Dagger Alchemy Revisited

Any thoughts/reviews from anyone who has paddled the new Dagger Alchemy are greatly appreciated.


Alchemy 14.0L
Love it. I got one a few months ago and I’m really happy with it. It does not have as much initial stability as I had gotten used to in my rec boats. I occasionally get a little rush of adrenaline as I feel it wiggle sometimes, usually when I’m getting in. The skeg is great. Really handy when you are out on a lake or in wind, but the boat is even more fun when it’s retracted. The outfitting is really nice. The comfort Fit System is very adjustable. I haven’t gotten a skirt for it yet, but I don’t think I’ll have any problem rolling it. I haven’t had any need to use any of the 3 hatches yet, but they’ve stayed dry every time I’ve been out. Have you been able to test one yet? They’re hard to find in some parts of the country. Get in one if you can.

Fun, fun feeling boat
I only had one briefly on a flat pond for a demo (also the smaller one given my size), but this is one of those boats that I felt revealed itself very quickly. Quite straightforward, no odd quirkiness like you’ll figure it out later. I came in smiling and the company rep was enjoying seeing someone do some decent messing around with the boat. Two of us got into this boat and we both had the same response.

It was very maneuverable, responded easily and well to what I asked, and while I don’t usually get fussy about seats it seems this was comfortable. Seemed to be a great boat for skills development if you never do anything else with it.

In conversation on the beach, I said it seemed that the boat was more about playing in surf than going long distances straight, flatpick indicated yes.

I’m still using it as my ‘go to’ boat for teaching, day trips in the rocks, surf and general good fun! The shorter than sea kayak length makes it a hoot and she is comfy.

not wanting to sound like a sales pitch but it IS a FUN boat for someone who might not need a full blown 17’ sea boat but still wants to go into challenging conditions.


Looks good, but 51 lbs? Yikes.
I thought it looked good for twisty, fast moving streams, until I saw the 51 lb weight. That would be a drag (literally) at log jams and other portages. I hate carrying heavy boats.

I’d still like to try one on for size and mess around with it’s handling.

Too much fun
I have twelve kayaks around the house and the Alchemy is the one that lives on the car. I love this little boat. It is a little sluggish in speed but I bought it for its playfulness and that it does have. My favorite conditions are the high winds and short period waves of the tidal Hudson River and Alchemy has been really at home there. This little kayak is too much fun. I find it to be plenty stable and certainly comfortable enough for new paddlers and with the skeg it’s well mannered enough for them too. I’d highly recommend this kayak for its maneuverability and all around manners. All kayaks have intended usages and their limitations; this one works for me as my general all round paddler. (at least until I build my next skin on frame)

I figured…
you’d like the A! we gots to get out there when we can spend some time paddling the Hudson w/ you!

hope all is well and your getting your share of fall beers!



I own an Alchemy (Couresty of Subaru of America producer of the new Outback, which has been named SUV of the Year).

My primary boat is a WS Tempest 170 (plastic). I use the Alchemy for a change of pace. It is a wonderful boat. Not quite as edgy in performance as the Tempest but a lot of fun.

Stability: tons of it. True story: Within 30 seconds of getting in the boat the first time, I decided to edge it over to see how it felt. I went staight to the cowling and stayed there then edged it over a little more just onto the sprayskirt. Sold as a rock (I can’t do that with my Tempest as easily). I was amazed. I was there just chatting away. I repeated it on the other side.

Speed: Faster than I think. Last weekend, my g/f (who normally paddles an Epic 16x) and I were paddling across the upper part of a lake. She was using the Alchemy (because we were exploring some cypress swamps - not good for carbon/glass), I was in the Tempest. Well it was on. (twice).

By GPS were were in the 5.1 to 5.5 mph range when I gazed down. I haven’t had time to check the GPS data to see max speed, etc.).tc I wasn’t gaining much at all(she had a head start). She is a fast paddler and even in her Epic we are usually pretty close when we race. I turn better than her so I usually win out on tidal creeks with turns.

There is one little think about the seat that doesn’t fit my butt quite right, but other than that, a very well designed boat – very confidence inspiring.

There is a plastic “bar” that runs down the center from under the seat to the footpeg area (or maybe to the front bulkhead?). I thought that was going to be a nuisance but in reality, I don’t even know it’s there. I assume it adds rigidity to the hull.

I haven’t taken it in the ocean but I suspect it would be fun there and fun to play in some small breakers with. (I am realatively new to ocean kayaking so I always use the Tempest since I have developed a good ccean relaationship with the Tempest).

Bill Guiffre

Mt. Pleaasant, SC

you gots to try the A in the sea!!! that’s what it was designed for!!!

yes the plastic spline gives the hull rigidity and keeps it from oil canning.


Alchemy L
It’s interesting that Dagger added a black plastic stiffener under the seat (as can be seen from their website).

Mine must have been one of the very first produced, since it lacks that piece. There was indeed a tendency for the bottom to oilcan between the seat and the front bulkhead, which I solved to my satisfaction with a 3" thick foam pillar similar to what’s in most whitewater kayaks.

What I built does not restricts foot room, and there is still some space in front of the pillar to store small items behind the front bulkhead. I tried to secure it in place with marine silicon caulking, but nothing seems to stick to the boat’s pastic very well… In any case, the pillar is stuffed in there pretty tight and does not move unless it’s kicked.

If I could post photos, I would…




– Last Updated: Oct-29-09 7:00 PM EST –

Well, while I'm at it, why don't I post a review...

My grand plan originally involved paddling calm lakes and such, but 'friends' got me into whitewater instead. I still wanted to try sea kayaking as well, so I purchased a Feathercraft Wisper folding kayak and an Alchemy L. I got the Alchemy so that I would have a boat that would be available on short notice (no assembly required), and that would stand some abuse. Plus it was a good deal at the end of the season. For camping and long trips, nothing beats the Feathercraft (amazing how much gear you can store in there), but for day trips, the Alchemy is great.

After trying a few kayaks in the 14'-16' range (my garage is small...), what decided me to buy the Alchemy was that it was the closest thing to a whitewater kayak I could find. It is outfitted like a whitewater boat, already with adjustable hip pads and thigh braces. I think Dagger hit the nail right on the head here.

As with modern whitewater playboats, it has quite a bit of initial stability. It nevertheless can be edged easily, and is a joke to roll. The boat responds very well to edging, and that makes turning it even easier than the huge amount of rocker allows already. Tracking? Well well... I regularly paddle a 6 foot long playboat, and have no problem doing it in a straight line. Compared to that, to me the Alchemy feels like it's on rails. If for some that's not enough, there's always the skeg. Similarly, the absence of a rudder to me is good: one fewer thing to break... Anyway, as many have pointed out, this boat is not meant to do long ocean crossings. On the other hand...

...I took it on class II+ river rapids, with eddy lines, rocks to avoid and waves up to 3' high. Amazing! Of course you have to wait until you are on top of a wave to make large course corrections, but the boat handled everything remarkably well. I have yet to take it ocean surfing and to rock gardens, but I expect it to be really fun, and safe.

Again, coming from whitewater kayaking, I naturally have a so-called 'high angle' paddling style. This certainly helps with tracking. I suspect that paddlers which favour 'low angle' paddling might be disappointed by the tracking of the boat, which is likely poorer than longer ones. Myself, I don't care.

Finally, oilcanning between the seat and the front bulkhead was solved by the manufacturer by adding a plastic stiffener. Boats lacking that piece (like mine) can be reinforced for a few dollars by making a foam pillar just like the ones used in whitewater boats.

In all, I think Dagger came up with a boat that is equally suitable for a beginner (calm water, slow rivers, rolling practice...) or advanced paddler (surf, rock gardens, whitewater, rolling practice...). I am very satisfied with the product. Cheers all!