Dagger or Perception?

-- Last Updated: Sep-27-13 8:40 PM EST --

I am eyeing up to kayaks this weekend for an upgrade. Both are used.

Kayak #1 is a 2012 (or maybe a 2013) Perception Expression 15 for around $700 from a guy on craigslist.

Kayak #2 is a 2013 Dagger Alchemy 14L for (in a color I'm not crazy about, Lime) for $900 plus tax.

For my purposes, the boat will be used for one and two night paddle camping trips in various rivers in Maryland as well as reservoirs and the bay as well as day trips/fitness paddling in the same areas. I am moving up from an Old Town Drigo 12 which is just too slow and relaxed for me. I'd like to learn how to edge and do rolls. The seat in the Perception will likely be replaced by a backband. I will also be getting a skirt at some point for either.

Which boat is better suited for my needs? Both will probably be gone tomorrow. I was set on the Perception until I found the Dagger on sale.

for an all-around day touring boat
I’d say go with the Perception Expression, and spend the extra $200 on a decent paddle. It’s probably a bit faster and will hold more gear than the Alchemy. The Alchemy would be the more fun & maneuverable boat in rough water, but if the color bugs you, you’ll always have second thoughts about it.

The Alchemy

– Last Updated: Sep-27-13 8:58 PM EST –

No doubt. Better outfitting, better shape, better boat.

Oh wait, I just re-read it. It's lime? Pass. I paddled one of those once and my eyes hurt.

that is true

– Last Updated: Sep-27-13 9:13 PM EST –

I will probably need a new paddle for either boat and the Expression can carry more gear. Weight capacity on the Expression is 325 and the Alchemy is 300 (how much does a 30 pack of miller weigh again?). Looking at the two boats the Expression would be easier to pack as well due to the lack of a day hatch. The roughest water I will encounter on it is wind chop and wakes in the bay and wider points on rivers. I don't know of anywhere around to surf or anything.

Thats why I didn’t want the lime
but they sold out of the used red and blue ones. I don’t mind being visible but I don’t want excess eye strain, even with sunglasses, on all day paddles.

I do like the more maneuverable hull and outfitting on the Alchemy though.

have an Aklchemy
I have an Alchemy (not Lime though). Good boat, but can be hard to pack enough for 2 or more nights, I have done it, but it is hard. But it is the boat I use as my daily driver (I have a 17’6" Valley as an expedition boat also, but I haven’t used that in a year and a half now). Did an overnight camping trip last weekend with the Alchemy.

That seat back on the Expression would have to go if you want to roll or even somewhat easily do self-rescues or use a skirt, but you already saw that.

However, when I kayak camp it is almost always with two or three friends so the load is split pretty well and I generally pack light and small. Hammock, a few snacks, whiskey, freeze dried food, water, spare set of clothes, along with other odds and ends. I backpack as well so I know how to keep things light and compact!

However, I would like to start going solo so I’ll have to keep that in mind. We are also going on a trip in mid-october so some additional clothing will be needed.

a thought on colors-
bright is good. Easier to see in a rescue situation, easier to spot if stolen or lost. Bright boat/gear is a real advantage for being seen by a motorboat, or pinned under the water, or for finding your way back to your campsite, or spotting someone separated on a portage in woods, or for not accidently leaving your stuff behind. All that bein’ said, oolor shouldn’t be the deciding factor for a boat purchase. I’d be more concerned with how it paddled. Which boat is better for you? I have no idea. Which color is better? the one most easily seen. Too bad neither is hunter orange.

Brand new Alchemy $900
Just read an e-mail from REI close outs on all paddling gear.

You’re near a lot of ww rivers,
a number of which are very good for kayak camping. If you don’t buy one of those used things, check out Dagger’s new whitewater load carrier. A bit slow, maybe, but undoubtedly much more agile than what you’re considering.

I Have the Alchemy
I ran across a used Alchemy a couple years back. It was a dealer’s demo/rental in very good condition. They only asked $600. I’m a bit leggy so I moved the seat back some to get a perfect fit. I like the way it turns, rolls, edges, and it’s stable enough to loan out to the less experienced. Beware; unless they changed something the rear hatch cover is going to let a lot of water in. Use dry bags.

ha ha
You’re looking at Potomac Paddlesports, aren’t you?

Dagger Alchemy all day
all ways, no contest…for me anyway. Better construction, better outfitting, esp. the seat, better plastic. Better design (see more below).

If you don’t like the color, wait and buy one from someone else. REI already has them on sale. Paying $1100 + tax for a used 2013 is stupid (you are not stupid) I can buy them NEW (2012 models, no diff, design is exactly the same) for $800 plus tax right now.

Shop around.

Perception is the budget line for Confluence. Dagger is a top line. Dagger has the pedigree of longtime ww designer Joe Pulliam. Alchemy was also designed w. input by Steve Scherrer - who frequently uses an Alchemy as a teaching boat.

If you really want to learn to roll and edge, the Alchemy’s rep is easy to roll and I agree. That Perception meanwhile is a mainstay of outfitters’ fleets where they want stability + and know their clients have no desire to roll or learn to roll. It’s more like a tourist boat (Not a bad thing, different tools for different purposes). You though,do you really want to move up in your skills? If so, Alchemy.

If the rear hatch leaks just run a bead of 3M Lexel 5200 on either side. You’re just as likely to need to do it w.the Perception or any plastic boat w. foam bulkheads. They just flex more and when they do bulkhead leaks happen.

If you can’t pack a 14 foot seakayak for a few days, the extra foot of a 15 is likely not a big difference, it’s not like you get an extra cubic foot. Depends more on deck height and where the hatches are.

Get a non-lime Dagger at a better price and use the $ saved for a good paddle. Meanwhile you have an excellent kayak that’s damn close to an allrounder for your uses as stated.

Good luck. A little patience now will save you hundreds in just a little while.

I ended up going with the perception
It was such a good deal, the seat felt right, and I fit in it well. If I don’t like it, I got it for cheap enough that I can sell it early in the season next year for the same, if not more, than I paid.

Now, who can lead me to a back band kit? the seat back is stupid high!

Check out…
…my thread on the IR backband on a Tsunami. Helpful stuff in there.

Where for $800?
I’m in the market for an Alchemy 14.0L; where are you seeing them for $800?

in Michigan
and not advertised on the internets.

It’s a small paddle shop. Not sure if they have an L at the moment. I know they have the S.

Ridiculous name aside I really like the boat. It’s not the typical boring Perception day touring kayak when it comes to performance.

Like you said; swap the seatback for a backband and you’ll have an awesome boat.

Same build as the Alchemy: same plastic, hatch covers, bulkheads, deck rigging, skeg, adjustable thigh braces, and seat bottom.

More speed and storage.