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Best Whitewater Kayaks

Best Whitewater Kayaks

The Best Whitewater Kayak

When it comes to narrowing down all your options to find the best whitewater kayak, it is equally frustrating and entirely accurate to know that the answer is, it depends. You'll learn this with any paddle craft, from kayaks to canoes to SUPs, but it becomes painfully clear when looking at whitewater kayaks because the stakes (or rapids) are high.

The reality is- there is a spectrum to whitewater kayaks. Some folks divide it up into even more categories, but most stick to three categories on the spectrum. To start, you've got playboats, which is a smaller, low volume, flat bottom boat made to sit and surf on waves. And on the other end, you've got creek boats- also short, but higher volume and tons of rocker designed for resurfacing and maneuverability. And in the middle, you've got the sweet spot - riverrunners. These are your longest whitewater kayaks and serve as your beginner and generalist whitewater boat. Of course, then you've got tons of boats in between that share characteristics.

Here's a few points along the spectrum that we hear most:

And you'll also learn of a few dominant brands in the whitewater world:

    Best Beginner Whitewater Kayaks & Riverruners

    It should be said that, although these are labeled beginner-friendly, they are probably the most common whitewater boats because they are river-friendly and good for whitewater expeditions. For the sake of limiting options, we are going to limit suggestions to polyethylene plastic whitewater boats. You should know that there are also tons of inflatable whitewater kayaks as well.

    Best Creek Boat Kayaks

    As declared before, creek boats are going to be slightly shorter boats than a riverruner, but will have more volume than a playboat. The added volume allows you to run a creek or river with some drops or holes and resurface quickly.

    Best Playboat Kayaks

    A playboat is going to be for surfing waves, playing in holes, and for freestyle tricks. Similar in length to a creek boat, but some of the volume has been sucked out (usually at the bow and stern) to give the ability to sink either end and perform tricks like going vertical.

    Best Jackson Whitewater Kayaks

    You won't get past your first drop on a whitewater boat before you see or hear of Jackson Kayak. The Jackson family among the most talented of whitewater enthusiasts, they know how to make a boat.

    Best Liquidlogic Whitewater Kayaks

    Another whitewater favorite is that of Liquidlogic. Think of them as the whitewater kayaks of the 21st century, but they make whitewater boats and fishing kayaks.

    Best Dagger Whitewater Kayaks

    Another whitewater powerhouse, Dagger is time-tested and lays claim to some of the most popular whitewater kayaks.