The 2011 Pyranha Varun Review

Whitewater Kayaks

The 2011 Pyranha Varun Whitewater Kayak Review

It’s about that time of year when we all start to anticipate the arrival of next years kayaks. 2011 is on it’s way. One of the highlights for the up and coming season will for sure be Pyranha’s new free runner, The Varun (which means The God of Rain). We were able to paddle this all new boat earlier in the month. As a result, one staff member ended up ordering a Varun for himself, and a few others are very excited to paddle them on late season Cataract/ Westwater trips. Yesterday we received or first container of Varun’s, and the really do look awesome. Here are some photo’s and pre season observations.


Length Width Volume Cockpit Length Cockpit Width Weight
6’8″ 24.75″ 58 US gals 35″ 18.75″ 33.6 lbs


  • The Varun’s hull is very loose, and is quick edge to edge. We surfed it on The Staircase wave at The Buena Vista River Park, and compared to all of the free running kayaks that we sell, The Varun has one of the fastest, loosest hulls.
    Flat planing hull, with nice carving edges on the side. Looks a little bit like the Molan.

    Close up of the release edge.
  • This boat rolls VERY EASILY. Beginners will have no problem getting their rolls down in the Varun. Advanced paddlers will have one less thing to worry about because it’s really easy to get this boat right side up.
    The Varun's easy to roll because there's not that much volume behind the cockpit. Pyranha did the same thing with the 2010 Burn, and it made that boat easier to roll too.
  • The bow is pretty slicey for flatwater tricks and cartwheels. This boat is the perfect choice for down river old school freestlyn’. 360 degree stern squirts, bow stalls, eddyline cartwheels, etc will all be super fun in this boat. It also loops and does advanced tricks; there’s jut a little more boat length do deal with. One note from our test pilot was that when surfing, the hull did not tend to perl like some other boats in it’s category.
    Slicey bow with a good amount of kick rocker. It was noted that the bow does not perl easily. Also, there's enough volume in the knee area to get good pop for loops and aerials.

    Longer, slicier stern means loooooonnnng squirts, and a faster hull with more effective edge.
  • The Connect 30 Outfitting is simple, quality, comfortable and supportive. If you’ve paddled a Pyranha in the past 3-4 years, you know what to expect.
    The drivers seat. Connect 30 seat pad, ratcheting back band and hips.

    The backband ratchet and thigh pad /bolster

    Pre-scored foot foam. Carve it once, and be done with it.

    The rest of the outfitting. The peel and stick 1/4 inch foam is really nice for the heel and ankle area. Hip shims and a sponge too.

    Water bottle holder.

    The rear view.
  • The Varun comes in cool colors. Overall it is a really good looking boat.
    Jaffa and Yellow.
  • At 58 gallons, the Varun has 4 more gallons of volume than the Jackson Fun (the reigning king of free runners). This makes the boat stable when paddling downriver. Because of the volume distribution (with the slicey ends) it is still possible to pull off cool tricks, but at the same time have a great learning boat. After paddling the Varun for a few hours, the consensus was that this is the perfect kayak for the beginning / intermediate paddler to learn in, and then keep for a long time because it is still capable of doing all kinds of tricks.


  • As of right now, The Varun is only available in a medium. If you want the large or small you will have to wait a month or 2.
  • Paddlers may feel like they sit a little bit low in the boat. This is easily remedied with some foam or even sweet cheeks.
  • The Varun falls into the same trap as The Fun, Wavesport Fuse and the now extinct Liquid Logic CR series does. They are neither river runners, nor play boats. They do not have enough volume to run hard class V whitewater (for the average paddler – Jed Selby and Andre Spino Smith ran barrel springs in their All Stars and did not even get his heads wet, but they are the exception), and may have too much volume to pull off the latest and greatest freestyle moves. This is not an issue particular to The Varun, it’s true for all free runners.

The Verdict:

We are really excited about the arrival of the 2011 Pyranha Varun’s. They seem to have the right mix of work and play. The boat’s got 58 gallons of river running volume distributed around a free running design. It has medium / long slicey ends good for pulling off squirts and cartwheels all day long. There’ also enough speed in the hull, and volume in the knee / bow area to do more advanced moves. It comes in a great color selection, is very comfortable to sit in for a while, and best of all ROLLS EASILY. This boat is a great option for the beginning / intermediate paddler looking to learn the basics of playboating (and then take it a step further if they want), dial in their roll and have confidence running intermediate whitewater. So far the lineup for 2011 boats is looking pretty darn good.

13 thoughts on “The 2011 Pyranha Varun Review

  1. CKS Reviews The Pyranha Varun: The Weekend Warriors Ultimate Weapon Colorado Kayak Supply Blog

    […] of getting swallowed up in a play boat going downriver, why not have some hull speed and volume? You can still shred in this thing, but it also will give you more confidence down […]

  2. George B.

    Okay for all us paddlers out there who weigh in at about 170, we are on the big side for the medium and too light for the large. Argh! This is the same freakin’ problem with the Fun series. The Fun paddles like a tub (I thought I was lap swimming…) and the 4Fun is too big. SO- how does the Varun feel for 6’0″ folks who weigh in at 170? Thanks!


      To be honest, I think that you are right in there for the LARGE. It also depends on what you would like to use the boat for. Because you are on the lighter side of things, the Varun would make a great big water boat, and down river play boat. I am 6’1″ and weigh closer to 200 and when I paddle it, I feel like I am in an old school play boat. It is really slicey and sits low in the water. The fit is perfect. Tight, but not too tight. The boat is fast and crisp down river, but really loose on a wave and is always ready to get vertical.
      As far as height goes, you are perfect for the large. Your legs and feet will be perfect. If your hips are a bit smaller you can always throw in an extra shim.
      How much do you play? I think that is the big question. If you are looking for something to just get down river in, and surf, the large is great. If you want to spend more time in holes and on eddylines, maybe think about shoving yourself in a medium.

      1. George B.

        Thanks- helpful input. I am not all that interested in play outside of surfing, I currently paddle a Mamba 8.0 creek model, but it is long, really heavy to portage with gear and slow to roll (but fast on the water). Where I mostly paddle in Washington State, even put-in’s can be scarier than the rapids, especially trying to balance an 8 foot 50+ pound boat. I want a boat that is more responsive and frankly less of a burden, but faster down river than the Fun series.


          well the varun is more of a river runner than the fun series. lighter than the mamba’s too. maybe look at the new pyranha loki also. even longer and faster…but still a light weight design.

  3. Amandafouts22

    Question……I weigh 118 and I’m 5’3 1/2…..what would b a better size for me a small or med??? I for well in the small but want a boat I can roll easily, and surf!!! I have a little hero and ready for a little more fun on the river.

    1. ckspaddler

      Sorry for the delayed reply. The small would be a good fit, and would feel like a play boat. The medium would have more volume and feel like a river runner. I think that if you are going to paddle more class IV and more downriver (as opposed to play) you could look at the medium. Otherwise, it will be much easier to learn play boating moves in the small.

  4. SteveC

    I’m thinking about a Varun but having a problem with size. I’m 5’10” 165 but was pretty uncomfortable in a medium even with the seat all the way back. I’ve been paddleing a medium Burn which is very comfortable but wanted something lighter and looser. The weight range on the large Varun seems pretty far from where I am. Suggestions?.

    1. Bobby Kuepper

      You may actually be the perfect candidate for The new 2013 Pyranha Nano. Have you seen that boat? It is part Burn, part Shiva, and part Jed.

      Do you plan on playboating in it? Or just running rivers and surfing. If you want to get vertical, you could even look at the L Varun, and pad it out. It is still pretty slicey, and has low volume ends.

      If you want a lighter, surfier, more playful version of the Burn, check out the Nano. Think of it as an Ammo with a Jed hull, and Shiva tail. Looks like a super fun boat and may be what you are looking for…

      1. SteveC

        It would be for surfing and beginning play but I’d like some III, IV river running ability also. I saw the promo for the Nano but can picture how you get a play/creek boat to be good at either. When is the Nano going to be available?

        1. Bobby Kuepper

          Yea, agreed. The “jack of all trades master of none” motto might apply to that boat. I imagine it will be good on a hard downriver run, that you would not want to be in a play boat for, but still want to surf and spin. The hull is partially from the JED which is SUPER LOOSE. The other downside to the boat is that it is very short, and is probably not that fast. It’s good for micro creeking, and some play on harder runs….My friend here at CKS like to paddle this class IV/V run (Pine Creek) and can never get into this one surf wave because it is a hard wave to surf and is in the middle of a hard run. He paddled the Nano on the run, and loved the feel of being in a creek boat, but could also surf the wave. Basically, it is a play boat, that has extra volume for paddling in creeks…

          Have you looked at a Jackson Fun Runner? That boat is built for exactly what you are talking about. It is super easy to learn in, rolls easier than any boat out there, is very stable, and also can do a lot of cool tricks.

          I think that if you want to learn to play boat, and also paddle downriver, this would be a great boat. It has a thin enough tail and bow to get vertical, and a VERY loose hull for surfing, and spinning.
          You could look at the Fun Runner in the smaller version (if you fit) to have it perform more like a play boat, and the larger version to have it be more like a river runner…

          Hope that helps a bit. And yes, you are right…The Nano may have a small cult following (like Team Pyranha – Demshitz), but would not be a super popular boat….And also not the greatest boat for a one boat quiver that can do it all…

          1. SteveC

            After a lot of test paddles I ended up with a large Varun (needed the space for size 13 feet more than weight). It’s worked out really well. The extra length added some speed and the extra volume lets it surf like a long board and roll like a cork. The the loose edges still make spinning easy. Never would have guessed this would have worked out so well, sometimes you just get lucky! Thanks for your help!

          2. Bobby Kuepper

            I lOVE the large Varun. I had one 2 summers ago. I really like how slicey it is, and predictable at the same time. Super fun to surf, get vertical and paddle downriver. Great boat.

            Glad you like it!

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