Boat Review: Pyranha’s Burn III Kayak

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

Pyranha Burn III Specs
S / M / L / XL
Length: 7’11” / 8’2” / 8’3” / 8’6”
Width: 24.6” / 25.5” / 27.1” / 27.3”
Volume: 59 / 70.7 / 78.5 / 89.3 gal
Weight: 39.2 / 43.2 / 46 / 49 lbs
Paddler Weight: 88-143 / 110-176 / 154-220 / 176-275 lbs
MSRP:  $1,199

When Hollywood has a hit movie it’s almost expected that a trilogy will follow. It’s a risky strategy that doesn’t always work—remember Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Transformers: Age of Extinction? But sometimes the results are fantastic, like with the Pyranha Burn III, the latest incarnation of Pyranha‘s popular river runner.

Try the Burn III on for size

The first, and maybe most important, change is that the Burn III comes in four sizes. “After the medium, large and extra large were in production, we realized the medium was too large for smaller paddlers. We needed to add a fourth size so that the Burn would fit a wider range of paddlers,” explains designer Robert Peerson.

If you were in the medium Burn II but found you were on the high end of the paddler weight range, you will now likely fit perfectly in a large Burn III.

A boat that follows your cues

In the nine years since this river runner was first released, its hull and waterline have been lengthened for greater speed and tracking. This, coupled with its flat bottom, allowed me to surf small waves and move around the river quickly, easily maintaining my line.

The edges of the Burn III have also been given a facelift. There’s a sharp and pronounced edge from just behind the cockpit all the way to my feet and less prominent lines in the stern. This means I can lean forward to ensure a hard aggressive carve or keep my weight back for longer arcing turns.

Interestingly, if you lean really far forward you can actually spin into tiny eddies as the rails in the front dig in and the stern, clear of the water, is free to spin. The Pyranha Burn III is a boat that reacts very differently depending on driver input (shifting your weight fore and aft), which is fun once you figure it out and forgiving in the meantime.


Run the river in style and comfort

When running boney creeks, hard edges aren’t usually a good thing as they can easily catch rocks. Pyranha has solved this problem by placing the edges quite high above the waterline. In order to engage them, I needed to tilt the Burn III quite aggressively. While beginners might feel a bit uneasy at first tilting so far over, confidence-inspiring secondary stability makes this a non-issue. Some beginners may never even know the rails are there.

The rocker profile has also been adjusted from previous Burns—there’s now more in the bow, and less in the stern as compared to the Burn II—which translates into riding up and over waves, skipping over holes and nice, satisfying boofs off of rocky ledges or from the peak of a wave.

The new Burn is equipped with Pyranha’s upgraded C4S outfitting, which means a larger, more comfortable seat. It’s fully adjustable to ensure I can trim the boat so it handles how I want it to. Keep in mind it does take some time to get all the adjustments just right, so don’t show up late to the put-in and expect to be able to just get in and go.

Wrapping up the trilogy

Pyranha has taken the ideas and concepts from the Burn and Burn II and improved on the design, producing a boat that can perform well in all conditions, from big water to steep creeks. It’s also a boat that can take beginner and intermediate paddlers to the next level with confidence. Unlike Alien 3, the Pyranha Burn III is certainly worth the price of admission.


This article first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Rapid Magazine.

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