Lengthy Newbie WW Kayak info for NE

-- Last Updated: May-08-07 10:47 PM EST --

WARNING: Lengthy for One Q / Info asked at end for New England area (Southern NH) Kayak Paddlers:

I have done a lot of research, and my wife and I are planning to venture into WW (after a WW school/training) as well as comtinue mostly with touring with our current Wilderness Tsunami 140's. I have considered everything I have read, thus far. Most all I read about WW Kayaks and most opinions also boil down to (simply - if it could be simple):

My wife and I are rather new to kayaking. After much research, we puchased two Wilderness Tsunami 140's (Light/Transitional) touring
kayaks for all-around quiet/flat water and protected water, bay, coastal touring. We are very, very pleased with them.

Now, after going on a recent river "touring" trip with a group a few weeks ago (and interest began in WW even before then) - the trip turned out to have two Class II's at the beginning because of the heavy rains weeks prior, which we were not prepared for (However, we were already planning on attending the WhiteWater School - but next spring)- Yes, we did survive the Class II's and also had fun; however we are both now more interested than ever in obtaining a
River-Runner Kayak more suitable for the Class II's in our New England area (and the few Class III's - eventually).

However, after much research, I am now asking or a kind of general concensus. Aside from Demo,Demo, Demo and fit - and at advice of a few - will do so up at Barnstead (NH) Suncoock Co. too do some of that. I know it is only opinions, but after having considered everything I have read. Most everyone seems to say the same thing - and that is that River-Runners (Kayaks) basically boils down (simply - if it could be simple) into two types, mostly:

"So if you choose just one - which should you get? You should decide which you run most - deep or shallow rivers!"

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"1.) If you run mostly deeper rivers you need the Playboat type (of River-Runner) and then you can still run easy creeks."

"2.) If you run mostly creeks then you need a Creeker type (of River-Runner) and you can still run easy deeper rivers."

"The difference in a creek boat and a river runner is that a creek boat has a displacment bottom and is more forgiving and a river runner has a planning hull and will follow an eddy track better (wont wash out)"

"I really feel that you'll be better served by an "almost" playboat that is a good river runner (vice an "almost" Creek boat). The turning & maneuverability is so much easier than in a larger boat that I think your confidence will go up quicker."

NOTE: But I only saw 2" between longer Creek-Type RR and shorter Playboat-Type RR?
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So here's my dilemma, In New England, it is our LIMITED understanding that most of the "Rivers" here are narrow, shallow to low-medium (?), mostly (as compared to Colorado, etc. - and the listed trips I see by groups are Class II, maybe a river ortwo with a Class III in it at certain limited times of the year. (Yes a little over generalized, but probably will be the extent of our involvemet, initially with WW) AND there is a bit of flat (not quiet) water in-between - more like our 14' touring Kayaks could handle, albeit a bit awkwardly at times.

Based on that, I am not sure which way to go. Our Class II rivers are not like "Creeks" with more rock than water, Big Steep drops - but not like wide or medium or deep rivers, with big flow - either.

Now, throw on that my wife are thinking for next spring to start doing Class II's after the Spring WW School (By-The-Way - when the Class II's are available to run); however, we will be mostly doing through-out the summers and fall - Touring Flat/Quiet water in lakes, ponds, and protected water like Bays and sounds, and inlets near the coast of NH, and Southern Maine. Which is why we have our Wilderness Tsunami 140's - great all-around Light Touring boat - to meet all of those needs.

So I am torn and still not sure which style of River-Runner Kayak will meet our needs. Yes, I plan to try for fit and demo at several shops this summer, before we look to purchase for next Spring.

Because of the comments about the LL Hoss (& Lil Joe) - being less forgiving and not so much for beginners - I will put that loweset on our list for that type.

But which type for our area is best and why?

Semi-Displacement Hulls: WaveSport Diesel, Dagger Mamba, Jackson Hero, LL Hoss Creek-type of River-Runner
Semi-Planing Hulls: WaveSport EZ (or EZG), Dagger Juice, Jackson Fun, LL CR Playboat-type of River-Runner?


If it is ww K1’s
then go for the best you can afford with the knowledge that you will want to run bigger that class 2 and prepare for class 4+. K’s come in two kinds. One is a breakup stile and the other is one that does not breakup. Old time language was a entrapment kind of K. I would prefer the non breakup for this reason that I want my legs to be protected from the elements. This also means being a self-rescue type of paddler. In learning the up-righting maneuvers there is an escape maneuver also. When you get the knowledge and proficiency then come south and try some of our great runs. You could spend a week or two and paddle lots of rivers coming south winding up on the Ocoee Olympic run as well as others. Bring both kind of boats so spouse can run some rivers also.


– Last Updated: May-09-07 5:41 AM EST –

I think I said this already before on another of your threads, go with a newer river runner with a planing hull. There is no need for you to get the extra volume of a creeker, unless you are really big or don't mind just bobbing up and down the class II/III runs like a high volume cork.

I paddle in the northeast. Most of the IIs and IIIs are just that. There ain't any creekin' involved unless you specifically go creekin on the high run-off days in the steep run-off streams. And the folks who creek (as in steep, narrow drops) won't take you unless you have really proved you are class iv/v boater. And going by yourself is probably next to suicidal.

As a ww boater, you will be monitoring the guages after every rainfall to see if your home river is up and running. When summer comes, even the rains may not be sufficient to bring some of the rivers up to necessary levels. In which case, like most ww boaters around here you would likely head up to the Androscoggin in Errol/NH for the weekend dam releases for the class II section below Pontook. Or, you will head to the weekend releases at the Deerfield in Claremont, MA. The class IV release up river (Dryway/Monroe) generally precedes the class II release belown Fife dam. The typical schedule is something like 8 or 9 AM for the class IV Dryway/Monroe and then, after the bubble of water reaches the Fife dam, the release for the class II is something like 11AM or 12 PM. Each of the runs are very for about 3 hours. If you're a NE boater, you will come to know the Deerfield as one of the home rivers, especially in the summer.


PS. I don't know how someone would think the LL Hoss or Lil' Joe would be "unforgiving." These are very high volume river runners, unless the individual is very big. If I remember correctly, the planing hull bottom specifically bevels near the sides before transistioning into the chines. This standard "forgiving" bottom design for beginners. Two years ago, when I helped coach with NH AMC school, I had a female beginner in a Tigger and a guy beginner in the Lil Joe. Especialy with the guy, the Lil joe got him through more most of the run 'cause the guy was pretty uncoordinated and bobbled alot on the eddylines. The female, on the other hand, picked things up quick. Felt bad for her because the boat was too high volume that it had no play potential for her. Yes. Do go up to Suncook Kayaks and try everything you can before buying. Take advantage of the liberal demoing policy. It has helped garner the shop a lot of support from MVPers and NHAMC ww boaters.


– Last Updated: May-09-07 6:46 AM EST –

I think of creeking as steep rivers, not just shallow ones. There are lots of shallow rivers in NE -- especially in summer -- that don't require a creekboat for safe paddling. I think it'd be more fun to have something that was responsive in the small features typically found in NE rivers.

I'd look more on the river/play side than the river/creek end of the spectrum.

If one goal is to improve your rough-water skills, all you need is one good wave or hole or eddy line to have fun and learn things with a playful boat. A creeker is happier going downriver. A planing hull will also be more fun when you try ocean surf.

Great FeedBack - all
Can not wait to demo, after a very busy May work-wise - coming up.


Afdter absorbing all info, I will be looking for the most comfortable “playful” river-runner.

have fun!
Friendly warning: I’ve seen lots of flatwater paddlers get into a whitewater boat for the first time and be frustrated because they couldn’t paddle it in a straight line. These little guys are designed to turn – “tracking” doesn’t exist on the list of design priorities. Once you get the hang of it you’ll enjoy the instant feedback, and it’ll make you better paddler.

Zoar Outdoors
Charlemont MA


Give Janet Cowrie a call - Director of Programs (Director of Fun)

See you on the water,



Hyde Park, NY

I think you need to leave off the
"semi-displacement" and “semi-planing” stuff. It is less and less clear whether it is useful to make such distinctions. There are boats that make good pure creekers, boats that are good all-around river runners, and boats that are primarily for playing. The latter can be subdivided into those best for planing on glassy waves, and those best for throwing ends, etc., in frothy holes. The best playboats are not that good as general river runners, and may be dangerous as creekers.

For the easiest transition, I would recommend the Diesel or the Hero, in the appropriate size for each of you. Occasionally you may actually plane in such boats, if you find the right wave or fast water. But where they excel is in very good basic handling, tolerable cruising speed, and forgiving nature in heavier water.

agree regarding the “semi” stuff…
jaydpiii, I’m not sure where you’re getting your “semi” classifications from but I think you’re confusing yourself a bit. The Diesel and all the boats listed under “semi-planing” are indeed full planing hulls (flat). The Hero and the Hoss are full displacement hulls (round). Only the Mamba would probably be classified a “semi-planing” hull.

I’d recommend sticking with planing hulls to learn whitewater in. The EZ is a great older boat that you can get used quite cheaply. I love the new 2007 Jackson Fun as they are very capable river runners, can playboat with the best of them, and roll amazingly well. The same can be said of the EZG since they are both in the river-play category. If you’re slightly less aggressive and want to float over the water rather than play in the water, a Diesel or a Mamba would be decent choices. I’d suggest that you avoid full creek boats though. They are made to do certain things well but they typically aren’t the best choice for beginner kayakers to learn river control in.

There’s a really high likelihood that your first whitewater boat will be sold fairly quickly since you don’t know your paddling style and the features you like in a boat yet. I’d suggest you try a bunch of boats out and then buy a used one cheap off of Boatertalk.

Thanks! What about the RedLine? Someone mentioned the RedLine as a more comfortable (older, used) version of the RPM? One used about 5 hours drive away for $360.

Good Older Model Planing River Runner

– Last Updated: May-09-07 12:34 PM EST –

with some play to it.

there are very few “bad” kayaks…

– Last Updated: May-09-07 1:37 PM EST –

and a cheap used older boat is great if it gets you out on the water. The Redline is sort of the in between boat in terms of Dagger's river runner progression from displacement to planing hulls (RPM to Redline to GT). The asking price is about right but it really is dependant on the condition of that particular boat. Take a seat in it, and if it works for you, go for it!

No on the redline
Unless you want to buy my pool class boat. :slight_smile: You can get a boat in the EZ series for about the same money and be way ahead. You are WAY over analyzing. It is not that hard. Get a planing hull. Don’t get a really old boat (like the redline). Don’t get a full on playboat. Decide if you want a steep learning curve or not (are you athletic and agressive and don’t mind getting dumped over?). A river running creek boat (like the diesel or trigger) is for a flatter learning curve. The Jackson kayaks are an excellent choice and they are reasonably priced.

…what Marshall said!..

– Last Updated: May-09-07 7:49 PM EST –

Call Zoar Outdoors(Janet out in Charlemont, MA) ASAP...or the NH school?, or AMC(somewhere), and demo/rent your way into being an intermediate from their shop fleets.
Good DVDs are cool as well...Eric Jackson, Ken Whiting... along with others. Allows you to absorb some info, then go try it....and I think they allow one to come to class with a few more questions...that can often lead to deeper understanding of the concepts/physics = more control = confidence.

Thanks to all
And NO I do not want a steep learning curve, I am not aggressive, and probably slow to learn to read river and learn appropriate moves and understand what to do when.

My wife, on the other hand, is probably more apt to pick-up, read, and learn - raced (crewed) sailboats for years.

Will do so . . .
At first chance I get.

reading rivers
A great book – it’s all illustrations:


river-running video:


Jackson Fun Classic
Mostly agree with get the planing hull, stop over analyzing and creeking doesn’t happen (mostly) in the NE…

However, I’d recommend the Fun Classic rather than the new Fun for newbie boaters. The new Fun has less volume, making it less stable as a river runner (this isn’t reflected in the stats - but the weight ranges are higher, making your boat selection a size down in many cases), especially in the rear. It’s slicier and plays better, but is definitely less stable on the river. The classic series is priced a little less and it’s possible to find used ones (the new series just hit the market and gearheads are upgrading!)

about the redline…
Technically it is a planing hull boat and the hull is a bit flatter than an RPM and it his slight edges. Obviously it’s not full on flat like modern river runners/playboats but it’s probably not far off from the Necky Jive hull.

Semi-planing hull
is what most people call it. It is Dagger’s first try at a boat with a partially flat bottom. It is somewhat harder to roll than an RPM for many if not most people but I would still class it as an easy roller. You do have to be very careful about leaning back. Like the RPM it is unbalanced front to back and it will flip you easily on the river if you get casual. I have paddled mine down a lot of rivers and didn’t realize what a dog it was until I tried better boats. Now it works fine as a boat I bring to the pool for students.