Do Kayaks Hold Their Value? (Here’s What to Expect)


Kayaking may be a great outdoor hobby, but the reality is that not everyone will be able to hold onto their kayak forever. Eventually, there may come a time where it’s better to sell it off than hold onto it. This begs the question, do kayaks tend to hold their value over time?

Kayaks don’t hold their value because, like most other material objects, kayaks depreciate over time. However, even though the value of a kayak will naturally decrease, there are some kayaks made of materials that allow them to hold their value longer and depreciate slower.

That said, if you are planning on buying or selling a used kayak, you should be able to tell its value. The last thing you want is to get the short end of the deal. Read on to find out more worthwhile information about kayaks and depreciation.

How a Kayak’s Value Depreciates Over Time

The unfortunate reality of owning a kayak is that you’re likely never going to be able to sell it for the price you bought it for. Similar to most other objects, kayaks do lose value with every year of use.

Whether your kayak is used regularly or has been tucked away for some time, its value will go down regardless. Fortunately, kayaks do tend to hold onto their value better than other everyday objects.

The rate that a kayak depreciates—or loses value—is somewhat variable. The reason that kayak depreciation rates can be so difficult to quantify is that a kayak’s value really depends on how often it’s been used and how well it’s been maintained.

As a general rule of thumb, kayaks typically depreciate at a rate of around 20% the first year and then 10% in the years after that (source).

To give you some perspective, let’s go over an example. Let’s say that you purchased a sea kayak brand new for $1200. If you utilize and maintain this sea kayak like the average paddler, you should expect the value of your sea kayak to depreciate year after year in this manner:

Year of Kayak OwnershipKayak Depreciation RateKayak Value
Year 120%$960
Year 210%$864
Year 310%$778
Year 410%$700
Year 510%$630
Year 610%$567
Year 710%$510
Year 810%$460

Of course, this is merely meant to be a rough estimate. There are buyers and sellers of used kayaks that work well outside this range as well. Again, this is just meant to show you what the standard depreciation rate looks like in most cases.

Depending on how you see it, this approximate depreciation rate could be good news or bad news.

On the one hand, there’s the knowledge that your kayak won’t hold onto its original purchase value, so you’ll have to cut down your asking price significantly if you do ever intend on selling.

On the other hand, you might be happy to recuperate any money at all. If you have an old kayak that’s been stowed away and forgotten, having an extra couple hundred dollars in your pocket to clear out some space might feel like a total win.

Ultimately, you should be able to get some money if you do ever plan on selling your kayak later on down the road. Unless your kayak has sustained serious structural damage, most brand-name kayaks will not go obsolete within a few years of your initial purchase.

Factors that Accelerate Kayak Depreciation

Several factors can affect a kayak’s depreciation rate, which may cause it to lose value faster than it should. Therefore, you should keep these factors in the back of your mind if you ever plan on selling your kayak in the future. This way, you can avoid bad practices and better retain the value of your kayak.

Inadequate Storage Conditions

How a kayak has been stowed away will greatly affect its structural integrity and future value. For this reason, you need to take extreme care to store your kayak properly to avoid unnecessary damage and subsequent depreciation.

So, what qualifies as improper storage conditions? 

  • Storage in Extreme, Volatile Temperatures – If your kayak is stored in a location that’s subject to scorching temperatures and freezing temperatures, the structural material is much more likely to warp out of shape. This warping not only detracts from the aesthetics of the kayak, but its performance on the water as well.
  • Compression Underneath Other Heavy Items – Since kayaks take up so much space, it can be tempting to stack other household objects on top of it. While kayaks can carry a considerable amount of gear on the water, they’re not designed to bear a perpetual weight burden while in storage. Over time, such a heavy weight load can lead to dents, cracks, and other structural vulnerabilities.
  • Unnecessary Exposure to the Elements – Wind, rain, sleet, and snow can deal a considerable amount of damage to kayaks if they’re left unprotected. If possible, your kayak should be stored in an enclosed interior space. If this is not feasible, your kayak should be taken off of the water and covered with a tarp at the very least.

With all these storage criteria, it may take a bit of extra time and effort to find an ideal spot for your kayak to rest. Once you’ve found the perfect spot, however, you’ll realize that all this extra time and effort was well worth it to preserve your kayak’s value.

Prolonged Sun Exposure

Anything exposed long enough to the harmful rays of the sun will sustain some damage. Kayaks are no exception to this rule.

Although it may be impossible to avoid the sun exposure that comes with paddling out on the water, you can take steps to minimize how much sun your kayak absorbs when it’s out of the water.

Obviously, stowing away your kayak in a shaded interior is the best way to safeguard against harmful UV radiation. Unfortunately, though, this may not be possible for some kayak owners.

If this is the case, the next best option would be to use a protectant spray on the exterior of the kayak. These protectant sprays work much like sunblock in that they provide an added layer of coating against the sun’s damaging rays.

These protectants are fairly inexpensive and quite easy to apply. It will just take some initiative to follow through with gathering and applying this protective coating regularly.

We touched on it earlier, but another option is to protect your kayak with a physical cover. You have to be careful with these coverings, though, as some coverings may actually attract sunlight and heat your kayak to extreme temperatures. Obviously, this is something we want to avoid.

Physical Wear & Tear

Lastly, the physical damage that kayak sustains over time will depreciate its value. Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do as a paddler to protect your kayak against minor scuffs, scratches, and dents. Any open body of water is bound to inflict some amount of wear on your kayak during a paddling session.

The jarring impact of the waves, current, and natural debris can accumulate over time, particularly in rougher water conditions—the more aggressive the water conditions, the more of a beating your kayak will take.

If you’re concerned about how the condition of your kayak will fare on these rougher waters, it may be in your best interest to avoid such conditions altogether.

Kayak buyers do check for what kind of wear and tear your kayak has gone through, so they will be able to easily tell what kind of conditions you’ve put your kayak through. Sadly, they’re much less likely to pay top dollar for a kayak that’s seen better days due to past bouts with whitewater.

Aside from paddling in calmer conditions, you can also preserve your kayak’s value by taking extra care during its transportation to and from the water. This means physically carrying the kayak aboveground with proper portaging technique and placing it down gently once it has reached its final destination.

If you’ve developed a habit of dragging your kayak across the ground and tossing it about haphazardly, your kayak’s value will depreciate much more rapidly than the norm.

You can learn more detailed information about the drawbacks of tugging a kayak on the ground by clicking over to Can You Drag a Kayak? (+Practical Portaging Tips).

Which Kayaks Hold Their Value the Best?

Typically, kayaks that are made from Kevlar hold their value the best since the material is so sturdy and durable. Physical wear and tear aren’t so much of an issue with these types of kayaks because Kevlar can absorb heavy and sustained impact like none other.

In fact, it’s more than likely that a Kevlar kayak would remain relatively intact even if it were to sustain repeated hits to the same point on its framework. You may see a bit of delamination or damage to the resin, but nothing close to complete structural failure.

You should note that Kevlar kayaks do come with a higher initial price tag, though. For reference, a Kevlar kayak can cost anywhere from $700 to $800 more than a fiberglass kayak (source). So, in essence, you get what you pay for.

Although the kayaking material does play some role in its depreciation rate, it’s less important than the maintenance effort you put forth to uphold its value. Even the most durable kayaks in the world will fold after years of exposure to extreme temperatures, harmful UV radiation, weight compression, and exposure to the elements.

So regardless of what kayak you buy, take good care of it!

Sources: 1 2

Austin Carmody

I am the owner of HydroPursuit. I enjoy kicking back and getting out on the water as much as I can in my free time.

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