Playboat question

I have a question about my playboat;

My question is did I buy a boat that is to small for me - I am 5’ 9’ and about 160 - I went to purchase a pyrana H2, when I got there it was in rough shape talking to seller and ready to walk he opens his garage and has like eight boats, so I eyed one I liked for more than what I came to spend, figures. It turns out I buy a Riot Air 55 - don’t know if this was a prototype, short run manufacturer model or what not a lot of info on them out there. Either way, this guy was bigger than me by an inch or two and probably had 30lbs on me, assumed it was his boat, took it out the other day and was very uncomfortable in it, felt like my feet were being twisted downward against the hull. Messing around afterward at home I got into the boat with no shoes on and fit comfortably, is this boat to small for me? Should I not be able to wear shoes?

No shoes not unusual
Many WW boats, especially playboats, are tuned to be just- big- enough. I have an older Innazone that is OK in the lower class stuff I deal with, and the good paddlers who have seen me in her all say it is a good match.

But even with size 6 and 1/2 shoes, I can’t wear regular paddling shoes even like my Kickers. I have to wear neoprene socks.

Look at the Desperado Sock in the NRS catalogue (, for a sense of the kind of footwear that I am talking about. Decent neoprene thickness, but not a really distinct sole in terms of taking up space. You can stick a pair of flipflops in under the float bags if it helps with walking around on river rocks, but at some point most of these low profile shoes/socks will be an ouch on land.

Outfitting needs to fit you

– Last Updated: Jul-15-12 2:54 PM EST –

With WW playboats, which this is, you need to dial-in the outfitting very precisely. Most likely the boat you got has some foam in the feet area that you need to shape to your liking - if you make it fit barefoot, you won't fit properly (or at all!) with shoes on and vice-versa. Even different shoes that in a sea kayak or on land feel similar make a huge difference.

You can get a "happy feet" from Jackson Kayak - that shapes-up and squeezes just as you need and can be easier to dial-in the fit compared to foam; with foam you need to do lots of trial and error before you fit nicely, and then if you change footwear it no longer fits...

I personally do not like being barefooted in a playboat, or even with soft shoe/socks, if I'm doing anything else other than very easy and short (1-2 hours) paddling. For boat control you need your feet, so unfortunately, barefoot might become painful after a while...

With larger boats where you got some spare room you got more options, but if you are at the max size of your boat you really need to be precise with the outfitting or it will hurt or not offer enough control or both...

EDIT - you might also experiment with moving the seat fore and aft by an inch or two to dial-in the fit.

the 55 is too big for you only to maximize the performance of the boat… the 45 is more suited to your weight. That doesn’t mean you can’t make the 55 hop, skip and jump… just means it’s going to take more commitment.

Does your boat have the rack-et-ing adjustable thigh straps? My preference is too rip’em out and go with some minicell padding…

It’s an OK boat, certainly not junk…

Footware and fit
If you are just playboating (i.e., going to one spot on the river where there is a hole or a wave and doing tricks) then barefoot is ok. But it doesn’t sound like that is what you intend to do. So assuming you intend to run rivers, it is a mistake to go barefoot, even with sandals stowed. You never know when you may have to get out of your boat quickly to help a fellow paddler. Or you may flip, end up swimming, and have to navigate the side of the river barefoot. It sounds like you are not experienced with paddling WW boats, which is why the fit and body/leg position bothers you. I suggest you sell the Air (which is actually a good river running playboat) and get something more like the H2 you originally looked at.

Thanks - more said
I thank all for responding;

seems like I may have taken a bigger bite than expected, I have been tooling around on a SOT Malibu 2 XL for about 3 years, wanted to take my adventuring to the next level and thought the playboat would be versitile enough but lacking storage and other handling aspects, what I am really looking for is something that is capable for long jaunts (day/weekend trips) and some WW up to the rare class V, I live in eastern PA and we have a few rivers with different areas from top to bottom i.e the Lehigh River top half is WW bottom is slow/lazy with rifts here and there. My ultimate goal is to train up to being stickly a WW adventurer. Unfortunately I have been using the slow portion to get acustomed to the playboat and it sucks! I also am going to be stuck with it until next season considering my buget was blown buying the playboat LOL


– Last Updated: Jul-16-12 10:08 AM EST –

Post a notice with the local whitewater club(s) and on Boatertalk that you've got a boat you'd like to swap. You may find someone who's got a river-runner and is looking for more of a playboat

Agree with the swap idea
Playboats were never made to handle distances… if anything they don’t go much of anyplace often.

That said, last I knew they were one of the hotter spots in WW boat sales. But a creeker would have some hull speed and you may find someone interested in doing sit and play. You should try posting for a swap in any WW listing around you, see if you get a bite.

“the rare class V”?
“what I am really looking for is something that is capable for long jaunts (day/weekend trips) and some WW up to the rare class V”

“the rare class V”?

Last time I checked, the definition of class V is “death or serious injury likely” or something like that. Personally, I wouldn’t go near a class V! But that’s just me.

Your not squirting if your not hurting
Performance sporting equip often aren’t designed for comfort be it play boats or climbing shoes they are for performance.

When I did some squirting back in the day. I’d jam myself into a small baoat like a contortionist. I searched for the most shoe I could fit into a play boat because being barefoot was not an option. Some boats just won’t work for you.