We are frequently asked for whitewater ratings on our boats. A few other inflatable brands rate their all-purpose recreational or even touring boats for whitewater use, so why doesn’t Aquaglide do the same? Are AG boats not capable of paddling whitewater?
To make a long answer short, as lifelong paddlers and boaters, we feel there is no substitute for experience when it comes to the water. In particular, whitewater is dangerous, variable and unpredictable. If you have the skill and experience to safely handle Class II or Class III whitewater, then you have the knowledge to assess whether or not a certain boat will be up to the task you’re considering. We don't label "ratings" of kayaks to avoid misleading customers by representing a boat designed for flatwater touring as ‘whitewater capable’ - even if it may be perfectly capable in the right hands.
We designed and tested McKenzie series (our whitewater specific kayaks) to be both stable and maneuverable – perfectly suited for novice to intermediate whitewater paddlers. We meticulously checked on points like sufficient rocker, adequate drainage, edges and other attributes that can keep a fun day from becoming a cold, dangerous swim. Then we rated even these proven whitewater designs very conservatively with a Class II rating. The McKenzie is an ideal choice for those looking to learn or expand their skills and knowledge into whitewater paddling.
Some of our other kayaks have features such as great drainage and excellent durability that one could argue makes them more than capable for limited types of whitewater use. However, we deliberately don’t rate them for whitewater because we feel it’s best to be clear about the design parameters and not mislead folks into a situation that could be potentially dangerous. We care about our customers and prefer to keep you safe!
Below, the McKenzie 125 at home in the environment it's designed for - Class II+ whitewater paddling. For detailed descriptions of classes according to the International Scale of River Difficulty, explore the American Whitewater Safety Code.