Flat Water Rating System

Does anyone remember the old flat water rating system? Similar to the white water rating system, this one used letters (A, B, C, etc.) and took into account things like wave height or fetch, current, sheltered or exposed.

I seem to remember this rating from the 1970 AMC Flat Water Guide, but of course I can’t find my copy.

If anyone can help me find this system, I’d be grateful.


Here is one

Found this in…
“A Canoeing and Kayaking Guide to West Virginia”

Flat Water:

Class A - Standing or slow-flowing water not more than 2.5 mph.

Class B - Current between 2.5 and 4.5 mph, but back-paddling effectively neutralizes it.

Class C - Current more than 4.5 mph. Back-paddling cannot neutralize the speed of the current. Simple obstacles may require a certain amount of boat control.

You may have to register to get this to work… but I can see merit in this system:


A couple more
One from the Appalachian Mountain Club:


And a comprehensive one from my own club, the UW Hoofers Outing Club. Lots of excellent ratings info, which we use to ensure that trip attendees are trained/experienced enough for the conditions they’re likely to encounter on a given trip:


Good luck!



old ACA classification
Taken from “Canoeing and Kayaking Instruction Manual” of the American Canoe Association" author Laurie Gullion, c. 1987:

Moving water has three classifications:

  1. Class A Flowing under 2 m.p.h.
  2. Class B 2 to 4 m.p.h.
  3. Class C Greater than 4 m.p.h.

Hey you guys, Thanks.
Hey you guys, thanks. This is great information. I hope to lead some “flat” water canoe trips this spring and summer, and was looking for a way to categorize or define the routes I’m planning, using some kind of standardized rating system.

Here’s my dilemma: I want to describe a section of river that has:

1 upwards of a 14 mile fetch for wind and waves,

2 current of several mph,

3 tide of several mph,

4 the possibility of sudden and sever squalls and thunder storms

I want to scare off the inexperienced and those without the right boats, yet not scare off everybody else. I’ve been becalmed in the doldrums in this location, and also been in 4+ foot seas (and yes, I have bail-out plans already worked out).

Thanks again.

I applaud your attempts to get the
right people in the right places and conditions.Good luck with that.There is that guy who wants to paddle around Africa in his Pun-Go.