Prijon Chopper for a Newbie?

I am a bigger guy 6+ 220lbs looking to start some easy WW river running class 1-3 for now. Pretty new to kayaking. I am in my forties and what a nice stable boat but one that has potential. I decided I might be better off buying a used WW boat till I get an understanding of what I really need/want rather than spending 1000+ an deciding I have the wrong boat.

I guy I know has a older (maybe 10 years) Chopper that he used a few dozen times on some basic WW stuff. There are some scratches but no real damage. So it looks good that way. It was stored inside.

I cannot find much info about the Chopper but I believe it is a planing hull design. From what I read it is a good boat for bigger guys I especially like the fact there is no foam pillar in the cockpit - nice and open. I was wondering if this boat would be a good boat to learn basic white water skills on including the roll? Is this a good river running hull design (not looking for a play boat) for me?



Stay in class 1 and 2
I can’t comment on this boat, though lack of a foam pillar up front is not necessarily a good thing. That means it is potentially light on flotation and/or support for the hull to prevent it from crushing down with your legs still in it should it get pinned in rocks.

But class 3 is not a place for anyone without a roll and some experience. People underestimate it until they are in it realizing they made a boo-boo.

If the price and fit is right, buy it.
Prijon has made and makes some of the most durable plastic out there(over engineering Germans, ya?) You gotta start somewhere, and a used boat is a great way to go, provided it hasn’t been totally beat to sh…If you get deeper into ww, you’ll appreciate having a boat that gives you a little bit of learning curve, as opposed to a lesser quality(even newer)made “beginner’s” river runner. At 220 lbs., I’d guess you’re maybe at the top of the chart for that boat’s size though…Also, make sure you can slide your feet and legs out smoothly. You’ll want a smooth wet exit initially, if you end up(and probably will)swim–I still do from time to time, after ten years. No foam in the bow? Then get some air flotation that you can comfortably stuff around you up there. I’ve even used pool noodles. Ever little extra thing helps, especially when you start to push past Cl.II.

Yup, I agree with what Spiritboat said.
I own a Prijon and heartily agree.

Should be good
Prijons have been noted for their durability.

I don’t recall seeing a Chopper but from what I can gather I don’t think it has a planing hull. This model, like many other Prijons, has a sliding bulkhead that doubles as a foot brace. The bulkhead also provides support for the bow of the boat, like a central longitudinal foam pillar would, only transversely rather than longitudinally.

I remember a debate back in the 1990s about which system was safer, a rigid bulkhead or a central foam pillar. Both systems had their advocates and I don’t recall seeing one bit of solid data to support one system over the other.

This is a pretty large volume boat (71.5 gallons) which is what you want. If you feel comfortable sitting in it I think it would serve you well. You will certainly want to put a pair of stern bags in it, and I would consider getting a bag to put into the bow, in front of the bulkhead. The bulkhead probably has perforated metal rails that mount to a pair of machine screws on each side allowing it to be slid forward or backwards. You should be able to slide the bulkhead back toward the cockpit enough to get a float bag past it.

here you go

This does not look like a planing hull design. You will definitely have no difficulty learning to roll it.

Yes and no
The chopper and boats of that general design are very forgiving, and will punch through holes, slide off and over rocks and not catch edges (because they don’t have edges).

That’s all good in terms of the boat will tend to save you if you get in a spot that’s over your skill level.

The flip side of that is you will be relying on the boat, and thus not learning or developing as fast as you could in a less forgiving boat.

I looked into the hull design a bit more - it appears to be a displacement type of hull. Not sure if that really makes a difference to a beginner WW paddler.

I found something on line indicating it was pretty much a beginner WW boat.

A good older design boat
But, you are on the upper side of the weight range. This means the boat will not be at all forgiving. I use boats like that but I have been paddling for a lot of years and know how to take advantage of being too heavy for the boat. So I recommend you pass on this one unless you can take lessons and lose weight before it is sold. There are lots of used WW boats out there and you should continue shopping.

Would the Prijon Hercules be a better choice due to my size? Is it similar to the Chopper just a larger version?

Yes and no
It is a design that fits your size. And that is good. It is also shorter and is a boat designed for light creeking. If you can get one that is cheap it would work. But there are other boats on the used market that you might want to investigate.

old reviews
If you’re looking for a used boat…