Choosing Whitewater yak

Can you give me some feedback on best yak to buy. I’m 5’8" and 200 pounds. Mostly muscle but I am 44 and some excess weight. I’m an avid sea yakker from Florida but moving to Knoxville and need to buy a whitewater yak. Any suggestions? Product reviews say W/sport Big EZ or Godzilla a good boat. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks. Dave M. - Knoxville

what kind of whitewater?
River running, playboating, creeking? Big water or rock gardens? Class II-III or IV-V?

So many choices out there

– Last Updated: Mar-20-06 2:14 PM EST –

Fewer if you weigh > 200 lbs. It's hard to know what you are going to want to do the most. I mostly surf but I'm about your size and beginner at whitewater. Two boats to look at very cheap and used are the old Necky Jive, the Jive is very versatile and the Wavesport Diesel 75 (not quite as cheap). Depends whether you want to sink the ends or have lots of floation to paddle down river. Take a class and see what kind of boats you like most before investing, and then buy used.

Maybe a Mamba??
I have a Mamba 8.5 and I love it. I am a terrible paddler and this boat covers up a lot of my mistakes. The others are right. The boat choice depends on what and how you plan on paddling. One suggestion is to try and be at the bottom half of the weight range for your chosen boat. This will make the boat more responsive. I, by design (love pizza and cheese doodles)am at the top end (Ok! OVER)of my boat and admit that it does make for some sluggish moves.

If your looking to run rivers and not as interested in stern squirts and cartwheels, look at the Mamba, Diesel, and H3. All large volume boats that surf well, drop and resurface and are comfortable.

Good luck with your purchase.


demos at NOC
Hey there,

Another idea is once you’ve got your “short list” or even to help you get your short list, is take a trip down to Nantahala Outdoor Center. In addition to seeing a bunch of yaks and sitting in them in the store, you can then rent one to run the river in so you really get a feel for the 'yak. If you take a class with them, I believe you also can choose to demo boats as a part of class. You would probably have a much better idea afterwards of what’s most important to you in a boat. If you’re looking to buy new, your rental fee is deducted off the 'yak price if you buy from them, and if you take a class, you also get a discount on any gear/boats/etc. you purchase from them (for like a month or so after your class). Even if you really just want to buy used, it can still be a good way to “try before you buy”. NOC sometimes has used boats too, although probably not as cheap as you can get on your own.

Here’s a couple local clubs that might be able to hook you up with other resources including ww classes, roll practice sessions, and gear swap:

The first link is more your area, but there might be good info or gear on the Memphis pages, too, even though it’s other side of state.

Good luck, and happy shopping!

2nd Lupe
I also 2nd Lupe. Besides, any excuse to go to NOC is a good excuse. As a matter of fact, I, in the spirit of helping my up and coming whitewater brothers & sisters will offer to personally escort you to NOC to help you make an informed decision. Yes, i am just that kinda guy:-)

Good Luck


Knoxville is full of WW paddlers
Use them as a resource. Borrow their equipment. Get their advice. Post something on and I would bet that a number of people come forward to help.

Only slight negative i can think
of concerns buying British made boats. I recently got a Pyranha and lost a screw which is metric. End result that because it was metric, i did not find exactly what i was looking for but made do. Another complaint is that a number of different tools are needed to make simple adjustments like thigh hooks. No big issue but something for you to think about. I don’t know if other newish boats have the same requirement to have various “odd” tools and an engineer availalbe.

Choosing Whitewater yak
I’ll be using it for class 2-4. Not into tricks, just straight river running and maybe some creeks.

that helps.
For what you’re looking for anything in the dedicated river-runner category to river-runner/creeker category would be fine.

River runners for larger guys include: LL Hoss, WS Big EZ, Dagger GT 8.1, Necky Jive 810, Riot Booster 60, Jackson SuperFun…

River-runner/creekers include: WS Diesel, Dagger Mamba, Jackson Super Hero, LL Gus/Huck…

Lot’s of great boats out there. Have fun trying as many as you can out!

Metric is standard for bicycles. It’s standard for foreign cars too.