old town Rush on class II-IV????

I have an old town Rush (http://www.oldtowncanoe.com/kayaks/recreation/rush) I have been using for the past few yrs. I am planning on taking it down either the Pecos/ Devil’s/ upper and lower canyons of the Rio Grande. I am wondering if I am going to have any issues with this boat on these stretches of water. They all have some II-IV class areas. I am used to paddling out in 2-3 ft swells in my local lake. I need all of your advice before I can commit to anything. Thanks for any and all help you can provide.

The problem you may have is when
the turbulence of class 2 and above shoots your boat in directions you have not planned.

With extensive whitewater experience, I’m sure I could take your boat down these rivers… but I might do a fair amount of portaging.

Portaging is honorable, portaging is wise. NOT running class 3 and 4 rapids without having others in your party on the rocks with throw ropes is WISE.

Personal training and experience running rapids has more to do with your safety than what boat you use. I could put you in one of my WW kayaks and, if you aren’t trained to use it, you’re screwed.

I am 6’ tall around 200lbs if that makes any difference. And I will be loading all my stuff 50-70lbs (maybe much less- that’s just my normal camping pack weight) and the boat is rated for 275lbs.

that’s what I am worried about. I am above average as far as athletics and I have good strength to dig my paddles but I am really worried about rolling this thing. Haven’t ever tried and it has been so steady in the lake even with 3 foot white caps. I am going to try and meet up with a local club and get some hands on time rolling.

See if you can do these trips with a
group. I often trip solo, but I would hesitate to do a trip with class 3 in a boat weighed down with gear.

Your link was not working for me, but I have a vague recall of the nature of the OT Rush. It is sort of between a rec kayak and a whitewater kayak.

Been there - Done that (almost)

– Last Updated: Jan-14-10 12:30 AM EST –

Most will tell you you can't do it in that kayak but I've heard that song for years. I have paddled Class IV in a rec kayak but never with any significant weight and my kayak is a little longer than yours. Being one who learned the hard way I suggest you take some ww lessons from an instructor or a proficient ww paddler. You need to learn how brace and especially wet exit because a nylon spray skirt easily implodes on Class III & IV. Class IV is pretty intimidating from the seat of a rec kayak. I relate it to going downhill in a truck without brakes because the river will manhandle your kayak like you never imagined. It takes skill and a lot of practice to handle a rec boat in ww and believe me I've done more than my share of swimming. Being physically fit is good but it doesn't have much effect on Class II, III or IV. The best ww paddlers I have seen couldn't begin to keep up with me physically but they sure could handle a paddle. It is your paddling skill not your physical strength or the kayak that will get you through. My first couple of Class IIs sent me swimming and I did a lot of IIs & IIIs before I tackled a Class IV. The water will turn you over so fast you won't know what you did wrong. It takes a couple of swims before you start understanding what really happened. Learning how to brace and using it requires practice, lots and lots of practice. Once you build up your skill and confidence then you won't be intimidated by the river.

The decision is yours and so will be the consequences.
Get lots of practice, always respect the power of the river and Good Luck.

another thing
I know a lot of people run these three rivers in loaded canoes so that’s why I thought I shouldn’t have a giant problem. But I am going to have to get a different boat or really work on my gear to make a good weight.

Changing the plan is good
Your question / statement was in reference to you using a specific kayak, adding a load and doing Class II-IV. Maybe our info has caused you to rethink the boat of choice which is good but don’t compare the Rush or any rec kayak to what ww canoes are doing.

Even a larger rec kayak will have problems in these conditions with a load. In reading your responses I feel you seem more concerned with the load than with your skill level. This may be a wrong assumption on my part but good Class IIs and Class IIIs & IVs are wild rides.

Again good luck and I will look forward to a post report.

People certainly run the Rio Grande
and the Pecos in loaded canoes. When some Maine Guides I know run trips on the Pecos or lower canyons of the Rio Grande, they certainly do scout and portage where needed. And, they help customers spot and use sneak routes. They led us down the San Juan, a section they had not seen before, and we had only one spilled boat in over 80 miles. That tandem ran Government Rapid properly, but then relaxed when they cut into the eddy, and flipped upstream.

One of the most important skills for portaging and lining is landing in a suitable eddy before getting sucked into the rapid.

If you hike in the Quachitas, check out the state of Arkansas’ maps for whitewater runs of various levels of difficulty, as well as varied kinds of geology and rapids. Plenty of boating practice over there.

class/ ratings
These are just some YouTube vids taken on said rivers. This is why I didn’t see much of a problem taking my boat with gear.

3 mins in for this one


Obviously won’t be shooting this





– Last Updated: Jan-14-10 12:43 PM EST –

I am not saying that with some pool time to get decent bracing and some WW work this trip wouldn't work as planned, but I do disagree with using videos to gauge the difficulty. Especially the first one.

Moving water just about always looks easier in videos than it is in person. That's something you just have to try to get it. And those guys in the first one are in SOT's, so they are not too likely to end up with a failed skirt and a boat full of water pinned up against a rock (with you still in it).

Get some WW training, THEN figure out this trip.


– Last Updated: Jan-14-10 12:48 PM EST –

#1 doesn't count. Can't compare SOT to the Rush but this is a piece of cake but I forget what it was like as a newbie. And a nylon skirt will work on this one.

#2 from the video looks difficult just getting to the falls and at this level you would be at the mercy of where the falls will actually let your boat go over. Probably a better place to find out how well your helmet and PFD work. Looks tough but probably fun to try (with an empty boat). Providing the recovery area is deep enough this looks like a good place to practice, learn what happens when the boat doesn't go where you want it to and adjusting to the different ways a boat handles.

#3 looks easy but at this level you will have to pick your way through and be able to turn on a dime. Slight mistakes will spin or pin the boat which will probably end with a boat full of water.

#1 & #3 are both good places to practice. #1 to practice bracing and #3 boat control neither which you can learn on a lake. Learning to paddle ww is not something you want to do on a solo trip with gear in your boat and I'm speaking from experience. Maybe #1 and #3 but #2 should be a no-brainer portage.

wow . . .
You said your 1st kit could be smaller because you’re going solo? Don’t. If you are not experienced paddling moving water, don’t paddle solo.

The water on your links, other than the falls, would rate a Class II, Class II plus in my books. I saw a couple sticky spots, but no must make maneuvers.

Please get a helmet and unlike the guys in the video, wear a lifejacket. Water is powerful and it will humble the strongest person real quick.

The one little drop that was being run in the last video won’t be easy in a short rec boat. Those 14’ SOT had lots of buoyancy and momentum to punch through the standing wave, but you’ll drop into the hole and be stopped dead in your tracks, turned sideways, and flipped.

I am not very experienced on WW but I am an avid outdoorsman and know the power of rivers, I have fly fished all my life and have seen what moving water is capable of. As far as going at it solo, kind of the way I roll in most out of doors endeavors. I am EMT trained and work at a major hospital so I am not a layman when it comes to medical problems, (and I do realize that without a helmet/ or with) I could be knocked unconscious. I do plan on getting both pool time rolling and some fast water experience before setting off on this trip. Thanks again for all of yalls priceless information, help, and advice. Keep it coming please.

I would have found it very hard to
improve my abilities if I had strictly followed a rule of not paddling alone on easy whitewater. Fortunately, we have the metro Chattahoochee in Atlanta, an excellent self-training stream when at its usual 900- 2500 cfs level. It has killed only a couple of people that I recall since I moved to Atlanta in 1974. One was an inexperienced guy paddling a rec kayak in flood. The other was a thoroughly drunk rafter who dived to retrieve a beer and didn’t come up.

People should look around for an easy class 1-2 river where they can practice, practice, practice. Just going on group trips doesn’t bring one along as quickly.

I have to rate that Pecos rapid as a low
class 3. They were wise to scout. There are some pinning opportunities. A loaded boat would not respond as nimbly as would be desirable for some of the squiggles in the current.

If you’ve read the definition for class 2, you know that it specifies a fairly open channel with a course easily recognised, and executed, without scouting. The Pecos rapid has a relatively narrow channel, and one certainly couldn’t see all of the detail adjustments needed to run it while scouting from the boat on the way into the top end.

I would have run it without scouting in my WW canoe, even with full gear. BUT I am quite practiced at grabbing an eddy the moment I see that things are getting complicated.

more river
Here is another of the Devils River


What part of the video will you be in?

– Last Updated: Jan-14-10 7:58 PM EST –

Lots of paddlers with no skills. Most of us have been there and I saw myself in the video several times.. We learned and now it is your turn. Looks like a safe and great place to learn all about the things to do...and not do. When I said your physical ability will help I meant in handling a swamped kayak. A rope on the kayaks would have saved a lot of time.

The video brought back lots of good memories. Now I swim to get paddlers and boats out of the water and let the others take care of the yard sale.

Paddle safe & swim well

Old Town Rush
is an upgraded (footpegs and a half skirt) otter with a sharper rakish line on the deck. the hull is the same as the otter and is the most basic rec boat you can get. No float bags, no real tracking, great exercise boat (I know, I lost 25 lobs with the rush as it was my first kayak)

Now that I have some butt time and experience I would never consider the OT Rush to be anything but a rec boat with a mask on.

Experience will get the most out of any boat. You probably could get most of the river done with the rush but will you be prepared and adequately experienced for the one time you are dumped?

Not saying it can’t be done and it probably can be done but do you have the skills necessary to be able to get it done safely?


Ropes like painters bad in moving water, even class 2, too easy for them to get tangled around the person. Throw ropes that can be used subsequent to a capsize to pull out a person or a boat, a different story. That what you meant?