The day touring kayak: the best of both worlds?

I have repeatedly said that the line between a recreational kayak and a touring kayak was somewhat arbitrary and that there were kayaks that blended features of both.
A lot of companies call such boats day touring kayaks. They may not have them in a separate category, in the menu, but, that’s how they describe them in the text.
They often have larger cockpit openings than their touring kayaks, but smaller than their recreational kayaks.
They are, generally speaking, in the 13 to 15 foot range. Longer than their rec boats, but shorter than their touring kayaks.
They are typically wider than their touring kayaks, but narrower than their recreational kayaks.
Typically they have two bulkheads, whereas most recreational kayaks have only one or none (a few have two)
Some have true thigh braces, whereas most recreational kayaks just have some padding on the cockpit rim.
They may also have perimeter rigging line, which some seem to think is a big deal. I’m not one.

I’m still a canoe guy, but I’ve been gradually warming up to kayaks. I think, as far as kayaks are concerned, day touring kayaks will become my sweet spot. Touring kayaks are overkill and recreational kayaks don’t have enough speed or capacity.
And speaking of capacity, a companies day touring kayaks may have more capacity than their touring kayaks. Making a boat wider increases capacity more than increasing it’s length. An inch in width makes a big difference in capacity.
This is a very popular market segment and I think for good reason.

My wife and i demo’d a Dagger Stratos 14.5S beside a WS Tempest 170. We will be using them as a jack of all trade weekend touring boat, but mostly flat water. We added 30lbs of weight to the boats to make it closer to a touring load.

The Stratos could be turned waaaaaayyyyyy better than the Tempest and felt more fun to paddle due to that. No way could we use the Tempest in winding rivers or shoot through any kind of rapids where we might have to avoid a rock.

The Tempest was faster at cruising speed, but we didn’t have time to test it well. I did a little test where i paddled a straight line out and back, prob 200 yards each way using what i felt was my “i can tour for multiple hours using my muscles this much” rate.
The Stratos i tested 3 times and was at 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3mph. The Tempest i tested twice and did 4.0 and 4.5mph. Not much difference in the average, tho clearly i can get the Tempest going faster if i have to. FWIW im a small dude at 135lbs, 32yo, and haven’t been doing upper body workouts. I’m sure if i get stronger the Tempest will be a little faster over the Stratos.

Due to this, my wife and i are both getting the Stratos 14.5 and plan to use it mostly on flat water, slow rivers, and some ocean island hopping, but will also be able to shoot some CL II+ rapids if they aren’t too twisty-turny.

If you weigh 135 the Tempest 170 is too large for you. You might consider demoing a Tempest 165 which is the low-volume boat in that line.


I’m not sure what you discovered other than the obvious. The shorter Dagger was easier to turn and the Tempest 170 was capable at going faster. Like was mentioned above the Tempest 170 is too large if you were in the DaggerStratos 14.5S. The Tempest 160 would have been a better fit. You are on the right track by test paddling . You need a clear picture of how you are going to use the kayak the majority of the time which will help guide you to making a good boat choice.

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It’s not a big deal. Until you do a self-rescue. Or an assisted rescue. Or until you or someone else needs to grab a boat in lumpy water to keep it from floating away. Or to assist in general stabilization. Or…


The posts made great comparisons that show where each boat has its strong points and weaknesses

Not necessarily.

To me, there are 2 types of ‘kayaks’ (note: not including surf skis, K1s, WW)

  • sea kayaks
  • other (rec boats)

A seakayak has bulkheads, deck rigging (lines), person with sprayskirt on, pfd on, rolled or re-entered easily.
probably over 14’, though there are exceptions (my Petrel Play at 14’ is a seakayak, there are longer kayaks that aren’t ‘seakayaks’)

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The purpose and value of perimeter rigging is instantly apparent to anyone who has actually tried to do a self-rescue on the water, or even an assisted one with a less than helpful swimmer.

It is not going to be apparent to unskilled beginners who have yet to attempt this most basic safety measure. Or anyone who has never had to help handle situations in any conditions.


I do think the crossover kayaks are viable options. Certainly much more capable than many of the recreational ones. They save some weight when compared to larger rotomolded kayaks too. And are safer with more capacity than your average rec kayak.

I think there is a misconception here about sea kayaks. I have used mine on twisty rivers, and run some class 1 river shoals with it. It does everything that the crossovers can do, but does have advantages when it comes to longer trips and open water conditions. I would probably own a crossover if my sea kayak limited me otherwise.

Having been a long time paddler of canoes I prefer them to kayaks for river tripping. I enjoy paddling with a single blade. Canoes also have some distinct advantages over kayaks, as do kayaks have over canoes. Ain’t it Grand to have so many options.

My point here is discounting a sea kayak as less versatile than a crossover is a mistake. It really depends on the hull shape of the individual boats being compared. Therefore the need to test paddle a kayak for fit and performance.

Generalizations miss the specifics of every boat design.


There are places I wouldn’t have taken my Rockpool, because of all the obstacles (rocky shallows, log jams) but that would otherwise be fun in a long boat. I’d probably jump on a Stratos 14.5S if one came up for sale used near me. I’ve even toyed with the idea of ordering one new. I think that would be a fun boat to own and beat up.

Both are good boats with different characteristics.


That is why we need more toys(kayaks). CF or fibreglass needs more babying around rocks/stumps/oyster beds than a plastic hull. The Stratos in your size is a great option - hope you like your’s as much as I do mine. After 18 months waiting for one to come on the used market somewhere in the SE, I broke down and ordered a new one over a year ago.

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It sounds to me like the Dagger is going to be a way better all-round boat for your purposes and a superior choice over the Tempest 170. As others have mentioned the T170 is way too big for you folks. I use a T170 as my touring boat and I outweigh you by 60 pounds. At that the Tempest has never struck me as a nimble craft and when I am on a trip I carry an additional 130 pounds of kit so kudos on your choice.

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I agree the Stratos is a good choice.

My glass boats are paddled around rocks and oyster bars. They have the scratches in the gelcoat to prove it. I don’t consider wood and hull contact an issue. But, my boats were not bought new and already had scratches, so I didn’t get the first scratch blues when I scratched it. If it gets too bad I’ll have the gelcoat redone, and the hull will look brand new. Then the scratches will become cringeable!! :laughing:


I’ve owned 15 different models of kayak and 3 different canoes. The kayaks have ranged from a 9’ whitewater Dagger RPM to an 18’ replica of an Arctic seal hunter’s sea kayak. And I’ve paddled waters from class 5 rapids to twisty mangrove swamps to open coastal waters.

So, like a lot of people on these forums (many with far more experience than me) I speak from personal experience and not from “armchair tourism”. I’ve learned by trial and error and seat time in them that some kayaks have more overlap than others in their versatility, but no kayak I have ever used is “the best of both worlds” as in being the superior choice for two or more significantly different water environments.

All “crossovers” are compromises in some way. This is why most paddlers who seriously want the optimal experience in each location and set of conditions they enjoy experiencing inevitably end up having multiple boats, either in series (because they gradually dial in to models with characteristics that improve their experience) or as additions to a diverse personal fleet from which they can select the best hull and equipage for specific outings.

Bottom line is that any “crossover” model is unlikely to be “the best” in two different water envirironments. It might be second or third level “nearly as good” as the actual best boats for certain conditions in more than one environment. And if you only have the budget and/or storage capacity for one boat, such a craft could be a reasonable compromise. But “ best of both worlds” would be irrational hyperbole.


I have a Stratos 14.5L. It’s really is the best of both worlds… I can paddle 10 miles with ease on a calm river ,… and, It is very balanced in white caped choppy water., ,… great choice!

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Skip deck lines just bring a small grappling hook.

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Honestly had our local Dagger dealer not gone out of business, I might have already weakened and ordered one! But I’m on the fence deciding what I want to buy, and still hoping something used pops up that is ideal for me. I have until the end of Oct for a custom Rockpool order… I think if my new SUP (backordered) isn’t here by then I’ll probably break down and order all the things.

Be careful, I now have four more boats because my canoe won’t arrive by winter.
I don’t really have any regrets. I found out things I might not have found out otherwise. For one, how comfortable some of the newer kayak seats are.
I don’t know if it’s the same at most lakes, but at the lake I’ve been paddling at SUPs outnumber all other boats combined by about ten to one. It’s wild how popular they’ve become. I was going to design and build my own, but I might have to break down and buy one.