river runner? need suggestions

OK I’m not going to go run out and buy one, but what are some names I should look out for, if a used one pops up at a good deal? I have 2 light-duty touring kayaks and would like to get a different one for short trips on local VA & MD rivers and tamer creeks, something that can handle moving water and Class II-III nothing too crazy, not too small but maneuverable thru the rock gardens, can roll fairly easily (I’m taking classes next month), and can also be enjoyable to paddle for a couple miles of flatwater when it comes to that. I’ve gone on rafting trips and done some mild whitewater in a canoe, so I think it’s time to try it in a kayak. Not a playboat but something that can go from point A to point B and have some fun along the way, and most importantly develop skills on. And not expensive so that I won’t mind leaving stripes of plastic down the rocky rivers of the Piedmont!

Thanks for any inputs!


– Last Updated: Dec-31-08 12:48 PM EST –







Acceptable flatwater speed is the hard part. Something like the Approach 10 might be a good compromise. The Prijon Combi is another hybrid boat.

Thanks for the start!
the Dagger Approach looks very appealing for what I described!

I am with Angstrom,…
the combination of a good newer ww boat and flatwater speed is tough mind you some of the newer ww “creek” boats are getting longer which equates to speed. I am thinking of the Liquid Logic Remix and there are others. Maybe too the wavesport Diesel.

Me, I find I don’t give a hoot about having flatwater on a river and in general it is an annoyance between one rapid and the next. That said, you might want to wait to purchase after your lessons if you can. See you downstream…

check out
the Pyranha AMMO. Large enough to handle the WW you want to run yet the hull design is playful enough to get in there and do some surfin and play if you want to have some fun.

Approach 10
I had a chance to paddle the Dagger Aproach and didn’t care for it much. It has plenty of rocker and spins easily which makes it good in the rapids. The bad news is that it plows through flat water like a pig. It’s too wide and takes a lot of effort to move down river. The cockpit is way too wide for me and I just sloshed around in it without making good contact with the boat. It’s just too slow be a good river runner.

Dagger Approach 10
With a 200 pound paddler it will cruise at 3.5 mph but when you try to kick it up a notch it starts to plow. However, 3.5 mph is just about all that most whitewater boats, including the Wavesport Diesel, will travel with hearty paddling. The skeg on the Dagger Approach means more power per stroke and less corrective strokes. Once you reconcile that easy paddling means 3.5 mph then the Approach becomes easy to like. Much easier to paddle on flatwater than any other river runner IMHO. It really can’t be beat as a river runner, except of course by the Remix XP10, my current fave. The Remix 10xP will cruise at 4 mph with bursts to 5 mph. The Prijon Combi is a faster boat but slow to turn, carves rather than spins. There are a dozen good recreational kayaks that will sort of be okay in low to moderate whitewater. My favorite for several years was the Necky Santa Cruz, no longer in production, it was supposedly replaced by the Manitou which is tippier and doesn’t turn worth a hoot IMHO. Dagger Blackwaters are okay, too. If going the rec route get one with a smaller cockpit, not like the Pungo where the spray skirt implodes easily.

funny you should mention that…

– Last Updated: Jan-02-09 3:28 PM EST –

there was a Necky Santa Cruz for sale in the local Craigslist recently.

I read about the Approach 10's loose fit on small to average size paddlers (I'm 5'9" 170 lb), lack of seat adjustability and leaky bulkhead.

I've wondered for a while why the cockpit on the Pungo is so huge. If they made a sleeker version of it, something like that might do, as then it would also be useful for the slow-moving tidal creeks around here. Maybe what I should be looking for is a 10-12' rec boat with a more aggressive design that can handle some whitewater. Anything else that fits into that category?

My money’s on Wilderness Systems
yeah, the pungo cockpit is humongous, more like a semi decked canoe…the 12’ to look at IMHO if you want to run rivers and get plenty of speed on the flats is the Tsunami 125, or 120 for smaller.

The Dagger Approach would fit you just fine, I’m 5’10 and 200’ and have lady friends who are 5’8" and 5’4" and weigh 14-160 and they like the 10 just fine.

We went to a demo day so they could try the Approach 9 and they stayed with their 10’s because they felt the 9 was tippy. I tried the 9 and it was tippy for me, too. My ww boat at the time was a Wavesport Diesel 75 which was more stable than the Approach 9.

The Remix XP10 inside is even way bigger than the Approach 10, so big that I have to put 4" padding beside each knee to prop them up. Not a problem if you’re playing in whitewater and have your knees tensed up in the thigh braces all the time but when you’re just cruising the knee spread without a big block of minicell to support each knee can be incredibly painful after awhile. After 5 hours I had to have help to get out of the dang thing, first time that ever happened to me, and I ain’t that dang old.

Another fault with the Remix outfitting is the badass seat. It’s just a bench with a thin cusion on it, there’s no contoured seat pan to help hold your butt in place. When you tighten the backband to get lumbar support you push yourself right off the seat. To get lumbar support you have to be continualy pushing back against the backband with your feet/legs and that gets mighty tiresome.

I’m looking to take the Remix seat out and install a Wilderness Systems seat from a Tsunami. They are SO much more comfortable. I know that goes against all the hype about the Liquid Logic “badass” outfitting but quite frankly the “cheapass” outfitting in the Dagger Approach 10 is a LOT more comfortable for all day cruising and the WS Tsunami seat is superb.

BTW, we’ve run the Tsunami 125 through class III whitewater on several occasions and it handled it just fine, just pick your line ahead of time and lean hard to carve the eddy turns. They don’t make the 125 in Duralite anymore but there are some still in stores and the Duralite IMHO is very rigid and about 10 pounds lighter than the poly. Upstream attainment with a Tsunami 125 is fantastic, even better than the Prijon Combi IMHO.

Necky Manitou?
I think they make them in 12 and 14 foot sizes. They’d be much faster than the dedicated whitewater boats, but you could still catch eddys, surf, and roll.

I already have a Manitou 13
and it tracks so straight IMO that it can be tricky to react and swing around rocks. but I’ve had it in Class II water. Maybe the 12’ Manitou Sport would make a decent river runner.

the Tsunami 120/125 have noticeably more rocker than the Manitou. but they’re also considerably heavier and I’d like to stay in the 40-45 lb range for ease of cartopping and portaging.

I wonder if a Blackwater 10.5 would fare well? what were paddlers using to run rivers 2-3 years ago, before these hybrid boats came around? the key is what I kind find used so I can get one at a good price and beat on it!

Don’t forget paddles
I’ve had some luck picking up cheap or lightly used kayak paddles over the years at http://www.clearancekayakpaddes.com - perhaps a resource?

remix and other options
I would demo the LL XP 9. XP10 is big, but I don’t see an issue with the knee spread, but then again I don’t use thigh braces all the time when I am on flat water, so your miles may vary.

You could also consider the regular LL remix 59 or 69 - it’s a fast river runner by ww standards and will be the next boat in my fleet.

I would take the Tsunami 120 any day over the 125. FWIW, Matt Broze of Mariner Kayaks seems to like the 120 quite a bit.

Finally, Jackson Kayaks is coming out with their own hybrid design - the All-Water - in March.

Good luck. There are lots of good options.

Blackwater is a good boat,
just tends to plow with a 200 pound paddler, but then most of the 10-12 foot rec boats do that for me. The Manitou Sport is a good boat but tippier than most rec paddlers like in whitewater IMHO. I tried an Old Town Jolt one trip and was pleasantly surprised. It was heavy but paddled well. The Prijon Combi is still a river favorite of mine, too. A friend recently traded from a INNOVA Safari to a Manitou Sport then as soon as the Dagger Approach 10 came out she went right over to it. With a lighter paddler that boat will scoot right along and outrun all the dedicated whitewater kayaks. I need to remember that all my boat reviews need to be skewed to my weight and freight. Often about 220 even on a day trip, with rescue and first aid gear, other peoples gear, lunch. I eat really well on the river:)

WaveSport Diesel
Great river runner, rolls easily, forgiving with good speed for a ww boat. Been around for a few years so used ones come up often for reasonable prices.

Along with the Remix variants, watch
for the Dagger Axiom coming out very soon. It is a planing hull replacement for the popular RPM, and is long enough to be acceptably fast. It comes in different volumes and lengths to suit your personal size. I think the NOC training blogsite has a couple of pre-reviews of the Axiom.

Thanks yall for your advice
Picked up the Approach 10 yesterday… looks great after a good washing!




Dagger must have had a blind baboon QC’ing the bulkhead seals, but I can fix that in time. Can’t wait to try her out!!