Help Picking Kayak

Sorry guys, I’m sure this gets old answering questions like this!

Im in Columbia, SC and just getting into kayaking as we have a couple great rivers here.

I recently got a emotion comet 8 on craigslist.

Im going to buy a 2nd with a gift card for Dick sporting goods i was given. The kayaks I’m trying to choose between are

10’4 fusion by future beach

10’ pathfinder by potomac

9’6 swift by perception

I am 5’9 170 and will be using to just go up and down the river and go through the rapids.

Thanks for the help!

Any prior paddling knowledge ?

– Last Updated: Jul-23-12 4:45 PM EST –

What kind of water, flow rate, classification, etc ?
Care to share what you've paddled in the past ?

Try a sit on top
They are easier to get back on after you dump in the “rapids”. No pumping required!

not white water boats

– Last Updated: Jul-23-12 7:44 PM EST –

None of the kayaks you list (including the one you have) is competent for whitewater rapids. They are all lightly built "recreational" style boats for pond and placid stream use. They don't have bulkheads or bracing to prevent being flooded or collapsing and trapping your legs in the hull. And the hull designs are not conducive to fast water. In fact, Dicks doesn't sell any kayak models suitable for white water.

I would recommend that you go back to Craigslist and find a whitewater boat or "crossover" kayak that can handle fast water as well as touring. Use the Dick's gift card to buy as good a paddle as you can find there once you have the right boat (they don't carry extremely good paddles but if you can find a fiberglass shaft one that is not too heavy it would be OK -- but wait until you have the boat so you can get the right length to use with it). You could also buy a PFD, a bilge pump and a dry bag at Dick's. But not a kayak for what you say you want to use it for.

Also, you should get some instruction in how to safely paddle in whitewater before attempting it.

Here's a few (including a whitewater sit on top as recommended above) in your area:

I had the same question
I was chosing between the same models as you. I cannot really say much about the Potomac, except that it is made by the same company as Pelican, and previous model year boats that I have tried (NOT the same moldel) of Pelican’s were absolutely terrible.

The Fusion is very, very stable, quite durable, and overall pretty good. The seat, however, is extremely uncomfortable, and the boat is very slow.

I would (and I did) buy the Swifty. It is very light, manuverable, and the seat is adjustable and comfortable. It is quite stable, and faster than the Fusion. Totally worth the extra $50 or so. (Also comes with a paddle holder on the side.)

Granted, though, as others said, these are “rec” boats, and only good for up to Class 2 rapids (and that’s pushing it). If you are looking into whitewater, look at whitewater kayaks, and if you want to go on longer flatwater trips, the benefits of a better kayak than these (these are the baseline for their brands, except the Potomac) will definetly be felt. I also have a Conduit 13 (from the same company as the Swifty) which is absolutely wonderful. For about an extra $200, you get a kayak that you can take on the ocean if you want to. Granted, it may not manuever very well in tight spaces if you are a begginer, but it will track very well and go very, very fast!! Once you get to learn edging, it turns as small as a rec kayak, too!

Hope this helps!!