WW Kayak Recommendation

-- Last Updated: Jan-09-15 10:19 PM EST --

Figured with Spring coming up people might be selling their kayaks more, maybe if they want something newer so I might be able to test them (or at least sit in them.) Also I am hoping to find some demo days coming up.

Unless I just find an amazing deal I probably won't buy one this year but I would like to get all the demo's in that I can so I would like to know generally what to be looking at.

I definitely don't want a play boat, I would want a river runner or creeker and I am leaning towards the river runners. I think the creeker is more for tight, technical rapids and that is not what I plan to run on.

I watched a video and the LL Stomper and Jackson Zen looked pretty good though I think the Stomper is a creeker.

I'm close to 6ft tall, 110lbs. Not worried about price or storage. Any other info required?

(For those that have helped me in the past I appreciate it, I finally have the "general purpose" boat narrowed down.)

here is how I would go about it

– Last Updated: Jan-09-15 9:06 PM EST –

check out the manufacturer websites: Pyrnha (dang I own one and can't spell it), Liquid Logic, Fluid, Dagger, Jackson, wavesport

I suspect you've done some of that already since your teetering between the riverrunner and creeker classifications which is how the websites are set up. You shouldn't be overly concerned with the brand or even a specific model but try to nail it down to a type and size.

For instance last time I went boat shoppin' I knew I wanted "a 80-90 gallon creeker." I'm a big boy (225) and like hittin' rocks. Found the shiva almost new for $500, drove 2 1/2 hours one way to get it. Figure in the cost of gas, and for me the cost of dinner at Bob Evans with the wife.

The truth is either class of boat will work. Some folks creek in river runners, and run rivers in creekers. Yeah there are differences- like how fast you resurface over drops, turn, hold a line, or ease in rolling but many folks use one boat for both scenarios. Popular all around boats are mambas and remixes. I own a shiva (big boy creeker). Friends paddle stompers, karnalis, zeds, heros and other stuff.

Hit up boater talk, gear swap section and see what is reasonable to drive to and go buy it for less than $600. Paddle it for a year and if you don't like it resell it. Remember to figure in the cost of a spray skirt. Or shell out the gas money, Go to Gauley Fest and pick somethin' up on the fence for $300, if you get drunk in the process, that could cost you a lot more, the Summerville cops are relentless.

No need to buy new for ww. Its a different mentality. If it ain't scratched up, your either really good and like wearin' skinny jeans and paddlin' slalom, or you just ain't been boatin' much. Even 20 year old eskimos and prijons are a good buy- bomber plastic. If you can get a skirt thrown in the deal that's good as well.

You can post "what should I get?" on boatertalk, but be forwarned that's a tough crowd, they know their stuff but like to give some newbies a hard way to go on occasion.

Thanks for the info. WW boats do seem to appear on craigslist much more and for much cheaper, I just wasn’t sure if one was better than the other.

Gauley fest sounds great but I live in Fort Smith Arkansas so that is about a 15 hour drive. I am also driving about 38 hours to Canada later this year so any other long trips aren’t really on my agenda.

I only started paddling mid summer last year and only saw the water high once, think I will wait until I get a little experience before asking for advice on boatertalk. I was on there earlier today for some reason though, think the classified’s was recommended.

Keep the creekers on the list
The creekers are for bigger water, in fact a regular river runner will be more technical in terms of tighter turning etc. But for people getting started they provide a solid base because they are a bit more forgiving. If you look at what outfitters like those at Zoar Gap are using for beginner lessons, you will see a lot of creekers on the water even in what is usually a moderate class 2 stretch. They have been a good starting point for many people, and that means it might be easier for you to get a good price on one used.

The one caution I would issue with a creeker is that they can take more oomph to roll than a river runner. It can work out. But I have witnessed pool sessions where someone loaded a small skinny person into a moderate sized creeker and thus created a usually unsuccessful and horridly discouraging rolling session. In one case the student would have had far more success in her own low decked/skinny cockpit very kindly sea kayak. But even very good ww paddlers seem to get distracted by the length of a sea kayak in terms of their assumptions about how hard it will be to roll. Not like the ends won’t go where the middle of the boat does, but the size seems to flummox.

So, if you want to learn to roll most easily, just make sure that the volume of the creeker is not overmatched to your own weight and that the sides of the boat (creekers tend to have more depth) don’t feel like you are wearing high top waders. Other than that, you should keep them on your list. The forgiving quality can be nice when you are starting out. And ww boats turn around like candy - spend cheap, sell cheap unless you get into it enough that you gotta have some hot new design.

Stomper you mentioned, is for serious WW paddling. In flat water it just spins unless you are paddling ALL the time. I have run the Stomper a few times for short WW runs & is great for that. If you are looking at longer WW runs, where there is flat water sections, you might want to check out the LL Remix XP9. It has a retractable skeg. Lower it for flat water & it handles like a rec boat. Retract it for WW & handles like the Stomper. Also has a storage hatch for multi-day tripping. Cons are that it “plows” in flat water once you get to a certain speed, so is slow compared to a rec boat. (I’m never in a hurry in flat water so no big deal)At your 110 Lbs, this boat be a bit big for you, & too much volume. (73 gallons)but worth demoing if you get the chance. I ended up selling mine which I now regret. I’ll be looking to replace it.

celia, that’s a really good point
about the rolling. Particularly the high volume boats that add lots of volume to the bow. That’s one of the trade offs- it helps the boat resurface quickly (much more forgiving) but makes the rolling harder. Particularly true if your small for the boat to begin with. Some friends have traded in their Jackson heros because of the difficulty rolling them while others say its no big deal to roll.

I think another aspect that makes it difficult for ww folks to roll ocean kayaks is the paddle itself. The blade size seemed really small when I tried ocean kayaking. For me, that would take some getting used to for both paddling and rolling.

The Heros
The original Heros, as in first year, were big in volume and high. My husband and I each tried the respective boats for our size - there were only two - and both of us found it took more effort to roll tham than we expected. More than our most forgiving sea kayaks, by a lot. In fairness to Jackson though, they subsequently tweaked the line and I hear the later ones took less effort.

The only fun thing about that try-out was messing with the head of the young man at the WW center who we were out with. We told them we were coming from long boats, and we was floored when we both popped off a couple of rolls. I don’t think he ever got his head around the idea when we said at least a couple of our sea kayaks were easier.

As to your comments… if the blade size is making a big difference you should recheck your timing. Blade size shouldn’t matter for rolling sea kayaks unless you are in a big need-power situation, like a tidal race, or you got yourself into too big a sea kayak. Size matters there too. But for some reason the same people who will check out the volume of a ww boat very carefully will get into a barge of a sea kayak for their size and think it must be a fit.

not so much timing as feeling like
the paddle isn’t sweeping across the top because there is only 1/2 as much paddle planing across the surface (sweep roll)- admittedly I only tried one roll, after tipping over when testing the 2ndary stability of the boat (castoff’s cletus) near the put in. The cockpit combing/seat came loose in the attempt. I swam. It was a little chilly but I had drysuit on and knew to try things out close to the boat ramp. I learned the secondary stability of ocean kayaks is different than ww boats. Typically, when I get in a new or different ww boat I brace the boat over on its side to get a feel for the “edges”. Most days that increases confidence and a sense of stability. I can’t say that happened with the ocean kayak but day 2 was a bit better.

Foot size

– Last Updated: Jan-10-15 4:41 PM EST –

I forgot to mention I have size 13 feet and very long legs, makes finding a good fit for my weight...interesting...

I tried getting in a Jackson Zen today and couldn't do it. Though it had a front bulk head that might have been removable or able to be made smaller. The store people weren't around and that wasn't the reason I was there so I didn't bother asking.

I will definitely have to keep volume in mind when looking for a WW boat, thanks!

Still likely timing

– Last Updated: Jan-10-15 5:08 PM EST –

Especially if you are in a sweep roll. And the cockpit fit does not sound like it was right either. Or you are muscling your roll and the Cetus had a more stronger opinion about it than your WW boat.

I can't say that my own roll is terribly present right now - sheer lack of practice - but the blade is only there to give you a little stability as you start the hip action. Once that is going right, the only thing you should need the blade for again is if you are in a boat that likes to window shade and you need to stop the roll. (like the Nordlow) Your body action and the boat itself should be doing most of the rest of it.

This works for Greenland as well as non-Greenland rolling. In fact, in true Greenland rolling there is no hip snap usually. It is all body rotation and the right timing that brings the boat up.

Unlike ww boats, in most sea kayaks you are rolling an altered log. So if it gets started right it tends to keep going. In my ww boat it is more of a pancake action, with a flop at the end. It keeps going, but it bears no relationship to a log rolling.

Zen 75 has plenty of room
I’m bigger than you, longer legs and bigger feet. The Zen 75 has enough room for me with paddling shoes. You should be able to move the bulkhead and/or seat as needed. However, the volume on the 75 is way too much for your weight. You will have hard time edging it.

I paddle Dagger Axiom 8.5 and fit in it fairly well with paddling shoes. At your weight it will float you high, so you will lose some of its playfulness but will gain “big water” performance. If you can squeeze in the 8.0 it would be better (doubt you will be comfy).

used boats
be wary of used ww boats. they don’t last like flatwater boats. especially be careful if you are looking at a used creek boat. around here, most people get 2-3 years out of a creek boat before breaking it. if you buy a used creek boat that’s been used for it’s intended purpose, it’s probably on it’s last legs.

I understand WW boats are going to be a little more beat up than a flatwater boat but what exactly would I be looking for?

I know visible repairs would be a good sign as well and any UV damage but other than that how does an older WW boat fail compared to a newer one?

Does consistant banging against rocks weaken the plastic and case easier punctures?

Sorry if this is obvious and I am just not thinking clearly.

Forth Smith?
What are you doing on Pnet? (Just kidding Pnetters :)) You need to: 1. Join and post on the Arkansas Canoe Club message board, 2. Join the club (you’d be in the River Valley chapter) and ask your fellow members for help with boat selection, loaners/demos, trips to join and anything else you can think of and 3. Check with my buddies at Ozark Mountain Trading Company in Garfield for boats.

Thanks, I will look into it. Ya, OTMC is the kayak shop you will see me refer to in all my posts as it is the only one I have been to multiple times. I went up last Saturday and bought a Tsunami 145 from them, rather in the process of buying.

While they do offer amazing deals and do know all about the boats they don’t seem to have a ton of knowledge on techniques or at least they don’t offer them freely.

In the same “boat”…
Silvercobra, I’m glad you started this thread. I’m nearly in the same boat as you (so to speak) and will be enthusiastically watching all replies.

I currently have a short, fat rec kayak that I have quickly outgrown. I was planning to upgrade to a real sea/touring kayak this year. To stay on the water and learn some techniques, I am taking an intro to whitewater kayaking course over the winter. I didn’t sign up for this class because I had any real interest in WW paddling, but mostly to learn safety and advanced paddling techniques. However, after only my first class, I have to admit that I am hooked on WW! I was amazed and stoked at how maneuverable and fun these WW kayaks were. I had never paddled or even sat in a WW boat before. I was having a blast playing around in the pool, testing my limits, pushing the envelope, and getting thoroughly soaked in the process. Just one class into a 9-week course, and I’ve already decided that I want to get a WW boat.

However, my issue is that there isn’t any serious WW near me, and most of my regular paddling will still be on flatwater. I want a boat that I can take into WW and have fun playing around in it, but won’t be a total pig to paddle in my local flatwater (at least not any more of a pig than my current bathtub of a rec boat).

I’ve been talking with and emailing the instructor of my WW course. He’s a great guy who is very knowledgeable and has been more than helpful with all of my questions. I have joined the WW club that he is the president of. After explaining to him my current situation, my usual paddling environment, and my desire to get into WW, he provided some helpful advice and some recommendations.

He said that with my usual type of paddling, he would recommend that I look at river runners. Given that I will still be doing a lot of flatwater paddling, he said that if it were him making the decision, he would 100% go with a LL Remix XP kayak. He gave me a few others that he would recommend, too, and they were more true WW river runners than a crossover, but he said he’d definitely recommend I look into the Remix XP.

I’ve been reading up on a lot of articles and reviews and watching tons of videos on the Remix XP series. It really does look like it will fit the bill for my purposes. Sure, I would have to make some compromises on its performance in both flatwater paddling situations and WW, alike, but that’s unfortunately the nature of the beast for me. I can only have one boat. I cannot have a fleet of kayaks from which to choose depending on the style of paddling du jour. So, I have to compromise and choose one kayak that will best meet my needs across the board.

Right now, I’m leaning towards the LL Remix XP9. My weight and height (175lb and 6’) will be at the higher end of the XP9’s ideal range, but still within the range. I’d consider the XP10, but it has considerably more volume, and I’d rather stick with a tighter-fitting boat for when I do get out in WW.

I’d prefer to purchase used in hopes of getting a good deal, but my instructor warned me that I might have to be really patient to find a Remix XP on the used market. He said they are very well liked boats, and people have a tendency to hold onto them and not want to get rid of them. So, I have my radar on and will keep an eye out for anything else that pops up.

The other scenario that I have possibly boiling up in the back of my mind is if I just want to say screw it and go with a straight WW boat rather than a crossover. I had so much fun in my class that I can see myself really getting into WW. Even if most of my regular paddling is on my local flatwater, maybe I’ll have more fun just playing around in the water rather than trying to paddle for long, straight distances. So, I’m also keeping an eye out for good deals on a true river runner since it appears those will probably be easier to find on the used market. I’m keen on the LL Remix series (59, 69, 79) but am also eyeing the Jackson Fun, Zen, and Hero series.

Of course, I will try out different styles of WW boats in my class to see what I like and don’t like. Also, since I joined the WW club, I should have that resource available to try different products, as well. The club hosts open pool sessions at several local schools and recreation centers. So, I should have opportunities to see/try different styles of boats there, too. But I will definitely keep returning to this thread to see what everyone else has for recommendations and advice. Thanks.

If you’re serious about getting into WW

– Last Updated: Jan-15-15 6:07 PM EST –

then go for the river runner. But I wouldn't hold out hope that you're going to find it enjoyable to paddle on flatwater. I think even the Remix XPs would become tedious to paddle for long stretches on flatwater.

You don't need a "fleet" of kayaks, but even among the folks I know who paddle WW exclusively, I can't think of a single one who, after paddling for at least a couple of years, has managed to limit themselves to just one boat. Is your one-boat limitation due to storage or financial reasons (or both)?

I was considering a crossover boat when I first started looking for a boat because I thought it would be “good enough” for both worlds. From what was said a crossover is primarily designed for WW and the skeg just makes the flat water a little less miserable.

I decided I see more flat water than WW so I picked up a 14foot touring boat. I can take my touring boat on some rapids but taking a WW boat on flat water would be worse to me.

I’m still not really sure where the cross over boats fit in, it seems like anyone in my situation would be better off with a touring boat and anyone seeing more WW than I am would be better off with a creeker or river runner.

Good news is my friend is most likely going to get a Katana or some crossover so I can comment later this year after I paddle his quite a bit.

If you missed my previous threads they received some excellent comments and advice:



Boat limitation…
The boat limitation is due to storage issues and SAF (Spousal Approval Factor). I already have a 17’ canoe and my 10’ rec kayak that I can barely fit in my garage. I have no room for any more boats. If I want to upgrade my kayak, I have to replace one of my current boats. I’d rather replace the rec kayak because I want to keep the canoe for family fun on the water.

SAF is another strong consideration I always have to manage. My wife is pretty tired of my hobby OCD. It annoys her to no end, and I really don’t want to push the envelope too far for fear of pushing her over an edge from which I cannot recover. While I may be obsessed with kayaking at the moment, she’s more important to me than any boat. To soothe relations, I promised to make my kayak upgrade as close to a zero-sum game as possible. I will replace my current boat with the new kayak so there will be no increase in gear/equipment. Also, I will sell gear/equipment from other hobbies to fund the purchase of my new kayak. So, there will be a net effect of zero on our family finances.

I am in the tough position of determining what type of paddling most interests me and then finding a single kayak that best meets any and all compromises I have to make. Right now, my interests are swinging more towards whitewater since I am taking a WW class. I am having LOTS of fun with the WW boats in the class and really want to get my own WW kayak. However, I know that WW paddling opportunities are few and far between where I live. Most of my regular paddling will be on a slow-moving river that I live near.

So, I’m stuck with the choice of either:

A). Completely foregoing the idea of WW paddling and putting all my eggs into the touring kayak basket. This option will best suit the majority of my current style of paddling, but I may always regret not being able to have fun playing in WW.


B). Decide to completely change my paddling style and go with a WW boat. I’d get out into actual WW conditions less frequently, and would have to spend more time planning and patiently waiting for the few WW trips I could go on. Knowing that WW boats are a pain to paddle on flatwater for any length of time, I’d have to change my regular weekend outings from straight, long-distance paddling on my local river to more stationary “playing” around on my local river (e.g. sessions focusing more on playing with rolls, bracing, edging, and just building my skills for the eventual WW trips). There’s a Class II whitewater park on the Fox River (my local river), but it’s an hour+ drive to get there in good traffic. So, I could get some actual WW time on occasion, but my regular paddling would still be further upstream in slow-moving water.

I’ve been looking at the crossover kayaks like the LL Remix XPs, but the more I look at them, the more I waffle on the idea of getting a boat that really doesn’t excel in either WW or flatwater. They kind of give you just enough of each discipline to perform the bare basics, and that doesn’t sound like much fun.

Silvercobra, I read through all your other threads. It sounds very much like we are trying to make some of the same decisions. So, I will continue to follow your threads and see what others have to say. Fortunately for you, it sounds like you at least have the luxury of being able to get separate boats for the different types of paddling you want to do. Unfortunately for me, I’m stuck with having to find one boat that I hope will keep me mostly happy.

crossover kayaks

– Last Updated: Jan-16-15 10:12 AM EST –

Most of the newer crossover kayak designs are really very capable on whitewater. I know 2 people who have used the Pyranha Fusion on Class IV water quite a bit. Some very experienced whitewater kayakers would be reluctant to run very difficult (Class IV+ - V) in these due to concerns about the hatch cover blowing off or the skeg breaking, but these concerns won't be an issue for the type of whitewater you will be running initially. You can also put a float bag in the back of a crossover for safety if the hatch cover does come off.

Crossover designs are typically more river runner designs. They are not designed for acrobatic maneuvers like flat spins, cartwheels, loops etc. but again you aren't going to be doing that, at least initially.

With all due respect to your instructor, the LL XPs would be at the bottom of my list if I were shopping for a crossover boat. I have paddled both the XP9 and XP10. They are capable whitewater boats but they plow water pretty badly on the flats and I would not care to paddle them any distance on flat water. I have paddled the Pyranha Fusion and like its flat water performance much better. Although I have not paddled either the Wave Sport Ethos or the Dagger Katana, I have looked closely at the hulls of both and spoke to a couple of folks who have owned them. It looks to me as if the Katana might have the best flat water performance of the whole bunch.

You could also consider an old school river runner kayak if you came across one in good condition. If you look at the length/width ratios of some of these old timers (Dagger Crossfire, Dagger Response, Dagger Animas, Dagger AQII, Perception Pirouette, Prijon T Canyon, Prijon T Slalom, etc) you will find they are more favorable than the new crossover boats. But they lack hatches, skegs, and dry storage of course.