Kayaks are among the most useful types of boats on the market. You can use them for touring, sports, exploration, whitewater adventure, and more. If you are one of those people who love riding the whitewater, read on.
When it comes to whitewater riding, you know that it pertains to a few types of it, depending on the location or activity that you want to do. Whitewater kayaking may pertain to river running, creek, and river play.
This article will focus on the whitewater river running. If you are into this kind of activity, you need to gear yourself with the best river runner kayak. This article will introduce you to some of the river runner kayaks that most users love, and you will also know how to buy one that can satisfy you.
Top 10 Best River Runner Kayak Review
- Dagger Kayaks Rewind
- Pyranha 9R II
- Dagger Kayaks Phantom
- Pyranha Machno
- Pyranha 9R
- Wave Sport Phoenix
- Dagger Kayaks the Green Boat
- Dagger Kayaks Katana 10.4
- Pyranha Burn III
- Liquidlogic Remix 69 Braaap
#1. Dagger Kayaks Rewind
- Length (feet and inches): 8’4”
- Width (inches): 24.5
- Weight (pounds): 40
- Weight capacity (pounds): 160
- Cockpit length (inches): 34
The Dagger Rewind is the first on these lists because it is the kayak that brought Dagger Kayaks the bacon when it won the Paddling Magazine Industry Award in 2019. It won the Best Whitewater Boat Category. Because of this, it is just to place the award-winning kayak at the first of these lists.
Do not feel intimidated. Although the Dagger Rewind is an award-winning kayak, anybody can use it, even the beginners. Once you use it, you will realize how excellently it performs down the river, which might exceed your expectations.
It is playful, but it can withstand the formidable challenges of the whitewater. You can expect to get through safely when you use it because of its durable construction and modern features.
With the help of this boat, you can also learn new tricks.
|Excellent ability to cut through the water||We got nothin'|
|Solid in the downriver
#2. Pyranha 9R II
- Length (feet and inches): 8’11,” 9’5”
- Width (inches): 25.5, 26
- Weight (pounds): 48, 51
- Weight capacity (pounds):220, 275
- Cockpit length (inches): 37.5
The Pyranha 9R II is available in two sizes: medium and large. Pyranha claims this model to be the sports car version of a kayak because it can provide a thrilling experience to the paddler as the sports car does to its driver. It promises effortless rolling, fast performance, and connectivity.
Many people love that 9R version, but the 9R II gives you more reason to love it. The 9R II provides quick rail to rail transition and speed that you may use for competitions and doing tricks.
This Pyranha model has a rocker that balances to its other features to provide the best lateral speed. The rocker is also progressive for better carving and tracking.
It also provides extra volume at the stern and seam line to accommodate plus-sized paddlers.
This kayak features an open stern handle that aids the drainage system of the boat.
|The enhanced version of the 9R||Not for cruising|
#3. Dagger Kayaks Phantom
- Length (feet and inches): 8’11”
- Width (inches): 26.75
- Weight (pounds): 49.5
- Weight capacity (pounds): 255
- Cockpit length (inches): 34
The Dagger Phantom’s performance is comparable to that of the Green Boat. Like the Green Boat, the Dagger Phantom is fast and maneuverable.
It has a balanced tracking performance, and it is also responsive if you have to suddenly turn your kayak. This kayak has enough volume that enables you to paddle your boat well while having enough buoyancy.
The Phantom has most of the other Dagger kayaks features that include the adjustable backhand, roto-molded seating, leg lifter, to name a few.
|Comes with a drainage system||Not the best when it comes to tracking ability|
|Comes with adjustable straps||Unresponsive turnability at times|
|Available in different colors
#4. Pyranha Machno
- Length (feet and inches): 8’5,” 8’8,” 8’11”
- Width (inches): 26, 26.2, 26.4
- Weight (pounds): 44, 47.5, 51
- Weight capacity (pounds): 176, 220, 287
- Cockpit length (inches): 36.4, 37.2, 37.4
If you are looking for a river runner with a generous bow rocker, you will never go wrong with the Pyranha Machno. This kayak can handle almost any water condition, enabling you to paddle despite your kayaking level abilities.
This model has a broad planing hull that provides its responsiveness and forgiveness. It also has slight wave deflectors and edge design that allows you to boof better on any obstacles. When you land, the impact will be less because of the lifted bow that also helps eliminate this impact.
It has a semi-plane hull and flat bottom that transform into soft chines. It also has an extreme rocker and bow for responsive turnability, even in challenging water conditions.
Aside from these features, the edge provides generous volume and forgiveness for effortless rolling.
|Comfortable||Disconnecting can be difficult for some paddlers|
#5. Pyranha 9R
- Length (feet and inches): 8’11”
- Width (inches): 24.2
- Weight (pounds): 46
- Weight capacity (pounds): 209
- Cockpit length (inches): 4
The Pyranha 9R became available on the market in 2015. Many kayakers fall in love with it already because of its performance. It is an excellent race kayak that you can use for carving, plugging holes, creek boating, and river running.
It has a narrow profile compared to other models, which Pyranha claims make the boat controllable and fast. This kayak has soft edges that provide its forgivable nature. Pyranha compares this model to the land’s sport’s car.
The 9R has an extreme rocker and bow wave deflectors to keep the bow lifted to prevent paddlers from getting near the hydraulics.
This Pyranha model is available in five colors: the orange soda, jaffa cake, blue crush, black and yellow, and chili red.
|Lightweight||Hard to control at times|
|Responsive||Not easy to carry
#6. Wave Sport Phoenix
- Length (feet and inches): 9
- Width (inches):26.75
- Weight (pounds): 50
- Weight capacity (pounds): 265
- Cockpit length (inches): 36
According to Wave Sport, its Phoenix model will allow you to reach the impossible because of its hull that provides the best speed. The product of the company’s continuous effort to test and design its products to deliver the kayaks with the best quality can run the rivers and creeks.
The Phoenix features the CORE Creek Seat that provides safety to its paddlers while making them feel comfortable. The seat is also adjustable, allowing you to be in your most comfy position.
Besides, its seat is also durable.
Besides its quality seat, the Phoenix also comes with a CORE leg lifter that provides elevation for better paddling. It also comes with CORE thigh braces with detachable hooks for better fitting and adjustment. Aside from the seat and leg lifter, the Phoenix also has adjustable hip pads.
|Easy to paddle in difficult water condition||Marked tail rails|
|High nose design|
#7. Dagger the Green Boat
- Length (feet and inches): 11’9”
- Width (inches): 24.25
- Weight (pounds): 55
- Weight capacity (pounds): 260
- Cockpit length (inches): 34.5
According to Dagger Kayaks, the Green Boat is what you should have if you are looking for versatility. According to the brand, this kayak does not fall into a single category because you can use it for competition because of its excellent performance and speed. You may also use it on calm water because of its hollow hull and firm edges.
Even though the Green Boat is fast, it has excellent tracking and stability, so its versatile functions.
Because of this, if you are up to multi-day kayaking, you will love the Green Boat. Also, it has all the necessary features that a premium river runner kayak should have: step-out wall, adjustable backband, foot braces, thigh braces, roto-molded seating, to name a few.
|Paddles fast||Unresponsive turnability at times|
|Versatile||Not for beginners|
#8. Dagger Kayaks Katana 10.4
- Length (feet and inches): 20’4”
- Width (inches): 27.25
- Weight (pounds): 56
- Weight capacity (pounds): 285
- Cockpit length (inches): 37
Aside from the 10.4, the Dagger’s Katana has a 9.7 model, its smaller version. Because of this, the 10.4 version caters to paddlers who are on the plus-sized side. It is because the Katana 10.4 has generous space that can accommodate plus-sized individuals.
If you are smaller but also love carrying a lot of stuff with you, you may also benefit from the Katana 10.4. Aside from this perk, it can also make an excellent crossover kayak that makes it an ideal boat for touring and recreation.
This model performs well in the downriver, which can help your confidence. This kayak’s balanced rocker provides its fast and maneuverable performance, which is why its versatile features.
It has a hull and sidewalls that make the kayak more stable. Because of this, the Katana 10.4 can paddle up to class IV whitewater.
Dagger took its rounded stern from the Mamba model, which also makes the Katana 10.4 forgiving. Like most Dagger products, the Dagger Katana also has adjustable thigh braces and hip pads. It also has a roto-molded seat and a flexible skeg system.
|Can make an excellent crossover kayak||Slower than many other models|
|Spacious bulkhead for storage
#9. Pyranha Burn III
- Length (feet and inches): 7’11,” 8’2,” 8’3,” 8’6”
- Width (inches):24.6, 25.5, 27.1, 27.3
- Weight (pounds): 38.5, 43, 46, 48.5
- Weight capacity (pounds): 143, 176, 220, 275
- Cockpit length (inches): 34.3, 36.75
If you have been a fan of the Pyranha Burn, you will love its third-generation model. This kayak maintains the Burn’s sporty hull, forgiving deck, and accurate edges that allow you to paddle even the class V white water.
What makes Burn III better than its previous models is that it is now faster and has better tracking ability. You can paddle this kayak in the direction you like even in rough rapids while giving you effortless boofs.
You can say that Burn III can also be versatile because of the excellent stability it gives. Even if you are on a beginner level, you can appreciate using this in class II whitewater.
|Excellent tracking||Rolling can be difficult for some people|
|Plain outfitting||Not for first-time paddlers|
#10. Liquidlogic Remix 69
- Length (feet and inches): 8’8”
- Width (inches): 25.5
- Weight (pounds): 44
- Weight capacity (pounds): 220
- Cockpit length (inches): 33
If you want a fast river runner with excellent tracking, you can put the Liquidlogic Remix 69 into consideration. It has a narrow and longer hull that makes this model responsive and stable. It allows you to travel the downriver without any hitch because of the extra width for added volume and stability.
It is also a beginner-friendly option if you want an ideal river runner kayak to master your skills. It paddles excellently at class III to class IV whitewater.
You can consider this model versatile because it also performs well in calm water even though it is a river runner. It has excellent outfitting and adjustments that can make you feel comfortable. Compared to most kayak models, Remix 69 is cheaper.
|Maneuverable||Water may seep in some points.|
|Comfortable||Lack of stern storage|
Our Favorite River Runner Kayak
This article provided you with some suggested kayaks to save you some time searching for the best river runner kayak on the market. After all, you want to avoid cheaply made kayaks that are flooding the market. You do not want to sacrifice your safety or your life for a low-cost kayak.
Among these kayaks, what stands the most is the Dagger Kayaks Rewind because of its almost perfect features. By knowing that it is an award-winning whitewater boat, you can already tell that you can rely on this river runner.
It is highly durable with modern features, allowing you to enjoy the challenging rapids. What makes it even more impressive is that even beginners can enjoy using it.
Factors to Consider When Buying a River RunnerKayak
Now that you know the best river runner kayaks on the market, you will learn what makes river runner kayaking and kayaks different from other water activities and kayak types. You will also learn how to pick the right river runner kayak to satisfy your needs and preferences.
As mentioned, there are several types of kayaks that you can use to do specific activities, although there are some that you can use in different water conditions. These activities include recreation, touring, crossover, and whitewater.
If you are sure that your paddling style focuses on whitewater paddling style, you should know that it also comes in different categories: the playboats, river runners, and creek boats.
It is crucial to learn the specific whitewater paddling style you know so that you can choose the right kayak to use. The boats in each particular type vary in features, safety measures, sizes, and more.
If you are a beginner, you should know that you can only ride the river runners because the water condition for this whitewater type is shallow and high-volume. You should not invest in creek boats and playboats.
River Runners Performance Characteristics
If you are sure about getting a river runner kayak, what you need to know next is more in-depth information about river running and the range for performances that you can do.
Kayakers have different points of view on what differentiates a river runner kayak from the others. Many interchange them when they should be different.
Both river runners and creek boats are for downriver paddling, which is different from freestyle or surfing. Often, the features of the boat overlap. That is why it is not surprising that many people use them interchangeably.
However, river runners are more into speed, front-surfing, catching eddy, and ferrying. The creek boats are more into technical, tight, and steep water. Although they are the same in some ways, they are different when it comes to features.
Creek boats commonly have a continuous and progressive rocker. This feature makes the transfer of vertical energy to horizontal energy swift and efficient. This type of rocker is uncommon with river runners.
Creek boats also have softer edges than the river runners.
Soft edges make it easier for making turns and less painful impact when you move through rocks.
Also, the river runners typically have 6.5 to 8 feet length, while the creek boats have 7.5 to 9.
With river running, expect that you can ride the rivers at a high acceleration rate. The river runner kayaks have moderate turnability when on the waves, but you can only perform limited aerial tricks.
Because you will be utilizing more speed in river running, the kayaks’ length is typically longer than the playboats.
The length of the boat can affect the river runners’ tracking and speed.
River runner kayaks only require an average safety feature because the riding style is less dangerous than those in creek boats. Even new kayakers can try river running with basic knowledge.
Now, you know what you can do in the river running, and you also know some of the necessary features that your river runner kayak should. Next, you should have to look for the comfort that your ideal river runner kayak can give.
It includes choosing the cockpit’s right dimension and selecting river runner kayak models with adjustable foot braces. The foot braces are the ones that give foot support.
The bulkheads can serve as storage for your gears located at the kayak’s bow. Because of this, if you are the type who usually brings a lot of stuff with you, you need a spacious bulkhead.
You may also choose a kayak with a cockpit packed with useful amenities, such as the hip pads, backband, pleasure wedge, and thigh braces.
The hip pads allow you to have a comfortable snug fit. The backband provides support on your back. The pleasure wedge enables you to adjust the height, while the thigh braces give you better boat control.
If you happen to buy a river runner kayak with a roomy cockpit, although it can probably make you feel comfortable, it also provides an excellent receptacle for water splashes.
River running is a type of whitewater activity where you might get splashes from time to time. To prevent your cockpit from turning into a pool, you need to consider buying a sprayskirt along with your boat. This item seals your cockpit, preventing the water from seeping inside the cockpit.
The next feature to look for a river runner kayak is the D-bone welded-in seat that is durable and stable.
Manufacturers provide recommendations for their products concerning the paddlers’ weight. It is crucial not to neglect this factor into consideration if you want to perform comfortably and at your best, and if you do not like to sink in the middle of the river.
Remember that there is a tendency for you to be wet when you are on your ride. That is why when you are considering the weight, add 10 to 15 pounds more.
You should also consider the weight of your gears and luggage.
If there is one open body of water that you can choose that will give you the best experience, it is the rivers. It is because these bodies of water come in different forms and sizes, allowing you to explore different experiences. In some instances, rivers can provide you a calm, peaceful ride, while in some circumstances, they will challenge you with rocky rapids in whitewater.
Because of these different experiences, you should choose the appropriate kayak for the activity that you want to pursue. Kayaks come in different types that you can use in the river. However, they come in various features and safety designs.
Hopefully, this article has helped you figure out the best river runner kayak that satisfies your preference. If you do not like any of the suggested river runner kayaks listed here, hopefully, the buying guide has helped you determine your best river runner kayak.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: How to Know the Best Kayak Size to Purchase?
A: The first thing that you should do is base its size on your weight. Manufacturers provide recommendations about the weight capacity of their products. Take your luggage and gears into consideration too. Even though you found the kayaks appropriate to your weight, you might find that some are longer or shorter than the others. Commonly, lengthier and narrower kayaks are faster and better at tracking. On the other hand, if they are shorter and wider, they have better stability and turnability. River running kayaks are lengthier and more massive.
Q: Can I Buy Cheap Kayaks?
A: In buying kayaks, you will get the value of your payment. Commonly, cheap kayaks can be attractive when it comes to appearance and price. However, you will have a problem both in its performance and your safety once you place it in the water. Although it is not a requirement that you should splurge on a kayak, make sure to know the features that you need and buy the best river runner kayak at a reasonable price. Never sacrifice the quality of the kayak in exchange for your safety or life.
Q: Why Kayaks Are Expensive?
A: If you are not willing to sacrifice your safety over a cheaply made kayak, you should be ready to pay more. High-end kayaks are expensive because of their construction and features. High-quality kayaks have well-balanced features and designs, allowing you to have smooth experiences and performance in the waters. Another reason is that they come with adjustable features, ample storage, and other amenities. Compared to cheap kayaks, the high-end ones are incredibly durable. You can count that it will not falter when you bump into one rock to another, and it will last for years, saving your life and money.
Q: What Is the Best Kayak to Use in Rivers?
A: As mentioned, rivers can provide you different experiences because of the various water conditions they offer. What you need to do is determine your paddling style. Ask yourself how you want to explore the rivers. Are you up for recreational, touring, whitewater experiences, or do you want to explore all these activities? If you choose to have whitewater experience, you also need to know that there are three categories under them: river running, creek boating, and playboating. It is essential to pick your style to help you decide the best kayak to use in rivers.
Q: How to Differentiate a River Runner From a Creek Boat?
A: River runners are versatile. It has the combined features of the playboat and the creek boat. However, river runners are a more beginner-friendly option than the two other types. River running is all about speed, ferrying, catching eddy, and the like. Because of this, river runners have softer chines that provide extra volume. It is long but commonly smaller than a creek boat that provides enough tracking, resurfacing ability, and forgiveness.
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!