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The kayak is very stable and perfect for beginners to intermediate. This kayak edges surprisingly well allowing the beginner to greatly improve there skills while feeling safe. The kayak gets a 9 rating because the seat is not that great. However a little foam in the right places resolves this problem.
Overall value for money this is a great choice.
The Dagger Catalyst 13.0 is still available, even though its listed as discontinued on the Dagger website. The only thing that's changed is the name, its now called the Conduit 13 and with a basic web search you will find that its readily available for purchase.
There are some serious comfort negatives - the seat can be a killer after 45 minutes and using the high coaming as a thigh braces contributes to the discomfort. Cushions of various sizes have been tried (several inflatables and several foam) without relief. Perception/Dagger no longer seem to sell thigh braces that fit it, and they say the Carolina thigh braces can't be used with it.
If the seat and thigh brace problems were solved, I would give this a solid 10.
The tracking is still great when going into the wind; however, with tailwinds the back end wants to blow around. Of course, in river valleys in the Upper Midwest where I live, wind isn't much of an issue.
Dagger used to make a boat called the Cypress. The Catalyst seems like a new and improved Cypress to me. I liked the Cypress, but the Catalyst turns much quicker. Plus, with the front and rear bulkheads and hatches, the Catalyst is a seaworthy boat. If big waves splash over the rear deck though, the rear hatch cover will let in some water.
Stability on this boat is awesome. Initial stability is very comforting, and the secondary is super strong and lasts forever, it seems. I'm a paraplegic over 200 pounds, so I'm top-heavy and need some stability from my boat to make up for a lack of trunk stability of my own. I'm paralyzed below my rib cage. The only modification I made to the Catalyst is an extended backrest to reach up into my functional musculature.
I know that Dagger called the Catalyst a touring kayak, but really, it's not a true touring boat. However, it is the best multi-purpose boat I've paddled to date. I've got six kayaks -- different boats for different purposes -- but if I were forced to choose only one boat, it would be the Catalyst 13.0 because I can do anything with it if need be, and it simply excels on rivers up to Class II.
My thanks to Dagger for building a little plastic piece of magic.
The only complaints I have is that my long legs over extend the footrests making them useless. But my feet do rest upon the front bulkhead which is actually pretty comfortable. What is not comfortable is the seat. At times it digs into my back and I am going to replace it with a better one.
Overall I like the feel of the Catalyst and I do recommend it, but be sure you try before you buy.
Well, I have to throw in a few not-so-negative downers. First, for spending almost $800.00 on the kayak I would have expected a company like Dagger/Perception to put just a little more thought into the comfort of the paddler. The seat and backband could be improved so easily with only slight (and welcomed) weight gain to the boat. I think it would be worth it (if you guys at Dagger/Perception are reading this anyway). I plan on modifying the seat/backband area at some point when I find a suitable replacement.
Also, I did feel a little loose in the kayak so I added a pair of thigh braces (your local Yak shop can order these from Perception, they fit the Dagger line perfectly). This was an easy upgrade and made me feel totally secure. It's still a glove like fit, but mucho betta’ anyway.
I hope this review helps someone. I am not all that experienced at kayaking as of yet, so I have to be fair about reviewing this boat. Anyway, I have to give it a 9 because kayaking manufactures (generally speaking of course) can't seem to figure out this whole seat thing. I wonder if they read these reviews?????? Have fun!!!!!!!
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