Catalyst 12.8

by  Dagger

This Product Has Been Discontinued

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Catalyst 12.8 Description

The Catalyst 12.8 is a kayak brought to you by Dagger. Read Catalyst 12.8 reviews or submit your own review to share with the paddling community. Check out a few other kayak recommendations below or explore all kayaks to find the perfect one for you!

Catalyst 12.8 Reviews

Read reviews for the Catalyst 12.8 by Dagger as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

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I have had my 12.8 since…

Submitted by: paddler521893 on 7/2/2019

I have had my 12.8 since around 2001 and I love it! I take it on river cruises, 6 foot swells in the ocean, lakes and class 2 rapids some class 3 if not narrow. I do not have a rudder on mine and it does great. I can also balance standing up on it because it is so steady. No issues with the sun or long trips tied up either. It is still in great shape. If they still made them I would buy another one for my family.


I tried out my friend's…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/22/2008
I tried out my friend's Catalyst the other day and thought it was overall a pretty decent boat. It tracks pretty for my light weight (145 lbs.) and is pretty fast as well. I'm not sure if it would make a very good beginner boat, however since my other friend tried it out who had never kayaked before and capsized it within a couple of minutes. Also, he was zigging and zagging quite a bit since he weighs about the same as me. However, the boat stayed very buoyant after it was filled at least halfway with water. Also, was hard to empty it (couldn't find drain plug if there was one). I would recommend this boat to someone who has at least a little kayaking experience but not sure its worth the money for a new one. Otherwise it seemed pretty stable to me and felt pretty good. I think if it were mine though I would outgrow it pretty quickly since its not very versatile (flatwater mostly) and not really very fast. Maybe it's better with a heavier paddler?

I have had my 12.8 for a…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/26/2006
I have had my 12.8 for a year. I have had it lakes and a deep slow moving river. It will not perform in class 2 water. I have the rudder and this makes chop a breeze. I had a problem with hull deformation when strapped down too tightly in the roof cradles. Sun wouldn't take it all out - as the website said it would. I will try hot water next. This is a great kayak. Like an old friend. I think it is for a small to midsize paddler. My husband is 6'3" and although thin, he is too big for it. Sometimes I feel like the hull sticks to the water. I am chomping on the bit to go faster and am upgrading soon. Very stable boat - both primary and secondary. Great both for a beginner to intermediate level.

I have been using that boat…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/6/2005
I have been using that boat of a little less than a year now. Overall I like it but it is not perfect. All reviewers like the rudder and I almost purchased one but frankly, even in windy conditions, you do not need it once you know how the boat reacts to your strokes. It is very stable, but actually a little too much as it does plow water, I would like it faster on flat waters. It handles strong currents but white water is not an option, the boat will not turn fast enough and has a tendency to overturn, a lot of anticipation is needed. Experienced white water paddlers would probably handle it better but Dagger gives it a low grade on white water anyway, they did not cheat. The bottom is a little too flexible and the boat may loose its shape after being strapped for hours of driving. It recovers after a few hours exposed to the sun but when arriving at the put-in, you do not have hours to expose the bottom of the boat. The bulkheads are waterproof on my boat.

This is a great boat. I've…

Submitted by: mmaniaci1 on 6/29/2005
This is a great boat. I've finally found a boat that will allow me to take my 57lb pup Tia along for the ride.

Earlier this year after…

Submitted by: paddler231099 on 5/26/2005
Earlier this year after losing a lot of weight (18Kg - 40lbs) I decided that I needed to do something to keep it that way. I thought paddling might be the answer because my 50+ body isn't up to anything high impact. I bought a small sit on top (Dagger Hula - I think it's sold as a Perception Aloha in the US) because I wasn't confident about a sit in boat and it's easy to slide off a sit on. It wasn't long before I was hooked and getting withdrawal symptoms if I wasn't paddling every day either in one of the local man made lakes (Canberra - Australia) or in the blue Pacific near our beach shack.

While the little sit on was great fun in the surf and very stable, it was hard work on flat water and a very wet ride. With the approach of winter I wasn't happy about being so wet and didn't want to stop paddling. As I could only afford (or at least justify) having one boat I started looking for something that was good for fitness paddling and flexible enough for a bit of day touring and maybe the odd overnighter. I finally decided on a Catalyst 12.8 with rudder (mostly because the 13 isn't yet being imported into Australia and the 12.8 only comes in with rudder attached).

I picked up my Cat 3 weeks ago and have been out in it for at least an hour a day since in all sorts of conditions, from the inky black stillness of the pre-dawn on our local lake to 1.5 meter swells with 20 knot winds on the coast. While still very much a beginner paddler with plenty to learn I find this boat absolutely fantastic and very forgiving.

Like all the other reviews I concur that the rudder is a godsend when the wind picks up as the boat tend to weathercock pretty badly but the rudder tames that problem. The boat is very forgiving and stable and compared to the Hula (not much of a comparison) the speed is blinding.

Paddleability is excellent and while it takes a bit more to turn it than the 7ft Hula it is still very maneuverable. The seat is very comfortable even during extended paddle sessions and the storage compartments are fairly watertight although I have had water (not enough to be a great concern) in both when I swamped the boat a few times in the surf zone.

The only problem I’ve had at all is getting out in the surf with the spray deck my dealer first sold me. It really didn't suit the boat at all. It was a nylon and gortex thing that sagged a bit and the cord in it wasn't thick/strong enough to grip the coaming when any water ponded in it, so when I went out through the surf the first bit of wash over the deck ponded and cracked the seal on the skirt and the next lot of wave wash flooded the cockpit which caused it to wallow and broach. The boys at the dealer swapped it over for a similar deck, but with a zip up entry and changed the cord for some mid thickness shock cord. They also gave me a kid’s blow up beach ball to stick between my knees on the way out to hold the deck up - and voila problem solved.

I would have given it an 11 out of 10 but the option wasn't available.


This review is coming from a…

Submitted by: palletace on 2/23/2005
This review is coming from a 300 pound ex-semi pro football player, this boat holds me and I am very comfortable except for my knees which have no cartilage left but the addition of some knee pads (the gel type) solved that problem. Hopefully I can leave some of those pounds on the water. With the bow compartment empty it does bounce when hit by waves but with the camping gear stowed in there I actually think it tracks better. My wife and I bought a pair of these at Mountainman in Old Forge NY on September 20 last year and did not put them away till mid November hitting several Adirondack lakes and rivers. The rudders are awesome we paddled 5-6 miles up the Moose River and coasted back with very little paddling. Portages are quite easy with or without wheels, the seat has an air pump and is quite comfortable even on longer trips. This is a great kayak to start out with for anybody.

My wife and I bought this…

Submitted by: paddler230871 on 11/10/2004
My wife and I bought this boat after a lot of research and contemplation. These are our first kayaks and our introduction to a sport we are now very addicted to. We have paddled this boat in marsh, The Great Salt Lake and various big lakes in Canada and Northern Montana (yet to take it in the ocean but will soon). We have paddled it in waves on a large lake and it handled them fine. It tracks well with the rudder down and is stable and fun to paddle. We are planning on taking these boats to The Sea of Cortez this winter and a multi day trip soon. We would recommend this boat to anyone looking to get involved in the sport, who wants a boat they can do a variety of trips in.

My wife Jan and I are…

Submitted by: paddler230747 on 8/20/2004
My wife Jan and I are experienced small boat and blue water sailors, but novice kayakers. A few years ago we sold our cruising boat and Kevlar sailing dingy and found ourselves longing to be back on the water. Last summer after paddled friends Arcadia 12.6' kayaks for a week on a lake in Michigan, we were smitten. Months of research followed as we looked for the right kayaks to fulfill our water needs. Our goals were (1) reasonably priced cross-over recreational/touring boats, (2) modest in weight, (2) easy to store, (4) about 25" wide, (5) with a comfortable cockpits and seats suited to our near 60 year old bodies. At 5’2”, 120 lbs and 5’11”, 195 lbs respectively, we hunched that we would need two different boats. We paddled many. The Carolina 14.5 was a favorite for its comfortable cockpit and ease of paddling, but in the end longer and heavier than we wanted. After much debate, we settled on two Dagger Catalyst 12.8 kayaks with rudders from After four excursions in 10 days we are very happy with our choice. At 45 lbs the boat is easily stored hanging one above the other on the inside of the garage. From there they are easily lifted onto the van with the aid of Hully Rollers into Landshark Saddles. The cockpit and seat are similar to the Carolina; easy to get into, sit comfortable and let you get “locked” into the boat. Thigh braces would be a welcome addition. Combined with Werner carbon bent shaft paddles these boats are fun and fast. Initial and secondary stability are just right for us as we lean into turns. The rudders are a big plus, especially in cross-winds on the Willamette River that is our current venue. Due to our limited kayaking experience we rate this boat a "9". If your goals are similarly to ours, the Catalyst 12.8 is definitely worth trying.

After reading many reviews…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/5/2004
After reading many reviews from this website and talking to countless number of sales associates I made my purchase off of their recommendations. I’m 5’10 215lbs, and I find this kayak to be very roomy comfortable and lots of storage space. I am new to the sport of kayaking and before I bought my dagger, I had never been in kayak. I found it to be a little wobbly at 1st but after 30 minutes on the water I began to feel comfortable.

I have been out in this kayak 9 times in the 3 weeks that I have owned it. I have been in 3 foot waves going with and against the waves. My only complaint is that it was taking water over the bow and I didn’t have my bilage pump or sponge to get rid of the water. However it tracked like a dream. I have also been in rivers and streams and have floated in less the 8 inches of water. This boat will turn on dime however you have to be careful not let the back end get away from you that is a very easy way to have water rush in over the side of the cockpit since the boat sits low to the water.

I plan on taking a 3 or 4 day trip camping along the river banks this boat has plenty of storage and with the air/gel seat, extremely comfortable for long days on the water. (I’m writing this review after being out on a river for 5 hours paddling up/downstream)

While practicing my entry technique after flipping the kayak I tested the buoyancy and after filling the cockpit with water I was able to sit and still stay afloat. It was hard to control and go straight, but it didn’t sink and that is what I was worried about.

If you are you looking for “The Boat” not ‘a good first boat” then I recommend this kayak without thinking twice. I am very happy and look forward to getting many years of service out of it.

Feel free to email me with any questions. Happy kayaking.


In my quest for a light…

Submitted by: paddler230491 on 4/5/2004
In my quest for a light day-touring kayak I demo'd this boat. So these are my comments from a 2.5 hour paddle.

Sitting in the boat I felt immediately comfortable. The seat is very pleasant, with the pump-up back. The cockpit is wide, with little place to brace your knees. Initial stability felt excellent, and I never pushed it to try the secondary.

For the first 30 minutes or so I paddled with the rudder up. In a stiff cross-wind the boat wanted to turn into the wind, and it kept me busy trying to track it straight. It is nicely maneuverable with the rudder up.

I didn't feel the rudder was an "option"; for my skill level in that wind it made a huge difference when I finally got it wet. Suddenly the boat tracked like it was on rails and my job got a lot easier. The rudder is highly recommended in windy conditions.

The boat was slower than I expected. I thought it would be at least as fast as the Necky Manitou; the GPS said otherwise. This boat does plow through the water a bit. Dagger advertises this kayak as a boat that "thinks it's a touring boat". I'm not convinced myself.

The kayak really slapped through the chop. It didn't cut through it at all; rather the bow would rise up then fall down with a splash. Heading straight into the wind this motion all but killed any forward speed, and the splashes made me rather wet to boot.

Wondering if I was imagining all this, I went for a another paddle on the Manitou right afterwards. Sure enough it cut right through the chop and paddled much faster.

I suspect the Catalyst could be a very decent "crossover" river / lake boat. The maneuverability with the rudder up would be good on a river. And the fore & aft hatches would be great for camping-gear storage. Unfortunately that's not what I'm looking for (no river paddling for us, for the most part), so the slapping in the chop and the relatively slow speed were point deductions for me.

Overall, a nice boat to paddle, but a bit too slow in the open water for my taste.


The first time I went out in…

Submitted by: paddler230489 on 3/29/2004
The first time I went out in this kayak I knew it was just what I had been looking for.It's stable,but not over stable to the point where it does'nt perform.The wind was blowing at twenty miles per hour out of the northeast,and it cut through it no problem.The optional rudder was a real plus in this situation.For it's stability it is still suprisingly fast.The dual density hatch covers work great!Compared to other kayaks I have tried, the seat system is the most comfortable I ever saw.The pump up style backrest really makes it a comfortable ride on the lumbar area of your back.
Catalyst 12.8