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Gnarvana, Scorch, Code: Head-to-head Creek Boat Comparison

Author: Simon Coward

If you’re on the lookout for the ultimate creek boat this year, you’ve likely come accross the Pyranha Scorch, the Jackson Gnarvana, and the Dagger Code—three of our best selling models.

Before we get into a head-to-head comparison of these top creek boats, note that this isn’t a specs-driven analysis; it’ll be focused on personal experiences, suitability, and on-water observations. We took them on the water to test them out for ourselves, here's what we found.

Each boat brings its own unique flair to the highly rockered, short water line river running series. Pyranha opts for sharp edges and sleek lines, Jackson leans toward a rounded aesthetic, and Dagger opts for a sleek-looking design and includes its industry-leading outfitting. Let's dive into the finer details.



First up, we have the Pyranha Scorch. The Scorch feels like the best option for advanced paddlers who spend a bunch of time in their creek boat. It tracks impressively, skips out of drops with ease, and accelerates quickly when needed.

It's penchant for tracking at speed–especially through boils and confused water– makes it the top choice for big water paddling. However, less experienced paddlers should note that turning can be challenging without advanced techniques and edge control.

It's also worth noting that the Scorch retains the distinct Pyranha feel, characterized by its unique edges and side walls. Our extensive experience in education and retail has shown us that some people love this feel, while others really don't.



Next up, is the Jackson Gnarvana. As a middle-aged paddler who spends more time teaching than personal paddling, finding a creek boat that matched my skill level while providing a safety net was crucial. The Jackson Gnarvana strikes that perfect balance. Despite my initial skepticism towards Jackson creek boats, the Gnarvana has won me over. It feels like an oversized half-slice, boasting excellent control and effortless edging. The bulbous (and kind-of-funny-looking) bow makes boofing and keeping the nose up so simple. This makes it a top choice for small creeks, in fact, it's my favorite creek boat to date.

In big water, though, the Gnarvana might find itself more easily pushed around compared to the Scorch and the Code. Its wider hips mean that without proper outfitting, it could feel a bit challenging to maintain control. However, once properly outfitted, this issue is quickly resolved.



Last up, the Dagger Code. The Dagger Code Medium is a fresh take on the iconic Mamba creek/river-running kayaks series. It features a planing hull, a wide stern profile for enhanced stability, and a high-rise bow rocker.

As a prominent choice in our teaching program, the Dagger Code has proven itself as an almost unflippable companion for intermediate paddlers. I have witnessed the Code plow through daunting features with student paddlers half expecting to flip, but against all odds, staying upright.

The Code's predictability and reliability make it a go-to option and the ultimate all-round creek boat for advanced paddlers.