River Boat vs. Creeker

What’s the difference?

A river boat is designed to go down a river, navigate the waters and get you to the other end as fast as possible.

A creeking boat is designed to play in river, in the rapids on the way down.

No. A creek boat is made to run
steep creeks, not “play.” And quite a few river runner kayaks have sharper maneuvering and handling than creekers. The open-river handling properties of creekers have to be compromised somewhat in favor of the ability to bew controlled on steep water slopes, to boof, and to punch or escape from holes.

Most “river runner” kayaks today are strongly influenced by playboat design, though there are a few (Hercules, Mamba, Hero, etc.) that are strongly influenced by creek design principles.


– Last Updated: Jun-07-07 3:59 PM EST –

g2d basically has it right.

There are basically three types of WW boats

1) River runners.
2) Play boats.
3) Creek boars.

What a "river runner" is has changed over the years. But, at the moment, it's concidered a "fast" boat that you can do some playing in.

A creek boat is designed (basically) to float like a cork and not get stuck in things. It has lots of volume. It isn't designed to interact with the water (the way a play boat is).

Creekers are rather popular as river runners because they are easier to keep upright. Playboats (especially) and river runners require more skill to use. If you want to develop skill, you'll quickly abandon the creek boat (except for creeking).

It looks like creekers tend to be harder to roll.

(Celia: please don't delete my post!)

actually there’s six types…
Where’s the love for squirt, slalom, and wildwater? :slight_smile:


– Last Updated: Jun-07-07 5:07 PM EST –

Bloody troublemaker!

There are squirt boats and slalom boats but these are very fringy. (I have seen both types "in action". "Mystery moves" are really strange to watch.) No one who is asking what a creek boat is is concerned with these!

What the heck are "wild water" boats?

(Note that I did qualify my comment with "basically". I am also trying to keep things simple.)

Wild water


Long skinny singles with “wings” aft of the cockpit, used for downriver racing in whitewater.

Check out the NRS explaination:


Good resource

And they talk about three types!

Ahh, those…

Ahh, those…

No doubt, they are as common as slalom and squirt boats! Note that the web site is a Czechoslovakian one.

I think the Czechs are the only source for new slalom boats.

Not quite!

– Last Updated: Jun-07-07 10:01 PM EST –

Jackson is making new slalom boats here in the US:


Perception UK makes a plastic slalom and a plastic wild water boat. Lots of club racing there.


The new Pyranha Speeder is a detuned plastic wild water boat:


More slalom boats:


Creekers also tend to be reinforced in the bow. This protects you from unintentional “pitoning” into rocks at the bottom of waterfalls. Thus, they are heavier then playboats and riverrunners.

I think creekers…
are easier to roll because a good many of them have displacement hulls. The playboats and river runners usually have hard chines that make it more difficult to roll. Of course, some of the creekers have such a high profile that shorter folks have a hard time reaching around to set up.

River Runners
There seems to be a mistaken impression among some here that a river running boat is something that gets you down the river fast. I beg to differ. River running necessarily involves catching eddies and getting out to scout. It also involves going slowly so you can boat scout and have time to make correct decisions. You do not want a fast boat. You want a boat that you can control.

All but the last are plastic. Does plastic count?


– Last Updated: Jun-08-07 11:19 AM EST –

That's how people should run rivers!

I may have contributed to that impression. I was attempting to contrast river-runners from play boats. I would think that newer paddlers would find a true play boat very frustrating to start out because of it's slower speed and touchiness.

The classic "fast" river runners are boats like the Dancer. No one really makese these anymore. The Dagger RPM is the closest thing being made.

The problem with creekers, it appears, is that they don't do alot to encourage the eddy-hopping style of running rivers.

The Jackson one is glass as well

– Last Updated: Jun-08-07 11:23 AM EST –

...and plastic is a great way for beginners to get into those particular sports.

Creekers are fine for eddy-hopping.
Playboats are not usually tricky or unstable. So-called river-runners are usually designed to have a second role playing or creeking. Some people always want to be in a playboat to take advantage of every play opportunity. Some creek boats also make good heavy water boats. And when creek features allow, creek boats can provide good play. Hope this isn’t confusing. What you need to look for is a kayak that fulfils your PRIMARY purpose well, and then look at its ability to fulfil other purposes of interest to you.

Actually, used glass slalom boats
are available, usually in very good condition and costing no more than 1/2 of their new cost. I bought one from an Olympic competitor ten years ago for $850, and it has never broken. When you consider that you can get very up to date design in a used composite boat, as well as extreme light weight and superior stiffness, buying a plastic imitation slalom boat doesn’t look as promising.

The thing to watch in composite slalom boats is the deck, which usually is a stiff foam sandwiched between Kevlar or carbon layers. This is the part of the boat that can be easily broken.