Kayak for the Upper Delaware River

Hi everyone. I’ve used the search tool and found some older threads on this subject. I’m posting now looking for current advice (and maybe some generic comments to help the next paddler in a few years)

I have moved up to Sullivan County, NY and want to get a pair of boats for myself and the lady. I’m a big guy, 6’2" and a few too many pounds and she’s an average height girl in good physical shape.

We’ve run the river a few dozen times with Landers, and love it. It’s time for our own boats.

We’re considering the Wilderness Pungos. A 105 for her and a 125 (or 140 if I can find it) for me.

Are those suitable for the Upper Delaware? Does it make sense to get a larger boat for me? Is a 12.5 or 14 footer too large for this part of the river?

The river runs shallow often. I thought that a larger boat might negotiate shallow water better, with less draft than a smaller boat with equal weight.

Thanks in advance for your advice and see you on the river soon!

I got my first kayak from Kittatinny Canoes. I dont know if Landers or Jerry`s also sells kayaks, but anything those outfitters stock would be suitable for the Upper Delaware.

Yes, you would definitely get different sized kayaks for each of you.

I am not familiar with that stretch of the Delaware. Is it flat water or fast moving water? What type/model of boats were you renting?

Skinner’s and Shohola are class II. The usual Upper Delaware run from Staircase to Matamoras has 20 or so rapids which at worst are I+ to II- except for the Mongaup wave which is a II usually. I’ve seen people run it in rec boats (usually) or in true ww boats. It all depends what you want to do. I personally would lean towards a 10 ft. ww crossover boat, but it all depends whether you want to play the waves or make distance.

Yep, Skinner’s and Shohola(a stretch I love) can be a factor, and can also get rather pushy in Spring, past those Cl. II ratings(especially Skinners, IMHO…But also as Ben mentioned above, there’s lots of delightful little sets all the way down to Port Jervis-Matamoras. Personally, I don’t think the wave off Mongaup is what it used to be or much of a factor. (But one definitely shouldn’t consider taking a rec yak down the Mongaup during a double barrel release;-)

All that said, I paddled the Upper Delaware for the first time way back in 1976(dating myself here)in an aluminum Grumann canoe…I’ve also done it more recently a few times with a skirted rec kayak and twice (once with a group, once solo)as multi-day trips in a 16’ poly sea kayak.

A big guy, you say? Got or willing to learn how to roll??? How many miles per outing? Camping or strictly day trip/runs?
Lot of factors to consider here. More to it than what Landers provides(I once found and returned one of their lost boats to them.) If you don’t have a roll, you may find some trouble here and there like when the river is high after flooding. Don’t take conditions there for granted as always being the same. I second Ben’s suggestion of a crossover boat. Or you might even want to consider a pair short SOTs(LL Coupe, comes to mind) or a even–a tandem canoe. :canoe: Happy paddling

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I lived in Pennsylvannia in the late 80s and early 90s, did a very long bunch of trips to get in as much of the Delaware as possible. That was in a smokercraft aluminum canoe and it was fine for the whole river. I do rememer some stretches that were quite shallow during a low water year, and getting out and wading the canoe, but I don’t remember clearly how far south of the water gap those areas were. At any rate a canoe would be fine if there are still low water years. I do like crossover boats though, probably would prefer that to a rec boat.

FYI Pungo has a V bottom that gets hung up on shallow water and ledges. Look for a boat with more rounded/smooth bottom, including sit on tops that are self bailing.

If it helps, I usually use a Jackson Rogue crossover there. Any of the crossovers - Dagger Katana, Liquidlogic Remix, Jackson Traverse, Pyranha Fusion - would be a joy on the Upper Delaware. Their upper weight limits are anywhere from 240 to 275, and they are really easy to carry around. Because of their ww heritage, their hulls are designed to slide off rocks and be less likely to get stuck in the shallows. The Fusion is probably the fastest of the bunch.

Thanks everyone for such thorough, entertaining, and varied advice.

For this season, we will likely only run between Skinners Falls and Ten Mile River. Only about ten miles in total. We live in the middle and that lets us sneak in a few hours of paddling starting above or below our place.

We decided to buy some used kayaks from Landers, the local outfitter. $250 each for Old Town Loon 111s. Today was our first run in them and we couldn’t have been happier to to be in our own boats, and models which we are familiar with from renting them in the past. It was a great first day.

I swamped completely due to a combination of my weight and a slow leak in my boat where the polyethylene is worn from the fiberglass. It’s to be expected in used, rental boats at that price. I’ll learn how to repair it, but we’re certainly now learning what we want in boats. You advice helped a ton.

Thank you all and I hope that everyone has a safe and fun summer. See you on the water