I've owned this boat for one season now, and here are some thoughts.
This boat will spin in its own length (with the skeg up) without much effort.
Put the skeg down and a paddle across the reservoir becomes much more enjoyable. Its 27in. beam makes it very stable. I found that I had to work at it to edge over in this boat. Cockpit size is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to feel comfortable taking this boat into Cape Cod Bay, so a smaller cockpit is perfect. I bought a spray skirt to fit the cockpit. The smaller cockpit does limit the fishing gear I can bring along, but every boat is a compromise. I can live with this. I've enjoyed the size and weight of this boat and would highly recommend it.
This is the longest of my 3 daggers and it is a good intermediate boat. It tracks well with or without the skeg down. Cuts through standing water well and is fairly fast and efficient. As with all daggers, the outfitting is very good and the seat is very comfortable. Good for a casual paddle, it's in between my katana and roam. I don't like the bungy handles on the front and back, I wish they were solid handles and the mesh thing under the front rigging!?!?!?!?... don't know what they were thinking with that. The adjustable foot braces seem a little flimsy at first but are holding up fine so far. I love that they put water bottle holders on all their boats and the paddle park is a nice touch for taking pics etc. It's big enough that they could have put another dry hatch in the front but it's not really a touring boat. All in all, a solid boat. I liked it better than the Pungo.
The Axis 12 is a great boat for my purposes. It allows me to enjoy trips on our local class 1 rivers, some class 2 rivers farther from home, and even enjoy the local whitewater play parks. It is also a pleasure to cruise the larger lakes down in KY, as I can put the miles on quickly without a lot of effort.
On the down side, the rear bulkhead doesn't keep water out, and the front deck rigging stretched out and became useless in a few seasons. This year, the skeg in the back started making a thumping sound with each paddle stroke.
Had this kayak for 16 months. Wife loves it. She's 5'2", 120 pounds. .Very stable, great for beginners. Comfortable seat. Had to put a NRS float bag in front of inside support bracket so it wouldn't sink if capsized. Lo and behold, Dagger makes a 12.5 Axis with a front bulkhead, a year after I bought the 12.0... Highly recommend...
I've been paddling the Axis 12.0 for 8 years on rivers and lakes in southeastern Michigan in myriad of conditions and the boat's never let me down. Just fast enough for a rec/hybrid to reduce the chore of navigating long stretches of open water and fun as hell in rivers, with the ability to handle Class II or II rapids. The drop-down skeg is especially appreciated on lakes and in windy conditions, giving a big assist in maintaining a straight tracks. I like the adjustability of the seat, which allows you to take some of the weight off your tailbone and the dry storage hatch is perfect for stowing supplies for an overnighter. The Axis 12.0 has suited my needs for almost a decade and I imagine it will continue doing so, providing many years of extremely enjoyable paddling.
Very good and stable kayak. I use it for cruising and fishing. Only complaint I’d say I have is lack of storage. Other than that, I love it !
I bought the Axis to replace a Kestrel 120. What a huge difference. I LOVE the hull design. This boat turns like a dream, or drop the skeg and it tracks great. It honestly reminds me of a 9' boat. The skeg design allows you to easily get rocks and mud out. I have another skeg boat and it is horrible for this.
I'm not sure what Dagger was thinking when they built the seat. If I can find a set that will fit this boat I will replace it. The stock seat is flimsy and not well designed. Things I don't like..The seat back is way above the coming. If you are using a skirt it traps water against you. I did modify my seat a bit but it still is above the coming. The back also inhibits you to do a proper stroke, upper torso rotation. The seat back locks your lower back in position. The seat bottom frame looks really flimsy and I don't see it lasting long. It is designed to flex and support your legs but I think they made it too flimsy. I owned a Dagger Mamba 8 and would love to put that seat in this boat.
The stiffener that runs down the middle traps every little bit of dirt that gets in the boat. There is no good way to clean it out. I thought about taking it out and drilling a few holes in it for that purpose. But of course it is a total pain to get to the 4 bolts that hold the seat in. I finally gave up.
I bought it in the Molton color pattern. Love it but hate it. The few times I have paddled it I have came back with bits of the outer coating gone. It looks like the outer coating is sprayed on after the hull is molded. It is rough in texture and doesn't seem to be too durable. It will look like hell shortly but most do.
All in all I do love this boat but I think Dagger fell short with the seat. Change that out for something better, or at least a back band style, and the rest is minor.
I use this kayak mainly on Ozark streams such as the Current River and Jacks Fork. I did a lot of research and the axis 12 won out over the WS Pungo 120 and 14 footers such as the Carolina. I like this boat because it tracks well with the retractable skeg, great storage for an overnighter, and the more aggressive cockpit for shedding water.
This boat also is very maneuverable due to its hull design and length. Will handle class II no problem and will handle those tight turns on the streams I float. Love this boat....be aware the storage area is big for multi day trips if you use ultra light gear...not if you use standard gear so keep that in mind.
The drop-down keel keeps us on track in all open water and the ability to raise it allows us to navigate Class I rapids and shallow bayous with aplomb. Anyone looking for a stable, yet quick and maneuverable kayak will be happy with Dagger's Axis 12.0.
All I can say is, "WOW"! There are so many comforts and design features that I love with this model.
We love the stability and the ease of maneuverable that this kayak offers, especially since we do not have the experience of kayaking. This kayak is made from polyethylene plastic that is very strong. With the combination hull and retractable skeg, this is a great kayak to maneuver just about anywhere. You will love the roomier cockpit, adjustable padded seat and leg braces that allow you to travel in comfort every time.
We would recommend this model to anyone and everyone…You can't go wrong with this one!
Anyhow, after about a solid month of shopping around, I settled on the Dagger Axis 12. I live in Michigan, which has a great diversity in water: great lakes, rivers of all sizes and temperaments, and tons of inland lakes and swampy areas. I love to explore, so having a Kayak that could handle all of this was what I desired - and I genuinely feel that I made the best choice. Have taken it out on 20-30 trips in a matter of a few months.
The Axis turns on a dime, no more than a few strokes, with the skeg retracted. And really, the tracking is absolutely excellent for a rec boat with the skeg down. It's also surprisingly fast - maybe not so much as my GF's hurricane santee or a 14ft+ boat, but its cruise speed is great, which can be attained with only a few strokes. The Kayak is a bit shaky initially, but the secondary stability is excellent. I have yet to tip my kayak.
I've taken it down class 1 and 2 rapids with ease and it is a charm to handle through rougher patches of water. With more skill, I'd consider taking it down class 3 with a skirt (which I purchased). I took the Kayak out to paddle around Belle Isle (Detroit) on a day with much rougher waters than normal. 2-2.5 foot swells with the occasional 4 footer from barges... it was definitely beyond my skill level at the time, but completely exhilarating. I also didn't have a skirt at the time, so I ended up turning back after a few hours cause I was starting to take on water. I was super happy with how the kayak handled it though. I've yet to take it on the great lakes yet, but my Belle Isle experience should be some what similar. Been mostly taking it down the many wonderful rivers and inland lakes of Michigan, for which it performs wonderfully. I've done a handful of overnighters and have had plenty of room for necessary gear. It would be tough to go longer than 2-3 days, unless you go pure backpacking food. I do plan on Kayaking to the Manitou islands next year, so we'll see how it holds up on a 3-4 day trip.
The only downsides are that I find the seat a tad uncomfortable - discomfort in my lower back, likely caused by unfamiliar pressures from my legs and a weak core. But the pain has begun to alleviate, albeit slowly, as I have continued kayaking. A lumbar pad has helped immensely. The front and back handles, while well made, are not designed for greater stresses (don't use them to strap your kayak down for additional security while driving through a storm, they will break and it will be terrifying... very rookie mistake). Anyhow, that was my fault. I've heard the spring in the drop down skeg wears out after a while, but that has yet to happen. I also wish it had flotation in the front, nothing a purchased float bag can't fix, though.
In conclusion... if you need a truly versatile rec boat, something on the upper end that can handle great lakes, rivers, basic whitewater, and inland lakes, then this is a boat you should absolutely consider. I have extremely satisfied with the purchase. The only reason I am knocking off a point is for the seat - and that's only because I have experienced the wonder that is the Pungo seat.
I have three other kayaks, including Hobie Revo 13 and a Sea kayak, the Axis 12 gives them all a run for their money, its easy handling, comfy, has good cruising speed, excellent stability, looks great.
This is my first Dagger kayak and I will have no hesitation buying a Dagger again, excellent build quality. All in all, it's a very nice kayak, good all-round, great value for the price. I do recommend it wholeheartedly.
Basically, Dagger hit a home run with this boat. Tracking is okay with the skeg up, while maneuverability is excellent -- not as good as my whitewater boat of course, but decent. Tracking with the skeg down is awesome, and the skeg itself has never clogged up on me, even when I slide through mud. This boat is well-engineered, and the hull design is a work of art and science. It's a big boat that performs beyond all expectations.
Primary and secondary stability is very good, with a very comfortable adjustable seat that allows for eskimo rolls and has adequate behind the seat storage where I usually keep a foam style paddle float and rescue/tow bag, the center tunnel has bungies for a liter sized bottle.
I did add the two specific Harmony float bags in the bow and the thigh braces; the stern hatch seals well in all weather. I have other kayaks, and think the product delivers as advertised by Dagger. I would have preferred to pay a little more for a front bulkhead and hatch to make it more versatile and help reduce bow rise when loading the stern hatch compartment.
A great mutli-purpose play boat for calm or light winds that handles moderately turbulent water well
We have taken our Daggers on the bay, we have cruised around the beach, we have done a few river trips (no big rapids). This week we are going on a 3 day kayak-camping trip in the Saco river in NH, and so far it seems we'll be able to take all of our gear in them.
The only thing I wish our boats had is a front dry storage area, but the rear one is much larger than it looks and can take a lot of gear and supplies.
It is a very nice boat, great value for the price, I do recommend it.
The cockpit is roomy, I'm 220ish and I didn't feel cramped. There was plenty of room for adjustment for the foot braces as well. I would add a spray skirt or cover though as I managed to ship a fair amount of water past the drip guards on my paddle into the kayak. Probably just poor newbie paddling technique!
Overall we are very pleased with all aspects of the kayak and would choose the same model if we had to do it all over again.
With the skeg down, it tracks like an arrow, very useful on a larger lake with a rear-side wind. The large cockpit makes it very easy to come in and out even for larger paddlers. It also comes with a very comfortable seat and plenty of room for the legs. The hatch lid is tight and totally leak-proof.
My wife and I have used it on flat water, small and large lakes. My wife loves it because she feels very secure and it is so easy to control. I have used it on Class I and II rapids and again it handles very well. My only word of caution would be to add a flotation bag up front; otherwise if you capsize the nose will quickly dive down. In a rapid this can result in causing damage to your boat and on flat water it will facilitate recovery. Mind you that on flat water if you wear a spray skirt and know how to brace, it becomes very difficult to capsize considering how stable the boat is.
In short, we are fully satisfied; I can only recommend this kayak very strongly.
Specifics:(1 being lowest performance, 5 the highest)
Stability - 5
Seat comfort - 5
Skeg - 5
Weight - 5
So it pretty much aces my test. Dry Storage..It's my first kayak but I don't see how any other kayak could have much more dry storage space unless it was longer than 12ft. The lid to the dry storage is pretty hard to get off and on until you get used to it, it kind of breaks in.( I've only opened it 3/4 times).
I would TOTALLY recommend this kayak to everyone, great boat.
It is nearly impossible to express just how much I really love this boat. It is faster than I'd hoped, and I can almost keep up with my wife in her Tsunami 120, a sleeker speed demon of sorts. Plus, the skeg is amazing. As advertised, if you drop it, you're going to paddle in a straight line. As a point of comparison, I'd also tried out other beginner boats such as a Pungo 120, a Pamlico 120, and a Perception Zydeco. Why anyone would purchase one of those over this sweet Axis is beyond me, but then I suppose others have their own needs. But all of those above felt and maneuvered like tanks, often veering to wherever they wished, while this one just makes every stroke a joy.
I should also mention that it has some pretty nice storage solutions. The deck bungees are great, obviously, and I really like the mesh on the bow, but it's the rear storage compartment that won me over. It doesn't look like much, but last weekend I stuffed a soft cooler full of drinks, fruit, and sandwiches - and ice - in it, and there was plenty of room for at least one more, plus something else. I think I could camp for a week out of it - maybe only three or four days, but certainly it holds more than I'd expected.
Finally, though, I should mention that I am a really large person - width wise, that is. I am 6' tall, and I weigh in at 330. There is room to spare in the cockpit, which is great as I really hated the wide open cockpits in the other boats I'd tried. But this one fits me beautifully, and it's not too tight a squeeze to get into or out of. It's pretty simple, actually. And I also suspect that once I lose some more weight, I will actually be able to keep up with my wife in her boat, but in all, I could not possibly be happier with my purchase. I hope this boat lasts me forever; although, that may be tough as I intend to use it A LOT!
The Axis is just what I was wanting. It handles small rapids without a problem. I've had it on class II, and stayed dry. And on flat water with the skeg down, it tracks well, actually better than the Perception Prodigy 12.
I am not sure the company claim "beginner" is accurate, as a rec boat with full keel may feel a bit more stable primarily - the Axis does hold its own, but more so on secondary stability I think. The hull is a sort of V/U hybrid shape that gives the best of both without limiting the design (where the crossover comes in).
If you can only have one boat I think you would be very happy with the Axis - I am, but I knew what I wanted going in! I have flat water boats and river rigs, I wanted something that I could travel with and do both pretty well instead of bringing two boats that do separate things very well. I wouldn't expect the 12 footer to bomb down some III/IV water - especially rocky, but anything less would be a-OK.