Do we overthink buying decisions?

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Sep 2, 2011
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Raymond, ME
The recent thread by a paddler wanting to choose between two boats got me thinking.. ( and yes dinner is burned).

Does a paddler really need to evaluate a lot of variables? Or simply a few.. Perhaps, weight, length, stability, rocker, material, price. Or perhaps less?

In this day it seems the customer is faced with information overload that they would not have been had to deal with forty years ago.

I suspect that many of us started canoeing in whatever our parents had at hand or what we could afford to start with. I also think qualifying questions are important : ie imagining the poster as a customer in your virtual canoe store. But somewhere there has to be a balance..too much info can lead to buyers paralysis. ( happens to me ALL the time in clothing stores).

It also occurs to me that boat acquisiton and discarding is an evolution and the happiness is in the journey rather than having the perfect boat. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to find out what qualities really matter to you. I have learned alot about canoes over the years but what I learned first is that I like canoetripping.

At the time it really didn't matter that it was in an elongated frypan.
 
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Feb 1, 2013
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I agree Kim, I had a series of canoe that most people on canoe sites would laugh at, but they did some pretty hard core trips, and at the end of the day I still had a good time.

I find the information overload to be really good once you are immersed in a particular activity to the point where you can actually understand what the experts are talking about.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
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Manchester, CT
I can't imagine not taking into consideration every variable you listed YC. You're right, there is an awful lot of information out there, but if someone is really serious about buying a relatively big ticket item as a canoe, I see that as an advantage. At the very least, an idea of weight, capacity, and suitability of material for intended destinations are important.

Regardless of what you're buying, be it canoe, car or new stereo equipment, you have to have at least a vague idea of what you want and and what you're going to want to be able to do with it. Boning up on the basics is a necessity. That's part of being an informed consumer. I certainly wouldn't want to spend even $100 on something that is completely ill-fitted for my purpose, whether I were scouring craigslist for a used boat or buying a spanking new Coleman Ram-X (do they still make those?). This is where the local paddle shops come into play. They generally know the questions to ask.

The best piece of advice I have is to NEVER buy a boat without at least a test paddle. You wouldn't buy a car without driving it around the block. I learned that the hard way many years ago.
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2012
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Southeast Wisconsin
Good point YC! I read and reread the post in question and for this poster we may be over thinking. Who knows, the next poster may have us scratching our heads for more details to help him/her out. Each buyer has a purpose and some don't have the experiences we have and wouldn't know what questions were important enough to ask and answer. JustPaddle echos what I tell people " a great deal is a waste if it doesn't fit your purpose". I don't own a Mercedes or Audi since a Nissan or Ford is good enough.(Do they still make Yugos?) As loved a boat as the Mad River Explorer was, there will never be one in my stable again.
 
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I keep wondering if I had given that Ferrari to my oldest daughter when she got her drivers license at 16 if she would have appreciated it.

Worry not. She got a VW Fox and had to pay for 2/3 of it.

If offered one, and if available, she would not accept the Fox either now. The difference is some 26 years.
 
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Jan 1, 2014
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Lower Saranac Lake, Adirondacks
John Winters used to claim he could make better choices for customers than they could make for themselves, and, he was probably factually correct, if politically incorrect. It's not exactly a fine line though. Yeah, a real clunker may disinterest someone new to paddling, as much as a finicky racer will dampen and discourage them, but the array of workable boats is usually a wide swath somewhere in the middle lengths and widths. If inoculation takes, there will be lots of time to tune nuances of length/width/rocker, cross section and volume to user and water. And, the designers hand draws and moves on. Most of today's ~ 15,000 composite canoes are improved in design, materials and manufacturering standards compared to the decade or two older ones they replace.

That said, at the other end of the spectrum, it is not obvious that triple dump monstrosities have improved on the sheet aluminum canoe at all except in profit margin. They seem retrograde in weight and hull speed. So it goes, caveat emptor! [Sp?]
 
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Sep 26, 2013
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Colrain MA
I bought a 1 ton Diesel Truck about ten years ago, It didn't take too long to figure out who's truck to buy, it took a few tries to build it they why I needed and even then ended up with bad input from the dealer and the ex-.

So now I'm in the process of buying a Wenonah Prism, I looked at most of the boats, for five of the items YC mentioned (weight, length, stability, rocker, material). I ended up at the shop I will buy it and the owner confirmed my research. I didn't get too wrapped up in the process weight, material and buying local were the most important things for me.

But I'm headed back to the overthinking, we're about to pay a piece or property, build a barn and then a house. SWMBO wants it energy efficient, with passive solar, so there's going to be a lot of homework.
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
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Well, the way I see it; we humans think we're so darn smart, but really we're buffeted around by all the kinds of emotional things that only act to obscure what would really be the "best" canoe for us. (if indeed we should be in a canoe at all)
Childhood memories of camping/canoeing with our parents, what we paddled when we were young, strong and would heal quickly. Overly optimistic assessment of our paddling skills, some sort of ego transference: if I paddle a sexy canoe, maybe a little bit of that might rub off on me too.
Then there's the experts; Rex Trueheart, with a skill set over the moon, who thinks that such and such a latest canoe, is the cat's whiskers. I'm sure he thinks so, with a name like that, you know he'd never tell a fib. But how well will such a canoe work for an old wheezer like me? Isn't that really the question?
You know the old saw about a picture being worth a thousand words? I believe I'd say the same thing about a test paddle. The longer the better. Rent it for a day or visit a dealer who allows test paddles, borrow one from a friend, you see what I'm saying. After all the blab and palaver, what really counts is the canoe under your knees.

Now all that said; I bought my "Prospector" because that's what Bill Mason liked, and I sure liked him. I've got the white hair, do you think if I let my beard grow out I'd look a little bit like.......

Best Wishes, Rob
 
G

Guest

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The recent thread by a paddler wanting to choose between two boats got me thinking.

Does a paddler really need to evaluate a lot of variables? Or simply a few.. Perhaps, weight, length, stability, rocker, material, price. Or perhaps less?

In this day it seems the customer is faced with information overload that they would not have been had to deal with forty years ago.

When I bought my first new canoe 30 years ago I had a classic case of analysis paralysis. I must have visited the paddleshop a dozen times, even after I had narrowed my choices to two very similar boats.

Those were simpler times and my analysis was based largely on advice from the folks in the shop and in perusing every canoe manufacturer’s catalog and trying to read between the lines. The canoe I ended up buying served me well for a decade. And it is not a boat I would consider owning today.

I believe that the vast and unfiltered amount of information on inter-net has made such analysis more difficult. Not just P.net reviews in which 90% of the canoes score a conformational bias “10”, but also with reviews of other purchases.

I no longer look at canoe reviews, except for comic relief. I know what I like and what works for me. But I do look at reviews on Amazon, REI or other sites when I’m considering a purchase of something about which I am less familiar.

Even then it’s kind of like Olympic scoring – I throw out the too high conformational bias scores, discount the scores from folks who seem to have had uniquely bad experiences with a product and just want to wail and flail about their displeasure and focus on the middle ground.

I have posted to enthusiast forums with novice questions about items where my experience and knowledge is so lacking that I hardly knew where to begin. And often as not retreated more confused than when I started.
 
G

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Decisions, decisions. Do we over think things before buying? Well, I'd best not include myself with the rest of humanity for a start. You see, over analyzing a problem isn't the tricky part. Not only do I over think before I buy, but it continues afterwards; sometimes long afterwards. The tricky part lies in the final decision. Sometimes it never arrives. I guess you might call this a confused connection between indecision and procrastination. The former can linger on into the latter. There are many things I hate, but few more than failure. I don't know why. I've done it often enough, but even the smallest mistakes I find demoralizing. I need to remind myself that it's really a process, not a destination. Much like a canoe purchase for me. First, I rented for many years. I learned 3 things : How these different canoes differed. What kind of canoeing I most wanted to do in my future. Which canoe best suited my future plans. The learning was fun, but the over thinking led to procrastinating. And then there was the fear of failure. I'm amazed I finally made a purchase. I'm still second guessing it. This thread is a good topic, and had me pondering a response since last night. I put off putting thoughts to words till now. The moment I tap the post reply button, I'll be second guessing my answer, and fear having failed to get it right. I guess my simple answer to this thread should've been "Let me think about it."
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
When I decided it was time for a wood canvas canoe, I had no idea what canoe I really wanted or needed. I liked the Old Town look with the turned up ends, but I knew I wanted something for tripping and the Old Towns to me at the time represented something more like Sunday afternoons and picnic baskets. Not true, but I didn't know it then.

Lucky for me, Schuyler Thomson's shop was nearby and that's where I went for advice and hopefully a canoe. I told him of my requirements, an all round canoe that can be solo or tandem, fishing/hunting, day trips, and week long canoe trips to LaVerendye.

Schuyler has a long history in canoes, canoe camp tripping, northern Ontario canoe trips, a down river racer, pretty good poler and a restorer/builder of about 1500 canoes. He mentioned all the canoes he had around the shop and then we went over some new ones he builds. Price wise, I had to stay with an older restoreable canoe.
He said he had a 16' Chestnut that would fit me well, the owner wanted way too much for it, but he could talk to him and see what he could do.

I mentioned to Schuyler that Chestnut had a reputation of "going downhill" in it's later years, which is true. He replied the reputation was well deserved, but they had great tripping designs and we could fix the small original imperfections. He then reminded me that I wanted a user and not a mantel piece, so let's start with the basic form and build on that.

"John Winters used to claim he could make better choices for customers than they could make for themselves"

In my case, Schuyler was my John Winters. Rather than try find the perfect canoe to fit my wants and needs, I let the pro decided what would be good for me and went with it. I doubt I could have found a better canoe at the time. I have used it on many solo trips and only recently went to a smaller 15' Chestnut Chum due to my age and strength.
 
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Guest
I agree with Yellowcanoe-it's a journey. I have bought and sold a lot of solo canoes and had much fun. It is my one financial extravigance. Some directions were dead ends,some boats were sold/traded in as little as 3 weeks,One I still have. I have even come full circle once and owened the same model twice. As my experience and skill increased my tastes changed. As I age and decline physically,my tastes change,as the places I like to canoe/trip change,my tastes change. I have also fallen instantly in love with a boat ans either bought it,of still pine for not doing so. Enjoy the ride.
"Keep your paddle wet",Turtle
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
91
Location
Eastern PA
I defiantly overthink most all my gear.....I think a lot of it has to do with my GAS problem.

I had a bunch of different canoes (and kayaks) that I bought, sold and traded over the years trying to upgrade or suit my needs each time.
I only ever bought 2 new canoes. One was a Old Town Disco 119 (solo). I used it 1 time at a local lake just to try out and ended up trading it for a used OT Pack. Traded the Pack along with my old Disco 158 and 2 sea kayaks to a local canoe shop for 2 new kayaks (13.5' WS tsunami's) and a used 16' MR explorer.
The other new one is a 15' OT camper that I got for a good price because there was a fire next door to the dealer and the heat warped the side of the camper, up near the gunwale. I used my heat gun and straightened a lot of it out. There are still some ripples but it's just cosmetic.
I now have a older 14' solo (royalex) that I love. I would like to have something lighter so I continue to look.

While looking through classifieds last summer I found a Mad River Explorer that had a good crack in the bottom. I ended up getting it real cheap. I bought it because I wanted to experiment with fixing it and figured if it didn't work out I could use the vinyl gunwales on one of my canoes that has wood that could use new ones. I could also make use of the seats, yoke, etc. My repair turned out good and I got a nice canoe really cheap.

I would love to own a whole fleet of real nice, super lightweight, efficient, expensive canoes but money and practical use keep me from them. I tend to be rough on my stuff and would be upset about scratching (or worse) my nice expensive canoe. I would buy an already scratched, depreciated used one but I rarely see used high end canoes for sale in my area. The few I have seen are still overpriced.

I've been kicking around the idea of building a solo stripper. I have the tools and time but lack the knowledge and do not know of anyone close to me that would be able to give me hands-on guidance. I know there are books on it but I'm a hands-on type of learner.
I could have bought a almost finished sweet dream (I think that's what it was called) for $100 a couple years ago but didn't.... I should have bought it just for the experience.

Well I rambled on there a little but there are my thoughts.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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No, I don't believe I've ever "over thought" a canoe buying decision.

For my first canoe I wanted a general purpose hull. There were only a limited number of canoes physically available in San Jose, California, and I got good advice from the owner of Western Mountaineering, Jeff Jones, on which one of those available few would meet my needs -- a Mad River Royalex Explorer.

After that, I became much more knowledgeable about canoes via personal experience. My canoe purchases were then more selective and quite swift. I knew what canoes were the best in the various specialized paddling niches for which I wanted a new hull. Some of the purchases were temporally impulsive (but still informed).

Buying my first sea kayak was much harder than any of my canoe purchases. That's because you can't just choose a kayak based on specs or reputation. A kayak must literally fit you or it will be a bad choice. Therefore, one really has to sit in a kayak to test proper fit in order to make an informed buying decision. That's tedious, and not necessary with most open canoes.

While I've seen paralytic-analytic exceptions on paddling forums, most first time paddle hull buyers seem pathetically under-informed to me. They "under think" their purchases, are overly influenced by ignorant peer pressure or equally ignorant big box store employees, and end up with a product that fits their needs and interests only randomly well.
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2012
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Location
Southeast Wisconsin
Recently I've been buying boats that have been poorly maintained and refurbishing them. My discovery has been that there are a lot of wonderful boats out there to be enjoyed. Each one has a particular reason for being and finding the sweet spot of that hull is my pleasure. I bought a particularly damaged DY Special and fixed it fully intending to rid myself of it since I dislike go-straight-go-fast boats. My son fell in love with it when I let him paddle it after the repair. "It's yours!" Then I discovered how wonderful it was for doing day touring--miles of easy paddling early morning or in the evening. I've owned an OTCA that I marveled at the beauty of the construction. I don't remember how well it paddled, or manuevered, or portaged. I remember how it made me feel. I bought an RX MR Explorer because I once pulled a pinned one off a ledge with a come-a-long, popped it back into shape, and continued on down the river. I later found it was a tub with pathetic glide. I bought it for $300, sold it for $600. I bought a Swift Shearwater that looked terrible, cleaned it up and found a real gem. I sold it after a BWCA trip where I tried to keep up with Minnesota II's realizing that I couldn't. The person I sold it to posts trips he's had in it and I enjoy it from a distance through him. I have a Sawyer Autumn Mist that I've heard so much about that will be my next boat to enjoy.

I know some of you look forward to the next one as I do. Long live the canoe!
 
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