people are gear collectors and are psyched to get top of the line, brand new gear. However, that can get pretty pricey. Luckily kayak technology hasn’t changed all that much in the past few years. Used gear can be a great option for people just getting into kayaking. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you search Craig’s List or one of the many kayak forums like Professor Paddle or PDX kayaker:
The pros of buying used gear:
1. When you are just entering the world of kayaking, the multitude of gear options can seem overwhelming. Buying used gear allows you to not spend a lot of money from the get go. Then as you get more time on the river and meet new kayakers, you can hear their opinions and try out their gear in order to decide what gear is best for you.
2. Buying cheaper, used gear allows you to get on the river and decide if you really want to pursue the sport. Then, if you decide that kayaking isn’t your calling you haven’t wasted a ton of money.
What used gear to buy, or not to buy:
1. Kayak- it is totally okay to buy used kayaks. My first kayak was an old Dagger RPM that I bought for $100, instead of spending the $1200 for a new boat. Just make sure you ask to see the boat, or at least see pictures, before you purchase it. Small scratches and normal wear and tear are fine but look out for large gashes or deep dents.
2. Paddle- as I am sure you know by this point, swimming is a part of every kayaker’s experience, especially when you are just learning. As a consequence, paddles are the piece of gear that is most often lost by beginners. Therefore, it is definitely advisable to not spend a lot of money on your first paddle. As with the kayak, just make sure there aren’t any large cracks in the used paddle blade.
3. Skirt- used skirts are also a great option. As long as the skirt fits the cockpit of your kayak and doesn’t have any holes, you are good to go! You can also use Aquaseal and old wetsuit material to patch pretty much any hole.
4. Dry gear- used dry gear can be kind of hit or miss. The latex gaskets on dry tops and dry suits can get old and rip and holes can form in the shoulders or feet. But, some used dry gear is really great. Used Kokatat gear is a great option because you can send it to them and for a small fee and they will test it and fix any minor holes. They can also help you replace any ripped gaskets. It is really important to fix all the holes in your dry gear, especially your drysuit.
5. Helmet and PFD (personal flotation device) – like any high risk sport, it is very important to have good protective equipment. Therefore, if you are going to buy any new gear, it should be your helmet and PFD, because it is this gear that may help save your life. It is sometimes possible to find very gently used helmets and PFDs that have minimal wear and tear. Be VERY cautious because a helmet should be retired after one big hit and PFDs after prolonged time out in the water and sun. So in general, always ask lots of questions about the previous owner’s use. When in doubt, head to your nearest kayak store and buy them new! Our local favorite is Kayak Shed in Hood River, Oregon.
6. Other river rescue gear- you may have seen your instructor or other paddlers with additional river rescue gear. This may include a first aid kit, throw rope, knife, breakdown paddle, and pin kit. Just like the helmet and PFD, it is important to have good rescue equipment. The one piece of rescue equipment that is great for every paddler to carry is a basic first aid kit. However, as a beginner paddler you may not be quite ready to help others. The best way you can prepare yourself for helping your paddling buddies in the future is to really hone the basics of kayaking. Another great option is to take a river rescue course like the River Rescue/White Water Technician course that we offer here at Wet Planet. Do not hesitate to take this course just because you are a beginner. The earlier in your paddling career you learn good rescue skills, the earlier you will know how to properly manage the risks of whitewater kayaking.
Have any further questions about gear, rescue courses, kayaking in Washington and Oregon, or more advanced Wet Planet kayak courses? Wet Planet kayak instructors and reservation staff are always excited to help paddlers take the next step. Just give us a call at 800-306-1673 or stop on by. We can’t wait to see you on the river soon!
Author Carson Lyness‘s favorite thing about kayaking is being able to flip over and talk to the Salmon. She is part of the Wet Planet base staff, marketing team, and an all-star kayak instructor.