crossover kayak experience

Has anyone bought and thoroughly enjoyed a crossover kayak (i.e., dagger katana, LL remix xp 9 or 10, pyranha fusion, etc) on both lakes and ww rivers without wishing you had bought a kayak more specifically made for either ww or fw?

Also consider Paddlers Place Discussion

You don’t buy a crossover kayak
expecting to fully enjoy it on all sorts of water. Either you couldn’t afford a quiver of more specialized craft, or you could’t have your bum in more than one kayak seat at a time, and needed a crossover to get you where you want to go, meeting all relevant conditions along the way.

So, it’s worth discussing, but it isn’t really an appeal for advice, suggestions, or general help. I don’t think you want those things.

My experience

– Last Updated: Jul-15-14 3:42 PM EST –

My XP10 tracks very well on a still flatwater lake with the skeg down. After about two strokes it is at max speed and pushing water. Overall it paddles like 10' rec kayak on a lake, except it tracks very well. It is not my first choice for lake paddling -- it is not miserable but you will be paddling hard to get anywhere.

I love it on the whitewater we have around here in Southeastern PA, which is mostly sections of 1-3 with sections of moving flat water between. I have no complaints once you get it in any water with a current. Great kayak for narrow streams as well. Also, I am built more like a linebacker, hard to find a kayak that fits me but the crossover style kayaks usually give me a good fit.

I also bought a Dagger Axis 12 when it came out. Nice flat water kayak for its size. I mostly paddle it on flatwater, easy whitewater and rivers, and narrow streams. Compared to my XP10 it is just ok on whitewater -- doable, bit more effort, and not as fun. If you can only have one it might be a better choice as it is good on flat and ok in white vs the XP10 which is poor on flat and very nice in white. The Stinger and Greenboat might be better choices than the Axis overall, I would think they would be decent on flats and great on whitewater -- the Axis is really only an easy whitewater kayak.

The Axis was my main kayak for many years -- it was one of the few kayaks I could find that fit me without having a massive cockpit. It took it everywhere and it helped me lose a lot of weight that I now can consider longer kayak. I also had an old Blackwater but that was for my wife (who never went out) and a loaner. Now that the XP10 is handling my river, whitewater and stream trips the Axis is left for lakes. I never was a big lake paddler but having a few really close by and less time for river paddling, I find myself on lakes more. The Axis is probably going to get sold or at least replaced with maybe an Alchemy L or WS Focus 15.5

Overall, I think it is better to have a whitewater and flatwater kayak. I had limitations for years due to my build and weight that the crossovers really were my only choices. They got me out paddling so I don't regret buying them. If my skills and desire to paddle didn't grow I probably would have been content with them for many years -- much as I am happy with my hybrid bike that I am content just to do easy rides on.

Thanks Shady. I’m big too. The mamba that they put me in for my first ww lesson at the USNWC was extremely uncomfortable due to my build. My build, the fact that I live right next to a lake, and the reality that I can only afford one boat make these crossovers appealing to me.

I have paddled an XP10 on whitewater and flat. My impression is that it quite an acceptable whitewater boat but pretty much fails on flat water. It is slow and does not track very well (although substantially better than a standard whitewater play boat).


More Thoughts
The most common advice you are going to get is to buy used and get two kayaks – whitewater and flatwater.

There is a ton of sense in that. If you dislike a kayak you buy used you probably can resell it for about what you pay. You might get some good extra gear that way as well – paddles, PFD, skirts, etc on the cheap.

The downside is if you aren’t an average build you don’t have a large selection used. You have to check everyday and when something comes up you need to move fast. You also need to know what you will fit in. Get out to stores and sit in every kayak you can. I have spent many months looking for a used kayak without much luck. Being on the larger chest size I can’t find much kayaking clothing that fits me. Lots of PFDs don’t have enough straps. If they do they ride up no matter how I tighten them. I had to get a spray skirt with a custom tunnel. All of this makes it difficult to find used gear.

What is your height, weight and foot size?

Whitewater schools sometimes sell new and used kayaks. They would be a good place to go for whitewater or crossover kayaks. The really big kayaking store near me – still an 1.5 hour drive – does offer discounted demo kayaks from time to time. You might have better luck at places like that then Craigslist.

Regarding fit almost every first time kayaker wants a big open cockpit (so they don’t feel trapped) that they can just walk into. As time goes on you will get a lot more comfortable sliding into and out of a tighter cockpit. They also like super comfortable seats with nice high backrests they can lean against. I really disliked how the XP10 felt when I first sat in it at show. So much so I didn’t even think about one again until I got to try one on the river. I still do not find it comfortable on land sitting in it. Once I get on the water it feels right to me (after many hours of tweaking).

You need to spend some time in a kayak to get the outfitting adjusted right. What feels good or bad on land often is very different on the water. There are foam and pads you can add to make it more comfortable. Some pain you just get used to.

I don’t regret the time I spent with crossovers. I still love my XP10 on the river. They may not be the type of kayak you are still paddling in a few years. So you sell it put the money towards something else.

Spend some time really thinking how much whitewater vs lake paddling you are going to do.

it’s patently hilarious watching you
continually try to shoehorn every topic into one of the five forums.

tanks again, and
I’m 5’11’’, 240 lbs, size 10 shoe.

I have demo’d an xp10…did not like it on flatwater. Also demo’d the Katana (a bit easier on flat than the xp 10 and smaller but still relatively comfortable fit for my build), and the Axis. The Axis was very roomy, but i could tell it wouldn’t turn well on ww. The Stinger that you mentioned is now on my list to demo. Perhaps that will do well enough for me on both lake and ww for a few years.