Kayak for whitewater and flat water

I would like to get a kayak thats good for smaller rapids (class I - II and maybe III) and flat water trips. Im having trouble finding something that has this versatility. I would really like some recommendations from you guys who actually know what your talking about. I’m a total noob to kayaking but i can learn fast. so please dont recommend a “beginner boat” that im gonna wish i hadnt got 6 months down the road. thx.

Not a beginner boat
Liquid logic has a nice middle of the road boat. It’s more like a rec boat, but they’ve added the foam wall down the middle to add support for whitewater. I’ve never paddled it, but since you may go for class III I would recommend that over a Swifty. It’s great on lakes and flat water, but has that extra little brace for a little WW. I can’t remember the name of it, but I think it’s something like Sprint or Spirit or something like that.

Dagger Crossover and Savannah
I have two boats that I use for flatwater and Class I-II+ whitewater.

The Dagger Crossover (12.5 feet)is a hybrid and is intended to do just what you describe. See the product reviews for several opinions. My 14 year old son does just fine in Cl. II+ rapids, just rides over/through; bridging the haystacks. On flatwater, it is not fast, nor does it track very well. But you get to work on your paddling technique. (A discontinued boat)

The discontinued Dagger Savannah (14.5 feet)is not a hybrid; a real flatwater boat, mine is rudderless. But in Cl. II+ I just poke right through anything that I don’t ride over. Kind of fun to watch the “sea kayak bow” penetrate that standing wave 7 feet in front of me!! Wet. I added foam bulkheads for fore and aft compartments. This has added some stiffness. But if I ever lost it against an obstacle, I’m sure I would not want to be in it. It will probably bend like a drinking straw. This boat tracks well w/o rudder and is my favorite day/workout boat. (We also have a couple of Dagger Cortezes; just for speed).

George in Cody

Right now there aren’t any decent
whitewater boats on the market which are decent flatwater cruisers. And there aren’t any good flatwater cruisers which are good at whitewater maneuvers. I include the Dagger Crossover in this indictment: It will run down Chattooga III with a portage at Dicks Creek Ledge and maybe at Bull Sluice, but it will not handle any of the complex maneuvers which make for an enjoyable trip.

As for currently marketed whitewater boats, the Prijon Chopper is at least willing to coast a little in a straight line, but it does not “glide” like a Crossover.

I recommend that you check out the used boat market, and get yourself a nice roll-able sea kayak and also a nice surfable whitewater boat, maybe a Dagger GT. If you are a careful shopper, you will spend less than $1000 on both boats. (Example: I got a Necky Looksha Sport for $550 at a benefit raffle, and a $300 “old school” Animas at an REI scratch-and-dent sale. Also, prices of used boats on paddling.net tend to be a little higher than people actually are paying, so offer less.)

Some Hybrids
Here are a few options in the hybrid market:

The Dagger Crossover has been discontinued, it has been released under the Perception nameplate as the Enduro and boasts a new non-leaking hatch cover.


Another option is the Prijon Yukon Expedition (this is probably the closest boat to what you’re asking for, and a damn fine boat to boot)


From Riot check out the Stealth:


the Voyager,


the Sniper,


and the Big Gun,


Hope this helps,


No such beast.
Despite the recommendations above you will be unhappy one way or another. Creek boats like the Sniper or Big Gun (they are not crossover boats) will handle the white water just fine but will be a dog in flat water. In a similar way anything that is at all reasonable on the flats will be difficult to handle in the rapids. You will be reduced to just surviving, not having fun. As previously suggested, get two used boats.

mo’ boats
a few compromises you might check out: the dagger charleston 14’ (kind of like a stretch blackwater), the Wilderness Systems Shaman (tippy to the novice, but I’ve taken one through some nasty stuff), and as one previous reply suggested, the Riot Stealth (nice on WW, kind of slow on flat stuff, but not as bad as a crossover).You may have better luck with a short touring boat than a long WW boat. I have taken my 15’ eddyline down class II, and through tidal currents that looked like class III WW. There’s even one guy I know of who did the Grand in a 17’ Prijon Kodiak (no B.S.). You can always learn to better control a touring boat, but you will never be able to make a WW boat go faster than it’s hull speed. Good Luck!

touring boats not stiff enough
Most touring boats aren’t stiff enough to avoid wraps. I’d worry about having the cockpit collapse in a pin with a longer plastic boat that doesn’t have foam support pillars.

Compromises compromise performance
If you can get your hands on a boat made for each conditions you’ll likely be happier in the long run.

If you’re just looking to explore placid rivers then a boat like the Yukon Expedition or Crossover will be adequate to get you through the flats and down small rapids. However, these boats are merely adequate for these conditions. You won’t be pulling rodeo moves in the rapids and you won’t be zipping across the flats like a racing K1 either. But if rodeo moves or going fast aren’t important then the adequate boat might be all you need. I paddled happily for several years in a heavily rockered 14’ plastic touring kayak. It was just maneuverable enough for class II and just barely fast enough for flatwater.

If you really want something versatile, consider a nice inflatable kayak, like an Innova Helios or an Innova Sunny. Not only are they great fun on flat water or rivers, but you can pack them up and take them with you on vacation! I have used both in the water conditions you describe.

You can also get a rudder for the Helios which makes it even more appropriate for lake or coastal paddling.

There are some crossover kayaks in the 12-15’ range which might also work ok, but you really will use an Innova more, because you can pack it and your gear in your trunk for paddling anytime, anywhere.


you can’t have it all. I echo other
comments. Todays ww boats aren’t going to give you speed and tracking on flat water and the flatwater boats aren’t going to give you the manoueveabiliy in class 3. Sure, i guess there are some compomises out there, but they won’t do any of it exceptionally well.

thx alot everyone for the suggestions and help, I’ll take all this into consideration.

I guess I’m not really sure what i like more… Riding rapids or cruising flat rivers. I havnt had a lot of experience with rapids, but i figured if i was going to get a kayak i would want something that could handle them if i decided to do some.

Right now I’m thinking that a touring kayak that can handle the rapids without being destroyed(doesnt have to be super manuverable)would be better. Not the other way around. I really just want something that can survive rapids… it doesnt have to tame them.


but here is the problem,
Taming isn’t the issue, surviving them is. Class II will wrap a touring boat around a rock. Touring boats are generally much lighter realative to the size of WW boats, that extra weight is for saftey.

Very much agree.
You can broach and get pinned on a rock even in class I rapids. Not only is a touring kayak not up to the task structure wise its lack of maneuverability greatly increases your chance of getting in trouble. Getting in trouble in this case means getting pinned on a rock, being unable to get out of your boat, and drowning. We are talking survival in the literal sense.

You Guys Can’t "Dream…"
Don’t cha get it…? There’s got to be a boat that tracks straight as an arrow on flat water but turns on dime in class III rapids. It would also cost under $400, roll like a dream, and pack a weeks worth of supply, but weigh under 35 lbs.

Such a boat would be there if weren’t for the manufacturers conspiring to get paddlers’ money for “different types” of boats.



sounds like another Michael
Moore movie.

My comment or the contrived sentiment?


(Who has yet to see a Michael Moore movie.)

You’re all pointing to a Swifty
OK, since you are now leaning more toward flat water, but wanting to “try” the rapids to see what kind of water you want to do, I would recommend the Swifty again. Sing, that little boat does everything you describe: lightweight (37lbs.) Tracks straight as an arrow on flatwater and turns on a dime in WW. I’ve had mine in Class II and believe me when I say, it eddies in and out better than my WW boat, surfs like a pro in the smallest or largest waves, it’s very stable and just plain FUN!!! And the cost is under $400. So, to find yourself and what kind of water you want to do, go for a Swifty to start with. You can get a feel for some easy WW, surf the boat wakes on the lakes and explore swamps and marshes. You’ll want to keep it no matter where you go from there as you’ll find it a great “let’s go now” boat. Try it out first, though, just so you know for yourself. Good luck, and check out the string under “newbie help” in this forum.

Sorry, but I cannot agree
There is no way that a Swifty can compete with almost any current WW boat. For example, the Perception Method Air is far and away a better WW boat. It surfs better, carves better, eddies in and out easier, has better outfitting, has better foot braces, and is easier to control in moving water. I am nothing short of astounded that you would make the claims you do for the Swifty. Be honest now. If you had a choice for running a class 2 rapid. Swifty or Method Air?

Given that I don’t fit in a Method Air,
I’ll use my Corsica. Heck, even my '82 Noah Magma will out-turn a rec boat, and will outrun most of them.