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I've dabbled in boating for many years, but now I'm looking to go for it with whitewater kayaking. I'm hoping to get some advice on a kayak to purchase, as well as thoughts on outfitting.
My goals: I live in Fort Collins, so I'll mostly be on the Poudre. My goal with this boat will be to take my time and become really solid with class II-III, and then see if a new purchase is needed at that point. I'm in no rush, and just want to be able to get out on the water as much as possible. I'll likely be doing Filter Plant runs and lots of flat water roll practice, and then try my hand at Bridges and go from there. Eventually I'll also be looking to spend some time on the Arkansas in Salida.
My Experience: I've done some recreational, sea and whitewater kayaking in the past. On the Poudre I've done Filter Plant runs in both whitewater and recreational boats. My sister is a rafter and I've spent a decent amount of time riding and paddling with her.
My Priorities: Comfort is important. I had an old Perception Whip-It that I used occasionally for a few years, but it was definitely not the boat for me, and it was so uncomfortable that it kept me from wanting to go a lot. Based on that experience, I really want to get something I will feel good in, that won't be a deterrent for getting out there. I know that outfitting technology has improved a lot so that newer boats have a lot adjustments available for comfort and performance, so that may be a consideration. I'm female, 5'8" and 130 lbs. I'm looking for something that will be easy to learn with - forgiving and easy to roll. I'm hoping for a boat that will help me become really solid in class II-III+. I'm okay if I need to upgrade after that, although long term usability would be great.
Price: Definitely hoping to buy used. I'd like to pick up everything I need for under $500. For that price I'd like to pick up a boat and have enough money left over for whatever outfitting and modifications are needed, as well as pick up some other used gear. I need a new (to me) pfd and some splash gear. Hopefully this is a realistic price range. I'm not opposed to spending more, or even buying new, if that's what I really need to do. If for some reason it doesn't work out, I don't want be able to use bad gear as an excuse.
Sorry for the long post, but hopefully with these details some experienced folks can point me in the right direction.


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I would recommend a Jackson Zen unless you want to be able to play/surf as well. If so go for either the Jackson Fun or Star. I think it will be a little hard to get everything you need for under $500. Btw the fun is a river runner/play boat and the star is a playboat but is the best playboat to run rivers in my opinion.
 

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I would recomend a Jackson kayak for ease of use and comfortable outfitting. The back band and foot blocks are releasable for when you want to relax and be comfortable while staying in the boat.

I know a guy with a punk rocker, and even a few more options of boats that can help you.

PM FatmanZ here on the buzz and see what he has left, these are boats his sons grew out of, barely used and within your price range.

he paddles the poudre often, and might have a boat for you and some gear.

Make sure your life jacket and helmet fit well, no sliding around, esp. the helmet. It will make a huge difference.
 

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Its going to be hard to come it at 500 bones but I'd skimp on the boat and look for something like an old wavesport ez or Jackson old style 2fun. Or any older boat with a similar shape. Maybe a pyranha sm rev. I mention those boat just because they have true planning hulls and they can be found cheep. But really at your weight most boats are going to be very stabile. The bottom line is that your not going to be able to be very picky on what you get. You might just have to get what ever you can find if you know what I mean???
 
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