I am familiar with the entire Confluence line of 14 footers. The Perception Carolina 14 and the Wilderness Tsunami 140. I have the 140 and it is a good boat but after some paddle time and developing my style. I began looking for a more "playful" boat. The Alchemy seemed to fit the bill. I rented one from my local kayak shop and spent a day on the river and a day on a lake with slightly breezy conditions, The Alchemy handled every element very well, with a fair amount of primary and secondary stability. It tracked surprisingly well, even without the skeg deployed. Basically was just fun to paddle. The main glaring issue was the stern hatch which is very similar to the Carolina. If a hatch is not capable of being water tight why put it on a boat of this caliber. It was loose and floppy and could easily be flicked off with my pinky finger. Note to Confluence stick to a quality hatch design like the Wilderness Systems, which are a lot better. Now probably a mute point since Dagger discontinued this great boat. Bring it back with quality hatches and you got a superstar of a boat.
Fun and athletic hull for a 14', a bit snug in the feet and I find the seat uncomfortably dissapointing.
Really great looking boat with awesome lines. Excellent fit and finish, top notch actually for a rotomold boat.
Great front storage , rear storage was near useless due to the day hatch bulkhead and the intrusion from the skeg. Speaking of skeg, thank god for the skeg because the boat wont hold a straght line to save its life without it, and it is a good skeg for the range of boat.
Overall this was a boat I fell in love with at first sight and sold after my third paddle. This one was all show and not enough go for me.
This boat rocks! I bought it for my other, so he could go out with me and keep up with my Wilderness Zephyr 15.5 on the Intra-coastal waterways, Florida rivers and lakes. It is very maneuverable and quick turning, but still has a stable feeling for beginners. The Dagger is also long enough at 14 ft to track nicely and the deck low enough to not catch the wind too much. The drop-down skeg adds stability and better tracking in tidal surge conditions, but is easily retracted. He says that the seat is a bit uncomfortable and could be padded a little more. The seat, sling back rest and thigh pads are all completely adjustable. The large fits his 5'10" 185lb slim frame well, except it's a bit of a tight fit for long legs to tuck in. After a test run with a friend's boat, I knew this was an excellent choice for a confident beginner or a experienced water fiend to play in the surf or in the current of the springs of Florida. Happy, Happy!
Can't give a good review because I just purchased this kayak. But I can tell you so far I love it and wish I had bought It when I first started paddling. It tracks good and even better when you drop the skeg. Your Baffin looks simalar to the one i just got. It would be nice if I got this one cause I would take this one up to Upstate NY to leave and use up there when I go up fpr the summer months. Instead of hauling them back and forth.
I purchased my Dagger Alchemy 14.0L after demoing it along with a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140 (without rudder). I tested both on a small lake in SC. I am 6'01" 190lbs. The Alchemy was a great fit. I highly recommend testing both kayaks if you are unsure of which you would prefer. The WS Tsunami felt very stable and comfortable. However, I chose the Dagger for it's maneuverability and drop down skeg. The boat tracks very well with the skeg deployed. My previous kayak was a 10.5 foot WS Aspire. In my first trip with the Alchemy I could immediately tell how much quicker it was. I'm very happy with my purchase.
I paddled a Dagger 14' Alchemy kayak this afternoon, Wednesday, Aug.23, 2017, at the Trailhead TAC in Ottawa. I'm not a novice on the water. Until earlier today, I'm an intermediate canoe paddler but a total rookie kayaker.
Having done several solo canoe/portage trips in magnificent Algonquin Park with my heavy 75lb, and overladen 15.5' Ram-X canoe (with no yoke!), I want a more practical alternative for my next solo trip. And I found it today!!! :)
Haven't camped or been on water in six years--never even sat in a kayak on land, or water, before today--got into this kayak, pushed off from the shore and paddled like I was back in the Park!--it felt so natural. Totally recommend the Dagger-Alchemy. It will be my first, kayak, at 54!! :)
The Alchemy is good for a beginner. has good primary stability, largish cockpit opening (but not so large you can;t get a good skirt to seal it). But the boat also works well for advanced paddlers (this boat is commonly paddled by members of Neptune's Rangers Ocean Whitewater Team - http://neptunesrangers.com/).
One downside is the large hatch on the back is know to leak, and in some cases pop off under extreme pressures (wave breaking over back deck or the like). Dagger used to have a gasket that could be added to seal the leak, and straps can be added that go over the hatch to hold it on. Float bags in the hatch are also a good idea if you are using the boat in conditions.
Oh, I replaced my first boat due to general wear, but also because the bulkheads were leaking. I heard that in 2014 or so, they changed how they attached the bulkheads which would make them less prone to leaking. So far so good on the new one (2+ years of heavy use).
I think it's important to understand the reviewer. I am an experienced novice. The Alchemy 14L is my 3rd boat. My 2nd boat, which I still have, is a 15.5' Eddyline Journey. Even though I'd describe the Eddyline as a better craft in almost every aspect, every time I take out the Alchemy I can't believe just how much fun it is to paddle! I do mostly lake paddling but have taken the Alchemy in the ocean and rivers.
This is a perfect boat to learn some skills on. So it's ideal for a novice or intermediate paddler. I've had people who've never been in a kayak before slip this baby on and feel very confident in no time at all. It is not the fastest boat but with a little extra effort you'll keep up with anyone. The Alchemy is a super responsive kayak. It spins like a compass needle when doing sweep strokes. It edges nicely and responds to paddle input and pressure on the foot pegs like you won't believe. I'd describe both primary and secondary stability as excellent. It tracks like you'd expect a 14' boat to track but the whole point of this boat is to develop skills so edge the darn thing to go straight.
Since we are talking about course correction, let's talk about the skeg. I try not to use it. Yes an incremental amount of skeg will help the Dagger go straight but once deployed, the drag it creates slows the kayak to what feels like a crawl. All the reviews I've read about this boat says that the skeg rattles when fully deployed. Yup, it sure does and you might find it annoying but I didn't see it as a big problem because the Alchemy excels at everything else. It's a great platform for a novice or intermediate paddler to develop and practice skills.
The seat is excellent. Very adjustable and comfortable. I like the low backband. Excellent hip pads and knee braces. It's easy to get connected in this boat. Last but not least, it's a good looking boat. I'd highly recommend this craft if it sounds like what your looking for in a kayak.
With the skeg up, it is a loose, maneuverable boat that carves turns well (I've only played with carving a little, but this boat made it fairly easy and it really responds). Skeg up, it is susceptible to being pushed around by wind and waves - nice for creeking and fooling around (and hopefully surf, although I haven't tried that yet).
Dropping the skeg is like night and day and makes it an easy-cruising, arrow-straight tracking boat even in wind. The contrast between skeg down and skeg up practically makes this two boats, although you can tinker with the amount of skeg to get somewhere in-between. I don't think you can get very good tracking without the skeg, although some additional weight in the boat might help - I'm 200lbs, which should have been enough, and certainly my skills don't match the boat yet, but it seemed pretty easily pushed around by the wind without the skeg. That said, it has a great cruising feel with the skeg down.
The seat has all the adjustments you could want - thigh braces, thigh lifters, sliding footpegs, even hip pads. I got a little uncomfortable after an hour and a half but didn't have everything dialed in yet. The cockpit is smaller than I'm used to, but fits more like a glove than a prison - in time, it will probably be the new normal.
Stability seems pretty good even for a relatively inexperienced paddler like me - it was a little shaky when I started, but by the end it felt pretty solid. Carving turns was fun and gave me some idea just how good the secondary stability is, although I still need to work on it to get a real feel for the limit.
I'm sure it loses a little straight-line performance due to the rocker, but with a little extra effort (and the skeg) it can set a decent pace. I'm equally sure it doesn't move around quite as well as a true river boat, but it can go shallow and is very maneuverable for its size. Having both in a single boat is what it's really all about, and it seems to do that quite well.
This is my follow up review of the Alchemy after owning it for a year. My skill set has expanded greatly after a year in the Alchemy and I can now perform maneuvers such as a bow and stern rudder, skulling draw, low brace inside turn, rolling, and more. I mention this only to point out what is possible in an Alchemy. I still have much to learn and improve on and I feel that the Alchemy is suited to doing this. It is not fast by sea kayak standards, but I can keep up with anyone, just with more effort. The Alchemy can be put far on edge but the semi-hard chine requires a feel for the kayak.
The Alchemy responds on edge, turning without using a sweep stroke. In fact, it responds keenly to any stroke and is very playful. In my first review [2014-12-23] I said that it had to be paddled carefully to keep it tracking straight without the skeg deployed. Not so. As my skills improved and I became used to the boat, I found it easier and easier to keep straight. Now I only use the skeg when I'm not moving or I am in a cross wind. It will weather cock when not being paddled or paddled very slowly. The skeg can be adjusted to any position up and down. I got to play in the waves on the coast and I always felt in control. My first attempt at surfing was fun in spite of my lack of knowing what I was doing. I learned to roll in the Alchemy. I suppose that learning to roll on ones own would mean that a kayak is easy to roll. I assume that a narrower kayak would be even easier to roll, but after much practice, I con roll with ease. I've even managed to pull off a butterfly roll.
A couple of negatives are that the stern hatch leaks pretty badly and so does the bulkhead between the day and rear compartments. The poly is fairly rigid but will deform on a J-rack in the sun for several hours. This happened to me once, but I was able to use a hair dryer and weights to fix it. As others have mentioned,the skeg does knock around when deployed. I am not bothered by it, but it could irk some people.
This is a low volume boat. I cannot manage more than a two day camping trip in it, and that is with have the gear strapped to the deck. I can see myself moving on to a full expedition size fiberglass kayak in the future as my skills improve. For now though, The Alchemy is just right for me.
See a short demo video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFMCM9eKAkw or search fo DAGGER ALCHEMY 14OL.
After about 5 hours total paddling, I am very pleased with the purchase. First about me - 6'0", 210 lbs. Fairly experienced paddler in both ocean and whitewater, but have not paddled for the last year post a shoulder injury. In general, I greatly prefer maneuverable boats and don't mind trading some tracking or speed to get it.
Conditions - Ocean side, 1.5 - 2.5' shore break and swell. Also paddled at Cape Point in confused claptois type conditions. Sound side, winds about 15 and running across the 1' wind chop.
The Alchemy exceeded my expectations in the surf and claptois - loved how controllable it is on a wave. Several times, I was able to bring it back on line after starting to broach pretty significantly. I'm not a great surfer and was definitely rusty, so it made me look better than I deserved. Speed is acceptable, but if max speed is your objective you probably aren't considering an Alchemy.
Perhaps more surprising was how much I enjoyed the Alchemy in the wind chop. While it did weathercock more than I expected, it was highly responsive to the skeg. I could leave the skeg up and control with edging and sweeps; but found that by adjusting the skeg - I could paddle my desired course across or even away from the wind or waves without extra effort. Playing with the amount of skeg deployed reminded me of using a rudder and setting it to hold course.
The boat is lighter than I would expect for a 14' plastic boat and shoulder carries well. It is a wetter ride than many similar boats, owing to the relative low volume in the bow and low deck height. I particularly noticed this paddling into the waves and wind while on the Sound. Having barely paddled for a year, the impressive primary stability was appreciated. It felt a little less comfortable way over on edge, sculling than I expected with the hard chines to lean on. Perhaps just a function of my rustiness.
Overall, very pleased with my first weekend of paddling in the Alchemy 14L
I timed myself paddling both boats as hard as I could from fixed locations (about 708ft). I repeated this three or four times. The Alchemy was 20 to 40 seconds faster every time. There wasn't a lot of difference in the initial or secondary stability. Maybe the Tsunami was a little better. The Tsunami tracks like a train and the Alchemy needed to be paddled very carefully to keep it straight without deploying the skeg. With the skeg down it paddled fine. The Alchemy weathered cocked badly without the skeg but deploying the skeg solved the problem.
As for maneuverability, hands down it goes to the Alchemy. I could turn it 180 degrees with two forward sweep strokes. The Tsunami was like turning a tractor/ trailer. The seat in the Tsunami was much more comfortable. I had no problem with its backrest as opposed to a back band. The Alchemy with its back band was OK, but not as good. This might make a difference on a long trip. I am 5'8 and weigh 160lb. The cockpits in both fit me fine.
In the end, I purchased the Alchemy. It is just too much fun to paddle and can get me from point A to B faster.
It is a great boat with plenty of adjustments. The seat is very comfortable with adjustment straps to set it perfectly for every size person. My only complaint is the smaller storage lids are extremely difficult to remove. But I guess I don't have to worry about them coming open on the water. The length is perfect as I kayak on both a lake and rivers. The skeg is really nice when trying to hold a straight line on the lake and very easy to pull up and down quickly.
My wife is 5'7" with an athletic build and she is less snug in the boat, but the cockpit is not overly big. She may have been better suited for the 14.0S, but we purchased these boats on clearance and weren't able to test out a 14.0S. I think the 14.0L is better suited for her since I've read that the cockpit on the 14.0S is much smaller. My wife likes the fit of the 14.0L.
When out on the water, the boat performs excellent. It doesn't maneuver as well as a shorter boat, but it does hold your line much better and goes faster. It's a perfect "in-between" length to venture on lakes and rivers.
The L does feel considerably larger than the S and gives a little dryer ride in rough conditions. The L still handles and turns as quickly as the S, but it does catch the wind making it a little prone to wind cocking. Tracking is excellent for a boat this short, the skeg is handy in windy conditions to control cocking in side winds when you are not moving. The Alchemy seems fairly efficient as far as speed and glide are concerned for a shorter wider boat.
I would not classify the Alchemy a rec boat as it likes confused water and surf, but it would suit a beginning kayaker as the primary stability is pretty good, secondary stability can be felt once you learn where the "edge" is.
The outfitting is comfortable and very adjustable. The seat does seem a little forward in the cockpit to me making it tough to get a tight fitting skirt on quickly, also the day hatch is not very accessible unless your back is very limber.
I gave the boat an 8 as it can do many things pretty well but not as well as a design built boat. It is a good jack of all trades boat, it relatively low cost and good quality make it an excellent choice for a paddler that sees themselves in multiple types of water, day touring, lakes, flatwater, light rapids and surf are all do-able with the Alchemy.
Would I recommend this boat, yes I would, I bought two of them because you can have a lot of fun in them where ever you wind up in your adventures.
I have a traditional back band seat which is comfortable though I've not been in the seat for more then 3hrs at a time. Only issue I have with the boat is that the dagger board when fully lowered bangs from side to side which when sneaking up on wildlife is a bit of an issue. I just retracted it half way which stopped the noise.
I give the boat a 9.5 of 10
All in all this kayak is an all round fun day or short weekend tripper and will not disappoint.
All in all it has been a great buy. I encourage anyone considering this kayak to try it out on the water and you will likely fall in love with it. It was the best feeling boat that I tried out.
I had wanted a plastic transitional touring kayak to fill the void between the slow and fat recreational kayaks that my family uses for bumping down rocky class I streams in Georgia and the high end cedar strip sea kayaks that I have built over the past few years. I wanted a kayak capable of up to class II river use where rocky shoals are common but also for bigger, slower rivers where reasonable speed is needed but also to be able to do some coastal day touring where crossing bays would be encountered.
I sat in about every 14' boat made including offerings from Wilderness Systems, Perception, Necky and others and then found the Dagger Alchemy 14 on the Dagger site. The description and reviews on Paddling.net made it sound like the boat I needed to try. However, I was not able to find a dealer within a 250 mile radius of Atlanta who had one I could sit in or paddle. So, after about a month of continuing to pour over the specs and reviews, I decided to order one, having never touched one. Not recommended and I broke my own rules on this one...
I picked up the Dagger Alchemy 14.0L Friday night and paddled it for a couple of hours Saturday morning. I paddled on the Chattahoochee River from just below Roswell Road up river to the shoals at Island Ford (about 2 1/2 miles) against a moderate current (estimated about 2+mph). It took about an hour and 15 minutes to get there and about 30 minutes to come back paddling easy.... Quite a workout.
So, what did I think about the boat??? I liked it a lot. It's a fairly loose tracking boat but can be paddled on a straight course without the skeg down if you are paying reasonable attention. If you stop paddling, it will broach fairly quickly without the skeg down but that's true of most boats and not a problem. With the skeg down, it tracks relatively true when you stop paddling. It turns easily with paddle strokes and if you lean it a bit, turns quickly.
I'm 5'11", 165lb and size 12 feet. I found the cockpit roomy enough that my feet were comfortable (wearing booties, not water sandal) and I could easily pull knees up through the coaming for a stretch or to exit. The seat is nice and comfortable with an adjustable backband and adjustable thigh support. It's not a recreational seat with a high back but a seat with a low back band so you could execute layback rolls (assuming the paddler has the skill). The seat bottom has an adjustable thigh support that I found quite comfortable. I could easily adjust the backband, the thigh support and foot pegs to "lock-in" the boat if needed by paddling conditions.
When you deploy the skeg, you immediately notice a slight bit of drag and the skeg tends to bang a bit against the sides of the skeg box as you paddle and put pressure on alternating sides of it. I found the loose fit of the skeg a bit annoying but if I had a tail wind or was paddling in following seas where the tracking was really needed, I could easily ignore the sound as a reasonable trade off for being able to stay on course... The skeg deployment "slider" worked very smoothly.
I found the primary stability to be excellent so a novice could easily paddle this boat and grow into it's capabilities. It makes leaned turns easily and comes up to speed quickly, has lots of storage and is comfortable. All in all, I think I'll be quite happy with it...
The search was for a mid-range boat with some performance and versatility. The significant rocker of the Alchemy (somewhat unusual in a 14-footer) caught my eye and turned out to be the decisive factor.
The hull is of reasonably good quality, with decent rigging and grab loops. I'm not a big fan of pop-on hatches, but don't see them as a major drawback. The skeg control is well recessed and functions reasonably well. When you want help going straight, it makes itself known.
Overall, the outfitting is above average. The seat is comfortable and the backband permits laying back. I favor this over a chair back seat that impedes torso rotation. With the performance this boat is capable of, I'd have preferred a ratcheted backband or something more easily adjustable from the cockpit. The thigh braces will satisfy most paddlers. But, anyone who wants to throw this around will want to engineer something more aggressive. The footpegs are easily adjustable, but I have some reservations about the durability. Nothing has broken, but I like something more substantial to kick at.
I believe they missed the boat with the stiffener that runs along the keel. They could've incorporated a bottle holder there. This is a boat you'll want to take into bumpy stuff and you won't enjoy your bottle rolling around.
This boat invites you to dive into the foam and have a ball doing it. The rocker provides ample spinnability, but lay it over on an edge and you've really got something going. Decent speed, predictable stability, unreal maneuverability and rolls like a log. Have a blast in the surf zone, rock garden or on a moderately fast moving river.
This boat is hard to classify. It paddles something like a long "crossover" kayak with harder edge. If I was going long and strong with a load, I'd take a different boat. But, if you want a fun rough water craft without busting up some expensive composite or the credit card limit, I'd slide in here.