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Willow

by Dagger

Reviews

Since there are no modern reviews and I purchased an older 12'…

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Since there are no modern reviews and I purchased an older 12' Willow with rudder in 2015 I thought I'd give both an update, since these boats can still be found for cheap in classifieds, and experienced review.

Simply put, the tracking, stability, and general handling of the boat is good. Not great, not bad, and very comparable with most kayaks of similar size and design, even the more modern ones, like my wife's Perception Calypso. You're splitting hairs to find much in the way of performance differences in that regard, and the average to experienced kayaker will find the paddling experience good IMO.

I give the Willow extra points on its hatch cover. It's one of the more robust designs you'll see in a small kayak, with a rubber friction cover in addition to a solid plastic cover with two buckles. Its sea-kayakish in design and impressive. Combined with a rudder, you've got yourself a poor mans sea kayak

The kayak definitely looses points in its seat construction. Very little materials and build quality were put into the seat. You WILL need to upgrade the seat by replacing the seat or adding an add on seat system with cushions etc. I can endure almost anything but this seat becomes downright painful after about a half hour.

Finally, and almost unfairly, there is little to be gained in weight savings from this light Kevlar kayak to its modern counterparts, even in plastic boats. My Calypso weighs 38lbs. The Willow weighs 36-37lbs depending on which archived information site you reference. Basically, there's no difference. What you do sacrifice with the Willow is durability...

By now if you're in the market for a Willow pay close attention to the hull and spider cracks. Most of these are superficial and can be painted with marine paint and do not compromise the hull integrity. However, unless the kayak has been well maintained, you might not want the headache of purchasing an old kayak that needs touch up work.

In the end I'd say that if you can find a Willow really cheap go ahead and pick it up. I got mine for $250 on craigslist. Originally it was a $1500 boat. Anything approaching $500 or more I wouldn't say is a great purchase for this aging and average kayak.

I bought my kevlar Willow from a fellow who originally got this…

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I bought my kevlar Willow from a fellow who originally got this boat for his wife (who found it too unstable). I wanted a lighter boat that I could easily cartop solo and intended to restrict myself to the tidal marshes when I couldn't find a paddling partner to go with in rougher water. But on one trip I ended up paddling the Willow and loaning a friend my Meridian since he was too tall to fit in the Willow. We were out in 3' waves and heavy wind. I had no trouble keeping up with the Meridian when the wind was at my back, and the Willow handled the waves and chop well. Paddling into the wind was harder, but only so far as speed was concerned. I really love this boat and will use it for winter paddling because of its excellent stability and easy handling.

Searched for a kayak for three years, and was able to get…

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Searched for a kayak for three years, and was able to get my hands on a discontinued Willow. It is everything I wanted in a kayak, however, the back rest could have been a bit better, so I will customize for more comfort. Boat handles and tracks very well, and is the perfect size and weight for a smaller padler.

Purchased the Willow (no longer manufactured) in April 2003 as a store…

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Purchased the Willow (no longer manufactured) in April 2003 as a store close-out. The purchase was for my wife who has little experience with small boats. The initial stability was great, although a little twitchy. I found it a little difficult to put on edge, but that is the reason that I bought it. All in all, I found it to be a very comfortable boat to paddle, and my wife enjoys it as well.

I purchased the Dagger Willow kayak in April 2002. It's is…

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I purchased the Dagger Willow kayak in April 2002. It's is a light kevlar twelve footer. The spray skirt attaches easily. The cockpit is not cramped, yet not overly large. The hatch is very secure. The boat handles well. For example: it turns nicely, moves along smoothly, is stable but don't expect great speed or outstanding tracking. With the rudder down it does track very well in wind. (Hard to believe but my less expensive Wilderness Systems Pungo tracks better than the Willow.) The Willow's seat is suitable. Too bad Dagger doesn't have the 3-phase seat adjustments like the Wilderness Systems boats. I feel confident with the Willow in rough water but admit I've only taken it out in 2 foot chop.

In conclusion, the Willow is worth the price if you want lightness. Frankly, no one will find just one kayak to suit all their needs. After a period of time most kayakers end up buying several different boat for various wants and needs.

It took me quite some time to buy my boat. The local…

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It took me quite some time to buy my boat. The local kayak dealer, California Canoe & Kayak has a great demo program that really helped. You pay money up front and can rent as many kayaks as you want for 90 days. At the end of the 90 days, if you buy a kayak from them, you get the up front money toward the purchase price. So I tried out all kinds of kayaks--sit on tops, touring, and recreational. I only tried out the plastic ones as I wasn't sure I wanted to spend the money for a fiberglass or kevlar model. You can see some of my experiences at cgbikes.com. ANYWAY...about the Dagger Willow. I absolutely love it. It's the right size for me. The longer touring kayaks were nice, but they didn't fit too well in my miniscule garage, and they were hard to load and unload. I just felt like I was playing with something sized for a giant instead of for me. The Dagger is a little wider too (just like me!), yet not so wide that you feel like you're paddling a refrigerator. It tracks very well and seems pretty speedy. It's also more manueverable than those gargantuan touring kayaks. It's also very light, and, in 2001, was priced less than the full size touring kayaks. Although I had ordered a fiberglass kayak (around 40 lbs) I ended up with the store's demo kevlar kayak (around 35 lbs) because of a tiff with Dagger. I got a great price on it (thanks Cal Kayak) and a great price on a Perception paddle. The boat is so light I can easily load and unload it. It's also so light in the water that on my maiden voyage I felt like I had to keep checking that I was actually in the kayak and paddling because it felt so, so effortless. I haven't been out longer than a couple hours so far, so I can't comment on how comfortable it is on a really long journey, but it is comfortable. In summary: light, maneuverable, comfortable, tracks well, and affordable!

I think I checked out every recreational kayak available, most being plastic…

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I think I checked out every recreational kayak available, most being plastic and heavy. I ended up paying a bit more for the fiberglass willow, and am now after using it, 100% sure that I have the best recreational kayak available.

My husband purchased this great little kayak last Saturday afternoon, and we…

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My husband purchased this great little kayak last Saturday afternoon, and we tried it out on SF Bay (in the wind) and it was unbelievable. Tracks well, with or without the rudder. Liked it sooo much, had to have one myself. Picked it up Sunday, and can't wait to put it to use this weekend. Only complaints, no drain plug to dump the water, and the seat could use some padding.