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River Elf Storm Rider

There is something very tempting about River Elf boats. I don’t know whether it’s the name, the designs or the fact the boats are composite. May be it is a combination of all of these.

River Elf Storm Rider
River Elf Storm Rider

Primarily designed for those above 200 lbs, the Storm Rider L-XL is also a good choice for smaller paddlers seeking the security of a wider, more stable hull.

The Storm Rider L-XL features a continuous rocker profile, smooth round chines that transition into a flattish hull, and a generous maximum width of 27″. Combine that with a 24.5 lb kevlar/carbon/epoxy construction and you get a predictable, forgiving design with super manoeuvrability, surface spins that rival the turning ability of a slalom boat, and a “zero-to-sixty” thats unlike any creeker you’ve ever paddled!

Key features of the L-XL version of the Storm Rider:

  • primary construction: kevlar/epoxy with rib system reinforcement.
  • deck: carbon reinforced to impart stiffness and structure.
  • hull: carbon/kevlar hybrid reinforced to balance impact and stiffness.
  • triple seamed for toughness.
  • minicell pillars and carbon pillar guides.
  • ACB carbon pillar sleeve and anchors pre-installed.
  • carbon bow shock absorber.
  • large cockpit for easy entry and exit.
  • stainless steel security lock-down loop and accessory attachment point.
  • four light but tough and beefy grab loops.
  • suitable for both creeking and general river running.

You can find out more about River Elf and their products here.


  1. John Spear

    River Elf Storm Rider would be really good for riding against the waves and especially the dam control areas it would be quite fun for sure! ‘m looking forward for the paddle recommendation!

  2. Albert

    Just a quick post regarding the Storm Rider. Just received the M-sized one and haven’t had the chance to paddle it, yet. I need to tighten up the already excellent outfitting before venturing onto the ultra-high volume rivers that are common in CA this spring.

    What I can say with certainty is that the kayak build quality is the best I have seen in decades of whitewater boat ownership. Attention to details is remarkable. The 4 page personalized instructions and the enclosed complete repair kit, including resins and Kevlar materials, is totally unexpected but, warmly welcomed. I will provide a more complete review once I get a few runs under my belt.

  3. Albert

    I’ve waited long enough to author this review to allow me a chance to use the River Elf, Strorm Rider M for close to a dozen times under varied, low water/high water conditions. That, to avoid the manifestations of the typical instant euphoria reflecting in reviews that one gets when receiving a new toy. So, here it goes:

    If I wanted to summarize the boat’s performance, I’d compared it to a super-nice human being, “having not single bad bone in her body”. The Storm Rider is an incredibly well designed, well built kayak that has shown me simply no vice. It makes everything easy and fun.

    The model I have is the SR Medium. 8’5” long, 26 ¼ wide and 83 gallons of volume. That volume, nicely concentrated in the stern and around the cockpit, is plenty enough for my 190 lbs (with gear) weight. That rear volume and stern shape gives the boat superb stability under all tried conditions. Be that big water hydraulics, deep eddy-line seams, wild turbulence, the SR handles them in a reassuring, calm manner. Thus far I could not find anything to upset that calm stability. All this while the SR provides surprisingly decent forward tracking despite the large amount of hull rocker. Turning, spinning is so easy, hardly requiring any paddle input. Not even funny hydraulics that tend to grab and pull-down on the sidewalls of some boats seem to effect this one. Simply fun, confidence inspiring behavior, combined with the low weight that produces truly rewarding, high performance handling. The weight of my model with all the options installed came to a bit below 29 lbs. Huge difference from the typical plastic creek kayaks of this size being at least 45 lbs.

    This is where this boat makes it into the truly “exceptional” category. I started kayaking when we still built our own composite boats, as well as purchased them from the manufacturers. I can say that this SR has the quality built that exceeds anything in my long experiences. The layup is rather heavy-duty, including many layers of Kevlar+S Glass in the hull and also adding Carbon fiber layers to the deck. To break this layup one needs to land on some ultra sharp lava-rocks that would be hard on any plastic, as well. The average river bedrock touches should not hurt this hull!

    Even in my $5000+ full Carbon ocean racing ski kayak the carbon layer seams are imperfectly visible under the mirrored outer finishes. In the SR all carbon pieces seem to have been made from a single piece. No edges to layers are visible. The one thing I would have preferred is for the thigh-braces to be more aggressive, for more positive thigh contacts. I could easily add the additional surfaces but, am reluctant to alter and mess up such beautiful pieces of carbon fiber :-).

    Inside the cockpit the added reinforcement layers under the seat area are seam-taped, to avoid any potential sharp edges that the additional layers would leave. The high-backed carbon fiber seat is light weight as well as supportive. The shock-absorbing foot support actually has a spring that retracts it automatically into the bow when the adjusting webbing is released. The outer finish is simply gorgeous, evoking admiring comments from boaters around me.

    While shipping to CA from Alabama was expensive in terms of dollars, it seemed inexpensive after taking apart the many layers of padding that protected the boat during shipment. It had to take hours to pack a boat with such attention to details!

    So, when it comes to performance and quality, the boat excels beyond my expectations. However, the review would be incomplete without mentioning the Customer Service. My contact is Chris, one of the brothers that run the River Elf business. He has shown such a “beyond my wildest expectations” type of customer service that simply does not exist anywhere else. Long, personalized instructions included, extensive repair kits included, and offers to help with anything, including spare or replacement parts are included. There is a person/family that truly stand behind their products, even after the sale.

    All together the Storm Rider has hit all the right buttons for me. I am an extremely discriminating whitewater kayaker, having designed and built my own very successful racing kayaks. Ahead of all, I appreciate performance and light weight. I treasure a river kayak that is my, “Dance Partner” where I simply lead and she makes all the perfect moves to make my lead-moves even better, more elegant. Nice to know that such degree of perfection still exist these days.

    The one suggestion that I could make to River Elf is to consider making a River Runner type kayak with less overall (particularly stern) rocker, faster hull speeds and even increased precision handling. These days the class II and class III rivers are overrun with folks using dedicated, ultra heavy Creek Boats. Many of those people likely would never progress into Class IV and beyond and would, no doubt, appreciate a light weight, quick, yet maneuverable design. I know, I would snap one up in a fraction of a second if/when available.

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