Equipment Advice Wanted - Kayaks


I am an experienced flatwater-class II canoer, who is looking to get into kayaking to stay in shape outside the summer months, given that I now live a quarter mile from a spot where I can put in on the Upper Susquehanna.

Can anyone advise me on what I should be looking for in terms of both the kayak and a paddle?

  • The primary purpose will be recreational fitness; putting in and heading upstream for an hour or two, then cooling down on the downstream return.

  • It will primarily be used flatwater-class I, although there is class II locally, which I am guessing that I will want to work myself up to.

  • There are no plans to do any touring or major whitewater.

  • I am 5’11", 185.

    Many thanks for your help!

rec boat:
Well, you don’t seem to need a whitewater or full on touring boat. Id’ suggest a poly recreational or crossover kayak. Rec boats are pretty short and slow, so you might outgrow that fast. Crossover or day touring boats are around 13-16’ and might be a better buy. They are relatively light, easier to transport, takes abuse well, and even easy to paddle in light whitewater. You can sometimes find em cheap on craigslist and if you’re like me, you might just trade up for a longer touring yak when you feel the need for speed (and carrying capacity). I started out canoeing and then went to a Necky Manitou 13. I’m currently paddling a Chatham 17, but I do miss that comfy and spunky little Manitou. Very stable and relatively fast. Try out the popular Carolina and Tsunami series as well…

Venture Easky 15
I’m sure that other options will be volunteered by plenty of others.

You’ll have quite a list of kayaks by the time the thread peters out.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Pyranha Speeder

– Last Updated: Sep-12-09 1:29 PM EST –

It's essentially a detuned downriver racer. Might be just the thing for your conditions.

Since you've already got good river skills, almost any plastic sea kayak could work for you -- a good deal on a used one might be a good way to start. If the rapids are tight I'd look for one of the more maneuverable ones -- something like a VSK Avocet RM, or the new WS Zephyr or Dagger Alchemy.

As for a paddle, serious fitness paddlers and downriver racers use wing paddles. They're powerful but can be tricky to brace with. I'd suggest starting with a standard whitewater paddle, like a Mitchell or Werner.

I am from your neck of the woods-a little further south. I paddle pretty much the same. I.e. upstream and then down. I have 3 boats:

Prijon Calabria 14.5’ 24.5" wide.

This is a “fleet” boat that can do a lot of things but it doesen’t excell at any one. It is stable but at a cost of speed and glide. after a while going upstream in this boat is a pita. Yet it is reassuring when going downstream in those moderate river rapids.

Prijon Barracuda 16’11" 21" wide.

Long and skinny-this boat can move. It cuts through the water like a knife. When going up river this boat rips UNTIL the bow of the boat gets spun off of 0-180 deg axis. At this point the nose wants to go downriver real quick. Also as the conditions get more severe this boat gets real twitchy. I have had some " Oh Mammy" experiences in this craft. But on the whole I think it has made me a better paddler. Waves from the side keep you on your toes.

Valley Aquanaut LV RM 17’3" ? 22" wide

Because the cuda scared the shit out of me in bigger conditions, I bought this boat. It lives up to its billing. Handles rougher water without sacrificing too much speed. Comes equipped with a skeg. Of the 3 boats this is the heaviest-approx 60 lbs. and hardest to load. I am 6’ 1", 175 and this cockpit is a bit of a squeeze for me and my size 11 feet.

All of these boats are plastic which is good for the river. I divide most of my time between the barracuda and the aquanaut depending on where I go and what I think the conditions will be.

For example, I paddled lake wallenpaupack the other day for a long paddle. It was very windy. On certain long fetches in the lake I was jonesin for my naut. But on calmer parts I was thrilled to in tha cuda.

This seems to point out the kayaker’s dilemna. No one boat can do it all.

Good luck and hope the info helps.

Many thanks for the advice!

Necky Dolphin?
A used Necky Dolphin is available locally.

Any thoughts or words of advice?