used WW kayak selection advice

Howdy all,

I’m a rank beginner at whitewater kayaking. I got bitten by the bug last year floating down the Rogue River in Oregon in an inflatable kayak. I decided then and there to get a “real” (hard-shelled whitewater) kayak. I signed up for a class at the YMCA and I’m learning the basics.

I figure that I want a river runner, for two reasons: 1) I want to do multi-day trips, and 2) It seems to me that if I can only afford one boat, then it should be something that can handle big water. The way I see it, if I want to get into playboating then I can get a play boat in a year or two to complement the river runner. By the way I’m 5’11" tall and weigh 205 pounds.

Money is a bit tight right now, and I can’t afford a new boat. I live in rural Southwestern Oregon, and used river runners don’t come up for sale all that frequently. I see that there is a Pyranha H3 255 for sale about 200 miles away, and I’ll be driving out that way next week on business.

So I was wondering what advice you more-advanced paddlers might have for when I go to see this boat. What kind of things should I watch out for? Do you have any feedback on my choice of a river runner?

More help …
There are a few folks who post here who paddle whitewater, not a lot. forum might be a better place to meet whitewater paddlers in your area. I paddled the big boat you are looking at in surf and it had plenty of volume when I weighed the same as you…I’m not very experienced in whiteater but I assume it will be fine for a first boat. Check the outfitting that everything is solid and no hardware is rusted out. Hull should be in good shape. Whitewater boats are pretty simple.

another site

– Last Updated: Apr-11-09 9:41 PM EST –

is About 90% whitewater kayakers, if not more. They tolerate my single bladed stubborness because my truck can haul lots of those little boats ;-).
Just saw some big yaks at CCK yesterday, Jefe Grande and one with a retractable skeg. A creeker offers a lot of volume, perhaps to be used for storage.
If you can't sign up but are interested, e-mail me and I'll ask the question for you.

What’s your budget?
I know of a brand new Dagger Greenboat for sale for $800. They paid $1100 and it’s only been in one pool session, no action. I’d buy it myself if I had either the cash or the skills for it yet. I saw some guys in Greenboats a week ago putting on a real show playing/surfing in a c-III rapid.


Where in Oregon are you?
If you are in the Medford/Ashland area, check out:

They have equipment for rent and sale, instruction, and guided trips. There are also companies in the Grants Pass area along the Rogue River There is also a large community of paddlers in that area that can be very helpful.

To check out that H3, first examine the
bottom very carefully for cracks at the chines or elsewhere. I often hear of people buying creek boats and having a crack show up soon afterward. Also examine the wear under the seat and see how much the plastic has been stretched into waves (sometimes called oil canning, though it’s not the same). Check inside the boat, especially around the seat, for signs of cracks. Remember that gouges outside, and stretched plastic visible inside, are not indications that the boat will crack. How sun-bleached is the boat?

Look inside to see that all the parts are there… bulkhead for feet, pillars, thigh brace hardware, etc. Will you get float bags with the boat?

Sit in the boat, adjust the bulkhead for your leg length. Adjust thigh braces if they need it. Does it seem like you will be comfortable?

Of course it would be nice if you could try the boat. However, the H3 had a pretty good reputation. I would not hesitate to buy one if I seemed to fit and if it were cheap and in acceptable condition. Email me if you have questions.

The H3
If it’s in good shape and $500 or less --Take it.

You can’t go wrong, just starting out…I’m roughly the same size and weight as you are, and have a couple boats of similar specs (Trust me, you’ll appreciate having no less than 75 gallons volume.) Check everything g2d cited above, but also adjustment fittings, ie.buckles/ratchets, seat track condition, etc.–These are the most aggravating things if corroded or in need of replacement on a used ww boat. A snug but loose enough fit, is crucial for hitting(or missing)your roll in rough water.

thanks for all the advice!
Hi Folks,

Thanks for all the great advice! It is very refreshing to have so many people stop to help a newbie.

Answers to questions: I live in Merlin, near Grants Pass, and only two miles from the Robertson Bridge put-in for the Rogue River. I know about Kokopelli, and I’m sure that they will get plenty of my business in the future; right now for used kayaks all they have are a couple play boats. My budget is about $400, so I won’t be able to afford the brand new Dagger Greenboat.

Thanks again! You guys are great!

Look around for a Dagger Animas
I have done the Rogue a couple of times in that boat. And even though I have complained about it compared to modern boats it works pretty well on a river like the Rogue. It was a common boat supplied by guide companies in that area. You might be able to pick one up for $200 or so. There is one advertised on Boatertalk for that price if you don’t mind the hassle of having a boat shipped.

Lots of options
WW paddlers turnover boats a lot so there are usually many around for very good prices.

I like a number of the Pyranha’s - I’ve owned a couple of InaZones and have an I3. However, I would suggest you try a WaveSport Diesel 75. It is a proven river runner and wonderfully supportive boat. I bought mine used for $400 a year or so ago.

The Animas has been around for a long time. Two friends have them (one purchased from me) who like them quite a bit. It is an ‘old school’ boat but a very good one.

Dagger Approach 10
Based on your criteria, I am surprised the Approach hasn’t been mentioned. I am an intermediate paddler and this has been my “go to” boat for the last year or so. (paddled approx. 20-25 times)It is not a true WW boat but I paddled it on the Upper New(class III) last summer and it did fine. It excels on class I/II and handles the in between flats OK. Yesterday, I paddled my new Liquid Logic Remix XP 10 and love it. I now have a new favorite boat. I will eventually post a review, but want to paddle it a few more times first. IMO, LL did their homework on this boat. Based on specs, it is obvious LL looked closely at the Approach when designing the Remix XP 10. It is an Approach on steroids. In your case, since it is a new model, a used Remix XP 10 at a decent price probably won’t be available for a while. However, the Approach has been out long enough that you may be able to find a used one for under $500. Good luck.

more advice

– Last Updated: Apr-13-09 8:12 PM EST –

As has been said, it is critical for you to see and sit in any boat you are considering buying. Buying a whitewater boat is like buying a pair of pants. If it doesn't fit you, it is useless.

You, like me, are a bit big compared to many whitewater playboaters. You need to make sure you can comfortably get your legs, your feet and your rear end into the boat. You didn't mention your shoe size. Large feet will rule out some smaller playboats for you.

Back in the 1990s whitewater boats made a transition from general river runners to playboats and became much shorter. More recently, boats transitioned from primarily having rounded "displacement hulls" to flat-bottomed "planing hulls". Those short, flat-bottomed boats are designed to make flat-spins and cartwheels easier, but as a beginning whitewater kayaker you don't necessarily need, or even want that. You are not going to be out there throwing ends right off the bat. So called "old school" boats have better hull speed and are easier to learn to roll. A great many people traded in their "long boats" for little spud playboats, but there are still plenty of older designs sitting around in garages, and I would look at as many as possible.

The Dagger Animas and Wave Sport Diesel are good choices. Some others are the Perception Pirohette, Perception Overflow X, Dagger AQ II, Prijon T-Canyon.

If you ask any hot, young playboaters about these boats you will get a chuckle, or a big groan, but once again, your requirements right now are not the same as theirs.

Ask if the boat has been stored indoors, or at least not exposed to UV radiation. UV degrades polyethylene in a way that is not always immediately aparent, and makes it prone to crack.

If you buy an older design, expect to spend a little time and money on minicell foam and adhesive to pad it out. Newer boats have adjustable outfitting, but those older designs required a little hand-tailoring.

interesting category there
That’s an interesting category of boat there, which I didn’t know about until now. Those boats are out of my price range for now, and used ones surely won’t show up for a while, but I will definitely keep my eye on boats like those. Thanks for the info!

more great advice, thanks!
I have (American) size 11 feet. The H:3 that I had my eye on was sold, but now I have a pretty good idea of what models to keep an eye out for.

When I first contemplated kayaking, I despaired a bit about the high prices of new gear. After keeping a close eye on the used market for a few weeks now, I see that bargains can be had if you’re in the right place at the right time. I am glad that whitewater folks replace their kayaks fairly frequently.

Once again, thanks to all for sharing your experience with me.