Different sort of attaining

I paddle alone a lot due to my chosen employment and travel habits, so I often paddle rivers in both directions just to be able to get out on the water as much as I like.

I have a WS Zephyer an Alchemy and a Stinger in my “fleet” I use as attainment boats in rough/WW situations. I recently attempted to paddle upstream on the Missouri river at Council Bluffs Ia and the current nearly did me in. I have done this on other faster flowing rivers, also with limited success in covering much ground, and eddies are pretty spread out so resting opportunities can be limited heading upstream.

I am thinking that a boat with less rocker and a little more length (possibly a WS Tempest 170) would be a better option for this sort of activity. I thought about trying my Avocet but I like that boat to much to put it in a concrete rock lined environment so often associated with big rivers in urban settings.

Does anybody have any experience with this form of tomfoolery?

I am 6’, 200lbs, size 10.5 shoe. I am in good shape, and can self rescue in all of my boats.

P.S. I don’t want this thread to start a safety rant, I have weather appropriate gear, and understand my limitations.

Not a kayak
I recommend a 16 or 17 foot tandem canoe, and a 12 foot wood or aluminum pole. There is no better way to get upstream in a stiff current than canoe poling.

I REALLY like the 170. In fact it’s currently my front-runner I think - it’s just a really comfortable cockpit. That said, I’m really not sure if it will be good for what you’re wanting to do (it could be, I just don’t have any experience). I find that compared to second favorite boat, the Chatham 17, the 170 tends to go OVER waves while the Chatham goes THROUGH them. The Tempest can feel a little bit bigger and it definitely rides “high” which I’m not sure I like from a performance standpoint, but I can paddle the Tempest for hours and hours and not get any cramps or feet falling asleep etc., something that I’ve experienced in almost every other boat, including both Zephyrs. I can still roll and edge it easily. So in other words, it’s a good boat, I like it, but I’m not sure if it will be good for what you’re intending.

How about the …

– Last Updated: Nov-15-14 7:31 PM EST –

How about the upcoming Epic V7 with the overstern rudder option?

I've paddled the Zephyr 155 as an attainment boat, then switched to the Delphin 15.5, which was better for currents. I've also attained in my Nordkapp RM in the same rapids. The problem with faster boats is that they do not turn well and usually are more affected by currents. With the Nordkapp I could overpower some small pourovers where I could not go up in the Delphin or the Zephyr because they were not fast enough. But the 'Kapp could not go around tight corners on small eddies as well as the more maneuverable kayaks, and its nose would get pushed downriver - so in these cases I could not attain in the Nordkapp but I could in the Delphin as I could swing it around the corner and catch the upstream eddy :)

The Epic V7 would be faster than just about any other plastic kayak you might be able to get. And probably stable enough for attainments.

Another issue with the Nordkapp was that it was 18' long and 65lb or so heavy - not the best combination for quick changes of direction. You will feel the same in the Tempest 170 someone suggested, plus the Tempest is slower than the 'Kapp even though it is more stable. The V7 is supposed to be under 45lb, or 20lb lighter. I've attained in a V10 Sport and it is a blast - could go upriver where other boats would stall and get pushed back. But, it is fragile, so can't get too close to rocks, which kills the fun and makes it harder to catch eddies. The plastic V7 would not have this issue. I suppose thigh straps can be added for better control and to roll rather than remount if you do flip over. Remounting a surfski in a fast rapid takes much longer than ideal and by the time you are back up you are way far downriver. Or you may not be able to remount until you get flushed out of the rapid altogether. So rolling is better than remounting a sit on top. Anyway, I digress. But, I will probably get a V7 for that purpose - attaining upriver for a couple of miles to get to a nice big standing wave for surfing...

May seem a good idea at first, but…

– Last Updated: Nov-15-14 7:30 PM EST –

... I seriously doubt that it would work. You see, I often paddle and row on a river that is "large" by midwestern-state standards, but it's tiny compared to the Missouri River at Council Bluffs. Even on this "small example of a large river", which happens to be very shallow and sandy on average, deep spots are so common that poling simply wouldn't work. A 12-foot pole would allow you to touch bottom at most locations but wouldn't allow much working room. I know from experience that using a 10-foot pole on a very small but semi-deep river simply can't be done, and the same would happen with a longer pole in the deeper water of the river I'm thinking of (I was forced to try this with a Jon boat when I broke one of my oarlocks halfway through the second day of a two-day trip). You can bet that a lot of the Missouri River is well over 12 feet deep, so even touching bottom will be out of the question much of the time, and when you could touch bottom, the awkwardness of reaching so far to find it would be extreme (that's another issue I had that time with the Jon boat). At those times, you'd find yourself needing to resort to paddling in a boat that is way slower than the kayaks the O.P. is already using.

By the way, in a big river, simply hugging the shore won't keep you constantly in shallow water. Deep holes will be present right along the bank, and fallen trees will keep you from using that last 10 to 30 feet of space near shore.

less rocker = faster, but
less rocker and a little longer generally equals faster, so you could possibly get upstream against a slightly stronger current. But the downside you will hit is it is less maneuverable, so you will likely have more challenge getting it across eddy lines, when it gets turned by a current, and the like.

I would think a Stinger would be quite
effective. I have an old '82 Noah Magma with limited rocker, a slender bow, and an underside like an extended slalom boat. It attains excellently while retaining some maneuverability.

Of course you could also pick up a used downriver ww kayak. But while they can maneuver, their handling can be treacherous.

You’ve also tried tacking diagonally back and forth across the current?

I paddle alone as well most of the time, doing shuttles alone is a nuisance. I have a nearby river that I paddle occasionally. I always paddle upstream and zip back. I’ve gone upstream nearly 10 miles with a 2 mph current. The river runs deep and can’t be poled. The link is of the river in flood stage, I paddled upstream for 4 miles, took me 2 hours and 20 minutes back.

Boat is an 18’ 3" Artisan Millennium, it’s a very efficient boat for attainment.


The Singer does not like flat water
In active water it is a good attainment boat, just a little on the heavy side. Once the water flattens out it really planes up and you wind up pushing your bow wave, almost like paddling a barrel.

In winter river flow season it seems that the “fun” sections get further apart.

Boreal Baffin P2
I would love to try one out, I have heard they come in thermoform now also, making it lighter, and not as painful to hit on the rocks.

As far as my searches go, nearly impossible for a Midwest boy to demo, and just a little high to buy untried.

I Never Heard of "Attainment"
so I did a search. This is what I found:


You remember the Pirouette?

It’s a New England thing…
Upstream in rough/WW situations = poling.

If this is the river then I agree - probably not a good place for poling.



I guess I should have googled it first.

Having paddled both, my old Noah Magma
is faster against the current, but less controllable. The Pirouette used to be a favorite of weekend citizen race slalom paddlers. Fast and maneuverable.

I admire you guys.
Apparently there was no need to “explain” why poling wouldn’t work here. A little reminder of how big the Missouri River really is would have done the trick. As to going upstream on swift, shallow rivers, I think poling is a really admirable skill. I tried it once with a short pole from a kneeling position (I can’t stand up in a small solo canoe), and controlling the boat in turbulence was SO confusing to my automatic instincts about boat control. It’s totally different to push of the bottom, which is completely independent of the water through which the boat is moving, as compared to pushing off the water itself, which I’m used to doing with the paddle.

Kneeling is tough
You should try standing in a tandem canoe with a longer pole. It is much easier, probably because the leverage is better. I’ll bet you would like it a lot.

I paddle the MO and the MS frequently

– Last Updated: Nov-16-14 9:39 AM EST –

I use an 18' Kevlar QCC 700 because it's what I have. But others use Tempest's and Valley boats like the Aquanaut that are more maneuverable and work very well.

For most paddlers, me included, there are a lot of places we just can't go upstream very effectively. We guesstimate the current at 3-5 mph if the channel is narrow most cannot maintain headway for very long and it has limited entertainment value.

That said you can usually find areas with a wider channel you can eddy hop around/ thru the wing dams and sometimes find sloughs behind islands that have a totally different character than the main channel.


The deep side
My experience with faster flowing rivers is that it is almost always easier to paddle upstream on the deep side, close to shore. Some rivers will reveal an eddy-line and I’ve found that if I stay just inside the line, the current is much reduced.

Where I have to paddle very close to rocks, etc. I generally take my Old Town Loon 138. It turns very easily and it is heavy enough to provide a little extra inertia for traversing rips caused by obstructions.

I’ve also used my 12’ inflatable on the Colorado and it works quite well–on the deep side.