Gear Review: Dagger Stratos 14.5 L
Value Rating: 10
Durability Rating: 9
Overall rating: 9.5
Location of Test: Cunningham Slough
Duration: 5 hours
Product Name: Stratos 14.5 L
Product Brand: Dagger
Best Use: Surf, sea, rock gardening, big river, lake
Specs / sizes available: 14' 6" / 442 cm long, 24.5" / 62 cm wide, 315 lbs max capacity, 57 lbs.
Comes in four colors: Red, Lime, Molten, and Freeze.
The Full Review
I've been wanting to paddle the Stratos for some time but put it off... till now. I decided to take it on a day paddle in the middle of nowhere. My first impression once I climbed in was the seat. Not only was it comfortable but highly adjustable, with its side bolstering and amazing back band, my journey into the unknown was a comfortable one. I found that it was extremely stable even during hard edging, it still stayed upright with responsive recovery. I didn't feel like getting wet so it was a bonus. Halfway through my voyage, I had pulled the skirt to retrieve my water bottle and notice two straps and a recessed spot right in front of the seat, I did a happy dance in my seat over this, because it meant no more fumbling like a buffoon looking for my aqua! The adjustable skeg made things very fun, whether I was paddling around pilings and rock faces with the skeg up, or crossing a wind and current driven stretch of open water with it down, it behaved, yet was very playful. There's a ton of cargo space for whatever gear and stuff you desire to carry. It plows through waves like a beast, I can only imagine how fun it is in some coastal surf. Now here is the part that still baffles me: paddling this kayak did not seem like I was in a large plastic boat, but rather a composite, it felt easy and light in the water, and that's a good thing. The thigh braces are comfy, the foot pegs were comfortable... everything felt like a glove to me.
Excellent primary and secondary stability, the adjustable skeg definitely helps tracking ability. When the skeg is up this kayak is an absolute riot of fun to paddle around rock faces and pilings. I personally found it very maneuverable in any condition. The water bottle/bilge pump holder just in front of the seat was a very convenient thing to have. The seat is ridiculously comfortable and very adjustable. Ample cargo space for whatever you desire to carry. Ergonomic carry handles that have a recessed space for them.
The cargo hatches seem like they may have an issue sealing properly, but it's not an issue that would prevent me purchasing one. Not the fastest kayak, but it did not bother me.
The Bottom Line:
If you're a beginner, intermediate, or expert, this is a righteous kayak for anyone of all levels. Priced just right, you get a kayak that's going to last, be fun... and let's not forget... it's a Dagger! Synonymous with white water, yet they made a touring kayak that can and does strongly compete with the others, my hands go up to them in praise for this rad kayak! I plan to get to know this kayak a bit more... a few more dates on the water and I think love will be in the air.