Maybe a crossover?

I had been thinking to get a 14-foot-ish touring kayak. Nothing fancy – maybe the Dagger Alchemy or the WS Tsunami 140. But, as the summer progresses, I realize that:

(a) in the near-term (next five years?) most of my kayaking will be limited to a couple hours up to a half day, on weekends. No overnight “touring” is likely to be in the cards for the foreseeable future.

(b) I’m closer to the inland waters of Maryland and Virginia – rivers (including the Potomac), lakes, reservoirs – than I am to the Chesapeake Bay.

So, maybe I should be looking at and demo’ing kayaks like the Dagger Katana, Jackson Rogue (or Karma), etc.


Will you be paddling rapids?

– Last Updated: Jul-06-15 5:43 PM EST –

I've been seeing a lot of crossover kayaks on recent group trips I've been on, and I'm completely unimpressed with their flat-water performance. They are barges in every sense when paddled on flat water. They are the loudest, splashiest boats of any kind that I've ever seen (constant splashing at the bow, except at dead-slow speed). Also, they kick up an enormous wake at typical touring speeds, which suggests to me that they require much more effort to paddle. On the plus side, they are very good in rapids, but you need to be getting into some rougher rapids for the advantage to become a factor. For lighter rapids, and certainly for flat water, they are a distant second-best option to touring kayaks. That's just my opinion from watching other people paddle various kinds of kayaks, but at least one good paddler that I've been out with, who paddles a crossover (among other boats), says all the same stuff that I just did.

I suppose if you were mostly paddling very small rivers which require a lot of sharp turns around fallen trees, or on tiny winding creeks, the maneuverability advantage over touring kayaks might be worth considering. There are no absolute answers in this boating game.

“crossover” should be more than a word
I wish people would think of the meaning. It feels almost like a cliche for “best of all worlds!” when it really means compromise.

Pretty much spot on
They’re really WW boats with a few design tweaks that make them somewhat more tolerable for flatwater paddling relative to standard WW boats. I think their ideal niche is longer river trips that have both WW and flatwater stretches. I’ve also seen them work well as rock garden “play boats.”

To the OP, assuming you are not planning on paddling heavier WW (Class III+), something like the Alchemy will serve you perfectly fine on Mid-Atlantic inland waterways.

I like my crossover, thank you
I boat a lot of ww with mine and a little flatwater. Works for multiday trips as well. Crossovers are very versatile boats, tough, stable, but slow compared to touring boats. That translates into more effort and slower speeds on the flats. Its been nice not having to portage and running some ww that others are carrying around. It doesn’t seem so slow when you factor that in.

Cross over guy here, too.
Mine is a Prijon Cruiser. Good for everything not great for anything.

have crossover and Alchemy
I have a Jackson Karma RG and a Dagger Alchemy 14.0L. If I was going to use just 1 boat, it would be the Alchemy. I only take the Karma out for white water (river or ocean) play. It is a dog on flat water - Alchemy is much nicer to paddle.

Don’t get hung up on the names

– Last Updated: Jul-07-15 11:59 AM EST –

I have an XP10 and like others have said crossover kayaks really aren't for flatwater. They really are whitewater or moving water kayaks, that due to the skeg, track better than other whitewater kayaks (especially for beginners). They are nice for rivers with long calm sections, gear hauling on whitewater, and a nice forgiving (but still fun) kayak for beginner whitewater paddlers. I also use mine on very narrow, shallow twisting streams but really any short kayak is fine for those conditions as well as much longer kayaks with a bit of skill.

You are paying a lot more money for whitewater outfitting and performance but when on a lake they are going to perform about as well as a much cheaper 10 foot recreational kayak. I only take my XP10 to a lake if I want to work on skills or forced to give my longer kayak to a friend and I get a serious workout. Otherwise, I want to be in a longer kayak.

You would probably get more use out of an Alchemy. You can do easy whitewater in a 14' -- it is just not as much fun and usually just go straight down most rapids. You can do small narrow streams with just a bit of skill (you learn fast). Just because they call them touring kayaks doesn't mean you have to take them out for multiday trips. If you want to do whitewater a crossover might be a good choice but probably best to build whitewater skills first from classes or experienced whitewater kayakers before buying your first kayak.

Great Comments!
Thanks to all. Sounds like for my needs the Dagger Alchemy may be a better choice. At least in the short run, I likely won’t be doing III+ rapids, unless I’m in a WW class – in which case a WW kayak rental is often part of the package. With the Alchemy (or similar 14’ rec/touring ) I can do most of what I like on inland waters and, if I am able to get out to the Bay 2-3 times a summer, I’d have the right boat for playing around the coastal areas and inlets.

I’m on other forums (biking, skiing), so I have some data points to say that is one of the best – always good insights. Thanks again.

Alchemy is a good choice
Alchemy is a good choice for the paddling you describe. It will even get you down class 2 rapids should the need arise. It is a responsive boat for its size, and I’m enjoying paddling mine - which I got earlier this year after getting rid of my P&H Capella. I can throw the Alchemy in the back of my pickup and run to the local river or over to the lake with a minimum of fuss. It also surfs well at the ocean and can click off some miles. I can grab the creek boat or play boat if conditions are better for those.

It all depends on what you want to do
Not all crossover kayaks are equivalent. My experience is not extensive but I have paddled both the Liquid Logic XP9 and XP10, the Dagger Katana, and the Pyranha Fusion.

While both the LL XP boats are very capable in whitewater, they plow water pretty badly when you apply power and are not very efficient on flat water or in the moving pools.

The Pyranha Fusion and Dagger Katana are much better in this regard. But a whitewater hull in the 10-10.5 foot length range is not going to be as efficient as a 14 foot or longer touring kayak. In fact, there are some old school whitewater kayaks that are more efficient than the modern crossover designs, including the Dagger Response, Dagger Animas, Perception Pirouette, or even older designs like the Perception Mirage or Dancer.

It is also true that a longer touring kayak can be run down Class I and II (or even the occasional Class III) rapid if they are not too technical, they will not maneuver as nimbly or catch small eddies like a whitewater inspired hull and often require the use of side slips and the occasional back ferry to negotiate tight spots or line up for narrow chutes.

If you are interested in covering a fair bit of distance in a smallish amount of time and with less effort I would go for the longer boat. If you plan to paddle a good deal of non-moving flat water I would certainly do so. If you like to play in rapids, catching small eddies or surfing waves for example, and are not as concerned about making time, you might enjoy the more nimble hull better.

In terms of water footprint, most of the so-called crossover kayaks are not much different from longer river running whitewater kayaks. What they offer in comparison to those is a bulkhead, hatch, and drop down skeg. What they offer in comparison to touring kayaks is outfitting that is usually better suited for whitewater performance. IMO the skeg is really only going to be useful to beginners, or to more experienced paddlers crossing larger pools with a cross wind.

good post, makes a lot of sense
I rarely use the skeg on the xp10, just doesn’t add much to my paddling.

It’s not just about efficiency but also about comfort. My nephew and I took turns switching from an xp10 to a mirage while crossing a lake. We both preferred the xp10 even though it was slower (and took more effort) because the seat was better. Our butts got tired on the perception seat pretty quick. Hard to stretch out your legs in the Mirage as well. Neither one was very good for the flats but we survived and enjoyed the river portions of our trip more and ran what others portaged. More than one way to skin a cat.