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Old 08-10-2012   #1
BCxp's Avatar
Staghorn Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 147
Beginner boat for old guy

I've read the threads here about beginner's WW boats, but I'm wondering if the below might change the beta somewhat because the boat I'm looking for is for a 76 year old paddler (5' 7" tall, 165 lbs., 28" inseam). So not as spry as you young guys.

Have paddled lots of flatwater and done some easy Class II rivers. Now would like to graduate up to III. My roll is weak so an easy roller would help, especially if it's one that helps make learning rolls a bit easier.

Don't need big volume for overnights (have buddies who carry).

Plan to use downriver only, but it might be fun to be able to do some easy river surfing, too. Also, if it's not asking too much, would like a boat I can play with in easy ocean surf, rather than my sea yak.

The LL Remix XPs (would the 9 be a better size for me than the 10?) have some interest for flatwater gunkholing in marshes and photography, but all that is further down the bucket list (touring boat is better anyway, probably). Have demoed XP10, Jackson Rogue L, and Fusion L (C30). Nice boats but think something else would be better for learning WW. Also wonder if the larger sizes are too big, so want to demo the smaller ones, too.

I'm wondering if the Mamba, LL Remix, Jackson Zen or Hero are boats I should look at. At my age I *think* I want something that's not too initially unstable, carves easily (love carving in the seayak), rolls easily, and isn't too heavy to haul around.

Thanks in advance...and thanks for all the already posted info!

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Old 08-10-2012   #2
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
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Kudos for stretching yourself at your age. What kind of rivers? High volume, small technical?

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Old 08-10-2012   #3
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Staghorn Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 147
Tnx for the quick reply!. Based on this year locally (western CO) ,probably low volume water and not very technical. Would like to eventually get technical (loved technical slalom racing in skiing), but want to start just getting comfortable with the basics. Love doing peel outs, eddy outs, s-turns, ferries, love the feel of carving in and out of current which I've done a little of in a Remix XP 10, but it that boat feels a bit tanky to me, so I'm wondering what's out there for my skill/physical level (face 76 the muscles aren't what they used to be) that will be more nimble, but also fairly stable. Another disappointing fact of advanced years is that your balance tanks, bigtime! Thanks for the help.
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Old 08-10-2012   #4
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In a Van, Down By the River
Paddling Since: 91
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 517
Jackson "fun runner" might be an option to add in there. The hero is a great boat but... I wouldn't call the hero and great carver and it does take a fare amout of strokes to get it throught the flats. I really think you should take a look at the fun runner. Just another option to make life that much more interesting.

Link to fun runner
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Old 08-10-2012   #5
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,373
The boats you demoed are great boats but they're sort of a crossover class that are more for self supporting. Also, at your size the smaller size of those boats would probably be more appropriate. Sounds like you want something with some speed and that is nimble and stable. All the companies have good river runners these days and I'm not familiar with all of them. You mentioned the Jackson Zen and that was the first boat that came to mind for me. Its got a lot of initial stability which will help with the balance issue. Its also fast and almost has a slalom boat feel to it. I love the Hero but the Zen would be faster, carvier. The Mamba and the Remix are both great boats. If you have access to them then demo them all but you sound like a good candidate for the Zen.

At 62, I'm a pup compared to you but I hear you about balance.

Here's a link to a lot of boat reviews by an independent pro boater.

Good luck...

Kayak Reviews & Kayaks for Sale | Dustin Urban
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Old 08-10-2012   #6
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Staghorn Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 147
Thanks, idaho. The FR looks interesting, too. Appreciate that.

Phil U. Think we met last May at CKS PaddleFest. Thanks for the links to Dustin's reviews. (Enjoyed watching him at PaddleFest.) I had already looked at the one for the Zen which sounds like maybe the best choice so far. One thing about the JK boats that appeals is the Uni-Shock bulkhead. I have some leg issues that the Uni-Shock might assist with. After listening to Clay and EJ discuss it, the idea sounds pretty swift for both comfort,strength/safety, plus the ability to stow gear up there. And, it looks like it'd be an advantage not to have to mess with wingnuts in order to move the bulkhead, as with the Dagger.

The offset to that for me might be the BA seat in the Remix. I have that in my Inuit tourer and can go many hrs. in real comfort. Just have to demo the Zen seat to see if its a little better than the Rogue's. Also, didn't try the Rogue with the Sweet Cheeks cushion which probably makes a big difference. So will head for CKS soon, got to go to RMOC anyway in the next few weeks.

Not sure I understand the performance differences between the Zen, Fun Runner,and Remix though. Is there a clear reason why one may be a better beginner boat than the other? It looks like the more rounded chines on the Remix might be more newbie friendly, but the flatter bottom of the Zen/FR more stable. Would this be true?

I appreciate what I hear you do in your 60s. Hope I can get part way to that! Nice to post with another Maineac (Farmington and South Freeport here). BTW, the South Main work is great. Don't you have a bunch of WW geezers over there who play in the park? Hope I can do the park soon in a hardshell.

Thanks much for your help. Hope Dustin is having a good season.
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Old 08-10-2012   #7
Montrose, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 42
Maybe not as much fun as a hardshell, but IKs/duckies (inflatable kayaks) could be an option, especially if your priorities are fun, comfort and gear hauling ability on class II/III rivers. And you don't need a roll (just a willingness to swim from time to time...)

As for western CO, you can run just about anything but the gnarliest IV+/V runs and creeks we've got out here in a duckie. I think the best thing we've got going for fun whitewater, fishing and scenery in our immediate vicinity is the Gunny Gorge. This can be hard to do in rafts without a lot of preplanning. You could do it self-support, survivalist style in a hardshell, but it's a hell of a lot easier to get your boat to the river and haul gear, beer and a mini-groover in a 2 person or even a 1 person IK.

My 2 cents. Have fun with whatever boat you choose. I hope to be as active as you when I hit my 70s.
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Old 08-10-2012   #8
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Staghorn Springs, Colorado
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 147
Hey Lookinasun,

Tnx. for the post from just down the road. I've done some duckie runs (last one on the Ark) and found them to be a bit uncomfortable. The leg issue I mentioned prevents me from getting a handle on the inflatable with my left knee and is actually painful. And the IK doesn't give the feeling of being one with the boat like the hardshells. There's something pretty cool about lightly wiggling a part of your body feeling the boat respond that I really like.

Have done the Gunny from Pleasure Park to Delta and hope to go from there to GJ soon. May try Grizzly in a couple of weeks too with our kids WW club.
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Old 08-10-2012   #9
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 265
I'm 43 and currently have: LL XP9 LL Jefe Chico Fluid Solo Expedition The XP9 is just too bulky and non-responsive for me. It's great for multi-day stuff and larger rivers, but the smaller creeks that are local to me, it's not so good for. (Not to mention I kinda suck.) The Jefe is KILLER for maneuverability, response, and even speed. Not much storage and it's definitely a 'seat of the pants' ride, but it's FUN...cake to roll. The Fluid Solo Expedition (has storage similar to XP9 and is under a different name now) I would HIGHLY recommend for you. It carves great, plays great, goes where you want it, and is easy to roll. My limited experience, but I hope it helps.
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Old 08-10-2012   #10
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Staghorn Springs, Colorado
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Posts: 147
Thanks FastFXR. That looks interesting, but don't know yet if there's anyplace around where I could demo one. Will keep looking. Also, I'm not thinking creeking is really up this alley at my age.

Turns out that shortly after Labor Day an instructor friend is going to accompany me on a WW Remix demo on the easier water below Pumphouse which he says I can handle OK (he's seen me paddle). So we'll see how that goes. That prospect sort of gives me the willies, though, but nothing ventured...

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