Market for used composite long boats?

Here inland in the northeast, a regional paddling dealer commented to me about the declining market for new composite sea kayaks in the 16 ft. + range. Whether his own comments or read elsewhere . . . aging of middle-aged sea kayakers, price increases to $3,500 and over, rec kayak affordability, competition from SUP (just kidding), there is no doubt that a drive on local highways has plentiful cars with shorter plastic boats and few composite longer boats. inland anyways perhaps not on the coast.

My point. This sure seems to be the same case for the used market. In years past, I have easily sold 16 to 18 foot fiberglass sea kayaks quickly through local classifieds. But today? Have had a popular Valley composite boat for sale at an attractive price on Craigslist in major NE cities,, and a couple paddling clubs . . .no bites.

Advice for selling used long boats beyond dropping the price to near-give away levels? Trade-ins at retailers-possible or do they not want used long boats as well?

But I think you just have to find the right person or advertise it in the proper area.

Noticing some trends here, too
By habit due to a bit of a personal fleet building compulsion (and because I am often looking for boats for friends who we’ve introduced to paddling) I have tracked the kayak postings for my city, region and even some outlying areas on a near daily basis for years. (One of those areas I look at is your own, in fact, since I have been watching for a starter touring kayak for my brother in Saratoga Springs.)

Since mid-summer I too have noticed distinct lagging in the sales of ANY sort of used craft, beginning with the higher end sea kayaks though it has now progressed to even the plastic rec boats. This seems to be more pronounced than the usual end-of-season lull. Up until recently, ANY kayak that showed up on our local Craigslist never stayed posted for more than a few days, unless it had an unrealistically high price.

In fact, I listed a 15 year old Dagger touring boat in late June and got 5 calls within the first 15 minutes the post appeared, selling the boat for more than I listed it for by the end of the same day. A month later, an ad for an almost identical vintage boat languished for weeks before I dropped the price and even offered to pay the gas mileage of the guy who eventually bought it.

My instinct (developed during nearly a decade of working in the wilderness outfitting industry and 40 years of participation and teaching related activities) is that, like all outdoor adventure sports, kayaking popularity is cyclic and we are in a downward cycle at the moment. On the other hand, there seems to be a resurgence in crew and sculling among young people, at least in the inland waters.

I was struck by the scarcity of kayakers when we were out in the Pacific Northwest early last month – when I was out there at the same time 4 years ago I spotted them everywhere. We were traveling along waterways most of the trip (the Pacific coastline, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound and many mountain lakes) yet I can count on one hand the kayakers we saw, despite fantastic weather and mostly calm waters. I have seen kayaks posted on Ebay with no minimum languishing with no bids and some posted with bargain “buy now” prices that expired with no purchase (been tempted myself but am trying to retire by next summer and thus enforcing personal restraint.)

I’ll be interested to hear what others are noticing about this.

On the other hand, sales of used canoes seem to be more vigorous, at least here in the northern Appalachian region.

I can identify.
I have to very nice, barely used kevlar sea/touring kayaks posted here, craigslist and local clubs for what I believe to be very good values, but not getting any bites or inquiries.

I’ll try to be patient.

for most of us, we want the newest designs… when you advertise an Aquaterra boat, nobody new to the sport has any inclination as to what you’re selling… If you have a 20 yr. old boat, you have to give it away…simple as that… I’ve got a couple Valleys that are 10 years old and even though I got them at pro priceing, I still couldn’t let them go for their resale prices. We buy boats, hopefully with some research, and live with those decisions till we can rationalize letting them go is best. Hopefully, you used the shit out of the boats which might make it more palatable to let it go… I seem to remember you bought a boat too b ig for you…live and let live…By the way, I never got a reply about the Advantage as far as I can recollect…

Buyers market
I only buy used boats and usually end up with what I think is a really good deal. I’m in the middle of the midwest so nice kayaks are tough to come by. It takes a lot of looking and I always end up assuming that a lot of other people are looking for similar boats. But every time I go to sell a nice boat I’m amazed at the lack of interest.

Now I’ve moved onto canoes so there’s a lot better selection in the area (MN is close) and more market when I go to sell one. Still hard to find people who want to buy a decent boat though, especially if it’s not a current model. Took me forever to unload a fiberglass Wenonah Sundowner 18 even though it’s very similar to the Minn II, which people around here go crazy for. But it’s an older model that people haven’t heard of.

I’m also amazed how picky people can be when buying a used boat. Some seem to think a few scratches are the end of the world (it’s a used boat!).

Since I usually buy more boats that I sell the low used market works out better for me in the long run. :slight_smile:


try a local paddling group
I’ve had way better luck selling boats in my local email paddling groups than using craigslist. But, you have to be willing to sell pretty low to make it move. The last two tideraces in our group sold for around 25-2700 and they were 2 year old $4000 boats.

The economy plus the plethora of plastic
It’s no surprise in this economy if sales of high-end composite kayaks are down both in the new and used sale markets. New buyers aren’t buying them as frequently and aren’t “recycling” them as often into the used market.

Separately, my observation of the inland waters I frequent is that plastic rec kayaks and SOT’s have not only wiped out open canoes but are also eating the lunch of expensive touring kayaks. The reasons are simple: efficacy and cost.

95% of paddlers can do what they want to do in a low cost rec kayak. Maybe they can’t circumnavigate Australia in one, but that’s not what they do. They do day trips. I suspect Freya could even go around your local continent in the right rec kayak if she really wanted to, albeit more slowly than in her Epic.

To Yanoer, you as seller don’t set the value. The buyer will – unless you just refuse to sell.

These are 2003 Perceptions.
I will sell them and it will be at a fair price to the buyers and me. I have patience.

I did reply to you regarding the Advantage the same day you requested. Sale is pending on it - should be picked up on Sunday.

Hard sell
What I notice about Craigslist ads for 17 and 18 foot kayaks is that they very often say, “Used once or twice, stored indoors for last three years” or something to that effect. I think that indicates that some people buy long kayaks because they dont really understand kayaks (especially speed) or their own needs. They get them home and figure out what it takes to transport and paddle them and they give up quickly.

“Inland in the Northeast” often is about the same as seaside, as the large lakes have near-ocean conditions at times. Still, people realize that you don’t necessarily need a 17’- or 18’ kayak for those conditions, so it’s a hard sell. Some manufacturers are making seaworthy kayaks in the 13’ to 15’ range. Hardest sell is long kayaks in colors like black, white, and gray.

Less spending money in general
It’s not limited to composite sea kayaks. I’ve sold a bunch of things on CL. In the beginning (6-7 years ago) I would get exactly what I asked for and the buyers handed over cash, happy with their end of the deal. Later, they nearly all tried to bargain the price down from its already-reasonable quote, or they would play waiting games. Still later, other items priced at similarly good deals would get very few bites, just spam or looky-loos.

I figure it’s a sign of the hard times. The glass boat I want to sell will sit unused until someone is willing to pay the half-off-new price I’m asking. I’m not going to yard-sale it, though if I knew someone who really wanted it and would paddle it (not “flip it”–resell it at higher price) I’d consider selling it for slightly less. Might have better luck now that I’m in an area with many more sea kayakers, but I wouldn’t bet on that.

BTW, if I estimated demand for types of kayaks based on what I see now, I would come to the strange conclusion that everybody wants a SOF or wood kayak. It’s not a national trend but has more to do with there being so many DIYers around. Homemade roof racks, toppers, campers, all kinds of boats…not to mention buildings, furniture, and more.

Market might be saturated, too
Nobody thought sales of mtn bikes would slow down, but they did. There comes a point when dealers have gotten used to moving LOTS of stuff during the uprise years, then the flat and downturn years seem horrible to them. Despite the fact that some Pnetters own lots of sea kayaks, most people have only 1 per person.

My thoughts
I just bought a Carbon Fiber Current Design Extreme, a little over a year ago. It was used but in near mint condition with a paddle for $1600. It is the first sea kayak I have owned and really the first time I have been sea kayaking since 20 years ago.

At 19’ 8" it is a beast to transport. I store it in the back of my house on a rack. The route through the garage and the sunroom is 19’ 8.5" or it feels like it when I put it away.

If I could get similar performance in a boat 3 foot shorter it would be nice. But I got a lot of boat for the money.

I do believe SUP has taken a chunk of the industry but a lot of those people would not be on the water if it meant hauling a nearly 20 foot boat through the sunroom and garage. I don’t know if the market is growing but the number of great new boats and manufacturers seems to be. There has to be a glut somewhere and I think this will affect the price of higher end but “old school” used boats first

Here’s a wrinkle
If you can have two kayaks, one can be the long, fast, trip or fitness boat. The other one can be much, MUCH shorter and easier to transport. Let’s face it–15 ft is shorter than 18 ft but it’s still a PITA to move around. But if the short one is only 6 to 9 ft long, that makes a huge diff in ease of transport.

I use a WW kayak for all pool rolling sessions and a lot of pond practice, as well as (formerly) paddling it in a WW play park. Just slide in the back of the truck and go. Also easy to shoulder and move around inside buildings or tight spots. Not to mention that you can actually paddle it in a pool, not just roll in one spot.

Coronaboy has always had a thing …
against Perceptions.

Don’t pay any attention to him


That’s funny…
My screen name comes from my first boat. A Perception Corona…no not from the beer… I still have that boat and bought it cause it was the best outfitted boat in it’s price range at the time 13 years ago. I really wanted a Shadow, but I wasn’t gonna buy a boat that needed a pipe running it’s length for support. I might as well just bought a Coleman canoe for 1/4 the price…

Leave the truck at home.
“I use a WW kayak for all pool rolling sessions and a lot of pond practice, as well as (formerly) paddling it in a WW play park. Just slide in the back of the truck and go.”

My WW boat fits inside my Acura Integra. My sea kayak hangs 4 feet past my SUV.

I only have a sedan!
I could theorectically fit my WW boat inside (did it once when I forgot the tie downs). But it would take 1/2 hr to jiggle everything around. So I put it on the roof instead.

Same for my 16’ seakayak.

The beauty of a small car is, no matter how short my kayaks, it won’t fit inside in practice. So there’s no subconcious pressure to limit the length of what kayak I want to PADDLE!

The kevlar Shadow don’t need no
stinking pole down the keel!

A much nicer handling boat than the plastic shadow.

But I was responding to a post that said I wasn’t cool with Perception boats… what ever …as I pm’d you, I never got a response from you and I was very interested in the Advantage but it really doesn’t matter as you sold it… I’m on roadruunner so it’s not like I don’t get responses from my mail…