Before attempting the first descent of Tibet's Tsangpo River, filmmaker Scott Lindgren turned to LIQUIDLOGIC for a boat that could survive almost anything. Behold the GUS. At eight feet six inches, it's designed to hold a line even when immersed in man-eating turbulence and store enough cargo for multi-day explorations. Larger folks will appreciate the ample legroom on long journeys, but those weighing less than 165 pounds might find it a bit too much. Although designed to perform in the far corners of the earth, those navigating their local rivers will find the Gus a snap to handle. ($1,125; 828-698-5778, www.liquidlogickayaks.com)
Skills Into Thrills
Whitewater kayaking is difficultand dangerous. Good training is essential, and these are two of the best schools in the world.
Deep inside Northern California's Klamath National Forest you'll find OTTER BAR LODGE KAYAK SCHOOL, which boasts Deep back-door access to the Salmon River and its Class II-V rapids. Seven-day classes run from intro to kayaking ($1,890) to advanced playboating ($1,605), gourmet meals and lodging included. Mid-April to late September. (530-462-4772, www.otterbar.com)
On the East Coast, it's tough to beat the NANTAHALA OUTDOOR CENTER, in North Carolina. In its 31st year, the NOC's classes range from weekend novice clinics to thorough two-week schools with a graduation trip to Costa Rica. Sessions are held on the Class II-III Nantahala and the playboat mecca of Tennessee's Class III-IV Ocoee River. Best of all, the NOC guarantees that rank beginners will learn to kayak and can keep coming back for free instruction until that roll's dialed. ($380-$1,400, includes all meals and lodging; 800-232-7238, www.noc.com)