Coming from a fiberglass Current Designs Isle, this is the first plastic kayak I've owned. Also have the Blackwater 10.5. So I think a comparison between the two Dagger yaks would be fair. I've only paddled the two on class 1 and class 2 rivers. The 12.0 is a great river kayak. It's tracks straight enough that I didn't find the need to drop the skeg (I didn't want to risk the skeg striking rocks). Only paddle technique was need to keep it straight. Very stable craft. Maneuvers swiftly enough to negotiate around obstacles. Confident while edging. Love that kayak. For even swifter maneuverability the shorter 10.5 was a lot of fun, although in straight paddling it wagged a bit more than the 12.0 so paddling technique required more focus. The 10.5 also "plowed" the water noticeably more than the 12.0.
Own 2 of these beasts 2nd hand . Great kayaks , floated lakes and the black river in missouri with them . Do belive the drop down skeg is no gimmick, tracks very well in calm deep water holes. Definitely a cruiser when it comes to the river , blows by most smaller kayaks with its more pronounced keel than other no name recreational kayaks. I have hit class 2 with it , and it did just fine. Potential areas to watch for are the seat base where the back seat rest hangs, cracks from people flopping into them when they are entering the yak . Find one for $200-300, snag it up ! And a great kayak for beginners so long as they respect the kayak and the water .
I am very pleased with this boat and will keep it. My wife has the 10.5 model and she loves it. I do wish it had a drain plug, but that was easily remedied by installing one I found online.
The smooth water line and narrow body help give the boat some speed. Most of my paddling buddies have recreational sit-on-tops and I can outpace every one of them. With the skeg down, it tracks straight as an arrow. The speed and tracking make it a great kayak for exploring the flat waters and taking day trips and picnics.
It is also able to turn pretty quickly (with the skeg up). Which makes it a good canoe to take down some flowing rivers. While I haven't done any rapids with my kayak, I imagine that with a skirt it could handle up to some class III whitewater.
My only negative comment is the comfort. While the adjustable back rest and foot pegs are comfortable, the seat of the kayak could use some more padding. I have to get out and stretch every hour or so with this boat. Granted it's probably a fairly easy fix to add a better seat cushion, I just haven't done it yet.
My favorite aspect of this kayak is the weight. It is light and easily car toppable. (if that's even a word.) That makes this kayak easy to grab for any trip on the water. And because of it's versatility, it truly can be used for any trip on the water.
I'm a complete beginner, so maybe someone with more skills can adjust to the "tipiness" better than me. And maybe it was damaged by the previous owner(s), I'm not sure. Also, the skeg wasn't working properly, so maybe that contributed to the tracking issues. I very well could have gotten a dud, but all I know for sure is that that the Blackwater 12 wasn't the kayak for me.
Now, I'm not a pro and don't have much experience, but this is a great starter kayak. The stern dry hatch is roomie, though you may want to add a little silicone to the hole where the skeg line runs through. It seems pretty snug, but when you REALLY tip the kayak, a little water does make it in. Speaking of getting wet..you will in rapids. The bow of the boat will go down under the water and bounce back up with liquid! So be ready. I don't get soaked, but if it's cold it sucks.
I've read the other reviews that the boat is terrible at tracking w/out the skeg. In a river, it helps. Lakes you can go with without. Why do you need to be in a straight line anyway? The other options, like the foot pegs, are easy to adjust. The thigh braces are nice. The seat is very comfortable and the adjustments are easy.
All in all, I'm very happy with my purchase. And I would recommend first-timers to give it a try.
On the water, boat felt very tippy at first. But after a few adjustments (seat back and foot pegs) I was on my way. Kayak always wanted to pull left for some reason. I have been paddling a long time. So it wasn't my paddling technique. Drop the skeg. Boom!!! Problem solved. Boat stays straight. Skeg up. Boat very easy to maneuver.
I had no problem with speed of kayak. Moved just fine for a 12'boat. Fished from boat with no problems. Also purchased Seals Adventure 2.5 sprayskirt - fits great on boat. Seat back must be all the way down for sprayskirt to fit properly. After about 5 hours in the boat seat become a bit uncomfortable. Yes, we got out and stretched every now and than. Seat just a bit to firm. Seat back was just fine. I sold my Perception Acadia and purchased the Blackwater. Very happy with boat. A true kayak. Handles great in fast moving currents. Nose tends to dive a little when you hit the bumps. Water comes over boat. That's what kayaking is all about. Purchase spray skirt. You'll need it.
I have a Necky Zoar Sport/rudder and a Chatam 17. This is my first Dagger. And I love this kayak!! If it wasn't for the boat pulling to the left and the seat bottom being to firm, I would give this boat a 10. Weight of boat bearable. Easy to portage and load on roof rack.
I found the Blackwater 12.0 on sale at a local shop for $700 and the shop threw in a free paddle. That sounded like a pretty good deal. I've only taken it out once, so I don’t know if I can give a really good review. BTW, I’m 5’-8” and 170 lbs. Anyway, here goes:
Looks great. Everything is nicely constructed and assembled with no broken parts. The hull is nice and stiff poly unlike some other models. The hull does have a slight dent right below the seat but it doesn’t seem to affect anything. All of the Daggers and a Perception I looked at had the same dent.
It has a nice large rear hatch with a sealed bulkhead. The hatch and bulkhead did not leak. The hatch cover is a little difficult to put back on, but it isn’t that big of a deal.
The weight is fairly good for a 12 ft boat at 47 lbs. It’s also fairly slim at around 25-26 inches wide.
The cockpit has just the right amount of room for me. The only water that came in was from my paddle. The deck is nice and high too. The seat is great. My fiancé has a Perception (LL Bean) Calypso with the same Zone seat and that partially sold me on this model. It’s adjustable and goes high enough for me to be comfortable.
This model comes with a drop down skeg that is easy to deploy. I seemed a little gimmicky but it works.
The adjustable foot pegs work just fine. They are a little high inside the boat so only my toes (size 9.5 feet) make contact. I’d rather them be an inch lower.
The boat tracks horribly with the skeg up. Well... maybe not horrible, but not great either. Tracking without the skeg is sub par for a boat of this quality/price. WITH the skeg the boat tracks perfectly.
With the skeg up the maneuverability is great. I can turn it completely around with just a few paddle strokes.
The Blackwater isn’t slow, but it definitely isn’t fast. My fiance’s 12 foot Calypso is faster and takes less energy to keep moving. If I stop paddling the Blackwater then it immediately begins to slow down. I’ve been in only a few kayaks and would say the Blackwater is a little bit slower than the average 12 foot boat in this price range.
Overall I’m pretty happy with this boat. It’s stable enough for me and tracks great with the skeg. If I could change the Blackwater then I would trade a little less maneuverability for a little more speed.
If you’re thinking about getting a Blackwater then think pretty hard about what you want first. If you want a kayak that will give you a half and half balance of maneuverability and speed then this kayak would probably be perfect. I don’t think you’d find any other kayak with an even balance of speed and maneuverability. It won’t do either perfectly well but does both pretty well.