Marc's WhiteWater Gear Reviews

Outside Help Gear


Pains Wessex Flares and Rockets

Wether you go kayaking, paragliding, hill-walking, climbing, skiing and or any other outdoor adventure, you’ll need to think about safety. I explained more about this on the Outside Help Instruction page. Pyro signals are among the possible aids at your disposal. Here’s what I have and use:
Para Red Rocket Mk8A (Instruction video)
Designed to withstand exceptional environmental exposure and to perform reliably even after immersion in water, the pull wire ignitor and improved grip provides easy handling. Ejecting a red flare on a parachute at 300m (1.000ft), burning for 40 seconds at 30.000 candela. 235 g (8.3 oz)
Red Handflare Mk8 (Instruction video)
Flare Minimum Burns for 60 seconds at 15.000 candela., For use day or night the red handflare is a shortrange distress signal used to pinpoint position. 176g (6.2 oz)
Compact Distress Signal (Instruction video)
For day or night-use only when rescue services are sighted. Each cartridge projects its payload to a height of 50 metres, burns for over 5 seconds at a minimum of 10.000 candela and is visible for at least 5 miles in daylight increasing to 10 miles at night, depending on weather conditions. 74 g (2.6 oz)
Lifesmoke Mk9 (Instruction video)
Signal provides effective position marking during rescue operations and can be used to indicate wind direction, producing dense orange smoke for a minimum of 3 minutes. 370g (13.05 oz)
Storage
I have these pyro’s stored (at home) in an ammo tin.
Besides that, I have the Large Polybottle (waterproof) of 12 litre (2.64gal) capacity. It is really large. W218xH400xD218mm, weighing 0.6 Kg.
Having said that, none of the two options above are light and small enough to take the selection of appropriate signals on a trip. What you probably need (which I do not have), is the Mini Polybottle Mini Polybottle, with a 3 litre (0.8gal) capacity.


Comet / Pains Wessex / WesCom Signal and Rescue products are manufactured in the original Comet factory in Bremerhaven, Germany, using the most sophisticated manufacturing techniques available.


Available at Kanocentrum Arjan Bloem.

Outside Help

If the worst comes to the worst, you’ll need outside help. But only in circumstances that are serious enough.

This section looks at the full range of communication methods of calling for help, with the proximity of your route to civilisation sometimes determining the appropriateness of each method, which should be factored into your planning. Take the appropriate kit for your route.

Undirected/Passive Communication

This is when a general communication is sent, being addressed to no one in particular, but in the hope that someone will see or hear a distress communication. The following list is in order of effectiveness:

Whistle or Torch

An essential piece of kit for everyone to carry is a torch and whistle, with the sole purpose of the whistle being for emergency signalling.
The International distress signal is 6 blasts repeated with an interval of one minute between each series of 6 blasts. If your whistles are heard, you should hear three whistles in reply. Keep repeating the whistle blasts so that your location can be determined. Help may take some time to reach you, so keep whistling every minute until you are certain that rescuers are on the way, i.e. you can see a dozen bobbing head torch beams making their way to you.
Follow the same process for torchlight, flashing the light instead of whistling. However, If a Search & Rescue helicopter is nearby, shine the torch on the ground, not at the helicopter, as the bright light will affect the pilot’s Night Vision equipment.
The obvious limiting features are that someone has to hear or see you, and if you’re in a remote valley after everyone else has left, your signals could go unheard.

Pyro signals

Fire

When in distress, a fire can be helpfull in many ways. For attracting attention, place a fire on high ground, preferably within hearing distance.
When out of hearing distance, leave an arrow pointing towards your location. When sight is compromised by rain, mist or clouds, the smell of a fire will give an indication of your location. I pack a lighter and a couple of strips of inner tube. They are argueably the quickest way to make a rescue fire. (And it smokes and stinks!).

Compact Distress Signal

I use these Compact Distress Signals. The bare minimum that one should take when going into the outdoors. These signals, used to reveal your location when rescue services are sighted, are for day or night-use.
Instruction video:

Each cartridge projects to a height of 50 metres, so it is of limited use in thick woods or deep vallays. It burns for over 5 seconds at a minimum of 10.000 candela and is visible for at least 5 miles in daylight increasing to 10 miles at night, depending on weather conditions. 74 g (2.6 oz)

Handheld Flare

The Red hand-held, short range distress signal is used to pinpoint location by day or night. It burns for 60 seconds at 15.000 candela (25.000 lumen).
I pack this Red Handflare Mk8. These are the standard flares you’ll find on most lifeboats across the world. They feature a telescopic handle making it very compact and space saving when stowed in my kayak.
Instruction video:

Easily extended and pull wire operated, they help helicopter pilots to pinpoint casualty location and give vital information about wind speed and direction. These flair can be submersed when burning, without extinguishing. It burns for 60 seconds at 15.000 candela. 176g (6.2 oz)

Rocket/Parachute Flares

Rocket/parachute flares are set off from the hand, can reach a height of 300 metres (about 1,000ft).
Personal/rocket flares have that initial height (can be seen from further afield), a bang, which may grab attention if there’s anyone around.
I pack the Para Red Rocket Mk8A. These are the standard rockets you’ll find on most lifeboats across the world.
Instruction video:

Flares must not be used near Search & Rescue helicopters at night, as they will seriously compromise the effectiveness of Night Vision equipment.
Designed to withstand exceptional environmental exposure and to perform reliably even after immersion in water, the pull wire ignitor and improved grip provides easy handling. Ejecting a red flare on a parachute at 300m (1.000ft), burning for 40 seconds at 30.000 candela. 235 g (8.3 oz)

Smoke Beacons

When indication of rescue services nearby, these are used to mark the landing spot for a helicopter, showing the spot, the wind direction and -speed. I pack the Lifesmoke Mk9. Instruction video:

It’s a compact, flat top, day time distress signal designed to be easy and safe to handle. It provides effective position marking during rescue operations and can be used to indicate wind direction, producing dense orange smoke for a minimum of 3 minutes. See helicopter information lower on this page. 370g (13.05 oz) .


The Pains Wessex company has been a leading supplier of marine distress signals for over 100 years, with distributors all around Europe.
If you have problems finding the Pains Wessex products, by advised that similar, if not identical, products are sold under the Comet brand.

Strobe Light

This bit of kit is of more use in the dark than day, and can be seen from several miles away. Batteries last for many hours.  Mountain rescue teams use them, but I suggest that the weight of a strobe could be exchanged for more useful emergency kit. So, I don’t own one.

Direct Communication

This is when a ‘message’ is sent that is addressed to a specific person or organisation.
The following list is in order of effectiveness:

Before Phone/Radio Contact

  • Location: Many of the gear we carry around can provide this information, check your maps, telephone, camera, watch and any gps-enabled aparatus. Give them landmarks. Is there a road in sight? Is there a 50×50 meter clearing close by for a helicopter to land? Tell them if you have flairs, beacons, makeshift signs and such. Tell them your last know location, general direction and time since.
  • Emergency. Give as much information as possible about why this is an emergency:
    • Wounded people? Immobile, bleeding internally, externally, in shock?
    • Stuck, pinned, lost, dead people?
    • Lost? Give them landmarks. tell them if you have flairs, beacons and such. tell them your last know location, general direction and time since.
  • Urgency. Why is help time-sensitive. Wounded people, pinned people, weather closing in.

Prepare to give rescue services as much information as available:

International Emergency Telephone Codes
& Mountain Rescue Services

Please help me filling this chart with the correct information!

CountryPhone numberRadio Channel & Frequencies
Albania
Andorra
Armenia
Austria140 / 144 / 112No Radio Call available
Azerbaijan
Belarus
Belgium
Bosnia and
Herzegovina
Bulgaria(088)1470 / (02)963200055.475 Mhz or 147.850 Mhz
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
England, Wales,
Scotland
999 / 112Radio call frequency restricted to the emergency services
Denmark
Finland
France112 transfer the calls to the mountain rescue unit.150 MHz range
Georgia
Germany,
Bavarian Alps,
low mountainrange
112Radio call frequencies restricted to the emergency services
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Italy118, activation of HEMS or mountain rescue teamsFor mountain rescue only 71.500 / 71.550
MHz, not available for the public.
Kazakhstan
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxemburg
Malta
Moldova
Monaco
Montenegro
Netherlands112n.a.
North
Macedonia
Norway112 (police) / 113 (health service)Channel 5. Restricted to professionals
Poland112 / 601100300Radio frequency 153.625 MHz
Portugal
Romania
Russia
Serbi
Slovakia
Slovenia112Usually 157.725 MHz (not for public use)
Spain112 / 062Radio call frequency, if there is one available: 146:175 MHz.
Sweden
Switzerland144 / 1414 / 112161.300 MHz
Turkey
Ukraine

Mobile Phone Voice

Use the telephone numbers in the list on top of this page.  This is the best option if available and must take priority over any other communication method you may have at your disposal.
Emergency Calls Only
If your phone is showing ‘Emergency Calls Only’, this means that you will be able to make a emergency call. However, you will not be able to receive incoming calls. Inform the operator of this, as the police and/or Mountain Rescue Team will need to call you back. If someone else in the group has a phone that is not showing ‘Emergency Calls Only’, use their phone for the emergency call, as it will allow incoming calls.
Saving Mobile Battery
The primary function of your phone when on a kayak trip, should be for communication in an emergency. In remote areas battery drain can be rapid, and quicker than urban locations, for a variety of reasons, and the following steps will ensure that you have sufficient battery if you do need to make a call.

  • either switch off your mobile, or set it to ‘flight’ or ‘aircraft’ mode. Flight mode switches off the phone’s search for a mobile network, and thus prevents battery drain.
  • make sure all unnecessary smart phone apps are closed down.
  • switch off data, Bluetooth and GPS connections unless required. Some phones allow activation even when in flight mode.
  • store your phone in your rucksack and in a waterproof bag or container, but be sure in the prevailing conditions that the ring-tone can be heard (if called for emergency services).

Mobile Phone text

If the signal is shaky or very weak, try SMS/text. Text and await a reply. You must have registered with the service before using. Include your number in case text is onward relayed.

Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

Reliably gets distress-alert message with position to SAR /emergency services via satellite, through the international Cospas-Sarsat system. Once tasked, SAR helicopters can source the homing transmissions.

Satellite Phone

Make a phone call from virtually anywhere (must be outside or under fairly transparent cover). Handsets relatively expensive and considerable ongoing financial commitment to keep active.

Satellite Messenger 

Message sent via commercial satellite constellations. SPOT Messenger provides GPS position with each of additional three customised messages, with your SOS pre-set emergency info as the top level, involving the Emergency Services.. Emergency message sent to UK emergency services. Must be used outside in the clear to get GPS position and to access the satellites.

VHF Radio

Of use especially in coastal mountainous areas. You will know if someone has received your message. VHF radios sometimes require an operator to be licensed. Even in places where usage is not permitted, if the means is available and there is genuine distress, it should be used.

Radio Communications Techniques

There are a few simple practices that can make a big difference in the effectiveness of radio communications. Handheld radios should be held away from the body with the radio and antenna in a vertical position. If the antenna is in contact with the operator’s body, the RF signal strength will be reduced. Holding the radio and its antenna as high as possible will increase the line-of-sight range. The antennas on both transceivers in a radio link need to be in the same plane, or polarization. For VHF/UHF mobile radios, handheld radios, and repeaters, the polarization is always vertical. Having the antennas in different polarities can result in up to a 100-fold loss of signal strength. To transmit a message, hold the radio 5 to 10 centimeters from the face and listen for several seconds to ensure the frequency is available. Press and hold the push-to-talk button for 1 second before speaking, this prevents the first word or two of the message from being dropped. Speak slowly and clearly in a normal pitch, using normal vocabulary. It is often a good idea for the receiving station to repeat radio messages back to the sending station to ensure that the message was correctly understood, particularly if the signal is weak or garbled. One should assume that all radio transmissions are being monitored and that anything said on the radio is being said in public.

Mirror

Usable if enough direct sunlight is available. As a highly directional signal, it should be used when potential help is sighted. Signal in threes to communicate distress.

Helicopters

At night, military Search & Rescue helicopter pilots hate strobe lights and flares at short range and would rather home in, after long range identification has been established, to a torch beam pointed and flashed at the ground.

Ground to Air Communication

When you’re in distress in the outdoors and you need to call for help, you may choose to use a number of different rescue signal techniques. But if you believe that an airplane, helicopter, or other airborne rescue parties may be searching for you, then you can use the five-symbol ground-to-air emergency code to signal a specific message in advance of the aircraft’s landing. Most importantly, the ground-to-air emergency code can help let rescuers know whether or not anyone in your party is injured, and it can guide them more effectively towards your location.

  • As with other visual signals, signaling in threes communicates and confirms distress.
  • Choose a large, open area as close as possible to your location for the signal location.
  • Choose to place signals on the highest, flattest terrain you can find near your location.
  • Choose a signal that will contrast with the underlying terrain. Choose dark-colored branches, for example, on top of the white snow.
  • Go big! Use several rows of rocks or debris to build each part of a signal letter so that it is thick enough and big enough to be seen clearly from above.
  • Be prepared to use a backup signal, such as a signal mirror, to confirm your location as soon as you see aircraft in the area.
  • The five ground-to-air emergency code symbols and their meanings are as follows:

V or X : Require Assistance

A V-shaped signal communicates that you need assistance, in general, but it doesn’t imply that you or someone in your party is injured.
Use the letter X to communicate that you or someone in your party needs medical attention.
Whereas the V symbol communicates a call for help, the X symbol communicates a more urgent request for assistance.

N : No or Negative

The N symbol can be used to communicate your negative response to a question that the aircraft or rescue organization has asked.

Y : Yes or Affirmative

The Y symbol can be used to communicate your affirmative response to a question that the aircraft or rescue organization has asked.

Arrow : Proceed in This Direction

Proceed in This Direction: Arrow, Pointing Towards the Location
Place an arrow-shaped symbol with the head, or point, of the arrow indicating the direction of your location. This symbol is a good one to use when rescuers may need additional information about how to reach your location after they have identified another ground-to-air signal, such as a group of X symbols in an open area indicating a need for medical assistance. Place the arrow in a position that will guide rescuers from the open area towards your location.

Helicopter landing space

When selecting and setting up a landing space mind the following:

  • Choose a large (half a football pitch), open area as close as possible to your location.
  • It needs to be firm and relatively horizontal.
  • Make sure there are no powerlines or other obstacles.
  • Light a beacon or have a smokey fire at the upwind side of te field, for the heli-crew to see wind direction and speed.

Waterproof?

Many of us are startled by the codes products get for their waterproofness.
I’l try to explain these codes without getting too technical or scientific.

The most widely used code is the IP Code (International Protection Marking).
IP codes are made up out of a;
first digit, indicating what size solid particles it can withstand. (solid particle protection)
second digit, indicating waterproofness (liquid ingress protection)

Using the 6 as first digit, because this typically is realistic, what you need to know is this:

  • Taking electrical or otherwise water-sensitive gear outside of your boat, requires IP68. (Whitewater can created a lot of pressure.)
    Think watches, camera’s, et cetera.
  • Taking electrical or otherwise water-sensitive gear inside of your boat, requires IP67.
    Think dry-bags, phones, et cetera.
  • Using electrical or otherwise water-sensitive gear off-water ideally has an IP65 or IP66 rating, but may be less, subject to the type of gear.

Underlying this, we’ll have a look at the second digit, protection against water., which is most relevant to us:

DigitTypeExplanation
0None
1Dripping
water
Dripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmful effect on the specimen when mounted in an upright position onto a turntable and rotated at 1 RPM.
2Dripping
water
when tilted
at 15°
Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle of 15°.
3Spraying
water
Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect.
4Splashing
water
Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
5WaterjetsWater projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
6Powerful
waterjets
Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
7Immersion,
up to
1m depth
Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water of up to 1 m.
8Immersion,
1m or more depth
The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water without harmful effects.

The first digit, solid particle protection:

DigitSize (mm)Explanation
2>12.5Fingers or similar objects
3>2.5Tools, thick wires, etc.
4>1Most wires, slender screws, large ants etc.
5Dust
protected
Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it interfere with the operation of the equipment.
6Dust 
tight
No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact (dust tight).

WhiteWater Kayaking

The White Water River and Creek

‘Whitewater is formed in a rapid, when a river’s gradient increases enough to generate so much turbulence that air is entrained into the water body, that is, it forms a bubbly or aerated and unstable current; the frothy water appears white. The term is also loosely used to refer to less turbulent, but still agitated, flows. The term “whitewater” also has a broader meaning, applying to any river or creek itself that has a significant number of rapids.’

There are five main “categories” in whitewater kayaking:

River running

Riverrunning (practitioners use one word) is the essential form of kayaking. Whereas its derivative forms have evolved in response to the challenges posed by riverrunning, such as pushing the levels of difficulty and/or competing, riverrunning, of its own right, is more about combining one’s paddling abilities and navigational skills with the movements and environments of rivers themselves. Important to a riverrunner is the experience and expression of the river in its continuity rather than, say, a penchant for its punctuated “vertical” features (e.g. standing waves, play-holes and waterfalls). As for kayak design, a “pure” riverrunning boat can be said to have “driving ability” – a blend of qualities that enables the paddler to make the most of the differential forces in the river’s currents. For example, instead of spinning or pivoting the boat to change its direction, a riverrunner will drive the boat in such a way as to make use of the river’s surface features (e.g. waves, holes and eddylines) thus conserving the boat’s speed and momentum.

Creeking

Creeking is perhaps best thought of as a subcategory of river running, involving very technical and difficult rapids, typically in the Grade/Class IV to VI range. While people will differ on the definition, creeking generally involves higher gradient (approaching or in excess of 100 ft per mi (19 m per km)), and is likely to include running ledges, slides, and waterfalls on relatively small and tight rivers.

Slalom

Slalom is a technical competitive form of kayaking, and the only whitewater event to appear in the Olympic Games. Racers attempt to make their way from the top to the bottom of a designated section of river as fast as possible, while correctly negotiating gates (a series of double-poles suspended vertically over the river). There are usually 18–25 gates in a race which must be navigated in sequential order. Green gates must be negotiated in a downstream direction, red gates in an upstream direction. The events are typically conducted on Grade/Class II to Grade/Class IV water, but the placement of the gates, and precision necessary to paddle them fast and “clean” (without touching a pole and adding 2 seconds to the total time), makes the moves much harder than the water’s difficulty suggests.

Playboating

Playboating, also known as Freestyle or Rodeo, is a more gymnastic and artistic kind of kayaking. While the other varieties of kayaking generally involve going from Point A to Point B, playboaters often stay in one spot in the river (usually in a hole, pourover or on a wave) where they work with and against the dynamic forces of the river to perform a variety of maneuvers. These can include surfing, spinning, and various vertical moves (cartwheels, loops, blunts, pistol and donkey flips, and many others), spinning the boat on all possible axes of rotation. More recently, aerial moves have become accessible, where paddlers perform tricks having gained air from using the speed and bounce of the wave.

Surf kayaking (‘out of category’, but relevant)

Surf kayaking is the sport, technique, and equipment, used in surfing ocean waves with kayaks. Surf kayaking has many similarities to surf board surfing, but with boats designed for use in surf zones, and with a paddle. A number of kayak designs are used, but all are aimed at better using the waves to propel the craft.

Safety

Whitewater safety is a topic that needs attention. Accidents happen.
These accidents often result in two safety related stages of aid:

  • Rescue: Extricating/rescueing persons and recovery of boats & paddles.
  • First Aid: Taking care of wounds and injuries.

Getting pinned in whitewater is a potentially dangerous situation and needs to be solved swiftly and effective. Over the years I have broken several ribs, damaged fingers, toes and what not. Some say injuries are inevitable when pushing limits, no matter how carefull you are.

The first step is to be prepared for these occasions, with both tools and knowledge.
Preparation starts by checking rescue- and first aid kits whilst your still able to replenish your necessities.
Make sure you know how to use the kits. Practise your rescue techniques and know how to find things in your first aid kit.
When you are ready to board, check for any known health issues within the group that can cause complications during the trip. Also check if all boats have adequate buoyancy blocks & air bags. (If not, consider not risking safety and injuries recovering that boat.)
Last but not least, agree on signals to use in an emergency situation. Especially among those that aren’t in distress. (Like ‘stop, we have an emergency!’, ‘come and assist!’, ‘go to the other bank!’, et cetera.)

Whilst on the water, both kits need to be easily accessible. Make sure kits are strategically located within the group. The most experienced paddlers are likely to be able to help first when things go wrong.

My opinion and experiences on the content of rescue- and first aid kits, and how to use them, can be found on the dedicated pages.

River Kayaks Explained

River kayaks are designed primarily for downriver paddling.
In general, river runners are designed for down-river speed, catching eddies, and the occasional surf on a green wave (while creek boats are designed to run tight, steep, and technical whitewater).
There are a few design characteristics set river boats apart:
Weight, rocker, edge profile and volume distribution.

The same principles do apply on WhiteWater River Canoes.

Weight

We’ll start with the most obvious. Weight is not your friend. Neither kayaking, loading it onto your car, during portage or in a rescue and retrieval situation.

Rocker

The term rocker refers to the curvature or angle of a boat’s hull toward the bow and stern. Boats with longer effective waterline / lower rocker are faster but do not turn as easily as boats with shorter effective waterline. Boats with longer effective waterlines typically are better suited to river-running, where speed is key to moving through large waves and holes and the boat needs to avoid being easily knocked off line.
Shorter waterlines / higher rocker tend to be slower but turn more easily. These boats are better suited to more technical whitewater where maneuverability is more important than speed.

The shape of the rocker largely determines how a boat will behave when entering the water from a vertical drop (i.e. a waterfall). Boats with rocker that remain constant as you move toward the bow or stern (called linear rocker) have a smaller possible range of boat angles that still allow the bow to stay on the surface when landing a vertical drop.
These linear rocker are common on river-runners.

Edge

Hard edges provide a “keel line” (a linear feature that resists spinning in the water) when the boat is put on edge, which allows the boat to maintain momentum moving in a relatively straight or broadly curved, trajectory. This makes boats with hard edges excellent at “carving” in and out of eddies when moving down river. Hard edges also allow for more dynamic surfing, providing good directional boat control on a wave. As a result, hard edges are more common on river running boats. The drawback of hard edges is that they provide a place for water to pile up, or “catch,” on the boat, and they can hang up more on rocks. This makes boats with hard edges more challenging to paddle in boily and dynamic water, as well as shallow rivers that involve maneuvering over, around, and on lots of rocks.

Volume displacement

When volume is centered on the cockpit of a boat, the ends tend to be thinner in profile. Such boats feel “sportier” because the bow and stern engages the water more. This also allows the paddler to make dynamic moves like squirts more easily, and usually results in more maneuverability while surfing (because of less weight and volume in the ends). For these reasons, river running boats tend to have proportionally more of their volume around the cockpit than in the bow and stern.

Creek Kayaks Explained

Creek kayaks are designed primarily for downriver paddling.
In general, creek boats are designed to run tight, steep, and technical whitewater (while river runners are designed for down-river speed, catching eddies, and the occasional surf on a green wave).
There are a few design characteristics set creek boats apart:
Weight, rocker, edge profile and volume distribution.
The same principles do apply on WhiteWater Creeking Canoes.

Weight

We’ll start with the most obvious. Weight is not your friend. Neither kayaking, loading it onto your car, during portage or in a rescue and retrieval situation.

Rocker

The term rocker refers to the curvature or angle of a boat’s hull towards the bow and stern. Boats with longer effective waterline / lower rocker are faster but do not turn as easily as boats with shorter effective waterline. Boats with longer effective waterlines typically are better suited to river-running, where speed is key to moving through large waves and holes and the boat needs to avoid being easily knocked off line.
Shorter waterlines / higher rocker tend to be slower but turn more easily. These boats are better suited to more technical whitewater where manoeuvrability is more important than speed.

The shape of the rocker largely determines how a boat will behave when entering the water from a vertical drop (i.e. a waterfall). The advantage of a progressive rocker is twofold:
first, it takes stress off the paddler’s back when landing larger drops, a
nd second, it allows for more efficient transfer of vertical energy (from falling) into horizontal energy (moving quickly away from the hole at the bottom of the drop).
This makes progressive rocker very desirable on creek boats and less common on river-runners.

Edge

Creek boats with indistinct or soft edges tend to have a “mushy” feel, because they do not engage with water as much as hard edges. They do allow for faster “pivoting” turns, however, as well as smoother moves off rocks, and do not get hung up in boily water as easily. Creek boats tend to have softer edges.

Volume displacement

Boats with proportionally more of their volume distributed into the bow and stern tend to resurface more quickly and under more control. This is the result of increased buoyancy in the bow and stern.
They also tend to be more resistant to burying the bow off ledges, and punching holes (instead they ride over holes).
For these reasons, creek boats tend to have more volume distributed in the bow and stern than river-runners.

Kayaks

The White Water River and Creek

‘Whitewater is formed in a rapid, when a river’s gradient increases enough to generate so much turbulence that air is entrained into the water body, that is, it forms a bubbly or aerated and unstable current; the frothy water appears white. The term is also loosely used to refer to less turbulent, but still agitated, flows. The term “whitewater” also has a broader meaning, applying to any river or creek itself that has a significant number of rapids.’

The Kayak / Canoe

There are five main “categories” in whitewater kayaking, and thus, Kayaks:

River running

A principal design characteristic of riverrunning kayaks is their comparatively longer length and narrower breadth. The longer length at the waterline not only helps to carry speed but the longer arcs thus created between stem and stern allow the boater to more efficiently and gracefully carve into, through and out of eddies and other currents.
(More on this topic can be found on this River Kayak page.)

Creeking

Creek boats usually have increased “rocker,” or rise, fore and aft of the cockpit for manoeuvrability.
(More on this topic can be found on this Creeking Kayak page.)

Slalom

Pro level slalom competitions have specific length (350 cm (140 in) for kayaks), width, and weight requirements for the boats, which will be made out of kevlar/fiberglass/carbon fiber composites to be lightweight and have faster hull speed. Plastic whitewater kayaks can be used in citizen-level races.

Playboating

Kayaks used for playboating generally have relatively low volume in the bow and stern, allowing the paddler to submerge the ends of the kayak with relative ease.

Surf kayaking
(‘out of category’, but relevant)

There are a number of speciality surf kayak designs available. They are often equipped with up to four fins with a three fin thruster set up being the most common. Speciality surf kayaks typically have flat bottoms, and hard rails, similar to surf boards. The design of a surf kayak promotes the use of an ocean surf wave (moving wave) as opposed to a river or feature wave (moving water). They are typically made from glass composites (mixtures of carbon fiber, Kevlar and fiberglass) or rotomolded plastic. Many kayaks, such as those used in whitewater kayaking on rivers or tidal rapids, are used. Many whitewater designs can be fitted with fins, to assist in control on moving surf waves.