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Ongoing usage by beginner kayakers

The Dagger Katana has seen additional usage since the initial review, this time in the hands of my friend Courtney. She's really new to Kayaking, infact this was her first outing on a boat. We started first with her on this boat on a lake. This is where the skeg really demonstrates just how much of a mutli-purpose boat this really is. Courtney was able to keep a good pace, she had no issues with tracking (which for a complete beginner can be a chore) and did great! Sure, we put the skeg up and she spun around in circles and went nowhere, but white water boats really show you when your form is off.

After some general paddling, I told Courtney that if she flipped the boat a few times and practiced wet exits, we could hit up a river nearby my house. She is a delightfully fun person in the sense she loves a challenge, and three wet exits later she had enough of the basics down to head down a very basic river.

The river we hit up was 1/3 quick water, 1/3 flat water, and 1/3 maybe barely class I rapids. It was a perfect long river trip really, and made for an enjoyable full day trip, although I wish I hadn't used a Bliss Stick SCUD for the day.

In this Boat, Courtney had no problem. We had the skeg down in the flats, and we got her using it less and less as the day progressed and we got into the rapids. The boat was confidence inspiring, she almost never really scared herself at all, and everything went great. She paddled with confidence, and at the end she said she wished there had been ever more rapids that were more challenging!

So there you have it, if you're a COMPLETE beginner, this boat will treat you great. Dagger's goal was to make a boat that fit the needs of beginners (per interview with the boat designer that I read) and they obviously hit the nail right on the head!

Ongoing general notes:

  • The rubber parts holding the thumb nuts on for the adjustable bulk head are laughably worthless. They get in the way, and don't really retain anything.
  • Speaking of bulkhead, there are two bolts sticking out where the bulkhead adjustments bolt to... and the holes are drilled in such a fashion that they don't always fit both bolts! If they'd made the bolts spaced the same as the adjustment metal, I could double up on thumb nuts and the bulkhead would feel insanely positive. With just the current setup, it feels rickety!
  • I tried emailing dagger about another bulkhead. Radio silence... doesn't bode well for customer support...

Flatwater kayaking comparison:

In preperation for an upcoming two night overnight river camping trip (flatwater to maybe quickwater) I organized a small day trip around a lake up by my house to see which kayaks were best suited for whom. Four people wound up invited, and so a lot of kayak swapping occured. We had the Katana, a 13' rec boat, a high quality 10' rec boat, and then my Jackson Super Hero which I pretty much tubbed along in the whole time.

With a complete beginner, and two novice paddlers in tow, along with myself, we proceeded to test all the kayaks. I found the results fascinating as they were the exact opposite of what I expected. The 13' kayak with a drop skeg, which tracks insanely straight and fast... was the least desirable of the beginners. The 10' rec boat came in a second place finish, with points noted for it's increased manueverability and adequate speed. The dagger Katana then proved to be the most desirable boat... for flatwater! With the skeg down everyone commented that it had adequate speed, responded promptly and as desired to corrections, tracked in a fashion that worked for everyone, and was the most confidence inspiring and confident boat.

So there you have it... dagger really nailed it with this boat as a crossover!