Which is a good Kayak for me!

I am sure you experts have seen this question over and over again.

I am looking for an affordable kayak that would be true for a beginner/intermediate person who learns quickly. I have been renting and going on the Potomac River in Washington DC and West Virginia with Level 1-3.

Prefer to find something that is good for recreation but also decent at handling Level 3 rapids. I might be getting into Level 4’s sometime soon and I know it would be an altogether Kayak but I want something to start with.

Oh also like to take my 4 year old on slow rivers so a little room might be good if advisable.

A little clarification
What do you mean by “Level 3” - do you mean you’ve been in Class 1-3 whitewater? I doubt it but that needs clairification. And if you are new, class 4 should be a ways away unless you feel like tempting fate.

If you are talking about whitewater boats, they are all pretty affordable compared to touring or sea kayaks new. Even cheaper used.

Last, there is no such thing as a kayak that is good in whitewater and has the extra space to toss a 4 year old in with you - even if that wasn’t a pretty bad idea. Multiple paddlers in moving water are generally best served by using a canoe with good flotation, involving a skill set that is different than double blade.

sounds like you need 2 boats

– Last Updated: Mar-05-11 9:39 AM EST –

if you're really getting into Class III-IV in VA/WV (don't forget PA & MD), you'll want (need!) a real whitewater boat; there are great used creekboats and river runners on Craigslist all the time. The Pyranha Fusion is probably the best "hybrid" that can handle serious whitewater as well as more laid-back rec paddling.

To take the kid with you on milder paddles, maybe a 14' canoe, a large-cockpit SINK like the Pungo, or a SOT such as the LiquidLogic Deuce Coupe. (edit) the Coupe can handle mild whitewater up to Class III with the optional outfitting, but isn't an optimal boat for any one particular type of paddling.

Get a canoe, stay away from the dark side ie kayaks.

Whitewater levels

– Last Updated: Mar-05-11 12:49 PM EST –

Just to make sure we're all talking about the same thing....

International Scale of River Difficulty

Class I Rapids

Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy.

Class II Rapids: Novice

Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class II+”.

Class III: Intermediate

Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class III-” or “Class III+” respectively.

Class IV: Advanced

Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require “must” moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting may be necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills. A strong eskimo roll is highly recommended. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class IV-” or “Class IV+” respectively.


These are a couple of years old, but will give you some ideas for the used market:


The above posts make their point very well. I’ll just add a suggestion for a boat for taking the kid, not suitable for serious white water.

The Wilderness Systems Palimco 140T can be paddled solo, or tandem, and it’s a decent boat with comfortable seats. Don’t go with the 160T. I had one and it’s a very heavy beast.

Currently using a Wenonah Solo Plus canoe for this purpose, very pleased with it. However canoes can be more difficult to handle in strong winds. If you’re looking at open waters, I prefer a kayak. Check the classified ads on this website. I’ve gotten some very good deals.