Advice for 1st Kayak Dilemma

Hello There-

So recently I went camping at a local lake not to far from Reno, Antelope. The water that day was glass and I saw a couple people Kayaking, it looked so peaceful and fun, since then I’v been obsessed with the idea of Kayaking.

So here’s my dilemma. I would like a Kayak I can take camping and paddle my way around a lake. I would like to drive 30min and paddle around Lake Tahoe as well.

But… We also have a great river here in Reno and a Kayak water park downtown. I started looking at Kayak’s like the Jackson Fun which I know would work for River and Play. Would it be torture to paddle around a calm lake with a Kayak like that?

I think at the moment if I had to choose I would go lake route, but obviously if Im gana spend money i’d like it to be an all around solution.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.



A boat that does well camping on the lakes would suck in the whitewater park. A boat that does well in the whitewater park would suck on the lake (and you wouldn’t be able to fit gear to camp out of it in the boat). get two boats,

Better yet, before getting even one, sign up for a class and learns the basics of kayaking, the different types of boats, what works for you, etc.

Maybe two used kayaks, a touring and
a river runner or playboat.

Back in the 80s, there were still some ww kayaks that weren’t painful to paddle around a big lake. Now there aren’t.

Some people will come along and suggest kayaks that can do both, sort of. But they really won’t.

I suggest buying a good used touring kayak, at least 14 feet long, maybe longer, and taking some classes on how to use it safely.

Then watch for a good buy on a whitewater boat that is good for playing. But you might find that the Truckee course isn’t enough to keep you satisfied, so look not only at playboats, but at versatile river runners that can handle most of the rivers in your area.

why not rent for while
I think you should just rent for a while and see where your interests really lie. I mean, you might think you’re more into flatwater paddling NOW, but maybe the reality is that you’ll really dig WW and can find more time to hit the WW park than the big epic camping trip of your dreams. Or vice versa. You just don’t know until you really get out there and start doing it. So when you’re ready to buy a boat, you’ll have a good idea of what you’ll use the most. You can always still rent a different boat to do other things.

Shameless canoe plug: canoes are often better for camping because they are easier to pack, easier to portage, and carry a whole lot more than kayaks. Canoes are also often more comfortable over long distances since you have plenty of room to stretch out and you can vary your paddling position between sitting, kneeling, and even standing as you see fit. You can even paddle a canoe with a double-bladed kayak paddle, if you want. A canoe for the lake and kayak for the whitewater is a perfect little fleet, in my mind.

Two boats

– Last Updated: Jul-01-11 4:59 AM EST –

WW boats, for the most part, are designed to have virtually no hull speed. That essentially slows them down - a good thing in WW but can make your life miserable in flat stuff.

There are crossovers that are less good at either, such as the Dagger Approach, and for people who want to paddle live rivers with a mix of lower class WW and flat sections and rather small water bodies they can work well. But they are still quite slow on the flats and real compromised in how they can play in WW compared to a dedicated WW boat. If you have a WW park near you as well as a larger water body, these hybrids may feel awfully limited awfully fast.

You are likely looking at 2 boats as above. But re the WW side, you should take some instruction anyway so that you aren't a hazard to others. I'd suggest you give this a shot - you may find out that you really hate or really love the WW and that will help your decision.

you can river camp too
there are some great touring boats in the 12-15’ range that you can use both on the lake, and for mild rivers/creeks. I take my Tsunamis downriver all the time in Class I-II and you can pack alot of gear in them

but for real whitewater you’ll want a real whitewater boat. I say spend your money on a good touring boat first, you can get good deals on used WW boats but they’ll be less versatile on where & when you can paddle compared to a touring kayak.

Discontinued Hybrid

– Last Updated: Jul-01-11 12:12 PM EST –

Dagger used to make a kayak called the CrossOver.
It was 12 ft, with a storage hatch and a vertical rib in the front compartment
to stiffen it for Class III rapid running.

Too big to maneuver quickly in and out of eddies
-- too small for extended 2 week kayak trips along shorelines.

Hybrid compromises performance

Dilemma is sweet!
If only all of life’s forks in the road offered such adventuresome choices! Tahoe is simply superb paddling and using a cross over style kayak on it is too much work and not enough fun! I’d get a light touring kayak in the 14-16 foot range and try packing it with what gear you own before buying to see how things fit. Backpacking gear ya, car camping gear na. I’ve tried doing overnights out of boats like the Liquid Logic Remix XP and although simply superb for moving waters where the current is helping out big time; it’s hell with onions to keep up with anyone using longer kayaks or get any glide on larger lakes with about anything in the 8-11 foot range IMO. Great advice to look for a used WW boat to use for that activity as I think you’ll love the glide of the longer boats on the gorgeous lakes you have around you.

2 boats
You will have to get 2 boats to do both activities. However, a WW play boat can be fun on flat water. I do not mean touring all over the lake, but rather practicing rolls, bow stall and cartwheels.

There is no boat that will be a good lake paddler and good WW boat. I do not care what anyone says, that is the truth. Some of the crossover WW boats are tolerable for short stretches of flat water, but they will not do more that front surf if you are interested on playing.