-- Last Updated: Aug-06-04 11:58 PM EST --

I want to start running some whitewater and surifing but need some help. Money is a concern but I would consider and price range given good reason. I am hoping to spend around $600 or under.

I know there are other threads that discuss this, and I will search the forum and read them as well. I just figured if anyone saw this and felt like giving me a good recommendation for a whitewater/surf/playboat brand/model, I would be eternally grateful!

Doesn't have to be the best at any or all, just something I can run Class 4/5, Hit the beach and surf 3-6 feet waves, and maybe do some a little playboating on. Also, should I consider a higher price range or is ~$600 enough to expect to get a boat who can fulfill this need?

There are boats that manufacturers claim are good for all of the above, but I doubt they do all of those things well. There are lots of good boats that are fairly versatile. I own a Necky jive that is OK in surf (I prefer surf specific boats) and whitewater and can do some playboat moves. You can buy one for about $350 bucks used, plus a spray skirt and paddle and you are about at your $600 dollar mark. Don’t forget a good PFD and helmet. I’m not sure where you live and where you will be surfing 3-6 foot waves and running class V whitewater. I would plan on getting a decent beginners boat and learning to paddle easy whitewater and get some surf experience and then get specialized boats when you build some skills.

Thanks for the replies so far. I live in NorCal but often do trips to SoCal. So the surfing will mostly be local to California and the whitewater, well from the looks of it, I have a lot of opportunities here around NorCal! :slight_smile:

Yeah I realize it will be a jack of all trades, master of none type of situation. I guess the foucs for me would be Whitewater, then surfing, and playboating at a distant 3rd. I mostly want to run rivers and not be limited by my boat, and then be able to take it to the beach for some fun playing, but nothign too exetreme!

Thanks Agian for the replies and am looking for ward to seeing more suggestions!

Some thoughts…

– Last Updated: Aug-07-04 5:26 AM EST –

You shooting pretty high - class IV/V rivers, 3-6' foot surf - right from the git go! I think that's cool but you gonna have to ratchet back down 'cause as already mentioned there ain't no boat that will do it all and do it well. An edgy ww boat that will carve better in surf, but not as well as surf boat, will be a handful for someone starting on a river. There are such boats though. Corran Addison, formerly of Riot, is now making the Fishtail, specifically as a crossover, with Drago Rossi. Necky has a couple of boats like that, Witch and Vive. Some of the Riot boats have fin options that allow you to stick better to a wave face. Most of the ww boats are short and don't have the speed of a surf boat, though in the power pocket of a really steep green face, they'll zoom. But not the place for a beginner to find him/herself right off.

Even on the river, most long time ww enthusiasts will have more than one boat in the quiver. There are lower volume playboats that will take better advantage of features of less pushy class II/III waters. Then there are boats that are higher volume to take care of the class IV/V because a lower volume boat will be more unforgiving and edgier in higher volume technical water (sitting lower) and get caught in holes and other features.

That leaves "river runners" which generally are higher volume and less edgy. These are often the boats for beginners to intermediates. They let newer folks run rivers without too much worry about catching edges and flipping. And if the volume is not too high relative to the paddler, there is some "play" potential with respect to doing some enders and such. These boats can also be easier to learn to roll in as well.

Bringing up the roll, you have got to get a roll earlier in white water to really enjoy more and pick up other skills faster. A roll will save from a lot of thrashings as you get into class III and higher rivers. It will also serve you well when you get out to surf.

Anyway, gone on too long. You need to give weight and your height and feet size, to get really specific about boat recommendations. Boats don't come one size fits all.

Welcome to the frothy stuff. Lots of fun. More fun if you have a progression in mind a plan of training to go with it. Oh, one boat to start off with is fine, but you will undoutably add on more more specific type boats if you really get into it.


Good do-it-all kayaks
One boat will not do all of those things well, but IMHO the closest thing to it would be a Wave Sport “EZ” series kayak. (Honest, I’m not a WS rep :slight_smile: I just don’t think anyone has yet improved on the excellent “EZ” design for a combo river runner/playboat. As for the ocean surfing, you can have fun out there in just about anything.

Here’s a good link for Norcal used whitewater kayaks:



Sorry should have thought to post some stats:


185 lbs

I very much appreciate any comments/suggestions!

Your question makes
me nervous - it is that class 4/5 thing you mention. Like a few others mentionned here, no boat will excell at all those things you want. The class 5 in a EZ series makes me wonder if they have the volume that would be needed in that type of water, but i will leave that to the more technical types on this site. I’ve got a Big EZ and sure it is good but at some things but it does not do all things well. Give me more volume in big water please. Give me length in the surf please. For class 4/5 i would want something more volume in the line of creek boat, but class 5 is certainly above my wanna do level. Heck, class 4 is a question make for me. If you get a creek boat it will probably suck at play boat/surf boat. My 2 bits. The people at boatertalk will have some qood answers for you.

Three River Running Series

– Last Updated: Aug-08-04 5:41 AM EST –

I think any one from the series - Riot Booster, Pyranha I:3, Dagger GT -- below will serve you well for a year or more:




If you pick a boat where you're in the upper weight range potential, you have more ww "play potential" but this is at the expense of "forgiveness." If you pick a boat where you're in the middle of the weight range, you have some volume and forgiveness to run bigger waters. Personally, If I were starting out, I would go with the latter. "Playing" goes hand in hand with capsizing. Capsizing and swimming alot can be demoralizing and is definitely an imposition on your paddling partners who must help you and equipment to shore. As a beginner, your first year will (should) be spent learning the basic control strokes, peeling in and out of eddies, boat tilt, edge transitions and rolling. Any one of these boats can be found in the gearswaps for around $500. They are not the newest (about 2-3 years old) but are also not the oldest style. These boats also tend to be longer than some of the newer playboats. They will have more speed to catch smaller ocean waves. With shorter boats, you need really steeper waves to zoom down on. Trying to catch smaller waves with these are a PITA.


Of the 3 boats that Sing mentions (above), the Booster and I:3

would be good Play/river runner combos. The “GT” Leans a lot more towards the river-running then play. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Booster series. (Well, I won’t say nothing—Riot has had problems with their plastic).

As kanaka suggests, An “EZ” series kayak would not be the best choice for doing class V water (though a lot of expert boaters DO use low volume kayaks in Class V). The EZ is a very good class IV boat. Maybe a better statement would be that it “can be” a very good class IV boat. There is a tremendous difference in peoples styles, skills and comfort levels. Some people are happy to just catch eddies and run the river (get a longer, high volume kayak). Some people aren’t having “real fun” unless they’re rock-splatting, surfing, doing rock 360’s, flat spins, cartwheels, etc, all the way down the river (shorter with less volume). You need to decide for yourself what boating style best fits you and pick your kayak accordingly.BTW, at your weight the “Big EZ” would be the size you would want.

Jeeze, don’t dwell on it too long, just find a cheap used kayak and get out on the water. “It’s all good”.


right on sing

I would just add that a planing hull type kayak, i.e. newer kayaks with flat bottom hulls and flared edges are alot of fun for everything, but older displacement hull, (rounded bottom) kayaks are actually better for surfing-barring of course an actual surf specific kayak.

Another Approach…
is to bump up to the Super EZ to get more volume and forgiveness.


What were “playboats” in the past has become the “river runners” of today. The hardcore playboaters are learning and perfecting more moves with shorter, lower volume boats that 10-15 years were thought of as being possible, e.g. aerial loops. It a very concrete way, the are changing the definitions and influencing very much the crop of today’s boats to shorter lengths. But these are demanding of skills. Yesterday at the Deerfield I ran into someone who is an intermediate paddler. I’ve ran some rivers with him early spring and last summer. He was in a longer Wavesport boat. Yesterday, he was in Blizstick Radstick. This boat is just around 6’ long. He said it felt really “squirrelly” for him. He also took his first “swim” with it in quite awhile. As he said, “I guess I got to pay some dues learning this new boat.”


Why then do all good surf boats
have planing hulls and no one hardly uses the old boats any more? Maybe this is a personal taste thing or depends on the size of waves you are surfing. To get the most out of a kayak on a big wave you want a planing bottom.

Semi Planing Hull
I put ScottB in my Acrobat in the surf a couple weeks ago. Scott was ripping with the boat. :slight_smile: He had enough weight to engage the sharp rails in the stern area to really carve the wave.


Definitely, Hull, Rails and Fins
for hardcore, skilled surfers who want to rip the “classical” way. But the white water “surfers” are also changing the definition or implementing their version of “surfing” which includes lots of spin, butt bouncing aerials and such. Yes, of course, the boardies hate these guys and consider them out of control. Some are but the really good playboaters are not.<br />


Thanks Again!
I really appreciate the feedback. I guess the reason for the wide spectra of uses is it is a boat I want to grow into and not be limited by in the 1st year. I would rather have a steeper learning curve upfront, I have the desire to see it through, then buy something slightly “beginner” oriented and want to buy another boat right away (the Mrs. doesn;t like that sort of thing at all!) .

You guys have given a good start on the info and I’ll start narrowing things down from there and do some renting.

Thanks again!

Not outgrown
It’s pretty common for people to keep their forgiving “beginner” boats for big water when they move to a lower-volume design for play. And it never hurts to have a boat you’re comfortable putting a friend in.

Used boats can hold value pretty well if not abused. You can probably buy a used boat for $450, use it for a year, and sell it for $300 with no problem.

I Agree With That.
I primarily use two playboats - the Ultrafuge and the (new) Chronic. I am fine with them up to class III. But in wanting to run the Dryway Class III/IV, I wouldn’t mind a little more volume and “forgiveness” with a river runner like a Riot Booster or a LL Trigger, or even a Dagger GT.

As some folks here know, I almost got killed going through a strainer last year, running a class IV with my Ultrafuge. In the first couple of hundred yards, my playboat squirted constantly in the big features and I had to roll at least five times. Didn’t get to roll when I slammed into the strainer. Knock on wood, by the Grace of… I went right through the strainer. Just a bit of a trashing for a lesson well learned.

I am trying to get rid of the Shock (and maybe the Ultrafuge) so I can casually shop for a river runner to add on to the ww quiver.


Everyone likes the I3…
All the reviews are good and it is a boat designed for a wide variety of uses. My buddy had one and liked it, but we don’t usually do class 4-5 stuff so he sold it to get the smaller F6(more play potential) for the small class 3-4 creeks we do.

Forget class 4/5 for now.
That is truly dangerous whitewater and you really need a suitable boat and advanced skills. When you can roll very quickly and without fail and have some solid river running experience then get a creek boat. In the meantime, there are lots of boats that work for class 3 and lower and will present a steep learning curve. Most of these will also be fun in the surf (although not ideal). I recommend you get a decent river running playboat.

I’d be happy to lend you my big ol’ Jive if you want to run something big.

I got a chance to try an Pyranha i:3 222 at the pemi hole on Saturday. It fit in the hole a lot better than the Jive, but didn’t seem too edgy. You’re probably looking for more volume, but the 221 might be worth a look.

I’m thinking that the i:3 or the s8 225 might be a nice step up in playfulness from the Jive while still retaining decent downriver capability.