Dagger Stratos Touring Kayak Review
With an interest in paddling both rivers and flat water my first kayak purchase was a Dagger Katana 10.4 which allowed me to accomplish both kinds of paddling. Over the years though, I came to love long flat water paddling which prompted me to begin researching and trying out touring boats. I was on the hunt for a boat that would be a great fit, awesome on the water and comfortable for those longer paddling excursions. With my only experience being in a Dagger kayak, my goal was to try out as many boats as possible in my price range. With the idea of managing boat bias, I hung out with Aquabatics on Glenmore Reservoir for evening test paddles last summer and paddled a variety of different touring boats. I tried out different kayak manufactures, mid-size and longer touring boats, high and low back seats, boats with rudders and without rudders.
The verdict was without a doubt, easy to arrive at. The Dagger Stratos 14.5L was the kayak for me. It’s so smooth on the water and tracks exceptionally well. While the Stratos has a drop down skeg that is useful when dealing with weather cocking, I find that by edging the Stratos I am able to maintain a straight course and seldom use the skeg. While likely not the fastest touring boat on the water, I have no trouble keeping up with longer lighter craft and on average can maintain 5.5-6kms/ hr. on a 20 km plus paddle give or take conditions. These two hour paddling sessions gave me an opportunity to narrow things down. Without a doubt the Dagger Stratos was the front runner. While a couple of hours in a kayak can give you an idea, I wanted to be sure before making a purchase so I rented both the Stratos 12.5 and 14.5 to test out how they performed in different conditions and on day long paddles.
As for turning, the Stratos’ rocker profile offers the paddler quick and responsive maneuverability for a longer boat. By edging the boat on the outside of the turn, the Stratos whips around the turn easily with a couple of sweep strokes. The Stratos has hard chines offering great initial stability steady secondary stability making it easy to get the Stratos up on its edge and hold it there. In rougher water, the Stratos’ upswept bow cuts through incoming waves with precision. Perhaps someday I will get this boat in some ocean surf as it’s designed for not only flat water touring but also rock gardening and surfing.
With its roots in white water, the Stratos as a touring kayak has some easily observable white water features in its design. For the 2020 model, foot pegs were switched out and an adjustable touring bulkhead foot brace system is now used. This was a pleasant surprise as it offers a paddler comfort and increased connection with the kayak.
The Stratos has super comfy outfitting with an adjustable floating back band allowing for a skirt to fit on very easily. The seat is cushy and comes with leg lifters to snug you comfortably into the back band and the adjustable thigh braces. Additionally the hip pads can be tailored to fit you just right. All in all, outfitting adjustment options result in contact and connection with the kayak and a custom fit for the paddler.
While my trips have been primarily day long excursions, the Stratos has a lot of room for gear in two sizable hatches and could easily store supplies for a few days on the water. The bow and stern are outfitted with a shock cord and bungee deck rigging to hold additional gear.
The Stratos is a fantastic boat for beginner to advanced paddlers and from my perspective an outstanding durable kayak. With various options available the Stratos comes in a 12.5 and 14.5 length for small and large size paddlers, Aquabatics can hook you up with the right Dagger Stratos to paddle off in so you too can “create your own momentum”.