Friday, September 28, 2012

Dagger Nomad 8.5 Review

I've been kayaking for over 2 years now, and creeking about a year and a half. In that time I've used 3 kinds of creekboats full time and tried many others, I'm not sponsored by any company I should state off the bat. First in my line of boats was the Prijon Pure, a great boat with few shortcomings that I'm confident could've lasted longer than any other kayak had I given it the chance..then came the Pyranha Burn M which I loved and probably did the most progressing with, it was the boat I was using when I first started to feel comfortable in class IV/IV+. Sadly the Pyranha didn't last very long and their warranty failed me any coverage, not wanting to be stuck in a situation buying a new kayak every 4 months I turned to the tried and true Dagger Nomad 8.5...and it turns out that's where I wish I'd gone from the start.

Now I know there are a lot of Nomad reviews out there since it's a 9 year old boat (though with 1 revision, and new outfitting due this year), but I'm going to get mine out there anyway, why not, what other 9 year old boat is still being put through it's paces by the worlds best paddlers, while there are still people starting out looking for a more recent opinion. I'm a 30 year old, 165 lb, 6'2" mostly legs individual for reference purposes, which puts me right at the bottom end of the big Nomad weight range. When I was looking for a new kayak there were 2 options I was considering, the Nomad and a Liquidlogic Stomper, not being able to comfortably fit my feet in the Stomper 80 with it's full length running foam centre pillar I defaulted to the Nomad. Since switching in December 2011 I've run a good amount of class IV/IV+, and possibly a bit of V depending who you talk to and here is my review of the Nomad:

Let's start with the outfitting. The Nomad is the most comfortable boat I've ever sat in, it feels like a couch, the standard issue ratchet backband ratchet's don't have the same nice feel of the Pyranha's, but unlike my Burn, the ratchets have never ripped off of the thigh pads either. Speaking of the thigh pads and area, they are padded through the entire area your knees would contact the hull, making for a comfortable ride, and the thigh/knee grips themselves have just enough of a 'hook' to keep your knees locked in place and are adjustable back and forward. The hip pads are perfectly contoured for my hips it seems and can be moved around quite a bit as needed. The backband is secured with a couple small buckles which have never failed on me and make it extremely easy to access the stern for storage. The bulkhead is pretty standard issue, and like the Burn there is a full access area to house my feet and click my heels together which I need. There is a solid step out pillar with an area for my throwbag quick access between my legs where I like it. All in all I feel very comfortable in the Nomad.

The hull design is a displacement hull with a single soft edge the runs from the front down to about 3/4 of the way to the back before fading. This was a huge change for me from the Burn with it's sharp, engrained edge the length of the boat and planing hull. There was some learning curve, but in the end the benefits of the design I found definitely by far outweigh the drawbacks. The boat definitely helped me build more confidence with it's forgiving style. It's true, the Nomad often seems to get you through things when your aim is off the mark. It has less primary stability than the Burn but more secondary, you can get it right up on edge in full control and the edges won't trip you up. The boat is fast for sure, and takes some effort to turn, but not too much. It doesn't excel at ferrying or putting edge in to grab the water however. Lots of people don't say it boofs great but I've always found it boofs just fine, though not as good as the Stomper or Pure. It really wants to stay on top of the water which is usually awesome, but can make it a bit of holebait sometimes too. Extremely stable in most situations and predictable.

I know that last paragraph is a bit all over the place, the bottom line is that the Nomad's single soft edge is all the edge I need in most situations, and it is extremely forgiving besides, giving me a lot of confidence in handling it.

In September 2012 my Nomad cracked somewhere on Cayoosh Creek near Lilooet, BC. I was extremely happy that Dagger warrantied it pronto and I was able to get my new Nomad at Western Canoe and Kayak in Abbotsford, BC, so I didn't need to go far. As a consumer this is very important to me and I don't have any reason to buy a boat from another company at this point, especially with Dagger's bomber plastic as it is mixed into the equation. I am excited to see the new Jitsu playboat when it comes out and possibly look at a Mamba as my next boat, also extremely excited about the new Dagger outfitting, but for the moment am really enjoying the Nomad and don't have any desire to get away from it.

Boofs like a charm as long as you boof it like a charm. Photo by Tristan Oluper

The new, more yellow and less red Nomad, it may burn your eyes.

Aaaah I do miss ol big red. Photo by Tristan Oluper

Getting amongst it, yes you can catch those small eddies between drops. Photo by Tristan Oluper

1 comment:

  1. Very nice review and I agree about this boat. I´ve paddled Nomad myself for 8 years and then sold it. I think I´ll buy another one.