Definition of "playboat"

I have seen this term used many times during the past two years and I cannot infer it’s precise meaning.


Definition: A longer style white water boat. 10-11ft. Example; Dagger Crossfire.

Sea or WW playboat?
There are whitewater boats referred to as playboats and there are sea kayaks referred to as playboats.

Are you asking about one or the other?


– Last Updated: Aug-16-06 9:11 AM EST –

'A physical or mental leisure activity that is undertaken purely for enjoyment or amusement and has no other objective'. .

So a boat that accomplishes that would be a "playboat"..

Both- I did not know there were
multiple venues.

My Definition…
I am into Sea kayaking, and I have a 17’ 10" long Impex Assateague. This is what I use on open bodies of water.

My “Playboat” is an Emotion “Edge”. It is almost 10’ long, and a wide rec Kayak. I use this to play over the summer in mild running creeks, and over the winter when & where I won’t take my good boat because of rocks, etc…

It is small and cheap, so I can play in it without worry of losing a bundle of money if I bang it up.

Whether you are talking sea kayak, whitewater kayak or canoe, playboats tend to be more manuverable and less geared towards speed, distance or hauling capacity.

My Mad River Outrage is a playboat. My Mad River Explorer is not. My CD Caribou is a playboat. My old CD Solstice was not.

It’s a pretty subjective label.

Now see… I thought a “playboat” was just one designed for doing stunts. And yet nobody else has mentioned that.

Is there a handy terminology guide anywhere that serves as a standard?

Sorry bro, but the newer
ww playboat yaks are about 6.5 - 7 feet long, and in general might have a volume aruond 50 gallons or thereabouts.

Caribou a playboat? NM

Fairly interesting responses but not
a lot of apparent unanimity. I guess it is somewhat subjective as TommyC1 indicated.

I am only aware of Playboats in whitewater. They are shorter, hard chined, plaining hull kayaks that are usually used to do tricks and surfing moves. If there are other versions of playboats, i am not aware.

Go to and look at the references to Playboats.


Yep Tommy nailed it
but I think generally most boaters think whitwater when you say “playboat”

D’ja ever paddle a Solstice? Ever try to surf one?

IMO the 'bou is a lot more playful.

But if I was going on a week long high mileage camper I might just wish for the Solstice.

workboat (?) vs. playboat
Kayaking is inherently a “destination” based activity; historically, one would paddle from point A (camp)to point B (seals) and back to camp, hopefully hauling seals. Later, when hunting became easier (Safeway, Food mart, Publix) paddlers could spend more time paddling purely for the pleasure of paddling.

A “playboat” in the sea kayak genre is definitely a relative term, as stated with the above example of the Caribou. For another example, my camping, expedition, traveling (work) boat is my Explorer HV (17’6"). My playboat is my Posiedon (16’2").

Playboats will be more maneuverable and more responsive, therefore they will tend to be shorter in length, and usually lower in volume. Usually paddled where distance is not neccesarily the goal of the day. Think of them as the sportscar in your fleet.

“Play” will be in the eye of the beholder. Paddling in the surf zone just for the fun of it. Playing in rock gardens rock hopping and playing “kiss the rocks”. Playboats tend to respond very well to edged sweep strokes, bow rudders, cross bow draws, and dynamic hanging draws, etc. A sweep stroke and a bow rudder can turn the boat right around. Much more fun in a more responsive boat.

Perhaps not a concise defintion, but no one ever said I was succint. Hope it gives you a better idea anyway.


My Definition…

– Last Updated: Aug-17-06 5:35 AM EST –

a "playboat" is one that is optimized for quick maneueverability and control (as opposed to speed and tracking). The play venue is one where water movement and features interact to create a dynamic situation where the inability to control and/or stay in the boat results in a bad swim, if not a disaster. The venue also requires a "mindlessness" (or thorough integration) of basic skills such as bracing and rolling and where greater integration of boat control strokes results in a wider range of "play" moves. Generally the play venue will have a clear level of danger that induces and challenges one perform skills that are "seamless" from mind to body. Almost always, the play induces some level of adrenalization. If the venue is not too tough/challenging for the individual, the experience is of acuity in perception, action and reaction. This is the stuff of the "stoke" or the "zone." When the venue surpasses the individual's skills, the adrenaline is experienced as fear because the individual realizes or appreciates the fact that a mistake could result potentially in injury or death.


Well said
Two thumbs up.

result potentially in injury or death
Sing’s serious play!

Geeeze … you need some water time
that was quite a pithy post

I was going to say something stupid like a short whitewter boat with slicey ends so you can stall the bow and stern and throw the boat around (loops, wave wheels, cartwheels etc) … and should have enough speed to get some big air type moves.

While "Subjective…"
to a degree, there is also an objective degree of potential danger.

I’ve read of folks blowing a shoulder on 3’ surf. I was with someone who blew his knee out wetexiting his boat in 5’ waves.

With Seadart’s talk of cartwheels and slicey ends and such… Where does this get done, usually in wave/hole. I’ve see folks go over in a hole and come up with a nice gash on their face.

Ask any “player” and they will tell you that they accept a certain level of danger in the play (at whatever level that is for the individual). But, without that, it’s just a ho hum paddle.