I am twenty one years old and a college student, so I dont have much money. I really want to get into the sport and want to get a kayak that will not only last me a while but will be able to handle simple things like messing around in a lake to doing the white rapids of the Truckee River in Tahoe. I am 6’ 2" and weigh 196 lbs please help me out with what to look for. Thank you and greatly appreciated.
Lots of variables in your paddling
interests to cover with one boat. I’d try to hook up with a local paddling group/outfitter, ask lots of questions about local favorites for each environment, and rent or borrow some boats suited to your “starter” waters to see what works comfortably for you. Then possibly start to grow your quiver with favored used boats and gear to keep cost down.
You pretty much need a different boat for white water than you would use for the lake. You could get away with a white water boat on a lake, but it would be VERY slow and not want to track (go straight) well. You pretty much can’t get away with a flat water boat on white water (exception being highly skilled paddlers could do easier white water in a flat water boat, but this level of skills is above the norm).
Flat water kayaking is easier and cheaper to get into. You can pick up a used boat and some decent other gear (PFD, paddle, some appropriate clothing for thermal protection, etc.) and give it a go. Lessons could help, but are not required. Making friends who know the ropes and can pass on the skills could get around paid lessons. In particular, learn the basics of how to get yourself back into a boat should you flip over, as though hopefully you will never need it, it is good to learn just in case.
White water pretty much requires lessons before you get too far into it. For anything beyond real mellow rivers, a roll is strongly advised. And this generally takes a day or two to learn.
Check your college to see if they have classes in kayaking. Or if a local community college does. Or if your school has a kayaking club. These are all low cost ways to get into the sport and get some good lessons.
look around for a c 1990s whitewater K1
Check the classified ads and craiglist in your area for an older whitewater designed kayak. Back in the 1990s whitewater kayaks were typically 10.5+' in length and some were 11' or longer (Dagger Response, Perception Pirouette for example). You will need to be able to go check out the boat and sit in it to see if it accommodates your size and if a sprayskirt is available for the cockpit size.
Those old, longer boats are much faster than today's short play boats and more tolerable to paddle on flat water. These older boats got sold off en masse as kayaks got shorter and shorter. Cockpits (and thus sprayskirts) got larger too and paddles shorter and it was not uncommon for someone to sell a boat with skirt to fit, and paddle for a few hundred dollars. You don't see that as much as you did a few years ago, but there are still old boats out there that come up for sale periodically.
I suppose you could look for an inexpensive rec kayak and try to run simple rapids in it without a skirt (as some do). In my opinion, that would give you a boat that did 2 things poorly, paddle flat water and run rapids.
I like this approach
Good response to a newbie’s needs and resources. Would you add the Dagger RPM Max to the list?
I’ve paddled the RPM in flatwater, surf and class II and it was capable in each. I knew I wasn’t going to cover long distances of flatwater in it but for an all-rounder with whitewater and surf the more common use I found it pretty fun.
Join the Reno Whitewater
and Reno Clearwater groups on Yahoo and post there. Lots of used boats at the Riverfest in May and you can post on boof.com as well.
don’t study liberal arts
If you want enough to be able to afford a kayak, don’t study liberal arts.
start with one or the other
I looked up the Truckee River, and something showed it as class 2 to 3+. I wouldn’t bother with anything but a whitewater kayak for that.
Even old school ww boats are absolutely horrible at traveling on flatwater. They can be considered good in that application compared to other ww boats that are even worse, and innertubes. The cheapest piece of junk flatwater recreational kayak you can find will put it to shame for that purpose.
However, you can have a lot of fun playing around in a lake with a whitewater kayak. You will be able to spend seemingly endless hours learning to roll, edge control, blade angle control with your paddle, turning strokes,bracing, etc. The Truckee will become more and more fun as a result. So if whitewater is what really has your attention, find some whitewater kayakers running the Truckee, and get yourself into whitewater kayaking based on strictly whitewater recommendations, with no thoughts of lake paddling involved.
If you will mainly be paddling flatwater, traveling across the lake and such, forget about running the Truckee, and get yourself something appropriate for flatwater paddling.
They are simply too different to compromise one style of kayak to accomodate both purposes.
Horrible on flatwater?
I have paddled alongside p-net’s ChuckIL in his Perception Dancer, and never once got the impression that it, and old-school whitewater kayak, was horrible on flatwater. The question might be “horrible compared to what”, a sea kayak? I suppose it might be horrible on flatwater compared to a sea kayak, but I was in a general-purpose solo canoe and Chuck had no trouble at all keeping up with me on the long flatwater pools between riffles, and once the wind started blow hard I had trouble keeping up with him. So if the original poster is happy with a kayak that goes on the flats just as fast as a decent solo-canoe paddler in an average solo canoe, he might not call the flatwater performance “horrible”. I think this all depends on one’s expectations. This is clearly a situation where one boat won’t do all things well, but I tend to think pblanc’s advice is as good a one-boat compromise as any.
I agree. Let’s put this to rest!
WATCH THE BOAT as it approaches the drop. THIS IS NOT HORRIBLE.
The OP has enough money for ONE BOAT. THOSE ARE THE PARAMETERS OF THE QUESTION. DEAL with it.
Nothing bugs me more in the help forums than people who do not listen to the question.
Thanks for speaking up guideboatguy.
You can bring any rec kayak you want to any piece of flat water you specify and I will run rings around it and you in my Perception Pirouette.
And I would no doubt have a wonderful laugh watching you run Class III+ whitewater in that rec kayak.
I’m about your size. I paddled some of
the boats mentioned and found my feet got stuck under the footpegs and the trim was off (too low in the back). Gotta tell you though… These boats are a BLAST!
Old school WW boats
The worst problem may be finding one - they are aging out and often in the hands of people who wouldn’t let theirs go.
I disagree with a lot here. Old school WW boats aren’t necessarily horrible at going straight if you can paddle well. We have a couple of paddlers locally who can easily outrun most rec boats as well as some longer boats in their old school WW boat.
That said, they will plow more water than many rec boats.
But what I don’t see is maybe the best idea for the Oper - a WW/rec hybrid like the Dagger Approach etc. They have been around long enough that some can be found used. I doubt they belong in class 3 without having a paddler with some skills occupying them, but I’d say that for any boat. These boats are usually decently tuned for moderate class 2 though.
I believe in instruction - get some
Finding a local paddling club/outfitter/paddlers, is a really good way to get introduced
If you want to try kayaking on your own, good place to start is with used boats. craigslist, for example, is a good place to look for them; and other gear as well. Problem with this approach - you don’t really know what you don’t know, hence the beginning of my reply.
Quick browse of craigslist in reno/tahoe area even shows someone selling all gear for 500usd.
Quick list of what you need-
kayak, pfd, paddle, some paddling clothes
way to get it there - probably some rack set-up for your vehicle.
Lets examine a few facts
Here are the specs for some of the popular modern crossover design kayaks intended for combined flat water and whitewater use with length to width ratios:
Dagger Approach 9: L 108" W 25.5" L/W 4.3
Dagger Approach 10: L 120" W 28" L/W 4.2
Liquid Logic Remix XP10: L 123" W 28" L/W 4.4
Pyranha Fusion: L 123" W 26" L/W 4.7
All of these have a skeg to improve tracking on flat water, but a fairly blunt water entry.
Now a quite decent rec kayak:
Pungo 120: L 144" W 29" L/W 5.0
So the Pungo is considerably sleeker than the crossovers and has a somewhat sharper cutwater.
Now for those horribly slow "old school" kayaks mentioned in this thread:
Perception Pirouette: L 134" W 24" L/W 5.6
Perception Dancer: L 139" W 23.25" L/W 5.8
Dagger Response: L 135" W 23.25" L/W 5.8
So all of those old clunkers have much better length to width ratios than any of the crossover designs and the 12 foot Pungo. The Pungo has a somewhat sharper water entry, but it does not make up for its much poorer L/W ratio.
And the Pungo 120 would be totally unsuited for Class III+ whitewater, unlike every other boat mentioned above.
I want the moon.
Unfortunately for me, it’s not available.
a boatshed and quiver like cliff’s
Everything you could ask for and
at least it’s a good time…
oh I bet it is
From what you post here it seems you would see many moons.
spillway drop video proves nothing
C’mon now, dropping over a shallow spillway dam is just NOT equivalent in any way to negotiating the chutes and hydraulics of a high-velocity flow rock-filled Class III river.