Amazing versatility on lakes, reservoirs, intercoastal waterways, and pond. The Axis provides excellent tracking from a height-adjustable drop skeg that keeps it moving straight. Defined chines add maneuverability, and the Axis accepts a sprayskirt and can be fitted with thigh braces for more challenging environments. The Axis 10.5 is ideal for the eclectic paddler who appreciates relaxing day trips on the lake, but might also enjoy the challenge of a running river and is unmatched in its class.
Submitted by: Terry S on 6/20/2017
The Dagger 10.5 was my first kayak. It's one of those boats that pretty much anyone can just hop into and paddle confidently. Pretty comfortable for a day trip, nice and stable, and the watertight bulkhead behind the seat gives some flotation in the event of swamping plus a reasonable amount of dry storage.
I've dragged this through numerous rock patches and it just keeps going. It's a super tough little boat and with me at 170 lbs it doesn't draft more than probably 3 inches. At one point I took this boat up a stream that got so small that by the time I dragged bottom I had to get out of the boat to turn around because the stream had gotten narrower that the boat was long.
For lake or big river paddling this boat doesn't track in the wind as well as a boat with a rudder, but the drop down skeg makes it tons better than most recreational boats. Plus, you can retract it if you are in the shallows and just keep on cruising without fear of breaking anything vital.
This boat is super stable because of it's width, but it's so short that it's still easily maneuverable. The down side is that the same features that make it so stable make it pretty much impossible to paddle it in flat water at anything much above 3 mph. it's width also make it next to impossible to roll upright if you are somehow able to get it upside down.
I say "next to impossible" because somewhere theres probably some kayak guru who can do it no problem, but I'm not him. I put it in the pool and intentionally flipped it about 10 times (really have to be motivated to get it to flip) and I was never able to roll back upright. Some of this is probably due to the absence of thigh braces, limiting the ability to get a good hip snap, but mostly it's just so wide that the stability that works for you when you're upright tends to work against you when you're upside down.
Overall, it's a great little recreational or day trip kayak for either inland lakes, rivers or creeks. I'd have no problem at all taking this over some shoals or day tripping down a river or inland lake, just don't think that this is a purpose built whitewater boat or touring kayak.
Submitted by: Janell on 10/13/2016
Submitted by: Fishnut on 6/16/2016
Submitted by: Anonymous on 3/27/2016
My initial impressions of this kayak were very good. About the only negative thing is that it seems to be a bit thinner plastic than the Otter is. Still very tough, but I'm not sure yet if it will prove to be as tough as my Otter, which has endured hundreds of miles in the back-country lakes, granite-filled rivers, and marshlands of northern Ontario.
But I LOVE this kayak. The skeg is FANTASTIC. This was the first thing I wanted to test, and it proved to be a wonderful solution to my complaint about the Otter. I did some specific testing of this feature, and it's just incredible how this little skeg can keep you straight.
Being a photographer of wildlife, this is perfect for my needs. No longer do I have to contort my body while trying to capture that moose on the shoreline while my kayak starts turning the second I put my paddle down to grab my camera. This thing just stays straight. The rear hatch seems plenty large and capable of holding all the gear which I stuffed in a dry bag behind the seat of my Otter. Deck cords seem good. The Otter had no deck cords so I can't compare. For my Otters I drilled holes in the deck and used U-bolts with strong bungee cords - a VERY strong system which held gear down in all sorts of weather and river conditions. Time will tell if the Axis cords will handle my type of use.
I have loaded my Otter for up to a 5 day river trip. I am confident that the Axis will have no problem doing the same. The paddle holder works and is a welcome addition since the Otter had nothing. May come in handy for photography. The seat is comfortable and adjustable. I do wonder though, if the lift mechanism will fail long before the kayak does.
I typically am not a fan of more moving parts than are necessary, but it is nice to place that back exactly where needed. Having said this, I never once felt I needed a more comfortable seat than what was supplied with my cheap Otters. I have spent entire days in my Otter with zero discomfort. And the Otter seat has been indestructible (MUCH thicker plastic than the Axis seat).
The other thing I'm not sure I will like is having a fabric seat. Although comfortable, once it gets wet, it stays wet. With my Otter, I could just wipe out the seat before getting in, and have a dry seat every time. Not sure how I will handle this with the Axis.
Foot pegs adjust very easily and seem to be good quality. I have never had (or felt I needed) foot pegs, so can't compare them. The grab handles are great. Love the fact that they retract. I never liked having dangling handles on my Otter. Although I didn't like having dangling handles, the handles on the Otters have proven to be VERY strong. Whenever we portage with the Otters, we never carried the kayaks. We dragged them through the rocks and woods, full of gear, with a rope tied to the handle. 10 years of doing this, same handles. Will the Axis hold up this well? Time will tell.
Stability is close to what the Otter is. The Otter is slightly more stable but not a huge difference. I had no problem adjusting to the slight difference within a couple minutes. Turning this kayak is very easy, with the skeg lifted of course. Even easier than the shorter Otter.
Shallow water paddling is very good, but not quite as good as the Otter, which is to be expected, since it's shorter and flatter. While paddling in back-country areas, you often encounter LOTS of downed trees and logs that are just below the surface of the water. Going over them with the Otter is fairly easy, as you can stick your paddles in the muck and push right over in such a short kayak. With the Axis, it's a bit more challenging, being a bit longer, but it actually slides over the logs easier than I had expected.
The bottom of the Axis sits just a bit lower in the water than the Otter so there were some logs which I normally would have cleared with the Otter, which I had to push myself over with the Axis. No big deal. Keeps it fun.
Cost of the Axis is over-priced when you consider I paid approx. $250 for my Otters. I don't see the Axis being 3 times more valuable. 2 times, yes, but certainly not 3. The plastic is no better than the Otter, which has PROVEN itself in my 10 years of use. The Otter may even be thicker and more durable.
The Otters have no features, other than being TOUGH. So the only cost difference would be in the extra features. So, the question is, are the following extra features on the Axis worth $550:
1 foot longer | Retractable handles | Deck cords | Drop-down skeg | Sealed rear hatch | Paddle holder | Padded adjustable seat | Adjustable foot pegs | Padded knee\\thigh areaAlthough this may seem like a LOT of extras, and it is, there really isn't a lot of cost associated with these extras. Most of them are mere small plastic parts with some inexpensive small-diameter bungee cord. In my opinion, these extra features are worth, at most, about $300, and certainly no more than $400, making the Axis about $150-$250 over-priced. But I do LOVE that skeg.
Recommendation: This is a great kayak for sure, and one I recommend (based on my preliminary testing and observation) for those wanting a cross-over kayak. The skeg is AWESOME. But if you are a bit tight on cash, you might find a better value from Old Town.
Submitted by: Anonymous on 10/4/2015
Submitted by: tmcblane on 9/16/2015
My biggest complaint about the Pelican was tracking. In doing a 2.5 mile trip I would end up probably doing 3 miles with corrections. I needed and wanted something better but also wanted to be able to take it on the river and mild rapids.
This crossover Kayak is perfect! When I first took it out to demo it I put the Skeg down and it went so straight that it was hard to turn with the skeg down! Raise it up and it handles like on doing a race car! I am super pumped about the weight, the size, the handling and the looks of this cool Kayak. I don't see how you could go wrong if you are a lake and mild river runner!
Submitted by: Clintonutt on 4/15/2015
I'm finding the Axis to be a great all around boat. One thing I would suggest if you want to get the most out of it, invest in the thigh braces. Really helped me make the tight turns in the rapids and makes you feel like you are part of the boat.
Submitted by: Anonymous on 7/30/2014
So, what first intrigued me about the Axis was the skeg. With the skeg down this boat tracks like an arrow. Like most recreational kayaks, the Axis is extremely stable. I lean into turns, but have never tipped the boat over. In fact, I have stood up in the boat without tipping it over. It takes some effort to turn the boat over, and I expect that a roll back will be near impossible.
I have taken the boat on trips of 8 to 12 miles and have never been the last in line. I am 5' 7" inches tall weighing around 170 pounds, and I have plenty of room. I love the adjustable foot rests. I can move the foot braces while I travel which is great for the longer trips.
This is by no stretch a touring boat, but there is a roomy rear hatch and compartment in a water tight bulkhead. I have been in 15 MPH cross winds in a six inch chop and had no problems.
This is not a fast boat, but with the skeg down, I can concentrate on my stroke and not worry about keeping the boat straight with each stroke. I can maintain 2.5 to 3.0 MPH for hours. With a snake behind me, I can crank it up to 4.0 to 4.5 MPH., but that takes some effort, and I cannot keep that up for long. I must add here that I am a not particularly athletic - senior citizen. I recently did a short paddle of five miles with an average speed of 3.3 MPH on flat water with no wind using what I thought was an easy going paddle stroke.
It is stable enough to use for nature photography and comfortable enough for an extended stay. However, I do use a couple inflatable cushions in the seat if I know I am going to be in the boat for several hours.
I love this boat. You can put it in your pocket and sail across a wet wash cloth.
Submitted by: Clintonutt on 7/20/2014
The Axis tracks straight as arrow with the skeg full down, but with the skeg in that position it is a little sluggish in turns. After playing with the skeg I found the middle position to be the proper balance between turning and tracking for my paddling. So far all of my rides have only been around an hour, but the seat is very comfortable and the adjustability is great. The footbrace system is great. It nice to be able to adjust the foot pedals on the fly.
The overall fit and finish of the Axis makes it seem like a more expensive boat. I can't wait to try it out some moving water.
Submitted by: Anonymous on 6/30/2014
Because I didn't want to spend a lot of money (and after having bought both my and my wife's kayaks on deep discounts at end of season sales last fall), I was looking at big box store kayaks. I was considering the Old Town Vapor, Perception Sound 10.5, and the Ascend (Bass Pro) FS-10. The Vapor has good reviews, but I really don't like the enormous cockpit opening. I had trouble finding any reviews on the Perception, and the Ascend is tough to find on sale. What I really wanted was a Wilderness Systems Aspire 105. With it's drop down skeg and 400 pound weight capacity it seemed like it would be the perfect boat. Perfect, that is, except for the price.
While visiting the in-laws in Vermont two weeks ago, we decided to take a drive to New Hampshire and stop in at Eastern Mountain Sports. I was happy to find that they had an Aspire 105 in stock. I thought I would take the opportunity to check it out to see if it was worth spending the extra money. The seat was very comfortable, but I just wasn't as impressed overall as I thought I would be. Then I noticed the Dagger Axis 10.5 and thought I would check it out as well. It's narrower than the Aspire, and the cockpit opening is quite a bit smaller. Even so, I could still get into it fairly easily, and once inside I liked it much better. I like being "inside" a kayak rather than feeling like I'm sitting on top, or out in the open like I felt in the Aspire. The Dagger doesn't have a "dashboard" like the other kayaks do, but it does have a really cool "console" built into the hull stiffener. I liked that feature better than the dashboard. The seat isn't as comfortable for me as the Aspire, but it's better than my Old Town and it is more adjustable. I like the leg lift feature a lot.
I was a bit unsure of buying it because I thought it would be too unstable for me, plus it is more than I wanted to spend. The Axis has a shallow arch bottom, and also some rocker front to back. It leans to one side when sitting on the ground, while the Aspire sits upright due to it's wide, flat bottom. The Axis also has a lower weight rating, so I thought the Aspire would be the better kayak for my needs. Still, there was something drawing me to the Dagger. It's has a lot of aesthetic appeal, and sitting in it just felt good.
After talking to the girl in sales, I found her to be very knowledgeable. She didn't push me in either direction, but said she thinks the Dagger would be good for my needs. She agreed that the Aspire may be a little better for the shallow water, but said the Dagger should still be fine for my application. She said the Dagger would be easier to paddle and turn, and that the stability would still good. Comparing the two designs, it was obvious that the Aspire wouldn't be as efficient or as fast on the flat water, and one of the reasons I didn't like my Heron was because I had a hard time keeping up with my wife without exerting a lot more energy than she was.
I still didn't think I wanted to spend that much on a kayak, but then found out they were having a 20% off sale, plus no sales tax in New Hampshire. That was enough to make me pull the trigger. Not a bad discount for this early in the season, and none of the box stores by me sell Wilderness Systems or Dagger kayaks. I didn't want to go all season in the Heron to wait for another fall sale.
So far I've had it out twice. Once on a big lake with little to no wind, and once down the Swatara. My first trip out on the lake made me wonder why I was ever concerned about the stability. I find it to be more stable than my Heron was, and secondary stability seems to be very good. No issues at all in the stability department. The boat is definitely faster and easier to paddle than my Heron was (at least with me in it), and I had no problem staying ahead of my wife without padding hard. It's also quieter going through the water. Tracking with the skeg up isn't bad on the flat water, and it's excellent with it down. It glides perfectly straight with the skeg down, which is a very welcome trait.
Out on the Swatara, the boat is easy to handle and paddle. The skeg is nice for the slow, deep sections between the rapids. It's no worse than my Heron in the shallow water, and might be better. I did have to portage twice, but once was because I picked the wrong line. Had I picked the right one, I wouldn't have had to. The Aspire may have been better in the shallow water, but I think more the better efficiency and better handling design of the Axis more than makes up for that. Perhaps the Aspire wouldn't have even been better in the shallow with it's wider width. Maybe it would have made it harder to sneak through the really narrow areas with scraping. Tough to say.
Overall I'm very satisfied with my decision. The Axis is very high quality for the price, and it has really nice lines and "curb appeal". The wife says it looks like it "fits" me better than the Heron and the Aspire.
The other choices in this category are the Necky Rip and the Liquid Logic Remix. The Necky just doesn't do much for me, but I've never paddled it. The Liquid Logic is out of my price range, and I don't think I would have bought it anyway due to the reviews saying it's very slow on the flat waters. I think my Axis 10.5 is the best "compromise" for my situation that is also affordable. More color options would be nice, but the Lava scheme is pretty cool. I would highly recommend it to anyway in the market for this type of kayak. The only reason I didn't give it a 10 is because I didn't paddle the other boats in the same category, so it's hard for me to say that it's the best. Perhaps it is.
Submitted by: Anonymous on 6/23/2014
Submitted by: Anonymous on 6/2/2014
At 10.5 ft and 50 lbs, the Dagger Axis is easy to load on to car top, even for those of us "vertically challenged". This is a real keeper and ACK (Austin Canoe & Kayak) customer service & immediate shipping (arrived 3 business days after order was received) makes them a 10 star kayak outfitter.
I researched crossover kayaks quite extensively and the reviews for the Dagger Axis 10.5 match my own experience. My paddling venues range from lakes to creeks to slow moving rivers and Class I & II rapids. If your paddling venues are similar, you can't go wrong with the Dagger Axis 10.5. I didn't consider the Axis 12 because I needed a kayak that would maneuver in some of the narrow creeks.
My paddling buddy and I are in our mid-60's and for price and features, this has to be one of the best crossover kayaks currently available.
Submitted by: rdjobin on 10/7/2013
Submitted by: Anonymous on 7/5/2013
I can pick it up with one hand at only 50#, it glides better than my Swifty, is only slightly slower than the 11'6", much faster than the 12'6"sot, tracks like a dream with the skeg down, and turns on a dime with it up. good seat.
After 4 not quite right ones, this is a keeper
Submitted by: Anonymous on 2/24/2013
"Do all" is a very broad term....would you want to take this boat out in the ocean, probably not! Or class 4 rapids such as the "Green River Narrows", you can but I won't be following you! But I would have no reservations taking this boat on a 15-20 mile flat water paddle. With the retractable skeg down it tracks like a 13' touring boat (I have in fact recently did a similar trek with some friends that had 13 footers and had no problem keeping up). Yet it is still short and nimble enough to tackle class 3 rapids.
It's not an ocean kayak and it certainly is no whitewater play boat, but if you are like myself and can only afford one kayak but want to paddle different waters this is the boat for you. With adjustable seating, a back hatch for ample storage, and the ability to add a skirt. This is a very utilitarian kayak. For $750 retail its a bargain. I had considered buying the 11' Zydeco for $550 to save a few bucks but in hindsight that would have been a real mistake. Though its a fun recreational kayak there is no possible way it would track like a 13' and a class 2 is the limit it could do. If you have the opportunity buy this boat!
Submitted by: Anonymous on 5/29/2012
Submitted by: Anonymous on 6/20/2011
I can't be happier with my purchase. It's too bad that upon delivery the bulkhead had pulled away from the hull. I figured it was easier to seal the thing myself rather than send it back. It was an easy $4 fix (thanks Geocel!).
Don't hesitate if you have the money.
Submitted by: Anonymous on 5/30/2011
Submitted by: Anonymous on 5/30/2011
Submitted by: Anonymous on 10/18/2010
After a few months of paddling the otters around, (and I proved my fears of kayaks being so unstable as unjustified)I decided to stroll in to our local kayak store to see what they had on display. I gazed around at the rows of boats standing against the walls while wiping drool from my chin. But... I wasn't looking to buy, only window shopping as it were. After several minutes of looking around I was heading for the door when one particular boat caught my eye. The Dagger Axis 10.5 in red. For a month I thought about that boat until I admitted to myself I had to have it. So I bought it, licensed it and set out for a nearby lake to put her in.
I found the boat to be very roomy. (The Otter forces me to curl my toes due to the low deck height. The Axis has enough room I could wear work boots in it... though I never will...)
The boat is very stable, comparable to that of the Otter and the cockpit is roomy enough for me to get in and out with very little effort. There is NOT a lot of room between the seat and rear bulkhead, but there is a little. Just don't expect to store much behind the seat. The dry storage at the stern is room enough for storing gear for a day trip or an overnighter if you pack light. There is also room in the bow to store some small things if needed.
I was impressed with the forward deck rigging as it comes with a netting of sorts. This is perfect for storing small items that would normally fall through the normal bungie rigging. It also has a console of sorts inside the cockpit with a cup holder and a tray with a couple bungies to stash small items.
The seat is quite comfortable and has an adjustable back.
When paddling the boat with the skeg in the raised position it is very maneuverable if not a little...loose(?)... But once the skeg is dropped this boat will track very nicely even in strong winds.
In all, I am very pleased with this boat and would definitely buy another. My wife being somewhat shorter than I found the deck height on the Axis to be a little more than she wanted. She said it felt like too much boat to her. I ended up buying her a Dagger Blackwater 10.5 which has a lower deck.
Submitted by: Anonymous on 8/5/2010
Not having much experience in other yaks to compare with, but I still feel these are awesome boats. I feel a little guilty that my canoe has been neglected this summer. But I would rather paddle the yaks with my wife than the canoe solo. They are definitely quicker than my canoe, and much more comfortable too. But don't worry canoe, you will still be my choice in the B-dub next summer.