I have great joys riding and paddling this kayak. While it is not the fastest, sleekest kayak I have paddled it provides great tracking, especially with the attached rudder system, and is stable enough to provide hours of paddling fun. I enjoy the roominess of the two bulkheads and have carried camping equipment to and from outlier camping spots. It is fairly lightweight and durable and I can easily load it onto my truck frame by myself.
The downside of the boat.
- It's heavy. I consider myself a decently strong man, and it's a chore to put in on and off the storage rack I built for it.
- With that weight comes it's barge like speed.
- My bulkheads leaked, but with Lexel, hopefully that issue is resolved.
Now the good!
- It comes loaded with features. The rudder is easy to drop and pull up, and tracks the boat like an arrow. The hatches allow for ample amounts of storage. The deck rigging is great to store anything that may be needed at hand.
- It's very comfortable. The being the seat and thigh braces which are easily adjustable and padded, to the curve of the hull which has excellent primary stability, and decent secondary. (the only time I have flipped was trying to see just how far I could edge her)
This boat is a do it all boat. I have taken it on overnight camping float trips, paddled down rivers, and on plenty of flat water lakes. A great boat that can do a bit of everything.
POSITIVES: Being 6'3" and 240 lbs (size 13 feet) the specter has more than ample room. Under the fordeck seems like a cave with room. It is not heavy and unmanageable to lift(consider my size). It has a lot of storage space and could easily carry enough gear for an extended weekend.
NEGATIVE: It is a barge, read SLOW! I have paddled wide boats before, some are faster, some give the illusion of speed, this boat is just slow and lumbering. Additionally you will need a rudder. I went paddling on a small lake, very calm, and it tracked very poorly. I did notice that, even with my weight, the boat rides high in the water. I was thinking of putting 30 pound bags both fore and aft to see if it would track better with more weight (mind you with me there would be just over 300 lbs. in the boat). With the rudder it paddles fine as a barge, you will get no where fast.
In another review there is talk about how the hull plows through the water, as opposed to riding up over the waves. Make no mistake this boat pushes the water aside as you move through it. Perhaps with some people this will give them a sense of speed. I paid $700 used for it. Next year new plastic boats are supposed to go up by as much as 30%. As such used boats will increase in value as well. I probably will sell the boat or trade it in. If you want something a little sporty, whatever that means, stay away from this boat.
The Dagger has been an absolute dream to paddle. I need to first say that you do need a rudder. The first time that I put it in, the kayak went in circles. I figured out that most of the problem was me using a paddling stroke that better suited a wide based sit on top. Once I work on my stroke, the Dagger kept a consistent line.
The seating is fantastic and I can go for about three hours before I need to stretch and get the blood going again in my legs. The cockpit is nice and roomy and I have plenty of leg room. I am five foot eleven and 190 pounds. The built in thigh pads give me plenty of control and I feel one with the kayak when I encounter large swells or small waves.
There is plenty of storage room and I plan to make use of it next summer with a few excursions down the Savannah River and Edisto river into the Ace Basin.
As far as speed, fantastic. I noticed that when I stop paddling, the Dagger keep going for quite a while as it cuts through the water. It is almost effortless paddling to get the Dagger up to speed. I took the Dagger out on a lake and found myself keep up with some small sailboats that were cruising around in a slight wind.
I would recommend the Dagger for anyone that is looking at moving up to a nice recreational kayak. The weight is bit much for lugging around, but the built in handles make it easy to carry. I can easily put the Dagger on my trailer but is a bit of a load if you have to make a long trek to the down to the water. That is the only reason that I gave the Dagger a score of 9.
Overall, fantastic kayak and handles great. I'm getting a second one for my wife as she had no problems getting in/out and locking-in her 6'2" frame.
Again, the Cayuga outperformed all in every aspect. The Dagger was a close second, but much roomier in the thigh braces for me. That is why I am giving it a 9/10. That and the only color the dealer had was Orange.
I got mine for $900 with rudder. I would recomend the Specter and the Cayuga to anyone in this price range.
As a first kayak I am very happy with its performance in maneuverability, speed, stability and comfort. I will be taking extended trips in the future and have every confidence that I will have the ability to stay out for a few days on end with ease. I read the review of the Dagger Specter 15.5 airlite and I would assume this boat is not far off from the slightly larger and more expensive model, although I do not feel as if I have had any complaints or problems with the rotomolded plastic and neoprene hatch covers...even though its easier to pull a cerveza from a dual density hatch cover. I would recommend this boat for anyone...especially for the price.