a good whitewater canoe

i own a 16’ old town appalachian and i’m quite pleased with it’s ability to negotiate moderate whitewater and haul gear. i’m curious to know how much rocker this canoe has. i have searched around the web and all i come up with is the wording “moderate rocker”. i’m not sure if that means 2", or 3" of rocker?! from what i have researched most say 5" to 6" rocker is best for a 16’ canoe, but i have yet to find a canoe manufacturer that produces such a canoe in that length with such a high rocker.

i make this post, because i plan to purchase another canoe come next spring (appalachian will be handed over to my wife). i want a 16’ royalex canoe with more rocker and the ability to haul a weekends worth of gear. i’m open to suggestion so feel free to help a fellow paddler out.

Esquif Canyon
Never paddled one but it’s got 4.5" rocker.


Whitewater canoes

– Last Updated: Sep-01-05 9:26 AM EST –

The Appilachian is a great whitewater tripping canoe. It has plenty of rocker for running rapids and is not a complete dog on the flats.
Canoes with extreme rocker, 5" -6", are generaly playboats intended not to run through rapids but to "catch every eddy, surf every wave". Those are not so great on the flats.
The only 16' whitewater playboat I know of was the Dagger Dimension. It's no longer made but they do come along used now and again.
Tandem whitewater playboats tend to run in the 14' to 15' range. The Mohawk Probe 14 and the Esquif Vertige X are two current models. The Dagger Caption and Caper and the Mad River Synergy and ME are all out of production but worth looking for used.
Good luck,

PS Looking at the Esquif site both the Canyon and the Prospector have 4.5 inches of rocker. I think you should test paddle them and tell us how they compare to your Appilacian.

Esquif Prospecteur
4 1/2" rocker in a 16’ boat that also has an “arched bottom”. Because of the amount of rocker and the round bottom, this boat is a blast to paddle in whitewater. I have knee cups installed and neoprene on the seats to cut down on butt slippage. I have even been thinking about installing a couple of saddles in the boat. My wife and I have had a lot of fun catching eddys and surfing in this boat. You can haul more gear in the Canyon but the Prospecteur is more nimble.

Who said that 5 to 6 inches of rocker
is desirable in a 16 foot canoe? The length and width of a 16 foot canoe allows it to sit lighter on the water so that it needs LESS rocker than a 15 or 14 foot canoe to carry gear on whitewater.

I remember many years back when Steve Scarborough won the WW open boat slalom in the woodstrip prototype of the Blue Hole Sunburst. It met the 15 foot “medium” length requirement, and it did not have “5 or 6” of rocker. Because it sat light on the water, it would flat-spin and carve effectively and beat more rockered boats like the ME.

g2d, this is straight from this site…
…Rocker is the amount the hull curves from bow to stern. Rocker slows hull speed and decreases the accommodation of large payloads. Lake and touring canoes should have conservative amounts of rocker to increase hull speed. It is not critical for river hulls to be fast but it is important that they have rocker for maneuverability (5 – 6" is good for a 16-foot whitewater canoe…

i’m no expert when it comes to canoes, but i have been paddling for 13 years (i’m 27) and have been limited to what i have paddled. i started out soloing a 16’ coleman then moved up to a tripper and now i own a appalachian. my father has a dagger legend in his possession at the moment and i prefer my old town over it. i’m absoluetly pleased with my appalachian, but want another canoe since i want my wife and kids to get more involved in paddling. with that being said, i’m limited to what i can test paddle. there is a local dealer who carries esquif canoes, but doesn’t have the canyon, or prospecteur in stock, only the solo play boats. so a test paddle is out of the question. i just want the best 16’ royalex whitewater capabile canoe available that can carry myself (215lb) and 100-150 pounds of camping gear with ease and be very nimble.

btw, does anyone know exactly how much rocker the appalachian has? i know it’s moderate, but what is moderate? from the looks of it, i assume it has 2 1/2", but i’d like to know the actual amount.


Isn’t that an oxymoron?..
…just teasing people.

Geeze, you people are soooo serious.

why don’t you measure it
You aleady have an Appalachian, measure the thing.

HEY! Who you callin a moron!
oxy wha? :wink:

Hey Swiftwater,

The problem with getting hung up on a spec like rocker is that no two manufacturers measure rocker the same way so the specs are useless for comparison. Also, as G2d has alluded to, there are many other facets of boat design that afect how nimble a boat might be.

Bottom line is specs will give you a very rough idea of a boats performance. Beyond that you have to paddle them.

Good luck,


big boats
Once again, I wish OT still made the Cascade - a 14’ version of the Appalachian.

I agree with Tommy - what does it really matter that you don’t know the “specs” of the Appalachian’s rocker? You won’t know how they measured that number anyway, or how others do it.

And, if Esquif’s Prospecteur and Canyon both have the same rocker - they are very different boats when it comes to big whitewater, so it’s not all about rocker.

The Appalachian is a great boat for your purposes. The MR Freedom is similar. The Canyon and Evergreen Starburst are more whitwater oriented 16’+ boats, but these are relatively large/heavy tripping boats.

If you really just need it to haul gear for a weekend, maybe you should look at one of the 14’ playboats instead? Depends whether your interests lie in cruising the river or playing in the rapids, and perhaps whether you’re interested in switching from seats to saddles.

If you do want to stick with a 16’ ww tripping boat, I’d suggest either a Canyon or a Starburst, just for variety from the Appalachian.

As said, the more rocker you go for, the less pleasurable and less fast it will be to paddle on flats.


I repeat, who says that 5 or 6 inches of
rocker is a good thing in a whitewater canoe, especially a tandem designed to carry loads? I don’t care about some website, I want to know WHO says that? I paddle a lot of whitewater, sometimes on multiple overnights, and I say 5 or 6 inches of rocker is not a good thing. You want a boat large enough to float light on the water with a load on board.

On measuring rocker… You could
put the boat on the water with a typical load, and measure from each end to the water, but WHERE on each end? Depends on the shape of the boat.

You could put the boat on a flat surface and make a similar measurement.

But because rocker does not relate easily to how the boat turns, and also does not relate easily to how a boat cruises on flatwater, MAYBE we need to stick to direct measures of ease of turning and ease of paddling.

I don’t thing rocker by itself is a useful dimension. Another thing to remember is that, unless the ends of the boat are there only to meet a dimensional requirement (like the late, unlamented 4 meter rule in slalom), those ends MUST serve a purpose. That is, they should be planned to contact the water when spanning drops and holes, when angling across wave trains on windy lakes, etc. When you consider buying a rockered boat, ask yourself what those ends sticking up are going to do for YOU.

It is possible to design a fairly fast, hot-turning whitewater boat which has only moderate rocker and which has most of its hull in the water most of the time.

I’d stick with the Appalachian
Of course you can try to rent other boats or bring ALL YOUR LOADED PACKS TO A DEMO DAY SOMEWHERE. But I think you’ll find the Appilachian is a pretty good boat for what you want to do.

The statement about 5-6" of rocker
was made by Doug Wipper, and I think he would qualify that statement if he were following this thread.

The following is from the paddling.net page on “Buying a Whitewater Canoe” by Olympian Wayne Dickert, a guy I have known for a number of years. (He laughs at my efforts to run slalom gates.)

“Next pick a [boat] that suits your style. If you spend most of your time on easy whitewater with long pools between the rapids, look for one that is built for the long haul. Since you will be spending most of your time moving downstream, look for a boat 15-16 feet long and only a little rocker in the hull. If you are going to be paddling through big waves, pick a boat that has good freeboard, not a free loader, to keep you dry when it counts. This type of boat will do well in up to class III non-technical whitewater.”

This advice also squares with recommendations from Cliff Jacobson.

Dagger demension
Tommyc is right. The only 16 foot canoe with that much rocker is the old dagger demension. In my opinion it is the best ( meaning dry, good secondary stability,extremly manouverable)full size pure whitewater canoe ever made. I’ve paddled a lot of diferent canoes, tandem and solo. I still like the mad river explorer for a general purpose tandem moderate whitewater boat,and it only has a few inches of rocker. But what a difference when you climb into a demension. Major control! No other 16’ canoe even comes close. The caption will spin faster ( 14 ’ is an absolute minimum for a tandem boat.) But it’s not as dry so it depends on what you need. Don’t bother with an Me. It,s a poor choice for tandem or solo.

I’ll take a Old Town Penobscot …
…anyday unless you are looking for a playboat.

Get some air bags and you can’t beat it.



Blue hole

blue hole
Look around for a used blue hole they do it all. My wife and I paddled a starburst on the Yough in 4 foot of water and also toured in Canada with it. I still have my old one but don’t use it much, switched to sea kayaking, do you live near the Yough? You could try it out.

I had a Blue Hole about…
15 years ago and it was a great WW play boat but way too much rocker to go fast and straight.



swift dumoine.
goes good in the flats, pretty dry in w.w., has i think 3 and 4 inches rocker. initially tippy but good secondary stability. thing i don’t like is they are mostly made in royalex lite, i want one in royalex extra chunky.