Dagger Alchemy Kayak

By Scott Rawstorne

If your kayaking experience extends to years rather than days then you will have undoubtedly come to the realisation that there simply isn’t one kayak that is suitable for all conditions. The question “How many kayaks does one person need?” will invariably spark a long and impassioned discussion around the riverside campfire. One for flat water touring, one for flat water sprint racing, one for flat water marathon racing, one for the surf, one for the open ocean, one for river running, one for play boating, one for steep creeks and the list goes on. While some lucky people can afford to have a range of craft in their quiver the rest of us have to compromise to some extent.

Dagger Alchemy Photo 1

Every now and then a kayak comes along that can cover a range of conditions with ease. The Dagger Alchemy is one such kayak. That is why it is my current boat of choice and the one that stars in many of the photos in my latest book The Paddler’s Guide to Victoria.

The Dagger Alchemy is a single person sit inside kayak with an ergonomically designed keyhole cockpit and a drop down skeg. It comes in two sizes: large and small. Both versions are 14 foot (4.27 metres) long but the width and volume vary to cater for a range of paddlers. I am a comparatively big unit so I have the large version but you could find that the small is more suitable for you. The vital statistics for both models can be found at the end of this review.

The cockpit is outfitted with a comfortable adjustable seat base, removable hip pads, adjustable back band and adjustable padded thigh braces. These features make it possible to customise the cockpit for maximum comfort and connection with the kayak. A back band is a better choice than a rigid backrest as it allows for easier torso rotation and the greater flexibility required to handle bumpy conditions.

Dagger Alchemy Photo 4

The thoughtfully designed hull of the Alchemy has a shallow V shaped cross section to help keep it on course when paddling in a straight line as well as just the right amount of rocker to provide manoeuvrability in the surf, rock gardens and rapids. The kayak edges nicely and is relatively easy to roll. However there is enough primary stability for me to feel confident about taking my Digital SLR camera out on the water. It is suitable for beginners but also great fun for more experienced paddlers.

The drop down skeg is operated by an unobtrusive slider on the right hand side of the cockpit. This is really only required when assistance is required to keep the Alchemy on track such as when there is a strong cross wind.  I prefer to minimise use of the skeg as it tends to increase the feeling of drag and there is a slight knocking noise when it moves from side to side in the water as you paddle.

Front and rear storage compartments with bulkheads make it possible to carry a significant amount of gear. The overall size of the boat means that it is difficult to carry enough gear for a long expedition but two or three nights in the wilderness would be no problem at all. There is also an easily accessible day hatch behind the cockpit which enables ready access to important items while you are on the water. Other features of the Alchemy include front and rear grab handles, recessed deck fittings, deck lines, deck bungy, rubber hatch lids and a moulded compass recess.

Dagger Alchemy Photo 3

The Dagger Alchemy is made from UV stabilised rotationally moulded polyethylene (plastic). It is true to say that kayaks constructed in this manner are heavier and do not glide as well as those made from materials like carbon or fibreglass but they are more durable and less expensive. If you are not a racer and would like your boat to last a lifetime no matter what you throw at it then rotationally moulded polyethylene is a an excellent choice. The use of UV stabilised plastic is also important to me as it means my boat will last longer in the harsh Australian sun.

In the year that I have had my Dagger Alchemy I have paddled up to 45 kilometres in a day on tidal waterways; run grade 2 rapids on the Manilla, Namoi and Macquarie Rivers; surfed the waves at Lennox Head; and paddled out to see the whales as they rounded Julian Rocks at Byron Bay. My Alchemy’s name is Ruby and she is the first kayak that I have used that I have found to be capable of handling all of those scenarios.

Dagger Alchemy Photo 2 taken by Greg Staader

Both versions of the Dagger Alchemy have a recommended retail price of $1,899.  A full list of Dagger retailers in Australia can be found on the PaddlePro website.

Vital Statistics – Alchemy 14.0S

Length: 427 cm / 14′
58 cm / 23″
Weight: 23 kg / 51 lb
Max load: 125 kg / 275 lb
Deck height: 33 cm / 13″
Cockpit length: 89 cm / 35″
Cockpit width: 47 cm / 18.5″

Vital Statistics – Alchemy 14.0L

Length: 427 cm / 14′
61 cm / 24″
Weight: 25 kg / 54 lb
Max load: 136 kg / 300 lb
Deck height: 36 cm / 14.25″
Cockpit length: 89 cm / 35″
Cockpit width: 47 cm / 18.5″

Dagger Alchemy Photo 5

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One thought on “Dagger Alchemy Kayak

  1. […] whitewater for the first time. We strapped their Australis Bushranger canoe to the trailer with my Dagger Alchemy and Pete and Claire’s two Current Designs Pacificas and hit the […]

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