I’m looking for a recommendation for a entry level whitewater kayak for an adult (approximately 180 lbs) and for a teenage boy (approximately 100 lbs). thanks
lots of options
you have a ton of options. in general, i think the river-running playboats are the way to go for beginners, as it provides a good base to learn in with room to progress to playboating moves where one really learns how to use river currents, roll up in strange positions, and gain good boat control quickly. you should check out the Fun series from Jackson Kayak (available in multiple sizes) and the EZG from wavesport if you can get a chance to get in them. I highly recommend demoing 1st if you can. ignore anyone who chimes in to get an old perception dancer or dagger RPM. there are so many great newer designs out there, and the market is flooded with used boats for less than $500 that are only a season or two old.
Am not sure if you are thinking
of one boat for the both of you. Given the 80lbs difference that might be a bit of a challenge. If you can, think two boats. Lots of boat options out there and someone is going to say that this or this is the best but there is no one boat fits all. It is going to depend on what you want to do with that machine and how it fits ya. Think of taking a classs and demoing boats, and buying second hand. Lots of deals for used boats. To throw out some names of boats a few years older that have models that fit the 180 lbs and provide a somewhat stable platform to help you feel in control; Wavesport Big EZ, Dagger Outlaw, Wavesport Diesel, Dagger Mamba, Pyranha I:3 and I:4, Necky Mission, Riot Booster, Bliss Stick - Flip Stick. There's my two bits. See ya downstream.
I personally can only recommend
inflatables as a good, safe way to get started in whitewater. If you feel comfortable as your experience grows, you can make the jump to hard and play boats, etc. (Or be like me, and stick with inflatables on ww all the time, and maybe someday have a high-end Class A custom made ducky for yourself.) I’ve run Class I-IV rapids and roaring ocean surf swells with my IKs. And although not able to play and roll as much as some of my more hardshell ww experienced friends, I’ve always had a terrific amount of FUN (Afterall, that’s what this stuff is suppose to be about - not only expensive, fancy gear.) But more importantly than this, I have always managed to come back from my ww trips ALIVE and undamaged. Not to mention, being able to just deflate my boat and throw it and broken down paddle in my car trunk. Invest in a couple of good non-pool toy, non-touring boats without skegs of any kind attached (Believe me, “tracking well” is not the priority here. Rather, good rocker at bow and stern will let you “grab a wave and you’re sittin’ on top of the world” (to quote the Beach Boys). Find something that is self-bailing, and you need not concern yourself much with self rescuing. Choose boats with at least a 30" wide beam as a good start, or you’ll have to quickly overcome a learning curve with a narrower boat that may seem quite tippy (and first time on a rock strewn Class III is no place to find this out). Also, purchase and use good helmets and PFD all the time --even if you’re only doing lite Class I-II stuff. Think seriously about buying wet/drysuits if the water’s cold by you or you want to ride year round (December’s my favorite time, here in the Northeast) And never, never go whitewater kayaking alone before reaching an Advanced expert skill level (and even then, but if you really can’t help yourself, pack a cell phone in a waterproof dry bag and stashed it in the bow where hopefully you’ll be able to get your hands on it in event of an emergency.) Don’t try to surf immediately after a high flood. This gets newbies and pros alike killed. Wait a day or two when the water recedes, and debris and dead wood has washed out. Then go out and HAVE A BLAST! Cheers.
It is always best to demo boats. Lessons are invaluable.
Based on the size difference you are looking at two different boats for you and your son.
Among the most well regarded learning/schooling ww boats are the InaZone series. They were once made in 4 sizes, later in three, and most recently in 2.
Used InaZones can be had for about $300.
It might not be wise to spend more than $300 on a boat until each of you has a season and lessons on which to base preferences.
I went through a run of boats in my first ww season or so before settling on my current boat. I paid $150-300 each and was able to sell each for what I paid. I am now happily (for now) using an I3.
Type and Models
Classes would be a best first start - even pool sessions. If you must jump on getting boats now, maybe try to stay used. You may find that you like river running and your son likes a pure playboat, that kind of thing, when you guys have a chance to get out in the spring into moving stuff.
I think you are talking about two boats... WW boats are super-tuned for volume and your son will be extremely challenged to roll anything that works for you. That's a safety factor - being able to get to the roll is not trivial even in class 2 WW. That's why the roll has traditionally been taught earlier in WW than in sea kayaking. As above, go straight for a planing hull boat and skip the older displacement hulls. The latter are cheap and around, but the planing hull boats make skills acquisition in WW a lot easier.
You may be able to pick up Jackson Fun boats for you and your son used if you look around - some WW outfits will be selling off their boats as we speak and the Fun's are very popular schooling boats. The thing that makes the Fun series and others like it so attractive is that, as above, they have a decent amount of playability designed in so they will run the river as well as do some of the playboating moves that your son would probably love.
Later add- Liquid Logic boats are highly popular in schooling fleets as well. You may be able to score a couple of these as easily as a Jackson Fun, and maybe a little cheaper. The Jackson boats aren't the bottom of the price point out there.
Or, if you want to go older, the Inazones. Super-respected planing hull river runners used for schooling boats before paddlers started wanting a high component of playability in river boats. The problem for your son is that he'd need to go no bigger than the InaZone 220, and the smaller ones in this series tend to only be around for a day when they come up for sale. You have to jump quick. Your size is somewhere in the 230, 232, 242 range - my husband and over 6 ft and 180 pounds was supposed to be a fit for the 232 but when it got wet we discovered that he really needed a 242.
After several years of long boats the best summary I can say for WW is that, done safely and with training, it is an absolute hoot. I can't of much else that you and your son could have as much fun with. I haven't gotten past class 2 with the time I was able to give it, and even that lower level is a ton of fun and could easily occupy you for a weekend. The way that you can really work the water in a hard shell kayak, you don't remotely need higher class levels to have a great time.
check out liquid logic and jackson
Liquid Logic Remix series and Jackson’s Fun series both have models to fit the entire range, from 60 lb to 200+.
Watch out for salesperson Attitude
Interesting that you mention the Fun series. I perused the Jackson website and it does imply that these are suitable kayaks for those of us who don’t want a highly specialized model. They need to make sure the shops selling their product get this message, though.
I sat in a Fun 1.5 at one store and the staffer was very helpful about fiddling with the outfitting. He also had me sit in another make/model and adjust that one to fit. We talked about my experience level and other kayaks I had paddled, and he thought either model would work for me at the location I was going to take it (a park-and-play).
Later I called and asked to reserve either one of them to rent. The guy who answered the phone was a royal butthole and immediately began commanding me to rent “a beginner boat.” I had told him I was a beginner at WW but had lots of long-boat kayaking and, yes, a roll, not a combat-tested one but a roll nonetheless. He kept referring me to longer, wider kayaks. I don’t mind the “longer” part because they all seem short anyway, but I very much minded being told to go even wider and deeper than the Fun 1.5. I got the distinct impression he equated sea kayaks with rec kayaks, because when I said I wanted one with a low rear coaming height and low backband, he practically screamed, “Well, of COURSE they’re low in back; they’re WHITEWATER kayaks.” Well, having just sat in one whose rear coaming was definitely too high on me, I privately disagreed.
I should have told him he was a prick who just lost not only a rental but a future SALE but I didn’t. Funny thing was, soon afterward a guy working at a different WW shop said flat out, “That guy who answers the phone is a real JERK.”
There’s a difference between a total newbie at kayaking and a newbie at only WW. That difference was clear to me when I took an intro WW class with students of mixed backgrounds. If Shop Guy doesn’t understand that, he should not be in a public contact position.