How to Choose a Whitewater Kayak

How to Choose a Whitewater Kayak

What To Look For

When choosing a whitewater kayak, size is the most important detail. You want a kayak that fits your body comfortably. Many shops let customers sit inside kayaks to see how the seats and pit feel. If the cockpit feels too tight against your body, look for a larger size. If the cockpit is a little too big, you can fix that with additional padding. Also, look at the weight indicated by the manufacturer in terms of how much weight the boat can support; it needs to support the combined weight of your body and equipment.

Also, look for a kayak that has channels on the bottom. These channels reduce the amount of pressure placed on the boat when moving through the roughness of whitewater conditions.

Common Pitfalls

Buy a whitewater kayak; kayaks meant for the ocean or rivers don't have the same features as whitewater kayaks and will not work in whitewater situations. You would find that you might not be able to control the kayak or that it gets damaged easily from the rocks in the river. If buying a used kayak, take a few minutes to check that the kayak is free from damage.

Where To Buy

The best place to shop for whitewater kayaks is an outdoor or sporting goods store. The employees at these shops know the basics of whitewater kayaks. If you have any questions or concerns, the staff should know the answers. The staff is also experienced in helping people pick the right kayak and size for customer's needs. However, if you know what size you need and you're sure of your decision, then you can shop from online stores that specialize in kayaks, such as Colorado Kayak Supply. These stores often have a larger selection of kayaks and reduced prices.


Whitewater kayaks typically retail for the same price as other kayaks. As of 2010, whitewater kayaks retailed for as little as $500 but up to $1,200 and beyond, depending on the manufacturer. Dagger makes several affordable options for weekend kayakers that also work for those who only kayak a few times a year. Liquid Logic makes several more expensive options that are more durable and better suited for experienced and frequent kayakers.

Article Written By Jennifer Eblin

Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.