Pyranha Nano Compact Whitewater River Running Kayak Review

The Nano is a short river running boat with a playful nature. Influences from the Shiva, Jed and Burn make for a super manoeuvrable, compact boat with creek potential. It has the ability to run harder lines as well as open up play spots on your favourite river.

Aspiring paddlers will enjoy taking the Nano down their local run, eddy hopping and pushing the technical aspects of the river. The Nano is stable and easy to roll to inspire confidence and hull allows plenty of play opportunities.

More advanced paddlers might like to take it on steeper, more demanding rivers that they know to push themselves a bit harder, or explore parts of the river that a bigger boat can’t reach. The flatter hull will also allow them to play on features on the way down, rock splat and spin.

RRP: £949
More info:


Length: 218cm
Width: 66cm
Volume: 259L
Weight: 19.6kg
Paddler Weight Range: 55-90kg

Length: 224cm
Width: 67cm
Volume: 302L
Weight: 21kg
Paddler Weight Range: 80-110kg


  • Progressive Rocker: For super manoeuvrability and soft boof landing.
  • Full-Length Rails: Engage quick turns and snap into tight eddies.
  • Stern Volume: Keeps you riding high over features.
  • Compact Size: Easy to transport, portage and walk in.
  • Anodised Bow & Stern Rescue: Pyranha Connect rescue points, made by the UK climbing specialist DMM who manufacture our security bars with the same process that has held them at the forefront of the climbing market for years.
  • Connect Grab Handles: All our grab handles are made using climbing grade webbing, as we only want webbing that you could trust in a climbing harness in our kayaks.
  • C4S Seat: Longer, more ergonomically shaped seat pan provides a 3-way adjustable system that gives a bomb proof seating position.

Paddler Verdict

The Nano is a very interesting feat of niche-spanning on the part of Pyranha. They’ve looked at their various ranges and identified in the Shiva, Burn and Jed three models that are performing three different functions exceptionally well. Rather than messing with a successful formula for any one of these, they’ve taken elements of all of them and blended them together, perhaps just to see what happens, and created a kayak that will be different things to different people.

If you are a casual grade 3-4 whitewater paddler who finds time and money limit you to mostly local runs, having one of these could be a great way to spice up your paddling life and improving your dynamic river running skills by going on tight eddy-hopping missions and stopping to play on your way down.

If you are more of the ‘aspirational’, or at least very competent and experienced, boating class, and want a slightly smaller kayak that isn’t too much effort to lug up the side of your favourite creek but then also offers the precision, control, acceleration and boof work that you require of your creek boat, then once again the Nano could be one you’d consider adding you your fleet.

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time paddling the Nano, and with the above uses in mind, it is a truly successful design. Time will tell if it really catches on, and we’d hazard a guess that this will prove to be many people’s ‘second kayak’ as opposed to their go-to weapon of choice for all whitewater kayaking; given how much fun it is to paddle this compact, playful river running kayak, though, we’d be more than happy to be proved wrong.

The Nano is the new ‘compact river runner with creek potential’ from kayak manufacturers Pyranha, which they think will really appeal to that ‘aspirational’ market of whitewater kayakers that want a fun, light and easily transportable boat to take down their favourite steep creeks, alongside the considerably larger grade 3-4 whitewater kayaker market that wants a stable but playful river running kayak in which to progress. It is inspired by three of Pyranha’s most popular and successful current models: the Shiva steep creeking kayak, the Burn river running kayak and the Jed freestyle kayak. The Nano blends features from all three to create a whitewater kayak into an exciting package that offers something for everyone.

It is a testament to how relatively few ‘compact river runners’ have emerged in modern whitewater kayaking that whenever there is a new one it draws a comparison to those that have gone before it, whether it warrants it or not. Inevitably, then, the Nano has had various parallels drawn between it and shorter whitewater kayaks of days gone by. In some ways these comparisons are fair: the Nano is both a kayak and short. This is really where the scope for such generalisation ends. There are other similarities, of course, but these are circumstantial: no kayak is created in a vacuum (strictly metaphorically speaking, of course), and every new design draws on ideas and features already in circulation. It’s just that in this case, the Nano draws on much more contemporary kayaks than those that a cursory judgment based on length alone would suggest…

Nano – The Steep Creeker

We’ve paddled the Nano from the points of view of both elements of Pyranha’s target audience. To put that ‘creek potential’ to the test we had to go in search of some serious gradient. Here we found that the Shiva-inspired bow, complete with progressive rocker, gave this kayak an almighty boof, and we were delighted with how easy it was to keep that bow up over drops, and riding high through holes. Unfortunately, the Nano must obey the laws of physics, and there is no getting away from the fact that has quite a bit less volume than larger boats, meaning that even the perfectly landed boof on aerated water will see you sinking down at least a little. The Nano resurfaces so predictably, though, that this never seems to lead to any loss of control, and that raised front deck sheds water efficiently, meaning very little loss of forward momentum.

And, weighing it up, the benefits of a kayak this size come out on top against the downsides: its length and progressive rocker, combined with those full-length hard rails taken straight from the Jed blueprint make for an incredibly snappy turner and provide an almost unparalleled level of intuitive manoeuvrability and control. We think that this is extremely beneficial, given who the Nano’s creeking performance capability is aimed at if you really know what you’re doing, when in those tight steep creeks, it’s all about control and precision. The Nano, when paddled in the aggressively dynamic way it wants to be, offers these up by the truck loads.

We found all of this was nicely complimented by the Nano’s acceleration: also an important feature in tight, steep creeks. A couple of well-placed power strokes are all that is needed to get the kayak up to speed. There was absolutely none of the sluggishness off the line you might expect from a boat this short, and it maintains its speed nicely through features too.

Nano – The River Runner

Many of the features that make the Nano a great steep creeker for the experienced also translate well into being a fun and playful river runner for the less so. As well as the performance bow and rails that offer precision and control in technical whitewater, along with great boofing and predictable landings, the Nano also provides a very stable and predictable ride on all gradients and grades of whitewater. Easy to roll, and reasonably forgiving on the edges, the Nano would be an absolutely ideal boat for practising river running skills at venues such as the Tryweryn in North Wales, or any of England’s artificial whitewater courses. In this sort of setting, you’d really be able to make the most of the snappy and controlled manoeuvring offered by the Nano and develop your dynamic paddling in a playful and fun kayak that you know will look after you.

Although it is at the lower end of the volume spectrum for whitewater river running kayaks, thanks to the high deck profiles it actually packs quite a lot for a boat of its length. The medium/large size actually has more volume than the medium sized Pyranha Burn, for example. More importantly than physical number of litres, the volume in the Nano is well distributed, with a large proportion of it given to keeping the bow riding high and dry, but with plenty left for the squared-off stern, which in shape and style looks very much like a Shiva and a Burn got it together…and had a baby! All of these things add up to a kayak that is more than capable of punching the odd meaty hole, and there isn’t that tendency for back looping that you might expect from a short kayak like this, with instead a clean breakaway and nice stable, predictable handling style through turbulent water.

Nano – The Play Boat

We didn’t forget to look at the Nano from the perspective of the third of the holy kayak trinity that is a creek, river and play, all of which are represented by the choice of influences on the design. While we don’t want to over-emphasise this, we thought it was worth mentioning that those long rails and subtly-curved ‘semi-flat’, in Pyranha’s words, hull makes the Nano quite good fun to surf and spin on any wave or play hole you happen to pass by. This added playfulness of nature just makes the Nano even more fun for taking down rivers you know well for an indulgent ‘play run.’

Fixtures and Fittings

The Nano comes with all of the safety features – grab handles, central step-out pillar, hull stiffener, rear foam buoyancy, fully-adjustable foot plate – that we see in the rest of Pyranha’s performance whitewater kayak range. The standard is still Pyranha’s staple Connect outfitting, which we have always been huge fans of, it’s been doing Pyranha owners well for a few years now and is robust and adjustable to an impressive, and comfortable, level of connectivity.

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