The choices in half slice kayaks are flooding boat shops thanks in large part to the increasing popularity of twirling your way down the river. More speedy and suited for difficult maneuvers than a playboat, and more sporty for surfing and squirting than a creek boat, the half slice kayak has notched its place as the perfect one-boat quiver for many whitewater paddlers. But with more choices, come more decisions. Simon Coward, owner of AQ Outdoors (AQ Outdoors is a paddling shop and school with locations in Calgary and Edmonton), is here to share his thoughts on three of the best half slice kayak designs on the water today. The following is a transcript of his video review.
Comparing Three Top Half Slice Kayaks
Simon here from AQ Outdoors, and today we’re going to dive into a side-by-side comparison of the latest half slice offerings from Jackson, Dagger and Pyranha. If you’ve been looking for a modern half slice you’ve undoubtedly come across the Pyranha Ripper 2, the Jackson Antix 2.0 and the Dagger Rewind.
Before I get into our comparison of these top models I do want to note that this isn’t a specs driven analysis here. I’ll be focusing primarily on personal experiences suitability and on-water observations. Today we’re using the medium-sized models with paddlers weighing between 135 and 175 pounds, standing at heights of five feet, six inches to about five feet, 10 inches.
Each boat brings its own spin on the increasingly popular half slice category. Pyranha opts for what feels like a boat that stern squirts without effort. Jackson leans toward a wider, shorter platform which is equally playful whilst being surprisingly stable. And Dagger leans into a river running oriented half slice that can be incredibly playful and fun.
Pyranha Ripper 2
First up we have the Pyranha Ripper 2. To me this boat is the most foreign feeling of the lot. The medium feels as though you’re paddling a kayak with no stern. Which is wild as the stern is actually quite long, but has so little volume.
For stern squirting and eddyline moves, the Ripper gets a 10 out of 10. Even paddlers without refined technique can effortlessly enjoy these playful maneuvers, which is a very appealing draw of this model in the river-running realm.
It’s definitely a little sporty. The stern feels grabby even when at speed, which potentially could lead to more unexpected rolls for intermediate paddlers. To mitigate this, you could consider sizing up, which will provide you with a great river running experience but with slightly less ease getting the stern under for squirts.
The Ripper 2 also surfs really well. It has a bunch of rocker and volume up front coupled with the low volume stern that can easily turn the boat for dynamic surfing.
Jackson Antix 2.0
Next up we have the Jackson Antix 2.0. When this was released I was skeptical that this boat would be very fun to paddle.
The boat is certainly more challenging to stern squirt than the Ripper 2. In some ways it feels a little more like stern squirting a playboat but does still stern squirt pretty easily.
Where the Antix really excels, is that for river running, it provides a stability and reliability the other boats in this review don’t quite match. It’s a little slower due to being shorter and a bit wider, but it’s noticeably more forgiving than the Ripper 2 and the Rewind. The ease of adjustability of the Jackson outfitting is nice. Theirs is always a hot debate topic versus the outfitting of other manufacturers. We can probably save that for another video.
From a surfing standpoint, I would say the Antix 2.0 feels more like a playboat than the other two offerings. So if you want to throw down in a hole, this boat is going to be better at that than the other two. I would also say, however, from a pure surfing standpoint, the other two boats surf green waves much more nicely.
The Antix 2.0, for me, is the best all-round half slice—providing a mix of playfulness and stability, and good river running performance.
Last up we have the Dagger Rewind. This is my half slice of choice and I spend upwards of 50 days a season teaching and paddling it in comparison to the other two boats on review.
The Rewind is the hardest to stern squirt. In saying that, with a decent eddyline and good technique, the Rewind is a great boat to stern squirt. The verticality tends to come on a little slower, and with that, in some ways it’s easier to control.
Where the Rewind really comes into its own though is river running. Although not as stable feeling as the Antix 2.0, once you get the Rewind up to speed, whether that be downstream or cross-current, this kayak to me feels really solid and stable.
For more advanced paddlers, comfortable paddling with a flat boat, the Rewind excels in this area and gives paddlers amazing control and confidence in challenging whitewater. This reliable and predictable hull speed also allows advanced paddlers to easily and confidently set up for boofs and more challenging moves.
It is important to note that for less experienced paddlers, the Rewind may provide a bit of a steep learning curve, as when it’s not at speed it doesn’t feel very stable at all.
AQ Outdoors offers retail and kayak instruction in Calgary and Edmonton. Learn more about their school and stores at AQOutdoors.com.