Dual purpose boat advise

Ok guys, I’ll try to keep it short. I plan on taking a two day white-water kayaking crash course class this spring. After I take this class I’ll be in the market for a white-water kayak. My question, do I go for a planning hull or a displacement hull? Can someone explain the difference? I’m looking at the Dagger boat right now. I’ll also be using this boat to check out the Havasu wildlife preserve (flat lake and very slow river) during the winters. So If one style of hull would lend itself to short touring better than the other please explain. I know a white-water kayak isn’t going to be a good touring boat but if one is better than the other I would like to know.

Thanks for now,


Without getting more in depth than
you’re ready to, I’ll try to explain.

A displacement hull, essentially, “displaces” the water. Which means that it is more voluminous. It’s nice to have in bigger water or larger rapids. Also nice if you’re taking a few things along for the day.

The planing hull will sit more on top of the water (in basic terms). Good for surfing or sitting in holes, hydraulics, etc.

Neither boat is great for flatwater. A basic rec boat is better than most any whitewater boat for paddling lakes or other flat bodies of water. They’re designed more for “cutting” through the water instead of riding on it.

I primarily paddle WW, but I also paddle flatwater with my wife, and I LOVE to fish from a rec boat during the summer. That’s why I currently have 4 boats. I think it’s rare to find a one-boat person these days (baring the tourers, since they cost so darn much!)

I would say if you’re just getting into the sport, look at the type of boating you would like to do most. Yes, the displacement hull will carry more gear and be more comfortable to sit in longer. They’re also generally more stable and forgiving as well.

Hope that helps. Which dagger are you looking at? When you’re beginning, you also want a boat that will let you learn to roll. Not something that’s so stable it doesn’t even want to upright.


Wait to buy the boat
Until you have taken the whitewater class. It will help you to have tried out a few different boats in the class. Are you doing the class on the Kern River? Who are you taking the class from? Ask them about boats that would work for you. Likely for paddling flat water you will want a longer more efficient boat, but for just cruisin along an older model whitewater boat will work. Most best selling current whitewater boats are too short to be much fun paddling on lakes. Good news is used whitewater boats are cheap, so are used sit on tops and rec boats. So you can have a boat for both purposes.

Think of a cross-sectional…
…view of the boats.

A displacement hull would look like a


and a planing boat would look like


While displacements are better than planing on

flat water, as your first responder said, neither

is great.

Displacement boats are in-general easier to roll

but that rollability can also make them easier

to flip.

I learned on a displacement hull and it was a

big mistake. I’d be upside down without warning

and it made me tenative, which made me flip more.

One boat you might want to look at is the Prijon

Yukon expedition, but do take the class first

and ask.

also your first boat should be used, because as

you learn more, you’ll undoubtedly decide that it

wasn’t the best choice of a boat for you.

A few answers
Yes I’m planning to take my class on the Kern. I’ve been to the fat tire festival put on by MRA (Mountain River Adventures) and they are a great group to hang out with. Of course I can’t speak for their kayaking but, the mountain bike events they do seem to be focused on safety first and fun second. My experience with them has been nothing but fun. I know they don’t hold permits for the toughest rapids but I don’t think that concerns me having never paddled anything more than a tandem S.O.T. for half a day. Any other suggestions for classes on the Kern?

If I had to choose right now I would say I’d be looking at the Dagger RPM 9.0 or GT 7.8 but again I want to do the class first. My plan of attack will probably go like this: First find and sign up for a class, Second look for a used S.O.T. rec boat for my wife (unless she decides to do the WW class too), Third look for a WW kayak for myself (hopefully used).

I think my wife is only going to be interested in paddling on the wildlife preserve so that’s where my dual purpose section comes in. This will be limited and I want my boat to perform well in the whitewater but be able to explore with the wife some too. Speaking of this has anyone taken a tour with Jerkwater on the Colorado? They are located right down the street from our vacation home. If I do a tour with them I would likely be renting a touring kayak because of the increased mileage.

Thanks Again,



How long are the trips on the Havasu? If they are short and you don’t care about going fast, a WW boat would work.

As you can gather from the other postings, a WW boat isn’t ideal for these kind of trips but the only “real” requirement is that the boat floats.

Part of the problem with WW boats in this context is that they are designed to turn. This is great in a river but annoying on flat water. Then again, it may help you become a stronger WW padder with all that practice keeping the boat going straight!

More on Havasu
It would be mostly short cruises around the preserve 2-5 miles. Any more than that and I’ll rent something for touring. Jerkwater.com does tours in the area and also rents boats so that’s an option if I wanted to go down Topock Gorge.


– Last Updated: Apr-03-06 4:48 PM EST –

You could certainly do 2-5 miles in an RPM "reasonably". You won't be fast, but you could do it. (I've paddled an RPM in a lake for 3 miles and it was OK. Not quite as fast as my 16ft sea kayak but OK.) And paddling your WW boat in flat water will make you a better WW boater.

I've recently purchased an inazone 232 but haven't paddled it in flat water yet. (It's only been in the pool). This boat is a "river runner" with a planing hull.

Note that the more "play boat" like the WW boat is, the more tedious it would be to paddle "long" distances in flat water.

Definitly, buy the boat after the class. See what boats they recommend. Also, concider buying a used boat.

From what I know, the RPM is a decent boat for beginners (it's a good boat in general) and is a displacement hull. (The RPM is still sold even though planing hulls are "all the rage".)

Displacement hulls tend to be faster than planing hulls but planing hulls are concidered more "versitile" (since they are better suited for surfing). You can surf a displacement hull boats (people did it for years) but a planing hull works better.

It's really hard to find a "perfect" boat, especially with no experience.

Not trying to nitpick, but
that planing hull looks like it’s gonna leak.

Today’s short WW kayaks are not
good for cruising flatwater. One of the fastest semi-planers is the Jackson Hero/Superhero, but it is nowhere near as fast a cruiser as a Prijon Chopper.

Some of what has been said about planing hulls in this thread has been misleading. The key element of a planing hull is a substantial flattish surface on the bottom of the boat which will “plane” when you get it on fast moving water, as when surfing a wave. The edges on a planing hull assist in control and in aiding the planing surface to remain “loose.”

Some so-called displacement boats have flattish undersides and modest planing ability. The RPM will plane to a certain extent if you get it on fast water, but it is far from optimum.

A flat bottom does not automatically mean stability. (Look at rroberts, for example.) Stability comes from the sides of the boat. Most planers sold now will feel pretty “firm,” but there are some big exceptions.

There are also claims made that the edges and sides of planing boats make for outstanding handling. But the best handling still comes in slalom boats, which are called displacement designs but actually have semi-planing undersides plus edges for carving.

We are in a period when almost no long, fast WW kayaks are being designed. That’s why I have to suggest you consider two boats. Get a Jackson Superhero, and then watch for a used touring kayak not over 15 feet long.

Playboats are not comfortable
All most all non-creek boats are designed with very little volume in the ends which makes for great tricks. That is great for park and play but not for traveling down the river all day or puttering around the wetlands for a few hours.

We use creek boats and large volume whitewater boats on local creeks and for puttering around in the backwaters. In my experience, for that purpose (we don’t plane on waves intentionally) I can’t tell the difference between the displacement hulls and the planers. In fact last year after reading some thread my kids and I went down and inspected the fleet and couldn’t figure out which was which, in some cases, without looking at the original specs. We don’t really have a problem going straight, they don’t track but we don’t care.

You may want to look at a Pyranha Master TG, the bottom reminds me of our H2 but I think they based it on the inaZone. It is perfect for us, my wife uses it and the skeg really helps her on the flats.


It is cheaper than most whitewater boats; they left off all the fancy ratcheting seat adjustments. Again that is not a problem for us since my wife doesn’t adjust much.

The reason we bought the creek boats over the RPM was we like the shallow draft that you get from that big fat creeking hull and the creekers have more foot room.