Need your 2 cents - 14' Kayak

Hello everyone,

Looking for a 14’ yak, day touring type. Have narrowed it down to three options (I think). Here’s some quick background.

I’m 6’1", 220 - chub is evenly distributed!
I started kayaking Aug 2018, bought a Sundolphin Aruba 10 as my first… to putt around at the family cottage lake. Fell in love instantly. During Boxing week of 2018, upgraded to a Current Designs Kestrel 120, and upgraded my paddle to a Aqua-Bound Stringray Carbon… along with my PFD etc. Took a self rescue course (wet exit, self rescue and team rescue).

This summer, had a blast in my Kestrel 120… got out in many different places, paddled for hours at a time… covered 10-18 km on most trips out. But now… looking to upgrade again.

First, I was really interested in the Eddyline Sitka XT… but i’m not really sure that’ll be in my budget anytime soon… and my other concern is coming up on rocky shores and/or hitting rocky river bottoms. I’m in Southern Ontario, lots of lakes and rivers to explore, especially up North… so you never know when you might run into. 9/10 i’ll be on lakes - so the “Beatability” of the yak isn’t a concern… but I do take care of my stuff… plan on having it for a long time… so both saving money and getting a rotomold type yak might just be a ticket… at the sake of saving 10-12 lbs of carrying weight. My goal is to get more efficiency out of it… longer glides, be a little faster, and a little more room by the feet than the kestrel.

With all that said… here’s what i’m thinking:

  • 14.5 WS Tsunami
  • 14L Dagger Stratos
  • 14.4 Perception Carolina.
  • NEW ENTRY: Jackson Journey 14

I’m trying to find a used one… .there are a couple out there for the WS and one Carolina… but I’m leaning towards the Dagger as I like it’s reviews and features… but it’s the costlier of the three of course.

Not sure i’m on a fan of the rudder (moving parts/cables etc), but I really like the idea of a skeg. Plenty of times i’ve been out in a crosswind and i’m paddling 3-4 times on one side to keep straight… doing that for a couple hours isn’t ideal.

I like the WS Tsunami for it’s day hatch which the Dagger doesn’t have, although i’d have to find an older model as the updated model also lost it’s day hatch.

Reviews are glowing across the board on all three… so would love your input. With size 12 feet and being a bigger guy, would appreciate a slightly bigger cockpit for entry/exit, and a little room to wiggle the feet.

The Dagger would definitely fit your size 12s. Relatively new model, so finding used can be hard. The model the Stratos replaced was the Alchemy, which has a skeg and a day hatch so you may want to look for one of those (Alchemy 14.0L). I am similar in size to you, but only size 11 feet, and I fit fine in the Alchemy.

All 3 boats you list are made by the same parent company. Generalities on what each brand is made for: Perception is the entry level brand, generally a bit more recreational in format (no or smaller hatches, etc) with some cost cutting done (cheaper outfitting and the like). Dagger is the brand for active water, so boats usually are more “playful”. Wilderness Systems is the higher end touring brand.

If glide is something you really want, chances are the WS or Perception would be best. The Dagger has a fair amount of rocker, which can slow glide.

If you cans tore and transport longer boats, you may want to consider going beyond 14’ long. Glide is generally related to length (longer bats glide more).

Most newer design boats have larger cockpits. If you get a sea kayak from 2000s or earlier, chances are you’d find the cockpit to be a bit tight compared to what you are used to. Using the Seals Skirts fit sizing (where they put everything into a number that relates to size), those earlier boats were all 1.4s or 1.2s. Now everything is a 1.7 or even 2.2. Downside to larger cockpit opening is getting a skirt that can seal well, but that is more an issue for rolling or advanced conditions (waves, etc.) that likely don’t factor much for you.

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Peter… great response thank you. I wasn’t aware they were all owned by the same parent company… makes sense, as they’re all solid yaks.

I really want to stick to 14’ max, as i’m really more of a rec kayaker, lakes and rivers… I live anywhere close to active/open water… and at this point, i’m a ways away from wanting to do that… i like to “explore” more. Also, I have a 1 car garage and a kayak trailer that can’t hold bigger… I don’t want to store anything outside.

I am familiar with all 3 but have only paddled the Carolina. I am big with size 13 feet and the Carolina still had lots of room in it.
I am impressed with the looks of the Dagger and a novice friend rented one. She was immediately comfortable and could easily maneuver it.

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Since you are in Canada, you might want to add some of the Venture models to your search list. Venture is a division of the British maker P & H and their boats are manufactured in the UK. You’d fit their Easky 15 (yes it is a bit longer but the Greenland style overhanging bow means the waterline is closer to 14’) or the more recent Islay 14. Personally, I find the mid sized Tsunamis and Carolinas (both of which I have paddled as loaners or rentals) kind of stodgy by comparision and my Easky is, like Dagger models, sleeker and more playful than those models. I also like the outfitting and finish of Venture boats – might be worth a look if you have a dealer in your area.

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Do yourself a great big favor and take a good look at a Current Designs Sirocco. Yeah it’s a bit longer than you are thinking, but the price is right and you won’t find a better boat for the money. It should fit you just right.

My reply is not without bias, but I’ve owned both the Sirocco and Stratos and have a strong preference for the Stratos. If the Stratos didn’t exist, I might consider another Sirocco because it isn’t a bad boat. It’s much longer though, and while this gives more room for gear it’s also longer.

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Of your options: I would rank them:
Strong Buy: Stratos - a joy to paddle for distance or in dynamic surf conditions. Plus: has a skeg. Minus: use a dry bag behind the seat since not day hatch.
Buy: Journey - a joy to paddle. Plus: Jackson’s WW seat systems Huge minus: no skeg. Day hatch cup/bag so still only two bulkheads.
Ok if with a skeg: Carolina - not the quality of above kayaks. Minus: skeg only on some older models that I know of.
Blah: Tsunami - Plus: a stable platform (that most paddlers I know of grow out of in a season). Minus: Day hatch and rear hatch are in the same bulkhead area. Seems heavy to me.

PS - I am in the market for a Stratos 14L at the moment. A Journey would work if a skeg were offered. Since I do lots of open water distance paddles, a skeg comes in handy in very windy following seas. Also, the Sirocco is a fun kayak too when a longer kayak is needed.

Excellent reply kayakhank!
Just the kind of breakdown that helps a guy make the right call…
The more I’m reading and watching videos… the more I’m leaning towards the Stratos.
I need to get my butt in one to know it fits me well… but it would be nice to know that I may not ever grow out of that yak.
The self is something I’ve wanted for some time as I do cross open lakes from time to time in the wind… but I’m not really planning on large lakes (Ontario/Erie) anytime soon… other than some small coastal stuff.
I do plan on growing in the sport… but I love finding hidden rivers and winding scenery at this point… but want a yak I can do 4-8 hr days In.

After having a chance to sit in a Carolina and a Journey, I’ve narrowed down my options to the WS Tsunami 145 and Dagger Stratos 14.5L.

Any owners, please chime in!

I have a Tsunami 145. Most of the paddling I did with it was on Lake Erie near Buffalo. I did take it on a 8 day trip down the Rideau canal from Kingston On to Ottawa, carrying my gear for camping. I do like the day hatch, I installed a cargo mesh net under the day hatch, using the screw heads inside the hull to keep items accessible and not sliding to the back of the kayak. I have since upgraded to a CLC Chesapeake 18. I like doing multiple day trips and wanted a little more storage space and love the wood.

I haven’t felt the need to use a spray skirt with the kayak even when I was in rough water with waves breaking over the bow, little if any water found its way into the cockpit. I found the cockpit very roomy and comfortable.

I might be interested in selling, PM me, click on user name and message me if interested.