The Dagger Nova river play kayak includes progressive design to ensure maximum fun on your local rivers. Half slice models have been all the rage the past few years, led by the Dagger Rewind, Pyranha Ripper 2.0 and Jackson Antix 2.0. The Dagger Nova expands on the half slice and takes it to full slice river fun. Want to see what kayaking was all about in the 90's? The Dagger Nova will have you cartwheeling, squirting, splatting and spinning your way down the river. The Dagger Nova is a super fun kayak to add to your paddling arsenal.
Dagger Nova Kayak Review
I've been paddling whitewater for about 25 years and this is my in-depth review of the Dagger Nova. In these past 25 years I have paddled many different boats. I remember when the majority of the boats looked like the Dagger Nova.
I have never been sponsored, I have never competed professionally, my background in the sport has been a recreational kayaker. I consider myself to represent a large range of kayakers in this community. As most people I know, having fun is my number one priority on the water.
Dagger Nova - First thoughts
My initial impression of the Dagger Nova was how comfortable this boat is to sit in. There’s plenty of foot room with an adjustable ergonomic foam block that forms to your feet. The high knees really allow your legs to feel comfortable and not jammed in. Hip pads make you feel secure with a ratcheting back band.
There is no denying Dagger has some of the best outfitting in the whitewater kayak market. I find the Nova easier to sit in for hours compared to both my creekboat and half slice.
I was worried about being on the upper end of the weight range for this boat. I was concerned the boat would underperform and I would sink it through every feature. This was definitely not the case and it has since exceeded all my expectations.
These expectations included a boat that could play on waves/holes but still have the ability to run rivers efficiently.
After a few hours in this boat my worries were put to rest.
How the Dagger Nova Paddles
There is almost a donut of volume around the paddler, making the Nova feel surprisingly stable.
This boat is not as fast as a half slice but it still has plenty of speed. I paddled this boat at the Kananaskis river, to really understand it in a place that feels like home to me. I wanted to really see how it handled in the rock garden and racecourse for speed and maneuverability.
I know the more challenging moves on different sections of the river and was surprised how many I could do in this boat. I really enjoy how the rocker profile lifts the bow up and over features on the water.
I was sure I would be mystery-moving this boat in the widowmaker but the bow just easily moves over the boils/whirlpool and I glide into the eddy below. This rocker profile also makes this boat effortless to boof. Something that is becoming more fun is seeing how high the bow raises when doing lean boofs.
Dagger Nova Play Features
The Nova turns the entire river into possibilities for play – I find myself always finding something new to try each time.
The stern is incredibly easy to initiate and control. I have been finding new eddy currents that have lots of rotation, riding them endlessly while vertical on my stern. I challenge myself to tailee above a feature and count how many rotations I can get before plunging over them.
As easy as the bow is to ride over rapids, it can be initiated just as easily. Cartwheeling is no longer a lost art in the Nova, it is so much fun cartwheeling over waves, in holes, on eddy lines, or even flatwater.
On waves the Dagger Nova is incredibly fast and nimble with its edge. Flatspins are so easy and effortless. Blunts and backstabs feel so much bigger than when in a playboat. In holes the boat is loose and can move effortlessly on the foam pile. This makes it a lot easier for setting up for tricks. The tricks I have been able to do are cartwheels, split wheels, spins and even loops.
Dagger Nova Drawbacks
It is very difficult for me to come up with cons for the Nova, as I am in love with this boat. Talking to many paddlers on the water there is definitely a consensus of why they haven't thought about buying a Nova or SuperNova (the bigger version).
This consensus is why pay full price for an old design, when there are old full slices on the water for substantially less. This is a good question – I think each full slice of the past will have its own pro's and con's.
After paddling the Nova for a couple of months now I think many of the Cons for the past full slice boats won't exist in the Nova. Boat designs have come a long way over the years. The outfitting, rocker profile, distribution of the volume, haul design in the Nova are very different to any of the previous versions of this boat. I think that in this case looks can be very deceiving, this is a boat you have to paddle to understand it's worth.
Dagger Nova Summary
The more I use the Dagger Nova the more I love it. I found myself not playboating as often because I was getting bored on the parts of a river that aren't a play feature. I use a half slice which really fills in the gaps on a river run. I stern squirt on eddy lines, surf waves/holes, challenge myself to choose more difficult moves on the river.
I was then lacking the playability in the holes and on the waves…I know I sound spoiled.
The full slice really was the missing piece in my quiver. I researched and read many reviews on the Nova before I decided to buy one. I have not once regretted my decision, for me this boat is worth the price.
I feel like many paddlers are missing out on the amazing design of this boat. The Nova is unlike any kayak I have ever paddled, you just have to try it to know.
If you have any more questions about the Dagger Nova, or any of our other whitewater kayaks, please contact us or visit us in store!
Dagger Nova Product Video
|Length: 7' 4" / 223 cm||Width: 25" / 63.5 cm|
|Boat Weight: 35.5 lbs. / 16 kg||Deck Height: 10.25" / 26 cm|
|Cockpit Length- Bow: 34" / 86 cm;||Cockpit Length- Stern: 34" / 86 cm|
|Cockpit Width- Bow: 19" / 48 cm;||Cockpit Width- Stern: 19" / 48 cm|
|Max Capacity: 180 lbs. / 81.5 kg||Volume: 46 gal / 174 L|
|Paddler Weight: 100 - 180 lbs. / 45 - 82 kg|