Water Classes


I just purchased an Inflatable (Advanced Elements Airframe) and according to the description it can be used up to Class III water.

My question is, where can i find information about what the different classes are? I don’t want to over do it.


“Q. What type of conditions you can expect to use the AdvancedFrame kayak in?

A. The AdvancedFrame is designed to be a day touring type boat, for flat or open water. The bow and stern have a rigid semi-frame that gives it a hard edge. This greatly improves the tracking over traditional inflatables. The AdvancedFrame is fine for class 1 and 2 rivers, and durable enough for class 3, however it is really designed to paddle in a straight line, and therefore not recommended for rivers above class 3. When choosing a kayak for class 3 whitewater or greater, you really want a boat with a very rounded hull that will not grip on to the current, especially in eddys. Unfortunately kayaks with very rounded hulls will not paddle very straight on flat water.”

Class Descriptions
You can find a description of different classes of water at:




Thank you.

Use your judgment as well.
Corran Addison has his own system for rating rivers. Seeing the kind of things he considers is instructive even if you don’t use his scale.


Don NOT Count on Class System
Don’t ever count on someone else’s report or classification of a river.

The desriptions Brent posted are good, but in the real world the classification system is very subjective.

And conditions change depending on the rate of flow. I once took a real beating on a river that was supposed to be class II at 600-800 Cubic Feet Per Second, but I ran it at 1,400.

Features also change over the winter when high flows can move even large boulders.

I really do not think that boat could handle a Class III. Manufacturers tend to over state the capibilites of whitewater IKs.

And read the fine print closely. My Sevylor River X says “good TO class V” That means up to, BUT NOT INCLUDING, Class V.

mild rivers only
That’s good advice on river classifications.

In non technical terms, my interpretation of your manufacturer’s description would be: “Product not intended for use on whitewater.”

I suggest you start with that, and limit the “whitewater” to paddling through splashy little waves, which is fun. In nice wavey class II rapids you can paddle straight through the easiest line, or you can go for lots of harder spots/moves along the way: sounds like your boat would prefer the pass-through and not want to be be paddled agressively, catching all the waves and eddies.

Start small, and adjust with your own experiece. Who knows, once you get comfortable assessing rapids and paddling this thing, maybe you’ll find the right strokes and leans to take it up a notch and paddle big III+ rapids. Just don’t start there.

Have fun, P.

Great advice here.

I don’t intend to do any White Water with this boat, but if I did come acros a few little rapids, i was just curious how the ratings go.

We have the Rideau and Ottawa rivers here in…Ottawa and I have seen a few spots where the water gets a bit on the choppy side. I just wanted to be sure this boat could handle this if needed.