Name: Tom_N

Most Recent Reviews

The Stratos is a kayak that can take someone from a beginner to an advanced paddler!

I acquired the Dagger Stratos L in January of this year. After starting with a Wilderness Tarpon 120 sit-on about 4 years ago, I quickly realized that I enjoyed lake touring and river running more than fishing. The Stratos is now my fourth sit-in. The others were a Wilderness Tsunami 125, a Delta 12.10 and a Perception Expression 11.5 in that order. I still have the Delta and will likely keep it indefinitely. It is fast and lightweight and visiting newbies find it very forgiving. But I am really taken with this new Stratos. I was looking for a kayak that would allow me to advance my paddling skills such as edging, draws, sweeps, sculling, re-entry and rolling. After only 2 months I am certain that the Stratos is a kayak that can take someone from a beginner to an advanced paddler!

Comfort: The backband, thigh lift straps and thigh braces are all very good and there is still ample room to pull your legs out quickly during a wet exit if needed. I am on the smaller end of the recommended weight and size for this kayak at 5’7”, 174lbs with short legs. So I fabricated some knee pads out of 1” minicell and attached using velcro glued to the hull adjacent to the thigh braces. These helped lock me in better for rolling, edging, carving and other paddling maneuvers. I really like the knee height available with the higher deck and it does not interfere with paddle strokes in the least.

Performance: The speed of this boat is surprising, especially given the amount of rocker the hull has -which makes it extremely maneuverable! While is it not as fast as my Delta 12.10, as that boat is thermoformed with a medium V keel and 10 lbs lighter! Still, I can maintain the Stratos at a touring speed of about 4mph for an hour without needing a break and for several hours at 3.5mph. My top speed for a ¼ mile was 5.5mph and I could have maintained that for at least another ¼ mile. On the rivers, I find the Stratos to be very maneuverable and quick to get up to speed from a stop. I recently had to do a rescue in which the bow of another boat was wedged under a tree root by a strong current. The paddler had to bail out and because the strong secondary stability of the Stratos, I was able to free his kayak without ending up in the drink myself. The class II rapids were no problem, but given its length, I would not consider this boat as a dedicated whitewater kayak. But don’t tell that to the guy in the video titled “Dagger Stratos 5 Falls” on YouTube. It would be perfect for rock gardening or surfing, but those environments are too far away from home for me. It really lives up to the “All Water” moniker that dagger has given it – see their website for videos. Outside Magazine gave it a “Gear of the Year” award for 2016!

“Weaknesses”: The wind blows quite a bit in this part of Texas (except when it’s 100+ degrees and we can’t seem to get even a breeze), so I often find myself paddling in 10-12 mph winds. While the amount of rocker and the shallow V make this boat very maneuverable, that also makes it susceptible to weather cocking. This might at first frustrate a beginner, until they learn to edge or correctly adjust the skeg. The skeg easy to deploy and very effective in reducing weather cocking, but I can definitely detect a drag on the speed of the boat when using it. So I mostly only use the skeg when the wind is between 30 to 45 degrees off the bow or stern. In most other cases I find that edging is more effective and efficient than using the skeg, and this boat is easy to edge with its great secondary stability.

I should also mentioned that I tried out the Dagger Alchemy before buying the Stratos. Both are excellent kayaks but the Stratos allows me to get my knees higher, which for me means less strain on my lower back during longer paddles. It is also a bit more maneuverable and stable due to more rocker and a slightly wider and flatter hull at the cockpit. I also think it is a drier ride through the short wavelength one-footers that are common on our local lakes. Keep in mind I have not had the chance yet to paddle the Alchemy and Stratos back to back, but I will update my review after doing so.

My compliments to “gchambers” who posted the first review of the Stratos (L) on I had read the other reviews of the Stratos (S) and several reviews from other sources, but his post and subsequent follow-up are what finally convinced me that the Stratos was the boat I was looking for. His credentials and attention to detail gave me the confidence to place a special order for this boat without being able to paddle one beforehand.