Buying yaks that used to be rentals.

-- Last Updated: Sep-06-16 4:28 PM EST --

I've been cruising Craigslist the last several months or so looking for good deals.

Several have popped up that were previously rental boats. Does anyone have experience with buying rentals? I assume the seat on any rental is going to need replacing. Other than that, if the hull looks in good condition do rentals make good boats or is there something else I should be wary of/ look at?

Specifically, the boat I'm currently looking at is a 14ft Carolina. Will it hold up after being a rental?

I’d inspect before buying
I wouldn’t buy a rental sight unseen. If you can, check the hull for structural weakness - it will be scratched plenty but should have no cracks or deep gouges. Check all of the fittings/attachment points and hardware. Lastly, ask to see the rest of the fleet to get a sense for how well they care for their boats.

look at it closely!
the only thing harder on their boat than the rental crowd is me!

wanted good cheap kayak

I post these links when someone asks…

The north country has a short season. Some areas are rocky some not.

Outfitters will milk an investment to death before selling it unless needing cash for buying a new snowmobile or whatever.

The south has a longer season and softer bottoms.

If nearby a cruise over to kick these boats would be instructive of a base line for a use able used hull.

I would be curious as to what a used Kevlar Voyaguer is used.

Bargains are found from college paddlers needing cash. Search Craigs thru college towns.

My first boats were
a pair of rentals from an outfitter on the upper Delaware. Around 1977 or so.

We had years, decades actually of use out of them. If I hadn’t given them away to folks who wanted to paddle but couldn’t afford a boat, I’d still take them out once in a while.

If the hull is in decent shape, and no fading from sun exposure, I’d go for it.


Some outfitters…
…turn their rental fleet over every year. One reason is to keep their rental fleet looking good, another is to get a decent price before the rental boat is trashed.

Just have to look at the boat.

It’s usually advantageous for tax reasons for outfitters to sell off rental fleets before winter, since they would have to count them as taxable inventory at year end. Since rentals rarely leave the livery site, if they are properly stored they are often in somewhat better shape than boats from private owners, who unfortunately often ruin rotomold kayaks by leaving them too long on roof racks or out in the hot sun on the ground.

I often look at local used kayaks for sale by private sellers, checking them out for friends and family looking for a boat, and I would say more than half have serious enough oil-canning to not be worth buying. At least around here, the boats at the rental concessions are in decent shape and stored properly.

I went to a Rental
to see what they had that would fit me and for sale. The guy took down several boats off of their outside rack and kinda plunked them down after scraping them dragging them off the rack. I kinda went EEK! Do I actually want to buy that $2500 boat for $1600 after seeing how these boats are treated day in and day out???

I Made Out Like a Bandit
I got a rental / demo Alchemy for half price. No regrets. I DID make an agreement with the seller that if it couldn’t hold a straight line I’d be returning it in a few hours. It did fine.

Just Check It Out…
…like you would any other purchase of a used item. My late wife’s WS Cape Horn 15 was a rental, used one or two seasons…apart from a few scratches (and a 1/3 drop in price vs. new), it was the equal of a new kayak. 15 years later, it’s still going strong…

that’s a good point

my experience
My experience is that rentals would be fine to buy. For plastic boats, which I believe the Carolina you are looking at is, check that any skeg or rudder in it works fine, as these take a lot of abuse. If not, either get them to fix or move on to another boat if they won’t.

That said - On the whole, many rental facilities know how to charge for boats. I have found I ca usually get a better price for similar quality boat from private parties than rental locations.

scraping and dragging
I scrape and drag my boats (plastic and skin on frame) all the time. It doesn’t hurt them. They are going to get scraped and scratched in usage so it really doesn’t matter. They are tools that get used. Fretting about superficial hull abrasion is not worth the aggravation. I used to roll my eyes when customers at the outfitters I worked at would want a big discount on a kayak when there were mild scratches on the bottom, from being shipped and racked and sometimes demo’ed. Generally, the answer was “no discount” since the boat would have looked like that after their first use of it anyway. Nobody but the fish see the bottom anyway.

No, do not assume the seat in a rental needs replacing. Not true at all.

Rentals vs. Demo Models
I’ll use my place as an example. I don’t rent in the traditional sense so all of my used kayaks are sales/instructional demo models so anytime they’re on the water is under supervision. More typical rental operations kayaks tend to take a lot more abuse and will look the part.

Where are you located and what are the parameters you’re in search of?

Tis the season.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

I might be interested
in an Eddyline Denali for the right price. On Long Island am I am familiar with where you are located.

Lake George Kayak
Lake George Kayak upstate has an Eddyline Nighthawk demo on sale for $1799 (list is $2499, about the same as the Denali). That’s a substantial 28% discount, practically at wholesale price. You’ll rarely see a new kayak marked down more than that.

Depends on which

– Last Updated: Sep-07-16 8:01 PM EST –

Nighthawk. The 16' has dimensions similar to the Fathom. The 171/2' has dimensions similar to to Denali but 10 lbs heavier and 2' longer.

I sat in a Denali and like the cockpit opening. Don't think I want to go 17 1/2' And 60lbs is heavier than I want to lift.

I sat in an Eddyline Fathom and it was a real snug fit. "Like a glove". Not sure I liked that. I'm sure an experienced sea kayaker is looking for exactly that kind of fit. I felt more relaxed in the Denali. 15' 3" is an odd size but would be good for the large Bay here without doing any ocean stuff which I am not interested in.
16' 5" on the Fathom seems as long as I want to go for a number of reasons.

forgot to respond
I agree - replacing a seat would be an unusual step and not something I would expect. Only if the rental place regularly did naked kayaking sessions or something like that…

Thank you
Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I did end up buying the Carolina 14. $200. It is very scratched but seat, hatches, bulkheads all seem good. Hull didn’t show any sign of warping plastic hadnt gone brittle.

So I’m happy. I did notice they had all their kayaks out in the sun (which bothered me a little- I’m sure that’s probably shortened the life… It will live indoors now I have it)… for $200 I think it’s still a good deal despite being left out in sun.

I’ve only had it out on a short 2 hour trip so far but very happy with it so far.