Kayak recommendations

Is this a ridiculous question? I am looking for a recommendation on a kayak. We recently bought a place near the Upper Delaware River. It is a lazy, slow, primarily Class I river - although I’m not sure what early season higher water brings. I’m looking for a boat for my wife (5’9") to paddle down the river. It would be nice to have a boat that could handle some III+ water if there’s any chance the river offers that in the early season. Would also be nice if I fit the boat too, I’m 6’4".

Trying to get away under $600 for the boat. Thanks for any suggestions.


First, forget about the class 3+ issue.
That would require more skill than your wife would care to develop, and a boat that she wouldn’t enjoy under ordinary conditions.

She needs a low draft rec kayak. Many to choose from.

I paddle class 3 on smaller rivers, but I would stay off the Delaware when any of its sections rates a class 3.

Forget the Class 3 issue
Thanks for the reply. I think I was thinking more of myself re the bigger water. 20 years ago I was a licensed paddle rafting guide in western Canada. I spent a few summers rafting some 3+ rivers and I did some kayaking. I have the idea, at least, that I’d like to get back into it (kayaking). It’s the perfect plan, buy my wife the kayak so I can use it :slight_smile:

I have been looking at recreational boats online. There are lots to choose from. Just looking for some personal recommends.


rec kayak
Your wife is tall enough that she should not be affected by one downside of “rec” kayaks for many women, that being that the wide beam and deep hulls often cause painful knuckle banging on the gunwales. So your choices there are pretty wide.

That said, there is not going to be a kayak that will fit her stated paddling needs but also be usable for someone your size for Class III+. Rec boats in the price range you are budgeting for are no good for whitewater. They don’t have reinforcement to prevent hull collapse in a pinning situation nor are their oversized coamings suitable for a neoprene skirt nor can you brace your thighs under them.

One suggestion: you might want to consider watching your local Craigslist for used boats – used rec boats under $300 are fairly common as are used whitewater boats in the same range. That would get you both kayaks. (of course, you’ll need at least another $300 for 2 paddles, 2 PFDs and a skirt and helmet for yourself). You’ll have to do some research to identify “big guy” whitewater models that would work for you. If you want more specific advice here on ww boats it would be helpful to reveal a little more about your size: beanpole or linebacker or somewhere in between?

Upper Delaware
If you’re referring to the portion of the river above Matamoras, perhaps Suntan can speak to the type of kayaks appropriate for that stretch.

For below Matamoras, I’ve found 12 feet to be a good length, small enough to be maneuverable but long enough to not be a dog on the flat, slow portions, especially in the often-encountered headwinds. My husband (6’0") and I (5’3") both use CD Kestrel 120’s for this purpose.

Most of the outfitters on the river appear to use Old Town Loon 111’s or 138’s, or at least they did in the past.

If you’re interested in the portion of the river below Milford, check out the Pocono Pony, a free shuttle that runs on the Pennsylvania side on weekends, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.

Upper Delaware
Thanks for the feedback and questions.

We are a couple of miles up the river from Barryville NY. Our river activities are possibly anywhere between Narrowsburg and Pond Eddy. We have a canoe, river tubes and a small pontoon fishing boat. My wife would like a kayak.

As suggested, let’s forget my class 3 reference and the idea that I’ll use the kayak as well. So I’m just looking for a recreational boat, for my wife (5’9", average build) to paddle on this section of the Delaware.

There is a shop in Milford PA, Action Bikes and Outdoors, that I popped into briefly looking for a tube. They seem to have a good selection of boats. I’m going to go back when I have time and see what they recommend. I’m also scanning Craigslist. In the meantime, if anyone has specific boat recommendations, it would be helpful.

Thank you!

How much time/distance?
The reason I ask is that the super short boats, the 10 footers, can turn into annoying little bobbers if the wind kicks up or it is otherwise a longer paddle. They are very appealing because they are dirt cheap and easy to haul, but if you are contemplating more in the way of distance you may want to start out at a 12 foot length to get something that’d have more helpful tracking. There are a ton of these that your wife would be fine in, as willowleaf said thanks to her height.

Scranton Craigslist

– Last Updated: Aug-21-12 9:27 AM EST –

There's a month old ad on the Scranton Craigslist for a Dagger Crossover Expedition for $450. Might be worth a call to see if they still have it. It's a 12'+ skegged kayak (no longer in production) that is supposed to be usable for both river touring and moderate whitewater. If it is in good condition (no oilcanning on the hull or UV damage to the plastic) that's a reasonable price, though I would offer them $400 to start:


Here are specs on it:


Here are user reviews for it:


This boat might even serve you as a whitewater boat for Class I to III.

Another one
This 14’ Carolina might do the trick also. $650 is a little steep but they appear to have a decent paddle with it and a sprayskirt. You could always sell the included fishfinder.


Thanks Celia, it’s a good question. We have some shuttle logistics to work out. So far we’ve only covered a couple of miles on the river. I drop the wife and kids at the put-in, drive to the take-out, leave my truck and pedal back to the put-in on my bicycle. There is a 5 mile section where the highway is flat and I can still ride the bike but beyond that I need to coordinate a shuttle somehow. It would be nice to do some longer stretches so we are on the river for the better part of the day. It sounds like 12’ is a good length.

another one
Thanks for the links! I’ll check them out.


upper del
I did that section in a Prijon Calabria. 14.5’ by 24" It was a fun trip.

Kayak recommendations
To follow up on this thread, the missus bought a demo model Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 (45% off!!) today. Went for a short paddle on the Delaware today and it was perfect.

Thanks for all the input.

consider front flotation

– Last Updated: Sep-01-12 10:35 PM EST –

because the Pungo does not have a bulkhead-sealed compartment in the bow. The boat will be very heavy (hard to get to shore) if that big cockpit gets filled with water -- though I don't know the river segment you are talking about, so others with local knowledge may chime in on this. For fun, google "cleopatra's needle" and kayak.

front floatation
Thanks for the suggestion - the cockpit is huge. Our part of the river is very gentle with a few sets of very modest rapids. That said, front floatation and/or a spray skirt are on the list.