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Old 09-14-2005   #1
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 2
How do I choose a white water kayak?

I am 5' 8" tall and around 175 pounds.
what type or size do I need?

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Old 09-14-2005   #2
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
pick by color, those fade jobs are sexy

sorry, thats just not enough info to tell you what you need. Can you expand on what you want to do with it? Are you a pro board surfer and moved inland and what to continue surfing or is this the first time you have ever been on moving water? stuff like that.

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Old 09-14-2005   #3
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 2
Thanks so much for responding. I honestly appreciate any advice on subject. I am a beginner and I would like to learn
how to white water II & III rapids and then move up from there. I am not really into recreational type long kayaks but would like very much to get into the shorter 5 - 6' blunt ended hard plastic type.
I need to ramp up on info so I can plan lessons and equipment.

Thanks, Bob Peek
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Old 09-14-2005   #4
WhiteLightning's Avatar
Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 928
Hey Bob.

I would start with a used boat your first season or two, develop some feel for the sport, then maybe try a new one out once you can have a better idea what you are looking for. If you click on the "gear swap" link at the top of the mountainbuzz site, you will have access to probably one of the best classifides sites for used paddling gear around. Most the the boaters who are selling gear will say something like "great for beginners" in their ads if it is an appropriate kayak. Also, check under the forums menu for the gear talk forum. About every week or two someone asks the question about "best boat for beginner" and there will be a pile of replies.

If you are just looking for a starter boat, any boat that is listed as a "river runner" or a "river running playboat" is usually pretty appropriate. Creek boats and play boats are usually agressively designed to serve a specific purpose.

If you would prefer new gear- places like (I think) CKS and mountain miser have packages of brand new gear suited for beginners on their sites. Google them, and check them out as well. Deals are real good this time of year.
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Old 09-14-2005   #5
West of Boulder, CO
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 96
Hey, I'm a newby too, 6'5" and 235 lbs. I've paddled a duckie extensively and may want to move up to a hard boat. I'll probably stick with IIIs and the occasional IV (e.g., Westwater, etc). I figure there are only a few boats out there that will fit. Any advice?
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Old 09-14-2005   #6
Web Developer/Programmer
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 105
Don't bother thinking about gear if you've never tried it. The most important thing to know is that it is pretty easy to find and there are lots of good deals on used stuff.

Take a lesson, try different types of boats. Kayaks are not one size fits all and that is true of physical size and personality.
Damn I Look Good.
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Old 09-14-2005   #7
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 305
Alot of that depends on how much effort you are willing to put in to learing to kayak/roll.

A river runner will be fairly stable and you will work on bracing and learning to roll while being able to enjoy going down eazy rivers till you have a good roll.

A riverplayer will tend to flip you with no effort on your part so you will be getting in alot more roll practice/self rescue that way.
Most of todays riverplayers are still fairly stable compared to a true playboat.

Playboats are very eazy to learn to roll as that is what they are designed to do "flip and come back over" but the down side is not very good for running rivers - read that slow and get stuck in holes and not good as an all around boat till you have the skills to use it.

The most important thing to look for in any type boat is fit and comfort and not just on the floor you need to Demo any boat you are thinking of getting and sit in it on the water for at least 30min to see how comfortable it is and if you feet/legs go numb. And if you like the sitting position.

Last thing is if you are thinking of learning to surf go with a more aggressive boat to start with and take you learning curve beating.
Don't do anything, just stand there.
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Old 09-14-2005   #8
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Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 928
There are lots of boats for bigger dudes out there. Most of the boats out there come in different sizes. For example, the EZ, Big EZ, Super EZ, etc. A lot of them have numbers after them, like the Dagger G-Ride 6.5 is what I have. The 6.5 corresponds to the length, it is 6 ft 5 inches or 6.5 feet or something.

Most of the boat manufacturers have the paddler height and weight ranges for each size boat (at least for non-discontinued boats) on their web sites. Start there, then like RasD says, go test drive all of the ones that meet your size requirements and that you are interested in. Often the height/weight for older boats are on the manufacturer's site under "discontinued" or something like that. (I know Dagger has this, not sure about others).

Even if it fits good, try to get one in your weight range to start with. I am over 200 and my first boat was a WS X. The weight range was up to 180 or something. I remember when I paddled super hard, like trying to punch a hole or something, my nose would pearl (dive under the surface). Even though my Dagger is much shorter, it doesn't do that because my fat ass is within the weight range.
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Old 09-14-2005   #9
Web Developer/Programmer
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Posts: 105
Originally Posted by rasdoggy
Playboats are very eazy to learn to roll as that is what they are designed to do "flip and come back over"
I thought the opposite to be true. That the flat hull, hard chines, and shorter lengther made playboats more difficult to roll. I've only ever paddled a playboat so I can't say from experience. Just curious what others thought on that one.
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Old 09-14-2005   #10
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 122
I find my playboat is much easier to roll than my river runner, Leo... Every boat is different though!

We have a website for beginner/intermediate kayakers called which is for people just starting out on moving water up to people getting into class 4. It's for planning trips and finding paddle partners- there's over 100 people on it! Check us out if you're new to the sport.

My advice is to take a beginner class first, before you get your own boat. make sure you like the sport before investing in gear, because the gear is expensive and there is a WIDE variety out there. In addition to a boat, you need a sprayskirt, helmet, pfd, drytop, and paddle at a minimum.

It would be good to figure out what kind of boating you want to do before getting a boat, and try a LOT of them because it really is a personal preference as to which boat you get. Your 3 basic options for type of boating are: playboating (surfing, cartwheels, etc), river running (class 2-4ish), and creeking (dropping waterfalls and doing class 5/5+). There are boats specialized for each of these types of kayaking.

I'd probably start with a river runner or river running playboat for a first boat. They are forgiving, more playful than a creeker, but much more stable than a playboat. They punch through holes very well, and they turn on a dime. I think that they are the best of all worlds of kayaking.

River runners are great- usually they have flat, planing hulls so you can surf a little but you won't be able to do any other playboating moves other than surfing. I have a dagger GT which is awesome and I love it! It comes in 3 sizes- 7.5, 7.8, and 8.1. Robert, the mid-size would likely be the best of these for you. There's lots of other options, too, that I haven't paddled yet. Dogalot, maybe someone your size can recommend a river runner... I don't know of one for your size!

River running playboats are great too. You can surf and even learn to cartwheel and stern squirt, etc. but they are stable and great for river running too. The top of the line for this type of boat is the Wavesport EZ series and the Jackson Fun series. Robert- you would fit in the big EZ or the Fun (a larger to mid-size option). Dogalot, you would likely fit in the super EZ or the super fun.

Try a lot and see what you like... and take a lesson before buying. If you want to find partners to paddle with, join coloradokayakers, everyone's great on there!

Good luck!


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