Matthew Klema Reviews The Pyranha Karnali

Pyranha has had a history of putting out great aggressive planning hull designs in their creek boats in the last decade. The H2 and H3 and the Burn family that sprung from that lineage dominated their designs. I was skeptical when they brought out the Karnali as a semi planning hull creek boat/river runner as it seemed like something they had lost touch with designing. I was wrong. I have been very impressed and love this boat for everything from low volume creeking to big water. They market it as more of a river runner with creeking capabilities, but it can run class V with the best of the boats out there. The boat is fast, accelerates in one to two stokes, holds a line better then any boat I have ever paddled and is very easy to roll. I thought that it might punch through holes rather then go over them due to the narrower profile but it planes over holes and drops amazingly well just like the Burn and Everest but while retaining more speed. When going deep under water is what is necessary, the Karnali resurfaces without any fluttering and is really predictable. The narrower but aggressively peaked front deck profile sheds water quickly while the wider stern maintains stability make for great control. The outfitting is comfortable, tough and easy to deal with which is refreshing. It also comes in two sizes to fit a wider range of paddlers.


  • Tracking and the ease with which the boat stays on line.
  • Predictable and controlled resurfacing off big drops.
  • The softer edges are more predicable and can be set further without becoming unstable.
  • Ease of rolling with the lower back deck profile and lower seat position.
  • The speed that the Karnali can gain and retain in just a few powerful strokes.
  • Paddles the same if not almost better loaded if in expedition mode.


  • The semi-planning hull and softer edges make the Karnali a little less responsive and aggressive then the more true planning hulls on the Burn and Everest.
  • Because it is narrower the boat sits lower in the water and stays on line better but does not turn quite as easily.
  • This boat can be over boated. A move that might take three or four stokes in another boat may only take one or two. That is not really bad but may take a day or two in the boat to get used to.

The Verdict:

While paddling the Karnali over the last couple months in the greater Durango region on everything from the low volume verticality of the second gorge of Lime Creek to Vallecito at high and low water levels to high water Pandoras, I have been impressed with the boat in every situation I have had it in. It is a great comfortable and predictable boat for river running and class lV runs such as the Upper Animas as well. The combination of speed, comfort and a design that allows for high performance and precision with being unpredictable makes the Karnali the ideal boat for almost all situations. It is not a boat that sacrifices when compared to other boats that are designed for a specific category, but can hold its own in any category you put it in, whether it be river running, low volume creeking or big water class V. It paddles a load very well and has state of the art outfitting safety features with its roto-moulded bow pillar and well located safety attachment points. Whether just starting to boat class lV, doing expeditions or pushing what is called class V the Karnali can take you the whole way.

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