a good kayak for long trips down river

Im looking for a great kayak to take me on long trips down river. One of the trips that im going to be taking will be the entire mississippi river from lake itasca to the gulf…anyone have some good ideas as of what would be a good kayak…i need some room for packs and gear storage when i port and set camp…any info would be great thanks.

QCC 700X
very very good boat. 18 ft x 21 inches. Real fast and controllable. May want to look at some decked canoes. More comfortable.

are you saying…?
Are you saying a decked canoe would/could/might be more comfortable than a QCC700, or all sea kayaks in general? Hard to beat the comfort of a Wilderness Systems Phase 3 seat, at least for me.

Looking at that trip I’d go for a 17’-18’ plastic, light weight, high volume touring kayak and trick it out to be comfortable. Anything less than 60-70 pounds is lightweight in this context, I think. My choice would be the Tempest 170 or 180 or one of the Prijon boats. The P&H Scorpio is another obvious good choice. I’d also rig a removable yoke for portaging, and the best portage cart that would fit into the hatch.

thanks for the help I plan on taking a trip down the miss…im getting all the maps but i know sooner or later im going to hit some semi ruff waters…wont a real long kayak no be a good choice?? i was thinking like a 13-14 at the longest…any help

How much paddling have you done?

no ruff stuff on that run
I don’t think there’s any rough stuff on that run, other than places you don’t want to go anyway (chain of rocks near SL). I think there are some mild rapids in the upper-upper part, but that’s not even class II stuff is it?

Your biggest danger of rough water is going to come from the wakes of pleasure boats zipping past you, sometimes (seemingly - I don’t know for sure) on purpose. The good thing here is that, even if it’s on purpose, they’ll usually come back and help you if they capsize you.

Wakes from commercial boats can be even bigger, but they are slower and they stick to the channel and you’ll be avoiding them anyway, so from a practical standpoint they are less danger.

Unless you have a very good roll (bombproof combat roll), I don’t really see the point of a kayak or decked canoe versus an open canoe, fully loaded and tied down. What’s the point? There’s no spray anywhere and you won’t be shipping any waves, I don’t think, so the deck is just going to limit your storage space and make everything harder to find and get to. Wind will be a problem in some places so a deck would be better than an empty canoe in that circumstance, but we’re not talking about empty canoes here. A well-planned fully loaded canoe with a tarp covering will deflect the wind just as well as a deck.

You could certainly be in a lot of trouble if you capsize in the wrong place, and you should carefully think this out ahead of time so that you are ready to act if it happens. Even near a big city, there are places you might go ashore where it’s more than a 10-mile hike to the nearest inhabited house, and you would need a good map to find your way out on foot. Staying with a capsized boat is even worse, as you will tend to float toward the channel and a 6-barge-wide towboat load coming downstream can run you down faster than you can swim out of the way, if you start swimming when you first see it coming from river level.

Anyhow, I don’t mean to discourage you, as all these dangers can be handled pretty easily with a little advance planning and disciplined execution on the trip. My main point was don’t rule out a canoe on the Mississippi - the early french exploreres ruled that river in canoes, and they travelled both ways in them.

I am saying that
although the QCC is quite comfortable, far better than my Looksha, it is not as good as the canoe. They all have their place. Personally I would avoid the plastic, as it is not as efficient as glass or kevlar.

(hull flex)Jamie, I don’t think 12-14 ft is going to be long enough, not enough hull speed there. 16-18 ft will probably suit you better. There are some pretty big crossings along the way, and you will be more comfortable in a larger boat. Again, it’s just my opinion. Longer boat will let you carry more food, gear, and comfort items. Once you get out of the upper Mississippi, there should be very little portaging, so you can load yourself down more. Even in the upper reaches, there shouldn’t be much.

Things that will help with your answer:

How long are you taking?

Miles per day?

Paddling experience?

How good is your support along the way?

If you have good support, people to help you resupply etc, you can get away with a smaller boat. I would definitely try to test paddle a boat for your intended daily milage to see how you like it. If you want to do 25 miles per day, and you can’t do it in the boat you are testing, or are not comfortable sitting in it for 25 miles, keep looking.

Plenty of reviews here for boats, check them out.

What’s your starting point?

– Last Updated: Feb-21-09 9:37 PM EST –

Similar to puddlefish - In boats, gear and time spent in kayaks, not the launch point. Do you have long tripping time already in a kayak that sets you up for this kind of trip? If so what kayak?

It might be easier to recommend a boat if it was known what your background is as a paddler.

I can see one point of a kayak.
A properly sized and loaded kayak is going to be much less susceptible to wind than a canoe. I’ve paddled both, and today I was blown all over the river in an unloaded canoe by winds that were not all that strong.

The trade-off is that a canoe is much easier to load and unload. But once you get your loading “drill” down with a kayak, it isn’t that bad.

—A canoe camper

No spray on the Mississippi?
I’ve only paddled it once, about 10 years ago with the Great River Rumble group and we had one day in one of the long pools above a dam and we were certainly taking some waves over the bow of the tandem canoe - I was in the bow and got pretty wet. The wind driven waves were 2’ to 3’ and the wind was blowing spray off of the tops. The wind was blowing upstream. That was a long day.

As you suggested, a spray deck would have helped with that situation.

Regarding "Wind Blowing Upstream"
Does it ever blow from another direction?

Oh yeah, it will blow from another direction if you are actually paddling upstream. I almost forgot that part.

Try a Kruger
Excellent long distance boat.

Thinkin’ a little outside the box here

– Last Updated: Feb-22-09 9:15 AM EST –

How about a Hobie Adventure Island? I've got two (his and hers) and they're awesome boats.


It only has a maximum weight capacity of 350 lbs though.

Very stable with the outriggers, you can crawl all over the thing.

The only problem that I've found is that the rear aka (outrigger brace) will force you to lift your paddle out of the water at your hips at the end of your stroke. Of course, the Forward Stroke videos that I've seen say that that's just proper technique.

The Mirage Drive works well and allows you to use your legs as well as your arms.

And, rumors say that Hobie will be coming out with a tandem version. Supposedly, one has actually been seen. Maybe this year??

I’ll second the vote for a Q 700
And you will have waves and spray sometimes upriver.

Here are a couple links the first is a canadian father/daughter who did the trip a few years ago. Some of our members did a supply drop for them and hosted an overnight rest stop and sightseeing.


The second is for a water trail we’ve been working on from Saverton, MO to Winfield, MO we hope to reach Alton, IL this year and St Louis next year.


Good luck! contact me if I can help


Wow, good idea Redmond
the Hobie is one of the fastest craft out there and with that sail you could really get going in anything but a strong headwind. You could also put a platform for a bivvy on one side and a kitchen on the other, then rather than climb a mud bank to go ashore at night you could just anchor in a quiet eddy or tie off to a root or tree limb.

John Turk used a similar craft, a Wilderness Systems Wind Rider for the first part of his trip from Japan to Alaska. It didn’t have the foot pedals, which are a big selling feature for the Hobie.

Thanks for thinking outside the box I’m going to look at this Hobie system for circumnavigating the Delmarva Penninsula in September. It might be the ideal craft since there aren’t any portages (that thing weighs 115 pounds).

Ref the Hobie -
Hey Redmond, how well does that thing sail? I demoed one of the earlier versions, without the amas, at ECCKF a number of years ago, and as an old Hobie Cat sailor, didn’t think much of it. It was my dream boat till I tried it. Liked the pedal drive - although if the stroke were longer it would be more comfortable, but then that would mean longer fins and deeper minimum water, I am guessing. Man, a 115 lb Hobie cat, with pedal drive - now they are gonna go tandem? Please tell me it still doesn’t sail well, otherwise I gotta come up with more money than I ever dreamed of spending on a boat. (From a guy who has owned maybe 8 or 9 boats, and never before had to resort to buying a new one)

You bringing those things to Jocassee Rendevous?

Hey Dwight
I was actually a sailor before starting kayaking. I got into kayaking 'cuz the sailing is not so good here in Huntsville, AL (among other reasons, gimpy knee, etc.) All of it in mono hulls though so I don’t have a lot of experience in multi-hulls.

I think its an awesome boat, one of my favorites. Its so versatile. Incredible fun. If my legs were stronger, it would be a quick boat.

Catch a puff of wind, it hesitates for a second and then it takesd off. The acceleration is amazing.

It doesn’t point well unless you’re pedaling. Took me a couple of outings to figure that out.

Carbon fiber mast is very light weight and can be taken down on the water very easily.

Its my understanding that the Hobie Cats are faster.

There’s a very good Adventure Island Forum on the Hobie site.

Incredibly stable with those outriggers.

I like it best in at least 15 knots of wind. Woohoo!

It seems…
I recall a group of about 3 or 4 people doing the same thing a few years ago. I remember a guy in a Prijon Kodiak and a girl in a Prijon Seayak. They had a blog because I remember reading it. I’d have to google for a while to find it now. They started all the way at the headwaters of the Mississippi and ran all the way to the Gulf. Really neat reding with pictures if you can find it. As most here know, the Kodiak has made a lot of epic journeys. No, I don’t own one…

Good luck!

conoe v.s kayak
I see alot of people think a conoe would be a better choice than a kayak… I just feel like i would have a little more control in a kayak really…and no offense to the many that think im wrong for this but i dont have too much of an intrest in taking a conoe sorry… i understand that a kayak could be a little difficult in certin areas but Iam determined to do this in a kayak…ill admit im not very experienced in a kayak but im not new to kayaking either…this will be my longest trip but ive been planning it for awhile and am not going alone…i will need some room for storage (i understand a conoe would be better) but i also dont want to hull a 70 plus kayak around so really im looking for a med size light but tuff kayak that can do some distance…any help in this area would be great

criteria restated
All right, that helps a lot, that’s the kind of info people need to give when they ask for a boat recommendation. No canoe, that’s fine, you don’t have to have a reason or even know how to spell it if you’re sure about it, which it sounds like you are. No long, fast boats, ditto, we hear you. One thing I’m not sure about is this: “i also dont want to hull a 70 plus kayak around”. I assume this means you don’t want a boat that weighs 70 pounds or anywhere near that - if I misinterpreted you, speak up. Otherwise, let me sum up your request as follows:


WANTED - Boat recommendation for a med size light but tuff kayak that can do some distance - Max 14-15 feet, max 50 pounds, stable (for a relative newbie with no roll), lots of storage, tracks well (for relative speed). Intend full descent of Miss R in the boat with a small group of other paddlers.


That should get some answers that are right up your alley.