Close banner

Support Outside Online

Love Outside?

Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today.

Contribute to Outside
GearWater Sports

What kayak should I get for river-running the Saskatchewan wilds?

A few buddies and I are planning a five-day trip on the Clearwater River in northern Saskatchewan. We plan on hitting some whitewater, though nothing too outrageous. We want kayaks that will track well on flatwater but also be able to bomb down some whitewater. What would you recommend? Rob Lloydminster, Saskatchewan

A: Well, you'll be needing kayaks that also carry gear, right? That probably means you need some kind of agile, touring-style boat. That won't be the best thing for serious whitewater, but can handle what I expect you'll find on the Clearwater.

Blackwater 11.5

Dagger's Blackwater 11.5 is such a boat—a cross between a whitewater boat and a touring model. A little less than 12 feet in length, it's got enough room for gear, paddles reasonably well on calm or flat water, but can handle up to Class II whitewater. Mind you, it's not going to be a champ in whitewater, but it'll get you through it! And at $700 it's not too hard on the wallet (

Wilderness Systems' Pamlico 140 ($650; is slightly longer—about 14 feet, as the name implies—so can hold a little more stuff than the Blackwater, yet still offers that flatwater to Class II flexibility. This too would make a good, versatile boat for your trip.

Now, a good kayaker can handle rougher whitewater than Class II in one of these boats, but don't press your luck. The extra length of these boats makes them more difficult to steer in tight quarters, increasing the risk you hook a rock or something. They also provide a longer "lever" for water to grab. Don't mess with fluid dynamics—you'll lose every time.

For more river-runners, check out Outside Online's Kayaks Buying Guide.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
Lead Photo: courtesy, Dagger