Best White Water Kayaks in 2021: Rapid Rippers

Best White Water Kayaks in 2021: Rapid Rippers

Kayaking can be done both with family or solo.

If you are the adventurous kind, you can even kayak on ocean swells and Class V rapids.

But to do so, you need the right kind of kayak.

This is why we created this guide.

It lists the top white water kayaks in the market, details their features and gives a quick breakdown of their pros and cons.

Without further ado, here are our top picks:

Dagger Rewind Whitewater Kayak

Dagger Rewind whitewater kayak is one of the most popular kayaks for those who love the thrill of paddling through rapids.

If you want a killer river running kayak, look no further than the Rewind. It is an updated version of the Axiom, a fixture in the whitewater kayaking world.

Although the Rewind looks a lot like the Axiom, it is different. The bow of the Rewind is designed for speed. It is also able to better handle drops and challenging waters. This design concept is borrowed from the Phantom, which we review next.

The Rewind has the company’s creek outfitting that makes it one of the best whitewater kayaks. This heavy duty outfitting allows kayakers to tackle even Class V rapids without any hassle. Of course, they need to have the necessary paddling skills but the Rewind is a beast.

If you want playful boats, there will be nothing like the Rewind. It is the easiest half-slice to squirt out there. For having fun in Class V rapids, there is no boat like the Rewind. People love the Rewind because it performs like crazy. As a Redditor puts it – it boofs, it squirts, it surfs and it is comfy AF.

The stern on the Dagger rewind is also designed for performance. Its sheer low volume makes you want to take it on crazy river rapids. The stern is engineered to allow kayakers to perform squirts or get vertical even when the eddy line is too weak. The stern’s length is more than that on earlier models like Axiom. This is for a purpose – it allows the boat to move with speed and build momentum fast.

The stern has a larger width than the Axiom. This allows you to easily get it vertical since there is more surface area that the water can catch. The extra surface can better allow the boat to stay stable in the vertical position.

The boat is fast, the kind of speed you see on the Axiom and the Phantom. The designers made sure the speed was preserved. The stern is longer, so the yak is better able to fly down a river. The Dagger Rewind medium size is 8 ft. 9 in. So it has 3 more inches in the stern than the Axiom. It also comes in small and large options to suit your specific needs and height.

For the medium size, the weight range of the paddler is 140 lbs. To 220 lbs.

The kayak performs really well on white water. It tracks well and you can easily make pivot turns or stern squirts with the stern. Since the bow has more volume than its predecessor, it feels more buoyant and resurfaces quickly. The buoyancy is so good that even when you deliberately drive the bow down in a hole or a drop, it comes right back up to the surface. These improvements make the Rewind an all around better version of the Axiom.

The Pyranha Ripper is a close competitor, but it doesn’t have the playboat feel you get from the Rewind. The Rewind is designed in such a way that it performs well in almost any condition. It is fast, responds promptly to each maneuver. Boofing it is easy with its high-rise bow which drives it in a drop quickly and allows it to rise quickly on rock-assist boofs.

However, note that the Rewind does not surf as well as the Axiom on fast flat waves. On the bright side, it can surf small steep features more efficiently because it prevents the bow from pearling, which Axiom was not able to do.

Its tapered edge begins at the bow, is most prominent under the seat and starts disappearing at the end of the stern. This makes the Rewind responsive but not grabby like the Pyranha Ripper. Both primary and secondary stability are good – it does not feel like you are sitting on a flat barge.

If you are in the higher end of the weight distribution for the medium version of the Dagger Rewind, it gives you the perfect playboat feeling that people crave. Even if you are over 6 feet tall, you will be able to fit in without having to move the seat backward. For people over 6 feet, the large version is also suitable. It is a better option for running Class V waters and if you will be out on the water for a long time.

The Dagger Rewind strikes the right balance between playfulness and performance. One impressive feature of this kayak is its Contour Ergo outfitting which is easier to adjust than any other boat. It also offers the best levels of on board comfort we have seen in a whitewater kayak.

Overall, this is a great whitewater kayak. So if you are on the fence about its performance, don’t overthink and just go for it.

Pros

  • Amazing playboat feel
  • Superior outfitting
  • Fast
  • Stable
  • Wide stern easily lets it go vertical
  • Tackles Class V products like a charm
  • Playful but performs well
  • Responsive but not grabby
  • Boofs easily
  • High buoyancy
  • Amazing design

Cons

  • Doesn’t surf well on fast flat waves

Dagger Phantom

Dagger Phantom falls in the 9-foot creek race boat category just like the Pyranha 9R and Jackson Nirvana. All boats have similar features, but in varying efficiencies.

All three come with a planing hull. They are kind of narrow and have an aggressive rockered bow and a relatively relaxed stern rocker. The stern is squared off to maintain a long waterline while shortening the overall length to ensure the Phantom qualifies as per the race rules.

The moment we saw the Phantom’s outfitting, we were in awe. It is an undisputed fact that Dagger’s adjustability, quality and comfort are superior in comparison to any other whitewater kayak brand available in the market. It is pure beauty.

However, for those using a Dagger for the first time, the outfitting can seem too complex. There are many parts and fixtures to get accustomed to. So if you are adjusting it for the first time, be ready for a tough ride.

It comes with a rotomolded seat, a leg lifter, adjustable thigh braces, comfortable hip pads for long rides on water and ratcheting backband. Adjustable thigh braces ensure that your thighs don’t scrape against the rough edges of the kayak and also facilitate a firm grip while paddling. The fittings are also user-friendly – so much that the boat feels intuitive to use.

The Phantom comes with a weight range of 145 to 255 lbs, which is good for most paddlers. However, you should be somewhere in the middle of this range, for getting optimal performance.

When you take it on flat water and make some ferries or eddy moves, it doesn’t demonstrate the kind of speed you would expect it to. Since the hull is built in planing style, its edges are as defined as a river runner. It has the right amount of edge, which allows you to carve a turn or take charge of a surf. The edges are still quite forgiving.

You can make the boat carve a turn, but it won’t be crisp. It won’t be sharp. When you want to peel into an eddy line, you would need to do more than just drop an edge to come around facing upstream.

Since the edges are not sharp, it feels like a stable creek boat. It is a river runner but with more weight on. However, at no point will the current catch an edge and throw you off balance.

With great speed comes great responsibility  – or in the case of kayaks, a learning curve. When trying out new maneuvers, you may crash down a rapid without having any grasp over the maneuver. Phantom does not lock-in on a line, so it does not make it difficult to turn. This allows you to adjust your maneuver mid-rapids and maintain the bow upstream while peeling out of an eddy. Therefore, it is more of a river runner than a race boat.

Many similar kayaks, like the Pyranha 9R are not as big as the Dagger Phantom. You can’t bring a lot of gear on them. With its 89 gallons of capacity, the Phantom offers all the space one may need. There is a lot of volume free in the front, which is an added bonus. The Phantom goes over features and surfaces effortlessly.

When running it through rapids, it feels like it has a lot of bow rockers. It is as if it just wants to climb over stuff. Even when you put a lot of stuff inside the yak, you won’t feel that it is heavy while maneuvering.

What we usually see is that modern white water boats tend to have less stability cushion in order to have a better downstream performance. With this design, the boats are meant to be driven downstream aggressively. Even if you want, you won’t be able to float through rapids as cross currents will be hard on the edges, creating an insurmountable challenge.

The Phantom is different. It has the performance of a 9-foot creek boat. You can take it downstream aggressively, but also take it on long multi-day trips. It is as versatile as it gets.

It is not just a wild beast, but also one that is under your control. With five solid metal grab handles, you can rest assured it will always be in your control. It has everything one would want – it is wild yet stable. The hull is fast and the bow has a solid rocker, going toward the cockpit, allowing it to ride up and over large waves without any hassle.

This makes the Dagger Phantom one of the best whitewater kayaks out there.

Pros

  • Superior build quality
  • Excellent outfitting, better than 99% kayaks
  • Rotomolded seat with leg lifter
  • Thigh braces
  • Intuitive handling
  • Forgiving edges, as defined as a river runner
  • Stability of a creek boat
  • Maneuverable
  • Fast
  • 89 gallons capacity, bigger than similar kayaks
  • Runs efficiently through rapids
  • Goes downstream aggressively
  • Five metal grab handles for control

Cons

  • Too many outfitting pieces

Pyranha Ripper

The Pyranha Ripper was made with a specific goal in mind. The designers wanted to produce a “fast, easy edge-to-edge hull with a playful stern”. The Pyranha Ripper is a modified version of the 9R Rocker. The designers dropped the bow by an inch with the bow volume about the same. They wanted to give it that playboat feeling, so they just removed some volume from the stern.

The Ripper offers a high and dry kayaking experience. This is because of its fuller bow. The designers also worked on its width and modified its rails to bring out high levels of performance.

The Pyranha Ripper comes in three variants – small, medium and large. For most paddlers, the medium size would be suitable, but check your weight and match it with the recommended weight range for best performance.

For the large version, the weight range is between 165 lbs to 275 lbs. For the medium version, the weight range is 143 lbs. to 198 lbs. And for the small version, the weight range is 88 lbs. to 165 lbs. Both the small and medium versions of the Pyranha weigh 44 lbs. while the larger version weighs 46 lbs.

To choose the right size, follow this simple method: if you want a playful boat that is less creeky, choose a smaller size. However, if you want to go river running on Class IV and V and paddle through waves and eddylines, go for a bigger size.

The Ripper’s outfitting is easy to use, unlike what we saw in the Dagger Phantom. It features Pyranha’s stout 2 outfitting. You can easily adjust the thigh braces, set thigh pads in place and ratchet yourself in a comfortable yet stable position with your feet secured in the wide footplate.

Thigh braces and thigh pads allow you to assume a firm and comfortable paddling position. Unlike other whitewater kayaks with complex outfittings, you can get ready to tackle rough waters within just 30 seconds.

Since it weighs 44 lbs, it is not that hard to carry especially considering that it is 9-foot long. It is also amazing how quickly you can get it up to speed. It is due to its light weight and optimized hull design. It just takes a few strokes to get it going. Its narrow bow helps you punch through holes and stay on course.

The boat feels rather narrow in width while running rivers. This helps paddlers make vertical paddle strokes next to the boat rather easily. The width of the boat is 24.5 inches, so it is not very narrow but its deck design and strategic spread of volume gives you a feeling of paddling a smaller boat.

Although vertical strokes are easier, this volume spread also keeps your legs in a rather horizontal position. This means the paddling posture isn’t as aggressive as other kayaks.

Its performance is impressive. It carves in and out of currents like a charm and hangs out in eddies, no matter how small. When you bend the boat on the side, the edges bite hard and carve a good arc.

If it’s been a long time since you paddled in rough waters and you happen to miss the maneuver at the top of the eddy, the Pyranha Ripper climbs back up without any hassle. It takes only a few paddle strokes and you are able to relax in an eddy. If you try this maneuver in any other boat, you’d realize how difficult it is.

The Pyranha comes with a slicey stern deck that, at first glance, seems like it will be unforgiving in the boily parts of a river. The amazing thing is that this stern deck design doesn’t make the boat flip over when you take it in difficult waters beneath big sets. Its rocker design ensures that the water doesn’t accumulate over the rear part of the boat.

The boat is as playful as they come. You can dip the outer edges in and be amazed at how graceful and fun are its stern squirts. The boat allows you to change paths in the middle of a current on a dime. This makes it an amazing short yet fun boat.

Note that its deck is flat which allows it to roll and go through maneuvers like kick flips since you can keep yourself as low and as flat as possible.

The Ripper’s one of the best whitewater kayaks because not only it is fun when doing surfs and downriver play but also when doing boofs and rock moves. It catches smaller features on the go. The boat gives you total control – you can try different maneuvers and even when you edge hard, it is easy to climb back up.

Overall, the Ripper is a beast of a kayak that is fun and enthralling. It comes in different weight sizes so you can strike the right balance between playful and creaky if you pick carefully. For more playful, pick a smaller size. For more creaky, choose a bigger size. Also, if you are going to use it in mostly Class IV or IV rapids, better choose a bigger size.

Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • Easy to edge
  • Playful yet stable
  • Outfitting is easy to use
  • High and dry kayaking experience
  • Thigh braces and thigh pads for a firm sitting position
  • Lightweight at 44 lbs.
  • Portable
  • Easy to change maneuvers mid-course
  • Wide footplate secures feet well
  • Carves in and out of currents smoothly
  • Slicey stern doesn’t let the boat flip
  • Flat deck lets it roll easily
  • More spacious

Cons

  • Feels a bit narrow but it is intentional and helps with vertical paddle strokes

Dagger Mamba Creeker 8.6

Dagger Mamba 8.6 is the creeker boat that has been widely popular in the whitewater kayaking world. Coming from a prominent brand in the industry, this kayak allows you to navigate Class V rapids with absolute class.

The Mamba has been in existence since 2005, but got its design modified in 2012. Originally developed as a river runner, the redesign was intended for people who wanted something aggressive, with more features, better looks, a better fit and a greater level of comfort. Of course, the most noticeable change was longer variants.

Because the new design is longer and has more volume, it was better suited for bigger paddlers who struggled with the previous version. There is extra space around the knees that allows you to assume a more aggressive position while tackling those rapids.

There is more volume in the stern which is good for keeping the boat floating higher. This prevents eddys and boils to grab it midway.

The Mamba is fast but it is also made with stability and control in mind. If you want a kayak that is responsive, yet forgiving, this is the one. The kayak is at its best in creeks and rivers.

The Mamba has a roto-molded seat designed in the shape of a tank type seat. This gives you ample support while driving downstream or tackling river rapids.

The seat also offers plenty of back support and keeps you supported in a stable position.

Underneath the seat is a grid that prevents the paddler from slipping or sliding. The seat comes with leg lifter and ratchet adjustable backband to keep you firmly positioned in the seat.

Near the seats, you have attachment loops to hook gear or supplies. The seat pad is well-contoured to keep you comfortable for long hours of use. Then there are also the fully adjustable hip pads with meticulous contouring on them. The hip pads absorb impact when you do aggressive maneuvers and keep you stable when you are going fast.

The designers understand how important buoyancy is, so they built a mini-cell foam center pillar that makes the Mamba more buoyant than usual.

The outfitting is comfortable and adjustable. So you can paddle like crazy without having to abort your ride to stretch and relax.

The kayak allows you to carve across eddys, wave faces and out of holes with force and still manage to spin, side surf and cross currents without worrying about window shading.

It has a bottle holder too, so you can stay refreshed when kayaking for long hours or perhaps on all-day long expeditions.

It comes with five grab handles positioned at the back, in the front and on the sides. So you have a lot of options to reach out and grab for support when tackling rough waters. They also make it easy to carry the boat on ground or load and unload it from your car.

The seat placement can be adjusted – even little adjustments allow you to see differences in performance. Its adjustability makes it possible to use it for more challenging whitewater than its older version. Its design will sure make some of us keep it as our creek boat.

Since it is maneuverable and responsive, paddlers who love to test the limits of a whitewater kayak in big waves would find it appealing. For those who are still learning the ropes, it will let them develop gradual paddling skills because of how stable and predictable it is.

When you charge down Class IV rapids with the Mamba, it maneuvers over holes beautifully. It is not as fast as the Dagger Nomad, but it is better able to handle holes, with much more ease. As easy it is to handle holes, it is equally as easy to boof. But the paddler has to lean forward aggressively if you don’t want random stern squirts.

Pros

  • Superior build quality
  • Roto molded tank style seat
  • Good back support
  • Seat grid to prevent it from slipping
  • Handles Class V rapids with grace
  • Legacy design with aggressive feel
  • Fast but stable and stays in control
  • Maneuvers really well and very responsive
  • Adjustable seat
  • Good for beginner paddlers as well
  • Bottle holder
  • Comfortable and adjustable outfitting
  • Foam pillar for buoyancy
  • Easily handles holes, boof and eddies

Cons

  • Not as fast as the Dagger Nomad, but still good enough speed
Buy on Amazon:

Driftsun Rover 120/220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak

If you want a whitewater kayak that doesn’t cost a grand and a half, Driftsun Rover is worth checking out. It is an inflatable kayak, so it is different from the other kayaks we have reviewed in this guide. Note that the Driftsun Rover comes in two variants – 120 and 220. The 120 is a single seater, while the 220 has space for two paddlers.

It is well-built, which is the first thing to check when you’re going down on price. It has 1000D reinforced layered PVC side tubes and a rugged bottom made of PVC tarpaulin material. This sturdy construction makes it resistant to punctures. When fully inflated, the kayak just weighs 22 lbs., so you can handle it easily. Since it has three air chambers, you can feel safe on water knowing that if one chamber pops, the other will keep the boat afloat.

The floor is designed with high pressure drop stitching, which makes the boat durable and capable of handling anything you throw at it. It comes with a removable flat water tracking fin, which allows you to paddle in peace on flat water. In fact, its tracking is one of the best we have seen in a kayak. The skeg allows you to direct the kayak where you want, whether you are navigating through Class IV rapids or paddling on flat water.

The kayak is heavy duty, it can support 300 lbs. of weight in the single paddler option and 600 lbs. in the tandem option. The kayak bottom is so sturdy that you can even stand on it.

It has a big rocker profile which provides good stability and helps you keep the yak under control when navigating both rough and flat waters. Its rocker has a classic river runner outline.

The yak is made for driving through Class III and Class IV rapids – an impressive feat we didn’t expect from an inflatable. But does it really deliver on its claims? Well, you’d be surprised to know the answer is yes.

The Rover is fast – much more than we expected. It goes up to 4 miles per hour without any signs of instability. It comes with five self bailing ports, that keep you dry while going through rough waters. It also comes with multiple tie down points to secure your gear such as camera, medical kit and so on. It also has a front action camera mount to record all the crazy action you do on waters.

Its seat is so comfortable that you will be able to stay on the water for hours without getting sore in the back or feeling any pain in your butt. The seat has a high backrest that supports your entire back from your tailbone to your upper back.

It comes with an aluminum paddle which is a 2-piece paddle and can be easily stored in the backpack. The paddle is also adjustable for optimal performance. In the package, you also get a double-action hand pump so that you can inflate it in half the usual time. What this means is that the pump fills the air both with downward and upward movement. This allows you to set up the kayak within 10-15 minutes. The good thing is that the pump comes with a pressure gauge, so you can know when the sides and floor are full.

Make sure to attach the rear tracking fin before you inflate the kayak. Finally, it comes with a backpack which you can use to store all the items including the kayak, paddles, pump and tracking fin. It comes with velcro straps for the foot but it is up to you to use them or not.

What we were amazed to see on this kayak are the Halkey Robert air valves. These kinds of valves are generally seen on high-end kayaks. These valves allow for quick and easy inflation. The air valves are also sealed well to ensure there is no air leakage. This shows that the kayak is not just another inflatable branded as a white water yak, it is built for ease of use as well as performance.

Note that it wobbles a bit, but you can bring it under control by putting some weight in the front. Another downside is that if you are tall, the single-person Rover will be hard to get in and out of. The kayak comes with removable and adjustable footrests so you can fit in easily no matter what your height is.

Unlike other whitewater kayaks, the Driftsun Rover can be folded and stored in a small bag. However, keep in mind that folding it can be tricky. So you should take pictures while setting it up, so that you can take it down by just reversing the entire process. It comes with a backpack that is sturdy and durable.

Although it comes with self-bailing holes, you can plug them when you are on flat water since they can also let water in. The caps for self-bailing scupper holes are already attached, so you won’t lose them. These little details are why we love the Rover.

As an inflatable kayak, it is lightweight and portable. The only downside is that you have to dry them before putting them into storage. This requires some time and effort. Doing this is crucial because otherwise the boat can get mildew over it.

The company has put a lot of attention to detail in building the Rover 110/220 which makes it stand out. For example, it comes with corrosion resistant hardware attached to the seat straps that makes it more durable.

The single seater is rather small in size at just 8.5 inches in length but you can always buy the tandem version to have more space. If you are around 6 feet tall, you should rather buy the tandem version even if you are only going to use it as a solo. The seats can be adjusted easily, so you can fix them wherever you want.

If you want a whitewater kayak that is easy to use and handy, go for the Rover 220. It comes with easy instructions to set up and it performs really well on flat water as well as rapids. Many users mentioned how the kayak comes out unscathed even after going through submerged tree branches and dragging on rocky ground.

Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • 7 self-bailing scupper holes
  • Adjustable seats
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Four fixed handles for transportation
  • Aluminum paddle
  • Double action air pump
  • Front action camera mount
  • Removable rear tracking skeg
  • Travel carry bag
  • Multiple air chambers
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to set up
  • Quick inflation

Cons

  • Single-paddler version is small for taller people
Buy on Amazon:

Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit on Top Kayak for Rapids

If the price of the above kayaks made you roll your eyes, we have good news for you. You can have fun riding through rapids even at an affordable price. How? The answer is the Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit on Top Kayak.

If you want to experience the thrill of paddling through Class II and Class III rapids, the Ocean Kayak Frenzy is a perfect option. Sure you can’t go into Class IV or Class V whitewater, but it allows you to have a lot of fun for the price.

It is not specifically made for whitewater, but it stands out because of its amazing performance. One user even mentioned using this kayak in a hazardous situation. They used the kayak to reach safety amidst the hurricane Hermine in pitch dark. Imagine water entering your house and you are stranded along with your dogs and family members. The customer reportedly paddled their way out of the house in pitch black and it helped save the day.

This really shows how stable the kayak is in rough waters. But we aren’t just believing stories. We have done a lot of research to find that the kayak is good enough for Class II and Class III whitewater.

The Frenzy is 9 feet long, so it is good enough to fit most paddlers. It is made with a unique design that features the Ocean Kayak’s tri-hull design. This hull design combines primary and secondary stability using a long center keel.

The kayak has a super comfortable seat unlike other similar kayaks. It allows you to sit for long hours on the water without getting sore.

It also comes with plenty of space for storage. It comes with two tank wells for storing your gear. Since this is originally meant to be a recreational kayak, you will have the best of both worlds with the Frenzy kayak.

It has molded-in side handles on both sides that allow you to carry it easily. You can grab them and maintain a good grip. The kayak can support a massive 325 lbs. of weight. This is really good for a single paddler kayak since you can bring a lot of gear.

The kayak is made in the US, so you need to have no doubts about its build quality and durability. It is extremely stable on water – you can try to tip it over but it won’t give in until the extreme end of the effort. You can take it through Class II or Class III rapids and have fun with it. Its tracking is also impressive, it moves in a straight line. It is responsive to different kinds of strokes and allows quick maneuvers through narrow passages or between rocks and trees. The kayak’s tracking allows you to slice through water without drifting to the sides.

The Ocean Kayak Frenzy comes with a lifetime warranty on the hull.

Overall, the Ocean Kayak is a great boat for those looking to have fun on the water. Whether you want to cruise on calm waters or tackle Class II or Class III rapids, this is the perfect boat. Despite being a short kayak, its tracking is amazing.

Pros

  • Well-built
  • Superior stability
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Tackles choppy waters and rapids
  • Molded side carry handles
  • Dedicated storage tank wells
  • Fully adjustable seat
  • Portable
  • Tracks straight
  • Value for money

Cons

  • None
Buy on Amazon:

Advanced Elements Attack Pro Inflatable Kayak

Whitewater kayaks can be ridiculously expensive. If you are looking for something in the mid-range, the Advanced Elements Attack Pro is a good option. It comes with many user-friendly features and a rugged construction that makes it capable of going through white water without any hassle.

It comes with molded rubber handles in the kayak’s body which allow you to carry it with ease. It comes with an adjustable seat that allows you to sit in a comfortable position and remain comfortable for long periods on the water.

The seat can be adjusted using the straps on the sides, so you can tighten it to have a rather upright position and loosen the straps slightly to lean back if you want. The seat also has a high backrest to support your entire back from tailbone to your upper back.

It also comes with adjustable thigh straps that allow you to paddle from a more stable and supported position. This is really needed when you are navigating white water and have to maintain balance at all costs.

It comes with self-bailing ports so that you can easily remove any water that accumulates inside the kayak. Without self-bailing ports, kayaking can be a hassle since you have to disrupt your ride every time the kayak is full of water. Self-bailing function prevents you from sitting in a pool of water.

Despite being an inflatable kayak, the company has provided many user-friendly features to enhance its quality. It comes with adjustable foot pegs that allow paddlers of all sizes to fit in and feel comfortable.

It can support a maximum weight of 225 lbs. which is good enough for a single paddler. The boat itself weighs 25.5 lbs. when inflated, so it is pretty lightweight and portable. You can easily carry it on your shoulders and carry it on the ground without needing a kayak cart.

The inflatable tubes of this kayak are more forgiving in comparison to the rigid hard shell white water kayaks listed in this guide. The inflatable tubes absorb the impact when there are any objects in the water like rocks or boulders. It will just bounce off of them and let you enjoy the freedom of movement without getting the boat stuck in between objects. This allows the Attack Pro to perform really well on rapids.

The kayak comes with a 12 inch rocker and a wide stance, which makes it responsive and stable on water. The 12-inch rocker allows you to make quick turns and feel the thrill of fast movement on rapids. While dancing around with your yak is fun, you don’t want it to swamp. That is why its 35 inch hull width keeps it stable so that you can maneuver effectively.

It consists of 3 air chambers, so if either of them pops out, the other chambers keep the kayak afloat. This is good for water safety. The boat is made of long-lasting PVC tarpaulin material.

It also comes with some space of storage in the rear. The rear is covered by the stern deck and you can keep your gear and supplies in a dry bag in that area.

Pros

  • Solid construction
  • Multiple air chambers
  • Responsive
  • 225 lbs. Capacity
  • Adjustable thigh straps
  • Multiple air chambers
  • Small turning radius
  • Fast yet stable
  • Lightweight at 25.5 lbs.
  • 225 lbs. Capacity
  • Inflatable tubes are more forgiving than hard shells
  • Great freedom of movement
  • Adjustable foot pegs
  • Molded carrying handles

Cons

  • Performance is limited since it is an inflatable
Buy on Amazon:

What to Look for in a Whitewater Kayak

Before you buy a whitewater kayak, there are many things to consider. First, understand which type of kayak will best suit your needs.

Types of Whitewater Kayaks

1. Playboats

Playboats are short among all types of whitewater boats. They help the paddler surf waves and make maneuvers like cartwheels and spins. Playboats generally stand out because of their planing hull design and are about 6 feet long. This helps paddlers turn them on a dime. Their hull design allows paddlers to rotate the playboat.

Playboats have the smallest rocket both in the bow and the stern. This helps paddlers make specific maneuvers – the bow and the stern can be put underwater to do awesome tricks including pop-ups and squirts.

Playboats can move swiftly over water thanks to the flat hull bottom and prominent edges. These two design elements impart a lot of primary stability to the kayak and give playboats that “playful” characteristic that paddlers love.

But although playboats have primary stability, their prominent edges take away a lot of the secondary stability. So playboats have a clearly defined flipping point, you need to brace with your paddle or your head will get wet.

Since playboats often come with hard chines, paddlers need a level of skill to edge the boats in currents. If they don’t have the skill to do it, they won’t be able to activate the edges and the edges will catch and flip them within seconds. So once you buy a playboat, you need to learn how to handle it on eddy lines and surf holes.

2. River Runners

Another type of whitewater kayaks are river runners. The name aptly describes what they are for – running down fast rivers. They can be used in a variety of situations and strike the perfect balance between playboats and creek boats. They are the more balanced version of playboats because they have both primary and secondary stability.

If you are a beginner and can’t handle a playboat, a river runner would be better for you. This is because of soft chines, more volume, more length that results in better tracking, fast resurfacing and forgiving quality. Beginners can take a river runner kayak in different types of river currents and still get an enjoyable, less challenging ride. For those who want their boat to do more and adapt to all kinds of waters, river runners are the right option.

3. Creeker Kayaks

Creekers are the largest whitewater kayaks across all types. For those who want to tackle big rapids, drop down waterfalls and maneuver through narrow and complex creeks full of hazards. Their hulls are usually 65 to 90 gallons of volume and have a lot of rocker in the bow and the stern.

Since creeker boats are long, this rocker in the bow and the stern allows better maneuverability – the kayak can turn fast for accurate maneuvers such as turning on eddy lines, boofing off ledges and going down waterfalls like a charm.

Since creek boats displace a lot of water with their hull design, it takes away the hard impact paddlers feel when they land on the surface from a drop maneuver.

Because of the high volume, creeker boats can re-emerge on water after it is submerged. The volume also gives it some storage space. Paddlers can bring camping gear or other items and store them behind the seat. This feature makes creek boats perfect for long expeditions.

Creek boats don’t necessarily suit every paddler. They can often be tippy because the primary stability is taken away due to their rounded hull design. So if you are an absolute beginner who wants to get into the world of whitewater kayaking, a creek boat isn’t the best choice.

Since they are so big, they don’t give that playful feeling on small bodies of water that you experience with playboats. They are only fun if you plan to take them on drops and big water.

4. Long Boats

Long boats are basically the longer version of river runner kayaks. They can be as long as 12 feet and catch a lot of speed when going downstream. They are fast but also have a lot of bow rocker, which when combined with their length provides a lot of volume. This also makes them highly maneuverable. This maneuverability and volume makes them excellent creekers and perfect for long expeditions which include being on the water for multiple days.

The best part about longboats is that they can do well in both Class II water as well as Class V waters. This makes them multi-purpose yaks suitable for paddlers with all levels of skills and experience.

So these are the types of whitewater kayaks you can choose from.

So How Do I Choose Which Type of Kayak to Buy?

The main thing you need to know first is the kind of whitewater you will paddle. Rivers can be of various types – some are slow-moving rivers, some have Class II whitewater, some have steep waterfalls. So determine the kind of rivers you will paddle. Look around where you live and check the whitewater type. Unless you plan to travel a lot to get to your favorite kind of whitewater, inspecting your local rivers is enough to make this choice.

Check which of the following water bodies you live next to:

  1. Lazy rivers with just a few Class II-III wave trains and holes
  2. Rivers with versatile Class IV and V steep creeks, big water and drops.

If your location has only the first kind of whitewater, you should go with playboats or river runner kayaks.

On the other hand, if you live near rivers of the second type, where there are plenty of Class IV, V creeks, you should go with either a river runner, a long boat or a creek boat.

Size of the Whitewater Kayak

Besides choosing the right type of whitewater kayak, you also need to pay attention to the size. Each whitewater kayak comes with a recommended weight range for paddlers. Also note that when kayaking on whitewater, you will be loaded with plenty of gear including a helmet that will add an extra ten pounds or so.

Paddlers often get confused when they fall between two weight ranges. If this is the case, it is always better to go for a higher size since the smaller one will probably ride too low in water, which would make it slow and sluggish. Nobody wants a slow kayak for whitewater.

Final Thoughts

There are many white water kayaks in the market. But not all are worth your money.

Using the buying guide above, you can find the right white water kayak within minutes.

If you are short on time, go with our top pick, the Dagger Rewind. It is fun, fast and stable. Its superior outfitting allows paddlers to tackle Class V rapids like cakewalk.

If you want a killer combination of playful and creek, buy the Dagger Phantom. It is truly one of a kind! It has the stability of a creek boat and gives you the thrill of a playful boat.