Submitted: 05-15-2009 by waterbird
I tested the Dagger Specter on a calm lake for about 45 minutes but did not buy it. (You'll see why.)
The Dagger Specter is no longer made but you might find a used boat here and there. It will be difficult to figure out the exact specs of the boat---the width, length, etc. on the label inside the boat were different from those listed on the internet.
The Specter was among the first generation of thermoformed boats. Compared to today's thermoformed kayaks, it's about 10 lbs overweight, which is a significant disadvantage. One of the main benefits of thermoformed plastic is its light weight, but at 57 lbs the Specter is as heavy as it would be today in cheaper rotomolded plastic. And in fact there are rotomolded kayaks at that weight that have better paddling characteristics than the Specter.
So you won't be buying the Specter for its light weight. The next advantage of thermoformed plastic is its stiffness, which normally means a faster boat---but not in the case of the Specter. I agree with the reviewer who called this a "big, heavy, high-volume boat." You will feel the extra 10 lbs and bulky hull shape with every paddle stroke.
The cockpit of the Specter is suited only to a quite large person. Sitting in the boat with my knees bent, the thigh braces were about 3" above my thighs, providing no support at all. The cockpit is cavernous---plenty of room for comfort, but it would only provide good contact for a very large person.
The seat pan is comfortable. I don't personally find any backband comfortable, but this one is considerably better than most, and some people will like it. On me it didn't provide lumbar support, being too low. It is wider and more padded than most backbands. The ratchet adjustment for the angle of the back is easy to use while sitting in the boat.
The Specter has a shallow V, multichine hull. It has good stability, both initial and secondary. It doesn't have much rocker, so it racks straight but is slow to turn even on edge. It does feel stable on edge. This boat could be paddled by a beginner.
To its credit the Specter comes with a rudder. But I would not want to paddle this already slow boat with the rudder creating even more drag. The design of the hatch covers is poor, as mentioned by other reviewers. There are no perimeter lines, which is a safety issue.
In a nutshell, the Specter is not competitive with today's thermoformed boats.
Why would you buy this boat in 2009? You would buy it if:
- You are a really large person
- You find it at a greatly reduced price, under $1000. If you have more than $1000 to spend you should be looking at up-to-date thermoformed boats from Current Designs, Eddyline, Swift, and so on.
- You want to use it for camping (the hatches are large).
- You don't care too much about elegance and speed.
- You like the looks of airalite---it is an attractive material.