Kayaks are the sports cars of the whitewater river world. They are to rivers what mountain bikes are to dirt, and what snowboards are to snow. They dare you to have fun, and beg you to seek excitement. Either way, when choosing the correct kayak, there are many factors to consider. The information provided here has been analyzed from a variety of whitewater kayaks reviews, will help you to understand the important features, and steer you in the right direction. We want your shopping experience for a whitewater kayak to be enjoyable and have you feeling informed about all the options, so you can choose the perfect kayak for your adventures.
There are three main types of whitewater kayaks and this is a good place to start as you narrow down the choices.
Playboats are the shortest in the fleet of whitewater kayaks and are designed to surf waves and allow the paddler to perform aerial and surface tricks like cartwheels and spins. They are generally around six feet in length and can be characterized by their stubby, planing hull, with a varying degree of beveled chines linking the side to the bottom of the boat.
Playboats also feature the least amount of rocker, both in the bow and stern. The flat bottom and pronounced edge design are what give playboats the ability to skim loosely over the surface of the water.
River runners are about how fast you can go down a variety of rivers. These are the most versatile, or “all-mountain” boats in the whitewater world. They are shaped to be a cross between playboats and creekers. River runners generally sport a semi-planing hull, that has good primary and secondary stability.
Softer chines, a higher volume and a longer running length for increased tracking, quick resurfacing, and forgiveness, make river runners great for beginner paddlers, who will be running a variety of different rivers at different flows.
Creek boats, or “creekers” are the largest boats in the lineup. Built to charge hard over big, frothy rapids, and drop waterfalls, they are able to maneuver in tight creeks with many hazards. These burly displacement hulls are generally in the 65 to 90-gallon range and feature considerable rocker in both the bow and stern. This rocker allows the boat to turn quickly, despite its length, for precise maneuvers like eddy turns, as well as both off ledges and waterfalls with ease.
Creek boats are essentially the premium choice of the kayak world, but they aren’t for everyone. Although the soft chines of creek boats maximize secondary stability, the rounded bottom of the boat sacrifices primary stability, making creekers feel “tippy” to inexperienced paddlers.
Looseness on wave, means how easy it is to spin a boat, while surfing a wave.
Aerial tricks are designed so the kayak can leave the surface of the water, to be used in freestyle moves.
Acceleration is about how quickly you can attain a certain speed, from a standing position.
Long boats are essentially extra-long river runners. Up to twelve feet long, these boats are ultra-fast downriver. Along with speed, the length combined with a considerable amount of bow rocker, provides extra volume and excellent maneuverability, making long boats solid creekers, and multi-day kayaks as well. Capable of running on pretty much any river from the Class II wave trains to the Class V steep creeks, long boats are a great option for anyone interested in a river runner on the longer side, or anyone interested in racing, as these boats can obtain some serious speed.
The number one rule in whitewater kayaking is safety. There is a lot that can go wrong in whitewater. Everything from hypothermia, broken bones, twisted ankles, exhaustion, heart attacks, and drownings, can and have occurred. The goal isn’t to scare anyone with these facts, but rather to inform whitewater kayakers as to the safety considerations that must be observed when whitewater kayaking. Having the necessary whitewater kayaking safety gear, knowing the various safety rescues, and being in tune with the basics of kayaking safety are all paramount for this activity.
This is the final point of contact with your kayak. Foot braces and bulkheads provide solid footing and help you push the rest of your lower body tightly into position. When perfectly adjusted, your feet will rest comfortably against the foot braces. But once you apply a little pressure, your thighs, hips, butt and back, press slightly harder against their respective pads, providing the necessary whitewater fit.
You basically have two options – the metal/plastic footrests that are bolted into the boat, or the foam bulkheads that are trimmed to meet your needs. Both have their pro’s and con’s, and it’s really down to a question of “feel”. Foam may be the best option since no drilling is needed, and if you get it wrong you just pull it out. The newest development in footrest technology is the bean bag system. Essentially, a small airbag partially filled with polystyrene beans is placed into the boat as a footrest. As your feet push out the air the beans become locked together, forming a solid footrest. A simple idea that works really well.
Plastic stands up to abuse better than fiberglass. It may scratch easier, but it will resist a puncture, or fracture, far better than fiberglass. Repair of a damaged boat is difficult if you don’t have the tools or experience. You should always consult the maker of the boat for the best way to fix damage. The intended use of the design, also has a lot to do with durability. Most touring boats are rigid, and may be damaged with a hard hit on a rock. Whitewater boats fair much better with hard objects.
Spray skirts are waterproof barriers that keep waves, rain and spray from entering a kayak. They cover the area between your waist and the kayak’s cockpit coaming or rim. In all but the calmest, warmest conditions, you should wear a spray skirt. Water in your boat can soak your clothing, ruin your lunch and even make you unstable.
Spray covers are removable waterproof barriers designed to keep water out of canoes in rough or rainy conditions. These covers, which snap or hook onto the edges of the canoe and stretch across the open hull, help keep the paddler and equipment dry, and keep the boat floating higher up, in the water. Spray covers come in a variety of styles and are considered optional equipment, by most canoe campers. On adventurous journeys in rough conditions, or wet weather, however, they should be considered a basic piece of safety equipment.
Choosing the correct boat size is just as important as choosing the correct boat type. All kayak manufacturers provide recommended paddler weights for each boat size. When taking these recommendations into account, it’s important to remember that you’ll be wearing plenty of gear, and that when wet, it can add anywhere from 10 to 15 pounds of weight to your body.
The total Reviews Bee rating sums up the overall picture of every product. Reviews Bee works tirelessly to ensure that we are providing the best product recommendations to you and your family. In rating the various whitewater kayaks available, we strive to give you the best information possible.Our algorithm includes information from both expert and consumer resources. There is no need to spend hours on researches, because Reviews Bee instantly gives all researches and analysis for you and creates a Top list to save your time and money.
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We came up with the popularity score for every whitewater kayak provider while analyzing 19 expert sites that are trustworthy. Based on our detailed evaluation, each whitewater kayak is assigned an expert popularity score based upon how many times each product is positively mentioned by experts in the industry.
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