Dagger Vanguard Review by Jack Juntunen

Dagger Vanguard Review by Jack Juntunen

Jack Juntunen

"The Dagger Vanguard is a beast. It is insanely capable & comfortable, allowing you to maximize efficiency on the river, and skip over and through any rapid."

Hull & Capabilities

The Hull of this boat is like no other. It seems to take design cues from slalom boats, modern rockered creek boats, and of course its predecessor, the Green Boat. The insane amount of rocker on this boat allows the bow to stay dry over waves no other longboat can, and punch through holes.

The tip is narrow, and glancing blows from waves don't stop its momentum. The hull seems narrow at first, but as you paddle it, you realize it just needs to stay flat to keep total control. The edges on the hull allow for huge skips, on everything from small pour-overs to massive boofs. When it lands it feels like you're already into the next rapid. The hard edges also allow for a lot of lean pressure to be put onto them, priming you for ear dips, and huge boofs.

The stern is widest just behind the seat, then tapers rapidly, making a smooth transition to shed water quickly and avoid back-endearing (if you somehow miss a boof). This boat is so fast, to the point where you can run things in it you might not even run in a normal creekboat, just because you know you will have so much speed going into the feature. Not only that, but unlike other longboats, the rockered ends make it handle and turn much more like a shorter boat, without the typical slow turns.

The Vanguard kayak in action.
Photo Credit: Sean Chapelle

While racing it on the Numbers section of the Arkansas River, I was so impressed by how it handled the bodily transition areas between rock boofs and rapids. It held its course remarkably well. At the Steven's Down race on the Cache la Poudre River, it kept its speed through the flats and the 10.5-mile race flew by. I would highly recommend this boat to anyone who likes to go fast and take chances.

As this is long, if you aren't racing it, it is still an excellent option to do multi-day or long-distance paddling. There is a ton of room in the stern that is easily accessible, and the top of the bulkhead can slide down to allow for some goodies to be put in the bow.


Everyone seems to know that Dagger outfitting has some of the most customizable options on the market, allowing every paddler the opportunity to feel dialed in the boat before they even take a stroke. The massive bag of foam that comes with the boat makes for the perfect fit.

The addition of the Engage thigh braces this year took the Contour Ergo outfitting a step further, allowing for a more secure fit to truly allow paddlers ultimate boat and edge control. I'm 5'9, and have relatively short thighs, so the ability to have thigh hooks (combined with the leg lifter) that push my legs up & out without having to additional foam is excellent. The aggressive hooks are a need for any racer.

Back to blog