You can expect to spend at least $300-350 (probably more) on a decent used boat. Brand new kayaks are usually around a grand. Lot's of good brands out there. Here is some basic information for you from the CKS website:
So you’ve decided to learn more about whitewater kayaking? Great, there are four major types of whitewater kayaking, so you’ll be sure to find a great fit.
Whitewater Kayak Types
kayaks, sometimes referred to as play boats or rodeo kayaks, are designed to perform tricks on any type of river feature (including flatwater), and excel on waves and holes. These kayaks are short and have a planning hull, sharp edges, near vertical sidewalls, and centralized volume distribution. Freestyle kayaks are designed for one thing; to allow the user to perform aggressive spins, cartwheels, flips, and other high velocity (often aerial) maneuvers. For many, freestyle kayaking is the most enjoyable type of whitewater kayaking, and often the most convenient.
kayaks blend the characteristics of freestyle kayaks and river running kayaks, and are designed for kayakers who enjoy freestyle paddling, but want to play the entire river instead of just one feature. These boats have a planning hull, carving edge, and centralized volume characteristics of freestyle kayaks. Yet they still have sufficient length, volume and secondary stability for the speed and predictability needed to navigate an intermediate river. Free runners have more of a beveled sidewall than freestyle boats, which makes them more forgiving and easier to roll.
kayaks are sometimes referred to as the ‘SUV of kayaks’ because they are designed to navigate many diverse rivers for boaters of all skill levels, and are ideal for beginner paddlers. These boats are stable enough for use in rough whitewater, yet agile enough to play large river features. River running kayaks carve smoothly in and out of eddies, track well, and surf large waves, making them great for paddling high volume rivers. A beveled side wall gives them excellent secondary stability and makes them easy to roll.
kayaks are designed for use on steep, technical, and challenging whitewater. Different designs excel at running low-volume steep creeks to high-volume pushy rivers. These are the boats that will allow you to navigate the most difficult whitewater in magnificent and remote locations. High-volume in the bow and stern keep you on top of the water, and therefore in control. A rounded deck and stern allows for fast resurfacing, and rounded edges create a stable kayak in rough water (poor for surfing, great for hucking). Safety and rescue features include a padded bulkhead foot system, easily accessible grab loops, and reinforced bow and stern pillars. Creek boats can be packed with gear for self-support overnight river trips.
kayaks are a new, and quickly growing, category of kayaks that operate as well on the river as they do on lakes and flat water. The hull shape is designed to be stable and maneuverable. Many of these kayaks have skegs that can be raised or lowered to help with tracking on flatwater. These kayaks are ideal for lakes, rivers, camping trips, kayak fishing, and more.
Select the size: Once you figure out the type of whitewater kayak that you are looking for, you will need to narrow your search to a few specific boats by weight range. Boats are paddler weight specific; meaning that each individual will fit into certain kayaks that are designed for their weight range. By identifying the specific whitewater kayaks in your weight range, you will be able to narrow your search down to a few kayaks.
Demo a Kayak: Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few kayaks, you might want to ‘demo’ the boats to see which one fits just right. Many kayak shops, including CKS in Buena Vista, CO, offer a great selection of kayaks in our demo fleets. Demoing a kayak will provide you with the most hands-on pre-purchase experience possible. (Another benefit is that you can ask the staff for more information if you have further questions.)
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