Whether you are a beginner or professional kayaker, there are instances when you want to experience riding the calm flat water and the rough whitewater.
Other types of kayaks require you to choose between them, but why choose if you can ride it both ways?
Having the reliable and best crossover kayak allows you to experience the thrill of paddling the rapids or explore the beauty of the rivers or lakes. For this reason, if you are the type of person who is up for new adventures and experiences, you came to the right place.
This article will introduce you to some of the best crossover kayaks that most kayakers love. You will also know how to select the best boat that you will love.
Top 6 Best Crossover Kayaks Reviewed
- Dagger Kayaks Katana 10.4
- Wilderness Systems Aspire
- Dagger Kayak Zydeco 9.0
- Dagger Kayak Mamba 8.6
- Pyranha Fusion 2
- Wave Sport Ethos 10
#1. Dagger Kayaks Katana 10.4
- Length (feet and inches): 10’4”
- Width (inches): 27.25
- Weight (pounds): 56
- Cockpit size (inches): 37
- Weight capacity (pounds): 285
If you are looking for a Crosswater kayak that is best for touring, whitewater, and recreation, the Dagger Kayaks Katana 10.4 is probably the one that you want. It can paddle in any water type. Because of this, this boat can allow you to experience the perks of being in various water environments.
This kayak features a balanced rocker and waterline, providing its versatile characteristic. It is also highly maneuverable and responsive.
The Katana can get through the rapids that are up to class three. Because it is a crossover kayak, it can ride on the waves of different sizes and even the flat waters.
It features the Contour Ergo outfitting. That is why it has an adjustable backband and hip bands that provide comfort, adding to the boat’s stability when trudging the whitewater.
Its rounded stern and bow make the Katana even better for paddling. Because it is a crossover kayak, it should have a feature that enables it to move straight in flat water. That is why it has a drop-down skeg.
Aside from these impressive features, the Katana has a large bulkhead, allowing you to store your gears and attach a bungee deck.
|Large bulkhead to store gears or any stuff||Slower than many kayaks|
|Capable of riding any water conditions||Not for tall paddlers
|Adjustable straps and seats
|Has a drop-down skeg
#2. Wilderness Systems Aspire
- Length (feet and inches): 10’6”
- Width (inches): 29
- Weight (pounds): 48
- Cockpit size (inches): 51.5
- Weight capacity (pounds): 400
If you are a paddler on the plus-size side, you will love the Wilderness Systems Aspire. It features a spacious cockpit with a 51.5-inch length and provides several adjustments for comfort.
Despite being the kayak for the plus-sized, the Aspire is exceptionally maneuverable.
It has a multi-chine hull that gives its initial and secondary stability, meaning you can already feel it once you hop into it and start paddling.
It has a deployable skeg that you may use to have a straight direction when riding on a flatwater. It also has extra spaces for several storages and bungee rigging.
The only issue with the Aspire is that the water tends to get in because of its spacious cockpit.
|For plus-sized paddlers||Not the best option for a flat water ride|
|Adjustable seats||Lacks stability in whitewater|
|Many storages||Splashes prone
#3. Dagger Kayak Zydeco 9.0
- Length (feet and inches): 9’1”
- Width (inches): 28.5
- Weight (pounds): 36.5
- Cockpit size (inches): 38.5
- Weight capacity (pounds): 220
The Dagger Kayaks Zydeco 9.0 is your best option if you are looking for a portable crossover kayak. This Dagger Kayaks model is more into a recreational side than it is on the rough rapids. However, it can handle whitewater that is at a moderate level.
This model is stable and maneuverable. It is an advisable kayak for beginners who are starting to learn how to paddle.
What is impressive about its kayak is its lightness and compact features. It allows only one person to handle or transport it from one place to another. Also, it can fit in a car.
To make the Zydeco even more impressive is that it is budget-friendly.
|Maneuverable||Not the best option for extreme whitewater|
#4. Dagger Kayak Mamba 8.6
- Length (feet and inches): 8’6”
- Width (inches): 27.5
- Weight (pounds): 51
- Cockpit size (inches): 34
- Weight capacity (pounds): 260
The Dagger Kayak Mamba 8.6 is your next option if you look for a crossover kayak for a plus-sized paddler. Although it does not have a weight capacity of 400 pounds like the Aspire has, it has a weight limit of 260 pounds.
Beginners and advanced kayakers find the Mamba 8.6 enjoyable. It is because of its stability that it does not sacrifice its performance. That is why this boat is advisable for all kayakers, whether you are a thrill-seeker or an explorer.
Aside from these perks, the Mamba has adjustable seats, straps, and braces that make you feel comfortable on your ride.
#5. Pyranha Fusion 2
- Length (feet and inches): 10’4”
- Width (inches): 26
- Weight (pounds): 50
- Cockpit size (inches): 36.5
- Weight capacity (pounds): 243
Pyranha Fusion 2 is another lightweight kayak that you might want to consider buying. You can use this model, whether in a flatwater or whitewater, seeking thrills or exploration.
This model features a rounded hull and rocker that are responsible for its speed and maneuverability. It also has a drop-down skeg that allows you to ride the flat water in a straight direction. The manufacturer also placed the skeg slider on the deck so you can have better access to it.
Aside from these impressive features, the Pyranha Fusion 2 has mounting points that can hold fishing rods and gears. It also has a hatch for storage. It also allows you to attach bungee rigging on the deck.
|All-around storage||Slower than most crossover kayak models|
|Adjustable straps||Storage small opening
#6. Wave Sport Ethos 10
- Length (feet and inches): 9’7”
- Width (inches): 27
- Weight (pounds): 53
- Cockpit size (inches): 36
- Weight capacity (pounds): 260
If you are looking for a crossover kayak that can strengthen your confidence in trudging the whitewater, you will never go wrong with the Wave Sport Ethos. It is stable, forgiving, and beginner-friendly. Aside from its whitewater performance, it can also perform well in other water types.
Its hull design enables the Ethos to become maneuverable in the rapids. Its drop-down skeg helps it to paddle straight in flat water. Besides these features, this model has a comfortable and spacious cockpit with adjustable braces.
You can also store your gears in its ample storage.
Using this kayak, you will not have a problem riding even a class 4 water condition.
|Watertight storage||Some users find the backband low|
Our Favorite Crossover Kayak
Do not get it wrong. There are tons of high-quality crossover kayaks on the market, although there can also be poor-quality ones.
The kayaks on these lists are only among the best and the ones that most kayakers love. Among these crossover kayaks, what stands out the most is the Dagger Kayaks Katana 10.4
If you ask most kayakers to give you the best crossover kayaker’s name, they will mostly say that it is the Dagger Kayaks Katana. It is not surprising because of its near-perfect features.
Crosswater kayaks promise you the experience to ride any water conditions, whether for recreation, whitewater, or touring. The Katana fulfills it at its best.
The only downside of it is that it is slower than the others, but it is a minor issue compared to what it can give. It has several impressive features that allow you to enjoy your ride. It includes durable design, adjustable seats and straps, and stable hull. It also has a rounded hull that provides better maneuverability.
What is a Crossover Kayak?
Now that you know some of the best crossover kayaks, it is time to learn more about this type of kayak.
A multi-purpose kayak can handle almost any water type. It is possible because it uses combinations of design of other kinds of kayaks, such as the features from recreations, whitewater, and touring kayaks. Because of this, it uses a drop-down skeg for better speed and tracking when you are riding in flatwater.
For this reason, the crossover kayak is advisable for those who want to experience the perks of riding different water types. Riding a crossover kayak, you can experience the thrills of riding the whitewater or immerse yourself in the beauty of nature when sailing on the flat waters or slow-flowing rivers or lakes.
This type of kayak to eliminate expenses, because you do not have to buy a different product for the other purpose. Your crossover kayak can do the job.
If there is a disadvantage in using a crossover kayak, it has issues tracking in a straight direction. It is because the hulls of this type are short and flat than the other types. Also, because of these characteristics, a crossover kayak has impressive maneuverability because of the fast hull.
Best Crossover Kayak Brands
Although this article provides you with the lists of the most awesome crossover kayaks on the market, these are only suggestions. In the end, you will still be the one who will ride and use the kayak. That is why you should choose the one that you most prefer.
If you cannot find a kayak in any of the suggested products above, you can go for a more in-depth search by knowing the best brands to look for when you are at the store.
Here are some of the best crossover kayak brands.
Joe Pulliam and his friends were the ones who founded the Dagger Kayaks in 1988 in Tennessee. It started as a small shop until it grew to become one of the largest and well-known kayak brands in the boating industry.
Currently, Dagger Kayaks has different branches in different places worldwide, and Confluence Outdoor manages it.
According to Dagger Kayaks, what drove it to success is its people who have a passion for what they do. The company aims to represent all the excellent experiences once you get into the water.
It makes kayaks for various activities, whether recreational, performance, touring, multi-waters, and whitewater. That is why if you need a particular kayak, you do not have to look somewhere else. Dagger Kayak for sure has it.
This company assures quality from concept to production. It has a research and development team that comes up with the best design. It also has a team that tests these kayaks before going to the public. It consists of well-experienced kayakers, such as Brad Ludden, Ben Brown, and more. Dagger Kayaks will not go to the public unless tested by this team.
According to this brand, it is different because it masters any water conditions to come up with the best boats. For this reason, it is not surprising that many of its kayaks have won several awards from Paddling Magazine.
John Sheppard and Andy Zimmerman founded the Wilderness Systems in 1986 in North Carolina. It is one of the brands that Confluence Outdoor manages, including the Dagger Kayaks.
Aside from its Aspire model, the Wilderness Systems is also famous for its Pungo, Tsunami, Ride, etc.
According to Wilderness Systems, its products provide an escape from the busy world by allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. It claims that its kayaks have innovative design combined with performance and quality, which are the descriptions of its kayaks.
It claims that its kayaks can help you go where you want to go.
Graham Mackereth was the one who founded the Pyranha in 1971. He started in his father’s garage until it grew to become one of the famous brands in the boating industry. It has been almost 50 years, but many kayakers still trust this brand, proving its quality.
According to the company, it has a team of paddlers worldwide that use its products in challenging waters. That is why you can assure the quality of its kayaks.
Pyranha has boats for kids and professionals. It claims that its products are from technologically advanced materials. It also used the leading methods in the industry and the best quality control to create premium kayaks.
Chan Zwanzig was the one who founded the Wave Sport in 1986 in Steamboat Springs. People who know him described him as an eccentric businessman with a deep passion for his craft and kayaking. Because his name is well-known in the industry, he earned the respect of kayakers and his competitors until his death.
In 1999, Wave Sport became a part of the Confluence Watersports, which is now well-known as Confluence Outdoors.
Even though Zwanzig has not been around, the company claims that it still has Zwanzig’s passion. It says that it lives by kayaking. It helps people escape from their busy life on land, and it goes around the world to search for new experiences. For Wave Sport, kayaking is a journey, not the endpoint.
That is why it treasures the memories and bonding moments made using its products by going beyond boundaries to provide the best kayak. Wave Sports aims to influence others of the same passion in kayaking.
Crossover Kayak Jargon That You Must Know
If it is your first time purchasing a kayak and you are a novice in this kind of water activity, you probably encountered some words that you do not understand. In this section, you will learn some of the jargon useful for knowing what you are trying to purchase.
Skeg refers to the protrusion at the back part of the boat, and it usually has a rudder on its centerline. As mentioned, crossover kayaks have issues trudging flat waters because most of them have a flat hull.
Crossover kayaks compensate through the use of skeg and rudder. Because of this, this type of kayak is usable in both flatwater. When you are in whitewater, kayakers usually retract them.
This feature is also usable for the kayak in a crosswind.
The rocker refers to the curve’s measurement starting from the hull’s front (bow) to its back (stern). It functions based on the lift that it can give to the kayak.
The waterline is the opposite of the rocker. It refers to the hull part that is in contact with water.
When you cut the kayak in cross-section, you will see the angle change, hard or soft. Hard chine means that there are more angles, while the soft chine has a rounded shape.
Holes are the parts of the water created by its flow over an obstruction like rocks. Depending on the kayakers, Holes can make or break their performance. Some kayakers find them useful for performing tricks, while others find them dangerous because holes can trap them and fill the vessel with water.
Kayakers also call it edging. It refers to the riding position in which one kayak’s side is tilting, and the other side is touching the water. This position is useful for making fast turns because it provides better water friction.
Tracking refers to the kayaks’ ability to move in a straight line.
Stability in kayaks can be primary or secondary.
The primary, also known as initial, refers to the kayak’s stability once the kayaker goes aboard.
The secondary refers to the kayak’s stability when it starts moving.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Crossover Kayak
As mentioned, there is no guarantee that you will like one of the listed crossover kayaks above. That is why, in this section, you will learn helpful tips on what to look for when buying a kayak.
What you need to do first is ask yourself what kind of water would you like to explore. Although crossover kayaks are versatile, some are more into whitewater, and some are more recreational.
Also, it allows you to have more options. If you realize that you want to ride only in whitewater or only in flatwater, crossover kayaks might not be for you.
If you are sure that crossover kayak is the type that you are looking for, you should know the factors to consider when buying one.
Most crossover kayaks have durable rotomolded ethylene construction. You can use it many times in any water condition, even in rocky areas.
What you need to know about the crossover kayak’s capacity are its weight limit and cockpit size. If you feel comfortable in your chosen kayak, you can paddle at your maximum potential.
Size can affect the performance of a crossover kayak. For example, short kayaks are more maneuverable. If it has more rocker, a kayak can provide better speed.
Wide kayaks are more stable than narrow ones. If you consider carrying gears, fishing rods, and the like, consider those with a spacy hatch and bulkhead.
If you feel comfortable, it will make you ride more fun. That is why you should select a kayak with an adjustable cockpit grip and fit to meet any water condition. Ensure that it is spacious enough so that you will not feel contained, and you will be able to stretch your legs.
It is also advisable to go for the kayaks with adjustable hip pads, thigh braces, seat, and hip pads. These features can add to the boat’s stability when you are in a rough-water condition.
As mentioned, its function is to provide lift, which makes the kayak maneuverable. How much rocker your kayak should have referred to the water condition.
The hull refers to the bottom part of the kayak. It affects the boat’s ability to maneuver and cut through waves. It comes in different shapes, which are the following.
Rounded hull provides increased speed because there is no water resistance. It is also maneuverable and gives better secondary stability.
Pontoon hull provides both the primary and secondary stability, and excellent tracking, but it is slow.
The one with V-shaped has the best ability to cut through the water. Thus, it has excellent tracking, speed, and secondary stability.
The flat hull is excellent in giving primary stability. It is maneuverable and ideal for fishing.
Most crossover kayaks have flat or rounded hulls.
The waterline refers to the kayak’s ability to cut through the water. The more waterline there is in a kayak, the better its speed and capacity to track and cut through waters.
However, it still depends on how you mostly want to use your crossover kayak.
Skeg and Rudder
Because you want a crossover kayak, it means that you want to have a versatile ride. That is why the skeg and the rudder should be among your considerations when buying this type of kayak.
As mentioned, a crossover has issues in tracking in a straight direction. Because of this, you should not forget the skeg and the rudder. Choose a crossover kayak that has a drop-down skeg or peddle steering rudder.
Because there are many crossover kayaks available on the market, hopefully, this article has helped you find the best kayak for your use. It discussed some of the best crossover kayaks that most kayakers love, and you learned that one of them is the Dagger Kayaks Katana 10.4.
You learned that although it is a slow kayak. It has all the features you need to perform various water activities, whether in the calm flat water or rough whitewater.
If you still cannot find the best kayak among the mentioned ones, hopefully, this article has helped you learn what to look for when buying one. You have also known some of the best brands to look for when shopping.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Why Use a Crossover Kayak?
A: If you are the type who enjoys riding different water conditions, whether recreational or whitewater use, a crossover kayak is probably for you. It is also for those people who want to save space on their quiver because they do not have to buy two to four kayaks if only one can serve its purpose. It is also for kayakers who want to experience freedom in paddling different water conditions.
Q: How to Differentiate a Crossover Kayak From the Other Types?
A: Crossover kayaks typically resemble the recreational kayaks. However, they have added features from the other types to perform in different water conditions. Examples of these features are the planning hull and pole holders.
Q: What Is a Disadvantage of Riding a Crossover Kayak?
A: Although crossover kayaks allow you to experience the thrills and excitement of riding any water types, they cannot allow you to share them to the extreme. It is because they lack the features to provide the best performance that kayaks with a particular purpose can do. If you want to experience the best in a water type, focus on it, and invest in a kayak that has a specific purpose.
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G’day, my name is Rach Taylor and I’m the proud Founder of Surf Hungry. I am a former Australian Olympic athlete and Australian representative surf sports athlete. I’ve worked in the surf industry and lived at several of Australia’s best surf spots, sparking a life-long love of the ocean and a passion for surf sports which has now well and truly rubbed off on my two young sons, both little Aussie surf-stoked groms!