Dagger Alchemy 14S and WS Tempest 165

I’m a new kayaker. I recently took an intro course and am now hooked! I would love to buy a kayak, and the fall seems like the time to do it with so many on sale. I desperately need help figuring out what I need.

I’ve test paddled a few and really like the poly Tempest 165, but I don’t really want to afford the price nor do I know if I want to deal with the size. I’m 5’3" and around 140 lbs. I am wondering if a smaller kayak will suit my needs and my pocketbook better. I’ve done some research and looked at some other boats. The Dagger Alchemy 14S has my attention. I have had the opportunity to sit in in, but not get it on the water.

I would really appreciate any thoughts on the comparision between the two kayaks. I will primarily be using it on inland lakes, rivers, with occassional trips in larger bodies such as Lake Ontario. I definitely want something I can grow with, but don’t want something more than I need.

Thanks for your thoughts and expertise!


Other suggestions
The 165 is a beautiful boat, but I could understand that at your size, it mght feel like more boat than you need. If you want to go smaller, take a look at the WS Tsunami 135 before going too far down the Alchemy road. It’s a medium slender profile that compares favorably to the Tempest, and you might find that the fit is naturally a little more geared to you than the Alchemy S is.



– Last Updated: Sep-06-10 3:43 PM EST –

i paddle a tempest165 a lot. i love it, and its my favourite rough weather kayak. Its a very well balanced kayak..easy to roll.faboulus in heavy wind..fairly tight turn radius if you edge hard..Is got a very beautiful deck i think..you might find a used T165...due to its fairly hard chine an flet V bottom ..it dances and moves very nicely..great in waves..hehe.end of commercial...

heard nothing but good
things about the Alchemy. the Tsunami 135 is a great and affordable small paddler’s boat, you can find one for $800-900, but it doesn’t offer a skeg like the Alchemy. a rudder kit can be added though

A lot of options

– Last Updated: Sep-06-10 3:54 PM EST –

You might consider buying used. Your first boat will not be your only or last boat if you continue to paddle.

If you were comfortable in a Tempest 165, you might wish to start with something equally capable. A Tsunami might be out grown rather quickly.

At 140 you are the target weight of boats for 'smaller' or women paddlers. Among the boats folk I know your size enjoy are P&H Vela, Valley Avocet (or Avocet LV), NDK/SKUK Romany, Romany LV or Pilgrim, and Tempest 165...

The Alchemy is a neat boat.

i guess i should check out the alchemy too…

Quite different boats

– Last Updated: Sep-06-10 9:42 PM EST –

I love the handle of the Dagger Alchemy 14S, but understand that it isn't designed to perform the same as the Tempest 165. The Tempest 165 is an all-around boat that'll work for everything from day tripping to messing around in some surf to going camping to offshore islands. The Alchemy is a boat that tracks less straight in wind and is intended to be highly maneuverable to go play in surf. The Alchemy is also a slower hull.

Both boats are great for developing more advanced skills.

If you are only going to have one boat for now, you are probably going to be better off with the Tempest.

I appreciate all the comments so far. Glad I’ve found this forum! It looks like many really like the Tempest. Perhaps I’ll just sit back and see if I can find a used one and try to test paddle a few more before making a decision to buy new.

I have been in a WS Tsunami, but it was not the 135 but the larger 140 I believe. It was okay. Would there be a considerable difference between the 135 and 140? I really don’t like a rudder (can’t stand the movement in the feet) so I’d prefer to stay with a skeg or else nothing.

Thanks again for all your input. I look forward to reading more opinions.


you might wanna check out the avocet lv.hehe but its a differnt price segment… i personally prefer the tempest to anything. im waiting for a valley pintail…another option if you like drunk bordercollies…

Tsunami 135 v 140, Tempest 165

– Last Updated: Sep-07-10 7:32 AM EST –

The 135 would be much better sized for you - narrower and lower profile than the 140. That said, it is 2 inches wider and has a deck height 2 inches taller than the Tempest 165, as well as a slightly larger cockpit. In sum, if you liked how the Tempest 165 felt and paddled you may find still find the Tsunami 135 feels bulky.

I was able to mitigate the pain of a rudder (got nasty cramps) by going to a SmartTrack system. I don't know if that still exists. But for me even that was imperfect. I found that reaching over the top of the footpegs to manage the rudder when needed just didn't work well for size 6.5 women's feet.

from another thread
the deck height listed on WS’s website for the Tsunami 135 isn’t right… there’s 11" clearance under the deck, 13" total height to the highest point on the coaming.

Suggest trying one on for size… great day boat for small paddlers (though ours has been on a 6-day trip), and quite fast for its length.

Darned kayak web sites…
Sorry to the OPer. I keep forgetting that kayak manufacturer web sites tend to be a little different… too much time with head in water I guess.

If you like the Tempest, might look around for a Current Designs Sirocco. It’s been on the market longer so you can likely find one used easier, it’s about the same size as the Tempest and I feel it’s finished better and I much prefer the handling vs. the Tempest (many seem to like the Tempest better though).

Still odds are you can find one at a reasonable price. I sold mine a few years back for $800 and it was very much like new. (bought fiberglass) That was a pretty average price for one.

Bill H.

Sirocco beeg
for someone OPer’s size. Too much volume. Perhaps for someone who fit the Tempest 170…

Tempest or Tsunami
The Tempest is a great boat (I have a 170 and my wife has a 165) but based on your size another kayak to consider is the Tsunami 145: http://www.kayakreview.org/go/tsunami145/

Bought a kayak
Well, I managed to get some place where I could demo both the Tempest 165 and the Alchemy 14S as well as the Tsunami 135. Tried the Alchemy first and really liked it. The shorter length provided a nice balance between the Tempest and other boats I’d tried. My first reaction was very positive. Then I tried the Tempest. I still liked it, but felt that the added length added more effort in turning and didn’t feel as maneuverable as the Alchemy. It was definitely a bit faster, but not as much as I expected it to be. I then tried the Tsunami 135. The comments about it tracking straight were definitely right on the money! But it definitely lacked the maneuverability of the Alchemy. Felt a little sluggish after the first two boats. Jumped back in the Alchemy and made my decision. I’m now the proud owner of a sky blue Alchemy 14S. Got it for just over $1000 which I think is a pretty good price and a few hundred less than the Tempest. I’m really happy with my decision. I understand it is perhaps not the same type of boat as the Tempest, but I enjoyed paddling it more than the Tempest and in the end, that’s what matters. It’s lack of tracking will have to be made up with increased paddling skills- which is what I’m hoping to develop anyhow- and I think it will give me a good opportunity to advance my skills. I also like the added maneuverability. I want the ability to go into larger open bodies of water, but will also be spending time in smaller rivers and just wanting to explore. I think this boat is the perfect middle ground for me.

Thank you to everyone for your input. It definitely helped me in my decision.


Enjoy your new boat!


yay for new boat!
and the more people that buy alchemy’s the quicker i can pick one up used :stuck_out_tongue:

Dagger Alchemy S
I’ve tried that boat and found it lively and responsive… perfect for the the places you want to paddle most frequently and very capable when you want to take it to open water. It’s very versatile & makes a great first boat.

At your size it’s a fine fit. I’m 5’3" and, while you have ~20 lbs on me (we won’t get catty here LOL) the Tempest 165 (roto or fiberglass) felt too large in the cockpit. Frankly I was paddling w. my legs more splayed than I found comfortable and the Tempest thigh braces adjust only outwards. the Dagger Alchemy S starts out w less spread which is a plus for smaller paddlers.

Enjoy the boat, I hope for many years…but if you do want a longer boat in the future, you’ll have the seat time to know more specifically what suits you and which boat that will be.

There are and will be plenty of options besides the Tempest 165 and there will be plenty of used ones going at nice prices when you do. '-)

your perception of all 3 boats is right on. what you give up in maneuvering you gain in tracking. speed and length have a dirct relationship! give / take.

have fun!