another newbie looking for advise

-- Last Updated: Jul-11-07 12:35 AM EST --

I am a mature, hippy woman looking to find the perfect kayak to learn/further my kayak skills. Initially thought I'd stick to lakes and the Class I-II rivers in Western Colorado, now invited to go on trip thru Desolation and Gray's in Utah, maybe some III's but told a lot of flat, esp in late Aug. (I'm told I can tie it up to a raft and ride the raft thru tough spots; I'll be the only kayaker I believe. Is that really workable??) Bought a used Dagger Gradiant at kayak swap to learn in, and quickly learning how tipsy it is and lack of trackability for flat water. Working too hard just to go straight! Don't think it's just my beginner skills (and did take a class) and know it's not right for what I want to do, but for $150 it was a start. So, I need something for flat and mostly easier rivers, want to be able to handle a little whitewater (don't expect beyond Class III), need to be able to carry some camping gear (I've got lightweight for sure, and rafters can carry some of my stuff). Gradiant is letting me know I like something not too big to handle. I'm currently around 190#, so not a small woman but have always been active so not as out of shape as that might sound.

Rental options around here seem limited to try out much, although hopefully can test "ride" one. Would prefer used, but they're all 250+ miles away, and mostly whitewater/playboats it seems.

Would welcome suggestions as I'm stumped. Would rather not spend a bunch, but do want something that has some real sturdiness to it and can handle a variety of conditions. I certainly read how lots of folks end up with multiple boats, but hope to find something to fit the bill for the next couple of years, at least!

Don’t rush things
There are boats out there that you can fit in that will handle class III rapids (like, e.g., the Liquid Logic Hoss). But going down class III attached to a raft is a no go. It is insane to even consider it. As to flat water, most WW boats that will handle class III are going to be a dog on flat water. You can learn to make them go straight (actually, won’t take long) but they will be SLOW. A so-called cross over boat will do many of the things you describe moderately well (like the Prijon Yukon) but your basic problem is lack of skill. My advice: wait till next year.

clarification regarding tied to raft
Thanks for input. Should clarify that option of tying to back of raft means only the kayak would be tied, I’d be riding on the raft. But you would still say no to the idea? I envision the kayak turning upside down and bouncing through some rocks, so wondered if a viable option.

Pungo 120
is a good stable boat and you can do some Class III in it although it isn’t made for it. I use a CD Kestrel 120HV but love the Pungo 120 because it is stable, tracks well, has storage and an easy exit cockpit.

No, I am not paid by Wilderness Systems but love their boats.

Go luck in finding a boat.


Yeow…not my kayak
I wouldn’t tie my kayak to the back of a raft and I wouldn’t let you tie your kayak to my raft.

You have a problem.

You will need someone to advise you on this which could be very dangerous.

I would hold to the kayak and swim behind it first because that is what you would need to do it you roll out. You don’t want to be in a Class III with a wild rec boat bouncing around. Holding to it will make it take the rivers line which will be how the river takes you. Dragging you will keep the kayak straight in line. I won’t advise you on this last part because I don’t know the river or you.

Do you know how big class III is ?
I would suggest that you cancell out of the trip and learn on a I-II river or just go in the raft so you can see what a III is like.

Your profile says “beginner”

Beginners don’t do II’s or III’s

Like othes have said: You don’t tie a kayak behind a raft going through a class III rapid.

I am amazed the raft people even considered it. It is liable to end up killing some of the people on the raft as it goes flying through the air.



Keep in mind
that I have no experience in WW, but I did test paddle quite a few “cross over” boats thinking I might want to eventually. Look at the Prijon Combi 359 Tour or Combi 359 WW version. Both are well made, nicely appointed boats, capable of up to class III WW according to what I’ve been told. Both are nearly 12’ long, to accomdate gear and a larger paddler, also much easier to paddle over the long flat stretches. I chose not to get one because it would have been a bear to paddle on long wind swept open stretches of lakes where I would need better tracking. But on a wide lazy flat river it would have been great! I may still get one in the next couple of years to go alongside my Tsunami.

The tour and ww versions are the same boat, except the ww version has beefier foot pegs, and I believe and extra foam pillar.

Here’s a link to Prijon’s site:

Good luck

There’s a much bigger difference between
class II and III than there is between class I and II. Class III requires very fully developed boat control skills. Tying the kayak to the raft reminds me of that scene in the movie Jaws…“you go in the cage…cage goes in the water…shark is in the water…” Fair well and ado my dear Spanish lady.

don’t be giving advice to newbies
stay out of the water.

The advice and opinions police will be around shortly to deal with the rest of you irresponsible types.


– Last Updated: Jul-11-07 10:46 AM EST –

Well, that's the reason I joined up on this message board was to get input from those in the know, and believe I got my answer--a resounding no to a lot of what I was putting out there. I had been surprised when this very experienced rafter suggested the idea, I've done enough canoeing and a little rafting to have some idea of what it might mean. This trip is a 5 day trip through 2 canyons with a lot of flat water, mostly I's and II's, and I guess possibly some III's. I hear it's running low this year already, which know has its own implications. I have already gone down the Colorado River locally which has I's and they say II's (don't think I actually went through any), and still plan to take a river class to know more what I'm doing and improving my reading of the river. But very much appreciate the suggestions. Maybe I am hurrying it a little this year, just so ready for a good trip, and the vast majority of this one sounded so doable!


– Last Updated: Jul-11-07 12:03 AM EST –

I think the confusion over the seriousness of class III is due to rafting, because for an inflatable raft everything is easier and more forgiving. You bought a Gradient -- an old 8' creek boat. This boat should be fine for the class II rivers and for rolling practice but will be slow on flatwater. It will also be fine for class III rivers once you have a roll and some experience. However if you really want to go on the class III trip now you should rent an inflatable raft from an outfitter.

For flatwater you will need to consider who you will be paddling with. If you paddle with other short boats the Gradient may be Ok. However if the people you paddle with have longer boats you will soon be wanting a longer boat too, in order to keep up. In general you don't want to paddle alone -- for safety -- find a local club or other local paddlers. You can find various info and search for clubs here;

I guess I might add that if you just want to run down rivers you could look for something like an old Perception Dancer. These long "old school" whitewater boats are now cheap, are long enough to have moderate speed on flatwater, and can handle class I,II,III. However they still won't glide in a straight line like a flatwater boat or match the speed of a much longer boat.

I did happen to come upon a web posting of photos from a similar late Summer trip through this Desolation Canyon, and an inflatable kayak was being used amongst the rafters, so apparently that worked out just fine. But saying the inflatables are “forgiving” is a good way of putting it. I do have a fair amount of canoeing experience, although not in serious whitewater, but while this helps my paddling technique, it has been more surprising than I expected to move into a kayak. Must admit I was not aware of just how the entire body is engaged in the kayaking vs paddling a canoe. But I’m learning!