Traditionally, there are different types of kayak designs that are made for use on different types of water. Sea kayaks for the sea, white-water kayaks for fast-moving rivers, fishing kayaks for fishing, touring kayaks for speed and comfort, and recreational kayaks for relaxing paddling on calm water.

However, as you can imagine, there are a lot of kayakers that would like to partake in one, two, or more of these types of kayaking at some point or indeed even within the same day. If you are one of these kayakers, purchasing a boat and using the correctly designed boat for each water type would be almost impossible in one day, never mind ludicrously expensive.

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A crossover kayak is one which has been designed to be able to handle just as well on white water as it does whilst touring. If you can get a kayak that will pull you along at great speed whilst touring and can also manage trickier river-based parts of your journey, what could be better? Not only does a crossover kayak allow you to save money and storage/transportation, but it also expands your horizons in terms of what sort of journey you can take on your kayak in one day.

In this guide, we’re going to go through some of the various aspects of a white water kayaks. We’ll also provide you with some buying advice, and also what you should look for in a crossover kayak to best suit your needs. Finally, we’ll review some of our favourite crossover boats on the market – why they are our favorite, what they’re best used for, and their key features that make them great.

What Sort Of Kayaker Are Crossover Kayaks Good For? 

A crossover kayak is the perfect all-rounder boat if you’re planning on making a journey on the water that might involve tacking a number of different water types. For example, if you’re planning on starting your journey at the top of a fast-moving river and finishing it on a calm and tranquil lake, a crossover kayak is the ideal vessel as it will allow you to be comfortable and safe in both legs of your journey.

Crossover kayaks are also great for those that are just starting out in the sport. Not only do they mean that you can take varied journeys through the water, they mean that you can use the same boat to try out various different types of kayaking. Should you find that you enjoy one type more than the other, then you can focus your efforts on it and perhaps even buy a more specific boat in the future.

The fact that crossover kayaks are great for those starting out is an often-overlooked advantage – they can save you a fortune as well as allow you to get a taste for different areas of the sport. On the other hand, if you were to buy a touring kayak, you couldn’t try it out on a fast-moving river. Definitely something to think about!

What Should You Look For When Buying A Crossover Kayak? A Comprehensive Guide

When you’re looking for a crossover kayak, it’s important to consider whether or not a crossover is the perfect style of boat for you. For most, a crossover kayak is great. However, if you are exclusive a touring kayaker, then there’s no point in purchasing one that won’t perform as well as one that was specifically designed for touring. For the vast majority of users, a crossover kayak is fantastic in that it offers the ability to be able to travel on numerous different water types within one day.

What The Boat Is Made Of 

The majority of crossover kayaks tend to be made from polyethylene. Polyethylene is a good plastic material in that it is cost-effective, strong, and great in the water. Unlike inflatable or composite models, they aren’t easily damaged should you have any minor collisions with rocks, trees, or similar.


The measurements of the boat that you’re looking at should most certainly not be overlooked. How short or long a boat is can have a massive impact on how well the boat is able to handle in different types of water. For example, a boat that is short is very easy to move around in the water, but not ideal for touring. 

Steering & Tracking Abilities

One of the only and main downsides of crossover kayaks is that they, of course, aren’t as good for long-distance touring as a purpose-built touring kayak is. This is due to the fact that they’re shorter and often wider, meaning that they are harder to get up to high speed and to keep in a straight line.

In order to improve the tracking capabilities of crossover boats, they are often fitted with a skeg or rudder to ensure that they can move more easily in the correct direction. It’s a good idea to look for a boat with this when buying.

Amount of Waterline

The waterline of a kayak refers to how much of the boat is underneath the surface of the water. You should consider the amount of waterline on the kayak you’re looking at in terms of what sort of waters you think you’ll be setting out on mostly.

For example, if you’re planning on tackling white waters the majority of the time, you should look for a boat with a lower waterline to allow you to sit up on top of the water’s movements. If you’re going to be cruising around on calmer waters the majority of the time, however, you should make sure that you go for a kayak with a higher waterline that will allow you a good amount of speed and precise tracking to get to where you’d like to be.

The Boat’s Rocker

The Rocker of a kayak refers to how curved the hull is. More curvature refers to a bigger rocker, whilst less refers to a smaller rocker. Boats with greater rocker can be moved around in rougher waters more easily since they can balance on the water at a greater amount of angles.

Boats with little rocker, on the other hand, can prove to be quite challenging if not impossible to use in rough water. They are the perfect design for cruising along at speed in calmer waters since they are great for tracking and speed.

Dagger Kayaks Katana 10.4 Crossover Kayak

The Dagger Katana is one of the best-known crossover kayaks. At just over 10 feet in length, it manages to excel in all areas of kayaking. It’s great on fast-moving water and is also fantastic for touring use – something that can’t be said about many crossover kayaks.

The Katana is an especially good boat for giving all areas of kayaking a shot in one day. It’s got an average mid-point waterline, meaning that whilst being able to handle rough white-water, it’s not sluggish and hard to move around on calm water when touring.

The rocker of this boat is very much in-the-middle, meaning that it is able to be used easily on both calm waters for touring and rough white waters. The rocker is without doubt one of the best features of this boat – it’s able to handle both water types very well.

Another very cool feature of this boat is the skeg – it features a drop-down skeg that can be taken up when you’re on white water and put down to improve tracking and direction when on calm water.

The cockpit of the boat is a very comfortable place to be too – it has fully adjustable points, including adjustable backplates and leg positions. In addition to this, storage is ample onboard the Katana too, with spaces towards the front and rear of the boat.

Key Features

  • Length: 10’4”
  • Weight: 56 pounds
  • Load Capacity: 285 lbs
  • Very good rocker design – the balanced rocker of this kayak means that it excels in a large variety of water types. It has enough rocker to get around well in white water, and little enough to make sure that it’s not a challenge in calmer waters
  • Ample storage
  • Fully adjustable and comfortable cockpit
  • High level of stability
  • Easy to move around – in addition to being only 56 lbs in weight, the Katana is easy to carry around with the attached handles

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Dagger Kayaks Axis – 12’ Crossover Kayak 

The Axis from Dagger Kayaks is a crossover kayak that beats the usual stigma that crossover kayaks have – poor abilities in calmer waters. The axis is 12 feet long and has quite a high waterline. This added length over other crossover kayaks combined with the higher waterline means that whilst sitting low in the water, it’s great for cruising at speed.

The Axis isn’t a one-trick boat, however. It performs well in white water too but maybe it isn’t just as capable in the roughest of water as some other crossovers that we’ve mentioned simply due to its added length. It’s rated for use in class I/class II white water.

Just like all kayaks from Dagger, the inside of the boat is very comfortable and is fully adjustable too. It’s very easy to get yourself into a comfortable position in this boat for a long day of paddling.

Key Features

  • Length: 12’
  • Weight: 56 pounds
  • Load Capacity: 350 lbs
  • Comfortable – this boat features the CFS-R seat, making it very comfortable and fully-adjustable too
  • Able to handle all waters well, but excels in calm water – this boat is the perfect example of how well a crossover kayak can tour on calmer water
  • A large amount of storage space

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Dagger Zydeco 11 – Cost-Effective Crossover Kayak

The 11-foot long Zydeco from Dagger Kayaks is the ultimate kayak if you’re looking for a crossover that’s easy to store, easy to transport, and that’s easy on your bank account.

Due to its size and easy maneuverability, the Zydeco is a great crossover kayak for those riders that are looking to get a high-performance boat. It is particularly suitable for fast-moving waters but is able to tackle slow to medium waters well too.

It’s a very portable kayak compared to the others too. One person could easily move it around to and from the car for example. It’s a great boat to transport and doesn’t require a lot of planning or preparation. 

The Zydeco 11 has very good availability of storage too, with a large area that can be secured by bungee cords at the hull of the boat. There’s also a hatch towards the rear of the boat that’s great for storing items that you’d like to keep dry and out of the way.

Key Features

  • Length: 11’
  • Weight: 48 lbs – this is one of the lightest crossover kayaks about
  • Load Capacity: 325 lbs
  • Lots of storage available – both wet and dry
  • Comfortable and spacious, with adjustable foot positioning
  • Great for rougher waters, as well as calmer waters



We hope that after reading our guide on crossover kayaks that you feel more informed in terms of what exactly a crossover kayak is, what you should look for when buying one, as well as what the best models available are and why.

It’s important to remember that even though crossover kayaks are designed to perform well on a variety of water types, that some still excel on certain water types compared to others. Look out for rocker size, water line, and tracking abilities. Have fun venturing out!