If you’re looking for the right “experienced” canoe to start or add to your fleet, don’t be intimidated by the legion of places you can look for used watercraft. Here are some steps to follow in the process.
Know What You Need
Save time and money by deciding who will use the boat, what they’ll use it for, and how they’ll get it to the water. Answer questions like:
What kind of water (lakes, rivers, rapids, oceans)?
How long (an afternoon, a weekend, a month or longer)?
How much cargo?
Who’s on board (no one, one person, full crew, adults, children)?
How will it get to the water (aka, is my car big enough)?
Know What You Want
Save time and money by knowing what’s available, who makes it, and what other people are saying about it. Answer questions like:
What kind of canoe best suits my needs?
Who makes the kind(s) of canoe(s) that best suit my needs?
What do the people who use these canoes have to say about them?
Know What You Want to Pay
Dreams are great, but they won’t get you on the water. Once you know what you need the canoe to do and which canoes meet those needs, decide how much you’re willing to pay. This step can come before you even decide your needs or wants, and it may change as you see what’s available. But if the sky’s the limit, why buy used at all?
Know Where to Look
Here’s why you came to this article, and there’s almost no limit to where you can find used canoes to buy.
Check the listings in your paper, either the real thing or online. Insist on seeing the boat, preferably taking it for a test ride before you fork over any money. Be careful to meet in public places, and bring someone with you for a second opinion. Some online classifieds that have categories local to your area may include:
Specialized Online Classifieds
Some of these are dedicated to classified ads; others are simply paddling sites that include a classified section. Here is a selection of both:
Paddling.net—Buyer’s guides and reviews; classifieds section
Paddlers.com—Paddlesport shop; look for “used boats” in the left nav bar
Paddlingtrader.com—Worldwide listings; search by region
SellMyCanoe.com—Canoes, kayaks, rafts, paddling and camping gear
Check with companies in your area that rent out canoes. Ask if they sell their used boats. Take advantage of their rentals to test-drive the canoes that interest you, even if you don’t buy from them.
Stores like Cabela’s, Gander Mountain, REI, and Dick’s Sports all rent out canoes, take trade-ins, and use floor or demo models. Ask if they:
Discount existing stock when new boats come in
Discount floor or demo models
Have any trade-ins for sale
Take advantage of their rentals to test-drive the canoes that interest you, even if you don’t buy from them.
Areas like the Boundary Waters have loads of local outfitters. They might not be near where you live, but you can bet they have used boats for sale. Choose your favorite canoeing hotspot and search for the places that provide rental services there. Just remember to factor any shipping or handling into your final cost.
Online Price Searches
These specialized search engines are good for used as well as new items. They can also be good places to locate the best prices on accessories like paddles and lifejackets.
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The Review Guy has years of experience in the kayak, canoe and outdoors equipment business. Establishing one of the largest adventure sports retail chains, he understands what makes for good equipment. Today, the Review Guy tests a variety of equipment and details the pros and cons to readers of The Wilderness Review. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.