First WW Kayak Advice

Hi all,

I’m looking into buying my first whitewater kayak. Used, older is ok, relatively inexpensive.

I’m 6’, 160 lbs, 32" inseam. I’ve been canoeing and kayaking my whole life, but have only rolled a kayak once c. 2008 years ago and have never done above class II+ rapids in anything besides a raft.

I’d like something that can be used safely in class III-maybe IV when I get better rapids, but preferably something a bit longer than average and that tracks fairly decently so it isn’t horrible to paddle down flat river as well. I want a boat to learn the intermediate fundamentals in, that can also be used for low-level recreational trips.

I’m talking to someone about a Dagger Piedra which seems to fit the bill, except I’m maybe on the bigger side of fitting in one. I’m skinny which helps, but will my long legs be ok in its hull? And, does anyone have other suggestions? I’m open to any wisdom, advice, thoughts, or sales offers in/near Kentucky haha.



Too big for the Piedra

– Last Updated: Jun-23-16 12:14 PM EST –

I have one, my husband was 20 pounds heavier than you and it was too small for him. At your size you would be plowing in circles on the flat, even without reservations about taking it into the white stuff.

It is also a very old boat, literally in terms of the plastic you would be buying, this could matter in higher classes. And it a noticeably less tuned design than current ones when you start trying it in bigger water.

For flat water, you could just spring for a suitably sized old school boat like the Dancer and pay all of $200 if you went high. It makes more sense to spend the cheap money on that used and be pickier about the boat that you want to use to learn to handle higher class water. You can still get a used boat that will be much better tuned to control and the more precise maneuvers that become more crucial in higher class whitewater. It just might be up to $400 rather than $100.

no firsthand knowledge with the boat

– Last Updated: Jun-23-16 5:37 PM EST –

but the images make the stern look slicey- kind of like an rpm- edges make for a more aggressive learning curve- meaning you may find yourself tipping over a bit more- if you're on the heavy side for the boat then you'll sink the stern even more which exacerbates the grabbiness- easier boats to learn in are "river runners: and :creekers" Since most kentucky whitewater is class II and III you can add "crossovers" to your list because you are wanting to multi-task. Check out pyranha, dagger, liquid logic, jackson websites even if you decide to buy used- good info there on boat types

get a boat that fits you and you'll have a better experience than one that doesn't

a couple of local resources for you to check out

I hear many good things about the beginner clinic which is cosponsored by the two groups and held annually

older boats
As Tony said, clubs are often an excellent place to look for older, used boats. Many whitewater kayakers who have been paddling for a while have at least one or two old boats hanging around somewhere.

Your leg length is not especially long. Mine are the same length and most old school whitewater boats have plenty of leg room. Another consideration is foot room. If you have long feet, some kayaks have low enough front decks that they can squeeze your toes uncomfortably.

Some of the very early polyethylene kayaks had pretty small cockpit openings. I am thinking of boats like the original Dancer. A small cockpit requires more deliberate technique to exit, especially if your legs are on the longer side. With modern whitewater kayaks you can generally swivel your knees inboard and lift them both straight up out of the cockpit while still sitting flat on the seat. With a smaller cockpit, you may need to “corkscrew” your legs and hips into the boat, and getting out may require you to slide the boat off your legs like a tight pair of pants.

Older boats will not have quick adjustment outfitting. To achieve a good fit in these boats often required adding a back band (most earlier whitewater boats did not have them, gluing in minicell hip pads and shaping the pads to fit, and often adding and shaping foam to the knee hooks.

Some older school whitewater boats to keep an eye out for:


Dancer, Pirouette, Corsica, possibly Matrix, possibly Corsica S


Response, AQII, Animas



a lot to like about newer ww boats
- bigger cockpits, ratcheting backbands, bulkheads rather than pegs, drain plugs, and rounded ends. The newer boats are a lot safer.

My perception mirage hasn’t seen the water in a few years now. Seat is hard on the butt! Will gladly sell for 200.00 with skirt! Located just a state away from kentucky! If it keeps raining you’ll be able to float all the way there, right on I64! Record water levels today. Waiting for things to settle down!

Go to
Viking Canoe Club web site…gear for sale.