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Backpacker Magazine – Gear Guide 2014

Gear Review: Dagger Katana Kayak

Kayak with plenty of gear space also maintains high speeds.

by: Eugene Buchanan

Dagger Katana (Courtesy)
Dagger Katana (Courtesy)

Do-everything kayak

Can one boat really do it all? This new breed is designed to track well for touring, tackle up to Class III whitewater (some people have even used the Katana on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon), and carry enough gear to get you deep into the backcountry.

A long waterline maintains hull speed on the flats, while ample rocker (profile curvature) keeps it maneuverable for whitewater. We took the larger model on an overnight on a Class II section of the Colorado and it easily carried tent, bag, stove, food, and clothes—with leftover room for beverages. In order to fine-tune its bow-to-stern balance (trim), gear stores in a rear cargo hatch or in front of the removable bulkhead in the bow (simply unscrew the footbrace).

Tip: If you put a Dutch oven in the stern hatch, offset it with a water jug in the bow. Additional gear can be strapped atop the deck via bungies. Testers loved its versatility: The Katana’s rocker makes it nimble enough to dart around and catch eddies in whitewater, while the drop skeg (stabilizing fin) facilitates arrow-straight tracking on the flats. Its best feature: couch-like comfort right out of the box, thanks to built-in, adjustable hip and seat pads, as well as a supportive lumbar pad. $1,029; 56 lbs. (10’4”) or 46 lbs. (9’7”);

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