New kayak for older paddler

After many years of paddling a CD Sirocco, I recently sold it. I turn 64 this year and it was time for a smaller and lighter kayak ~14’ and under 50 lbs.). I am no longer into rolling or “big water” - but I live in the SC low country plus travel to MI for a month in the summer - so I still want something for paddling a bit away from shore and durable for conditions I launch in. Lots of retailers with short wide rec boats in my area and one with very high-end touring boats. Dealers for the two options I am looking at are 2-8 hour drive away. I am very torn between two options and hope to get some suggestions:

Option 1: Dagger Alchemy 14S - it’s at the top end of the weight I am willing to take on but has a lot of the touring boat characteristics I would like to have - the skeg is a big plus for me. However, I am concerned that the cockpit could be too narrow for me as I get even older than I already am. (I am 6’ 195# and still in reasonable shape but nothing like I was 15 years ago when I started kayaking.) Any older kayakers OK with this boat?

Option 2: Eddyline Equinox - plenty big cockpit, very light plus Eddyline quality, but I am uncertain about performance and whether thermoform is durable enough for MI rocks. There do not appear to be any Eddyline dealers with the boat in stock so I may have to buy it sight-unseen. (REI in Atlanta is 6 hours away and did not have this boat in stock, dealer in FL 4 hours away does not carry stock, Eddyline not even part of recent Charleston Paddlefest.) Is this a kayak someone who can paddle several miles for 2-3 hours at a time would be happy with?

I am open to other suggestions but have no interest in a composite, kevlar or glass boat as I do not wish to spend that much money or take on the care and repair issues. Poly or thermoform.) Have considered Easky, Zephr 155, Manitou 14, Huricane Sojourn and several others but they are lower on my list for various reasons.

Forgot to add - Alchemy
I have seen several posts from Alchemy owners who are my size or bigger and own the L version. There seems to be relatively little difference - but weight is bit lighter on the S version. Anyone over 5’10" and 190 paddle the S version of the Alchemy and like it?

Thermoform is very durable
I have two Eddylines; one a rec (Skylark) and the other a touring boat. Last October I took the Skylark to our pool for winter storage. The lifeguard and his buddy offered to put the boat into the slings - about four feet up the wall. Before they could attach the slings, they dropped the boat. Concrete floor. It just bounced. No damage.

While I can’t speak to the comfort of the Equinox, it has the same sliding Infinity seat as my Samba. I’ve found it to be a comfortable seat which has the added benefit of thigh supports. Midweek I’ll paddle here at home for 2/2.5 hours, longer on weekends.

Perhaps if you contact your Eddyline regional representative, you can arrange for a demo.

go large

– Last Updated: Apr-18-16 10:59 AM EST –

I know people the other way - say 150-160 pounds, and they prefer the L Alchemy over the S.

I think you had the right boat. I’m 9 years older than you and a bit lighter and my Sirocco still gets used a lot when I’m going places where I won’t take my glass boat. I find the Sirocco easier to carry these days than when I was 10 years younger.

Dagger Stratos

– Last Updated: Apr-18-16 10:23 PM EST –

You may want to check out the Dagger Stratos, as well. I have owned an Alchemy S, in the past. I demoed a Stratos ;this past weekend, at the Charleston Outdoor Festival.

The Stratos has hard chines, less rocker and a soft V down the hull. The Stratos S cockpit, is a tad more roomier than the Alchemy S. The Stratos tracks a little straighter than the Alchemy, I thought the A to B speed was a tad quicker than the Alchemy. I think the Stratos may be a better open water kayak, than the Alchemy.

The Alchemy maneuvers better and is easier to edge. The Alchemy is a fine 14ft kayak. I think it would do better in surf and mild- moderate white water.

Buy an Eddyline Equinox at REI
I live in Atlanta and at least as of 1 month ago,the Perimeter store (in Dunwoody) and the Atlanta store both had a blue Eddyline Equinox on the floor display. I actually sat in one on the floor to see how well it fit me.

I too was a bit nervous about not being able to “test drive” before I made the purchase. But, if you buy at REI, keep in mind, you have 1 year to return the boat for a full refund for any reason at all, including no reason at all.

I bought an Eddyline Denali from REI one month ago. Shipping to the store was free and only took about 5 business days.

I had a few questions for Eddyline before I pulled the trigger and all of my emails were answered in less than 24 hours.

I could not be happier with my Denali. It is a beautiful boat with great performance to match. Far sexier than any rotomoulded boat I have ever seen.

I do take very good care of the Denali and only take her out on lakes and deep, flat water rivers. I am very careful to launch and beach in at least 2 feet of water.

As for rocks and boulders and other crap right under the surface, I take my “beater boat” rotomoulded kayak out for those conditions.

Eddyline is in my opinion, the best bang for the buck and a perfect balance of price, looks, weight and performance.

As a member of REI, I already have a $250 dividend check for use in 2017 just from the purchase of the Denali. Add in a spray skirt, paddles, roof rack, Dannuu cover, pfd, etc. and I am looking at a $400 dividend check next year to spend however I want.

I’m not sure about the customer service at Dagger, but the service at both Eddyline and REI are above and beyond! I highly recommend both.


– Last Updated: Apr-19-16 12:45 AM EST –

I still haven't paddled the Stratos yet (but am a long time Alchemy owner), but all the info I have seen/heard is about the opposite of what you said related to rocker and the impacts. I have heard that the Stratos has more rocker that the Alchemy, and as expected from this it is slower, track less well, and easier to turn than the Alchemy.

Here is a side by side review on Youtube that seems to match what I heard

Not to hijack the thread…

– Last Updated: Apr-19-16 1:25 AM EST –

I was skeptical of the Stratos, but seat time changed my thoughts. There was not an Alchemy; at the festival, for a side by side comparison. I wish the Rep had brought both.

Looking at the video, it appears the Stratos has a bit more rocker. But examining the hull in person, the rocker did not appear as impressive. The Stratos has more primary stability in my opinion , and felt faster A to B to me. I think the Alchemy may indeed accelerate quicker, but tops out quicker than the Stratos . But comparisons to the Alchemy are from memory. It has been at least a year, since I sat in one.

As my knees age
I am growing fonder and fonder of lighter boats. My next will probably be a pygmy or other kit boat since they are not only lighter, but more attractive than pretty much anything on the market. There are several out there that are, though pricey, probably lighter and more seaworthy than many of the boats you mention.


oh, and these differences…
Oh, and these differences likely won’t matter to the OP. Either the Stratos of Alchemy would be decent options for them.

Hard to beat skin-on-frame boats for lightness, including folding versions.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve sold off any boat I had that weighed 45 lbs. or more. The only poly kayak I have any more is a 44 lb. Easky LV 15. The rest of the fleet is a 31 lb. 18’ wood frame Greenland replica with ballistic nylon/urethane skin and 3 folding kayaks weighing 25 lbs. (Pakboat Puffin), 29 lbs. (Pakboat Quest 135) and 37 lbs. (Feathercraft Wisper). An added plus to the folders is that when one reaches retirement and has more leisure for extended trips the boat(s) can be brought along on the airlines and stashed in the trunk of a rental car.

Having a kayak you can lift onto a roof rack with only one hand really takes a lot of the hassle out of getting to and from the put-in.

Smaller Alchemy
I’m a bit smaller and younger and paddle the smaller Alchemy. I have loaned it to someone older and bigger than you and they did fine in it. But… I moved the seat back in it. Since I got it used for a nice price I had no qualms about pulling out the stiffening hardware and moving the seat back. It fits great now.

Not much foot room in the Alchemy S,
is there?

My recollection was that when I tried one on wearing my size 8 Chota Mukluk Lites, there wasn’t much foot room. Not an issue for barefoot or sock footed paddlers.

The larger Alchemy had enough foot room, but was a bit loose in the cockpit fit.

That was about 5 or 6 years ago when I tried them for fit at Canoecopia, so the boats may have changed since then and my memory could be inaccurate.