river play boat?

-- Last Updated: Aug-22-06 5:47 AM EST --

Not sure I even know what I am asking here but is there a good all around river playboat that will allow me to play in some minor rapids but is long enough to track well and do day trips out of? Plastic only. flotation or bulkheads a must. I have reliable rolls (at least in ocean and flatwater...will find out soon enough in fast moving / river water)

Sorry..never delved into this aspect of kayaking and am sorely ignorant of what is out there. I can't see myself doing whitewater enough to justify a whitewater boat but do want something that is maneuverable enough to negotiate quickly but that I can also do long stretches of calm water?

Does this animal even exist?


Well, it depends on your definition of “play”. By current whitewater standards it means getting vertical and getting air as well as hole and wave play. Dedicated playboats are under 7’, and most of the “river running playboats” are under 8’. They’ll all seem incredibly slow on flatwater.

If your notion of “play” is less specific, something like a Dagger Approach or Pyranha Master TG might be a reasonable compromise.

On the plus side, used whitewater boats are quite inexpensive.

notion of "play"
is woefully nonn specific. I have no clue what I am talking about. appreciate the names as I have already learned quite a bit.

I guess what I was hoping exists is something in the 12-14 ft range that would be navigable in rivers around Columbia SC which apparently can get “bony” I woudl like bulkheads or barring that, flotation. I don’t see myself as an extremist anything…just fun paddling in some moving water. (no flips or waterfalls…wife would kill me)

Majority of my paddling will be sea kayak style on open lakes and ocean so this boat woudl be used but not as frequently as the bigger boats.

Definitely will be looking used. guess I will wait to see if I am getting up there and talk to the local paddleshops.

thanks. any other suggestions for boats?


Prijon 359
I really like my Prijon CombiTour 359 for an all around solution. I’ve had it in class III ww, more successfully class II (probably more my shortcomings than the boat!) It tracks reasonably well in flatwater for a 12’ boat. A removable skeg is available for improved tracking. I never saw the need for it though. Fairly agile, easy to get up on edge and hold to carve turns. Rollable, but need good technique. Very nice large watertight hatch in stern, day hatch on bow easily accessible when underway. IMHO the best quality plastic out there. Give one a try.

that may be it!
That is almost exactly what I envisioned but again it is just thought processes…I have no real clue and won’t until I try a bunch. but thanks!

don’t know about prijon…goes against the grain to give cooldoctor1 a commission.



On the same search here

– Last Updated: Aug-22-06 9:26 AM EST –

After working the tidal races at Woods Hole, we realized that the WW folks had a head start on dealing with things like capsizes in current over those of us with all big water time. Plus, we have some pretty decent WW class II into III options around here that we could use to hone our skills, get into dimensional water when not on the ocean and essentially extend our paddling range. But like you, we are looking for a river runner that wold be fairly kind and forgiving, not get stuck in holes too easily or require super WW play skills to handle and still be something that would track a bit for the flat stretches. We don't want to feel like committing hari-kari while we wait for the next rapid.

Essentially, you are looking for a displacement hill rather than a full planing hull. All the river runners and creek runners have displacement hulls, the diff between the two being the depth and volume of water that the hull presumes will be available. By and large these boats have more volume than the planing hulls, in order to make it harder to get caught in stuff like holes.

My husband has put in a goodly amount of time on this researching boats out there. You'll find that the Dagger RPM is a real wokhorse and highly recommended. The one issue with it was, apparently, the low stern tends to get caught in eddies and end up offering a lot of opportunities for practicing combat rolls. The local WW folks have told is it's no issue, a sea kayaker we know who had one said that while it improved his roll tremendously he found it was more bother than it was worth for this kind of prupose. Dagger maintained that design in the RPM because the WW folks liked that you could sink the back and make it play a bit, but also subsequently released a bigger person and smaller person version with a lifted stern that got rid of that issue.

Email my husband (wilsoj2) - he's done a lot of research on this. WW boats have been tweaked for paddler weight and skills to a degree that sea kayaks haven't even started to approach. As a result the array of new and used boats that might work is amazing, with the outfitting gradually getting better in the newer ones.

We tried the Jackson Hero and Super-Hero a couple of weekends ago, right now the hottest river runners out there. And they are kind - in fact in minor eddies the Hero was a whole less twitchy than my Vela gets. We weren't entirely thrilled with how high the boats were around us compared to our sea kayaks, though the handle is all you'd ever want and the outfitting is just wonderful. And we have time - I am still trying to connect with a friend to try out his Pirouette S to see if we want to look for a used one of them for me.

Like I said, email Jim. He's been turned onto some good places to buy used and discontinued boats that sound real good. (and cheap)

Whitewater boats

– Last Updated: Aug-22-06 10:26 AM EST –

You might want to poke around some of the whitewater boat manufacturer's sites just to get familiar with the current stuff:


(plus, you get to learn a whole new language)

As Celia said, some of the longer, older designs may work better for what you want to do. An old slalom boat could be really fun -- and fast -- but they're harder to find. On the touring end of the spectrum, something like a Dagger Crossover might work.

Whitewater boat designs have evolved rapidly to match changing paddling styles. At the time the RPM came out, everyone wanted to do stern squirts, so there was a whole generation of boats with low-volume sterns. Then it was cartwheels, and a wave of playboats with "slicy" low-volume ends. Now everyone wants to do loops, and playboats are designed for "pop" and "bounce". And so it goes...

husband here

– Last Updated: Aug-22-06 9:12 AM EST –

There are many choices. As we are newbies to whitewater we are thinking of buying used rather than blowing real money on new boats before we have any idea of what we're doing. As Celia mentioned we are thinking of ww as our surrogate coastal play when away from the sea.

The Jackson Kayaks http://www.jacksonkayak.com/ are very nice, and have outfitting I wish was available in touring boats. These are designed by Eric Jackson who is the EJ referred to regularly here espcially for his rolling dvd.

There are many sources for used whitewater boats. Check here and craigslist for the regions to which you might be willing to travel to pick-up a boat. An advantage of looking for ww boats is shipping is fairly cheap and more doable than touring boats. A good source is Sierra South http://www.sierrasouth.com/usedboatbarn.htm.

The dedicated/experienced ww folks often scoff at 'old school' boats. However, they are often great learning platforms and would serve some (including my) purposes well. An old school river runner in good shape with float bags can often be had for about $350.

Read the reviews here and elsewhere. There is a lot to absorb.

Perception Dancer
type boats. Dagger Animas or Crossfire. Perception Corsica, Mirage or Pirouette. All 10-12ft. Should be able to get one in the $50-100 range. Ok for river running. Horrible for play. Real good for learning to and teaching rolls and relatively fast on open water… when compared to the 6-7 ft playboats. I use an RPM as a river boat and really like it.

here are some choices - tho i would get something a little longer than 11’.

Prijon Yukon Expedition

Riot Voyaguer

Riot Stealth

Sun Velocity - pretty sure its the same thing as the riot voyaguer

Or find an old school displacement kayak.

maybe not practical, but…

– Last Updated: Aug-22-06 11:42 AM EST –

"I don't see myself as an extremist anything..just fun paddling in some moving water. (no flips or waterfalls..wife would kill me)"


Since you sound like someone who's always expanding his paddling horizons, I'd encourage you to get a pure whitewater boat at some point. Why? Not to do big scary stuff, but because they can be so much fun on the small stuff. A friendly small hole or wave or even a good eddy line can provide loads of educational fun. One of my favorite "whitewater" memories is the time I found a glassy wave not more than 1' high running from bank to bank, and was able to figure out how to go back and forth across the river on it without using my paddle. Not the stuff of magazine covers, but very cool to me.

Paddling a 7' boat will also vastly increase your awareness of your fore & aft body position, which is easy to ignore in a sea kayak. A planing-hull boat with decent chines in moving water will also make you *very* aware of edge control...

A friendly play hole or wave with a clear area downstream is a great safe place to work on "combat" rolls. Go into the hole, try something, get flipped & flushed out, roll up, and come right back up the eddy to try again.

Too many people think whitewater is all about waterfalls and really big water. It doesn't have to be -- it's fun at whatever level you're comfortable.

Amen. And …
overall, modern boats are really better than older boats, especially for people starting out. There is an adjustment period but that is not long. You will end up having more fun, have more control over your boat and capsize less often.

You have a lot of choices in modern boats from creekers, river running creekers, river running playboats, to full on play boats. And if the Jackson boats interest you EJ has modified the fun series. He is paddling a prototype as he travels. I don’t know when production will start. He claims the new version is more user friendly.

Prijon Yukon
Would fit your requirements quite nicely.


another source

Dagger Approach looks great for that …
Looks like a very nice design for what you want. More maneuverable than a keeled rec boat or short sea kayak, but it still is 10’ long (most modern river runners are just over 7.5 feet) and has a hatch – probably the most maneuverable thing you can get with a hatch aside from some much slower, specialized boats made for steep creeks …


27" wide boat??? I guess this is normal but it will be a shock after the 19 inch sof and the 21 inch Legend and OI!

Oh well, the Scupper Pro’s are 26 inches.


you are right of course
I will have to get a whitewater boat and will be looking for a good used one in the Columbia area if I do transfer up there.

As usual, I was looking for a do all boat and realize that it is just as unrealistic as in sea kayaking.

Looks to me that I will need then:

a 12 ft small curvy creeks and rivers boat with some storage for a day play boat that can handle maybe class 1

a 7 ft or thereabouts pure whitewater play boat.

should have lots of extra room when my wife moves out…She has threatened to with the last two boats and she may be getting close to her threshold. time for a diamond or new furniture or something i guess…


And yet another source :wink:
Adler Creek

there is the Axess if you can find one

Yukon Expedition
Here’s me and my Yukon Expedition on the Cape Fear yesterday morning - going right with the little whitewater boats - and carrying their drinks, snacks and gear…