Which white water kayak for me?

Hello WW paddlers,

I am new to white water paddling, 5’11" and 197 lbs. I got into kayaking with a 12’ Perception SOT and want to take the next step to a crossover or creek boat. I’ve done some research and the two boats that call to me are Dagger’s Katana 10.4 and the Jackson Karma 9.1. I’d like to get one boat that will handle flat and white water but also have footprint limitations. I need a boat that I can store in my tiny one bedroom home and throw on top of my Honda Civic. I love the crossover skeg for flat water but would love to have a boat under 10 ft. Is there another option?



What type of white water?
What type of white water? Class? Type of river? Maybe give examples of rivers you plan to paddle in near future?

Which white watr kayak for me?
Thanks for your reply. I’d like a boat that could handle the Colorado River, class 2-3. I want something that would be a good stable white water starter, but still track decently in flat water.

Whitewater & Tracking
Nearly mutually exclusive traits.

Where do you want your performance? WW or flatwater? The further into the WW addiction the less your likely to car about tracking.

Another aspect is that the more manuverable kayak will will be an excellent guide for honing your forward stroke on the flats for if your paddle exit goes past your pivot point you’ll be off into the circle of doom.

As to WW choices under 10’ = too many to name.

See you on the water,


The Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



Which white water kayak for me?
Thank you!

9’ Karma not a bad choice
It tracks fairly well and is forgiving to learn whitewater in. I assume you will be paddling long flat sections of the Colorado, and this will work.

The KarmaRG is a lot longer and paddles really well for covering distance and is a gas in rough water.

Are you paddling lower Colorado in CA/AZ or upper in CO or canyon lands UT/AZ ?

I would ask local paddlers what they suggest for the areas you will be paddling. There are a couple of good online whitewater forums for western rivers if you check around a bit.

Thanks, Seadart!
Not sure. So far I’m only familiar with the mellow class 1 and 2 of the Sacramento River in California. I’d like to do a stretch of the Colorado but nothing higher than class 3. I’d love a longer boat like the RG but need a smaller boat due to storage limitations … and the limited real estate atop my little Honda Civic. Thanks for your suggestions!

Don’t worry about the Honda Civic
I easily carry a 14 foot kayak on top of my Honda Fit

Honda Fit
Right on!

I have a friend who tried out both the Katana and the Karma on flat water. She has a white water kayak, but wanted to rent a couple crossover boats to see if she could find a “do it all” kayak. She thought they both paddled well enough for white water, and so-so on flat water. Neither was the “do it all” kayak she was hoping for. She thought the Katana was a better kayak to camp out of and easier to pack gear into.

Good responsiveness

– Last Updated: Nov-14-16 10:11 AM EST –


I just wanted to note kudos to you for being responsive to the question you started. Often a question is posted and responded to but never attended so the responders never know what becomes of your plight. Keep contributing to the dialogue and you'll get more refined useful info from the tread you started.

Fill in the rest of your profile. It'll help the responders dial in their advice.

See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY

Thanks, Raftergirl & Marshall!
Yes, I’ve heard other folks say this too … that the skeg on a boat like the Katana doesn’t perform that well in the flats. That there is NOT one boat that will do it all. So if I want to get a boat to explore white water, I should go with something more dedicated. My problem is that realistically I’ll be going flats and class 1 and 2 … so this points to a longer boat … but I’d love to get something, if possible that might handle a class 3 … maybe something like the RG?

Storage/transport and Class II/III
My first thought is to question your storage “problem”, which I’m mainly doing because you are wrong in thinking you need a small boat because of your small car. My girlfriend usually carries either a 13-foot kayak or a 14-foot solo canoe on her Honda Civic, and she sometimes carries a 16-foot tandem canoe (this would work quite well with more bar spread than she has). I think that the first thing you need is a good aftermarket roof rack, if you haven’t gotten one already. Then you’ll have one less reason to focus only on short boats.

As to storage, you say you have a one-bedroom home, but that could mean a lot of things and tells us nothing about the nature of your storage problem. Do you have a driveway with a couple feet of space on one side? A yard? Some space alongside the building or along the edge of the property? If you do, you can build a rack to which the boat can be locked. Lots of boats live outside when not in use, and you haven’t said that’s not possible for you. I once lived in a small apartment building with no official outdoor storage space, but I hung an aluminum Jon boat flat against the back property fence. The landlord thought that was fine, since it wasn’t in his way when he mowed the lawn (I did something similar with the property fence at another apartment where the buildings were crammed onto very tiny lots). Be creative!

As to what you need to paddle Class II/III whitewater with lots of flatwater stretches, around here that usually translates to the Class-III sections being brief, but of course I can’t speak for your situation. It sure seems like many kayakers today can’t seem to remember that people paddled these same rapids in longer boats before anyone ever heard the term “park and play”. I’m not saying something like a crossover boat can’t do the trick, but bear in mind that EVERY boat that’s 10 feet long or so and on the pudgy side, and that describes crossover kayaks, is dreadfully slow on flatwater, and whitewater kayaks are an order of magnitude worse. In actual fact, a 12-foot boat that’s got some rocker could potentially be perfect, in the hands of a decent paddler. I only mention this because no one would EVER suggest that a canoer needs a full-on whitewater boat to paddle Class-II (though with too many Class-III drops thrown in, some amount of specialization helps), so why does a kayak invariably have to be so short just to do the same? Food for thought is all.

food for thought
Thanks for your wise words … based on yours and others helpful comments, I’m no longer worried about the storage/transport issues … just finding a new boat that will challenge and allow me to take the next step in my kayak journey. It’s funny that you mention a longer boat with plenty of rocker because I’ve just been reading about the Stinger XP.

Looks nice
That Stinger XP looks nice. I might have to tell my friend about that one. Using the crossover boats for camping seems to be about how the space up front is designed & accessed. That’s why even though the Katana was a bit shorter than the Karma, my friend had a harder time packing gear in the bow of the Karma. The way the footpegs/bulkhead is set up makes a big difference. The stern gear hatches were pretty much even on both boats.