Whitewater Rapid Classification System – River Difficulty Classification

Are you thinking about going on a kayaking or rafting excursion? Before you try whitewater kayaking or rafting, it is imperative you get a good idea of the classification of the rapids. By understanding the classification of the rivers, one can get a good idea of what to expect from the river. Simply put, whitewater rapids are rated on a scale of I to VI. Both difficulty and danger play a significant role in determining the rating of the rivers.

Find out the different Whitewater Rapid Classification System. #Kayaking #Rafting #canoeing

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  • Class I Rapids: Moving water with few riffles and small waves. Few or no obstruction. The obstructions can be avoided by little training. Excellent for beginner kayakers. Self-rescue is fairly easy. If you are looking for more of a relaxing day, Class I rapid is what we suggest.
  • Class II Rapids: Easy rapids with smaller waves. Clear channels that are obvious without scouting. Maneuvering may be required, but the rocks and medium-sized waves are easily avoided by trained paddlers.
  • Class III Rapids: Rapids with moderate/high and irregular waves fall under the class III category. Waves up to four feet or more can be seen in class III rapids. Also, narrow and tight passages can be found, and precise maneuvering is required to move forward. Large waves may be present, but can be avoided. A newbie or a kayaker without prior experience will have trouble unless trained.
  • Class IV Rapids: Intense, powerful, difficult but predictable rapids fall under the Class IV category. Paddlers need precise handling of kayak, canoe, or boat in such turbulent water. Visual inspection and scouting are mandatory in class IV category.
  • Class V Rapids: Extremely long, difficult, violent rapids which can pose threat to the paddlers. Complex and gushing rapids are common. The violent rapids will follow one another almost without any interruption. A lot of obstructions will be found, which will require expertise to avoid. It is mandatory to have advanced rescue preparations to avoid any dangers. Only top experts with specially equipped whitewater kayaks, canoes, or water vessels are suggested to try.
  • Class VI Rapids: Extremely difficult, un-runnable rapids or waterfalls. Class VI rapids are dangerous, rarely attempted, and poses serious risks even to the expert paddlers. Due to unpredictability, it is highly suggested not to try. The consequences of the error are severe, can cause serious damages which may remain for the rest of the life, and rescue are often impossible. Usually, the top of the top paddlers is seen trying this in extreme kayak videos. Unless you are one of them, you are suggested not to try Class VI rapids. Please note that Class VI rapids are not suitable for rafting.
Whitewater Rapid Classification System
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