Reviewing the Best Whitewater Kayaks 2023: Our Unbiased Editors’ Insights

Gather a bunch of paddlers in a room together and their talk about all the different types of kayaks available will entertain you.

When we talk about the whitewater kayak, you are in for:

  • Fun
  • Exercise
  • Socializing

That said, we know that for beginners, making the right choice when it comes to purchasing the best whitewater kayak proves to be quite a challenge. The following guide will steer you in the right direction.

Best Whitewater Kayaks

Top-Rated 7 Best Whitewater Kayaks in 2023 – Comparison List

Let’s cut straight to the chase. Here’s a brief and detailed list that’s hived off the main reviews below.

1Dagger Axis Adventure126 x 28.5 x 16 inches50 pounds
2Dagger 7.6 Mamba Kayak91 x 25.5 x 14 inches44 pounds
3Driftsun 2 Person Voyager Tandem Inflatable Kayak24.5x 21x 10 inches47 pounds
4Sea Eagle SE300X Explorer Inflatable Kayak30 pounds
5Riot Kayaks 80 Magnum Red Whitewater17 x 27 x 100 inches75 pounds
6ADVANCED ELEMENTS Attack Whitewater Kayak114 x 35 x 18 inches45.8 pounds
7Riot Kayaks Red 50 Boogie Whitewater Surf Kayak14 x 25 x 93 inches38.9 pounds

1. Dagger Axis Adventure 10.5 Blue Multi-Water Kayak

This Multi-water kayak from Dagger is ready to give you an unforgettable experience on various water surfaces. In fact, this kayak can be used by experienced and even beginner users.

Its short length makes it easy to maneuver down creeks, lakes or even rivers with rapids. And that’s quite important if you’re just getting started in kayaking.

Product Description

This sit-inside one-person kayak was ranked top under “Best Adventure Gear” by the National Geographic Adventure in 2009.

Furthermore, the kayak weighs 50 pounds and measures 126 by 28.5 by 16 inches. It boasts a V-shaped hull which comes in handy when you need to move at fast speeds. That said, it V-shaped hulls are less stable than U-shaped ones.

So, if you’re after rock solid stability, there are more stable kayaks out there.

Other Features and Benefits

We found this watercraft to be a winner as far as ergonomics are concerned. For instance, it comes with a sealable storage hatch at the rear and has plenty of gear lashes.

Another bonus is that it has a small but comfortable kayak specifically built to resist overspray. You will fall in love with the more comfortable and adjustable well-fitting seat, so no more back pains!

In addition, the foot braces easily adjust to offer support to your feet and are great for long trips. The retractable handles are quite strong and easy to grip. Lastly, this kayak is well finished and has a beautiful appearance.


  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Versatile
  • Comes with paddle holder
  • Very stable
  • Tracks well


  • Not fast-moving
  • The fabric seat doesn’t dry quickly in case it gets wet

Also read: 10 Best Fishing Kayak Under $500 – A Detailed Guide

2. Dagger 7.6 Mamba Kayak

Are you a young teenager or small paddler who would like to try out big water rapids and creeks? Then this 7.6 mamba kayak is here for you. This kayak will help you learn and sharpen your skills until you become a pro.

This forgiving mamba kayak is very stable and quite predictable. The kayak features an inbuilt stern foam wall holder that boosts its structural appearance.

Product Description

This one-person kayak measures 91 by 25.5 by 14 inches and weighs 44 pounds. The foam-padded foot brace, thigh braces, and the Contour hip pads can be adjusted for enhanced comfortability. The stern’s extra volume and well-distributed weight enable the boat to continue floating higher in the water thus avoiding any grabby eddylines.

Other Features and Benefits

The well-designed hull together with the rounded stern allows you to immaculately maneuver across wavy lines or get out of holes and be able to still spin. Also, you can cross through the currents and side surf with no worries of window shading. As a reinforcement to the original front safety bar, another bar has been added for easier extractions and carrying.

The handling system is quite responsive and good for developing paddlers. The heavy-duty outfitting means the mamba is built to last for years and can manage up to class IV of flat waters. In comparison with the previous model, this kayak comes equipped with more features and has more speed.


  • Multi-purpose use
  • Safe step-out wall
  • Increased speed
  • Features security grab handles
  • Easy to maneuver through the rough waters


  • Quite expensive
  • Too much volume thus getting vertical squirts is quite difficult

3. Driftsun 2 Person Voyager Tandem Inflatable Kayak

Are you intending to explore streams, lakes, and rivers but can’t afford the transportation and storage costs associated with expensive heavy-duty kayaks?

Then this Dritsun 2-person inflatable kayak will deliver endless cruising, comfortable paddling and extensive touring to your desired location. Drift sun kayaks are made with long-lasting premium quality materials and accessories.

Product Description

Apart from the kayak itself, the whole package includes; a travel bag for convenient carrying, a removable skeg for proper responsive tracking, and 2 aluminum adjustable paddles equipped with ergonomic grips to reduce hand fatigue.

Furthermore, you are also provided with 2 adjustable and removable EVA padded adjustable seats that have high back support for increased comfort or easier cleaning.

For guaranteed performance, the pointed bow and rocker profile of this kayak makes cruising in either choppy or calm waters easy. You don’t need to worry about draining as this boat has a rear drain plug. This kayak has stern handles for easy take-outs or put-ins and is a perfect choice for tandem or solo paddling.

Other Features and Benefits

The tarpaulin heavy-duty PVC bottom is strong and durable to prevent punctures. The Boston valves are double-threaded to avoid leaks. Concurrently, the top cover is a coat of very tough 840D nylon oxford fabric to resist tearing and ripping. With a weight of only 27lbs, the kayak can be carried by just one person.

When deflated, this kayak measures 26 by 16 by 8 inches and 10ft by 35 by 16 inches when it’s fully inflated. The accompanying double-action deluxe hand pump inflates the kayak to full size in a short time span that doesn’t exceed 5 minutes.


  • More performance at a lower price
  • Inflates and deflates quickly for easier storage
  • Corrosion resistant hardware
  • Easy to carry
  • Made with durable materials


  • No footrests

4. Sea Eagle SE300X Pro Package Explorer Inflatable Kayak

This impressive inflatable kayak has 16 self-bailing drain valves to deliver super-fast endless bailing in white waters. For open water improved tracking, this kayak features a removable slide skeg.  This rugged and tough kayak is able of conquering even the class IV boulder-strewn rapids.

Product Description

You may leave the valves open when kayaking in the ocean or on wet water and close them when cruising on dry or high flat water. This state of the art explorer can be used for adventuring, touring and fishing. When deflated, this kayak measures 61 by 41 by 15 centimeters and weighs 30lbs.

The stern front and rear spray skirts and the well-integrated bow keep you dry throughout. To add on that, the elastic rope lacing offers appropriate tie-down points. This kayak is constructed with super strong and light 100D high-pressure polyester supported fabric.

Other Features and Benefits

The double floor system together with the welded seams makes the kayak tough and more durable. This kayak has a separate drop stitch floor that is inflatable for increased rigidity. Other extras include; 12D rings to secure the tall back seat, 2 rubber handles to ease transportation and an AB40 high-performance paddle.Transportation is easy as the kayak can fit in a small plane or inside your car’s trunk.

This NMMA certified kayak is backed by a 3-year warranty against any manufacturing defects. The package includes printed instructions on the operation of the kayak. To conclude, it will take you only about 5 minutes to inflate this kayak and jumpstart your adventure on the waters!


  • High capacity Self-bailing valves
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Can handle up to class IV white waters
  • Shorter inflation time


  • No pressure gauge provided
  • It is quite expensive

5. Riot Kayaks 80 Magnum Red Whitewater Creeking Kayak

Would you like to tackle the largest and steepest waters on the planet with ease? Then this magnum white water creeking kayak will be a great companion for your next fishing or touring adventure. This kayak is built to overcome rough rapids in the rivers, seas, lakes and the oceans. The kayak’s various features deliver awesome on-water experience.

Product Description

This kayak measures 8ft by 4 by 26.5 inches and weighs 45 pounds. The unity seating system and a floating backrest combined with the adjustable creek foot brace reduce fatigue or enhance comfortability. Still on that, the high performing contour fit will maximize the range of motion of your torso.

Other Features and Benefits

Most importantly, this kayak is uniquely made with rear and front floatation bags to ensure it’s resurfacing even after making a very high drop. Also, there’s a security bar in the cockpit that prevents you from getting the direct impact when the kayak collides with rocks or any other obstacles. Still on safety, the kayak has sure-grip thigh braces to keep you in place.

These many security features make the kayak a perfect fit for beginner riders and old experts who worry more about safety. This well-balanced kayak can punch through grade II or III rapids without tail squirting and you won’t have to struggle to stay upright. Apart from the beautiful design, other great features include; heavy-duty creek handles and drain plugs.


  • Floating backrest
  • Comes with an anti-theft bar
  • Excellent down river performance
  • Equipped with drain plugs
  • Equipped with more security features


  • Highly priced
  • Takes time for you to get accustomed to the controls

6. Advanced Elements Whitewater Attack Kayak

True to its name, this whitewater attack kayak takes on the roughest conditions of class III waters with ease. It is also among the best inflatables available on the market at such a pocket-friendly price. There’s more, this kayak is constructed with top quality materials to guard against punctures. To break further on this, the PVC bladders and the PVC heavy-duty tarpaulin hull make the kayak more durable.

Product Description

This kayak weighs 34 pounds and measures 114 by 35 by 18 inches. The self-bailing ports are the best feature many kayaking enthusiasts love in this attack. What’s more, the ports can be closed when paddling in calm waters and opened when you are cruising in big waves.

The 12-inch bowl stern rocker is for making quick turns. Carrying this 34lb kayak into the water is aided by the provided two molded rubber handles.

Other Features and Benefits

The spring valves speed setup time and is compatible with a lot of pumps. This one-person operated kayak has an adjustable seat with thigh straps to ensure comfortability. You can store your gears in the covered rear cargo area that self-drains to curb against immediate splashes.

The boat should be inflated to the recommended level for it to work perfectly.

This high floating kayak comes with an operation manual, a repair kit, and a carrying duffel. The 35-inch extra width makes the kayak more stable. Be prepared to get a little bit wet since this is a sit-on-top kayak. To conclude, the well-cushioned floor offers better balance to the seat and makes it more responsive.


  • Self-bailing ports
  • Made of long-lasting 840D material
  • Convenient to carry
  • Welded seams
  • Fast and easy to maneuver


  • Quite heavy as compared to other inflatable kayaks

7. Riot Kayaks Red 50 Boogie Whitewater Surf Kayak

This affordable, carefree and high-performance inflatable kayak is ready to satisfy all your whitewater surfing or kayaking needs. Though designed to be a riverboat, the kayak’s lateral stability and high tracking enable it to rip through the massive ocean waves easily.

The bright color makes the kayak easy to spot if you are paddling as a group, this also couples up as a safety measure.

Product Description

The quite spacious cockpit area allows you to change position when you are still maneuvering the kayak. This kayak has measurements of 7ft by 9 by 24.7 inches and weighs only 35 pounds.

The non-slip power seat is equipped with an ergonomic backrest for enough back support. In addition, the seat can be adjusted using the ratchet adjustment lever.

Other Features and Benefits

The cushioned thigh braces help you feel comfortable as you move around. The lightweight construction of the kayak resists impacts or scratches and makes it move really fast. As an added advantage, the V-shaped hull provides extra forgiveness that is greatly required for making after spins, aerial moves, floaters and many other maneuvers.

The rail profile and continuous curve outline enable you to execute cutbacks or bottom turn like a pro. The kayak’s deck profile and equally distributed volume makes it more buoyant yet still capable of splitting oncoming waves. This helps you to continue paddling and stay out of trouble.

In summary, this Riot Boogie has all the necessary features a recreational kayak should have thus the perfect option for both beginners and experienced kayakers.


  • Managing the waves is easy
  • Very stable
  • The power seat delivers a wide range of motion
  • Resists punctures
  • Well-constructed


  • Quite expensive

Buying Guide for Whitewater Kayaks

When selecting the best whitewater kayak, there are several factors to consider. The factors we have discussed below will help you make the right purchasing decision.

Paddling Style

What will you be doing with your boat and where will you be doing it? Kayaks come in different sizes with different features and outfitting.

Most watercrafts are built with performance characteristics from various whitewater classifications. Once you have decided what kind of kayaking you will be doing, it is important to have a talk with your local whitewater kayak dealer to get the right one for you.

Performance Features

It is important to determine your paddling style because then, you will be able to narrow your choices down by understanding the performance features that pertain to each category.

For instance, you want to get a watercraft with features designed for safety during events such as fast exiting of boat, boat impact, and recovery of a trapped boat.


Once you have picked the kayak model that suits your needs, you now need to look at the outfitting and features.

Cockpit: You could go for a boat whose cockpit has thigh high braces for increased control, hip pads for a firmer fit, and adjustable back band for posture and back support.

Spray skirt: This is a compulsory feature for all whitewater kayaks. This is because it provides a waterproof seal that keeps water away from the cockpit.

Footbraces and bulkheads: These are positioned at the front of the boat and they provide inflexible foot support. You may find some whitewater kayak models that come with modifiable foot braces that you can easily alter.

How to Care for your Whitewater Kayak

If it were up to you, kayaks would probably glide through time without a dent or scratch to their bodies. However, we need to face the truth here; a properly utilized kayak takes a beating.

The good news is that most kayaks are durable and their maintenance requires minimal effort. We have compiled a list of a few basics that you need to make routine if you want your watercraft to stay in good shape for a long time.

Identify Damage Promptly

Perhaps you are not aware, but after long-term storage of your kayak, it becomes more susceptible to damage. If the body of your kayak is depressed, heating it up will often restore the kayak to its original shape.

You can leave it out in the sun as well to get the same effect.

Examine the Ropes

Ensure that the bungees, perimeter lines, and hardware of your boat are in good condition. UV radiation can damage plastic pad-eyes and deteriorate the bungee lines of your kayak.

If your kayak has a skeg or rudder, look over it and assess the pedals, pivot hardware, steel cables, and deployment lines. If there is anything to be fixed, do it sooner rather than later.

Replenish Emergency Gear

Check your emergency repair kit, bailout bag, and first aid kit to ensure that they are fully stocked. You do not want to get an emergency while you are out in the water and be unable to do anything because you failed to restock your emergency gear.

Keep It Covered

Your kayak needs to be dry and protected from the sun at all times. Get a cover from your local kayak dealer and your boat will last you for a long time to come.

Benefits of Whitewater Kayaks

Of course, you expect to enjoy some benefits when you purchase your whitewater kayak. Here are some that you can expect.

It is Easy to Operate

The basics of kayaking are quick and easy to understand. This means that even if you are a beginner, you can venture out into the water by yourself after a few lessons and practice sessions.

Kayaks also go faster and require you as the paddler to exert less effort.


If you are debating on whether to get a canoe or a kayak, the latter wins because there is an assortment in kayaking disciplines.

You will also find that kayaks are lighter and therefore easier to carry around. Portability is what you want especially if you will be getting in and out of the water frequently.

Proximity to Water

With a kayak, you get closer to the water and you feel more connected. Of course, this is one of the things you want when you decide to engage in water sports.

Other boats will not provide you with the kind of proximity to water that you may desire.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

We understand that you may have some questions about whitewater kayaks and that is why we came up with following that we hope can be helpful in one way or another.

How long should my kayak last?

It depends on the kind of material used to construct your kayak. Nevertheless, UV and bottom damage are the primary concerns. Most kayaks will last beyond ten years and if properly shielded from the sun, some can last for even twenty years!

Do I need to wax my kayak?

Again, it all depends on the material of your watercraft. If yours is made of polythene or plastic, waxing may not be necessary. However, if it is made of composite material, you may need to wax it to make it waterproof.

How do I safeguard my phone while kayaking?

Place it in a dry bag along with other valuables such as car keys. Tightly close the bag by wrapping its opening at least two times and then buckle it shut.

Best Whitewater Kayaks – Our Pick

There’s no dispute about who the overall winner is. We have a thing for the Dagger Axis Adventure 10.5 Blue Multi-Water Kayak. It’s a handy and versatile kayak and we like the fact that it’s highly durable. That’s why we’d like to single it out as one of the finest out there in the world.

Final Thoughts

Now that you are equipped with all the knowledge you need in respect to whitewater kayaks, you can confidently walk into a store that stocks them and choose the best one for you.

Enjoy your water sports, sightseeing or whatever else you plan to do in the water!

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