I think I found my yak...

So this past weekend the gf and I went to a Kayak Festival on Lake Superior. I have to say it was a blast. I got to try out a lot of kayaks and absolutely loved it.

So this is where I stand right now. I was originally looking at a Dagger Axis 12.0 or Pyranha Fusion for my first yak. Now after this weekend I fell in love with the Alchemy 14.0. I only got to try the S, not the L. The Axis just seemed like an tank after that. I have to say it was snug, but I actually liked it a lot. How does the L compare to the S? I’m 5’8" and about 150lbs if that helps at all.

Also, how does the Alchemy handle moderate moving rivers? All the topics I see about the Alchemy mention it’s a great rock gardening boat, but doesn’t really mention rivers.

Is it a decent beginner boat that I could grow into?


misc info

– Last Updated: Aug-09-12 4:55 PM EST –

The 3 boats you listed are slightly different, though all 3 trying to blend white water and flat water to make a boat that might work in both. The Axis is a bit of a recreational boat - larger cockpit, slightly wider, etc. The Fusion is a bit more of a whitewater capable boat. The Alchemy is more of a day touring.

If whitewater is what you plan to use this boat for, the Alchemy may not be right. A good paddler could likely take it to class III, but that isn't the norm. If whitewater is important, I'd probably go for the Fusion.

If more flat water, and you want to cover some distance, the Alchemy is likely the better boat. If shorter distances, or the areas you paddle are narrow (so a short boat would make turning around easier), then maybe the Fusion or Axis.

On L versus S - seems the L is more popular (and is what I have, but at 220#s, I am an L-type of guy). There has been some talk amongst the rock gardeners out here, and there is some belief that the L can maneuver better than the S (with proper outfitting for smaller people), so is being bought by people who I would have figured would fit an S better. No definitive answer on that.
(Edit - for clarification, this paragraph is talking about Alchemy L vs S).

There is a term in the tech industry called vaporware - products announced but don't exist yet (and may never). Dagger has a boat called the Ethos due in October, which should be closer to the Fusion. P&H (Pyranha's sister company) has a boat called the Hammer coming out - a 12 foot boat kind of between the Fusion and a Delphin. Both had beta versions at Outdoor Retailer, but even so could be vaporware or could become real products. Neither is available now.

Thanks Peter.

The main reason the Fusion is on the list right now is due to the girlfriend. She hasn’t tried it, but has fallen in love with the look of it. I suspect when she tries it out her tune will change.

My biggest concern is matching the type of kayak she gets. I don’t want to get the Alchemy if she ends up really liking the Fusion. I will end up killing her in the open water, and she will kill me in rapids.

I’m hoping to get the best of both worlds and have her try out the Alchemy. I really don’t think she will want to do anything over Class II type whitewater. She was getting pretty nervous on Lake Superior when it was only 2’ rollers.

However, that could change as she becomes more comfortable with whatever kayak she wants…

Fusion vs Axis
How did the Fusion compare to the Axis?

Same Concept Different Uses
I’ve only been in the Fusion once and it was awhile ago. However, from what I can remember it is pretty apparent they are built for two different purposes.

The Axis seems to be meant more for lakes and slow moving rivers with maybe class IIs. It also really seems built for stability. At one point over the weekend I was trying to flip it and couldn’t (maybe not enough weight?). It really does excel at tracking and speed compared to the Fusion.

The Fusion wasn’t as stable, and although tracked well with the skeg down, at speed it just plowed more than cut. I didn’t get a chance to try the Fusion out in any sort of current, but I suspect it does pretty well in whitewater.

info above

– Last Updated: Aug-09-12 3:37 PM EST –

in the very first post - the first 3 paragraphs - is golden. Couldn't improve on it.

I own a FusionS. It's my river boat for the kinds of rivers (Class I - II+ , III in the spring if my nerve is up to it). Does everything I want. I'm not a ww paddler. Wanted something for bony rivers, that'll slide over submerged rocks and logs, handle some fast but easy rapids. The Fusion is capable of doing more than I ask. It's quick fun to turn and roll, yet covers the flat stretches w. less effort than a ww boat and just as quick - if not quicker - than a lot of short wide rec boats.

Which rivers are around you? Tight and twisty w. flats interspersed by rapids... edge goes to Fusion. Broad and moderate - you could use the Fusion w. the skeg down. The Alchemy will carry speed and track w. less effort. Edge to Alchemy.

Standing waves at river mouths: both are fun!

Wanna do some river camping? Both will do a weekend's worth of gear. Choose the Alchemy if it's longer than that.

At your height and weight you are almost for sure S material. There is *no* diff in agility or performance between an S and L. L outsells S cuz the average buying public has a greater percentage of big ppl.

The Pyranha Fusion now comes in 2 sizes, with a third "grande" size just introduced.

I own an S. My friends who are 5'11 or more cannot fit in an S even w. the adjustable foam bulkhead moved all the way up. My friends who are over 190 find the boat tippier than they like. They could move into the regular size.

At 5'8" you will fit heightwise in an S. You're in an ideal spot in the weight range too.

I like the Connect30 option better than the River Tour option. Fits me better, and the seat back is firmer and is always out of the way. Love the thigh braces than adjust on the fly, and instead of footpegs there is the reinforced foam bulkhead - super comfortable and you can really brace on that thing if needed.

RT option costs ~$100 less, has a back rest that goes high and then low, and has footpegs...more for mellow and moderate paddling - nothing wrong w. that! just depends what you want.

The Dagger Alchemy has the Zone outfitting - pretty much like the Phase 3 in the Wilderness System Tempest (same parent co, Confluence). You either love the comfort, or find it "squishy". It's adjustable but the thigh braces only move outward. It has a lot of little pieces in plastic that can break. Is that worth the comfort? That's for you and only you to decide.

As for the P&H Hammer and Dagger Ethos... if they ever do get introduced, I am wary of buying a boat in its first release year. There are a lot of ppl who got a P&H Delphin who now wish they had waited and gotten the surf specific model w. the tougher plastic.

Awesome info
Hey Raven,

Yeah, I remember you and I were talking about that. We haven’t had any luck finding the Fusions at demos recently, so our plan is to rent them either this weekend or next.

I suspect if most of our paddling is around here it will mainly be on the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers, as well as lakes (nothing too big) However, if the girlfriend becomes brave enough there is a lot of class II stuff a bit further away.

I also noticed this past weekend on the Alchemy demo boats all of the seat adjustment tabs were broken off. I kind of took that with a grain of salt since they were demos. However, I will be a bit more cognizant of that…

thanks D
both boats are great,pretty much awesome,and I don’t say that much when it comes to a kayak.

I agree that you and gf, if it comes down to these 2, pretty much need to settle on a pair of Fusions or a pair of Alchemies. They are different enough in what they do best.

Renting the Fusions is smart, you’ll really get a great idea. Hope one or both of them has the Connect30 outfitting…it’s sweet :slight_smile:

just to be clear
The L vs S in my original response was referring to the Alchemy. Sorry if it got confused with the Fusions, which also has a S and L (and now a medium, I believe).