Dagger Blackwater 10.5 Review
We have three preferred compact day tourer kayaks: the Dagger Blackwater 10.5, the Venture Kayaks Flex 11 and the Elie Strait 120. After a windy cold week we were pleased to get ourselves into a weather window and on the water in a couple of Blackwaters. We have paddled these kayaks many times and have always enjoyed them, so we set about getting some photos to tell the tale.
The seat is comfortable and has a height adjustable backrest, which is best used at its lowest setting. The seat back position is adjustable by a handy ratchet system operated from the thigh brace position (though remember to always adjust the webbing strap first, then you should only need to ratchet forward a few notches). Once the seat is positioned correctly it actually stays put. To position yourself correctly in a Blackwater, take a look at our Paddle Posture advice article.
The cockpit configuration is generous which makes getting in and out of the kayak easy. Unlike white water kayaks there is no need to be bolted into the cockpit with no room to move a muscle. You still need to have good contact with the footrests, thigh braces and seat/backrest but there is ample room to stretch a leg or two. Standing up and walking is difficult when either of us exit our white water kayaks - that is not the case after an paddle in a Blackwater 10.5.
The footrests, seat and backrest work well but the thigh braces lack the hooked shape of the Venture Flex 11. I prefer the thigh brace setup in the Flex 11, but we have as many customers who do not - it's a matter of personal preference.
The rear dry compartment is accessed through a larg oval hatch, which is large enough to accomodate a 20L dry bag with a change of kit and a bit of lunch. I mention dry bags because the term "dry compartment" can be misleading. Everything you put into the kayak needs to be inside a dry bag.
The inside of a kayak is something that never actually dries, more so in kayaks used on salt water. The rear space is useful and we have several friends that can bivvy on the beach using only kit that will fit in that rear space. It is also an additional safety feature as it provides a huge amount of buoyancy should you decide to capsize the kayak and go swimming.
The drop-down skeg works very well, but its a bit of an overreaction to a tracking problem that barely exists. All kayaks wander off track in awkward breezes, but that's part of kayaking. Mind you, kayaking is easier than canoeing in an awkward breeze, especially after cutting your perfectly good paddle in half...
Dagger Blackwater 10.5 Paddling Experience
The paddling experience is very good. The Blackwater is a well-mannered handy day touring kayak ideally suited to flat water paddling but not out its depth in the chop or swells. This kayak is better suited to paddlers of 70+kg than smaller paddlers, but it can still be used by tiddlers and racing snakes. Tracking and forward speed are good and the ride is dry when putting the kayak into the chop.
All round the Blackwater is a great little kayak for recreational paddling and day touring. Deciding between our preferred tourers is easy. Select the kayak that appeals to your eye and feels the part when you sit in it. They all perform admirably well and do what they are supposed to in a proper fashion.
The Dagger Blackwater will take a range of spraydecks in UK size 6 (R6 or N6). We recommend the Palm Roanoke spraydeck for those looking for a neoprene deck, or a Palm Coniston for a Nylon deck.
Dagger Blackwater 10.5 Statistics
Dagger Blackwater 10.5 Review by
Codger & Duffer (November)
For Canoe Shops Group