buying first whitewater kayak

I have canoed for years and had two lessons in whitewater kayaking on easy parts of the New River around Thurmonds from a friend who has run rivers and creeks for years. He has offered to teach me if I will commit to once a week. I am 6 ft about 185lbs and want to get a used whitewater kayak. Most water around here (Winchester, VA) is mild with a few class II and III, also near creeks and the Cheat River in WV. My kayaking friends love challenges and hope that I will soon advance to go with them. I have looked at an RPM for about $400 with outfitting and skirt and a Perception Madness with same. I am not sure if I should go for the river-running displacement hull to start or try a planing hull with the Madness. Does anyone have any suggestions on which or other boats that I should try and find. Thanks, Brian

First Whitewater Kayak
For what its worth… The displacement vs. planing hull topic usually raises good arguments and fervent supporters for both sides.

I was in a similar situation when I was beginning and I chose to go with a displacement hull (RPM actually) for a couple of reasons. First, its VERY VERY easy to roll and the confidence gained when you have a roll is immeasurable. Second, my goal was primarily river running rather than surfing waves. And yes you can surf an RPM. Its also great at the beach.

They both have their niche but I was not disappointed in “learning” on my RPM. In fact I still have it.

You may want to check some of the newer boats like Liquid Logics Lil’ Joe or the Necky Mission. They are advertised as “all-rounders” with greater play and surf capability yet still easy enough to learn to roll.

Good Luck…

Ah, another religious issue. :slight_smile:
Look at this question and answer from Boatertalk:

I have paddled all the major displacement hulls and would never go back to any of them. In particular the RPM is a comparatively bad choice for beginning paddlers. You can get decent planing hulled boats for $300 or less. $400 for an RPM is way too much for what you get. What you want in a beginning boat is stability and maneuverability (you easily control the boat, it doesn’t control you). Displacement hulled boats are less stable and less maneuverable, which translates to harder ferries, more difficult eddy catching (and leaving), and capsizing more often. Just my humble religious view.

Non-Planing hull boats
Are not very fun in the surf either.

Try a couple a boats before you buy. Around here you can find a Necky Jive for 300 - 400 bucks used and its a pretty decent allaround boat, but I am not a hardcore whitewater paddler.

Although I own and love displacement
hulls, if you are starting fresh, there are some very good planing river runners to choose from. My opinion of the RPM is that it is too short to do the things displacement hulls do best, and too soft and rounded to do the things planing hulls excel in. Safe choices in a used river-running planer would include the Dagger GT.

i started kayaking using the
little brother of the RPM, “The Redline” and like any new ww kayaker I went through the ususal learning curve and at my second year changed to something more playfull and with increased initial stability. In fact, i am the same weight as you but judging by my beer gut i am shorter. Anyways the Redline worked for me but if i could do it again i would go straight to something else with a more significant planing hull as Dr. D. says. That boatertalk recommendation is good advise. There a lot of great new boats new out there. Welcome to the addiction.

IMHO the RPM is a bad coice if you have any interest in becoming a decent WW paddler.

Its easy to roll, but its sloppy. I’d look at a reasonable planing hull used, you’ll outgrow the RPM very quickly with very very little seat time. Its hard to eddy, ferry, and has no play what so ever.

Personally I almost bought the RPM, but instead bought a Dagger Honcho for my first boat and am very glad I did. A planing hull is harder to roll, but once you roll a planing hull everything else is cake. I can flip my creek boat over on my sides without thinking (its a WaveSport Y).

Look around for a used Super EZ, maybe a Dagger Honcho, a LiquidLogic Hoss, or something along this line. I doubt you will regret your choice of something besides the RPM. The RPM is a great hull, but if you have any desire what so ever of doing some playing or becoming a serious WW paddler, you’ll outgrow the RPM in 3 or 4 river trips.

Just my opinion.


I Have To Agree…
I went in ww with my semi planing hull boat, the Acrobat, I think the newer full planing hulls is a better bet and will speed up the learning curve. The only good thing about the older boats is that you can get them for under $200. But if the budget is slightly larger and patience is there, getting a river running planing boat for $300-$400 is very easy.

I still pinch myself thinking that I got Riot Boogie, practically brand new, with skirt for $375 (including shipping). And, recently, I just got a brand new Necky Chronic (as in never been used) for $560 (including shipping). The deals are there if you have the patience. However, if you want to get on the water, then drop the patience a little bit and increase the budget. Best to get on the water ASAP with a decent boat. :slight_smile:



RE: first WW kayak
I appreciate all of the feedback. It seems that the consensus is that planing hull will with a little effort, increase learning curve and progress while providing stability - and speed?

Has anyone had experience with the Madness - just looking at what is availabel right now as I am anxioud to get back in the water.

Thanks again, Brian

My recommendations
An excellent first boat is the Necky Jive. There is one on Gear Swap for $350. Here is the URL for Gear Swap:

Another good first boat is the Inazone 230. There are three on Gear Swap for $320, $410, and $400 respectively. If you don’t mind paying a little more then I recommend the Booster 55. They are available used for $400 to $500. Some people would also recommend the EZ series from Wave Sport. Boats can be shipped for $45 to $75.

go for the madness
I had a Madness, it’s a great boat. It’s volume is high enough to make it a good, safe river runner, and the planing hull makes it a fun play boat as well. I outgrew it and sold it, but you should fit perfectly in one.

Go for the Madness. That was my almost choice, but the Method air was just a little more my size. It’s just a step down in size from the madness. It’s a great boat to learn in and a lot of fun in WW. For a WW boat the speed and (believe it or not, tracking) are pretty good. With a good head of steam it will stay straight longer than most. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my “air.” Very stable.

response- First Whitewater
I appreciate all of your help. Unless I am strongly advised against it I think that I will get a Madness with front & rear spit flotation bags, skirt and Werner Quest paddle for about $400.

Any thoughts?

Probably a good deal.
Provided the boat is in good shape that is an excellent package for the money. I am not a Perception fan and that is their largest version of that boat series but that should do you well enough until you sell it next year.

Me Too
I am looking to buy my first WW boat also. I am 5’11" and about 205# (hoping to get to around 190# soon), with size 11 feet.

I have only tried one on moving water and many others in a pool. The one I tried on the river was a Super Sonic that seemed OK. The boats that I’ve tried in the pool that seemed good were the Dagger Mid Evil, Riot Booster 55 and the Wavesport Big EZ. I also tried a Diesel but the one I tried was too small, not only that I’m looking for used for my first boat and it will probably be a while before there are any used Diesels on the market. Now, just the other day I saw a boat that I think would be good. It felt good and comfortable to sit in and it paddled OK on flat water but I had no moving water to try it on. It is a Wavesprot Z, what are your thoughts on that boat?


sounds fine
Guide I went with last year used at least one Z as part of his loaner fleet to newbies like myself.

Here is a link to specs on the boat.

never used one for any duration but

– Last Updated: Jul-13-04 12:28 AM EST –

they get pretty favorable reviews for a longer boat. should be good in higher volume river and i hear it is okay for kayak surfing though not getting as high marks as other boats in the surf. Perhaps a little on the heavy side to carry. Certainly comfortable for the larger paddler. It is on my list of boats to consider in larger volume rivers if i could find a good cheap one. You mentionned some other boats that are also favourable. For the Big EZ you are currently at the upper end of the weight range for that boat as such, you might want to consider the Super EZ at that weigth. I haven't seen a diesel but i would like to.

should be an okay first boat until you figure what you want later. It’s an earlier planing hull with more length and volume – slightly greater than 8’ and 60 plus gallons. It will lean more towards river running and surfing rather than do the play moves for your size. The latter isn’t going to be something for you to think much about in the first season anyway. If it’s good deal, i would say get it, get on the water, and then think about what you want to do in white water and get another boat later. It seems to me most of he committed white water folks have a play boat (lower volume) as well as higher volume river runner/creeker in the arsenal down the line.