-- Last Updated: Jun-30-13 3:28 PM EST --
makes a huge difference. I paddled the upper New in wv yesterday, Saturday at 11:00 am. The peak time to be out. Commercial outfitters were putting on "fleets" of duckies and a few rafts as well. "Private" boaters in open canoes, kayaks, sots, duckies, and even a couple of rec kayaks on an overnight trip. I doubt many folks on this message board can say that duckies are the boat they most frequently encounter? So the "popular" boat changes with the environment and the user's experience level. Do that same trip during the week, and the boats are more sophisticated- ww play boats almost exclusively. Do it in Jan. and I'm pretty much guaranteed that the most popular boat is whatever I and my buds choose to paddle that day since we rarely encounter anyone else that time of year. The harsher the environment, the more specific and sophisticated the boat design.
In my environment SUPs are pretty much limited to park and play. While they may excel at surfing it takes a ton of skill to paddle them successfully down whitewater and requires a high level of fitness. In other words, be prepared to swim a lot.
Belly yaks and river boards have a limited appeal as well since their fitness demands are high even though they are designed for a ww environment.
A new trend is emerging where I live. People are using cheap (made with vinyl bladders) small catarafts, or minis, designed for float fishing on class II and III whitewater. That's becoming popular here on the upper new and greenbrier rivers in wv. Probably a local niche thing even though the boats weren't originally designed or marketed for whitewater. I look for the manufacturers to figure this out and make more durable versions designed specifically for whitewater that aren't cost prohibitive.
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