Looking for Kayak Recommendation

I’m new to Kayaking but I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time. I live in West Virginia where there are plenty of rivers/Lakes/Streams to paddle in.

My main areas of interest are fishing, lake paddling, and moderate whitewater up to maybe class III but probably more class I and II.

I have an extremely small budget. All gear less than $700. I’ve been to the big box stores like Cabelas, Dicks, etc and I’m not real sure what I should get. I’d like something on the smaller side of things for storage purposes. I was thinking maybe a Perception Swifty or Old Town Vapor.

Will either of these boats fit my needs and be able to handle light whitewater?

Be careful trying to mix
your whitewater boat and your flatwater boat. That kind of compromise usually results in a boat that is sort of crappy at both. If you only want to spend a pretty limited amount of money, decide which one you want to spend the money on, and get the best you can of kayak and equipment for that type of paddling.

A boat designed to be good for class II-III whitewater sucks at paddling across a lake, but it’s possible and can still be enjoyed. A boat designed to be good for paddling across a lake sucks for whitewater, but it’s possible and can still be enjoyed.

Look at used beaters

– Last Updated: Jul-17-09 2:30 PM EST –

Boats like the Swifty will drive you crazy on a lake because it's so slow, especially in wind, and in WW has been made to work but has some pretty serious risks for a novice like a huge cockpit that can fill with water and pretty limited control in moving water. As in pretty unsatisfactory. So you won't be able to actually do much of the fun stuff, just bob along.

I'd suggest that you pick your dominant use and find a used boat, so you can get more for your bucks, for that. WW folks turn around their boats frequently - you can get a really nice boat that will give you something in which you can really learn how to do WW for a couple of hundred bucks if you nose around and don't mind that it is an older design. And for the lake and fishing, you might want a transitional boat like in the 12 - 14 ft length. There are also plenty of ways to get them used, like when outfitters sell of their rentals at the end of a season.

For that budget you might be able to find a used Dagger Approach. that’d give you more capability on the whitewater end of the spectrum.

Most large-cockpit recreational kayaks should be able to run through class I with no problem and many class IIs with a reasonably skilled paddler. Class III is whitewater boat territory.

Look at a Tarpon 120. Great boat
for most of those activities.

The dagger approach looks pretty nice and it might fit the bill. I might have a problem finding one used though. I’ve taken all the advice given here to heart. I’m not sure what I might use it for more…Fishing/Lake or streams. That makes for a tough decision. Thats why I was hoping there was a compromise available.

Never really thought much about sit on top Kayaks. Can they handle mild whitewater?

Some SOTs do well with whitewater
in particular, the Native Manta Rays are good for what you are looking for. The 12 footer would be worth looking into.


A sit on top boat like the Perception Torrent (now Dagger Torrent) will handle just about any whitewater. They are much wetter, harder to stay warm in in cold water, and being generally beamy, are harder to roll, but it seems most people who favor SOTs are not interested in rolling anyway.

Torrent for lake trips?
You are right about the Torrent’s WW abilities but I would never recommend it for someone’s first multi purpose kayak making lake trips. A little wind and they will be lucky to get back to their car let alone enjoy the trip. Tracking=minus10 It will force you learn a high angle power stroke but a tuff way to start out.

As you know, there is no boat good for flatwater and whitewater up to Class III. The question was whether SOTs are any good in whitewater.

You are certainly right about that. Just took a broader view of the guestion. That’s why everyone needs a fleet :slight_smile:

Bic Scapa
I’ve got a Bic Scapa that would be great for everything but the white water. In the white water it would be OK but it is over 14 feet long so you’d have to play more like the larger canoes play. It would not turn on a dime but it turns faster than a canoe and you could catch most eddy’s and make the needed moved to get through a class 3 run.