When to Up My Gear?

Hi everyone. I’ve gotten some fantastic advice from this board since I’ve become OCD about kayaks, so I though I’d hit you up again.

I’ve got a 10’ rec boat (Pamlico 100)that is rated for class I + II whitewater. Now I’ve been paddling some local flatwater in this boat, and I love it, but I’m jonesing for some small scale adventure.

My question is: When is the time to invest in a helmet? And also, should I have a skirt for my boat for paddling in Class II? I want to be safe, but I don’t want overkill. If my SO had her way, I’d be wearing a helmet on the local pond…



check with the people that already paddle the river you want to paddle in. Check with the local paddleshop who is familiar with the areas you will paddle in.

If it was me, and I was paddling in rough water with rocks, I would sure as hell have a helmet on.


Time to move up.

Skirt is a must. Helmet probably a must if you go class 2-3 and definetely must 3+.

Good luck rolling without a skirt(totaly possible, but when youre done you got a boat full of water thats much tougher to control). Probably time to look into a kayak that you really fit better than a very recreational pamilco. old school river runners are dirt cheap and dime a dozen, or some sort of a crossover recreational/entry level whitewater would be better than the pamilco.

You’ll need it someday anyway.
Why not get the helmet now. also it you are paddling Class two then your boat should have float bags. You can use them in future boats, so go ahaed and order them as well. In fact with a rec boat with it’s big cockpit and imploding nylon skirt, I’d rather get float bags before I got the skirt.

Class II…
moving water and rocks. Most folks would think you’re stupid to NOT wear a helmet. $40-50 is not overkill to help you not get killed.

If you really want to move up, forget the skirt for the pamlico. It’s not really a white water boat though it can get you through straightforward class IIs (like no sneaky class III drops in there somewhere). Invest in a used ww boat and skirt. You can find it for under $400 combined. Your skill level will pick up with a white water boat than with the Pamlico which doesn’t lend itself to edging and rolling.

Bite the bullet. You won’t regret it. Since you already seem to have a taste, it just means likely you’ll get addicted.


Try this

and this


You can check out offerings for New Haven, but they’re not so good.

The right time is…
… usually about the same time as these questions occur to you!