Dagger Axis 10.5 or 12?

I have just been cleared to start kayaking again after a shoulder surgery last year. I haven’t been on the water in 8 months! One of the things I promised I would get myself after I was cleared was a new boat.

I currently own a Wilderness Systems Pamlico 10. This boat has been used mostly on a very calm river (almost no current at all) that can get sort of narrow at times (maybe 15 ft wide at times) and occasionally on a slow moving river (typically about 4-5 mph at most) with a few class 1/2 here and there.

I wanted to upgrade to something a bit more serious with a smaller cockpit and thigh braces so I could use a spray skirt when it gets a bit colder. I like the maneuverability of the 10 footer and have never tried a 12 footer. I also like the fact that the 10 footer is mostly easy for me to pick up and put on the car rack, especially after my surgery. However, I keep hearing the 12 foot boats are better for my application since I don’t do anything really over class 2 and generally go out for relaxation and seclusion…

So, the question is, given my application and issues, would the Dagger Axis 10.5 or 12 be best for me? The 12 only seems to add 5 lbs (55 lbs total). Is it harder to maneuver than the 10.5? For anyone that has or has paddled one of these, can you maybe throw a review in too?

I’d go 12. It tracks noticeably better than the 10.5, but is still easy as heck to turn. For the mellow river paddling you describe, it would be ideal.

Axis 12
I got a 12 this year and absolutly love it. I find it to be very manuverable and it also tracks great with the skeg down.

I am headed to the Buffalo River with it tomorrow. This will be my first time out on moving water since I got it. I have had it on lakes probably 10 times since Janruary and I don’t have any complaints.

I will report back how I like it on moving water next week. Hopefully rain moves in so I can really see how it does in fast water.

How about the WS Tsunami too?
Good to know. I am really considering going for the 12 the most.

I’ve taken a look at the Wilderness Systems Tsunami too… It looks like a great boat as well, but it’s $100 more expensive. Seems I get a bit more though for that $100, such as a front sealed bulkhead and storage, thigh braces and a bit lighter weight. However, the seating in the Dagger looks like it would be a bit more comfy…

Anyone have any experience with the Tsunami?

I Own a Tsunami 125

– Last Updated: Mar-24-11 2:16 PM EST –

The biggest difference between the 120 and 125 is the volume of the cockpit. The 125 is much larger and built for a larger person ( for example, I'm 6'4 and 220lbs) other than that I believe they are pretty much identical.

I really have enjoyed mine for the past 4 years and have used it primarily on moving water in the Ozarks with rocky bottoms and tight turns in the Ozarks. Every once in a while I'll paddle it on the local lake and it's great.

The seat to me is surprisingly comfortable- I forgot what it's called but they have some fancy name for the seating system where you can adjust 3 different areas.

I'm like you, have a bum shoulder and enjoy the light weight for transport. Of course, I can't tell you what to buy, but my experience with it has been exceptional and enjoyable.

Here are some links to a few pics:



Awesome. Thanks for the reply.

Have you tried it out on any lower end rapids like Class 1’s or maybe 2’s?

I have-
On the Mulberry River in Arkansas. It’s OK, as you can see the combing on the sides are very close to the water, so a spray skirt is a must in anything that resembles a wave train.

But honestly, I’ve never pushed it too hard but I’ve read where folks can do some bigger stuff. On another note- not sure if you are into overnighters on the river but the boat has plenty of dry storage as well. I’ve made it 3 nights and 4 days without having to re-supply.

So, it’s doable then. I guess that’s my biggest concern.

I spend most of my time on a river near my house that has virtually no current and pours into a lake. I actually paddle upstream until the current starts to get a little too much and I turn around or travel down some of the smaller creeks that shoot off of the river.

However, about once a month or so, I travel up north and do some of the rivers up there which have Class I/II rapids. I don’t really go for the rapids, per se… I go for the beautiful scenery and to also be on a moving river. Given that this river has a current, there are some small rapids here and there and I want to make sure the boat can at least handle them without issues because even though it’s probably only about 30% of my paddle time, it’s still a fun trip!

I definitely see how low it sits to the water. I can see that being somewhat of an issue with letting water in the cockpit without a skirt. However, that’s not too big of a deal, unless it’s a lot of water! Maneuvering would be my other concern… but most of the rapids are really easy and all that is required is a poke of the paddle here and there to make sure you don’t wind up heading straight for the side of the river…

This may give you some perspective…
Here is a description of the Mulberry- towards the bottom it gives you what conditions you may encounter at certain water levels. I have floated it 2 times, once when the water was at 1.9 and the other at 2.3

By no means was it a crazy ride, but I would guess may be the maximum level you may encounter. It was fun and challenging, but most whitewater purists would laugh floating it at those lower levels.

Here’s the link:


Yeah, that looks about right for me.

I stopped by the shop today an sat in the 120 and 125. I think I liked the 125 better, but will try both again. However, both felt better than the Axis, so I think the Tsunami may be te boat I’m looking for!

my vote is for the tsunami
My first kayak was an Axis 10.5. I bought it thinking I knew what I wanted. After borrowing a friends Tsunami 125, the Axis felt like a tank. I sold the Axis and got a Tsunami 125. My son liked it so much, I sold his kayak and bought him the Tsuanmi 120.

light weight yak

Current designs makes a couple kayaks you might be interested in due to your shoulder injury…

Kestrel 120 weighs in at 33 lbs (12 footer)is a composite kayak

Vision 120 weighs in at 29 lbs. this kayak has thigh braces also a composite kayak.

check them out at cdkayak.com

Those are very nice! I’d love to try one of those but they’re a bit out of my price range. $1,000 is about my limit.