Stratos 12.5 S Description
Read and submit reviews for the Stratos 12.5 S.
Stratos 12.5 S Reviews
For 850 bucks, I got a nearly…
I purchased a Dagger Stratos…
I purchased a Dagger Stratos 12.5 S through REI at the end of December 2019. I have paddled it about a dozen times on trips from 2-11 miles. This is an unusual little kayak that performs very well but may not be what most people are expecting from a 12.5 foot kayak. Despite the short length and the fact that the Stratos won an industry award for recreational kayaks - this is not what I would classify as a recreational kayak! It is really a very tiny sea kayak that is far more capable than any rec kayak and has typical sea kayak features and outfitting. True to Dagger's whitewater roots the cockpit is snug and comfortable. The thigh braces are quite aggressive and the seat and backband (yes there is a real sea kayak backband!) are comfortable and adjustable. Instead of foot pegs, there is an adjustable foot plate which gives much more flexibility in leg position and a more comfortable connection to the kayak. The hatches so far have been dry and while there is no day hatch - a 12' boat does have its limits - there is a large space between the back of the seat and the bulkhead that can be used for storage, and a molded in bottle holder in front of the seat. The skeg control is easy to use although I have not found that I need the skeg very often.
The Stratos is remarkably fast for its length; I haven't noticed much difference in cruising speed between it and my Valley Gemini SP RM. It edges very well and the primary stability isn't so stiff that edging doesn't require a ton of effort as it can in other shorter, wider kayaks. It is clearly at home in rougher water but also perfectly happy cruising around the harbor or down the river. As mentioned before I have not needed the skeg very much but it is nice to have it when needed.
Construction seems very good; the kayak weighs about 56 lb which is relatively heavy for a short boat but should indicate durability. It balances reasonably well on the shoulder to carry; just a bit heavy in the bow but not so much that the balance point puts the thigh braces on your shoulder.
Fit wise this is a tiny kayak. I am 5'7" 145 lb and usually paddle S or LV kayaks. I'm comfortable in the Stratos and fit fine even in a drysuit, but if you are not used to or comfortable "wearing" your kayak then getting into this one will be a surprise. Again, it's a sea kayak, not a rec boat. I have not been in the "L" version so I can't comment on how much of a difference there is in fit.
Really only two pretty minor complaints so far - although I love the foot plate, adjusting it requires removing two wing nuts and reinstalling them. Best done while not sitting in the boat - and would be a major pain if this was a kayak you planned to have as a loaner boat. Second, there is no place for water to drain from around the cockpit edge. I know most whitewater boaters wouldn't care or even notice this, but when cruising around in flat water it's nice to not put your elbow down in a puddle when taking a break.
So who is this kayak good for? If you need a real sea kayak, capable of handling the rough stuff but have a limit for storage length (as I do) then this little kayak will fit the bill. If length wasn't an issue, I'd get a Stratos 14.5. This would also be an awesome kayak for an older child or younger teen who wants to paddle a "real" boat.