NRS Kayaks Review: Everything You Should Know [2023]

Last Updated March 17, 2023

Kayaks allow for maximum maneuverability through the narrowest streams but are tough enough to let you outlast the most challenging whitewater. Their highly versatile frame enables you to go from gently cruising calm lakes to slicing through massive waves, guaranteeing the best adventures.

NRS’s partnership with Star enables them to cater to a significantly broader market, letting you look no further for your next kayaking adventure. Their unbeatable performance that does not compromise portability allows you to go from trekking on foot to paddling water in a snap.

NRS Kayaks Reviewed

The brand’s kayak line grew significantly since its collaboration with Star Inflatables. We review each of their kayak series below.

#1. NRS MaverIK: I Performance and II

NRS MaverIK I Performance Package

The only kayak offering by the brand, the NRS MaverIK is the perfect all-around whitewater companion that promises an excellent performance every time. Its sturdy construction promises the ideal compromise between speed and stability to let all paddlers experience ride the rapids.

Having pre-installed attachments for foot braces and thigh straps lessen your worries as you ensure your security through challenging whitewater. This hardware lets you know what accessories to look for to have an accurate fit on your kayak.

Pennel Orca comprising on the MaverIK’s fabric, guarantees excellent durability that can withstand the constant beating. It boasts of ample flexibility to resist abrasions and immediate damage caused by Ultraviolet rays.

Multiple air chambers with Leafield C7 valves ensure the kayak’s rigidity and your safety if one is gets punctured. The same valves let you get to paddling immediately with its high-speed inflation rate. Packing and transporting the MaverIK will be more comfortable with a relatively lightweight and compact frame when deflated.

Its self-bailing floor ensures that you will stay afloat despite constant crashing, allowing you to focus on paddling. A Leafield A6 Pressure Relief Valve, ensures the kayak’s air pressure remains optimal, letting you finish the course safely.

MaverIK’s reduced waterline makes excellently agile, allowing for maximum maneuverability. The high bow and stern lets you resurface effortlessly and have better control of direction, guaranteeing swifter turns. Despite the shortness, its tubes are massive enough to ensure your stability, making this kayak forgiving for beginners finding their footing.

#2. Star Raven I and II

STAR Raven I Inflatable Kayak

Star Raven’s highly versatile construction lets you go from lazy river cruising to battling it out with more challenging waves in a snap. This kayak series offers enough carrying capacity to allow a buddy to join you or haul in more gear for multi-day camping trips.

A drop-stitched, Polyvinyl Chloride floor insert improves the kayak’s self-bailing capacity, letting you leave the pail at home. This type of floor promises excellent rigidity to ensure that the raft stays upright despite the constant movement, ensuring your stability.

Padded folding seats provide ample back support as you paddle, letting you be more comfortable the entire trip. Its quick detachment from D-rings on the kayak’s interior gives you full control of deck space, allowing for better weight distribution. Star provides extra fasteners to secure the seats, ensuring your safety as you traverse whitewater.

Leafield Inflation and Pressure Relief valves keep the multiple air chambers of this kayak at optimal levels, ensuring your safety throughout the course. These air chambers, combined with the sturdy floor, ensure your stability as you paddle.

Welding the seams of the excellently durable Polyvinyl Chloride material ensures that this tear apart easily, letting you get your money’s worth. This construction process strengthens the kayak’s ability to remain airtight and resist punctures, with the fabric significantly reducing wear and tear from UV rays.

Reinforced handles on Raven’s front and rear allow for more comfortable transfers to and from the water. The same feature lets you flip the kayak quickly if it tips over, allowing for faster re-entry.

#3. Star Outlaw

STAR Outlaw I Inflatable Kayak

The best NRS and Star have to offer commercial camping and rentals; the Star Outlaw kayak promises excellent durability to withstand constant use. Weekend cruises on the lake will be a breeze with this kayak’s superior maneuverability.

A consistent curve on the massive enough tubes ensures excellent tracking making this kayak series usable for all paddlers. Its ample stability makes the Star Outlaw very forgiving, letting beginners work on their footing without risking balance.

Using Polyvinyl Chloride on the fabric makes it highly resistant to damage, ensuring the kayak will remain airtight despite everyday use. Star’s state-of-the-art welding of the seams guarantees that it will stay together and stay rigid, lengthening the kayak’s lifespan.

A drop-stitched PVC floor insert helps keep your balance as you maneuver the kayak, letting you focus on paddling than balance. The same floor type, secured by two straps on each end, guarantees the utmost comfort, allowing you to stay in the water longer. Inflatable thwarts with easy installation on its attachments give you ample back support as you traverse the lake.

Assembling the kayak is very convenient, with its fast inflating Leafield valves on each air chamber. Grab handles aid for the most convenient transfers to and from the water, letting you straight to paddling effortlessly. The same handles help you flip the Outlaw quickly if it tips over. If you get the kayak punctured, repair kits included enable you to make temporary repairs, letting you finish the trip.

#4. Star Viper and Viper XL

STAR Viper Inflatable Kayak

Star’s Viper and Viper XL makes you forget about needing a hard-shell kayak with its unbeatable performance. Its rigid construction makes it the perfect choice for battling the most challenging whitewater, letting you come out victorious as you slice through rapids. 

Displacement airbags on both ends of the kayak improve buoyancy and add power as you resurface after dives. The added floatation devices also serve as a backrest and a step pad to secure your stance as you paddle. Its self-bailing, drop-stitched floor insert ensures the kayak’s rigidity and keeps excess water out of the raft, letting you focus on battling with the waves.

The intensified rocker allows you to punch holes and slice through waves and allows for effortless resurfacing after steep dives. Having a high stern provides better control of direction, optimizing the Viper’s maneuverability for smoother turns. Its reduced waterline allows maximum energy transfers from paddling to the water, guaranteeing optimal speed for less effort.

Both Viper and Viper XL comes with thigh straps that lock you in place, assuring your safety as you paddle. Welding the seams of the excellently durable PVC fabric ensures that the raft remains airtight and will take the beating of constant impact. Its multiple air chambers efficiently trap air with the Leafield valves that also allow for fast inflation.

The self-bailing, drop-stitched floor ensures the raft’s integrity, keeping your stability, and reducing capsizing risk by expelling excess water immediately. Its increased thickness lets you sit on top of the waterline, giving you a better view ahead and planning your moves efficiently.

#5. Star Paragon

STAR Paragon Inflatable Kayak

Having fin inserts on the front and rear sets the Star Paragon apart from all other kayaks in this review. This added feature lets you have full control of drag, allowing for optimized tracking capacity. Like the Viper series, the excellent overall performance does away with the need for hard-shell kayaks with the most convenient portability and storage.

Its non-self-bailing, drop-stitched floor insert ensures the Paragon series’ rigidity, promising that the kayak will stay upright throughout the entire trip. This floor type makes the kayak suitable for touring or light fishing on flat water.

The ergonomic, high-back seat provides ample support and is adjustable for optimal comfort. It also lets you have a more stable stance as you paddle, allowing gain more speed with every swing. Splash guards on the front and back also serve as storage to ensure that your gear stays dry. Bungee decks also allow you to secure added rigs, lessening your worries as you paddle.

Leafield valves on its multiple air chambers assure the kayak’s rigidity and lets you have more paddling time with its quick inflation and deflation. A repair kit included in the purchase allows you to do a temporary repair if one section gets punctured, letting you finish your trip. The inclusion of a fin explicitly made for the Paragon enables you to decide on the kind of movement suitable for your trip.

NRS Kayak Types

Getting yourself familiarized with the different types of kayaks lets you decide accordingly, letting you maximize its capabilities. We differentiate each one below to allow for smarter decision-making.

Creek Boats

Creek boats usually have massive volumes that are distributed evenly to allow for better buoyancy. This feature also helps the kayak resurface quickly due to the added stability on the bow and stern. The less pointed ends of these boats reduce the risk of spinning out, allowing for maximum control. They are usually longer than other kayaks to let you tread narrower creeks comfortably.

Play Boats

As the name suggests, these boats are mainly used for freestyle rafting, letting you do spins and punches effortlessly. The significantly reduced volume in these kayaks requires more training as this feature increases its agility. Having flat decks allows them to sink for better vertical tricks, with the volume concentrated on the cockpit allowing for stability. A planing hull keeps these boats stable as they gain speed, letting you maintain balance as you paddle.

Downriver Boats

Downriver boats are a good compromise between a creek and playboats, offering ample stability with enough maneuverability to let you pull a few tricks. The mid to high-volume bow and stern reduce the build-up of excess water, ensuring your buoyancy and stability throughout the entire course. They will be shorter than creek boats but significantly longer than play rafts to guarantee better tracking and movement control.

About Northwest River Supplies

Business professor and avid river sports enthusiast Bill Parks’ determination to get his startup company off the ground made Northwest River Supplies the brand today. His perseverance to work for something he has always been passionate about pushed him to strive harder to put NRS among the most trusted rafting equipment brands.

Despite the lack of budget, he took a risk with the money he had and created his first rafting gear catalog in his garage in 1972. His success didn’t cloud his judgment, for as he approached retirement, he made sure that the people who contribute to NRS’s achievement were not to be swept under the rug. Instead of selling the company to end his career with a huge payday, Parks made a way to make NRS completely employee-owned before he left. This move ensured that his employees’ loyalty and service were duly recognized as he moved on to the next phase.

The brand takes pride in manufacturing products with the Ultimate Utility, reassuring their consumers that everything they produce is highly versatile. This concept guarantees that each purchase lets you go to all adventures worry-free, promising that you get your money’s worth with their rigid construction.

Testing the products firsthand in their home base at Moscow, Idaho assures you that all their products perform excellently, promising the best adventures. NRS takes pride in its keen attention to customer needs that guarantees you of getting the best.


The decision to diversify and collaborate with Star Inflatables shows how Northwest River Supplies values customer needs. Admitting their limitation and striving to improve it shows humility, assuring you of their dedication to provide the best.

We hope this review of what NRS offers for your next kayaking trip helps narrow your search. While their list is pretty extensive, it is best to learn the basics to allow for more practical decision-making. Check out our other articles below for more product reviews.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a Chine?

A: The chine is what makes the raft’s hull shape round or edged – this is the line where the tubes and the bottom connect. Hard chines allow for more stability, keeping the raft plane despite wavy conditions. Play boats usually have this to let paddlers set up their moves with enough agility. On the other hand, soft chines lessen contact with rocks on shallow waters, allowing for a smoother glide. This sleek finish allows for a more predictable response, letting you have more control of the raft’s movement.

Q: What is a Rocker?

A: The rocker is the curve of a raft’s bow and stern towards its bottom. A flat bottom that ends with aggressively angled ends of the raft is called a Kick Rocker. Pulling off tricks is more comfortable since the flat base allows ample stability to set up your moves. The gradual curve of a Continuous Rocker allows for increased maneuverability, letting you do swifter turns. Diving with Continuous Rockers will be more comfortable with the reduced water contact of the raft’s ends.

Q: What are float bags?

A: Float bags are removable air chambers that you put on the bow and stern for added stability. Most of the time, these double as dry bags where you can keep your essentials as you paddle. If the raft starts taking in water, their volume reduces the amount you have to bail, improving your safety. Not all rafts can accommodate these bags; some do not need them at all since pre-installed stern bags serve the same purpose.

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