Tall guy needs advice on a swiss army kayak for some ocean, lakes, rivers and occasional WW

Wish I could have a dedicated boat for sea (LI Sound), rivers (Hudson), lakes or white water (1/2 class max) but have funds to only have one. Currently debating between two poly boats, Dagger Stratos 14.5L and Wildy Zephyr 16. Zephyr is probably more sea-worthy but not sure how maneuverable it will be in mild rapids (Delaware River, etc.) Equally not sure if Dagger will do as well in LI Sound.

Curious if anyone had experience with both boats - any insight will be much appreciated.

Many thanks, Roman

PS. I’m 6’4"/200lbs

I am the same height as you and maybe 25 pounds heavier. I have the Dagger Stratos 14.5L and it totally works for me. I am a new paddler so I don’t have extensive experience with a ton of boats. I did a lot of reading before getting the Dagger. Overall it works as a great all rounder but master at nothing boat for taller paddlers.

Good luck. Don’t plan on running any dog leg rapids in a Zephyr.

Thanks for a sanity check. Zephyr is a great boat, no doubt, and there is a used one available on Craiglist nearby for half the price. But I think I better wait for a deal on Stratos - it’s shorter and can handle flat, white water and surf. Probably less quick on open water but paddling Zephyr on white water would likely be a stretch.

I’m 6’2, 225 lbs and a Stratos 14.5L owner. Fit is just about perfect. Maneuverability is great with the skeg up, and putting it down tames the beast enough to easily paddle straight even in windy conditions.

It is NOT a speed machine. Acceptable, given everything else but expect to work keeping pace with other competent paddlers in 16’+ boats.

I don’t do whitewater, but have played some in moving water at dams and easy rivers. Not surprisingly, I’d take the Stratos over my almost 18’ long Assateague every time the choice arises.

I would take into consideration what kind of water is going to be paddled the most. If you’re going to be on big, flat water 90% of the time I’d go with the Zephyr. If it’s closer to 50% the Stratos is the better choice.

Are you a new paddler, as in need to acquire a roll and that kind of thing? If the answer is yes you want to start out with a boat that is more maneuverable and kinder to acquiring those skills, especially if you plan to paddle solo. Not a full out WW boat because it’d be too much trouble to go from Point A to B in flat water. But something that leaves hull speed behind to give you a better head start on the other uses.

Mild rapids involve the material as much as the design of the boat. Scraping rocks even of shallow means plastic. The issues of getting a bow pinned and needing the WW construction that prevent that trapping you in the boat tend to be less of an issue in class 1 or mild class 2. Just be careful about timing if you want to mess with that in an otherwise touring boat - the stretch that is a benign class 1 in early September can become much more than that just after the kind of violent dumping thunderstorms the northeast has seen lately.

If you were an average or smaller sized paddler I would suggest one of the first two years of the Necky Elaho, before they retuned the hull to make it more of a straight touring boat. My husband had that as his first sea kayak and it was one of the best first boats he could have had to learn in.


I’m guessing you might not be far away from The River Connection. While at your height, you would be using the front bulkhead as a footbrace (which is quite comfy), go with the P&H Delphin 155. I use the same model occasionally playing whitewater on the Housatonic and Mongaup wave on the Delaware. I have a demo model in my fleet that you’d be welcome to try and it will be looking for a home soon. (Sunbeam yellow)

See you on the Hudson,
Marshall Seddon
The River Connection, Inc.
9 W. Market St.
Hyde Park, NY. 12538
845-229-0595 main
845-242-4731 mobile
Main: www.the-river-connection.com
Store: www.the-river-connection.us
Facebook: fb.me/theriverconnection

I’m not a new paddler but certainly new to this type of a boat. I currently own Native Watercrafts Ultimate 14.5 hybrid kayak/canoe boat and, although I like its versatility (esp. on camping trips), in many situations, it came short for me (eg. it’s taking in water too easily on the ocean and mildly challenging white water.) Hense I’m thinking about switching to a more traditional kayak with a skirt. That said, I’m 6’4" with 36 inseam and most kayaks I sat in just don’t have the leg/foot room for me. You’re spot-on on the materials - I’m only looking at poly boats because of rocks, etc. I often encounter.

You’ve mentioned using front bulkhead for foot bracing - does P&H Delphin use foam bulkhead or hard plastic?

4” minicell foam wall bonded to the plastic hull. P&H used to weld in a hard plastic bulkhead in Capellas of old but it created a hart high point that would wear more than the more flexible deck and hull fore/aft of the bulkhead. More an aesthetic thing.

Probably more info than you really wanted. Whoops.

See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
9 W. Market St.
Hyde Park, NY. 12538
845-229-0595 main
845-242-4731 mobile
Main: www.the-river-connection.com
Store: www.the-river-connection.us
Facebook: fb.me/theriverconnection

Along those lines, I had a 36" inseam and every cockpit I have tried was too short. I paddle only SOT now and their footbraces are too close.I take them out and use minicell to get the proper length.

Of the 2 you listed, the Stratos would be the better all-arounder. The 16’ Zephry would do well in all except the times you need maneuverability.

See if you can find a Dagger Alchemy 14.0L on the used market. That was the predecessor to the Stratos and reacted much the same way.

On new paddler versus experienced, in some ways you are more like a new paddler. Specifically in the safety aspects of a sea kayak. I would recommend going to your local paddlersports retailer (not big box) and take a class that includes the paddlefloat rescue and T-rescue.

Some more general info (outside of the one boat fits all question, but on boats for tall people). Here is a list I got from a kayak instructor friend (so someone who has paddled lots of boats) who is 6’ 7" and maybe 180 pounds:

–start quote–
I don’t think there is a kayak greater than 17’4" that I’m not able to fit into.

I would be able to fit into a fair amount of kayaks in the 16’-17’ range IF I drilled and re-mounted the footrails/ footpegs further away from the seat.

Here is a list of kayaks, shorter than 17’, that I can fit into WITHOUT any modifications:

Current Designs Sirocco
P&H Delphin 155
NorthShore Atlantic LV
Valley Gemini SP
P&H Hammer
Dagger Alchemy 14.0L
Dagger Stratos 145L

–end quote–

@Peter: Thanks for the list of boats. This is very helpful - a friend of mine just bought a used Sirocco - I’ll try it out as well before buying anything (and it sounds like a used Alchemy/Stratos is what I should be looking for). You’ve also made a good point on taking a sea kayaking rescue class - I shall look into that as well.

Same height as you and 10lbs lighter I am very happy with a Tsunami 145. That said in heavy seas I prefer a bigger, longer, heavier Tandem but I’ve dealt with 1-2+ foot white caps no problem. It’s plastic so rapids ain’t bad and maneuverability is good, maybe a little too good as being this tall I prefer something less tippy. That said I also made a Tsunami 125 work in same 1-2+ foot white caps. I think if you want any kind of maneuverability the 12-14 foot range is better than 16+ for sure as 12-14 foot for our height and weight is the limit in rough seas. There are nicer options but it can and does work and has for me for years.