What Kayak is best for creek adventures

What kayak is best for paddling small creeks? I currently have an Oru Beach folding kayak. It’s light weight, flat bottomed for shallow waters, and easy to transport, but it’s clunky/too long for maneuvering in tight places. I like to explore local creeks/rivers that run into the Catawba River, NC. I think I need a kayak that’s small (9’ or less) and lighter weight for portages around obstacles. Think lots of downed trees, sandbars, rocky ledges, shallow areas. My kayak skills are ok, nothing over class II rapids. Most of the creeks I want to explore are slow moving. What length kayak would be best for this? Any tips for this kind of kayak exploring?

It depends on your size, esp weight. I’ve done some tight places in a 12’ boat.
A boat similar to a WS Pungo, and there are several, would be good. A large cockpit is very handy when you need to get in and out.
Another type is a Sit On Top like a WS Tarpon. They are even easier to get in and out of.
I’ve used both in creeks and swamps. Tarpons tend to be heavy for their length but great for dragging across logs and sandbars.
I do not sell WS boats except for those I went through to reach those recommended.

Once I hear Class II, I get worried. Most aren’t really talking Class II, as Class II is pretty aggressive water and takes a trained person and reasonable gear. The Oru would not survive Class II.

Assuming the creek is flat water, maybe slightly moving, with very minor ripples, then a recreational class or sit on top kayak would be just fine. Pungos have a good reputation among recreational kayaks.

You hit serious trade offs as size gets shorter. Yes, you can turn easier and fit in smaller spaces, but the trade off is that a short kayak doesn’t like to go straight. If you need to paddle more than a few miles, you’ll want as long a kayak as you can make fit. Or a kayak with a skeg, Or both.

If you really are doing class II water, you’ll either want a sit on top or a skirted white water or white water-like cross over kayak. A recreational kayak would flip and flood way more often than you’ll want to deal with.

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You do NOT want a Pungo on a small shallow creek. Deep V hull will drag and harder to turn.

Stick with a flat smooth bottom hull boat.

I can’t think of 9 ft. boats as being any more than pool toys. 11-11.5 foot boats would do you much better and Hurricane has a couple that might work.

The Santee is a sit in, but handles well in tight spots. They also have a couple of sit on boats, but I haven’t paddled any of them.

They are all thermo-formed, so are lighter than most of the rotomolded boats.

small creek adventures very a lot- Mostly I’ve used various ww boats.
plastic ww boats take abuse well but can be a struggle on tidal creeks with wind. Perhaps a well built rec boat would work.

Find a used, cheap and beat 9 foot pool toy like an old Swifty. Just don’t take it anywhere other than what you are describing.

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a video of Class II - for reference First time Whitewater in a hardshell Kayak - YouTube

Thanks for the video. It was very helpful since I’m not well versed in kayaking terms. I’ve done Class II in group paddles with proper equipment. Loads of fun! The creeks I’m looking to paddle don’t get that bad.

Back creeks & channels is why I got into kayaking. I have a Pelican Elie sound120xe Great for this kind of adventure. Tracks great ,roomy,rugged. Future Beach Quantum 124 is a good 10 foot yak. I bought a used one for my 12yr old grand kid. Would bet the house she cant flip it. Yes I have taken it into some sketchy places. As for a 12’ Pungo I kayak with a girl that has one & it will go any place we want to explore. DONT go under 10’ yak. You have to give up too much for them. Also take a good set of tree clippers with you. It will extend the trip. Trust me!