WW kayak or canoe advice

My son-in-law is 6’4" and about 175 lbs.He has never been WW paddling but is interested.

Please recommend a kayak or canoe to look at.

Large Pyranha Burn or H3 255
The H3 was the predecessor to the Burn. Great boat to start out in and can be bought used.


The question is for what use?
E.g. play, river running, creeking? Boats are quite different b/w these and there are models that are in-between…

He’s tall but if the feet are normal size he might fit in a number of boats either in the largest or the next size down (preferably, based on weight).

I use my short sea kayak a lot on white water and it is fun. But one needs to be a little extra careful about pinning such a long boat. There are two situations I find it advantageous to use the sea kayak instead of the WW boat. In the first, the water is low so the play spots disappear. In the second - the water is high and … the play spots disappear -:wink: In both cases I can paddle about where in a short WW boat I’d feel slow and have limited things to do. In fact, when the water is too high for me to handle in my half-play/half-river runner WW boat, I take the sea kayak and try to surf the long waves where most WW boats can’t even get on (except fast ones such long old-style boats).

My preference
Learn river running with the proper tool for the job, eg, one that has proper safety features built in such as pillars, cockpit size and shape, grab handles, etc. Next I look for adequate rocker, volume, speed and resurfaceability where application of techniques in new environments to the user will not be held back by the boat. Learn to scout and read the water, follow a line, set safety. understand hazards and where the water goes in the rapid. Learn to surf front side and back. Then buy a second hand river running playboat and do it all over again, refining your posture, angles and key strokes. Take whitewater rescue tech course early on so that you understand safety in a real world context from early on.


If he’s willing to buy new, the Karnali
has gotten excellent reviews because of its (relative) speed and great handling on anything from easy whitewater, to heavy, to creeking.

The Karnali is getting a lot of solid
reviews and would be a good first boat. The reason I included the Burn or the H3 in this thread is because of the sharper rails and flatter bottom. That gives a couple of advantages for a developing whitewater paddler.

  1. It gets the paddler used to edges and a transition to a playboat or river running/playboat will not be as hard as the transition from displacement or semi-displacement hulls. But it still is a great design in a river runner that is also forgiving for the beginning paddler.

  2. The flatter bottom is still a good surfer, front, back or sideways. Surfing is a great skill to learn early on. It will make you a better paddler. It will make you break out of eddies aggressively, handle large or small waves on your stern and success is measured by making the wave or not. Surfing is one of the great teachers of hard ferries to avoid hazards below the eddy. Surfing is one of the great stokes on the river.

    Just my humble opinion, but having a great learning platform that will do a lot of things and help the paddler grow, while still being fun. The Karnali is probably close to that, but the Burn can be bought new, (in slightly modified form), or used. It’s predecessor, the H3 can be had cheaply and is still close to the Burn in performance. There are a lot of other kayaks in the performance range like Wavesport Diesel, Liquid Logic Remix and Jackson Hero, 2009 and beyond.


I started in a Burn

– Last Updated: Oct-15-10 7:29 AM EST –

and have paddled the Karnalli (sp?) once. Both a re nice kayaks to start with and the 6'4" will fit in them fine (in the largest model, due to large feet for me). I did not know much back then so I can't really tell if the Burn was a good learning platform or not, but it was difficult for me to roll (I could not roll it while I could roll my sea kayak then). I hear that LiquidLogic Remix may make the learning to roll part a little easier for a beginner but having not paddled one recently I can't tell.

These days I paddle a WaveSport Fuse 64 that is a similar boat to Jackson Super Fun in that it is a half play half river. It has enough volume that it would not stern or bow dive on its own or in minor currents and waves, but will do it if you ask it to do it. I'm still a relative beginner on WW but I can see that the boat will allow some basic playboating. I can already (with limited success, still) front/back/side surf and do 180 or 360 turns in small holes/waves and the flat bottom and rails help with control. Tons of fun in ocean surf break too.

When I first got the Fuse, I thought it was actually more forgiving than the Burn in terms of catching currents at eddylines. For starters, it too has nice volume and rounded rear and front chines despite the rails and flat bottom and the hard chines near the seat (has flare there). Lots of stability too. But it is easier to swing about than the Karnali or Burn - so it is easier to correct the direction. May be I just had more experience at that time and can't tell the difference since I never tried the Pyranhas again after I got the Fuse. I thought the Fuse was easier to roll too, because I could make the stern dive a bit during the roll helping me come-up easier with a modified layback roll (don't think this works nearly as well with a full river designs that have more volume in the rear).

For such tall but relatively lightweight folks the so called "play boats", even the Jackson MonStar, which is the most playful design I could fit in (barely), is of such high volume and length that it paddles more like a small river boat than a play boat. I've spent some time in the MonStar and I did not notice much of a different in terms of rolling compared to the Fuse. Perhaps on the river they may be different but I'm still way away from lreaching the boat's "limitations" so it does not matter to me much.

What I'm trying to say is that I agree with you that a modern river boat is indeed a good learning platform. But I think starting with a playboat or a hybrid play/river may be a better alternative if that's where he's going anyway. They paddle differently and allow different things... And because the guy is so tall he'll be in such a big large volume play/hybrid boat that it will behave a lot like a small rive boat, allowing many "river" moves that a typical low volume playboat can't do.

As you point out, the flip side to
starting out in a river runner is starting out in a river running playboat. The most effective part of that argument is that the critical posture, angles and aggressive style are hammered in earlier. The new paddler may find the go through the wave attributes, as opposed to ride up and over it, disconcerting. Boofing small drops where you land up to your neck in foam because there is less volume is also trickier. Why I usually suggest to paddlers they come with a river runner is that critical strokes and moves are easier to do than in a more playful design. There’s less going through the top of the wave. Boily, surging eddies are easier to manage. Aggressive learners usually have no problem in a Fun or Fuse style boat, as you say. They get schooled early on about protecting and using their edges. It’s all good until someone swims. ; )


you are probably right
I am mostly theorizing because my ww experience is so limited.you make some good points.

Only thing I regret from my own learning proceSs is that I did not take a lesson early enough with a good instructor and that I did take rolling lesson early with what I now realize was not a good instructor (lead to an injury and not that much learned).

Good discussion, Kocho
I don’t think I’m any more right than you are. Each scenario just introduces new challenges in a challenging but highly rewarding sport. It’s good to see them discussed.


Don’t worry about buying yet
Let him tell you what sort of boat he wants to try.

Might even be a raft!

What ever it is point him to an outfitter, as close by as you can, that will give some instruction in a rental boat. If you are anywhere near the Nantahala outdoor center, their rep is pretty solid.

A little instruction, up front, will go a long way towards helping him decide what sort of boat he wants to start with.