what type of ww kayak?

Early this summer my girlfriend and i decide we wanted to try kayaking so we bought kayaks. We bought rec boats. We really like kayaking but have found we like to do rivers with rapids more then just lakes or flat river. The boats we bought obviously do not do well with the rivers/creeks around here. We are from NJ by the way. So we like to paddle most of NJ and Lehigh valley area of PA soon. We are little confused though which type of water white kayak would fit us best with the rock rivers around. Would it be a play boat or a creek boat or something else? If anyone could let us know what most people in this area used the most or would recommend. Thank you in advance for everyones help.

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demo, demo, demo…

– Last Updated: Aug-23-10 5:28 PM EST –

Whitewater boats are very nuanced. It is particularly important that you try a number of boats to find which ones you are comfortable paddling - both that they fit you in a manner that feels good and that they perform in the array of waters you wish to paddle. Find ww centers near you and go play.

I went through a lot of ww boats before settling on the two I now own. Demo as many as possible. You'll learn far more by paddling the boats and talking with local ww folk than you can even start to learn from reading ;-)

One note of caution - there has been a tendency to put new paddlers in creekers as they feel very reassuring. Unless you plan on running class IV or higher ww, you do not need a creek boat. They are intended for big water and are frustrating on class I-III water.

Thank you.
My goal is to learn to paddle as big as possible and challenge myself. Im a little more fearless then the girl friend though and we will almost always be paddling together. As well i understand NJ does not have much big white water so probably all be class iii-iv after becoming experienced enough. We also have few kayak dealers around here but will try make it to the once we purchased the rec boats from to see if they have a time we can demo different white water boats.

Don’t Forget Inflatables

– Last Updated: Aug-23-10 6:54 PM EST –

Yeah I know the hard core hardboaters don't care for them but they MAY be a good option for a paddler that does not want the challenges that the hard boats offer. My wife and I both enjoy our hard boats on rivers up to class III but when we get into class IV+ our inflatables are a blast. Some of it may have to do with our ages but at 50 being upside down in rough class IV water just isn't fun anymore.

When I say inflatables I am not talking about cheap blow-up boats. A quality inflatable is often much more expensive than a hard boat. We paddle the Aire Lynx I and the 2010 Aire Force. They are great boats, super tough and can handle any water you put them in. I would suggest trying an inflatable and you may just fall in love with it. Keep in mind, for an inflatable you need high float life jackets in the 23-27 pound flotation range in Class IV+ waters and the paddle needs to be in the 220-230 range.

They are also easy to transport and store if space is limited.

Do you want to play?
Seriously - boats tuned mostly for play can require a lot more precision from the paddler than river runners because you have to land in eddies right. You can’t count on paddling back up to them if you miss because a true play boat has no hull speed.

This is fine if your goal is to do play moves. But if you just generally want to run rivers and sit on a standing wave from time to time, a river runner will give you the precision to do that but be a little more forgiving about how exactly you get there.

Most WW boaters have several boats. Go down some easier rivers with some experienced paddlers while paddling one of their loaners. Then ask to borrow their regular boat for a short time. You can find experienced boaters in your area by posting on boatertalk.com.

Often a river runner
is a good first boat, but realize you will likely not pick the perfect boat the first time around. Consider buying used so you can recoup the money and upgrade later.


used is only option right now.
i never seen an inflatable around here other then like toy ones and i do not know if this what i would want. Used is only way i would go being a broke college student. I understand many WW boaters have multiple boats. This will be my second boat in less then 3 months in the hobby so Im sure there will be more to come. Im trying to find a good first whitewater boat for the nj area. I do not know how comfortable i would be taking some one elses boat if something was to happen to it.

Don’t worry about loaner boats
WW boats are built to handle rocks and the like and most WW boaters I know have no problem with people using their boats. They can always say no. I have loaned my own boats to lots of people and have had no problem. I am happy to help out a future paddling buddy. Everyone I paddle with feels pretty much the same way. Go for it.

WW folk like sharing
The whitewater paddlers I know like sharing their boats and expertise. They are among the most supportive people I know.

River classification

– Last Updated: Aug-23-10 11:50 PM EST –

There is much to be learned from Class II water. Many never paddle more than Class III.



Inflatable for her
I was mainly thinking inflatable for her. She mentioned that she may not be as aggressive as you are. An inflatable will allow her to handle the rougher water you plan to enter so you can paddle together. Just a thought.

Or a SOT
I’ve put my wife and other women on a Torrent for easy whitewater trips and they generally feel very comfortable and stable on it. It also surf a mean wave.


Can you rent any?
In my area, it’s almost impossible to rent a sea kayak but there are several places to rent WW kayaks. And their rental rates are really cheap! I rented one for $100 for a week, and after renting a different one for a day I decided to buy the first one. They deducted 100% of that first boat’s rental fee off the purchase price.

It’s a river runner and I still have lots to learn on it. Not worried about being able to sell it if I ever decide to get a different WW kayak.

probably a river runner
It’s really a matter of what you want to do. Based on your post, it sounds like your primary interest is river running/creeking. Therefore, I think some sort of river runner would suit you best. Echo the advice to demo as much as possible.

I’d avoid starting with a playboat unless you know that you really want to focus on park n’play. Playboats are also generally harder to roll than river runners/creekers, which could be discouraging for someone new to the sport (you definitely want to focus on getting your roll solid early on in WW, particularly if you want to challenge yourself in bigger water)

Lehigh Valley Canoe Club
Try checking with the Lehigh Valley Canoe Club to see if anyone has an older polyethylene whitewater boat for sale. An older river runner will suit you very well for now and will handle anything on the Lehigh River just fine. http://lehighvalleycanoeclub.org/

Joining a club is an excellent way to meet whitewater boaters in your area and often offer pool sessions, rolling lessons, and on-water whitewater instruction. The Lehigh Valley Club runs trips on the Lehigh all the time.

Try to at least sit in any kayak you buy. There is a Wavesport Big EZ for sale on the Lehigh Valley Club site right now for $350: http://lehighvalleycanoeclub.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=4751


– Last Updated: Aug-24-10 5:26 PM EST –

We tried joining the leigh club on a trip one weekend but were unable to but since we have taken kayaking classes and paddle more so hopefully we can now. I will check out the sit for used kayaks for sale and to join on trips.

Sot and inflatables are both out as she does want to be able to preform rolls. When i say not as aggressive i mean that im more willing to try bigger rapids faster. She wants to progress to harder water a little slow but still reach the same end goal.

River running/creeking is probably the mainly what i would be doing. Hopefully eventually learning to be able to play some. so river runner it sounds like it is. im going to try to demo but we are going to buy used for our first boats for sure. Time to start searching the classifieds and craiglist for boats for both of us now and other gear.

Dagger makes a Mamba that I’ve seen smaller women in our club really enjoy. Also look at the Jackson Hero series.

I have a Super EZ which is the big brother to the Big EZ. A good river runner/playboat. If you are at the high end of the weight range, it’s a pretty decent playboat, but at the low end it’s a river runner that surfs well. You typically want to be someone near the middle of the weight range for a playboat.

It’s less important for river runners and creekers, but you don’t want to be outside the recommended weight ranges for those either.

I wouldn’t recommend the old school river runners unless you want to race or run really big water. They tend to be very long, high volume, and have tiny little cockpits and minimal seats that aren’t exactly comfy on longer trips. A modern WW boat will give you much better outfitting and comfort. In particular, Liquid Logic has some really nice outfitting in their new boats and Jackson is a close second with their accessories like the Happy Seat and Happy Feet.

Boatertalk is a great site for looking at used boats and gear. The Eddyflower site has spec’s on all the out of production models.

jim $0.02

Northeast Paddlers Message Board
I was going to suggest to log onto npmb,as it is my favorite site for things ww, and noticed you’ve already done so. Great resource.