Dagger Nomad 8.5 Kayak

, December 10, 2011

I have paddled Dagger Kayaks’ top end white water creek boat for more than a year now. It has been my trusty companion on trips to the tight and twisty creeks of Corsica, the big volume beauties of Norway, and of course on my home runs in Scotland. I have done a lot in this boat, and only now having owned and paddled many other comparable boats, do I feel comfortable giving it an honest review.

The Nomad 8.5 is a big round-bottomed boat with a displacement hull and little in the way of edges. This makes it very forgiving and relatively fast. It has a fair amount of rocker (curve in the hull profile) which makes boofing, and generally keeping the nose up, easy. On tight creeks the round hull design allows you to hit rocks without getting caught on an edge. However on bigger volume continuous rapids the lack of edges makes escaping from retentive waves and holes a real challenge. It fits like the proverbial ‘hand in a glove’ into almost any hole if you aren’t concentrating (trust me I’ve been there!). If you are an active progressive paddler then the speed of the boat compensates for this. However if you are a more relaxed, reactionary paddler then I would recommend a boat with more pronounced edges.

dagger_kayak_nomad_nick_bennett_splashThe hull sheds water brilliantly and the boat resurfaces quickly and without fuss. Dagger put extra volume at the rear end and this really helps prevent you from getting flipped, making it a very forgiving paddle. The Nomad does have a tendency to turn on its own; especially when paddling flat water, but this is a problem I have had with most creek boats and is inevitable when constantly changing from a smaller play boat to a big creeker. I also find the Nomad incredibly easy to roll.

I have been really impressed with the strength and resilience of the plastic. I have taken some hard hits, harder than some I have taken in other boats that now have dented noses, and every time I have been surprised by how little damage I had done. Despite being dragged across car parks, ridden down rough rocky slides, and being shoved in a trailer and driven across Europe for over a month, it is still water tight and holds its original shape.

dagger_kayak_nomad_nick_bennettThe outfitting is ok. The seat is comfortable, but I have never liked the thigh braces. They force your knees onto the hull and this can sometimes cause your kneecap to move unpleasantly. Although I have never noticed this on a scary rapid for some reason….hmmm. My boat has the older style clips to adjust the back rest. Dagger have now reverted to ratchets, a decision I fully support. I found the clips would occasionally catch on my spray skirt when I was getting out and I also once ripped a can neck seal on them (long story). The ratchet also offers more setup options. I found the clips had two settings, “bored” and “scared” and I found myself occasionally getting out to adjust the setting so I could achieve “very scared”. Fortunately, the ratchet system allows for a wide range of easy adjustments.

The Nomad 8.5 is a well designed boat that is forgiving enough for the beginner and tough enough for even the most experienced of kayakers. It is well worth thinking about your paddling style before deciding if it is the right boat for you.

For more information on the Dagger Nomad, go to dagger.com.