Whitewater boats for a kid boat

With the limited number of kid boats out there would a whitewater boat like an Dagger Impulse and Dagger Cascade work for them? Would they grow into the boat or just become so frustrated that they give up? A test paddle will be done for sure before purchase.

I have taken my kids out but they become bored paddling/sitting with me in a tandem canoe. I have also paired my middle kids with my oldest in a northstar but as most sibilings they got on each others nerves. We rented some rec kayaks at a local lake last summer and they enjoyed them. My thought is to buy them their own boat to have fun with. For the same price I could purchase the boats above or buy rec kayaks. I have switched paddling from a northstar and solo plus to a Blue hole sunburst so everyone including myself is/would be on a new boat learning curve.

My middle 2 kids are both around 4ft tall, ages 7/9 and between 75 to 110lbs each. These boats will be used on small rivers/creeks and ponds. Thanks


Jackson Minitripper
From EJ’s website:

“Mini Tripper” - At 9 feet long this kayak has been designed specifically for kids in every way. This won’t just be just an adult boat sized down for kids… The Mini Tripper has design features that allow kids to paddle with the confidence required to enjoy all that paddling offers. It’s design provides for quite an impressive hull speed and keeps up well with the adult versions while still providing amazing stability. This boat, just like the adult versions, is ultra comfortable, tracks like it’s on a rail and is very stable. It’s light enough for most kids to handle carting it on their own, paddles straight, and it has a built in tow rope…just in case they get a little tired! The “Sweet Seat” or the molded in seat version are both available for this size.

Pamlico 140
perfect for juveniles!

I think Dr. Disco is right, that a small
river-running ww kayak is a safer bet. Kids seem to pick up kayak skills very quickly. And outfitting kayaks for kids is much easier than outfitting canoes for them.

If you want to start them in used WW open canoes, there are many on the market that might be suitable. But don’t look for a Cascade. That’s a decked boat. The Impulse is kind of a pig for adults, but OK for kids. A used Outrage, Prodigy, etc., would be fine. Don’t go for excessive rocker. Kids are light and they don’t need it.

jackson fun 1 fun 2?

That’d be the Fun One or 1.5
The Two Fun is adult-sized.

The Sidekick is another possibility. None of these is a great tracker, so if your canoeing is mainly straight-line stuff, the kids might get frustrated at being slower.

But if they like the above, they should also check out the Liquid Logic Remix 47. I could fit in that one, but it was too tight AND tippy-feeling for comfort (I’m right at the top of its recommended weight range, over the top with PFD, shoes, wetsuit, etc. added in).

small WW canoes
My impression is that the Impulse would be a bit big but it might work. I have seen quite a few listed for sale in recent years since it was rather a flop for Dagger. It is, however a shallow arch bottom canoe that is very seaworthy.

A problem is that many of the short WW OC1s, especially the ones made today, tend to be rather flat bottomed with sharp chines, a design which has a steeper learning curve for a beginning WW canoeist.

You might try looking for a used Mohawk XL11 or perhaps a Mohawk Probe 11. The Mohawk Viper 11 has pretty sharp chines.

Esquif makes some short, small OC1’s, like the Zoom, but it is again, a square chine design.

Another consideration might be one of the partially decked small canoes of Frankie Hubbard design such as the Savage Superfly or the Esquif Spanish Fly, if you happened upon a used one for sale, in decent condition, which I guess might be rather unlikely.

Lightweight kids don’t seem to trip over
chines as readily as big people. The OC-1 problem for kids is just getting the boat moving properly so that normal maneuvers are possible. If the original poster chanced on a used chiney boat, there’s no strong reason for him to pass it over.

Yep that is my concern
My worry is the kids would become frustrated with the WW canoe because they couldn’t keep the boat moving straight. Never have been much of a kayak fan but this is for my kids and not me so the info is appreciated. I can see us all at Brushy with our WW canoes/single blade doing cirlces through the underwater tree gardens. This is definitely try before you buy territory. Does anyone know how much rocker an Impulse has? I can’t find any specs other then L W and weight. Thanks


Impulse rocker - around 3"
I went through the same decision with my daughter at about that age – got her the kayak.

Impulse specs
Length 12’8".

Beam 30"

Center depth 15 1/2"

Rocker 4"/4" bow/stern

The hull is asymmmetrical with more depth in the bow. I haven’t measured it, but to my eye the boat is neither fishform or swedeform, i.e., its maximum beam is centered and the rocker looks pretty symmetrical. It does have a bit of tumblehome in the center.

For a smaller person, my concern would be that the boat might be a little wide and a little deep. The Mad River Outrage, for example, is 25 1/2 inches wide (and 12 feet long).

I still have an Impulse sitting around for river tripping. I pulled the gunnels in about 1 1/2 inches by shortening the thwarts.

The Dager Caper (14+ feet) was Steve Scarborough’s first WW OC1 for Dagger (having designed the Sunburst for Blue Hole, which was the first WW OC1 that wasn’t basically a WW slalom boat). The appropriately-named Encore was Dagger’s 2nd WW OC1 and the Impulse was the third.

The Encore was, and is, a great WW OC1. The Caper makes a good WW OC2 and is very similar in dimensions to the Caption. The Impulse was intended as a “dumbed down” version of the Encore intended to be more user friendly, but it rather missed the mark.

Beginners generally felt comfortable in it but then either gave up the sport or quickly outgrew it. It’s a bit like the Mohawk XL 13, Mad River Rampage, or Old Town H2Pro in that regard. But Dagger was coming off a hot boat with the Encore, and sold a lot of Impulses.

You might consider looking around for a Mad River Outrage. While still a 12 foot boat, it is considerably lighter than the Impulse and it’s narrower beam makes it feel quite a bit more nimble while still remaining pretty forgiving.

used can be an option
I’ve seen a number of kid sized whitewater boats used on BoaterTalk and Craigslist as the kids have grown out of 'em.

Waiting…bitting my nails
After posting my reply here I did a craigslist search and look what pops up 20 mins from work



They are most likely gone because I replied 5hrs after their posting but I found a late 80’s Jensen SCR-2 racer with 3 wenonah graphite paddles for $200 after playing the waiting game all day so maybe I’ll get lucky.



– Last Updated: Apr-22-09 10:48 AM EST –

How would you like to paddle a 4' wide barge? Putting a kid in a 30" wide boat is about the same thing.
I got my grandkids a pair of 10'4"x22" Cobra Waves which are unfortunately discontinued. These are surf boats so somewhat similar to white water boats with the addition of twin fixed skegs. They were based on the Wave Witch. Cobra tried to market them as a surf boat to adults when they should have been looking at the kids. You might look at some of the crossover boats which are based on WW but have retractable skegs.

kid kayaks
There is no doubt that you will find a much greater variety of kayaks designed for kids than you will canoes. A kayak is a lot easier to move around than a canoe, and kayaking is easier for the beginner to pick up. And, at least in recent decades, kayaks are perceived by many as “sexier”.

My experience with kids is that they won’t use something they aren’t interested in, no matter what you think is best for them. Do they seem more interested in kayaks or canoes?

bzeka-- My son learned to paddle
my decked c-1 with J and rudder strokes. He was about 9 years old at the time.

One of the most impressive examples of learning to paddle a whitewater boat “straight” was Adam Clawson. I first saw him paddling c-1 on the Nantahala when he was 9 years old. In '85 he was beating many in the Nationals field in the slalom Nationals. He was about eleven at the time. He later competed in the '96 Olympics. It was a good thing his parents didn’t let him kayak.

Because that is all I have ever owned. They both tried a rec kayak at a local lake with too big of paddle. They did just fine for the 30minutes they were in it. The comment at the end was they were tired. My daughter said she wanted a canoe and didn’t like kayaks a couple of weeks ago when I asked. Definitely more kids kayaks out there then canoes. The majority says get a kayak so hopefully my craigslist ship comes in.


g2d, I am really trying to keep an open mind on all of this. In an above post of yours you mentioned a “river-running ww kayak is a safer bet” and then you said don’t go with the cascade because it is a decked boat.

In your last message you were talking about a c-1 your son started in. Isn’t a cascade a c-1 boat? I am just a litte confused on the differences between a river-running ww kayak, c-1, surf boat etc. Maybe that is why I stick with canoes ;-0


Yeah, Adam was awesome. One of the guys I used to canoe with in the Southeast had a young son who was a really hot boater with an interest in slalom racing. Only problem was he was he was exactly the same age as Adam, so he switched to a kayak.

As you may, or may not know, a C1 is a solo decked canoe that looks like a kayak to the casual observer.

C1s are paddled in a low kneeling position using a single bladed paddle. The strokes that are used in canoeing are therefore basically the same as those in C1.

Paddlers who plan to take C1s on whitewater would be well-advised to learn how to roll the boat. Those who tip over in a decked boat, K1 or C1, are more exposed to injury than those who tip over in a canoe. Unless you have tight outfitting and make a concerted effort, when you capsize in an open boat, you simply fall out.

Decked boaters on whitewater need to wear helmets and need to know how to “wet exit” the boat, failing a roll. Open boaters may be well advised to wear helmets as well, of course, but are somewhat less likely to bang their heads.

There is much less variety of production C1s available than kayaks. Most kayaks can be converted to C1, but this requires you to have some knowledge of outfitting and be willing to take the time and make the necessary investment to do so.