Dagger RPM or Wavesport Siren

I am going to purchase a Kayak for my 12 year old - no experience beyond some flat water river canoeing. I was planning to purchase used as I wanted to stay away from the Big box stores if possible.

I found a Dagger RPM and a Wavesport Siren on CL - do you think one would be better than the other? Are they appropriate for a kid just starting out?


what kind of kayaking?

– Last Updated: Apr-17-07 10:00 AM EST –

What kind of kayaking is your son/daughter interested in? The RPM is an old school river runner design. It will be relatively easy to learn to roll, and will get down rivers well. The slicy stern is easy to get grabbed by eddy lines/current, but can be avoided with lessons that show him/her how to keep the boat on edge. For whitewater with long pools, it will be a nice fast boat to go through the pools.

If your child is interested in learning playboat moves, then the Siren is the boat. The Siren was designed for women so it is not as wide or as deep as most other playboats and will be easier for a women (or lighter child) to be able to "throw" the boat around and learn play moves. Unlike the RPM, it will not be very fast when paddling through flat water. It will also likely take more instruction or guidance from another paddler to help learn how to really take advantage of some of this boats design features.

They really are very different designs for very different types of kayaking. If your child is very interested in playboating and learning play moves, the Siren would be the better choice. If it's more to just start kayaking and not sure what or where the interest might lead, then the RPM would be the better choice. If they will need to keep up with you in your canoe, the RPM will definitely be faster and will be somewhat easier to keep going straight with a little less constant correction (although any whitewater kayak will be hard to paddle straight at first for a newbie).

You might want to share some more info about the type of paddling your child would be doing and also height/weight (not all 12 year olds are the same!) to get some other feedback.

Good luck in your boat search!


Edit to add: I reread your profile and I guess I will add that if you're looking for a kayak strictly for flatwater, then probably neither of these would be a good choice. They are whitewater kayaks and although sized better for smaller paddlers, neither will be good choices for slow rivers or lakes because they are designed to be highly maneuverable (meaning they will not track straight at all). I think you/your child will be very frustrated trying to paddle even the RPM in those conditions.

Dagger RPM or Wavesport Siren
thanks for the quick reply. We live near the James river so the possibilities are endless for river running - from flat and slow to nice class 3 to 4 rapids.

He has no preconceptions about what he wants to do in the boat. I am just trying to get him involved in something beyond the basic football baseball basketball sports - something we can enjoy together for the rest of our lives.

My experience is moderate at best. Lots of canoeing on class 2 and 3; just starting to Kayak. I am very comfortable in the water and just want him to be too - if that makes sense

What about an old school hull?

– Last Updated: Apr-17-07 11:52 AM EST –

Like the Pirouette, the Piedra or the Whip-It if he is small enough. If you can find these boats to start with they are quite cheap, and will teach him to paddle straight, are great rollers, have some hull speed and will handle class 2 just fine from what I've been told. You could start inexpensively with one of these and see where he wants to go with his paddling from there.
These boats are also usually easy to sell again if you want - they are getting harder to find. So while they are old enough that no one will pay a ton of money for them, if one goes up for sale you will find a buyer pretty quickly.

Granted, as those who know well say below, these boats won't play. But playboating is a pretty technical climb. Unless your son has a lot of the perfect aptitudes right out of the box, including really enjoying being really wet, he'll probably need some time to get basics down in a pretty forgiving boat at first.

How big is he?

– Last Updated: Apr-17-07 2:27 PM EST –

paddler size and weight makes a BIG difference in whitewater boats. Most models now come in different sizes so that they'll perform correctly.

The Siren is a small paddler's boat, but the slicy ends might make it frustrating for a beginner. It's designed primarily to spin and cartwheel, not run rivers.

The smaller sizes of the Jackson Fun series were designed for kids. A Fun 1.5 might work if he wants to learn to play.


Older, longer boats will be easier to paddle on slower water, but won't do the things he'll see in current whitewater videos.

Ditto That.
Siren is small person’s playboat. Good for some one new if s/he is athletic and tend to excell quickly in sports.


how big is he
He weighs 80 lbs. I have no idea how tall he is - maybe 55 inches?

Good athlete; good concentration skills

DAGGER RPM is a good boat…
As with what everybody else here had to say, it will really depend on what he/you want to do with the boat.

The Dagger RPM is a great boat for a beginner (rolls like a dream, with it’s displacement hull, and can be paddled on flatwater reasoably due to it’s length), but it might be a little BIG in terms of fit for a 12 year old (unless he is big). The thighbraces are NOT adjustable as on other boats to that can mean some additonal fitting required if the fit is not good (he should be snug in it).

I love my RPM and wouldn’t trade it for the world, it’s a damn tank, perfect for river running, but not really a play boat.

Buying a boat can be a big investment, try finding a local kayaking class in your area, and test a few of their boats on for size before you settle.

Via con dios! :}

Well Within The Siren’s Range…
of about 110-140 lbs. He would be “swimming” in the RPM.


is a siren the right boat
Or am I looking at the wrong models - any suggestions welcome -

the RPM is old school.

used play boats
are all over the place… get something that fits him and that he can paddle… don’t settle for the first boat that comes along… if a boat is too big for him he won’t be able to handle it or learn important skills. My kid had a RPM when they first came out and did pretty good in it, but boats have changed alot since then. I am not familiar with the siren - but between the two boats - i think i would go for the siren. you are in a hot playboating area -take time and look around - check the local shop for a for sale board. Talk to the paddling folks. And is this something your kid wants to do…

Siren is a good river runner
Calling it a playboat is technically correct but it is no more a playboat than the Wavesport EZ series, which are now described as river running playboats.

Despite some of the comments here the RPM is not a good boat and it certainly is not a good beginner boat if you intend to do many rapids. But that is irrelevant because the RPM will not fit him. Then there is the “cool” factor. The RPM is not cool by any teenager’s standard. The Siren paddles very well, rolls easily, and has much more potential. A no-brainer, really, if those are the boats to choose from.

here’s another opinon
From the Edmonton whitewater club site:


Wavesport Siren

The Siren is one of the best boats the club has for the smaller paddler. It is fairly stable for a beginner and has tremendous capabilities for the advanced kayaker. It has low volume a very slicey ends for even great flat water practice. It surfs very well, and flat spins can be easily achieved. Not very good for bigger river due to low volume, but has good hull speed so can be used by better paddlers if they feel comfortable. Overall, a great boat for teenagers and women.


Length: 7’(213 cm) | Width:25” (63.5 cm)

Weight: 32.5 lbs (14.7 kg) | Volume: 40 gal (151 L)

Paddler Weight Range: 90 – 150 lbs (40 – 68 kg)


The low volume and thin ends that make it easy to throw around also make it less forgiving than a river-running design. If he learns to roll and doesn’t mind being upside-down – which happens a lot when you’re learning to play – it could be a fun boat for him.

Seriously think about hitting your local WhiteWater kayak outfitter (where are you at exactly?), and either taking a class and trying a few different boats, or renting one or two likely candidates and trying them.

It’s also the time of the year when there are a lot of KAYK DEMOs where you might be able to try out numerous different models. Check the local shops/outfitters in your area.

And yes the RPM would be way to big.

RPM not a good beginner boat?
Not to start a fight, or divert the conversation needlessly, but whay do you say the RPM is NOT a good beginner boat.

Yes, it’s most certinly not a play boat, and not very cool either, but what makes it a bad beginner boat (super easy to paddle and roll)?

lots of reasons…
It is less stable than a planing hull boat which results in more frequent capsizes, it does not have defined edges which makes ferrying/catching eddies/peelouts/surfing more dicey, and it has a proportionately low volume stern that invites unintended stern squirts. What is good about it is that it rolls really, really well.

I learned in an RPM and I still have one in my garage but I fully accept the limitations of that particular boat and would not put a beginner in that boat to learn whitewater if there were better (planing hull) options available. With that said, the RPM would be one of my first choices for teaching someone to roll.

good points…
I will say though that it is actualy more stable when paddling (as opposed to just sitting in it on the water), I think some call it “seconday stability”, versus initial stability. I find most planing hulls I have paddled seem to have less stability on the rapids, but feel “safer” on flat water (better initial stability?).

I have never noticed issues peeling out, or surfing it, but it is definitely a displacement hull, and not good at all for playing.

Damn right about the stern though, floatation is a must in there uless you want to squirt all day.

I would add …
that the RPM is hard for beginners to ferry in. It is less tolerant of an inexact ferry angle, which means you will turn down stream too early and probably lower your upstream edge. Hi fishies! Correcting a ferry angle is also harder. But the real argument is that there are large numbers of really excellent boats out there that are stable, easy to control, easy to roll, and have better outfitting.

How does adding flotation inside the hull make the stern more bouyant?