Additional thoughts: I reviewed this boat a few years ago and have a few additional comments.
First of all, I STILL prefer this as my Default Kayak. It is small enough to get into places the larger boats cannot such as that maze to reach Island Lake on the Colorado River. I made it through while the longer boats waited in the current for me to explore and return. And it is large enough to carry whatever I need with a large stern hatch opening.
I have taken this down the Colorado River and Apache Lake and such on any number of trips from day-trips to week-long camping events and it hauls what I need easily and even with 172# of gear plus me, it performs well.
I have since purchased a Perception Carolina-145 and a Current Designs Whistler-145 for extended camping trips for only one reason, and this is the one failure of the Dirago... The Dirago is NOT made to paddle upriver against the current. Downriver, no problem at all. So I needed a longer & narrower boat to paddle up the Colorado.
Even when I take a group on a lake, I let my paddle-buddies use the Carolina and Whistler as I prefer the Dirago.
Frankly, I have treated this boat terribly and made many mods to the thing and STILL, it paddles well and remains my favorite Kayak.
note & disclaimer: tis review refers to the older Dirago-12 and not the newer ones.
A while back I reviewed my Carolina and after a number of trips, here are a few additional thoughts.
Once you get used to the tippiness, it paddles well. I had no trouble with wind or waves or wakes though my dog tended to move from bow to my lap when the boat rocked.
It is a fast boat, even loaded with all of my camping junk! Able to keep up with the longer boats if I push it, easily able to keep up if they don't push it. It goes upriver easily and although turns like a truck, once you learn to anticipate, that problem vanishes.
Like me, my daughter finds the cockpit to be tight and we both wish for a larger one. If you like spray-skirts, the small cockpit is good.
The big thing is the thin hull which leads to oil canning.
I had to add sliders onto my storage racks to prevent warping and when I reach the put-in on a hot or even warm day, my saddles cause a deformity in the hull that takes a while to pop out. I don't really care but some people do.
For someone used to a smaller boat and looking for a longer boat for longer camping trips, it is a good upgrade.
For someone used to a better boat, this would be a step down. I intend to keep this boat as a loaner once I find an affordable Tsunami 14 which is my dream boat.
At 8" it fits through my 9" hatch so I can carry the thing. And with the curved and sloped sides, I can cook quite a lot of stuff. (Ever try to get a fried egg from that 4" straight-sided lid they call a mini-frypan in smaller systems? You need size and slope in a frypan)
Yes, it is large and bulky.
Yes, you need to buy the pot support.
Yes,you NEED to remember to remove the flux-ring cover BEFORE you cook.
But when you consider the advantages of a real frying pan in which I can cook almost everything I need, that bulk problem vanishes.
There are a few things I did to mine.
I took the plastic lid from an icecream container, punched holes along one edge with a leather punch and now have a cutting board, a strainer and a cover for the frypan all in one. (I sent this suggestion to Jetboil) I dislike the Jetboil cutlery so added the MSR folding spoon and spatula which stores inside my frypan. Plus the lid I made keeps the frypan clean. I also bought a second folding spoon so I can drill holes in the thing for a 'slotted' spoon.
I tossed in a small butane lighter with extended flame nozzle in case my igniter fails. You can buy these to be refillabe at RV places.
well, Jetboil has made a 10" frypan with straight sides. This is a bad idea on so many levels that counter the advantages of the 8" I describe above. I bought the S2S X-pot and found that it nests with my frypan so I can actually have a cooking pot. I sent the suggestion to Jetboil that they make a folding silicon pot with fluxring to accent their system and replace their large bulky pot. yes, these cons do not refer to the frypan but are relevant.
Bottom line, when I cook, I cook for me and so I don't need a 1.5 liter pot for my single meal. II can easily cook anything I am going to eat in the Jetboil Frypan from a fried egg on bagel to a Knorr pasta meal for one.
The Jetboil 8" Frypan meets all these needs.
The X-series is a solution to a major problem, bulk! Although a kayak can haul an obscene amount of gear, all that gear must fit through a 9" hatch! AND that gear must pack into a long and narrow area AND share that space with other gear. For cooking, you are generally forced to use those tiny pots that won't cook even a single meal, much less enough for a hungry paddler or family which requires a larger pot that won't fit through your hatch. The S2S X-pot solves this by collapsing into a flat area into which you can store a S2S folding bowl and mug. I manage to fit my X-Pot into my Jetboil frying pan and haul the entire cooking system: fry pan, pot, bowl and mug in a bag that is 8" across by maybe 2" thick. A bag that size easily fits flat against my bulkhead taking up little room. This plus my Jetboil Flash does everything I need or want on a trip with a minimum of space.
The system is far from perfect. From reading the reviews and personal experience, one gets the impression the S2S rushes their gear into production without fully field-testing the stuff. Jetboil is wonderful in that they not only made their systems work well, they listened to their customers and fixed any problems which is why the current igniters are gen-3 and you can buy a half-dozen sizes of pots that all fit the same burner. S2S tends to ignore the customer suggestions and you hear the same problems over years of reviews.
Any x-series mug, bowl, pot, etc folds down to maybe an inch thick which makes for excellent storage. Many of the x-series nest with no added bulk. I can nest my mug and bowl into my pot with no added bulk and ma told that I can add a second bowl and second mug in the same area. If you respect the marked flame-line on the x-pot, you will have no problems with melting the pot. S2S has a free PDF to instruct you on this. Read it!
I can use my X-pot on my Jetboil if I add the pot-support which fits inside my Jetboil pot. This expands my cooking abilities to virtually anything I can consider. Jetboil Flash, Jetboil Fry-pan and S2S X-pot is the only thing I now haul. Properly used, they are compatible.
CON: The x-pot lid sucks.
It cracks easily and S2S seems unwilling to fix the problem. Many people complain that food odors are retained by the silicon and never fades. Some people complain that the folds tear easily. I never saw this in the ones I own and it may be a problem with one of their factories cutting corners. Some people complain that the rigid ring on the mug and cup breaks. I know mine did so I superglue it every year or so.
STUPID: Many of the complaints I put down to misuse. You use the stuff camping, of course it will attract dirt. There is raised marking inside, of course those will take a bit more cleaning. Deal!
People complain that they melted their x-gear in the microwave. The stuff is made for camping! Use it for its intended use people. People complain that they melted their x-gear on a campfire or Coleman stove. Read the instructions! Only the X-pot and X-kettle are made for a stove and right on the bottom is a drawn ring and a warning to keep the flame inside that circle. I do and never suffered any melting. There are a lot of stupid people out there who misuse the gear and blame S2S for that misuse which is unfair to the company.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I own the x-cup, x-mug, x-bowl and X-pot with a 75% failure rate. The bowl will not fully fold. The rim on the mug cracked, the lid-holder on the pot tore. I fixed the pot and mug with some superglue which works and I consider repeated yearly repairs to be no different than repairing a bent tent-pole or replacing stakes or any other regular maintenance on my gear.
Properly used, the gear solves the problem of bulk. I use it because S2S is the only company that can do this and it is compatible with my Jetboil. But when you pay $15-42 for a folding bowl, you expect it to fold. When you pay $12-45 for a mug, you expect it to NOT crack and when you pay $60 for a pot, you expect the lid and holder to survive. I just wish S2S would be more understanding when addressing the concerns of their customers.
Will I continue to use the X-system? yes. I can live the the problems because the system DOES pack away nicely and because the X-system DOES make my life easier.
It's a great item so long as you remember to prefilter, backflush and avoid freezing the thing.
So when you read the reviews, even here, the only real complaint is problems with the igniter. The Gen-1 igniter had problems. BUT, Jetboil would replace that igniter for free. I have the Gen-2 igniter and in all the years, it has failed exactly once.
People complain that the burner can only boil so the gen-3 burner actually has a simmer setting! Cooking in that tall-thin pot is still a problem but the mini-mo is shorter and wider to fix that and the Jetboil frypan works well.
If you have igniter problems, contact Jetboil and get the newer igniter, they are simple to replace with a small screwdriver and problem solved.
Packing was simple, toss my gear into two waterproof duffles, toss one in the bow and the other in the stern. A half-size ice chest fits behind the seat and a 3-gallon water can under the seat. With the capacity of that boat, I was able to haul enough gear to camp in comfort while all the kayakers were struggling with space for their gear. I fit 5 interlocking foam (dance) pads on the bottom to keep my dog and my knees happy and used those pads between my tent and the rocky ground so was very comfortable. It is amazing what you can pack in a canoe over a kayak.
We did hit weather after a few days so I spent those days kneeling to keep my center low. Still, even with a bean wind, the Pack tracked well and I had no problems keeping on course. It feels tippy but never gave me any real concern.
Again, the more I use this boat, the more I love it!
Later I bought the Sumo pot to boil enough water for a family.
Still later I bought the Frypan as no backpack pot has the size or shape to decently fry eggs.
Con: it does take longer for the Sumo to boil water. You need to get your meal ready before you start the Flash as it will probably boil the water before your meal is ready. You do need the tripod pot support under the fuel can. The thing is tall and narrow. Jetboil needs to make a cover for the Frypan so you can carry utensils inside.
Pro: It boils water well! the entire stove system fits into the pot and the Flash fits into the Sumo pot which makes hauling the set easy. Even the Sumo fits through any kayak hatch I have so packing is easy. The Frypan needs a larger hatch to fit but I manage. If you only boil water, clean-up is simple.
With all those add-water hiking meals out there and the numerous websites to give more add-water foods, the Jetboil is perfect!
The Pack dropped maybe an inch with all that extra weight but once we got it trimmed, all went well and we got the stranded fisherman to the marina safely.
Yes, the Pack has exceeded all my expectations, the only thing left is to do a week down the Colorado River living out of the boat
Ok, negatives, the cockpit is small. After dealing with the 'fat-boy' cockpits you find on all rec-boats, getting into and out of the Carolina was a chore. Eventually I learned the skills but....
Second was the boat was a bit tippy! But that is to be expected and it didn't take me long to get used to it so another Colorado trip caused no concern.
Also, being narrower, my sleeping pads no longer fit between the seat and sides but are now on deck.
The small round hatch caused me to rethink my packing options as I was used to the larger hatch on my OT Dirago.
And finally, those extra 2.5' didn't give me as much extra cargo as I expected when compared to my wider Dirago... and turning a longer boat made me think about a rudder-kit.
Ok, these are to be expected. so on to the good.
On the Colorado, I was easily able to keep up with the longer and faster boats. Once I realized that I could slingshot off a whirlpool, I left the rest behind.
Once I repacked for a smaller hatch, and recognized that the extra length was compensated by the narrower width, I was able to rethink my packing strategy and get my usual gear inside. I also cut a foam pad and anchored it to the bow for my Min-Pin who quickly got used to the tippiness.
Ok, the goods and bad.
Is it a good boat? Yes.
Is it perfect? No.
Does it do the job I want? Yes.
What would I change?
I'd make the cockpit a bit longer to make entry/exit easier. And make the stern hatch cover larger. Aside from that, it's a decent camping boat which is what I wanted.