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Pyranha Shiva Review!

Photo below by Shannon MacMichael
When I first heard Robert Peerson was joining the design team at Pyranha I immediately texted a good friend of mine who paddles for Wave Sport to tell him the news.  All he said in reply was… “Shit”.  It is no secret that Robert Peerson is a talented designer and his playboats have been especially well received around the globe.  Everyone at Pyranha was clearly excited for him to come on-board and I was too.  I had tried out most of Peerson’s playboat designs over the years and liked them a lot.  However, I have to admit that when I heard that his first design for Pyranha would be a creekboat, I had a few reservations.  Not because I had doubts about his ability to design a creeker, but because I’m a big guy and the last creekboat he designed simply wasn’t that big.  Even the largest size of his last creekboat design was just not big enough to be a real option for big guys like me.  However, when the stats for the Large Shiva were released, my apprehension turned to pure excitement!  Not only was the Large Shiva much larger than Peerson’s previous creekboat design, it was the highest volume creekboat Pyranha has ever made… I was beyond pumped!
Boat Stats: Large Shiva
Length: 8’8”
Width: 27”
Volume: 92 gal
Weight: 55 lbs
My Stats
Height 6’1″
Weight 275 lbs.
Inseam: 30″
Feet: size 12

When reading a review of a boat or other gear, it is as important to know some background on the reviewer as it is to know their physical stats or anything else. Knowing a little of their background allows readers to take the review in context and see their opinion for what it is. I started paddling canoes with my dad in the 1980s, got my first whitewater specific canoe in the mid 1990s, and then moved on to kayaking in 2000. Having entered kayaking after the introduction of edges and flatter hulls, the majority of the boats that I have owned have had semi-planing hulls and I have had a well developed bias towards boats with a harder edge. However, I do love to try out different boats and try to understand their design and performance differences. Everything is a trade-off and I’ve grown to appreciate different design traits in different circumstances. Since the release of the Shiva a lot of people had been asking my opinion of the Pyranha’s latest creek machine, so when I got one at the end of January, I was committed to spending some quality time in it to be able to evaluate it accurately and develop an informed opinion.

Photos below by John Kern

At the time of this writing I have paddling the large Shiva 2-3 days a week since the end of January 2012. I’ve had a chance to paddle it on a variety of runs ranging from steep, low volume creeks to higher volume rivers, including Tellico River (TN), Cheoah River (NC), Tallulah River (GA) Town Creek (AL), Short Creek (AL), Johnnies Creek (AL), and the West Fork of the Little River (AL).  In addition to those runs, I’ve spend the most time on Alabama’s Little River Canyon (my local favorite) at levels from 200 CFS to 1000 CFS. Little River Canyon’s character varies greatly depending on the water level. At lower levels it is a super-technical creek run while at higher levels the rapids become pushy and can develop stomping-big holes. A wide range of water levels and the different characteristics provided by each provided a great opportunity to test the Shiva out in a variety of situations.

Photo below by Jay Howard

When the stats for the Large Shiva were released, the size alone grabbed my attention and before I even had the Shiva in the water, one of the first things I noticed was the large amount of volume in the stern of the boat. Once I had it on the water, that extra volume kept the stern riding high and dry and unaffected by tricky cross currents. Overall it floats me higher than most creekers and I have to admit that alone is a big plus for the Shiva in my book. Another thing I noticed in my first few days in the Shiva was that I kept feeling like my bow was a little low. At first I had left the seat in the factory position (centered), but once I moved the seat back, I immediately felt at home in the Shiva. From that point forward I found myself become more at-ease in all different situations on the river and my confidence (which had been battered some in recent months) seemed to return more and more each day I was on the water.

Photos below by Matt Jones


Other than playing around, doing enders, I didn’t even flip over for the first couple months I owned the Shiva. It is quite forgiving and has awesome secondary stability. The result is that those deep braces that often precede flipping are instead able to bring it back upright! When rolling is necessary, the Shiva it does so quite easily, a feature to be appreciated by beginners and experts alike. Personally I’ve found that that I can successfully hand-roll the Shiva much more often than I ever could in the Everest. The Shiva’s overall speed doesn’t seem faster to me than the Everest, but its ability for quick acceleration allows for more confidence in boat scouting. More and more lately I find myself floating into the top of a rapid, waiting until I can pick out my line before making the move, confident in the ability to accelerate quickly enough to make the move. I’ve only had a chance to run a few waterfalls in Shiva so far, but those that I have resulted in quick, controlled resurfacing, another great feature. Overall, the Shiva is simply very forgiving and as a nice bonus the flat cockpit design creates a very dry fit for skirts. I’ve been using the XL deck IR Klingon Empire skirt on my Shiva and commonly finishing runs with almost no water in my boat.

Photo below by Shannon MacMichael

The only cons for the Shiva are the same as every displacement hull creeker. Simply put, a round hull is going to get pushed around more in high volume runs and will not provide the snappy handling of boats with a harder edge, like the Everest/Burn/etc. However, the slight edges on the stern of the boat do seem to make the Shiva hold a line better than most displacement hull creekers and seem to help with driving where you want to go in pushy water. In other words, while it does display some of the same design trade-offs as other displacement hull creekers, the Shiva’s design minimizes them while keeping the positive aspects and advantages of the displacement hull design.

Photo below by Jay Howard


For the first time since the release of the Everest in 2007, a new boat has won me over. Since getting the Shiva, my Everest has not seen the river and sits lonely and dry in my basement. I plan to keep the Everest around for pushy, high volume river running and creeking, but the Shiva is my new go-to boat for the low-volume steep runs that make up most of creeks in the southeastern United States. While there are many quality creekboats in today’s market, there are none more competent than the Shiva. The Shiva’s capability on steep creeks is incredible and confidence inspiring. A few quick strokes bring it up to speed, it boofs like a butterfly, and it blows though holes with a vengeance! It rolls with ease and its forgiving nature takes care of my wrecked body and degenerated joints. After a lifetime of paddling and over a decade of creeking, it is exactly the kind of boat I need to take care of me when it counts and give me the confidence to continue to paddle the runs I love.

Photos below by John Kern

Until Next Time…

Adam Goshorn

Photo below by Matt Jones