Advice on crossover kayaks

We kayak in northern Wisconsin and have been using Wilderness Pungo 14’s which seem to work great on the open water lakes. We’re starting to do more river kayaking which has short stretches of fast water and some rapids, so looking to add a couple crossover kayaks. The manufacturer descriptions aren’t very specific and not much search result comes back on crossover kayaks. The Old Town Sorrento and the Dagger Axis seem to be a common recommendation. We’re interested in 12 foot. Can anyone confirm if these are designed for crossover or do you have other recommendations?


Just looked at the web site for each. Only comment between the two is that I do not love the extra huge cockpit in the Sorrento. The ad says to fit in a kid but that is not your stated goal.

An unnecessarily big cockpit in any moving water is an invitation to get swamped. And once you have even class 2 water pushing a boat filled with water into a rock, the boat may not come out of that OK. Assuming the paddler did get out.

The Dagger seems a little better thought out, and doesn’t seem to have the level of gimmicks of the Old Town. Plus Dagger has been making WW boats for a long time, before Old Town tried their earliest flat water kayaks.

By some “rapids and fast water” I’m going to assume you intend to paddle some class II whitewater. It is interesting to me that on dagger’s website they don’t list ww or fast moving water as one of the environments for the axis.

Some ww crossover models are the pyranha fusion, jackson rogue, and liquid logic xp- the rogue being the quickest but tippiest, xp most stable but slow on the flats, and the fusion is a bit more high performance in ww.

Another class of boats is the long ww boats (without hatches) built for speed- green boat, stinger, 12r are models in that class- the learning curve would be more aggressive with those boats but even higher performing than the crossovers.

This past weekend I watched some rec boaters try some ww. Two of the three paddlers ended up walking off before the end of the run. Rapids are far easier to run with a spray skirt, in a boat that is designed to turn (rockered), and is built structurally to withstand the stresses of ww.
Figure in the cost of a spray skirt, helmet, and float bags for the rapids.

One other thought - what are called “creekers” are WW boats with a high volume for buoyancy that tend to have more speed and not infrequently somewhat better tracking than their river running cousins. They got quite popular for beginning classes when the students got to be more in their 50’s than young folks in their 20’s. And are likely available used cheaper than the formal crossover boats.

You may want to pick up a couple of used creekers for this season, see how everyone feels about the mixed stuff than decide on anything like a new boat. Generally can turn around used and beat WW boats for close to what you paid for them.

Crossover, unfortunately is too generic a term. Just because a boat is listed as crossover doesn’t mean it will do what you want. Crossover just means it is a blend between 2 (or more) types of kayaks, but the types they can blend are recreational, touring, and whitewater. That means it is possible the crossover doesn’t have whitewater aspect to it yet still be called crossover.

Extending on something @tdaniel hinted on - when you look at the web specs for a boat of interest, look for one that does talk about some whitewater ability (say Class II). If it doesn’t, then likely it wouldn’t be a white water crossover.

Thanks everyone for the great advice on this forum. I am looking for light to medium rapids capability, not necessarily heavy whitewater. This advice is helpful, I’ll look for something that states whitewater capability and is somewhat crossover to work rivers as well.

The Axis is a true crossover, with the understanding that Class II is the limit - if you want something more technical than that, the Katana from Dagger would be the better way to go. Think of the Axis as a flat-water boat with the ability to do occasional moving water and the Katana is more 50/50. The Sorrento, yeah, not really designed for moving water (but an easy paddling boat for occasional paddling on smaller lakes and rivers).


All good advice guys, thank you. I’ve decided on the Dagger Axis 12 footer. The Dagger website has a video with their product manager showing the Axis in mild rapids, class 2 like. The northern wisconsin rivers are fairly mild at class 2 max, usually less. If I want to upgrade in the future I’m probably headed for a Pyrannah Fusion. There is a ton of hard to decipher info out there and I’m still pretty new at this, looking forward to learning and enjoying. Just as an aside, a number of the sales people I talked with were a little vague and general, saying most boats would work for what I want. Appreciate you sharing your experience.

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I’ll second that. I’m amidst my first spring/summer w/ my new Katana 10.4; I have approximately 50 paddles w/ it. It seems that Dagger effectively diversified their crossover lineups as such:

The Katana, has a more traditional WW hull—albeit wider & longer—that can handle class lll-lV, w/ an incorporated drop down skep for the flats/gentle flowing class l–ll, & substantial gear storage for self-support, multi-day floats.

The Axis seems to be less focused on WW per say; w/ it’s more V-shaped hull. It would better flourish in the class l–ll rivers & also having that drop-down skeg, prove capable on a lake—even more so than the Katana, whose WW hull genetics essentially plows water @ the bow, when pushed for speed.

That said, the hull of the Axis has notable rocker, which should allow it to be serviceable in those borderline stretches where a class ll might become a lil’ wild class ll+ for a bit.

& although the Dagger site doesn’t list the hull volume—for gear storage—as it does the Katana (probably because it incorporates foot braces instead of the Katana’s WW inspired, removable bow bulkhead foot brace) I would think that you could successfully stow a stowfloat bag, bow & stern.

Thanks for starting this thread, Mike. I was about to post a very similar question, but got most of my answers here. I’m in Fort Worth, TX and I really want the Katana, but the reality is that I’ll be in flatwater 70-90% of the time and I’m on a tight budget. Sounds like I’d get more enjoyment out of the Axis. Anyone here know if it’s possible to learn rolls with an Axis? What other boats would you consider to be similar to Axis?

as a class of boats crossovers are hard to roll- jackson rogue or pyranha fusion should roll better than some other crossovers because they have a tighter narrower fit and profile. The rogue was pretty quick (narrow) but not as beginner friendly (less stability in ww) and the fusion can be bought with legit ww outfitting (which should enhance rolling). My 12r (ww racer) made my roll substantially better than my regular ww kayaks due to its narrowness. My xp10 was a bear to roll, I think the katana and axis would be on the more difficult side of the equation for rolling.

Can roll the Rogue, cannot roll the Fusion (if that helps). Rogue surfs really well, but rear hatch leaks. Fusion’s hatch is really dry, but hard to take off/put on hatch cover. Fusion is faster and is great at taking a hard edge. Rogue is definitely easier to carry around on dry land (pillar makes for easy hand hold). Fusion has no pillar. If choosing, I would pick - I don’t know, both are a lot of fun. Tried the Katana for one day, really liked it. Similarly tried the Karma Traverse, did not like it at all (uncomfortable and edgy).

hey Ben I think you can get the fusion with different options- the ww package I believe comes with a foam pillar, better padding, backband and seat which could make a difference with rolling but also shoots the price up quite a bit, not surprised rogue is the easiest to roll due to hull shape. I thought the rogue had a real old school feel- pointy and quick but a tad less stable. Never have tried the katana but lots of folks seem to like them

The ww Fusion is the one I had (but now my wife uses it). General rule of thumb (for me): Jackson boats are the easiest to roll. I think it has to do with knee position. Two easiest boats for me to roll are my Jackson Mon-star playboat and my 18’ CD Isle touring kayak. Go figure ).

I think the jackson super hero is a hard boat to roll. Lots of jackson designs have a bit of extra volume just forward of the cockpit which makes it hard to wrap around the boat if you have a short torso.