How to pick an “all round guest” sea kayak?

I have been doing a lot of reading and the boat that seems to have topped my search list is the Dagger Stratos L. It would be nice if I could also use any second boat for a different experience from my Romany Surf. The Stratos sounds like it works well for medium sized to much larger/taller paddlers. The price, even new, seems good. I am waiting and watching the local Seattle Craigslist postings like a hawk. Hoping for a good used copy to pop up. The Seattle listings are pretty active.

Quick question: if my wife, who is a fit 5’6” 120#, be a decent match for some calm weather paddling in the Stratos L? It would be nice to not have to get into owning three boats at this stage…


Good choice IMHO. Your wife would do better in the S but I think could be happy in the L. You might try filling some big soda bottles with water and stow them fore and aft to add some ballast if the boat feels too ‘bobbery’ to her.

Thanks Rex. Good advice.

I guess the other thing I need to get is a marine to English dictionary, so as to study up on technical terminology like “bobbery”… :slight_smile:

Your wife will be able to use it, but the large cockpit and overall large size inside will make it hard for her to get a good fit in it for anything where shed want to edge, roll, etc.

You might more easily find a used Dagger Alchemy 14.0L (the predecessor to the Stratos). Pretty simimilar to the Stratos, so might be worth considering.

Re your wife - the question is not whether a smaller person can paddle a too-large boat. It is more whether that situation produces a paddler than can keep up with others in better fitting boats, or will find it to be an unpleasant struggle. If she is a diffident paddler and you don’t mind going on the slow side when out with her, there are some benefits to that combination like the too-large boat being harder for her to capsize. But if you expect her to keep up with a faster pace, you might not get a second try.

I would get a Wilderness systems Tsunami 14 . Its 24 inches wide which has high initial stability. 14 feet long so not to long but long enough for speed. Plastic so can bang it around. Can take rudder BUT its not needed. Many of the boats people recommended hear are 22.5 which might be to tippy for rank beginner plus the fatter people wont fit… I call it a SUV of kayaks. does nothing well but everything OK. I personally would not want to paddle one but its good for beginners and good enough for better paddlers. Plus there cheap even new if you look around a bit.

Buy a new one for your self and let the guest use your old one.

I second what Peter-CA suggested… I found a used Alchemy some years back and have enjoyed it a lot. It was in like-new condition for half the price of new. It’s very capable in the wind and waves but not a real speed demon. If you go with that Stratos and it behaves like an Alchemy I think you’ll be happy.

Oh yeah… Beach Boys did a song about big boats. “Bob bob bob; bob bobbery boat.”

I think that was the alcohol induced Keith Moon version…

If the OP at 6’3" 230 buys a second boat that also fits him it wont fit many smaller people he might have as a guest. Especially any female guest. . So not seeing how he can buy a second boat that properly fits him and also use as a loaner boat. Unless all his friends are BIG people.

I think the smaller Stratos is listed as max capacity 275 pounds. PhotoMax COULD move the seat back in the smaller Stratos and use it as a day boat himself… and keep mama happy as well.

How about this P&H Scorpio?

Here’s an old Valley Nordkapp for $450.

Nordkapp is an excellent boat for skilled paddlers, but not something I’d use as a loaner boat for people of questionable skills. Especially with the ocean cockpit (real small) that one has.

Scorpio is supposed to be a decent smaller person boat (which means I don’t fit, so I can’t provide specific feedback). P&H website shows plastic version can be used for up to 250 lbs, but everyone I’ve known with them have been more like 150. I suspect it wouldn’t work for the OP as a boat they could use.

The OP’s Stratos 145L thought is probably an excellent route to go (Dagger now has a 12.5 foot version, which may not be as good an option).

Looks like that Scorpio has been sold. It sounded like the owner, who was a six foot something 200# plus guy, had issues with the tight fit, even though he loved the boat otherwise.

I have not jumped at anything yet, just watching the local listings and reading. I am in Seattle which has a solid active used kayak market. I hope to find a good boat used, so if it does not work out as hoped I can sell it for something like what I paid and move on to another option.

I have a bunch of projects going on so this whole kayak acquisition “situation” happens as time allows. Familiar territory with you all I am sure!

Really appreciate the advice of this great community though…

I’ve loaned my Venture Easky 15 LV to friends ranging from 5’ 2” to 6’ and 105# to 200# and they all liked it. Despite being only 22” abeam it is a boat with excellent secondary stability and tracks smooth and straight with a comfortably outfitted cockpit. They stopped selling the model in the US a few years ago but you still find them for sale used at times.

My goal with my guest kayak is first to have an extreme “beater” kayak for me that I can use when I expect to have to make a very rough landing. I also expect that my guests might treat my kayak no better than they would treat a rental, After that, I want something with a roomy cockpit, good stability and a substantial seat back so that even someone who has never kayaked before can feel comfortable in it. And it has to be able to keep up with a group I regularly kayak with and I don’t want to take my primary kayak (due to that rocky, slippery low-tide landing I expect will happen). So really, the kayak has to meet certain of my needs while being suitable but perhaps not ideal for all guests. Now here’s where you can role over laughing: it’s an old 1989 Hydra Sea Runner (17.5 foot) with a rudder retrofit.

One “loaner” I kept for a long time was a 17’ older Dagger Magellan with rudder. I put a range of various sized guests in it — though a larger boat it had a lower deck profile than many in that size range and even smaller paddlers did reasonably well in it. You can’t beat Daggers if you want a kayak tough as a battleship for scraping over rough put-ins and rocky landings. Some of my male friends who tended to want to lounge against the seat back whined about it being uncomfortable but I found it to be OK, since I sit up straight and don’t arm-paddle, and no female birrower ever bitched. It seems a lot of my male friends, often avud cyclists, have very tight hamstrings. The old Magellan tracked well and was surprisingly fast for a 65 pound kayak. I had bought it used for $400 and sold it 6 years later for $425. Kind of hated to give it up but it was so danged heavy I hated loading and storing it,

A thought going in a different direction:
If you have an outfitter not too far away, that rents kayaks
We like you; have many relatives and visitors who want to paddle with us., and have several boats they can use, but a few months ago had three come. We rented boats at the local outfitter and they picked out ones that were just what they liked.
In our case, the outfitter delivered them right to the beach and picked them up two days later. The cost was $45 per boat for 24 hours (for economy yaks, but they had all ranges)

Still looking at used options. REI has a 15% off sale until the 27th, so I could get a new Stratos.

This nice looking Perception Carolina 14.5 (Airalite model) w/some gear for $800 looks interesting?