Submitted: 11-05-2001 by cgbikes
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!