Upriver Paddling Kayak/Paddle

-- Last Updated: Mar-02-16 3:33 AM EST --

I have kayaked a fair amount this far but it has always been using my friends walmart kayak and paddle.

My longest upriver paddle with a 10' aruba was about 5 miles against a ~2 mph current.

I would like to move up and purchase my own kayak but I do not know what would be best for this.

The purpose would be paddling up rivers and streams and floating back down.

I want something with front and back bulkheads, I also want to practice rolling with whatever I get.

Some waterways are deep and others you may occasionally have a very narrow opening to navagate around logs or you may have to slide over a sandbar.

I was thinking in the 12-14' range and $1100 or less.

Some notable kayaks I have found are the
Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125
Perception Conduit 13
Perception Carolina 12/14
Dagger Axis 12

Also, I have investigated paddles to the best of my ability and I am 6'1" at 200 lbs and it seems the right paddle is 220 cm. The one I have been borrowing is 220 and it seems right as well.

On amazon the two paddles I found that might work are

Cannon Paddles Nokomis Carbon Touring Kayak Paddle (28 oz dihedral)
and the
Aquabound Sting Ray Kayak 4 Piece Paddle (29oz flat)

Lastly on the note of paddles I am unsure of which shape would be better for someone looking to do what I want to do.

If anyone has any thoughts on these things I would like to hear them.

narrow hull

– Last Updated: Mar-02-16 9:21 AM EST –

low wetted area...floats hi low draft ......


take a look at Nipchucks CD Squamish or derivitives.

idea occurs here that a light rocker with a no rocker stern when loaded rearward would be low drag.

The hull shape is a toosup ? Sea Kayaker tested the newer Solstice V hull faster than the older U hull shape...

On wide courses, I use a Garmin with sea charts kayaking off the shoreline at the first depth boundary line giving a strong upstream flow.

Works for narrower courses staying close to shoreline, hiding in backflows off current disrupting points/outcrops....


worth taking a class
I would take an intro to sea kayaking class at your local paddlesports shop. Along with teaching the basics of how to use and how to be safe, they normally also give you a lot of information to help you figure out what gear is best for you. Note I say best for you, as the reason there are so many boats, types of paddles, etc. is that many people want different things. So what is best for you is not necessarily what is best for me.

You do mention a boat that can roll. One thing you will want to roll is a reasonable sized cockpit opening and a spray skirt that seals that. There are many different brands and types of skirts, but likely a neoprene deck one would be what you’d want for rolling. Seals is one maker, and they have a tool that will let you look at deck sizes. If you go to their sizing guide at http://www.sealsskirts.com/sizing/fitter.php and then select the boast you are considering, look at the size skirt required. The larger the number, the larger the cockpit opening (and the harder to keep the skirt on when rolling). Up to 1.7 you are probably fine, 2.2 gets questionable, above that and very unlikely.

Look at Campmor for Aquabound 2
piece paddles. I have no experience with 4 piece. Just seems like too many moving parts to me.

Tow more suggestions
For the boat, you will be doing yourself a great disservice if you do not try a large Dagger Alchemy. It is a great river boat and a great sea kayak if speed is not your primary concern. It will be faster that any of the boats you have listed and easier to turn than some. Top level paddlers keep and like this boat and use it often in rivers inspite of having many other boats to choose.

For a first paddle your size I’m recommend a two piece Aquabound Manta Ray no longet than 215 cm. I have a four piece Manta Ray in 205 for rivers and surfing and it is great but the four piece costs more and is only an advantage if you are flying or shipping the paddle.

I know many paddlers taller than you who use much shorter than 220 cm. White water paddles that are made specifically for rivers are rarely longer than 202 CM. I think the 220 recommendation is coming from decades old knowledge that we have learned is not the best.

My favorite paddle is my Epic Hybrid paddle in 205 -215 adjustable length. I have put rock guards on it for the river. My favorite for non racing river paddles is the Manta Ray in 205.

Hope this helps.

Tsunami 125
A Tsunami 125 presented itself to me and I stumbled into kayaking about five years ago. I was pleased that it had a generous cockpit and comfortable seat and sealed bulkheads. I took a self-rescue paddle float class with it. I am 6’, 220.

I also often paddle a nearby river. Up about five miles and back with current probably 1-2 knots. I began appreciating the seat and general outfitting as I began comparing the Tsunami to other boats. It is outfitted the same as their larger touring boats.

After about a year I began to feel the seatback was more of a hinderance than help. It it easy to swap it out for this backhand which I did. I found the other cockpit adjustable features well placed and handy to use.

My technique improved and I discovered that I could paddle the kayak up to its hull speed around 3.5-4 mph. With more effort the boat will just plow, but a great boat if you do not want to push it. You can keep up with most group paddles, but the longer boats will start to pull away.

Mostly because of the outfitting I ended up with their Tempest 170 composite. This was after I swallowed the reality pill that kayaking requires some investment. Very happy with the boat, but is is a bit heavy.


– Last Updated: Mar-03-16 3:17 PM EST –

So between the Dagger Alchemy and Tsunami lines, are those about as fast as it goes for shorter boats up river?

How do these compare to the Carolina series I wonder?

I am 200 lbs and the alchemy seems to be suited more for a lighter person.

Also one of the major draws for the Tsunami line is the seat, it is supposed to be one of the mose comfortable.

No one seems to talk about the Perception Conduit 13 though, unsure if that is because it is not well known or some other reason.

dagger and weight
I use a Dagger Alchemy 14.0L and weight about 215#. Works great for me. If you click the little picture of a head next to the Peter-CA in the heading of this message, it will take you to my profile and you can see an Alchemy in action.

Perception is the same family with Dagger and Wilderness Systems - all owned by a company called Confluence and all the plastic boats I believe are made in the same factory. My understanding is that the general breakdown they have is that Wilderness Systems and perception both aim at the traditional sea kayak market, with Perception being the “value brand” (so the take steps to lower the price - like the better seat would usually be in WS and a cheaper seat in Perception). Kind of like Cadillac versus Chevy. Dagger is their moving water brand (but not necessarily white water - that is the where they target the Wavesport line). This doesn’t say that one model is better than the other just because of the brand, but something to keep in mind.


– Last Updated: Mar-04-16 12:07 PM EST –

My wife and I started kayaking just last year but went out so often that by year's end we owned 3 inexpensive rec kayaks. I can see now that we made the mistake of not taking a class, and not going to a kayak dealer that had demo days allowing us to try a variety before buying.

What I have learned so far is that every boat, even made by the same manufacturer is extremely different in weight, hull strength, tracking, speed, maneuverability, and even safety. The same can be said for paddles and PFDs.

We do only inland lakes and slow rivers and while that environment doesn't challenge kayak design or personal ability, I know I still haven't found the right kayak or paddle yet. Let me give you an example: Old Town Trip10 is like a barge on a lake, tracks terribly, and is maddeningly slow. But on the flip side it has a single layer poly hull so it's light, easy to carry one handed, extremely stable, and it turns around stumps and logs on a dime without leaning. So it's great for tree strewn rivers until a rock punches a hole in the thin hull. I then got a Wilderness Systems Pungo 140. This boat is like night and day from the Trip10. On the lake it feels fast with exceptional tracking and glide. It's still a wider kayak, so it's stable but is very difficult to lean or turn. You can't lean well due to lack of hip / thigh connection to the (wide) hull and you can't turn without leaning because of the hull shape. This makes a tight river trip really annoying.

I'm not upset we haven't found the right kayak yet at all. We will be loaning these to friends and get them into the sport. And we'll be trying different kayaks this Spring at demo days. What amazes me about kayaking in general is how smooth lakes and slow rivers already showed us how every piece of gear really could be more perfect for each specific use, but even with crappy kayaks and heavy paddles it's still great fun.

I guess the point of all that is: try the ones you are considering before you buy!

Conduit 13
I don’t have much experience or knowledge. I just bought a Conduit 13 last year in the spring on Craigslist and for what I was going to buy a dirt cheap 10 footer, I’m thrilled with it.

If I recall correctly, I read that the Conduit 13 is molded from an old mold of some Dagger that was a pretty good boat for it’s time. That is what I’ve read the Perception line is, the old molds of the Dagger boats that have been updated to be sold as Dagger. The older designs are sold as Perception.

I cycle and use a GPS app so I log GPS files with the kayak as well. I have about 75 miles of mostly lake outages. I’ve been on the river 4 times, twice for a float event from point to point with shuttle and twice I’ve tried to go in the Allegheny near Parker/Foxburg PA.

Fastest I’ve logged on the lake was 5.8 mph. I was actually passing a pontoon boat running full out with a leftover 9.9 hp from when the lake was still limited to 10 hp. The guy’s face was funny when he looked over and saw me easing by faster than he was, LOL.

I said that because near Parker, PA on the Allegheny, the current is quite strong with having the Clarion entering into the Allegheny and it only being a mere few inches deep. I went out in the late spring after the rains thinking I could go upriver. Boy was I wrong. I battled under the bridge for 45 minutes just to get underneath to the other side. I battled and paddled my way up thinking I was going to go 3 miles to Foxburg. After 3 hours I gave up and floated back to my car.

Later in the summer, long after the rains died down, I figured I’d try again. Same thing, I battled for about 2.5 hours before giving up after getting about a mile up the river. This time I had my phone and the cycling GPS app running and I pulled it out to check while floating back with the current. 6.6 mph. No wonder why I couldn’t make any headway up the river when the fastest I’ve ever gone on a lake was 5.8 mph.

I do love the thing, but it’s the only boat I’ve been in so I don’t have any thing to compare to. It has front and rear sealed bulkheads. Mine in the front is not quite watertight. It gets a little tiny bit of water in it. I had it thoroughly swamped though. I was paddling the Shenango Riverwatcher’s fall paddlefest where the dam at Pymatuning was let out for the event. I was fiddling with my GoPro camera not paying attention when I ran up against a log on a bend. The water was swift enough and as I said, I wasn’t paying attention so I got pushed up with the boat at a 45° angle which immediately swamped the cockpit. I couldn’t push back off the log as my boat was now fully on it’s side with the water pushing it into the log.

I climbed out and up onto the log. I tried to pick it up but only half the water would dump out before I couldn’t hold it up anymore and it would slide down into the water again. The log was plenty big enough for me to stand and maneuver around on and I got the bright idea that I could push it back and around to the other side of the log where there was no current. At that point, the water current grabbed the boat and pushed the front end plummeting down underneath the log. Now I’m standing on the log, 3/4 of my boat is completely under water under the log with just the tail end nearly sticking straight up in the air. I struggled and manhandled it back out from under the log and got it back beside the log. I collapsed completely out of breath, drenched in 65° river water and sweat in a pair of blue jeans and all I could do was hang onto my boat beside the log and lay there. The last group finally came around the corner and someone came over to stabilize the boat while I picked the front end up and turned it over to dump it.

From there, I got back into the cockpit and he gave me a shove. Then he yelled, hey, here comes your paddle, and tossed the paddle into the current. Someone grabbed my paddle and brought it over to me and by that time we’re down the river and around the corner a good ways. I turned around and easily paddled back upstream to check on him, which he was now where I was with a boat full of water only he was still in the cockpit.

So, after all that, when I got back and opened the hatches to get my stuff I had stashed, I found just a dribble of water sloshing around in the front after being wedged completely submerged under the log in the force of water and the rear was completely dry. I was having problems with my action cam shutting off which is why I was fiddling with it in the first place and really wish it was recording at the time.

Yeah, I don’t have a lot of experience to give recommendations, but I wanted to tell that story. It tracks pretty well I think, but again, no experience with another boat. I did have it in the channel between Lake Erie and Presque Bay which was VERY rough. I went a good ways into it before I thought, this is really stupid! and turned around and went back into the bay. I was being tossed everywhere in that and never felt like I was going to go over or anything. It was VERY stable. I didn’t have a skirt though and all I could think about was a wave coming over and swamping the cockpit (was wearing a PFD of course.) I did have some big swells crashing over the bow of the boat, but the way the bow raises up to the cockpit, no water came over far enough to enter the cockpit. Another instance where I had the action cam but as this was after about 2 hours of paddling the lagoon and up through the bay, the battery was long dead. Really wish I had footage of being in that channel.