What river kayak should I get

Hurricane advice
I paddled a Hurricane back in the day. It is a bit slicey in the stern, but it doesn’t take too much to get used to, and I think it makes a good river-runner in all kinds of white stuff. But my favorite river runner was a Dagger Crossfire. Fast, forgiving, easy surfer…only got my ass pounded in it once when it didn’t turn nice on the eddy line above the Flume on Bulls Bridge section of the Farmington, and the hole chewed me good. That was mostly my fault, not the boat’s.


Get a MODERN river runner, or a Kingpin
I, too, highly recommend a more modern, planing-hulled river runner like the Diesel 65, Dagger GT 7.8 or Mamba 8.0 OR maybe a versatile Kingpin 6.2 or even 6.3 (a playboat, but an excellent river runner - my 6.3 at 170lbs is very stable and surprisingly forgiving), LL Li’l Joe (least favorite option of these), Pyranha Stretch M-L (only if it has Synchro) or Burn Medium … one advantage of going with one of these is that they teand to have good, very adjustable outfitting as at least a good starting point for control and comfort.

I started out in a Diesel 65 last year, and found it quite stable and comfy, but switched less than a year later to the Kingpin (just make sure you have extra foam for knee blocks in there so you’re not slopping around in any of the bigger boats) – I don’t even playboat much and I find the Kingpin superior for my tatse for Class III+ as a stable, fun, very maneuverable and comfy boat. I wish I’d just started with it, or maybe after the first few months :slight_smile: – it just requires a more aggressiver paddling style and posture, but it rewards you with so much control and maneuverability. Fairly slow, but that actually makes it easier to learn in and sometimes gives you more time to react.

PS: Skip the cheaper/ heaviest/ oldest paddles – get any Werner or Lighting or H20 or AT, etc.

Helpful links …
Oh, yeah … the Dagger Rx would be similar to a Kingpin but probably a bit better for river running and supposedly a little faster. And the older, more affordable BigEZ has a similar good reputation.


(CKS folks are great, ask them for advice)


This is what I mean
Shaun, sorry to critique, but you say you started in a Diesel (good beginner boat in my opinion) and switched in “less than a year” to a Kingpin (playboat). Great, sounds like you had a short learning curve and I hope you are having fun.

But I see all too often where people who have moved up to a playboat totally forget that they had a learning curve at all. Suddenly, they decide they could’ve (and should’ve) started with the playboat. Then they advise others to start with a playboat (which, having done that, I think is a big mistake).

My advice: Start at the beginning. Learn the basics. Then move up to a more challenging boat as quickly as you feel comfortable.

I think those all lean toward
being playboats. Sure, you can run a river in them, but I don’t think of them as beginner boats.

Again, somebody correct me if I’m off base.


I’m soaking all this up thanks, keep the advice coming but I do haave a good line on a Prijon Hurricane. Will I be ok to learn in it as a river runner

Prijon Rockit?
Maybe an option?


– Last Updated: Oct-26-06 12:14 PM EST –

I don't know much about it personally but from the web research I've done it looks like it would be a reasonably good beginner kayak. Above, Riverstrider says it's a tad slicey on the stern but not too bad. Slicey sterns tend to "catch" and flip you if you're not careful. There are more forgiving beginner boats out there, but it sounds like the Hurricane wouldn't be bad.

forgiving boats
I have a love-hate relationship with “forgiving” boats. My biggest problem turn out to be, I didn’t “learn” that much in those forgiving boats!

Some of us can float down the river in a bathtub or a plank. For those people, a forgiving boat is the wrong choice. You can make all sort of mistakes and the boat just bail you out! You never flip, you never learn.

My current favorate is the Dagger Rx. It’s a planing haul “play” boat that’s still forgiving for athletic beginners. I had my share of flips. But the Rx is so easy to roll, I flip back just as handily. In the process of going upside down and right side up, I learned a ton of what NOT to do in various conditions. I wouldn’t have learn nearly as much in the older, more “forgiving” boats I’ve tried. In fact, I think I hadn’t really learn much until I got into the Rx.


– Last Updated: Oct-26-06 3:22 PM EST –

You make a good point; I think what you say is valid. But not everyone has the same tolerance for the "learn-by-flipping" method. Some tolerate it well and just go about getting better and don't mind swimming like Mark Spitz while they learn. Others get scared and/or discouraged if all they seem to do is flip the first few times they're out.

I'm sorry if I'm hammering this point too hard; I know it doesn't apply to everyone - it's just that when I was first learning to paddle a whitewater kayak, I took some bad advice, picked the wrong one and after some major flip-fests, decided I wasn't cut out for it and didn't get in another ww kayak for about a year or so. With encouragement from others who seemed to know the problem was my boat choice and not me, I got a different, better (yes, more "forgiving") kayak for learning. Later upgraded to something a bit more "modern" with a semi-planing hull that can carve a bit more and allows more control.

I will admit that in my "forgiving" kayak, it was hard sometimes for me to avoid obstacles or have good boat control since the qualities that make it forgiving also allow it to get pushed around. So you are totally right, I just think there's still a strong case for starting with a forgiving boat, depending on your individual "swim tolerance".

Edited: I was just re-reading what Dr. Disco wrote (above) and he doesn't like the old-school displacement hulls and explains why. That's kind of what I'm saying (but he said it better). He seems to be recommending the more modern river runners. Agreed. Main thing is not to start with a playboat.

So… have you decided?.
Lets us know what boat you have decided on cowboy…

>Some tolerate it well and just go about getting better and don’t mind swimming like Mark Spitz while they learn. <

Swimming is both physically tireing and mentally discouraging. Should be avoided “as much as possible”. A forgiving boat does reduce the amount of swimming, but sometimes at the expense of learning and giving false sense of security.

I had the advantage of gaining a roll rather quickly at the very early stage of my river kayaking adventure. So swimming were few and far between. Looking back, I think having a roll was one of the best move I made.

The second best were getting into a “less forgiving” boat that pushes me into learning more.

Here you go. This is the best advice
I would have posted the same thing. All of this is going to save you a lot of time and money.

haven’t decided yet
I am still looking at the prijon hurricane, but I hav also foun a Dagger mamba 7.5, and a Riot booster 55 but they want a lot more money for them. what do you guys think. To sit in the prijon does fit well

Don’t know the Prijon but i look
at the other two boats as both being the same but different. Both good boats and are river runners. Booster from my understanding has less volume and more playfull than the Mamba. Mamba is larger and would be my preference in big water scenarios. I am no creeker but some use it for creeking I understand. You might want to ask this same question in Boatertalk. See you downstream.


– Last Updated: Oct-27-06 11:59 AM EST –

Definitely a good option.

Thanks guys I appreciate all the help. Hope to see some of you on the Arkansas this summer. Any body know where I can get some pool lessons this winter

Yeah, I agree …
A stable river runner is probably a lot better for most everyone for at least the first few hundred whitewater miles (I paddled a more than a little when learning) – you make a really good point about forgetting the learning curve.

BUT, I did not switch to or recommend a typical playboat or a playboat sized for playboating – the biggest Kingpin, at my weight near the bottom of its range, is VERY stable river runner, more so than my Diesel 65 in many situations due to its superior initial stability ability to maneuver in technical stuff more easily and more quickly. With the seat forward, good outfitting upgrades, and paddled aggressively, I find it easier to run my local Class II-III+ than in my Diesel – I owned both for a while.

I’ve paddled several other playboats a bit – Crazy 88 6.2, Ronin 49?, LL CR125, Pyranha 7-0 M-L … ALL were less stable, less buoyant, and less forgiving than the Kingpin 6.3 (only the more riverrun-oriented 7’+ Pyranha Stretch M-L was as good of a river runner).

The problem I am having
is that I can’t get away from the “longer is better” mentality I have. I just moved to Columbia with lots of rivers and I need a plastic boat for the rocks, and a boat that I can paddle in both current and not. See lots of advice for river runners etc but just don’t see myself in a 7 to 8 foot boat!

Looks like I have to learn all over again and I will be going to the paddle shops and looking over options.

Hard to get away from my preconceptions though…

what I want is a short tempest 165?



Oh Jeeze…

– Last Updated: Oct-31-06 8:04 PM EST –

just find a used boat that fits and buy it. Most folks start on Class II. You won't get killed. Maybe a swim here and there and you'll learn form it.

No matter the first boat, if you really get into white water, you gonna move up and add another boat anyway. There are probably more valid reasons to having more than one ww boat than having more than one long boat. The difference in designs and performance characteristics are much more discernable with different ww boats than say the ubiquitous questions comparing a Greenlander Pro to a Betsy Bay, or an Explorer to an Avocet.