I’m a newbie going kayak camping with a more experienced group in a couple of weeks. The river we will be on is rocky and has up to Class 2 rapids so I want to be sure the Kestrel is sturdy enough. It’s what Current Designs called Thermo Composite System (i.e., not rotomolded plastic). Does anyone have any experience with a Current Designs TCS kayak on rocky rivers and did it hold up okay? My alternative is a Jackson Rogue 10 but if I take it I will have to load a lot of gear on top and I’m concerned about it being top heavy.
Personally I would not take a thermoformed boat in those conditions. Not at all what it was designed for, both the material and the kayak design.
I don’t think it’s a good idea. First because of the material. I owned the Kestrel 140 TCS once. Very nice glide in calm water. But it’s 26" wide and the cockpit is 18.5" x 39"—not exactly what you would choose for quick maneuverability in moving water to avoid rocks. I sold my Kestrel because the cockpit was too big even for me, a lover of ample cockpits. Unless you’re quite large, you might not have the knee contact that’s useful in moving water.
Avoid the rocks and you’ll be fine. That shouldn’t be that difficult on a Cl 2 but for peace of mind, plastic is better.
Out of curiosity, what river?
Class II covers a wide range of rapids from tight, rocky, and technical to fairly straight forward bigger bouncy waves.
Other questions that come to my mind are flow/water levels and your skill set. Low water might beat up anything going through not the less a somewhat delicate hull while higher might create a very different set of concerns. Since you are asking the question, I suspect that you are not very experienced in running whitewater and may not be that good at knowing where not to be, where to be, and how to be where you need to be on a run.
If it was my boat, I would not take it on rocky river.
There are boats in the size range that could do Class II without a problem, but the thermoformed Kestrels - especially given the necessary age of that boat, given how long ago CD stopped doing them in that material - isn’t on par, both from a design standpoint or a materials standpoint.
The Dan River from Harts Access to Hemlock Access. Do you have any first hand knowledge of that section?
Agree with others that plastic would be better than the TCS Kestrel, but tying heavier gear to the Rogue’s deck isn’t ideal either. Best to limit what you tie on top to the stuff you might need accessible while on the water. This little article lacks detail, but the author likes the Rogue for river camping.
Can you ask the others to share a bit of your load and take the Rogue?
I understand this may seem rude, but I suspect that the more experienced folks may be better able to handle awkward weight in their kayak than you. And everyone will have a better time if there are no rescues involved.
Thanks for the info. I wish he had shared some details too.
Yeah, that’s not happening but thanks for the suggestion.
A skilled paddler with a well-fitting skirt in that boat likely could do it, but even then class II would be a challenge.
You mentioned that you were a newbie, so I’m assuming that means you don’t know how to roll or anything like that?
And you didn’t mention whether you’ll be wearing a well-fitting spray skirt on the boat.
If you did take it, there is a very high chance that you have multiple wet exits during the trip.
And if you didn’t understand river current flow and boat maneuverability, a very high chance you have multiple hard impacts with rocks.
No, I haven’t paddled down that way. I did pulll up AW’s (American Whitewater) river database & I think that section you mention may be listed as " Route 1432 to Route 89". Not a lot of info (from the AW viewpoint) but there is a group of pictures uploaded that seem to be from a Rec paddle on it. Personally, I’d wear my PFD but… Anyway, looking at the pictures I’d be comfortable taking my composite canoes there but I also have history running class III, IV- water and get by OK finding my way through that kind of stuff.
I didn’t realize that CD made thermoformed boats. How old is the Kestrel? I’ve only had CD boats for the past 10 years and all I’ve ever seen have been fiberglass or poly.
In any case, I wouldn’t take a thermoformed, or a fiberglass, boat on a rocky river. That’s what rotomolded poly is for!
I agree and have previously raised the question of the longevity of thermoformed plastic.
Thermoform + quick water + older kayak + hitting a rock = perfect storm for material failure. Add cold water to that formula also.
I don’t know how long they had the TCS models but mine is a 2006. One of the reviewers said he heard they quit making them due to the cost of outsourcing (apparently they didn’t make the hulls). I’ve heard the same thing about the thermoformed Wilderness Systems boats.
The first kayaks I ever bought were thermoformed Wilderness Systems Pungos. Within a year both my wife’s and mine started to separate at the hull-to-deck seams, and one boat developed a split at a hull chine. The boats had been used gently - no rocky rivers were involved! The dealer contacted WS for us and comped us the price of the Pungos against anything else we wanted. We came away with two fiberglass CD boats and they’ve been bulletproof. We’ve paddled them all over the east coast from Nova Scotia to Florida and they still look like new. WS stopped making thermoformed Pungos the year after we returned ours so I’m guessing that we weren’t the only ones who had problems.
I’m not saying all thermoformed kayaks are bad as Eddyline and Delta generally get good reviews. But our experience with the WS boats wasn’t that great.
Yep, a dealer told me to stay away from thermoformed WS kayaks due to the separation problem you had.