advice: stable, user friendly kayak for

I usually paddle an 85# Old town Scout thru class I to III moving water but would like to try a stable, user friendly, lighter weight, hard to roll kayak. I am 55, 5 7" 165 lbs and do not want to do eskimo rolls for recreation. There may not be a boat out there to meet my needs. I’ve looked at Perception Sparkys and Swiftys. The Class III outings are infrequent (2-3 times a year), but there many fast moving streams in my area to have fun in…not to mention the Potomac River and other rivers in the vicinity. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

Hard to roll?..
…I’m guessing you mean one that’s difficult to

tip over.

If you are going to want to do class 3 you

should have a reliable roll. Perhaps not

bomb proof, but reliabe.

You need to be able to roll. There are parts of

the Potomac that can be ugly swims, even at

class 3. And sooner of later you WILL flip.

Many of the more modern planing to semi-planing

hull designs might be what you’d need.

The best advice is to demo.

I’d suggest signing up for one of liquid

Adventures (formerly Calleva) winter pool rolling

sessions. This has two advantages: You’ll learn

a necessary survival technique and you’ll get a

chance to demo a lot of boats and pick one you


But remember: maneuverability is planned

instability. If your boat is going to be

maneuverable enough for class 3, it’s going to

be unstable enough to flip sooner or later.

What part of the Potomac
If you’re talking the part of the Potomac near Harper’s Ferry down to DC, then a Dagger Blackwater would suit you very well. At your height, the 10.5’ model should be a good fit. Going on flatwater, put down the skeg and track straight as an arrow. Coming up on a rapid, raise the skeg and get some added manueverability. The angle of exit is rounded, but the angle of attack is sharp, so it still handles like a recreation boat but has an advantage over other recreation boats for the Class III. I’ve got several friends that regularly run Class III in Blackwaters. They’re not rated by Dagger for it, but they handle it fine for running downriver purposes.

I paddled one for a day and enjoyed it very well.

  • Big D

There may be a SOT that would work

– Last Updated: Jan-15-05 6:35 PM EST –

A few sit on tops work OK for mild whitewater and playing around. You don't need to know how to roll but but you would need to know how to get back on quickly or swim defensively. Folks use Ocean Kayak Frenzy's and Scramblers in Class II and mild class III. They work.

The pereception torrent I believe is also used quite a bit. I've seen them on the water but never paddled one in real whitewater. They get pretty good reviews by owners. I googled quick for a picture and specs It looks like the boat you might be looking for.

The Frenzy is very stable up to a point, but it will flip and it has a funny bottom design that can catch on rocks, but it might be worth trying since you can find them cheaply.

You might post the same question on whitewaer forum;f=6;hardset=0;start_point=0;DaysPrune=0

The local outfitter here takes folks on the Kern River and also rock gardening on some fairly stable SOTs I'm not sure of the model but here is a picture if anyone can identify ...

having said all that above still consider a real whitewater boat (not a rec boat).

I have a necky Jive which is an all-around kind of whitewater boat, it does a lot of things well but is not the most high performance boat in the world. It's not very tippy and feels real stable in the water. It's very fun and stable in mild whitewater and fun in surf. Once you get past tipping over its not very scary nor do you need to be an olympic athlete. As long as you stick to predictable conditions to learn; missing your roll is not a big deal... Give a whitewater boat a try in a class or demo before you decide... you are going to rule out lots of fun boats by sticking to boats that have huge primary stability.

I’ve run my Old Town loon 111
thru some 2/3 w/w. It is not a white water boat but it will go thru a section of rapids okay if you don’t have to do much manuvering. On the flats its hardly a rocket but a lot better than ANY w/w boat. I maybe an exception because I do have w/w skills so I have an idea how to handle my boat, others w/out the w/w experience may have different results.

When y’all do that Harpers to DC run in
your rec kayaks, I want to watch when you come to Great Falls. Rroberts knows better.

a stable boat is often at greater risk of capsize than an unstable one, because it tends to follow the plane of the water. So when the water isn’t flat, e.g. on an ocean swell or a whitewater feature, the stable boat can be more likely to flip. Having a boat that’s too stable discourages learning how to edge, lean, and brace the boat to take advantage of its instability, which then becomes a feature rather than a flaw.

That said, I think it’s perfectly fine for people to choose very stable boats–as long as they then avoid non-flat water, and do practice capsizing enough so it becomes automatic.

I can’t help but ask (please don’t take offense) why you feel sure you wouldn’t enjoy rolling? I know I’m a certified rollaholic, but I’ve taught enough people to know that it’s natural to consider it a bizarre activity that one will never learn and would never want to–and equally natural to look back on this later as an old opinion that was replaced by the joyful freedom of not fearing capsize.


I highly recommend the Perception
Sparky for what you describe, although they don’t recommend them for Class III.

I have a Keowee, (wife and daughter also have them) which was the first, followed by the Swifty and now followed by the Sparky.

They are all basically the same rec kayak with some slight additions.

We have a ball with them in class I-II and even a few III rivers.

Ours are over ten years old now and are just about industructable.

You can’t get a more “user friendly” kayak, and my daughter has actually stood up in hers many times on flat water.

I am 5’-9" and 150 pounds, so similar to you.

Naturally since they are so short they don’t track straight, but will tun on a dime which is what you want anyway.

We have used them in the Nantahala River many times if you are familiar with it.

I live on a native trout stream and every time we have any of the grandchildren over, we let them use them in a safe shallow pool.

They introduced us to the wonderful world of kayaking, and my guess is after you had one for a couple of years you would want to get a touring yak.

My wife and I use them all over the NC mountain white water rivers and they have given us a lot of pleasure over the years.