If you’re looking to buy a kayak it’s probably the wild outdoors that call to you - not hours spent browsing websites hoping for a price drop. They are an expensive purchase, and one that you want to make sure you’re getting right.
Kayak shopping, much like the kayak itself, is a balancing act. It’s all about finding the perfect time when stock remains high, but prices are getting low. Before making a choice you want to know that you’re getting the best possible deal you can.
To do this you need to know when those deals are available, and what sort of deals you might get.
So when should you be looking to buy a kayak?
Buying with the season
The kayaking season runs through the warmer months, starting in spring and lasting throughout summer. While there is some variance, generally this is the most popular time for kayaking. It’s also when they’ll be most expensive.
Shopping with the season involves knowing when the season is ramping up and slowing down. From late August, as the weather starts to cool and the season starts to wind back, retailers will begin to lower their prices. This is because they’ll be wanting to clear out as much of the summer stock as they can to make room for winter sports equipment.
While it does mean you’ll have to go most of the season without a kayak of your own, it can be the very best time to start buying. A kayak is a big item, and retailers will want to avoid having too many taking up room in storage. If you’re fast, you could snatch up an amazing bargain.
The other end of the season, right at the start, offers good deals as well. Around April retailers will begin to bring out the new stock, and what they don’t want is last year’s items hanging around.
In order to make room for the most recent and most expensive options they’ll discount what they have left over. However, be aware! The sale will be determined by what sold the previous year. In some cases, what remains might not be very much at all.
While it can be hit or miss when shopping around the season, most long term kayak users can agree on when is the worst time to look: right in the middle of summer. This is when sellers know they have a captive audience, so prices reflect demand. If you want a bargain, avoid the summer months.
Perhaps most importantly, good deals go fast. Kayaks don’t generally have a massive mark down, due to the long term nature of the purchase. If you see a deal you want, don’t hang around hoping for further reductions. It’s better to pay slightly more for a kayak that fits you, than risk missing out altogether.
As with any sporting goods, discounted kayaks can be found in holiday sales. It’s worth keeping an eye out for the Memorial Day sales, as they fall right when retailers are looking to get the new summer stock in.
Black Friday is another big one that comes at a good time - it’s far enough away from the season that casual shoppers are less likely to be looking. Many shops will be eager to clear the last of the stock over the winter period.
Although the lure of a shiny new kayak may be difficult to resist, if you’re after a bargain there are lots of great kayaks to be found second hand. These tend to move seasonally as well.
Keep an eye out around December, when cold weather causes people to move their cars into garages, only to find last summer’s impulse kayak purchase blocking the way. Or, at the start of the season when avid paddlers are looking to upgrade.
If you do choose to shop second hand, stay wary and do your research. Always look for dents and chips before buying, and watch out for scratches.
Although many will be surface level, deeper gouges can cause real problems. It’s worth asking the seller for a chance to take it out before purchase. This way you can see clearly where any issues may lie.
Buying Kayak Accessories
If you’re serious about kayaking, you’ll be aware it’s about more than just the boat. If you aren’t serious about kayaking but still want to give it a go, then it’s time to get serious. Life jackets and kayak pumps are essential for safety. Beyond that there are a range of options to help you kayak better and safer.
Unfortunately, the best time to buy accessories is right in the middle of the season. I know, we just covered why it was the worst time for buying a kayak, but accessories are different.
For a start, many of them will rarely be discounted at all. Unlike a bulky kayak, accessories such as a life jacket can be easily stored until the season starts again. Plus, many have versatile uses, so don’t need to go in holding when the colder months start.
For a kayak, look off season. For the add-ons, give yourself the best range of options by shopping during the busy period.
So when is the best time to buy a kayak?
Overall, the best time to shop is seasonally. The year-on-year kayak upgrades are rarely huge changes, and last season’s best kayak will still be pretty good in the next season. Try looking right at the beginning of spring and then again as the season begins to wind down.
Do your research first, so you know which deals are worth it. When you know what you want, keep an eye out on the prices and be prepared to move fast.
Don’t miss out on a bargain by waiting for a further price drop - other people won’t, and they’ll be the ones who end up with a kayak. As soon as the prices drop, snap it up.