What river kayak should I get

OK guys, I need some help. I am 5’9" tall , weigh 155-160. I would like to get a white water kayak and am thoroughly confused. Too many kayaks. I am looking for a river runner not a trick boat. I of course would like the best for the $. I have done some kayaking but am still very much a novice. I have rafted and canoed on white water lots.

No perfect boat out there. what i like

– Last Updated: Oct-09-06 5:35 PM EST –

is going to be different than what someone else says and someone or another is going to say this is perfect while someone else says "it sucks". I have two river runners a Pyranaha I:3 that i like at about 63 gallons for larger rivers, bigger drops and slightly faster and a 52 gallong Big EZ which is more playfull and fun on technical smaller volume rivers plus lighter to carry it out on long portages. Me, i fit both boats but people with larger feet hate the Big EZ. The Big EZ is certaily the slowest of the two and that can be a drag.

Do demo boats before you buy and if you buy i recommend buying used because there are lots of used good boats out there. Certainly too as the season goes into winter there should be more out there.

For basic river runners i will throw out there for your thought and consider your weight size:
Riot Booster, Dagger Mission, WaveSport Big EZ or maybe the EZ , Bliss Stick - Flip Stick, Jackson Fun series, and must be something by Liquid logic.

I like what i own for basic river running but if i was to start again I would check out something by Jackson Kayaks who I hear have good plastic in their boats. If i was doing larger volume rivers i would consider Jackson Hero, Dagger Mamba or Wavesport Diesel. Like i said, no one perfect boat.

Good luck and see you downsteam once you navigate the "what to buy challenge".

Riot Booster 55
pretty surefooted, well behaved river runner. I have a Booster 50 as a guest boat for that reason.

Can be found used for about $350-400. very adjustable outfitting. The adjustable thigh brace ratchet straps are a bit soft for my taste but if you’re not playing (where lots of torgue involved) not sure it matters.

Of course, there are numerous other capable river runners for your size. Your willingness to pay dictates what in what the choices are. Go used for the first boat though…


too many options…
Since you aren’t looking to playboat (yet), a river-play, river-runner, or river-creek boat would work. The Booster and the EZ mentioned already are fine boats that lean a bit toward river-play as would the Jackson Fun Series. A Necky Jive, Dagger GT, or Liquid Logic Lil Joe are more dedicated river runners. As for river-creek, the Jackson Hero, Dagger Mamba, and the Wavesport Diesel would qualify. Good used river runners can probably be found used anywhere from $300-600 depending on how new the model is. I would stick with more modern designs (planing hull) versus the old school boats as it will greatly facilitate learning how to use your edges in whitewater and it inspires confidence.

river kayak
if you go on a river that is fairly wide and has sporadic areas of rapids of the class 1 or 2 variety then a good choice would be the prijon, calabria. this is a manuverable boat that can handle faster water and still have enough length for good tracking.

dimensions: 14.5 long

24.5 wide

approx. 55lbs.

hard plastic

wide cockpit

around $900

what about the Dagger Outburst, or RPM max, or Redline, Or a Wavesport T2

or how about the Prijon Hurricane. I’m looking on ebay and what they have. Thats where I came up with these

Had a redline and seen the
wavesport transformer2 a lot. Comparring the two is apples to oranges as one Redline is older downriver boat and other is sligly older playboat. Transformer from my understanding is a playboat and comes with extra removable bow and stern plates. I hear some good and bad things about it.

Redline as i recall one of the earlier planing hull boats from Dagger. Due to the low area in the sterm it would occassionally catch and throw me over. It might be a too large for you. Faster than some newer boats and with the large bow it was not as “plaable” as some other boats out there.

Transformer as a river runner?
You’ve got to be kidding.

It’s a hoot in a hole, but trying to actually go anywhere in one is an exercise in frustration.

All bad choices
If I had to come up with a list of boats to avoid all of those would be near the top of the list.

now there is an idea for a new
post, a list of white water boat to avoid. I like it and you can be sure it will bring out the best or worst in us.

bad advice
you’re no help Disco, tell me what you think would be a good boat would be

Pay attention to sing and schizopak
Their advice is right on. I would only add that while older displacement hulls are cheaper (e.g. the rpm or rpm max) they pose significant problems for people starting out that have been remedied in more modern designs (planing hull river runners). I personally recommend the Booster. I have a 55 and it is a very good down river boat for both a beginner and an experienced paddler. It will also allow you to play a bit if you want (I know, you said no tricks). The only boat you might want to consider that hasn’t been mentioned is an Inazone 230. They are available on the used market for not a lot of money and are quite a decent boat for river running.

Stay away from eBay unless you know exactly what you want. There are reasons that people sell boats on eBay. One of those is that they have a dog of a boat they want to dump on someone. You are much better off to go to boatertalk.com and check out their gearswap page.

Closest and Cheapest
Buy the cheapest boat that is close to your location. There are no bad boats! Chances are you are going to go through a bunch of boats until you find one that matches your developing ww paddle style. I would say anything that is in the 250 to 350 dollar range should be a good first boat. Have fun and don’t overthink it.


I took fatguyinalittleboat’s approach
and got a Jackson Rocker because it was used/cheap/and available.

The booster, the booster the booster,
there are other boats out there. I thought you had gone from recommending that boat to something by Drago Rossi. Give us some other boats would ya Doctor.

check boatertalk…

– Last Updated: Oct-11-06 12:51 AM EST –

Of the boats you mentioned, the Outburst, Redline, and RPM are all older displacement hull (rounded) boats that will make learning whitewater difficult as they are inherently less stable and they do not have edges as a learning guide when setting ferry angles, catching eddies, peeling out, surfing, etc. On top of that the RPM has a ridiculously low volume stern relative to its bow which results in lots of unitentional flips for beginners.

With that said I have an RPM but mostly to take friends out on quiet water and for Greenland rolling practice in the pool. I'm actually a fan of the Outburst but not for learning whitewater. The Outburst is sort of a detuned slalom boat (fast) so I've used it for downriver whitewater races although again I would not recommend it over some of the other boats mentioned for learning. Finally the Transformer is probably one of the worst playboats ever made in my opinion. Yes Eric Jackson won world championships in it but he could probably have done that in a bathtub. The Transformer is slow, sluggish, escessively wide, and it has a high back deck which makes rolling fairly difficult.

Here's the link to the Boatertalk Gearswap page. At any given time, there are hundreds of whitewater kayaks listed for sale... http://www.boatertalk.com/gear.php?page=1

As for the guy recommending the Prijon sea kayak for whitewater... I want what he's smoking.

Prijon Hurricane or Athlete
What about these two boats

Redline, RPM non-Max, Infrared maybe
At your weight you would bounce around in the RPM Max, but the standard RPM is still a great boat. You might fit in an Infrared, but you’re near the top weight, so the Redline might be better.

Also, the Wave Sport Kinetic is a modern Old School boat you might like. Very stable and easy to roll.


Not familiar with the Hurricane

– Last Updated: Oct-24-06 5:36 PM EST –

but the Athlete might be a bit slicey on the stern for a beginner. Someone jump in here and correct me if I go wrong. If you like the longer boats, try to find an old Perception Pirouette - fast, forgiving, and would probably fit you well.

If you like the Prijons, the Cross might be good, also I have the Prijon Performance and it's an awesome river runner - I love it.

By the way, my first ww kayak was a Dagger Redline - really poor choice for a newbie. Almost turned me off ww completely.