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Waka Kayaks Stout Review

- Monday October 15, 2018
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Recently all the new whitewater designs seem to be focused around designing 9’ racing kayaks.  So last year, when Waka Kayaks announced it would be coming out with two new designs, I think most people focused in on the, 8’9” and 95 gallon, OG.  I weigh in at 140lbs on a good day and have always felt the Gangsta, and even the original Tuna, were too big for me. I was more interested in the second new design. The Waka Stout is advertised to be 8’5” and 82 gallons.  This is a design supposedly made independently from Waka Kayaks by the Lammler family as their take on an updated original Tuna.  I liked the look of the Stout’s hull. The volume and length is very similar to the medium sized creek boats I had learned to paddle in, so, I jumped on the opportunity to get one for myself this past summer.

The stout follows a lot of the the design aspects that made the original tuna such a revolutionary design.  A hard rocker profile in the bow along with hard edges on a long flat stern, combine traditional creek boat and river runner designs to give you the best of both worlds.  Over the past 5 years all the kayak companies have been trying to combine these feature with different lengths and shapes of boats to find the perfect combination.  For me, the Stout hit the perfect balance.

P1130358 Fotor
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If you’ve read my boat reviews before you may know that I started paddling the original Tuna back when it was pretty new and still manufactured by Bliss-Stick Kayaks.  I paddled this boat for several years and this was the boat I really became a “Class V” kayaker in.   I absolutely loved the original Tuna. The only negatives I saw in it was the massive hits it took running bigger waterfalls and it was a touch bigger than my ideal boat would be.  Two years ago Waka discontinued the original Tuna design and released a redesigned “Tuna2” and their new race boat the “Gangsta.”  I was less than impressed with the Tuna2 so I went with the 9’ tank, The Gangsta.  I had some ups and downs paddling this huge race boat, but overall I ended up being a fan.  (read my full Waka Gangsta review for more info on this design (/blog/2017/10/27/waka-gangsta-review/ )

I live in south eastern BC with the Elk River as my go to run.  I also run a range of different rivers throughout the year including steep technical creeks and big pushy rivers.  When I look for I boat I’m looking for one boat that can do it all.  It needs to make tight turns on steep creeks while still having the hull speed to cross big pushy curtains in big water class V.  Along with those criteria the Elk also has a 40’ waterfall on it, which I run on a near daily basis.  Having a boat thats going to take a big hit off the occasional waterfall isn’t really an option for me anymore.  When I was paddling the original Tuna I wasn’t running as many waterfall laps as I am now. When I paddled the Gangsta I decided to give up some maneuverability in order to cover all my other criteria.  

So now that you know a bit about what I’m looking for in a new boat, how about that Stout?  It’s the best boat I’ve ever paddled. Period. End of Review.

I’ve been extremely happy with the new Waka Stout.  The shorter design allows for much easier maneuvering compared to the larger Waka kayaks while still having enough volume to float small to medium sized paddlers over most holes.  The hard bow and stern rocker makes boofing and skipping over features effortless.  The bow has a round tip with soft to no edges from the knees forward, so it takes soft hits off waterfalls if you get the bow down.  The Stout still has hard edges forming under the knees and becoming stronger behind the seat and all the way into the stern.  These hard edges allow the boat to still be paddled like a sharp river running design while the bow roundness gives paddlers the forgiving aspects of a more traditional creek boat design.  I do several multi-day trips every year so I was a little unsure how this boat would pack and handle multi-day gear because it’s so much smaller than the Gangsta.  I’ve done 3 trips so far in the stout, two, two night trips and one overnighter.  I have no complaints about carrying gear in the boat or it’s handling while loaded.  I have no trouble stuffing two full Futa stow float bags from Watershed in the stern without even removing the stern pillar and there’s room to comfortably have a smaller bag on my lap as well.  I paddled the loaded boat on a big water trip and a steep creeking trip. I didn’t have any trouble controlling the boat in either environment.

Obviously this boat isn’t going to win you any races at 8’5”, but if racing isn’t a focus for you, I can’t recommend this boat as a one boat quiver enough!  There are a few outfitting aspects I don’t like.  First the back bands are not well secured to their ratchet straps.  This was the same system in the Gangsta and I believe all the Waka boats that have been produced in the past few years.  It works well enough until one day you’ll snap your back band strap and have to replace it.  Also my Stout came with webbing grab handles behind the seat which also use the same system as the back band to attach to the boat.  I would not trust this strap under prolonged tension.  I’m not sure why Waka made the decision to use these crappy grab points but it’s not a critical issue for me.

In summary I would highly recommend this boat to any small or medium sized boaters looking to have a high performance one boat quiver.  For me, the long list of pros definitely out weighs the poor outfitting choices.  I think I would even go as far as to say this is the best boat I’ve ever paddled.



  • Super maneuverable
  • Bow rides over holes and eddy lines
  • Easy to boof
  • Takes soft hits off waterfalls
  • Big enough to punch holes and paddle loaded



  • Some poorly constructed grab handles
  • Poor durability in the back band
  • Not as fast as a 9’ race boat


Paddler Specs:

Name: Ben Ghertner

Height: 5’ 10”

Weight: 140lbs

Shoe Size: US 10

Build: medium legs, medium torso, very narrow hips


Boat Specs:

Brand: Waka

Model: Stout

Length: 8’5” 

Volume: 82 gallons

Width: 2’2”

Weight: 47 lbs

Recommend Paddler Weight: 130 - 190 lbs

Categories: Review
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