🥇 Top 16 Best Whitewater Kayaks | 2020 Reviews (Aire, NRS)

Kayaking in itself is an adventure. And blend it with the whitewater and it becomes a highly invigorating and thrilling sporting activity. It requires dedicated learning and a lot of practice to perfect the art of kayaking in the whitewater. Besides, it also calls for a good quality whitewater kayak to face and withstand the intense and high impact whitewater rapids.

To help you out in selecting the best whitewater kayak we will share with you the top 16 best kayaks available in the market. You can shortlist a few of these top ones and then refer to the buyer’s guide provided after the reviews to help you select the most suitable kayak for your purpose.

Top 16 Best Whitewater Kayaks Reviewed

  1. Aire Lynx I Inflatable Whitewater Kayak
  2. NRS Maverik I Inflatable Whitewater Kayak
  3. Dagger Nomad Medium Whitewater Kayak
  4. Kokopelli Nirvana Packraft
  5. Jackson Kayak Zen 3.0 Whitewater Kayak
  6. STAR Raven I Inflatable Whitewater Kayak
  7. Tributary Spud Youth Inflatable Whitewater Kayak
  8. Aire Outfitter II Tandem Inflatable Kayak
  9. NRS MaverIK I Performance Package
  10. STAR Outlaw II Inflatable Whitewater Kayak
  11. Tributary Tomcat Tandem Inflatable Kayak
  12. AIRE Force Inflatable Whitewater Kayak
  13. Dagger Mamba 8.6 Whitewater Kayak
  14. STAR Viper XL Inflatable Kayak
  15. Tributary Sawtooth Inflatable Whitewater Kayak
  16. Aire Super Lynx Whitewater Kayak

#1. AIRE Lynx I Inflatable Kayak

AIRE Lynx I Inflatable Kayak 

Specifications:

  • Length:10’2″
  • Width: 37″
  • Weight: 33 pounds
  • Max Capacity: 350 pounds
  • Type: Solo
  • Material: 1100D PVC
  • Warranty: 10-year

The AIRE Lynx I continues to build over the high-quality that AIRE inflatable kayaks are so popular for. The 1100D PVC offers high durability to the kayak. In addition to the material, high-quality construction, and workmanship further enhances its endurance.

The airtight bladders impart the kayak much-required safety over the water surface. The boat consists of two PVC tubes having three AIREcell air chambers. The engineering involved in designing the kayak offers it extreme maneuverability.

The firm rails make the kayak highly responsive. The Leafield B7 air valves are remarkably strong and will not leak even in the most trying situations. Being the non-returnable valves they only allow for a uni-directional flow of air.

The kayak has self-bailing drain holes. It helps in keeping the kayak safe by avoiding water accumulation in the chambers. The kayak is a wonderful combination of comfort and performance. And this makes it the favorite inflatable kayak for the newbies as well as the advanced kayakers.

On the comfort front, the Lynx I offers a highly convenient chair with super smooth back support. The detachable chair offers super convenience while the overall seating allows you to enjoy paddling for long durations.

Besides, the large size pocket in the chair allows you to keep your articles in an orderly manner. You can keep your water-bottle, containers, and other important materials without worrying about their safety.

Besides, the cargo loops further facilitate the safe and convenient storage of different necessities. And the high capacity of 350lbs is no constrained to bringing additional paraphernalia for the long trip.

Endorsing its confidence in the quality, the company offers a warranty of 10 years on the water vehicle for any defects.

ProsCons
Easy to inflate and prepare
Does not include paddles
High maneuverability
On a high price bracket
Extremely stable
High portability

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#2. NRS Maverik I Inflatable Whitewater Kayak

NRS Maverik I Inflatable Whitewater Kayak

Specifications:

  • Length: 9’ 9”
  • Width: 35.5”
  • Weight: 31lbs
  • Type: Solo
  • Material: Heavy-duty Pennel Orca
  • Warranty: 10-year

If you want a kayak that is suitable for all skill levels the NRS MaverIK will be a highly attractive offer for you. The perfect width of 35.5” offers the kayak very high stability. Apart from the high stability, it also offers tremendous support to the beginners.

The kayak is also highly portable at 31 lbs. This helps a great deal in offering the newbies the kind of convenience and comfort required at that level. The lightweight kayak, however, will require more caution for the heavyweight kayakers. 

The kayak doesn’t have a skeg; however, the overall design of the boat is so perfect that you never miss it during your tracking experience. It rides very smoothly on the flat water and responds spontaneously on different water surfaces. The instinctive response of the boat makes it the favorite kayak for the advanced kayakers. 

The kayak lacks the cargo straps that means you need to be choosy while taking along any additional gears with you. Further, not having the thigh strap makes the kayak rather a tricky vehicle for the long riding sessions. It, in addition, makes the strong rapid rides much more challenging on the inflatable.

Though the kayak performs decently in all water conditions, it is ideal for flatwater or calm rivers. For this reason, the water vehicle is best suited for everyday fun purposes or the outfitters using it as a rental vehicle.

The kayak is highly durable and can withstand even the harshest of usage. Besides, the material used in building the vehicle is UV ray resistant and displays impressive resistance to the abrasion. For all these longer-lasting features, the company offers a 10-year warranty on the IK from its date of purchase.

ProsCons
Lightweight & portableNot quite suitable for professionals
Good comfort levelNo cargo & thigh straps
Ideal for beginners
Doesn’t have a chair
Excellent stability

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#3. Dagger Nomad Medium Whitewater Kayak

Dagger Nomad Medium Whitewater Kayak

Specifications:

  • Length: 8’ 6”
  • Width: 26.5”
  • Weight: 48.5lbs
  • Max Capacity: 210lbs
  • Type: Solo
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Warranty: 3-year

The Dagger Nomad Medium Kayak is an amazing creek boat built to travel thin water and large drops. The dagger has been into whitewater kayak making for long now. Being into the business for over 40 long years Dagger has enough experience to understand the needs of the kayakers and build boats to suit their requirements.

Like all the other Dagger kayaks, the Nomad Medium also is extremely stable. Moreover, it also retains the high predictability of the original Dagger kayaks. It is as forgiving as all the Dagger kayaks in the past.

While riding on the Nomad Medium you can enter into the strongest of white water- thanks to the added rocker that offers more speed while holding the bow up. You can simply rush into the noisiest water with a super-sonic speed and high precision without deflecting a bit in the fluid terrain or without losing the stability.

The additional volume of the kayak ensures that the vehicle floats despite facing the high turbulence on the water surface. Besides, the modified deck design allows for quick and smooth resurfacing.

The 8.5’ long water boat with a volume of 326 liters ensures the kayak to float while offering immense adventure to the paddlers through its most agile and acrobatic motions on the white water.

The water boat offers you a high level of comfort through the ergonomically designed chair with super comfortable back support. Besides, the adjustable backband further adds to your convenience while paddling. Moreover, the rotational molding technology used in building the tank-style seating gives it the ultimate strength.

The option to adjust the foot and thigh straps offers perfect support making them strain free even during the long water trips in the harshest of water conditions.

ProsCons
Extremely comfortableLow weight carrying capacity
High predictability
Bulky
Boofs superbly
Highly stable

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#4. Kokopelli Nirvana Packraft

Kokopelli Packraft Nirvana Self-Bailer Packraft

Specifications:

  • Length:7’ 6”
  • Width:37”
  • Weight: 9lbs 11oz
  • Max Capacity: 300lbs
  • Material: 
    • Sidewall: 100% nylon
    • Floor: DuPont™ KEVLAR® Aramid-Nylon Blend

The Kokopelli Nirvana Packcraft is yet another innovative addition from the house of Kokopelli. This time the creative modifications include the excessive strength added to the floor of the packcraft.

To add security to your ride the craft is provided with a 3-Point Thigh-Strap. With this addition, now you can right away shoot to the rapids and enjoy the highly responsive rocker without worrying about the security. The tapered trim design offers an amazing experience in the whitewater conditions.

The spraydeck design ensures that there is no accumulation of water in the craft. It not only keeps you dry but also safe during difficult riding conditions. To ease out the difficulty during the rough ride, the extra thickness is provided to the side walls material. It offers effective defense to the kayak while confronting rocks.

Many convenience features in the craft are meant to add to your comfort and ease of riding. The inflatable seat makes it easy to carry while paddling in the white water. In addition, the 2D rings in the cargo allow fastening carry bags while the Tizip allows for easy accessibility to your stored articles inside the packcraft. Besides, it also provides you extra storage space to utilize during long riding trips.

The designing features of the craft include the extremely featherweight kayak that offers you extremely easy portability. Nylon rip stops, in addition, adds to the weight for stability at the same time avoid the accidental ripping thus helping in enhancing its durability.

The seating is made comfortable through the soft & cozy backband. Moreover, you can also opt for a thigh-strap kit to further add to your comfort.

ProsCons
Highly durable material and construction
Quite difficult to mount back if tossed out
Spraydeck design offering dry riding
Cleaning & drying is not easy
Extremely lightweight and portable
Very strong floor and sidewalls 
Comfortable backband

#5. Jackson Kayak Zen 3.0 Kayak- Large

Jackson Kayak Zen 3.0

Specifications:

  • Length:  8’ 11”
  • Width: 28”
  • Weight: 50lbs
  • Max Capacity: 280lbs
  • Warranty: Limited

Is this a river runner or a creek boat? The Zen 3.0 will really bemuse you with its design. You have the best of the two worlds- comfort and performance of a river runner in a small size of a creel boat.

The modification in the hull of the kayak allows you to remain upright while getting the feeling of high floating. The decent length of the boat coupled with the rockered bow makes your kayak pretty sporty and agile in narrow spaces. It offers similar agility at low as well as high speeds.

The kayak has a very high appeal among the beginners as it offers tremendous stability while riding on whitewater conditions. With its high predictability, it allows newbies to concentrate on the basics of kayaking while perfecting some of the more complex riding lessons.

The kayak, in addition, provides safe design features which makes it the preferred choice of the novice kayaker. It offers the ultimate thrilling experience while you carve or glide over different white water conditions while the boat remaining absolutely stable during all those acrobatic movements.

The kayak has unmatched forgiveness. Besides, it gives a high level of comfort through the spacious leg-room and high adjustability of the backband. The dry riding experience, even in the trickiest water conditions keeps you inspiring to ride distances. It is particularly encouraging to ride in the steep river when you can keep your bow up with quite an ease. 

Once you have perfected some basic traits and entered into the intermediate level the kayak will also allow you to take some more challenging rides. Though the kayak is forgiving yet it does not compromise with its performance features and the speed. 

As an advanced kayaker, you can challenge yourself with higher speeds and also by riding in the conditions requiring more carvings and steep turnings. You can thus, test the high maneuverability of the kayak and your ability to execute those sharp turns in the narrow water terrains.

The kayak inherently performs superbly in the soft & smooth tracks as well as speedy white water conditions. Moreover, the rockered bow allows you to ride through the narrow spaces and also keeps you dry throughout your travel.

The kayak provides enough storage space for the experts to go for an overnight river running or creaking trips or even for a multiday expedition. The kayak includes many impressive safety features like strong & rugged grab handles that allow the smooth carrying of the boat to and out of water. Besides, the safety bars also allow you to hold them to remain stable when needed.

ProsCons
Forgiving yet high-performingNot very easy to pack for overnighters
Suitable for all skill levels
Hull is pretty flat
Enough storage space 
Perfectly predictable
Highly stable

#6. STAR Raven I Inflatable Kayak

STAR Raven I Inflatable Whitewater Kayak

Specifications:

  • Length: 9’ 10”
  • Width: 38”
  • Weight: 37lbs
  • Type: Solo
  • Material: PVC
  • Warranty: 3-year

The Star Raven I Inflatable Kayak is one of its class. You can use this versatile water vehicle for fun as well as for some serious river running adventures. The stable kayak is also highly responsive and for this reason, it makes an excellent boat for the flat water as well for the Class IV whitewater. So, it is the boat adored by the newbies and the experts alike.

The strong & sturdy PVS floor offers pretty tough inflation of up to 10 psi making it a comfortable & stable kayak for the paddler. Besides, the foldable seat offers you comfortable seating and provides you a strong position to paddle through the rough waters.

Moreover, the design of the kayak ensures that the seat gets hooked easily to the D-rings. This feature makes it extremely convenient to fold and store the boat besides offering ease in setting up the kayak when needed.

Furthermore, you can firmly position the seat over the floor by using many loops and hooks provided with the boat. In addition, you can secure the floor insert in place with the help of convenient straps given for the purpose. The bow and stern are fitted with strong and convenient handles. These handles allow you to carry the boat from the water with super ease.

The high-quality PVC material coupled with the most advanced technique used for seam welding offers the boat high abrasion resistance thus making it highly durable. Besides, it ensures long term retentivity of air inside the tubes. The Leafield C7 valve offers extremely convenient inflation & deflation of the boat.

The package is included with the pump to fill the air and a repair kit to carry out small-time repairs in case of accidental damage to the boat. You can fold and keep the boat in the carry bag provided for the purpose.

The company offers a 3-years retail warranty to the boat. Besides, it also offers its support by offering a 2-year commercial warranty to the product. 

ProsCons
Very comfortable & convenient foldable seatNot quite stable in intense windy conditions
Sturdy & rugged floor material
Doesn’t inflate too quickly
Stable as well as responsive
Excellent hardware quality

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#7. Tributary Spud Youth Inflatable Kayak

Tributary Spud Youth Inflatable Kayak

Specifications:

  • Length: 7’ 2”
  • Width: 35.5”
  • Weight: 21.5lbs
  • Max Capacity: 220lbs
  • Type: Solo
  • Material: PVC
  • Warranty: 1-year

The Tributary Spud is one of the most stable Inflatable Kayaks in the market. It is an ideal water vehicle for the kids to learn kayaking in white water conditions. The short and lightweight kayak is very easy to control in multiple water conditions. The boat is highly forgiving. You can encourage your kids to confront running waves and perfect the art of kayaking in the whitewater rapids. 

Being one of the best kayaks for the kids does not make it any less useful for adults. The wide boat offers enough responsiveness for adults to have a lot of fun and adventure. So, the boat is a superb option for your entire family.

The kids will love the stability and also enjoy turning & twisting the boat that offers high maneuverability. Besides, the adults will be thrilled by the agility of the short size kayak that remains afloat in the trickiest of water conditions.

On the design front, the kayak has a highly comfortable inflatable thwart. You can place it anywhere inside the kayak at any convenient location. Besides, the self-bailing floor ensures no accumulation of water inside the boat thus making it a safe-to-ride-kayak. Moreover, Summit II Valves ensures very easy inflation and deflation of the kayak.

The boat is fitted with rugged and convenient handles at the bow and stern. These handles make it extremely easy to carry the IK from the water for anchoring or other purposes. The lightweight and short sizes, in addition, make it a highly portable kayak.  The boat comes with a 1-year warranty for any manufacturing defects.

ProsCons
Self-bailing drain system
The seat is not pretty comfortable
Comfortable thwartsPump not included in the package
Extreme stability
Highly portable
Ideal for kids

#8. Aire Outfitter II Tandem Inflatable Kayak

Aire Outfitter II Tandem Inflatable Kayak

Specifications:

  • Length: 12’ 2”
  • Width: 41”
  • Weight: 46lbs
  • Max Capacity: 525lbs
  • Type: Tandem
  • Material: PVC
  • Warranty: 10-year

AIRE Outfitter II Tandem is one of the best inflatable kayaks if you are searching for a boat that offers super stability to the paddler. Besides, it also offers a highly efficient and effective tandem paddling in whitewater rapids.

The highly supportive design of the boat includes a large diameter of the tube. Besides, the low seat position also assists in making it one of the most forgiving kayaks in the two-person kayak category. The extra width provided in the design of the boat further enhances the stability of the water vehicle.

With such high stability, it is a wonderful kayak for you as a newbie. You can focus your attention on perfecting the basic traits of kayaking while the boat will take care of the rough conditions over the water surface.

The most remarkable feature of the kayak is its excessive weight carrying capacity. With 525 lbs as an expert, you will relish shooting the rugged boat in the extreme whitewater conditions with or without your partner. It gives you tremendous confidence of bearing heavy loads during river running or during the strong whitewater rapids.

This boat offers a unique blend of stability and control making it an extremely sought-after kayak for the beginners and the experts alike. The extra high capacity makes it suitable for the overnighters and the multiday expeditions.

To further support the exclusive trips, the boat has 12 pairs of cargo loops to hold the necessities and a cargo pocket for holding water bottles and other accessories. Moreover, the unique Cheetah chair offers extreme comfort while providing outstanding support while paddling.

ProsCons
Very high weight carrying capacityLacks responsiveness
Excellent maneuverability
Outstanding durability
High stability

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#9. NRS MaverIK I Performance Package

NRS MaverIK I Performance Package

Specifications:

  • Length: 9’ 9”
  • Width: 35.5” 
  • Weight: 35lbs
  • Type: Solo
  • Material: Pennel Orca
  • Warranty: 10-year

The MarverIK I Performance Package is a high-performance package that offers a superior blend of high riding capabilities and unmatched portability. You can carry this long kayak discreetly inside your van and at the same time ride on it in the toughest of whitewater conditions with super ease.

It offers reliable company to the beginners as well as the expert kayakers. The kayak offers decent stability due to its large tube diameter and larger width making it suitable for the novices. For the experts, the detachable footpegs and thigh straps lace along with other attachments provide great opportunity to experience the trickiest of whitewater rapids. 

The high rocker in the bow makes the inflatable super responsive. Besides, the short water lines add to the quickness to the high responsiveness. The self-bailing floor does not allow water to hold inside the boat and keeps you protected from the risk of sinking in deep water.

On the design and construction front, the IK is built with high-quality Pennel Orca material which offers it resistance from the abrasions. Besides, it also keeps you free from the worries of any effect of chemicals as well as the UV rays while the kayak is exposed to the Sun under hot weather conditions. 

The Leafield C7 valves make the inflation and the deflation of the entire boat including the floor and the thwart along with the tubes super easy. Moreover, thwart designed for seating is glued to the boat providing high stability even during the most turbulent conditions.

The company offers a warranty of 10 long years showcasing its confidence in the quality of the inflatable.

ProsCons
Detachable footpegs and thigh strap lace Lacks straps for storage
Heavy-duty construction material 
Outstanding maneuverability
Superior stability

#10. STAR Outlaw II Inflatable Kayak

STAR Outlaw II Inflatable Kayak

Specifications:

  • Length:12’ 2”
  • Width: 38”
  • Weight: 41lbs
  • Type: Two-person
  • Material: PVC
  • Warranty: 3-year retail

The STAR Outlaw II offers a super blend of a highly stable yet agile tandem IK. You can very easily set up the kayak in a quick time. Besides, the design of the kayak makes it pretty easy to roll up and store in a not-too-big carry bag.

The boat is an ideal companion for commercial outfitters. Besides, the campers too will love the easy storage and transportability of the inflatable.

The kayak offers a wonderful combination of high-performance, extreme durability, and an unimaginably affordable price range. The high rocker imparts the boat its characteristic strong responsiveness while riding over the large waves. Besides, the rocker also provides high maneuverability while punching the holes.

You can use the kayak as a tandem to paddle the running river in quick time or you can also use it for solo rides for multiday expeditions carrying all your belongings simultaneously.

The kayak is built with a sturdy PVC material that can bear the brunt of harsh impacts of the most aggressive water surfaces and hard rocks in the water terrain. The construction quality further enhances the durability of the kayak and making it your companion for long years while you graduate to higher levels of kayaking.

The seam-welding technology used in the construction imparts the boat much-needed resistance to abrasion and capability to retain air for long durations. The 3-year retail warranty offered by the company is a testimonial to all these quality features deployed during the manufacturing of the kayak.

ProsCons
Extremely easy to store and transportThwarts are not pretty comfortable
Outstanding stabilityThigh straps not included
High maneuverability
Extremely durable

#11. Tributary Tomcat Tandem Inflatable Kayak

Tributary Tomcat Tandem Inflatable Kayak

Specifications:

  • Length:12’ 6”
  • Width: 38.5”
  • Weight: 44lbs
  • Type: Tandem
  • Material: PVC
  • Warranty: 1-year

The Tributary Tomcat Tandem is a perfect kayak for beginners. The kayak is made of high-quality PVC with very high abrasion resistance. The outer PVC covers the inner bladder through strong welded seams. The inner bladder is made of sturdy vinyl. Together they offer extreme durability to the kayak. 

The hull consists of three chambers to provide ultimate safety to the high-performance boat. Besides, it also comprises two inflatable thwarts to provide comfort while riding and flexibility while folding the kayak. The thwarts can be located at any location inside the kayak as per your suitability.

The covers provided for bow and stern prevent the splashing of water in the white water conditions thus help in keeping the ride dry. The two-rider kayak can also be used as a solo vehicle to store additional paraphernalia, particularly for multi-day expeditions.

Besides, the 18 pairs of cargo loops further add to the convenience. You can attach your thigh straps; carry bags, and other articles to these loops. Furthermore, the D-rings on bow and stern can also be used to hook accessories. Besides, it can also be used for anchoring purposes.

The Summit II air valves help in making inflation and deflation of the kayak extremely easy. Besides, the self-bailing floor ensures that there is no accumulation of water inside the boat that can create unsafe riding conditions.

The handles at the bow and stern are extremely rugged and make carrying the boat a lot easy. The kayak offers a 1-year warranty against any manufacturing defects.

ProsCons
Impressive safety features
Not too easy to paddle in flat water
High abrasion resistance
Comfortable thwarts
Enough space

#12. AIRE Force Inflatable Kayak

AIRE Force Inflatable Kayak

Specifications:

  • Length: 9’ 6”
  • Width: 36”
  • Weight: 32 lbs
  • Max Capacity: 275 lbs
  • Type: Solo
  • Material: 1100 Denier polyurethane
  • Warranty: 10-year

The AIRE Force Inflatable Kayak is yet another excellent product from AIRE. This kayak is ideal for you once you have perfected some basic traits of kayaking and have reached the intermediate level.

The boat is significantly tippy and you need to use your hips and need some support to keep it steady. So, you will also love the boat, if you are an advanced paddler.

The Force is a self-bailing kayak. So, the drain holes in the kayak drain the splashing water from the kayak and keep it safe during the entire riding trip.

The whitewater kayak is a little on the higher price bracket compared to a few others in the category, however, the high-performance features of the kayak offer you true value for money. It proves to be a highly cost-effective option when you look at the kind of experience it provides you while riding in the whitewater rapids.

The deck is designed keeping in mind the overall comfort & convenience of the paddler. You can very conveniently manage the foot pedals. Besides, the thigh straps are also pretty conveniently placed for efficient and quick control of the boat. Overall, the control mechanism is highly responsive.

With most of the space is offered to provide ease of controlling the boat, there is not much space left for the additional necessities. Moreover, as the boat is inherently a bit unsteady loading it with the paraphernalia will make it more difficult to control. Therefore, the kayak is not particularly suitable for multiday trips or an overnighter.

The design features offer ease of kayaking in many ways. For instance, in-built floatation in the front and the rear of the kayak minimizes the chances of water from entering inside the cockpit area. The adjustable backband and footrest offer decent flexibility to the kayak to settle comfortably in the cockpit.

ProsCons
Ideal for intermediate and advanced kayaks
More expensive compared to other solo kayaks
Negligible water entry inside the cockpit
Not pretty comfortable in flat water
High maneuverability
Sturdy construction

#13. Dagger Mamba 8.6 Kayak

Dagger Mamba 8.6 Kayak

Specifications:

  • Length:8’ 6”
  • Width: 27.5”
  • Weight: 48lbs
  • Max Capacity: 260lbs
  • Type: Solo
  • Material: Polyethylene

The Dagger Mamba 8.6 is a big kayak and one of the most versatile in its category. Whether you want to use it for recreational purposes to try out a new sport or you wish to spend an entire week on the river, this kayak will prove to be your best companion.

Furthermore, the versatility of the boat crosses the skill level barriers as well. The kayak is liked equally by the beginners as well as the expert kayaks up to the Class V river.

So, practically speaking, if you shop a Dagger Mamba 8.6 now, you could easily graduate to different skill levels in the same boat and still, the kayak will have something more to offer you for learning. 

The hull design is meant for stability. It also offers the spin that you will love to have as one of the most preferred qualities in your boat. However, if you are a beginner you ought to be a bit cautious while going underwater.

With 89 gallons of volume capacity, the boat is pretty full. The large bow and high deck allow the boat to remain fairly above the water surface that offers easy passing through many of the underwater rocks that otherwise become big obstacles while riding in the whitewater.

If the bow of the IK is large, the stern is equally full to provide you with enough space to keep the necessities. Besides, it makes the boat pretty forgiving, thus protecting you from many potential mishaps.

The build material is pretty sturdy and can absorb the harsh impacts of hard protruding rocks. The footpegs offer protection against foot injuries during paddling. The ergonomically designed tank-style seat coupled with hip cushions offers you tremendous comfort and control during the river running.

ProsCons
Superb buoyancy with 89 gallons capacityLacks extreme aggression
Superb buoyancy with 89 gallons capacityHigh rocker in the bow
Extremely spacious
Rugged material

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#14. STAR Viper XL Inflatable Kayak

STAR Viper XL Inflatable Kayak

Specifications:

  • Length:10’ 2”
  • Width: 37”
  • Weight: 39.5lbs
  • Material: PVC
  • Warranty: 3-year

The long inflatable kayak makes the STAR Viper XL Inflatable Kayak highly spacious for carrying paraphernalia and also in enjoying more control during the whitewater rapids. If you are looking for an extremely durable, high-performance IK, the Viper XL from STAR offers you exactly the same. If the high rocker and shorter waterline make it a high-performing kayak, the drop-stitch floor gives it the much-needed durability.

Punching holes is the hardest to resurface in the whitewater. However, with the Viper XL, you can ensure a super smooth resurfacing, thanks to the excellent design of the bow and stern chambers.

Moreover, you can go for highly intense paddling by using the thigh braces provided with the boat. You can simply lock-in to the cockpit for unwavering body movements while paddling.  If you are a bigger paddler, you will love this whitewater IK for its length and its high & strong rocker. You won’t miss any water condition including the high waves, big surfs, and even the hardest of water walls.

The design features ensure that you have super comfort of riding the kayak by offering you a highly comfortable backband and bulkhead for footpegging. The kayak package also includes several D-rings, pump, and repair kit besides a bag to carry the boat for easy storage & transportation. The boat comes with 3-year retail and a 2-year commercial warranty.

ProsCons
An extra-large boat ideal for big paddlers
The cockpit inside gets hot while paddling
Excellent performanceThe quality of plastic is not very good
Highly comfortable
Very spacious

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#15. Tributary Sawtooth II Inflatable Kayak

Tributary Sawtooth Inflatable Kayak

Specifications:

  • Length:13’ 3”
  • Width: 32”
  • Weight: 42.5lbs
  • Max Capacity: 400lbs
  • Type: Two-person
  • Material: 900D

The Tributary Sawtooth II is an ideal inflatable kayak for the big paddlers and for those who want a roomy boat for touring and other multiday expedition. You can inflate the kayak, mount on it, and drive away to your long-distance destination practically with all your belongings.

The design of the floor makes the IK bend at both ends a little. The kayak has a lot of velocity in it. The kayak comes with 32 pairs of cargo loops. What it means is that you can hook multiple necessities to them and can also place the seats pretty flexibly at your convenient positions.

The handles attached on both the ends offer great ease in carrying the boat to & out of the water.

The highly stable model from AIRE has many convenience features to add to your ease of riding the kayak in multiple water conditions. Despite being long the kayak is extremely easy to paddle and maneuver.

The 900D material used is pretty long-lasting and the quality of construct enhances it even further. The V-hull offers more stability compared to the hard-shell kayaks. Besides, it makes the boat more comfortable and allows for high carrying capacity.

The detachable skegs offer great convenience in the flat water while the ribbed chambers enhance the tracking experience a great deal. The kayak is designed for two-persons; however, you can use it for the solo ride utilizing the space to carry maximum necessities. Thanks to the compact foldability, the kayak is very easy to store and is highly portable.

ProsCons
Compact and easy to store & transportNot very high on durability
Excellent touring kayak
Ideal for big paddlers
Very longboat

#16. AIRE Super Lynx Kayak

AIRE Super Lynx Kayak

Specifications:

  • Length:14′
  • Width: 37″
  • Weight: 46 lbs.
  • Max Capacity: 600 lbs.
  • Material: PVC
  • Warranty: 10-year

With its dual seating and massive weight capacity, the Aire Super Lynx is one of the most comfortable, spacious, and stable whitewater kayaks in the market. It is a sufficiently sturdy kayak that can be taken with over moderate rapid levels with loads of luggage even for a multi-day adventure.

The kayak comprises the Cheetah Chairs with contour abilities for ultimate comfort, superior back support, and convenient strapping. Also, the attached storage pockets with the chairs at the back offer easy access to your belongings while kayaking.

The top-quality Airtight AIREcells with their robust PVC exterior provide unmatched durability and in turn high safety. 

With this dual-seated kayak, you can even roam solo and experience superb legroom for extra stability and comfort. This way, you can even bring everything to your requirement for overnight expeditions.

Moreover, the two bow sterns coupled with high-quality thigh straps keep your safety at the topmost priority. 

This sleek and ideally-designed inflatable kayak also comes with a unique aluminum skeg for enhanced flatwater tracking. In addition, the superior quality Leafield C7 valves make inflation and deflation a cakewalk. 

The super-strong PVC construct provides confident kayaking over hard whitewater obstacles. In total, its master class design makes it a perfect choice for group/family and even solo tours.

ProsCons
Super sturdy PVC exterior for better safety and strength.Pricey
Perfect for beginners as well as professionals
Stable and Comfortable
Ultra-spacious

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How to Buy the Best Whitewater Kayaks

So, now that you have gone through all of the greatest whitewater kayaks available in the market along with their brief details, it’s time for you to take a call! But how should you? With such mind-blowing variety even in the smallest of features, picking up the right kayak might get a bit tricky.

For this reason, you need to first evaluate your requirements based on certain important factors associated with the best whitewater kayaks. Below you will find some of the major ones:

Hull Shape

The hull shape of the kayak defines its movement, efficiency, and stability to a great extent. There are three main types of hull shape for whitewater kayaks. 

  • Flat Hulls: These hulls due to their utterly consistent shape have to bear a lot of water resistance. However, due to their simple shape, these are very convenient to roll. And for these reasons, kayakers at their learning stages tend to go with flat hulled kayaks. 
  • Round Hulls: These hulls due to their somewhat streamlined shape offer efficient and significant cuts through the water and tear apart the fizzy water without much resistance. However, rolling around the hulled kayaks requires sharp skills and techniques.
  • Planed Hulls: These hulls are a mixture of flat and round hulls and thus, have a mixture of their merits and demerits. Planed hulls lie exactly in between its two counterparts in both slicing abilities and rolling convenience.

Speed

The speed of the kayak depends on a lot of its structural features. As mentioned above, the more is the curve in the shape of the hull, the more will be the kayak’s ability to cut off through the water. 

In addition, similar to the hull shape, the roundness of the stern also plays a major role in the speed. Rounded sterns offer less resistance and move away smoothly while the flatter sterns cause higher water resistance and in turn lower speed.

Besides, as preferred by many manufacturers, by keeping the volume of the stern less, the kayak allows the water to smoothly roll over its top and prevent tipping. This structural enhancement can have significant effects on the kayak speed.

Also, the length of the kayak determines how speedily and comfortably it can move through narrow spaces. Kayaks with longer size bear more resistance, so offer less speed. It will be quite tough for a kayak with a size longer than 10ft to go through narrow spaces.

Apart from all of these considerable factors, the main speed governing factor of a whitewater kayak is its bow shape. With the round bow shape, the kayak meets the water smoothly, without causing much resistance to its forward speed and hence smoothening its path ahead.

Rapid Level

The Rapid level of kayak describes its suitability over different whitewater conditions. Choosing the correct rapid level will keep you on the safer side while drifting over different whitewater spots.

Basically, you will find 7 water classifications according to the turbulence conditions. Beginning with Class A, which is flat and calm water with negligible turbulence and is usually a lake or a very calm river.

It is followed by the Class I, II, III, IV, V, and VI in the ascending order of turbulence. Class I refer to calm water conditions with a few obstructions and bridges over the whitewater which are quite easy to pass through. These water conditions are preferred by beginners in their first stages.

Class VI is the most rapid and turbulent water with enormous obstructions and violent water. Only highly skilled and trained professionals with expert-level techniques can ride over such currents.

Generally, kayaks with Class IV or V are considered safe over most of the rivers.

Volume

In the case of whitewater kayaks, the volume is the quantity of water that can fill inside the kayak. Therefore, the kayaks with higher volume, generally with bulging ends, can pop out back to the surface without drowning much. These boats are obviously very popular among the beginners, but they are also preferred by professionals for kayaking in turbulent whitewater safely.

Stability

The stability of Kayaks can be analyzed from two major aspects.

Primary Stability

The Primary Stability of a Kayak is its measure of the force required to completely flip over the kayak in flat (Class A) water conditions. The greater is the primary stability of the kayak, the steadier and safer will it be in a stationary position.

Secondary Stability

The secondary stability of the kayak defines its steadiness in the case where it is tipped intentionally or unintentionally on the edge. 

Therefore, the thicker are the cross-sections near the kayak’s sidewall; the better will be its secondary stability. 

Also, with a higher sidewall area, the secondary stability of the boat increases.

Kayak Materials

The Kayak material plays an important role not only in its durability but also in its movement and usability. The following are some of the most common kayak materials available in the market.

  • Polyethylene: This is the most affordable yet quite durable material. It is a semi-flexible polymer that is popular among recreational boats. Though it can easily degrade in prolonged sunlight exposures, it is durable and proves to be robust against bumping river debris.
  • Polycarbonate: This high-quality material is way more efficient than polyethylene but stands quite behind in terms of durability. Being less sturdy this material is not as popular.
  • Neoprene, PVC & Vinyl: These materials are common in inflatable kayaks. 

Safety Features

The safety features of whitewater kayaks include a long list of structural accessories. First among them is the grab handles. These handles with their smart and firm design prevent unbalancing and help the kayakers to stay steady during any harsh movements.

Another such safety feature is the flotation device. Flotation devices are one of the most important features, especially for beginners. This equipment allows the kayak to remain upright and balance on its own so as to provide ultimate safety to the kayakers.

One more safety factor needed to be considered in a kayak is the roundness of the hull. Too round hulls will have very little resistance and will be too tough to control. For this reason, they are not advisable for beginners.

Comfort Features

Having a comfortable kayaking experience is one of the major goals for many kayakers, especially if you are looking to spend your full-day kayaking over whitewater. And comfort in a kayak is basically described by its seats and braces. So, you should select a kayak with adjustable seating so as to fit into your most comfortable position while roaming over the fizzy water.

In addition, for more convenience, it is better to look for a countered seat. As a countered seat can shape into your most comfortable position and offer ultimate comfort as against the rigid molded seats. This is advisable especially for kayakers with back issues.

Besides, with supporters like leg lifters, you can just optimize the position of your legs and allow proper circulation in them. Also, they offer high leg support while taking sharp turns or while facing higher turbulence, making your job more convenient.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

🏆 What are the Best Whitewater Kayaks?

It’s never easy to pick one specific best Whitewater Kayak and you should really use this guide to dive deeper into the Whitewater Kayak to fit your needs.

However, at this moment, here are some of our favorites 

Dagger Mamba 8.6 Kayak
AIRE Force Inflatable Kayak 
STAR Raven I Inflatable Kayak  
Jackson Kayak Zen 3.0 Kayak 
Tributary Spud Youth Inflatable Kayak

👍 What is the best Whitewater Kayak for beginners? 

Even for beginners, it’s important to know that there’s a huge difference in Whitewater Kayaks and each user’s personal needs. You should use our guide to dive deeper into the Whitewater Kayak that you need. 

Tributary Spud Youth Inflatable Kayak
STAR Raven I Inflatable Kayak
Kokopelli Nirvana Packraft

🚣 What is the best Whitewater Kayak for advanced kayakers? 

Here are the best Whitewater Kayaks for experienced whitewater kayakers. 

Dagger Mamba 8.6 Kayak
AIRE Force Inflatable Kayak 
Jackson Kayak Zen 3.0 Kayak 
NRS MaverIK I Performance Package

What is the difference between whitewater kayaking and normal kayaking?

Normal kayaking also known as recreational kayaking is more of leisure or fun activity done over calm water conditions like the sea, small lakes, ponds, etc. The kayaks used in recreational kayaking are generally about 12 feet long and constitute material like polyethylene and other polymers.

On the other hand, whitewater kayaking, going by its name is done on turbulent rapid flowing river water. The kayaks are comparatively shorter and are around 5-10 feet long. These kayaks have a special design to bounce over river obstacles like rocks and stones and have accordingly durable and sturdy constructs. Whitewater kayaking requires sharper kayaking skills, faster reflexes, and greater strength. 

Why should I prefer an Inflatable for Whitewater?

There are two main reasons to go for with an inflatable for whitewater.

Buoyancy: Due to their lightweight air chambers, inflatable would weigh much less at the same volume and would thus offer better buoyancy. For this reason, inflatable kayaks are much more suitable and safer for turbulent water conditions. In addition, with their smartly designed hulls, inflatable prove to be much more, convenient, stable, and maneuverable.

High endurance: PVC is the most common among the materials used for the manufacture of inflatable. Therefore, these kayaks are tough to be penetrated and are able to bear the harsh smashes of rocky whitewater obstacles.

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