Most Recent Reviews
This is a great boat. It handles extremely well for a long boat and is surprisingly maneuverable for its size. The speed of this boat is a huge asset in punching holes. It is a very secure boat and the high volume (100 gallons) along with the speed and length keep the river from pushing this boat around. One of my favorites. It does well being paddled aggressively and is also very capable of making the river a two dimensional playground. It does attainments very well. Very pleased with the boat!
I have had two greenland paddles made by Chad of Bear Traditional Kayaks in Brevard, NC. Both paddles were very different and both very good. One was a shoulderless paddle designed for play. The second was a shouldered paddle designed for long distance paddling and comfort of the grip. Bear Traditional Kayaks hit it out of the park on both paddles. Both were excellent for their intended purpose and had well thought out features that enhanced ability for the specific purpose of each paddle. I especially like the blade thickness taper on the long distance paddle. It is a very efficient paddle that allows the paddler to comfortably and efficiently cover distance. It is also great at power transfer without being harsh on the body. In other words, it is stiff where it needs to be stiff to provide great power and speed but does not beat up the joints like many composite paddles. Chad and Bear Traditional Kayaks get a well deserved and earned A+ on both projects.
Dagger Stratos Torture Test
I just paddled the Watertribe North Carolina Challenge. The event is a 90 mile race in the Neuse River and Sounds of North Carolina. The area has a nasty reputation for rough water and a small craft advisory was in effect at the time of the race. I chose to paddle the Dagger Stratos because of its capabilities in these type of conditions. The boat handled the conditions well. It actually made them fun, was confidence inspiring and fast enough to keep pace with a Nigel Dennis Explorer and P&H Capella without issue.
We dealt with 40 mph gusts and confused seas that made the top of the water a washing machine. Never once did I feel uncomfortable in the conditions. The boat was fun to paddle in these conditions and handled them extremely well.
Watertribe has an extensive list of required equipment. For more information on what we are required to carry, see http://watertribe.com/PDF/MustRead/WaterTribeRequiredEquipment.pdf. The Stratos carried all of this gear with room to spare. My drinking water supply was limited by my own perception of a need to reduce weight. I carried enough for a day and a half (5 quarts of gatorade and 6 quarts of water) with the intent of refilling water at the half way point. Once I started the event and was immersed in the rough conditions I realized I could have easily doubled the amount of drinking water and gatorade without significantly reducing performance of the boat.
There were no issues with comfort in the boat. We stopped three times in 15 hours of paddling on the first day of the event. I am able to sit comfortably and paddle in the boat for extended lengths of time. This is necessary in order to cover large distances. The Dagger has ample room to move the feet around to different positions and the seat was never noticed.
The North Carolina Challenge was a test to determine if the Stratos is capable of the 300 mile Everglades Challenge. Is it fast enough? Can it carry the weight and handle rough water? Is it comfortable enough to stay in the boat for long periods of time? The answer to these questions is affirmative. The boat is comfortable and capable of carrying the loads needed while maintaining a pace to finish a 300 mile Watertribe challenge.
I hope Confluence keeps this boat around for a long time. The Stratos is an absolute jewel.
There are three weak points. The first is the Stratos will not keep up with surfskis and racing kayaks. I was killing myself trying to run with someone in a custom John Winters designed racing kayak. We already knew top end speed was not part of the package with the Stratos and I cannot take points off the prior score of a perfect 10. The Stratos has no problem averaging 3.5 knots without the paddler working too hard. This is ample speed to keep up on almost any recreational kayak club paddling excursion.
The second weak point is water pools around the cockpit combing when washing the boat after a paddle. There is no drain for this water molded into the kayak. This is insignificant. The only reason I mention this is that the water comes off the recessed area around the cockpit combing when I pick the boat up after washing it. I get a wet shirt or pants when I pick the boat up. No big deal. It has no effect with on the water paddling.
The third weak point is the skeg makes a little bit of noise raddling in the skeg box when deployed fully. The function of the skeg is flawless. It doesn't jam and is fully adjustable. My suggestion is not to change what is working. It is a good system. The noise is not bad and it doesn't impact performance. I got used to it and don't really notice it anymore.
Weight is in the high 50 lb range. Because it is a short boat, the weight isn't very bad. It has less leverage than my 42lb 19 foot boat. The 19 foot boat can put more torque on me when lifting it to the top of the roof rack. The short length of the dagger makes the weight easy to manage.
The good points of the boat that have been discovered since the last review are it rolls like a dream, edge turns very well, is extremely maneuverable, is confidence inspiring in rough water and surfs beautifully.
This is by far the easiest boat I have ever rolled. I used too much force in my first roll and had to brace to keep from going over the other direction. It is so easy to roll this boat that it is fun to get wet. There is complete confidence in ability to roll this boat.
I paddle a twisty narrow creek and try to edge turn the entire length. This boat can do it. It is very responsive to edge turning and makes the maneuver fun.
With edging I can turn 360 degrees with 4 sweep strokes. I can turn 135 degrees with a brace turn. This boat is extremely maneuverable for a sea kayak.
I paddled in a surf zone broadside to the waves. The Stratos handles rough and turbulent waters very well. The stability and responsiveness inspire confidence and make the paddler comfortable with pushing the limits.
This boat surfs extremely well. The bow has enough buoyancy to keep from burying. The maneuverability and stability make this an extremely fun surf zone and surfing boat. It catches waves easily and rides them with confidence. When the waves break, the Stratos rarely broaches and maintains stability.
This is a very comfortable boat that handles like a dream. Despite the wet clothes from picking up the boat after washing it and the lack of top end speed, I still give this boat a perfect 10. The handling of the Stratos makes kayaking so much fun. This boat is a keeper and the design team for this boat really did a fantastic job. This is by far the most fun boat I have ever paddled.
I covered a great many miles in this boat, but unfortunately I did not know the things I know now about making a kayak handle. For example, I cannot comment on how well the boat edge turns. Back then I turned with paddle strokes and in some cross wind situations found myself paddling mostly on one side of the boat to keep her on course.
My boat had a large stern hatch and a smaller bow hatch. This boat was an extremely stable gear hauler and the hatches were large enough to easily fit a tent or other bulky items below deck.
The Chinook handled chop well and was confidence inspiring. It did tend to weather cock and could be frustrating in a cross wind or when paddling with the weather. When loaded with camping gear the boat handled a lot better.
The cockpit was roomy and there was ample room to move around and get comfortable. My one complaint was my back started hurting after a while in the seat and I could never seem to adjust the back band to fix this issue.
This was a good first boat and I would say pull the trigger on it if you can find one for a few hundred dollars that is still in decent condition.
I am very pleased with this paddle...
I am very pleased with this paddle. I have the all carbon model with a bent shaft. There are numerous combinations of material choices between shaft and blades. I will limit this review to the all carbon model as I have not paddled the fiberglass blades or fiberglass shaft models.
The bent shaft vs. straight shaft is a matter of personal preference. Some paddler like one or the other and both sides have good reason. I will not go into the shaft choices other than to say the paddle is available in both bent and straight shaft models.
I have a 230 cm paddle because of the wider boat I owned when the paddle was purchased. The current fleet of boats and my size all fall into the category of 220 cm being a better fit. The paddle is available in lengths from 210 cm to 240 cm for the bent shaft and 205 to 260 cm for the straight shaft.
The all carbon model is very light and has been durable for thousands of miles of paddling. The two piece model has a quick release splined center that allows for easy feather adjustment. The one weakness of this paddle and most other two piece paddles is salt can cake where the paddle fits together, making it hard to separate the two pieces. It is important to rinse the paddle and take it apart immediately after paddling in salt water.
The blades and shaft are stiff and very efficient with proper technique.
This is a low angle paddle that is most efficient with a short stroke that ends before the blade reaches the hip. If the paddle stroke extends too far backward, the blades lift a lot of water when raising the blade out of the water. This causes an energy loss and the later part of the paddle stroke does not efficiently add to forward propulsion.
This is not the lightest carbon paddle on the market, but it is sufficiently light, well balanced and durable. A good choice if you are looking to move up to a high performance low angle touring paddle.
The canoe is made of Polylink 3, which is a polyethelene plastic with a foam core. It is a very tough and stiff material that works well if you are able to load and unload a 75 lb canoe. If not, consider spending the money on a composite boat.
The Penobscot has a arched or v bottom profile that gives good secondary stability. As the boat heels over to one side, resistance to heeling further is increased. This is at the expense of primary stability or the feeling that the boat is not tippy when sitting flat on the water.
The bottom shape on the Penobscot causes the boat to handle well and it turns easier when edged (heeled over during a turn).
The boat has excellent tracking and decent maneuverability.
The Penobscot is a great boat when one considers the price point. This boat can easily haul enough gear for a weekend or several week long expedition.
The difference between the Penobscot and the Discovery 158 is slightly better handling and tracking of the Penobscot at the expense of primary stability. The Discovery has more primary stability and feels less tippy. That said, when the Discovery is heeled over it does not have the significant increase in resistance to heeling further that the Penobscot has.
Though there are canoes out there that are lighter, faster and more maneuverable, they are much more expensive. For this reason I give the Penobscot a 10 and think it is an excellent choice for a low budget tripping canoe.
I bought my Ocean Kayak Scupper in 1997 and have kept it in the fleet because it does certain things very well.
In the past the boat was used in on multi day flat water trips down rivers and for surfing when the waves are small.
Advantages of the Scupper are comfortable seating, good tracking, good speed for a 14 foot boat, stability and carrying capacity.
Disadvantages of the boat are lack of bulkheads, leaking hatches, lack of bulkheads, wet ride and poor maneuverability.
The boat will haul a decent amount of gear and seems to glide better when loaded with about 50 lbs of gear. The hatches are large enough to put tents, spare paddles or other large items below deck. Because there are no bulkheads to seal the compartments, all gear below deck is subject to sliding up under the cockpit area and being hard to retrieve. Gear sliding forward or aft also shifts the balance of the boat. Another disadvantage to lack of bulkheads is most gear gets wet due to leaking hatches.
One problem with the hatch design on my boat is they have always leaked. I have tried aftermarket weather strip seals to alleviate this, but the hatches are hard plastic and do not conform to the hull well enough to get a watertight seal. In rough water or surf zones, the boat takes on some water through the hatches. This gets gear wet and can be a dangerous situation if caught in rough water for extended lengths of time. The boat will flood and lose buoyancy and stability over time.
Because of boat speed and length, the scupper will catch small waves and is a lot of fun in the surf zone. Again, I have to stop after every three or four waves to drain water from the boat.
Tracking is very good for a 14 foot boat. However this is at the expense of maneuverability. This is a good boat for long trips on flat water with few obstacles to navigation.
Maneuverability is not so great. The boat has an interesting bottom shape with a round protrusion down the centerline that runs most of the length of the bottom and acts as a keel. This center protrusion allows the boat to have excellent tracking and the flat bottom on either side of this protrusion increase initial stability. The deeper centerline allows loads stored below deck to stay fairly centered in the boat. A tent fits nicely in the center section and water bottles tend to settle to the center. This keeps weight low when loaded and increases stability of the boat.
Heeling the boat is difficult because there is nothing to brace the legs against in the SOT design. When the boat is heeled it does edge turn a little, but is not extremely responsive.
The Scupper is a wet ride if the scuppers are not plugged. I sit in the water without plugs in the scuppers. The scuppers are fairly small and if the cockpit is swamped, the cockpit is slow to drain. I usually keep the scuppers plugged to avoid sitting in the water, unless I am in rough water where the cockpit is likely to flood. Because the boat sits low in the water, even small waves can wash into the cockpit if the waves hit the boat broadside. This often happens with motor boat wake.
The Scupper Classic is very comfortable, especially with the addition of a surf to summit seat that provides back support. I highly recommend the addition of this seat if you have this boat. It really makes a big difference by providing great back support. The foot positions are molded into the boat and act as foot pegs. I can change position of my feet and legs at will and this really helps with comfort in the boat for long distance trips.
The best use of this boat is covering long distances on sheltered flat water rivers. It is very comfortable, tracks well and is fast for a 14 foot boat. The scupper is not a safe boat in open water and far from shore because it lacks bulkheads and the hatches don't seal well. While the Scupper Classic is not a great all around boat, it has remained in my fleet for many years because of what is does exceptionally well.
My disco is over 20 years old and has survived a very hard life. It has spent its life stored outdoors in the sun and has run many thousands of miles of rivers from class II whitewater to flatwater rivers and lakes.
The boat is made of polylink 3. This material is a polyethelene hull with a foam core. the foam core adds stiffness to the canoe. The seats are molded plastic, but some boats have wood seats. The yoke is ash and the rails are rubber.
The polylink 3 material is extremely tough and plenty stiff for a canoe. The disadvantage is the material is heavy compared to composite canoes, but if you are able to handle loading and unloading a 75lb boat, Polylink 3 is a perfectly good choice. Exposure to sun has started to take a toll on my boat, but this is after 20 years of being stored outdoors upside down on saw horses.
The boat has a fairly flat bottom with moderate rocker. This means that the boat has a good deal of initial stability, but tends to slide a little when turned sharply. The Discovery 158 does not have great secondary stability and if leaned over too far, it does not increase resistance to further leaning. The maneuverability is acceptable. Handling is improved by the arched or slight v bottom profile on the Old Town Penobscot, which alleviates the problem of sliding during turns and provides some increased secondary stability at the cost of primary stability.
The canoe holds a decent speed when paddled tandem. We usually average between 3 and 3.2 knots on long trips. Solo the canoe paddles between 2.3 and 2.5 knots on long trips.
The disco will easily carry enough gear for a several week expedition and is a great choice for a low budget flat water expedition canoe or paddling the pond at the cabin. It will last a lifetime if stored indoors and will handle the abuse of hitting rocks, stumps or other submerged objects.
Old Town still makes some great products, and one should think very hard about the Penobscot or the Discovery 158 if looking for a durable, affordable canoe to take on weekend or week long camping trips into the wilderness.