Getting my first boat

Ok so this is my first time kayaking, I got whitewater rafting all the time and I think I would like to take my try at this. I having doing some reviews and I believe I have eliminated going in the inflatable kayak direction because of the lack of speed and tracking. I’m looking for something that i can grow into as well. I’ve seen a lot of good reviews for the Old Town Otter XT and the Rush. Does anyone know the difference between these two. And if anyone has any better suggestions I definately appreciate it. I’m trying to stay as close to $500 as I can. But if someone can sway me I might save up a little more to get the kayak best suited for me. thanks!!!

If you are “looking for something –
that you can grow into”, don’t look at the Otter.

People generally grow out of them.



The otter is a beginner kayak. I bought mine because I have never canoed or kayaked before. It was a blast for about a summer. By the end of the summer it was time to get something longer because I wanted to go faster and to go on bigger water. My next kayak was a 12.50 Dagger Blackwater. Much faster, had a skeg, adjustable foot pegs, and it was narrower. It was a little more than $500.00. Now I have a Venture Kayaks 17ft Skye. I love this boat and it was around $1000.00.

Go to some demo days, do some research, and for not much more than $500.00 you can probably get a good used boat that you can grow into. Look for something at least 12 feet in length.

Neither if WW

– Last Updated: Aug-22-08 9:23 AM EST –

Just to start, you are not going to find a boat that does a good job in WW all the ways you may want as well as a good job at flatwater touring, the latter usually meaning a relatively kind tracker that has some hull speed. There are a few transition boats that'll run you down the tongues in both without doing a lot along the way, I think the Prijon Yukon is one and the Dagger Approach is made for mixed use. But given you already WW raft, you may want to try higher class levels and play around in features than someone who isn't used to that kind of water volume. And anything that does that well will be quite slow if you end up paddling with people in longer boats.

The two boats you mention are a very bad idea if you want to actually learn WW as well as having some serious safety issues there. In general, if you want a kayak that you can "grow into" for any use, flatwater or WW, the high seat back that gets in the way of using a skirt is an automatic thumbs down. These are great boats for my sister and her husband, who go out of still ponds and lean backwards with their feet out to poke among the weeds and that's all they want to do. But not for growth in skills.

I'll also suggest the same as above - pick an environment that you want to first try out, WW or flatwater, and buy used. Nothing you get at this level of experience is likely to be a long term boat for you.

Demo a lot of boats - the outfitters will soon be putting up their rental fleets for sale and it'll be a good time to buy.

Celia is right
You must choose white water or flatwater, then search in that direction. Features and needs are vastly different. A boat that tries to satisfy both of those divergent ends will surely be mediocre at everything. My 2 cents.

one or the other
If you’re planning to go down rivers that whitewater rafts and kayaks go down, get yourself a used whitewater boat off craigslist or the like. $500 should get you into an entire range of used whitewater kayaks. They seem to change designs so often that a 3 year old design is typically very old news, and plenty of people get ww kayaks that don’t wear them out and sell them in that range. As others have said, those you mentioned are not boats to learn with - they are boats to float on calm water with, which is as far as most people get into kayaking (nothing wrong with that). Whitewater boats are miserably slow on flatwater (they are only described as fast compared to one another) and they do not track by design, but they are a ton of fun and good at what they’re designed for, and offer you seemingly endless skills development opportunity. You described white water rafting, so it’s hard to imagine anything else would be appropriate. But if you’re wanting to do flatwater paddling and learn some skills, find something designed to paddle straight, edge, roll, etc. Again, whitewater boats are not designed to paddle straight and are terribly slow at it, but if whitewater is what you’re going for, nothing else will do.

Skip the Otter
Maybe find a used creek boat that is made for whitewater, but has a little bit of length to it.

I recently got a Torrent to play around on Class I and II and it can be cajoled into going straight on flatwater. Heard it’s quite fun in the surf too, but we don’t get much surf around North Alabama here lately… :wink:


Thanks for the tips. I will planning a trip in a couple of weekends to check some out. I am prolly going to have to up my budget, but I will do that after I had a chance to check a few kayaks out. I saw something about the Dagger Green Boat, anyone have any experience with that?

I agree
with the folks who say that there really isn’t much in the “in between” category these day. IMHO, the OT Otter is a recreational kayak only and would be dangerous on anything higher than a class II. A whitewater boat is more “worn” than gotten into, like an extension of your body. I started WW whith a Prijon Hurricane, a really forgiving design and then went from there as I got more experience. Once I got more experience and started playing in waves, the Hurricane was no longer suitable, too long. I only paid $350 for it used, so it wasn’t a huge deal to upgrade. The point is, I’d start out with something cheap and used until you get the feel for the type of WW paddling you’re going to enjoy. Even among whitewater kayaks there really aren’t any “do it all” boats anymore, they’re specialized with a particular kind of whitewater paddling in mind, playboats, creek boats, expeditionary boats, etc.

I personally paddle a Prijon Embudo creek boat now. I’m getting too old to squeeze into a playboat and the Embudo is well suited for big water, it’ll tend to get you blown out of big waves. It has a bunch of rocker so it can be surfed pretty easily but with the very blunt ends, fuggetabot anything vertical. :slight_smile:

Dagger Green Boat

– Last Updated: Aug-23-08 10:06 AM EST –

(Caution - I haven't tried the boat myself but seen it in action.) It's a very neat boat for what it is, but it still lives in the WW world. It's an update of the old school WW boats that has a lot of advantages for coaches and rescue in WW, good hull speed to get to the emergency and much more useful volume for rescue purposes than the current play or river/play crop. So if you want to focus on WW and learn to run the tongue and do the basics like surfing standing waves, it'll be fine. But if it plays at all it's likely to take ton of water volume and some serious time on your part.

And even with good hull speed for a WW boat, it still won't be a happy choice if you hook up with a lot of people in even shorter (12-14ft) touring/transition boats for an evening paddle.

Again, suggest that you pick an environment and find a beater boat to get started. Probably best to spend closer to real bucks on a long boat. We went thru 7 used WW boats, buying and selling to get to the right ones, in the space of a season to end up with the 4 that are under the porch. The most money spent on any of them was $250, one was $150, and three boats were purchased with the same $200 as one was sold for the same amount for which it had been purchased. All of them are well-respected boats.

WW folks turn boats around like candy - absolutely no reason to start out spending serious money at first on the boat, reserve it for a good helmet and bash-proof paddle.

By the way, the paddle will be more of a cost than I think you realize. For WW you need a really solid one, literally one that could survive being run over by a car, for touring you want something that won't cause your arm to fall off from sheer swing weight. And in both cases the materials prices have jumped but good.

Awesome, thanks for the info. Here is where I am right now. I’m about 6’ tall, 200 lbs, I live about 3 hours away from the closest whitewater river, so I will only get to that every once in a while. While I do live less the 4 minutes from a slow river. I was thinking about maybe just getting an inflatable kayak for when I’m at home. But i’m going to look for a good used white water kayak, any good suggestions on which kind I should look for? also if you dont mind, some suggestion on paddle would be great too, thanks

First WW kayak.
Well, ask five different people which WW boat you should start with and you’ll get five different answers. Get something stable and forgiving, I’d stay away from playboats for now. Creek boats are comfortable, stable and generally easy to paddle. As for your paddle, I’d get something cheap for now, right around 200 cm. for you. Once you get more experience you can get a nice paddle, when you’re less likely to damage a nice paddle. :slight_smile: