Major Outtfitting & Purchaing Advice

My paddling history began back in cub scouts and persisted all through Boy Scouts and into my college career. I also participated in an Outward Bound expedition when I was 17 in northern Minnesota where we did a 260 mile canoe trip that also included a 4 day stint learning how to Whitewater Kayak.

That Whitewater Kayaking experience has stuck with me as one of the most fun times I have every had and I always swore that I would some day take this sport up as a serious hobby when I could finally afford it. So fast forward 14 years and here I am at 31 and in Kansas City Missouri. After a 6 year break from canoeing I just recently returned from a late August canoe trip on The Current River in Southern Missouri. I’m now officially ready to take the plunge and make kayaking a serious past time.

But, and this pun is intended, I’m kinda up a creek without a paddle here. I have 100% no idea what I need to be outfitted, what type of boat I should use, what other items I need (paddle, helmet, spray screen). I’m seriously lost here. We have a decent Paddling store here in Kansas City that I am going to be contacting Monday but I would like another opinion and this website seemed to have the traffic and the posters to answer my questions and help me finalize the purchase.

First of all my experience with rivers for the most part has always been Class I’s with the exception of running the Buffalo in Arkansas during scouts and once in college when its was listed as a Class II due to rain. Also we were doing serious Class II and if I recall right on the last day we did a Class III during my Outward Bound trip in kayaks.

What I am wanting is a kayak that can easily be used for overnight river runs on Class I’s and have cargo space for whatever gear I would need. Also this boat needs to be able to function well in Class II’s because for the most part I have mastered Class I’s and find them less then thrilling but still very fun non the less.

Now you may wonder why an Eagle Scout cant outfit his own camping gear and well I could but I have no idea if it would fit in the bays of a kayak. So again I am clueless.

So basically I am asking the community here that if I was to hypothetically strip you of all your Kayaks, Kayak gear and camping supplies and was to hand you $3000.00 what would you buy to outfit yourself (minus food, clothes and all that other misc junk) to go on a 3 day Kayak trip in a Class I-II river? I weigh 240 pounds and am 6’2" by the way but my weight is dropping steadily (I was 295 until I took up Mountain Biking again).

Have at it pick a boat, tent etc etc. Links would be fantastic. Because I’m dead set on this sport as a serious past time but have no idea where to even begin.

Dear Hyper
so, you are just asking us to enlighten you and make all the suggestions for you.

While some on this forum just love giving advice (myself included) when it comes to a question so broad as yours I think it boils down to “do some homework, boy”. Since you are reading this most likely you have the internet.

Read, read and read some more.

A couple of person’s opinion should not make your decision.

On the other hand you can just walk into any outfitter an flash them your credit card.

We used to love people like you, at REI.

Generally they had very little time and no idea.

They would walk out of the store an hour later with “stuff” that they could barely shlep away.

All the decisons were made by the sales assistant.

Just don’t you dare take it all back at the end of the season because you “changed your mind” and ask for a refund.

– Last Updated: Sep-15-08 12:02 AM EST –

Your assumptions are not valid and frankly un-called for. You love people like me who waltz into stores with no brains flashing plastic around? What do you think I'm doing here in the first place. I'm researching, I'm calling stores in my area, I'm looking online for the items I "assume" would be good for my needs.

2 Store Owners recommended this site to get some ideas and feed back and suggestions on gear that has worked for other people in the past as well as kayaks. First response was a troll. So frankly pal you can take your elitist no-all attitude and shove it up your ass. I'll do my research elsewhere... great site just not as friendly as I had been told.

and with your answer you prove my point
Hyper, if the “elitist” response of ONE of the members puts you off and makes up your mind that this forum sux then how could we not assume that the simple suggestion from any of us would make up your mind on your “research”.

Who is the troll now?

Do the research first and then ask SPECIFIC question later.

Maybe reading other people posts might help too.

Some of us are kind of sick and tired of: PLEASE HELP ME BUY A BOAT. I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT KAYAKING.

With saying that I am sure that some others might be more “understanding” and not a “snob” like myself.

Newbies are more then welcome ( I consider myself kind of a newbie in some areas) but a more focused question will get you a better answer.

PS lighten up dude

Some General Advice

– Last Updated: Sep-15-08 1:32 PM EST –

Here are some thoughts, in no particular order.

I've been flamed for this before, but I don't believe you need a particularly specialized kayak to run Class II whitewater with some Class III drops thrown in for good measure. If you did, thousands of us canoers wouldn't already be doing that in 14- or 15-foot solo boats. To PLAY in such stuff, one of those kayaks that's smaller than some muskie lures is the way to go, but for river tripping, any general-purpose boat "can" do the job. Check out the "Guidelines" section on this website for some nice introductory advice regarding things like rocker (affects turning ability), hull shape (affects stability, and "more stable" may not be better, and I can tell you why later if you want), and length (shorter turns easier, longer will be faster but not necessarily more efficient). The Guidelines section is a good place to start.

Check out the Rutabaga paddling shop online (Google will find it for you). They don't sell any real junk, but not all of it is top-of-the-line either so you'll get an idea how much you will be spending for "decent" gear. Iknow there are other shops to recommend, but Rutabaga is the most complete shop I have any experience with.

Don't skimp too much on your paddle. You probably don't need the best, but avoid the cheapest ones. A good paddle is a joy to use.

Same goes for your PFD. It's gotta be comfortable or you won't wear it. In flatwater it may not be such a big deal (but I'd still avoid the cheap ones myself), but in whitewater, you need one that fits properly, and the cheapo life vests won't do the job. Check out any of the name-brand PFDs.

You will need dry bags. Vinyl bags are the cheapest, and probably the best way to start out, but they are harder to stuff into your hatches than the ones made of more expensive materials. On the plus side, vinyl bags are extremely durable and hard to damage. Don't assume your gear will stay dry in the "watertight" compartments of your boat. It won't. Use dry bags.

If your boat does not have sealed chambers front and rear, you will need float bags. There are bags which are specially designed to do double-duty as float bags and dry bags for your gear.

Keep your gear small. There are lots of nice one-person tents, and you don't need to spend a fortune for one that is serviceable, but a nice name-brand tent is probably in your future if you keep doing this stuff. Check out places like Gander Mountain and other "family style" outdoor shops for tents that cost less than the big-name ones. Backpacking stoves are wonderful. Liquid-fueled stoves use less space and weigh less in relation to the amount of heat they produce copmpared to propane models, but propane is still the most popular fuel. I'd bet that a Coleman Peak 1 is still one of the best and most reliable stoves "for the money" but I won't swear by that (haven't shopped for a stove in 25 years now).

A nice summer-weight sleeping bag doesn't cost much and will pack down smaller than a football. Get a mummy bag rather than a big rectangular bag. REI or Campmore should have some nice ones that don't cost a fortune. You can push its temperature rating down into the mid 40s by wearing your clothes to bed and thowing a small tarp over the top of you.

Finally, starting from scratch with "all the gear you need" isn't something I've ever seen anyone do. Most people either don't have that amount of money, or if they do, they find it too painful to spend that much all at once. The usual process is to make-do with whatever you can while you accumulate decent gear piece by piece. You'll make better decisions on what to buy if you take it slow too. Start with a used boat if you can, and that will save you a bundle right from the start.

First things first
Do you have a Tilley?


jim, good suggestion
I am sure it’s now on Hyper’s shopping list :slight_smile:

While I’m at it, I think I should get one too.

Do they come in pink? it would match my boat

Take a look at the Dagger Approach,
but also check the Liquid Logic site. They have a new kayak that looks faster and better handling than the Approach. The LL boat has a sealing rear hatch for gear.

I’m assuming that you will be mostly paddling flattish stuff and will only occasionally get to some class 2-3(4) whitewater like the St. Francis. But if gas doesn’t get too expensive and you fall into driving all over the country to serious whitewater like some Missourians I know, then you might want to split your boat purchase, getting a used touring or rec kayak for the flats, and a used whitewater boat for excitement. In your environment, you would not want a touring kayak like my Necky Looksha Sport, because it would run too deep for shallow sections. You would need to choose your touring craft for getting over gravel bars, etc.

After you listen to some of us free-associate, you may suddenly discover that what you want to do , and how you want to do it, are moving targets. Hedge your bets.

Also, consider canoes. They are like SUVs.

Go to boat shops. Look at everything they offer. Talk to the salespeople. Sit in everything you can. Demo everything you can. Consider renting the boats that make your “final list.” Other customers can also be a wealth of information. Look for message boards in the stores for deals on used equipment. Check Craigslist.

Most importantly: Don’t buy anything until you have a pretty good idea of what you want.