In 2003 Pyranha updated and replaced its H:2 river runner with the new H:3. If you know Pyranha’s I:3 series—the boat formerly known as Ina Zone (arguably a river runner itself)—and their Micro creek boat, you would rightly guess the H:3 fills the pushy class IV–V water in between.
Specs (H:3 235 / H:3 245 / H:3 255)
Length: 7ft 8in / 8ft / 8ft 4in
Width: 25in / 25in / 26in
Volume: 59.4gal / 67.1gal / 80gal
Weight: 41.1 lbs / 42.7 lbs / 46.2 lbs
MSRP: $1645 CAD, $1095 USD
The H:3’s outfitting is a combination of proven technology, innovation, and safety. The bulkhead-on-a-rail includes two sets of rotomoulded bulkhead pods so that different sizes of paddlers are ensured the safety of a full-plate footrest.
Pyranha’s H:3 has a nice blend of hand-friendly rubber grab loops and bombproof clip-in points. Co-designed and manufactured by the climbing company DMM, the paddler-accessible rescue points immediately in front of the cockpit and both sides behind the cockpit are mounted over-generous carabiner-specific recesses.
Kudos to Pyranha for providing a rigid bow pillar with “step out” safety ladder for hands-free egress from a stuck boat. A factory bow airbag is another industry first and a nice touch, as is the innovative space for a Pelican box between the seat and rear pillar. Clever.
Pyranha has gone a bit too far with their Hooker thigh grips. The sliding/rotating/pivoting thigh hooks are overkill and unnecessarily finicky. Although you won’t move it once set, the Hooker system is an instructor’s day-one nightmare. Most paddlers are still prone to forgetting their skirt, top, and noseplugs, let alone the three separate tools required for outfitting adjustment.
The Pyranha H:3 stability inspires an aggressive tilt
On the water, the Pyranha H:3 flies downstream with a wonderful feeling of glide. Paddlers more used to pushing around slow playboats will find themselves unintentionally surfing small features when ferrying across the river—needing to open up their ferry angle to take advantage of the H:3’s speed.
Great secondary stability inspires the confidence to aggressively tilt and carve the H:3 in and out of eddies. It holds an edge well with enough stability to allow you to make long, cruising carves into deep, fat eddies. It doesn’t spin-turn flat as easily as a highly rockered, dedicated creek boat, or pivot-turn like a playboat, but it eats those boats alive on long ferries and river-wide moves.
Pyranha’s H:3 is a rock-steady river running kayak. The long-running length and consistent rocker profile mean there is no sudden break to deflect you off course. The stern carries enough volume and raised edges to keep it high and less susceptible to boils. It’s a “pick a line and nail it” type boat—and one of the best at punching holes.
Want to take the Pyranha H:3 playing? The planing hull allows you to lay down a mean carve on a long wave and you can still mush it around flat if things are too steep. Realistically though, the H:3 plays about as much as you would on a river running trip.
This is a river running kayak with creek boat tendencies and a desire to travel. Technically minded paddlers will love it. So will those running big water with must-make moves and creekers paddling everything but the tightest and near vertical. But what really fired the imaginations of the test crew was the H:3’s speed, all-day comfort, and volume. It’ll become a classic overnighter.
Run the river until the river runs dry. Feature Photo: Scott MacGregor