Interested but have a lot of questions!

So I have been watching some kayak camping videos on youtube and I am hooked! All of the fun of backpacking but instead of hiking I get to be on the water? Sign me up!

Here is the catch, I’ve never been in a kayak before, and looking at the sheer number of them, well it’s kinda overwhelming.

So here come the questions:

Lesson: I have awhile till next summer so I was planning on taking some lessons in the spring. Good idea? What should I look for in a lesson/instructor.

Kayak: I will probably buy my first one used. What are some names I should be looking for? Being a noob I will not be doing rapids and would like something pretty stable, with some room for packing enough gear to camp a few days, and of course inexpensive (relatively). I have the luxury of taking my time in shopping, but there are SO many different kayaks I am kind of overwhelmed.

Get lessons now if you can

– Last Updated: Aug-23-16 12:13 PM EST –

The single fastest way to figure out what kayak features you will want is to take a couple of basic classes to go over paddle strokes and learn about doing a self-assisted rescue. It is still warm and the window of comfort for being able to do this without paying extra fees for heated indoor pools is getting short.

Any coach that is certed by one of the major organizations (ACA or BCU/PNA) can do this. Where are you, so people here can recommend an outfitter?

I live near Denver, so anywhere in the Colorado Rockies would be good, have been whitewater rafting a few times in Glenwood Springs, good times!

Any recommendations would be welcome!

Found lessons, maybe?
Looks like I might be able to take the flat water lesson this Saturday and the two day river lessons next weekend through these guys, do they look like a good place for me to start?

Go for it, considerations

– Last Updated: Aug-23-16 12:40 PM EST –

The sequence you describe is tailored towards towards getting you going in whitewater, which has a slightly different progression than touring. Paddle stokes are fairly universal, and the really good thing about a WW start is that you tend to capsize early on. So you get that whole fear out of the way. New long boaters often take way too long to get to this.

But WW kayakers do not generally do on-water rescues, at least early on. The more usual solution is towing the swimmer to shore to get them and boat reunited. And in general WW paddlers paddle alone a lot less frequently than long boaters do, for good reason.

Where you are, honestly your most fun nearby paddling is going to be WW. So you should give this a shot. But if your long term interest is touring, be aware that there are boats features (like perimeter lines and two bulkheads) and skills like on-water self-rescue that you will need to add to your list.

Good advice
Good things to keep in mind, and I really appreciate the input. Being here in Colorado my long term goal might be whitewater camping kayaking, is that even a thing?

I think I am going to go ahead and sign up for these classes, it will at the very least get me out on the water and learn some skills, even if I need to pick others up as I go. Like I said, I am completely green so I have no idea what direction this adventure will take me, but I am excited!

Two different things…sort of
Most WW kayakers don’t carry camping gear in their kayak. WW kayaks are too small and aren’t designed for that purpose. There are hybrid WW kayaks but even those require minimalist gear packing skills. That’s where those of us with rafts come in to play. We carry the gear for the kayakers, and they in turn run safety for us.

It sounds like your immediate goals are kayak touring & camping, but learning basic kayak skills is never a bad thing.

Meetup Group
There seems to be a large kayaking group on the Denver Meetup:

It might be worthwhile to sign up and watch for notices of their events. Paddling with others with experience is the best way to gain skills and get to know about different types of boats and outings.

figure out where you want to go

– Last Updated: Aug-23-16 4:12 PM EST –

and then you'll have a better idea of the kind of skills and boat that you need to get.

Many folks do opt for rafts on multiday float trips, especially in the western united states, but if you're looking for just a night or two out and also want a stable ww beginner kayak then the "crossover" kayaks could be your ticket.

There is a colorado guidebook that is geared for the class II-III boater and even features some flatwater. The falcon guide "Paddling Colorado" might be something useful initially. I think around Denver you'll find a lot more places to go in the backcountry if you develop some whitewater skills, paddling clubs can enhance that. Also know there are more detailed ww guidebooks for Colorado (Colorado Rivers & Creeks) once you gain some skills.

Dagger Katana, pyranha fusion, liquid logic xp, jackson rogue and several newer models out there for "crossovers". Google and then oogle away on the manufacturer websites then checkout boatertalk and mountainbuzz forums as well for beta on specific models.

One last plug for canoes, easier to pack and can also be used in whitewater- that's real old school new england style boatin'. Around my parts (wv) rafts are popular for "overnights" so a lot of what people use is regional and fits the needs of where they're specifically going.

If you want to combine backpacking and boating then there is thing called "packrafting" so check it all out- the internet and youtube is your friend on all of this-

I've done "self contained" trips out of c1s, crossovers, open canoes, and rafts. So it can all work and others quite successfully "sea kayak" their way into the back county. Just realize there's this skill/judgement thing that's different than backpacking when you boat. A lot more to learn. When you add ww then its even more involved but totally worth it. You can get instruction from commercial rafting companies but it ain't usually cheap- findin' friends who boat- meet ups/clubs can save you a pretty penny and also provide a community to learn and growth with.

The packrafting thing looks real appealing for getting into those hard to get places if your willing and able to take "the beat down". You also might want to checkout "soar" inflatables canyon model inflatable canoe- that would be my "dream boat" for the ultimate colorado backpackin' whitewaterin' trip up to class III.....

Put in 8 miles up on the Crystal (below the gnar)- boat it into the roaring fork (dodge the golf balls near the confluence) and then onto the Colorado (with dinner and a soak in Glenwood Springs) might just end up in Mexico- ahh heck, you'd probably end up stuck in some drainage ditch 'cause of all the irrigatin', if the park rangers didn't shoot you first for not havin' a permit in the GC, but a feller can dream can't he? ahhh so many rivers, so little time...

too much traffic on I-70 out of or back into Denver on the weekends...might as well just stay gone...

Good luck, and one final warning- it's addictive.

Good heads up!
Thanks for the tip, I will definitely look into that!

Funny you should mention crossovers…
I was just reading some reviews on the Pyranha Fusion, looks like it might be something I am interested in!

The Canyon looks pretty good too, but I don’t know if I could sink $2k into something that can pop! Thanks for the good advice though, I will have to look into all of those options, maybe try and rent a few of them, and move forward from there!

ahhh too bad your
not in wv!, just saw a fusion, AT paddle, bomber skirt for sale for $700 on the local message board- good deal for sure!

a canoe group near you

they’re youngsters by pnet standards!

was curious about your link for kayak instruction, so I checked them out on several websites-reviews, a lifesaving award video clip and Renaissance looks solid, it could get pricey at 135 a day but perhaps worth it for you so you don’t develop bad habits like slouching- guilty of that one a lot! Dang I’m turnin’ into datakoll! Imparting wisdom via google searches!

ultimately if you can join a paddling community or at least find a few buds who paddle you are more likely to continue in the sport

I’m also curious about Colorado paddling groups because I’m thinkin’ I will be ww boatin’ around the state of Colorado in a summer or two but I’m probably looking at doing just daytrips out of my camper van- a local hook up would be nice- somebody else can act as the probe that way!

Rent kayaks for a while, get to know the sport and if you really do want to do this. You tube is not the same as being on the water.

Bill H.

What’s the brand of the Canyon kayak you mention? If it’s a $2000 inflatable it’s not going to “pop”. Inflatables made for white water are very sturdy. They are tough enough to bounce off rocks. Even if they do spring a leak (which is extremely rare) they have multiple chambers and will still float – and any punctures are easily repaired. Inflatables are the boats of choice for most whitewater outfitters.

They do have drawbacks for overnight touring – whitewater inflatables will be slower to paddle and more susceptible to cross winds. And due to the space taken up by the volume of the flotation tubes, they have less cargo space. And, because they are open boats, your gear and you will get wet so they require more diligent packing. But the better models can be a great option if you want to do whitewater as well as flatwater touring.

If you are near Ft Collins
There may be a deal on. Pamlico140!