November and cooler temps (for most folks) are here and the inventory of used kayaks up for sale is increasing exponentially. It’s a pretty good time to buy because inventory is high and buyers are few. Lots of folks need extra cash for the holidays or maybe they won’t see moving water for another five months, or maybe there’s a baby on the way. Regardless of the reason, it is a good time to buy a used kayak. You can search Craigslist, Facebook Groups and local classifieds and see dozens of kayaks in lots of metro areas. The real question is, are you getting swindled?
Do you remember when everything on eBay seemed like it was a good price? I do. People would go crazy buying stuff because you could get ridiculous deals. Shortly after people figured out that they could prey on people’s assumptions and charge full price or more on a used item you could pick up at the local sporting goods store. That “game” has now transferred into most online buying situations.
These are a few tricks I use to make sure I’m getting a good deal:
Do Some Research
You need to become proficient at doing a Google search. Look for used kayaks and once you have located a model you think you are interested in, search for it on Google. What often happens is someone is trying to get every penny (and sometimes more) they paid back from you. A lot of this is because stores don’t often do returns on kayaks and if you buy on a whim, you’re stuck with it. Make sure you don’t pay full price on used kayaks. The rule of thumb I use is 20% depreciation the first year, 10% every year after that. If a kayak was $500 in 2015, in good condition, the most I would pay today would be $350. How do you tell the year model?
Locate the Serial Number on Used Kayaks
The serial number is often located near the stern (rear) of the kayak, many times on the right side. The last two digits of the serial number are the year it was manufactured. If a serial number can’t be found or is too scratched up to read, walk away. Kayaks are pretty easy to steal and if you are found to have a stolen kayak that you thought you legitimately purchased, you will lose your kayak and your cash. If you do find a good price, a good serial number and a kayak you think you might like, you need to try it.
If Possible, Demo Used Kayaks
Ask the seller if you can meet at a pond or lake nearby to both of you. This doesn’t always work out but just by asking, you’ll get a good feel about the seller and the kayak. If they are hesitant to let you try it, walk away. Usually there is a problem with the kayak they don’t want you to discover. This also serves another purpose. A growing trend is people selling things will offer to come to your house to drop it off. Sometimes we can be too trusting. The trick is, they will sell you the kayak, deliver it to your house and watch where you put the kayak. If you take it to the back yard, they’ll come back later when you are at work and steal it. Chances are you haven’t recorded the serial number yet (which you should do immediately) and so it will be almost impossible to find your stolen kayak. Meeting at a neutral sight for a demo is a safer, easier way to do business on several fronts.
Take a Friend
Whenever possible, especially if you are newer to kayaking, take a fellow kayak angler to check out used kayaks. Another pair of eyes will help clear the new kayak fever that buyers get when they get excited. Both of you check it out, both paddle it if you are doing a demo and talk about what you think honestly. If it’s not a slam dunk, walk away.
Often a picture is taken before or after a fishing trip and your purchase may or may not include all of the items pictured. Make sure to ask what comes with the kayak at purchase. You’ll need to have a paddle and a lifejacket for sure. If they aren’t included and you don’t have them already, make sure you have enough money left over to get them.
Hopefully these tips will help some of you avoid some heartache, find a better deal and get that new kayak with fewer hang ups.