I’m constantly looking at kayak evolution and paddle a lot of different boats. Although I did not spend much time in the original Nomad 8.5, it always felt just a bit too small, so I was very stoked to get in the new Dagger Nomad Large.
My first impression was this: boat speed was amazing and the hull glides on the water like nothing else I’ve paddled. The outfitting is very comfortable but you definitely pay for it in weight. The cockpit combing has no discharge so there is always some water on the deck. This was done because the discharge channels on the rear of the cockpit weaken the kayak so it could be considered a necessary evil. I worked my way around Dagger’s reputation for wet boats by using a new Snapdragon skirt. My head and shoulders fit in the boat well for the longer head carry put-ins and takeouts.
At 96 gallons and 51 pounds, this is a lot of boat, but I really wanted to love it. I spent a few days paddling some local class III and IV then I stepped it up a bit and started running some familiar class V creeks. The edges on the hull are well engineered and they slid well over rocks. I’m not as strong for my weight as I would like to be and did have a hard time keeping the large on line. I got stuck in a couple of holes, but thanks to the edge I managed to work my way out.
On bigger water the boat tends to get pushed around and spin out. I did find for my size that it did not roll like a 8.6 Mamba or any high 80 gallon creek boat for that matter. If you are over 200 pounds and strong I think you will excel in the large Nomad.
With all that being said, I did have a different experience in the medium Nomad. this hull felt like the better choice for my size it tracks good stays on line’ easy to work your way out of sticky holes (safer on your shoulders) still fast. It turns and boofs great and is easer to manage the volume of the boat verses the volume of the boat managing you.
Primary and secondary stability are excellent .
Reviewer Details –
Years paddling: 37 years as white water kayak instructor and guide
Rivers paddled: Arkansas river- pine creek, numbers, Rio Grande- upper box and lower, Rio Embudo, Rio Azul and the Rio Futaleufu, Chile.
Full time boats. Mamba 8.6, Diesel 80, Karma M, Villan L, Stomper 90
Stats: 5’11 ” 190 pounds
Words by Aren Sven Rane