Need Help - River Trip Speed

I am planning a 7 day trip and am looking for some help as far as speed to expect. I have an inflatable kayak (canoe really) Sea Eagle 370. And I will be getting in the New River somewhere in West Virginia. I say somewhere, because I am still trying to work on how far I will travel in 7 days. I have considered trying to end the trip at the Ohio River. Anyway, I’m not sure that part is important at this point. I have done some research and have seen speeds all over the board. Not only that, I feel they are probably inaccurate for an inflatable, as a regular canoe/kayak is probably faster. Any help would be appreciated. It will be a solo trip and I will have gear as well. Right now I am trying to determine canoe speed but also need the current speed of the New River. ( I am talking with the parks department to find this out… hopefully) I included a link with some more details.

You aren’t going to the Ohio RIver from
the New in West Virginia. You aren’t going through the New River Gorge in a Sea Eagle.

I recommend starting way up the South Fork of the New River, not far from Boone, NC. If this spring continues to be kinda wet, you’ll have pleasant, easy rapids until you get down into Virginia. Then pat yourself on the back and quit while you’re ahead.

Get some experience
If you need to ask how far you go for a seven day trip you need to stop your plans and go get experience paddling short distances on the same river. It sounds like you have 0 experience.

When planning big trips always leave extra time. Wind can play havoc with any boating plans. Damaged and lost gear can slow you down. Plan at least one complete down day for a week trip and maybe two. You need to be very aware of all of the hazards on the river you will be paddling and have enough experience to handle above the ratings of all rapids.

you can’t be serious
I read your link. Sorry, with all due respect you really don’t know what you’re doing. For one thing, if you had any experience with paddling at all you would know that “speed” and flow of any river changes daily with rainfall, side drainage and dam releases. It’s never a constant. For another thing, the New doesn’t come within 100 miles of the Ohio River. How could you not know that if you were seriously prepared for such a trip? Also, you can’t just randomly camp on private land wherever you want on river trips no matter who you are – people have been shot for trying it. And you don’t haul gear in a canoe or kayak in a backpack. Seriously, dude. Get some dry bags and a real boat.

Furthermore, and most important, the section of the New upstream of where it connects with the Kanawha River at the Gauley confluence is absolutely no place for a cheapo “pool toy” like a Sea Eagle, let alone an inexperienced paddler. It is one of the most extreme sections of advanced whitewater in the Eastern USA. Your boat will be demolished and all your gear (and you) will be a yard sale at the first set of rapids.

This is no joke and machismo won’t get you through it. Talk to some people who know the river and get a realistic grasp on what you are planning. Your heart may be in the right place but there is a big difference between courage and reckless, pointless stupidity.

Come on, you’ve obviously had military training – I’m sure they taught you better than that. You don’t blunder into unknown territory without the right recon and gear. You not only risk your safety, even your life, but you jeopardize the people who might have to be involved in rescuing you when it all goes to hell.

I suggest setting your sights farther north instead on the Susquehanna River in Northern PA. There is an excellent guide to the Water Trail on it available here:

And beg or borrow a canoe or a hard shell kayak for the trip.

Great cause…
poor plan.

Any successful mission needs a proper plan, and based on what you’ve posted here and at your link you don’t have one.

I’ll give a pass on the backpack idea
I’ll agree with most of what’s been said about a person knowing what they are getting into and having proper gear and paddling skills, but as to carrying gear in the boat, the backpack isn’t necessarily the wrong idea. Lots of canoers haul their gear in packs that fall generally into the “backpack” category. Many of these packs are a lot more primitive than modern backpacks, but they still are carried on the back by means of shoulder straps, and they have no special features to keep out water. The gear is protected from water by a liner inside the pack, and the same could be done with most regular backpacks, especially the big ones.

Well, I have done some river trips

– Last Updated: Jun-28-14 10:47 PM EST –

You can pack in a pack. I have done 5 days in a canoe out of a backpack. Works pretty well actually. Your stuff should be in dry bags in your pack anyway so water should be no big deal.

Thats about the only part of your plan that makes sense.

200 in 7 days is just about 30 mi a day, every day, in a loaded inflatable boat. If you got a river that was fairly flat but flowing like a mother, maybe. I have done it for 2 in a row, thats enough. I was in a loaded OT Discovery with fast water and 2 paddlers. I just did 30 in a loaded kayak on day 2 of a trip.

The New river Gorge is something I have never gone through. And really dont have a desire to. It is not for someone who doesnt know exactly what he is doing with equipment for exactly that area. I am not a floating guru, but a inflatable isnt white water gear.

Its a great cause, but you need to step back and make a real plan. As it is you are planning a helo rappel with a clothesline at night over unknown ground.

FYI, Semper Fi, about 11 years before you.

Thinking about it, you could probably do a couple hundred on the Allegheny, the 100 I have done is from Kinzu to Emlenton and camping is not a problem. You wont make any time at this time of year though. Early June, sure. After that, not so much. You could start in NY and end in Morgantown or thereabouts and I think it would be a lot more do able.

I’ve done the New in a Sea Eagle.

– Last Updated: Jun-29-14 7:02 PM EST –

Back in 2006, BUT I used a SE 380(an expedition grade IK)and NOT a SE 370--Furthermore, I was not alone at the time, but with a crew of well-experienced kayakers(both hardshell and inflatable kayak users)who had an intimate familiarity with the rivers of WV.

Had I not sold my SE 380 about six months ago, I probably would've donated it to your worthy but albeit somewhat inadvisable cause, rather than see you take on potentially deadly rapids in your SE 370.

The difference? Well, not only is the 380 a much more durable craft and made for a Class IV water-environ, but it self-bails quicker, having more bailing valves than your single-plug 370...And because it is less likely to deflate upon impact than a 370, it is thus more forgiving(which translates to "more life saving" when you mess-up in the thick stuff...As you inevitably will. Nothing personal, but the 370 is a pool toy by comparison, and both inadequate for safe gear carrying and for what you're proposing to attempt. If you're still serious about doing this solo, than perhaps talk to the people at Sea Eagle or some other IK dealer about the possibility of donating a better quality boat for use--Don't be surprised when they decline: They don't want the bad publicity of a non-professional's potential fatality on their brand's hands.

DO NOT(unless you acquire some serious new paddling skills as some have advised above)attempt your trip in either a hard shell kayak or a canoe(the former would require you to have a bombproof roll for self-rescue; and the latter would require you to have absolute killer single blade skills.)

Oh yeah, and the answer to your "speed" question? Better figure on 15 miles a day, tops.

Good luck, Marine...And don't forget a helmet.

Response to everyone…Please read
Hi Seadart,

Thank you for your response. I am really just trying to get some information about speed of river and I know it varies according to quite a few things. As far as experience, I have gone down (or up i guess) the New river 5 times. However, it has always been with one of the commercial companies with a guide. I have never tried to figure a trip length and speed over days/week. I understand my experience doesn’t make me an expert, which is why I came to this site seeking advice/help. I have also gone down the Ocoee in Tennessee, twice. Again, doesn’t make me an expert, and I know that. Which, again, is why I am here on this site more than two months ahead of time seeking advice. I appreciate the response and if you have any further thoughts they would be appreciated.

Hi Willowleaf,

Thank you for your response. I appreciate the feedback. I do understand all the things that come into play when trying to figure out speed. I don’t personally know how to figure it out, which is why I came looking for help. I am not looking for exact information, but really just looking to figure it out for an estimate on where to leave my car (if I even do that) my original thought was I would just get out after the 7 days and have someone come get me. Also, I do understand the New doesn’t “actually” connect to the Ohio river by name anyway, but I didn’t feel it necessary at that point to spell it out. As far as the dry bags are concerned, good idea, and I had it as well and purchased small ones and also a large one that my entire pack fits in. As far as being totally prepared, you are correct, I am not totally prepared, but it is the reason that I came to this site, for some help and advice… and also why I did it 2 months in advance of the trip. As far as camping, I have thought of that and talked to the parks department in W.Va about my trip and explained what I would be doing. The camping with them was fine. However, you were talking about private land, and I have thought about that as well. My thought was once I have an idea of where I’ll be starting and ending, I will have an idea of where I’ll be stopping daily Once I have that info I can take a look at what is around that area and see if I can find suitable places to camp and contact people if needed.

I understand the 370 may not be the best raft for the trip, but it is the one that I have, It is rated up to class III. I know on the New there are class IV and V. I haven’t decided what I’ll do when I come to those. Attempt or hike around. I have been on the New 5 times and the Ocoee twice, doesn’t make me an expert and I don’t pretend to be. It’s always been with one of the commercial companies and with a guide; never tried to figure speed/distance over days/weeks.

I have also, contacted a couple of the commercial rafting companies in the area, but have not heard back yet.

Again, thank you for your feedback and help. If you have any further thoughts/help it is appreciated.

Hi davbart,

I appreciate the feedback on the plan. However, I am in the planning phase of the trip. The trip is in two months, not tomorrow. If you have any guidance on putting together a good plan, I am all ears. I have no ego, or feel macho. I am at the point in this where I am looking to get a solid plan in place. This plan is in its infancy, any help is appreciated. Thanks in advance for your help in planning.

Hi Varmintist,

First off, Semper Fi sir. Thank you for your help in this. So, my estimate sounds like it is completely off. That is ok, I have time to correct it. If I am understanding correctly, you just did 30 miles in 2 days in a hard shell kayak? So, 15 miles a day? Were you trying to make fast time or just cruising along. I guess I should point out that I am not trying to break any speed records, I will paddle, but I also want to enjoy the surroundings and not trying to be the fastest ever in an inflatable kayak/canoe. They call it a kayak, but to me it looks more like a canoe.

I understand my inflatable may not be perfect for this trip, however it is what I have at this point. Also, all the commercial companies do you use inflatables, just much better than mine.

Thank you for your feedback and help. If you have any more, I would appreciate it. I’m not opposed to going down another river. The trip and current donations I don’t think would mind which river. I do want to catch some rapids and the boat I have is rated up to class III.

Hi Spiritboat,

I did look at the 380, but was too expensive for me unfortunately. I appreciate you saying you would have donated it to me, that would have been nice. I appreciate all the info on the self-bailing too, it was one of the things I have thought about. I have contacted SeaEagle, I didn’t ask them to donate a boat, I did want to, but I didn’t. Not really my way. I just wanted to make them aware and see if they wanted to donate money to the charity.

Thanks for the well wishes, and I do have a helmet and life vest!


For anyone who is still reading… I am not opposed to choosing another river. ( I really would like to stay on the New though) I don’t think any of the people who have donated to this point care which river I go on. However, I do want some rapids and the SE330 is rated to class III. I have whitewater rafted, with guide a total of 7 times. 5 on the New and 2 on the Ocoee.

I appreciate everyone’s feedback and hope to receive more. I understand the first post maybe didn’t have some of the details and perhaps some didn’t look at the dates of the trip and realize that I am just in the beginning plan of this whole thing. Which prompted so negative feedback on my planning. That is ok with me, I can take that. But what I ask now is for some constructive feedback. Help me get this together. It’s the reason I came to this site. I figured I would find some people much more experienced than me, some experts to help me get this planned out. I know there are things I haven’t thought about yet or planned out yet, but it is why I am here two months ahead of time.

2nd this
I’m not even a canoer but I’ve seen enough portages by canoeists wearing packs.

My mesh duffels have shoulder straps, which come in handy sclepping gear from the landing to the camp, but I’d like to have hip belts sewn on.


– Last Updated: Jun-30-14 12:44 PM EST –

miles 2 days n a row in a OT discovery 168 loaded, 2 paddlers, and fast water (3-5mph). Steady paddling, not trying to race, but not stopping the motion either. No desire to do a third day the same.

30 in a single day in a sea kayak after a 11 on a creek, slower water(3 mph max). 0745 start and off the water around 7P. Again, not burning up the water, but steady. Wasnt to bad and I am a newbie kayaker. Dont know how I would have felt after a day #2 that far.

I planned the last one and I tried to keep most of the days to 16-20. Thats enough.

One problem you have is the time of year. There isnt enough water to make great time.

Figure break for lunch and a couple of head calls, any time off the water is time you aren't covering ground.

Most rivers I have been on vary greatly in speed. Ex, the Allegehnny from Kinzua Dam to about Parker PA,(figure 120-130mi) you can still make time just floating. Below Parker its slow deep and full of powerboats, then you get into locks. Above the dam, you could do about 60 on the conewango. Dont know about camping though.

You need to think supply also. You will need to filter water or carry it. Best thing I got for the last trip was a platypus that I put under the forward rigging. You can put 5 days easy in a pack, after that you need to find a resupply or have packed heavy.

Just a thought, but IMHO, having been involved in planning a few of these is use this time as planning for next year. You are going in cold and thats not good. A long float is doable, but not without a good plan. Some of the guys I go with complain because I want to KNOW the plan before I leave. They are more into "We can just do X whenever we get there" So far, I have never seen a float plan that lasted 100% past the first boat getting wet, but if you have a plan, it is eaiser to make a decision about changing it.

If you want rapids, they are all over the country. Go early enough in the year and you will have your fill by day 4.


– Last Updated: Jun-30-14 1:01 PM EST –

First, let me preface things by saying I like your determination.

Your 370 is indeed easily Class III capable. It's very design is a knock-off of the old Sevylor "Orange Torpedo"(currently sold as the more cheaply made "Tahitti"). This IK was the only game in town on the IK market many years ago, and it took quite a few explorers down some of the fastest moving rapid filled rivers of the world...

My main issue with using the SE 370 on anything more than just day trips/brief overnights, are with it's down market valves not standing up to the strain...But you're using what ya got--And I understand and respect that from a number of standpoints. Having myself started out many years ago in a similar boat and with little money for anything better. I offered the benefit of my experience, not to be condescending but rather, as someone who regularly runs Cl.III+ and IV water in duckies all the year round. I paddle hardshells as well, in Classes I to III, and on the ocean. So my concerns with the 370 is not with whether it or even you qualify for such a trip--But whether it's general "bounciness" can hold up under the strain of for your trip's(200 mile?)duration. Orange Torpedos back-in-the-day did. I don't know about Sea Eagle's version. The valves could hold, but they also could not--Then what? Trip over, that's what...So if there's any possibility of acquiring another more up-market inflatable kayak(beg, borrow...etc.)then I would try for it.

Also, a shore crew of volunteer/friends stationed along different points on the river, might be a good idea. You could do this without diminishing your doing the trip as a "solo." (I'd offer to get your back on this too, but live too far away with too many other commitments;-)

You might also try contacting Custom Inflatables in WV, about using one of their boats. Their Thrillseeker was born, bred and weened on rivers like the New and the Gauley. The valves are first rate.

(Again I know this might not be your way, but squeaky wheels have a way of finding good grease.)

All the best!

Varmintist and Spiritboat

Thanks for the additional info. I’m not necessarily looking to “make good time”, I want to enjoy my time and the surroundings. Do you guys think 12 – 15 miles per day is doable, and also not pushing myself so hard that it is not enjoyable day in and day out?

Also, due to the feedback that I have received here and some other feedback, I think I should at least consider another river. How is the Allegheny? Are there rapids? What classes? On the Allegheny at that time of the year do you happen to know the current speed? Would 12-15 miles per day be doable, while still enjoying?

Supplies that I have purchased. I have two 2 liter camelback type units, plus I have a Lifestraw (filter). I have MRE’s (food) and plan on taking 7.

I have contacted Custom Inflatables as you mentioned to see if anything comes of it. I like your pictures by the way. As far as the valve’s not holding, I have thought about a number of things making the boat inoperable, at which time it becomes a hiking/camping trip.

Thanks for the video of the “Orange Torpedo” They look a lot like the SE370.

Hiker pro

– Last Updated: Jul-01-14 9:33 AM EST –

filter seems to be the go to in the group. There is also a MSR unit

You will need more water than a straw will get you and more than 4L. Figure 2L/day.

7 MRE's for a 15 day trip? I guess thats do able. I, for one, like food though. IMHO MRE's are nice to have around. I keep 2 with me on trips with the scouts in case someone loses their food or it gets waterlogged. Other than that, there is better you can put together.

EG; For a day, packed in separate ziplock or vac sealed bags, with each entire day in a vac sealed bag. 3 coffee tea bag things, Folgers, 1 Starbucks VIA, 1 serving of gatoraid, 1 qt frz bag with 1c oatmeal w/cin and dry moo added and raisens, vac sealed bagel, 1 string cheeze and 1 stick pepperoni, a pasta side in a 1qt frz bag with w/butterbuds and dry moo added, 1 8oz can chicken or pack beef crumbles, 1, 1/3qt ziplock with peanuts, raisens and M&M's to much in the boat.
I also carry a MIO drink mix. A shot of that makes filtered river water taste better, and a bag of apples.

This is part of the planning you need to do. You need to learn how to pack to be independant. No supply chain. There is a thread on here about food, and one on stoves. Everything I take can be cooked by dumping a cup or 2 of boiling water into a ziplock and leaving it alone for a while. The pasta sides are better if you at least simmer them in the pot for 3 min, but doesnt have to be.

You also need to plan camping spots. Are you looking for a campground? Do you have permission to camp there? Are you going to poop in the woods? Are you floating a area that you have to pack out your poo? (Susquahanna, lower) No matter where you go, you need to pack out your trash.

To answer the other question, the AL will be slow, 12-15 is doable, you may be dragging in 2 months on the upper end, and paddling a lot on the lower. Depending on water level, there are rapids on the upper. Dont know about the cos creek though I might next year.

Hey Varmintist,

It’s 7 MRE’s for 7 days, so should be good to go. I have a couple extra MRE’s and If they fit in the pack I will take them as well, jst in case. 1 per day should be fine, they have quite a bit of food in them. I will also probably pack some jerky, a couple other snacks. As far as the water straw or filter, I already have the straw so I am just going to go with that. I also have two 2 liter water packs I will be taking. (I have some water treatment tablets as well). I like the MIO drink Idea, I will do that for sure. I do eventually want to get one of those filters you provided links too. They look awesome. For this trip though, I have restricted myself to what I can fit in my pack or wear and that’s it. Plus, I have about 1k invested in this trip and would like to not invest anymore, right now. I purchased a GoPro Hero 3 camera for video, hopefully get some good stuff.

I don’t plan on taking a stove, or food that needs cooked or anything like that. The MRE’s are the government issued ones that have the heaters in them… just add water.

Camping spots I have looked into in the W.Va parks area, where they allow camping on the river. As far as every else along the way I haven’t done that yet. I’ve been trying to determine the starting and ending point, distance and such. Once I have some idea of that, I can get a better idea where my daily stop will be and can look for camping spots. I also then can look into the rules as far as bathroom goes.

I’m still thinking about the New River. I did look into the Allegheny though. Once I have the details worked out, I will study this river and also probably make a couple day trips to the river. If the rapids in a couple locations are too strong, I can get out and hike past them.

Does anyone know if there is a tendency for the river to be stronger/weaker in the fall (September) ?

I like all the ideas, keep them coming, as I am making a list of everything I still need to look into!

West Branch
Did you check out the site I suggested on the 228 mile long West Branch Susquehanna Water Trail? It’s only about 1 1/2 hours east of the upper Allegheny (the next major drainage over) and is a much more picturesque and wild river, in fact we have been trying to get Federal Wild and Scenic river designation for it. It is shallower and narrower than the Allegheny and a little more remote, though there are lots of small towns along it. It’s a windy river with many canyons, more similar to the New River than the Allegheny is. There are some open Class I to II rapids (more like heavy riffle) depending on the flow.

It has been running quite nicely with all the rain this year. You would find many people welcoming you along it, especially as a former Marine – lots of vets in the region and strong community support for veteran causes. Local country singer Jerry Schickling (my ex used to play in his band) often does fundraisers for vet organizations and might be able to offer you some contacts up there. You can Google his website.

Anyway, the site has the map and information on it. I think it’s one of the nicest rivers to float in the region, certainly for a multi-day trip.


– Last Updated: Jul-01-14 1:18 PM EST –

I did look at the link briefly, but with the description you just gave I will have to go look at it in depth. It sounds great. Thanks for the advice on the river and the other information. I am going to go look into it now. Thanks again.

That site wants $20 for the guide?? I'm assuming that would be worth getting if that's the river I decide to go on. I'm sure I can find other information online for free and if I decide on that river then get the guide? thoughts?

I know
what they are, and although a huge step over C-Rats, they are what they are. If you have lived on one a day before and want to again, go for it. I’m a lot more into comfort if the weight cost isnt that much.

“I don’t plan on taking a stove, or food that needs cooked or anything like that. The MRE’s are the government issued ones that have the heaters in them… just add water.”

I think it will be a good diet plan…

Being retired Army,…
I don’t think I’d want to live on an MRE a day. I’ve done it (like you’ve probably done), and even though they’re calorie dense, you’ll be surprised how many calories you’ll burn in a day of paddling. I think on an MRE a day, you’ll be losing weight, and perhaps run into fatigue issues.