Advise for converting Kayak to a C1

I’m looking to get back into paddling after a long break. I used to do a fair amount of white water and river paddling in an open canoe, but I am now looking to switch to a C1. I’m a fairly decent whitewater canoer, with limited kayaking experience. Basically, I am comfortable handling the rapids, but will need to adjust to a new type of boat.

I’m looking to acquire a C1 or convert a kayak into a C1 over the winter, but I could use some advise about the type of boat to purchase. The water here in

What I am looking for is a good all around boat that can handle white-water, but isn’t a bear to move across flat water. I don’t envision myself launching off of waterfalls or diving into class 5 rapids, but I would like to be able to play around in rapids, but still enjoy a more calm day on the water. There are a number of mid-range kayaks on the market, but I’m unsure if they will adapt well to conversion to a C1.

If anyone has any advise on a type of Kayak that might suit my needs, I would greatly appreciate the help. I’m excited about getting back into the water, but could use some help getting the gear that will work for me.


check out, particularly the outfitting section. You can also use the “search boats” facility there to check out specific conversions and you could seek advice in the forum regarding which K-1 hulls are best for conversions.

In general, the best kayak hulls for conversions are fairly wide with large cockpits so that you can get your knees in and out under the deck, something like a Big EZ (although the Big EZ is not fast).

If you could find a Dagger Cascade in decent condition it would probably suit your needs. It has reasonable hull speed.

Before you do a conversion or buy a C-1 make sure you can tolerate the relatively low kneeling position they generally require. C-1 saddles are typically at least a couple of inches shorter than OC-1 pedestals and it can make a lot of difference.

This is a little out of the box, but
This is probably totally impractical, but there’s a guy in DC that paddles an old-school C1. He reminds me of what you are looking for, because he paddles everything in that boat, from calm water to stuff that is way above my head, so C-IV or more. Guy’s name is Ed Gertler, and he has been paddling that same boat for 40 years. Well, not the same boat…he paddles lots and wears them out, but he has the mold and gets a builder to turn out another one when he needs one. Likely, he’d help you get one if you wanted it.

Totally impractical with you being in Colorodo and him in DC, right? No way to see (other than pictures) what you’d be getting, and then you would have to get the boat shipped, which sounds impractical to me, but people who post here seem to regularly accomplish it.

If you wanted to follow up with Ed you could put a post on the DC canoe cruisers message board, or PM me and I will send you his info. Ed’s a class guy and I expect he would be happy to talk to you about C1s.


Ed’s C-1
Ed paddles a Hahn C-1. It is a big boat but it might suit the OP’s purpose. No question that Ed is a great guy and I’m sure he would be happy to help anyone get started in C-1.

Millbrook makes a variety of composite
c-1s, including the Hahn. I started ww in a Hahn. Its design is great for Gertler who is known for his solo explorations of difficult whitewater. Hahns are porky but predictable.

Probably the best handling plastic c-1 was the Dagger Atom. The Dagger Cascade was also good.

Of new kayaks, I suspect the Pyranha Karnali would make the best conversion. Known to be fast for its length and a great handling boat.

Atom or Cascade
I’ve got limited experience with conversions none of it particularly good. I found the conversions I paddled, a Whip-It and a Foreplay, squirelly and slow.

And Yes, that says as much about my limited skills as it does about the hulls.

Coming from open boating I agree that the Dagger Atom and Cascade are boats worth considering.

There seem to be Atoms for sale fairly often. That is a fairly thick polyethelene hull so it’s heavy on land but stiff (for poly) and quick on the water. It is a wannabe slalom boat and needs to be paddled aggressively else the stern goes under and Tommy swims.

The most recent of the poly Dagger C1’s, I’d be pretty comfortable about the condition of almost any Atom. It’s a tough boat to kill.

The Cascade is bigger, softer and a bit slower but it paddles more like my Outrage which is to say that I rarely swim out of it. It’s also an older model, harder to find, and I’ve heard rumors of brittle hulls. Mine seems to be fine.

Either of those would make a transition to C1 easier than conversions IMO.