Dagger vs. Neckey vs. Elie - Help deciding what kayak to get.

It has taken me a lot of time to narrow down my choices. First some info about me:
Weight: 225
Height: 6 feet
Usage: NJ Bays, some lake and river (limited but possiable ocean use in waves)
Desire: Looking for my first sit-inside that will give me touring capability for day trips and maybe an overnighter here and there with a focus on a comfortabel cockpit that will let me go for long periods

I have narrowed down my selection to the following:

  • Dagger Stratos 14.5L
  • Dagger Alchemy 14
  • Neckey Looksha 14
  • Elie Strait 140XP

After reading and talking to a few people I think I might take the Elie off the list. It was my front runner for a while but I am just not sure about it at this point. I am nto sure if the material would hold up to hittign a rock or two on the rivers and it is only carried by a few places - none that are local to me (PA).

That brings me to the others- I sat in the NEckey this weekend and I like it- seemed nice but was a bit tight to get into - but felt good once inside… I have not sat or seen the dagger products in person but their cockpits are a bit wider. I am not sure if there are any local places whereI can see the dagger products - I will continue to look

Wanted to get your thoughts on the products listed. What would you reccomend? WOuld like to limit inputs to the kayaks listed.

If I were you and especially at your size, I would keep an open mind about the length of boat. You should at least try something closer to 17 feet, unless there is some real limiting factor that you didn’t mention. If you plan on paddling any distance, the shorter boats will get tiresome real fast.

I want to focus on the boats I mentioned and wanted to say in the 14 foot range because any larger is not goign to work for me for a few reasons. First I can’t store anyhitng in the 15+ foot range (at least not eaisly). Second for the type of places I plan to paddle the most I want somehting that is a bit shorter and can get into and out of tight spots. Thrid is cost. Note: In the bay I like to explore and on rivers there are some narrow and shallow spots I need to get around. If I was planning on doing a lot of open bay or open ocean trips I agree a 17+ footer would be the way to go. But I am not goign to be doing a lot of that right now…

Thank you for the input but again I am trying to keep focused on the boats I mentioned. Per their stats and reviews I have read all of those listed should fit my size - no???

  1. With me onboard my 14 boat sits lower in the water than my 17 ft boat. This in shallow or deep water.
  2. You wear a kayak.
  3. Comfort is such a personal thing. On size alone the 19" wide cockpits would be easier to get into. But it’s never one thing that determines comfort. Also those pesky thigh braces get in the way but adjustable ones might move out enough or be removed.
  4. A rudder is a good thing to aid trim. Not all of them had rudders.
  5. The day hatch, little one behind the cockpit, was only on one kayak. If you can access it while seated this is a plus.

Maybe a folder rather than a hardshell. The Alchemy 14 is my size boat or ex, at way smaller than you. It’d be a submarine on you, you need the 16 ft version.

You need to understand the effect of paddling a boat that is under volume for you. It will sink beyond its design waterline, which will make it more unstable, and will be slower than a poke because you will be pushing water.

If you really can’t go beyond 14 feet, you may be better off looking at other than SINKs. A folder would solve the problem - there are people here who know more than me about them - or something more along the lines of a rec boat than a little sea kayak. The latter is likely to have a bigger cockpit and not serve you well in surf. Maybe a SOT at that length, again others here know more than me about these boats.

The Alchemy L should fit you just fine. I had a chance to paddle one for a week or so, and it was a blast. I’m 6’2, was about 230lbs at the time, and fit me fine. I can squeeze into the S size but I’m not sure how it would float. Very confidence inspiring little boat, surfs well, and paddles distance well for a 14 footer. I ended up getting a P&H Delphin 155 instead, but Dagger did a really good job with that Alchemy, very well designed boat. It’s also fairly light for a plastic boat of it’s size, and has a usable day hatch which can be handy. The Stratos is supposed to be a great boat as well, but I’ve never paddled one.

I would lean towards the Stratos. A lot of people love the Alchemy but the Stratos seems especially playful and sweet.

Johnysmoke and Ben thank you for the feedback. I get the feeling like the stratos and the necky looksha are similar and comparable boats in terms of overall size. I sat in the neckey and it was tight to getin but felt ok once in. The stratos has a larger cockpit so that might help. One larger difference is the seat back as the stratos is a backband and the neckey is a hard seat back… I jsut want comfort and since I have not sat in a stratos it is hard to compare for me.

Celia - I am a bit confused by your comments - I understand your intent but it is hard for me to beleive that any of the kayaks I mentioned would “submarine” on me. They are all in the 300 to 350lb capacity range. I need ot lose some weight I agree but hard for me to beleive that there would be no kayak in the 14 foot range that sould work for me.

OK - I just looked at the Dagger site and I missed that you were looking at the L, also had forgotten how they dealt with sizes in the boat. My first experience with the boat was the first year it was issued. I am fairly sure there have been tweaks since that release since the current nomenclature is escaping me. My bad and sorry.

But I just looked up higher and am not seeing if your specified the 14L or the 14OS. The latter has a 25 pound less generous capacity, that capacity in sea kayaks usually means loaded. So the assumption is that a decent amount of the total weight is distributed front and back thru the storage compartments. And there is gear - I know when I empty my boats from a day paddle I am pulling out at least 20 pounds of stuff (water is heavy), for a long day on the water usually more.

I just compared cockpit sizes, the Looksha cockpit appears to be the narrowest of the lot by up to a couple of inches. Curiously it also has a bit higher weight capacity than the Alchemy 14L, as does the Stratos. But if you made it into the Looksha cockpit you should fit into the others.

Bottom line, as above the 14L should work for you for a day boat or lightly loaded.

Alchemy L or Stratos L should both be fine. I am 215# and 6’ and they work just fine for me. Even have used the Alchemy with gear for 2-3 nights camping packed in it, and it still worked fine. Alchemy is my most used boat in my fleet (currently just 3 boats).

This is general impression of the other two - my opinion only.

Elie products comes across more as a pool toys to me. Really trying to keep the costs down, so not the best materials or manufacturing. That said, I have seen them but never actually paddled one.

Necky used to make good touring boats, but in the last bunch of years has aimed more at recreational boats. Wider, slower, made for calmer conditions. Nothing wrong with rec boats if used in appropriate conditions. But not something you’d want to use in rivers with rapids or waters with any sort of waves.

But you said the Necky felt tight. The Necky actually seemed to have a pretty open cockpit and largish inside space when I last paddled one, so you definitely will want to try the other boats before buying. They may feel even tighter. If so, the Stratos L would be a little larger than the Alchemy L, so is the better chance of working.

If none feel comfortable, you may want to switch to considering a sit on top. Or take up yoga and improve your flexibility.

Ellie issued a recall on the Strait: http://www.eliesport.com/resources/security-recall-elie-strait-kayak.html

I agree Elie is now off my list.

So down to realyt the stratos or the neckey I guess - I tink they give me the best of what I need in terms of size and capacity. The Alchmey does not come in multipule sizes from what I can tell so I am not sure I would want to take a chance on that one.

Peter-CA - Is it really true that neckey products are not as good?

The Alchemy and Stratos both have sizes small and large. Kind of nice to have options, rather than a one size fits all approach. Not sure who first came out with sized hulls, but not being a 5’9 170 lb male, it’s most appreciated.

For what it’s worth, I believe the Stratos is instead of the long-promised Alchemy HV. I could not fit in the Alchemy, but that was a foot size issue. Some fit issues can be addressed by removing thigh braces. Necky used to make very superior boats (even the whitewater boats like the Jive) but that was when Mike Neckar was running the company. They still have made really good boats lately, in my opinion, like the Manitou. I would not put the Looksha in that category. But to each his own. The Alchemy and Stratos are very different from the Necky. The Alchemy and Stratos are more ocean play boats - which are shorter than straight-out tourers anyway. I think they would work better for you in rivers

OP…I’m your size and after much research paddle an Alchemy 14L (they do have two sizes 14S & 14L). Nice boat and very stable/comfortable! I’m happy with it and would buy it again.
I think either the Alchemy or Stratos would fit your needs. If you get one and notice the skeg-slap…some strategically placed fuzzy-side velcro tape will take care of it…minor issue, easily fixed.

@fishboat1 said:
I also have a Current Designs Gulfstream that, when loaded only for daytrips, tends to sit too high above its waterline. This results in a twitchy(instability) feel…hard to relax in it. I’ll likely sell it this year as daytripping is what I tend to do most. That said, when loaded down to the design waterline, the Gulfstream is a wonderful boat.

Hey fishboat1, either you are too small for the Gulfsteam, or maybe you haven’t spent enough time in the Gulfstream to really get used to it. The boat is an extremely capable boat in very rough conditions if you just relax and trust the boat.

@jasno999 said:
Peter-CA - Is it really true that neckey products are not as good?

We need to be careful about not as good. Quality of Necky is fine. Comparable to Dagger they are in some ways perhaps better. Dagger has a reputation for not sealing everything as well as they should, so small leaks into hatches are not uncommon. Not bad leaks in Dagger, but you may find a cup of water in hatch after the paddle (not too uncommon with any boat, just a little more common it seems with Dagger). On my Alchemy, if I am paddling in conditions where water is washing over my back deck or I am rolling, I expect to have water in my rear hatch.

What I was trying to say is that the designs have moved away from open water and touring to more recreational style boats. This is kind of like recent Jeep SUVs. The old Jeep CJ models could be taken off road, but now the Liberty just looks like an off road vehicle, but isn’t something you’d want to take out off pavement. Dagger boats still have the design needed to take in waves and currents (with appropriate skills of the paddler), and also do fine on the flat water and used by beginners. Necky Looksha 14 is the Jeep Liberty version - works fine on flat water, but not something you’d want to take into conditions.

@Johnysmoke said:
The Alchemy and Stratos both have sizes small and large. Kind of nice to have options, rather than a one size fits all approach. Not sure who first came out with sized hulls, but not being a 5’9 170 lb male, it’s most appreciated.

On the Dagger sizing, the Stratoses are larger than the Alchemies. So the smallest is Alchemy S. Then Stratos S. Then Alchemy L. Then Stratos L is largest. The Stratos S seems to be half way between the two Alchemies in size.

All good info- guess I am suprised to hear that the neckey is not really a craft that can be taken into rougher conditions. I thought it would be comparable to the alcmey or stratos… I sort of want somehting I can grow into and somehting that can offer me options. That being said I don’t see myself taking the yayak into the surf - I do see myself using it in the bay which can get a bit rough and windy and on some rivers - talking class 1 or flat water nothing more. I am guessing any of the kayaks mentioned could probably handle that…

I would like to learn how to roll and other more advanced type manuvers - but I also know that my paddle companions are ither in rec boats or sit on tops so exploring more complex situations and conditions is probably not in the cards for me right now.

It makes it a hard choice - what I am getting from all your inputs is that the dagger products are more capable and can allow me more choice for various conditions. But it shoudls like the neckey might be enough for my needs and the seat may be more comfortable than that of the dagger product… Wow not easy…

Well I am going to continue to look for a locak store that might have the dagger products. I can’t seem to find one. I am wondering if REI would order one for me and not force me to buy it - but then I could see, feel, sit in it at least…

OK, me again but I think this is getting overly complicated for you. First, the Looksha is an old line of sea kayaks, I think think 20 years now. The specific boats have been tweaked, but the design is totally intended to handle rough stuff. I can’t speak to their current materials. It is an older design with many of the characteristics of its original era, even with the tweaks. IF you want an easy boat to learn things like rolling in, it is hard to beat the Alchemy line, its newer kin in Dagger or other manufacturer’s lines. The boat was designed to have all the capabilities for rough stuff but also incorporate things that had been learned about how to make a kayak easier for things like learning rolling. Steve Scheerer (sp?) did a fantastic job of that. Part of what makes it easy to learn in is that the boat is easily turned and maneuvered. That means it is slower than a boat designed to go straight fast. But it is fast enough, and if most your friends are in rec boats you will be fine. We have a guy in the local club with an Alchemy who regularly smokes paddlers in boats with officially faster hulls, because his form is decent.
Both the Alchemy and the Necky have a tendency to weathercock, so you are likely to be using the skeg at times. But some amount of weathercocking (turning into the wind) is normal in many kayaks and it is far safer for a boat to weathercock than to leecock.

I took another look at the Looksha 14, and perhaps it would not be as bad as I was thinking. Guess my data is old. I rememebr them as wider and not having front bulkheads. Sorry.

The seat back does come up too high to make rolling easy, but perhaps it can be adjusted down. And the cockpit opening is rather large, so may be hard to get a skirt on it that would seal in conditions (but not that much larger than the Dagger ones.