Hey everyone,

I’ve always wanted to get into Kayaking and now that I live near the Ocoee river, I’m ready! I need help picking out the right used Kayak. I’m 5’11" 170lbs.

I’ll be cruising the TN and Hiwassee rivers for awhile until I feel comfortable to hit the Ocoee.

I keep finding good deals on play boats. Currently I’m looking at a Dagger g force 6.1

Would this type of boat be good for me? How comfortable are they? If I spend 2 hours out on clam water, will my legs be ready to fall off?


Do you want to tour or do whitewater?

– Last Updated: May-01-14 7:36 AM EST –

Play boats are a category of whitewater boats that have zero hull speed on flat water. They are a terrible choice for touring. If you are interested in doing whitewater, this is a whole different discussion.

I am not familiar with the rivers you mention. Do you want to do whitewater or tour on flat water?

Although some on this board are
experienced whitewater paddlers, and have been down the Ocoee and similar rivers quite a few times (I have), I wonder if you wouldn’t be better off lurking over on for ideas and advice.

If you haven’t done so already, taking a course at NOC or a similar outfitting and training organization will do a lot for you.

Thing about a trainer, or even a friend good enough to be a mentor, is that person can watch and see what you’re doing well, and what gaps in skills and judgement might get you hurt.

I was more self-taught than trained. The step up to Chattooga 3, the Ocoee, and Chattooga 4 was more difficult than it might have been if I’d had more training.

River runner
IMO (and many other instructors), you’re better off learning in a river runner (Wavespoort Diesel, Liquidlogic Remix, Jackson Zen, Dagger Mamba, etc.) than a playboat. The Hiwassee is a good place to cut your teeth and hone your moves and it’s a short step up to the Nantahala. There are several good alternatives for training but I’d recommend Endless Rivers Adventures who offer instruction on the Nanty and Ocoee. They can walk you up to your goal. They also sell used boats on consignment and could be the source of a good deal.


– Last Updated: May-01-14 9:07 AM EST –

I'm pretty sure the Ocoee is a moving water experience. The original poster doesn't ID whether they are interested in open water paddling or moving water paddling. While there are many cross over elements between both in gear and skills, it does take some additional skill to handle moving water. If the poster is thinking aobut learning to run whitewater, then that is a whole other set of skills. Since the poster lives near the Ocoee, we're to assume, they're looking at moving water and the types of boats needed to run even class II white water. There has to be an outfitter or class experience close by. I'm a sea kayaker first, who can hold their own in a ww boat. I own a river runner ww boat and a playboat and even those are different monsters when it comes to what I can do on a river. The original poster needs to get some seat time and figure out what type of paddling interests him/her.

boat typpes
You may want to check an article in California Kayaker Magazine on different kayak types. Can be read for free online at Issue 10, article starts on page 6.

I’m assuming
that whitewater paddling is primarily what you’re interested in. With that in mind:

  1. Don’t start with a playboat. They are niche boats designed for surfing/rodeo tricks utilizing waves, holes and other river features. As a brand new paddler, a playboat is going to make nearly every river-running skill seem more difficult, in particular staying upright. And yes, you’d almost certainly be uncomfortable after paddling two hours of flatwater in a playboat, but that’s beside the point because you’d probably want to shoot yourself in frustration long before the two hours passed.

    Again, assuming your primary interest is running rapids, a river-runner/creeker should be your first choice. If you plan to do a fair bit of flat water paddling with some rapids thrown in, look at crossover designs. If those terms sound like Greek to you, google them.

  2. Get some basic instruction, either by enrolling in a formal class (preferable) or through a club environment. Learning fundamental skills correctly at the outset will put you on a faster improvement trajectory and avoid the need to unlearn bad habits.

  3. Ditto ezwater’s suggestion regarding boatertalk. There are a fair number of river-rats around these parts, but boatertalk is pretty much dedicated to WW kayaking. In particular, they could probably better help you to identify who the good instructors/schools are in your neck of the woods.