Best Yaks for River Advocacy Group

I volunteer with a river advocacy non-profit and we just won a grant for 8 kayaks for our environmental education and outreach programs. Would others with such experience share ideas on best style yak mix (SOT, SINK, etc.) for such a program? Paddling will be mostly flat water coastal river and slow moving piedmont creeks and river. Thanks


– Last Updated: Aug-06-08 12:49 PM EST –

If the users are going to be getting in and out frequently, or using the kayak as a swim/dive platform, I'd got the SOT route. Rescue/recovery is easier.

Does your insurer have a preference?

SINKs are more comfortable in cold/rainy weather if you use skirts, but that means having folks be comfortable using them.

SOT makes sense

– Last Updated: Aug-06-08 12:35 PM EST –

If nothing else, that means you don't have to think about things like skirts or other weather protective gear. My guess is that you are a typical non-profit and reducing your overhead is not only desirable but necessary.

As Brian indicates, you may be more limited by weather and conditions with a SOT. But unless you are taking out more skilled paddlers that likely have their own boats anyway, this could be a good thing. Later add - once the water or air temps get below a certain point, you are taking on a pretty major risk letting people out unless you start adding in providing wetsuits and skilled guides, both of which may be beyond your means.

While you are talking to the insurer, you may want to get their take on people coming out with their own boats. It's going to be a likely question once you put out your own fleet.

There are a number of boats that will fit your needs here are some general attributes that I would recommend. (As a note, I’m partial to SINK type boats, especially for cold water paddling)

  1. Plastic boats - when they aren’t your own boats, people tend to treat them differently. The outdoor education group here has only plastic boats for rental and courses.

  2. fore and aft bulkheads and decklines - get boats that have both fore and aft bulkheads. This is really a safety issue. If you capsize any distance from shore and do not have bulkheads for flotation or decklines to hold on to, you have just put the entire group at risk. This will happen at some point in your groups tenure maybe not right away but sometime along the lines.

    3)For number 2,you will probably have to get boats in the 12-16ft range (this also fits the want for maneuverability). I find that sinks actually keep people drier and warmer when the weather/water is cold but do have some size limitations in terms of getting your butt in for anyone over ~250-275lbs .

  3. Width - If you want the boats to be stable for fairly novice paddles, do not go with a 20 in wide boats. I used to have a 23in wide boat that was fantastically stable, even for novices. I would recommend something in the 23" range or wider by about 2". Much wider than 26" you get into what I like to call “bath tub” range.

    Some of this will come down to how you want to use them, the weather conditions and local availability.

    Good luck with you search and I hope this helped!


WS Pungo 120

I agree with GK; a 12’ rec boat
seems ideal.stable, big cockpit, easy to paddle, fairly light.

I noticed that you said in the Piedmont
in which case if you will just be using them in the summer, a SOT would be the best, but if you will also be using them in the winter, when some of the good birding is, I would suggest a SINK, and a good inexpensive one that is very stable would be a Perception Prodegy-10.