First kayak PURCHASE

I know there is no 1 perfect kayak for every river/situation. I know there are lots of articles and I have started sifting through them. If some one wants to point me in the direction of a thread if there already is one on this site, I would happily read it. I tend to weigh unbiased human experience more heavily than anything I can churn up with a simple google search though.

That said, my intentions are to take extended wilderness trips, 3 days too 3 weeks, too how ever long i can manage. So what I’m looking for is some advice on the proper craft. I don’t want to have to avoid rivers because they may have a class III or IV. Is there a kayak that can haul 2 or 3 weeks worth of load out and still navigate fast water safely? Is it more dependent on skill level/experience than the boat? Any input is appreciated.

Fair winds and following seas.

I wonder if this post is legit

– Last Updated: Dec-29-15 6:43 PM EST –

of course skill is most important. Equipment matters but less so.

Three day to three weeks are common with sea kayakers. A seventeen foot sea kayak can have sufficient room to haul what you need..

I do not know anyone who runs class 4 solo. To do so requires skill and a maneuverable craft. Its foolhardy to risk your house and car so far away from help even with a Personal Locator Beacon.

A river I have run comes to mind. The Snake River from Duo Lakes in the Yukon to Fort McPherson. Normally a 16 day trip of 600 miles with quite a few technical class three rapids. Those are in canyons where a capsize could kill you and no rescue possible. Hence God invented feet for portaging. Its a technical class 2+ for its first hundred miles.

On the other hand, the Yukon River runs some 2500 miles and is quite often run by kayakers in sea kayaks. The rapids are few but the water runs 8-10 mph. Rink Rapids and Five Finger are class 3. But as they are close to a road, crashing in those is not as perilous. Though you can still die.

I'd start with a boat suited to what you will be doing now.. and build skills.

You can hold Bob Volthabers exploits as a goal.
He used a sea canoe. I have the same sea canoe and it is very kayak like but is easier to portage. I am not doing the Chilkoot Pass however in this life. See, skill matters. He has it. I do not.

Read carefully and think on your goals. They may need to be altered as you understand more. Or you may do more as you understand more.


– Last Updated: Dec-29-15 7:34 PM EST –

And likely the kayak is much safer than you as a paddler if you really are talking about trying class (oops, it is 3 and 4 not 4 and 5) without a whole lot of work on skills.

Do what kayakmedic says. Consider more.

Celia, no one does class 4 and 5
in anything up there unsupported.

The sea canoe is a specialized craft good at wave shedding to class 3. Its got the decks and the spray skirt but a rather large cockpit.

The difference between it and kayak is mainly seating height possibilities, and vessel depth and ability to stow large packs. Sea canoes have little to do with the open Canadian canoe.

digression over.

I must have been confusing again

– Last Updated: Dec-29-15 7:41 PM EST –

I did add-a-class when I typed. Just noticed that.

But I read the thrust of your post as saying take more time and learn more. I thought that was a good idea. The sea canoe is likely also a good idea, in the right hands, but I don't that is in play here.

For Real
Not trying to make any false pretenses as to my skill level, I don’t know much which is why I am here. I understand the reality of learning as I go and am not interested in taking unnecessary risk. Would just like to invest in a boat that will allow me to pursue the longer trips in wilderness river settings (I am proficient in field craft and survival techniques, new to paddling) eventually and not hinder me as I learn and progress my skill. I plan to take some classes and hopefully find some paddling partners that i can learn from before I set out on any rivers that would challenge me with any kind of real fast water alone. I appreciate the insight.

It’s a tall order-

– Last Updated: Dec-29-15 9:13 PM EST –

anywhere from three days to three weeks, running class III or IV ww, in a wilderness setting. Way more than I have ever bitten off.
I suppose if one was determined to try I'd suggest that they go with a crossover, portaging would suck however, and you would have to go minimal(freeze dried) on food and limit the camping gear due to capacity. You would also give up speed on the flats- translation- it could be a lot of work but the current crop of crossovers and long boats (stingers, greenboat) could handle the ww assuming you acquire the skills prior to setting out. I did a self contained trip on the middle fork of the salmon out of a plastic c1 back in the 80s, but if I did it now I'd go with crossover.

Canoes- may be easier to portage, can haul more gear/food, but you would definitely tone down the ww a bit if you went that route. Canoes worked well for me for class II and III ww in Northern Maine (Roll Dam, Webster Brook, East Branch, Sebois, Moose, East Outlet).

If you got almost all moving water and no portaging an oar rig (raft) would fit the bill. You would still need to acquire the ww skills before setting out in the wilderness. Friends use their oar rigs on the Colorado (Grand Canyon), Green (Utah), and Alsek (Alaska).

You are absolutely right in assessing that there is no one perfect do it all. I think your choice will become clearer when you plan a specific destination.
In general the crossovers are designed to run ww and haul a bit of camping gear. So that might be a good place to start. Regardless of what you take you need to acquire the skills before setting out into the wilderness.

Hope that helps and didn't scare you away.

I agree I dont think a Sea Kayak…
is what i am looking for, again solely based on reading i have done thus far and not experience. so reaching for a more realistic goal of being on a river for 10 days +/- where I may encounter a 2 or 3 that I can not or do not want to portage and assuming, I have the skill level to maneuver said rapid, what kind of kayak would you want to be in? I am not fortunate enough to be able to have a stable of boats yet and would like to buy one that may be over kill or even cumbersome on a slow flat river for 2-3 days and grow into it. Thanks for the insight.

Very helpful
Again, I appreciate the insight and I am here to learn so you will not scare me away. I know my goals are ambitious ha ha. I certainly have some lessons planned for this summer to build a foundation for paddling skills, and hopefully link up with some more experienced guys for weekend/day trips this season.

Does any one have any experience with any of the kayaks in this article? The way they are reviewed seems to be in line with some of the things I be looking for in a kayak.

If you had the skill level…
you would know what boat. The fact that you don’t know what boat means you have to go get the skill level first.

That is what people are trying to say, but you keep seeming to look for a boat that will let you skip the part of getting the skills.

If you were talking up to class 2, you might be hearing some of what you want. It is much safer and people who have no idea what they are doing often make it thru that wet but otherwise safely. But class 3 and 4 - you are not likely to be advised on boat before skills.

Getting lost in translation…
I’m just looking to make a wise investment in a boat that I can grow into. I’m not naive enough to assume that I am going to safely or successfully tackle any kind of fast moving water with out first gaining experience. If I am going to spend 1000 +/- on a boat though, I would like it to be able to keep up with my ambitions a couple years down the line, even if it may be “too much boat” for my experience level today.

I’m still using my liquid logic xp10
an older design and bought it used. I haven’t tried any of the current crop but I have heard from buds lots of good about the fusion and katana. I was out two days ago in the xp and two others were in their katanas. The outfitting has gotten better since the xp came out but all appear to be solidly designed boats for running ww and hauling gear for a few days. Be sure to check out the reviews on the pnet site on the specific models you are interested in as well.

new boat
If you can find one, I think the Prijon Yukon might be your ideal boat. Get one with a rudder, they turn on a dime great for rivers but if you’re on big flat water you’ll really want the rudder. Not real fast but it’ll do everything.

Tough build too and unlike most poly boats it can be fairly easily repaired if it’s ever needed. I had a very old one and it was amazingly tough. I just moved on to more narrow designs.

Bill H.

I’d go along with the Yukon
If you can find one. I’d also consider a P&H Hammer or Delphin.

That approach sounds good but
In my experience learning was easiest in a boat that I almost but not quite felt comfortable with. That way I could pay attention to developing a skill set rather then paying attention to surviving

Don’t worry. Before you attain your long term goals you may evolve through two or three boats. Buying and selling is part of the growth process

First boat…

– Last Updated: Dec-30-15 9:45 AM EST –

is just that. And considering you want to mix whitewater and flat water, whatever you end up with will be a compromise in its performance in both places. By a couple of years out you will still have that mixed-use boat, but you will want something faster for the flats at least. Maybe something that is more playful for the white stuff when you realize you can get wonderful white water boats used for all of $250 or less if you wait.

Spend as little as you can on something like the boats proposed below now, get it used and invest in a good paddle, learn what you are doing and THEN think about the $1000 boat.

kayaks in article
Just answering about some of the kayaks in the article you asked about.

I own a Karma RG and use to own a Pyranha Fusion Medium. BIG difference is top speed on flats. The Karma RG is way faster . I can go out kayaking with regular kayaks and paddle with them no problem say out ona lake but with the Fusion was way to slow to keep up. Iam not a white water guy so cant really comment on class 3 and 4 with either. Class 2 is the most I have done.

The Karma RG is fun on the great lakes for surfing too. I do an exercise paddle in the summer on non moving water, a 1 hour paddle were I do 4 miles. To keep a 4 mph paddle is not an easy paddle as that’s were the Karma hits its speed wall. Were the fusion would be 3 mph wall. Other 10 foot cross overs are about the same as the Fusion as I paddled those too but never owned. xp10, katana and others about same speed as fusion, so slow in other words compared to Karma RG.

Which is a better class 3 or 4 white water use I cant say. Article says the Karma RG is less stable, well apparently white water guys expect a lot for stability as I find the Karma RG to be extremely high primary as the Fusion was too. I can stand up in both of those were say my Valley avocet I cant stand up in. You have to really lean the thing over to practice a roll in a Karma or Fusion. I mean REALLY lean hard. BUT again not a white water guy so not sure what works best for white water.

The fusion had a dry hatch unlike xp10 hatch. Karma RG hatch bone dry too. None of them great rolling boats but all can roll ok. But more effort than a sea kayak .

I myself being a luxury camper I cant imagine camping out of any of the cross overs for more than a few days. BUT I use an 18 foot long kayak for camping so I like to bring tons of stuff.

My first response
was to laugh and suggest that he read the scare away newbies thread. A beginner who wants to paddle long trips isn’t daunting by itself, but one who thinks he can do class IV water without some training is…frightening.


it’s easier said than done

– Last Updated: Dec-30-15 3:37 PM EST –

You may not be able to handle a given boat in conditions at your experience level.

You're biting off too much in one bite. My recommendation would be to find an instructor or class, take a basic introductory course, and pick some brains regarding what you want to do, and how far away you are from your goal. In the interim you can also ask for advice on a used boat in which you can learn the basics within a safe platform.

Once you do so, eventually you'll outgrow that platform and grow into the boat that suits an experienced paddler in those conditions.

I agree with celia and kayamedic. If you're like most paddlers you may be cycling thru boats regularly as you develop and your preferences change.

Had you asked about flatwater paddling, my advice may have been different, but you're biting off paddling that requires skill development and that presents significant risk.

The elusive do all boat…
I think many of us on this site are also on the same search for the perfect boat, I have not found it.

As your skills grow you will probably be able to narrow your focus on what type of boat suites your needs and type of paddling.

I am going to suggest a Wilderness Systems Zephyr as a good jack of all trades boat that is not terribly expensive or hard to find. It is a boat that with some learned skills, you can do a lot of things on a scaled down level that you are asking about.

I have paddled most “crossover” style kayaks, they are marginal on both flat water and big WW, but can do both.

I currently own a Stinger XP, it is a good boat for mixed play but it is heavy and does not have features for extended unsupported travels. The Zephyr can carry quite a bit of cargo, and with some skill, can do limited WW.

One thing that has not been brought up yet in this thread, long trips can easily yield changing conditions, previously known rivers can change very quickly, class 3 rivers can turn to class 5 with a rain storm. If you are planning on running class 2 rivers, be ready to run at least a 4, or be ready to portage.