Dagger Roam 9.5 Kayak Review

An adventurous lifestyle can be very dangerous. Of course there are the obvious dangers such as injury or coming into contact with wildlife but we aren’t speaking to this point. When one embodies the free spirit of an adventurist they naturally obtain more and more gear to fuel the constant need to go outdoors and seek the unknown. With that we really couldn’t see a better way to introduce the Dagger kayaks Roam 9.5. It may look like just a solid blue boat to you but our time on the water proved that it was much more than that.

The Roam is a 9.5-foot sit on top kayak that is labeled as a cross over for multi-water use. What might this mean to an introductory paddler you ask? This boat incorporates design features that touch on paddling intended for lakes, rivers and the ocean. With bow and stern hatches, TruTrack adjustable skeg, bungee deck rigging and a mesh storage bag the Roam 9.5 can take on your local coastline with more confidence than you might expect. If racking up the vehicle and heading out to a new lake destination is more of your style this boat has a contour shape that allows you to fish or safely exit and reenter the boat with ease. If you live the more aggressive lifestyle and are in need of some soft rapids you can really secure yourself into the well-padded cockpit with adjustable thigh straps for optimal control and poise.

Living in Dana Point, California means that we spend as much of our life as possible in the ocean away from people. Given that most of our local coastline is classified as a surf zone I quickly found it challenging to launch from the beach and had to search for calmer waters when not in the harbor. Similar to the waves created in a more turbulent freshwater rapid the shore break enlightened us on just how stable this boat really is. With a boat that weighs 56lbs timing is the name of the game and even an experienced paddler would have to become familiar with the roam’s character before launching in the surf zone. With this in mind we recommend leaving the waves and shoreline behind when seeking out your next weekend adventure. From the harbor we experienced a completely different ride and had the time to dive a bit deeper into the Roam’s features.

The immediate challenge that I come across with paddle sports is the weight of the gear in hand. The Roam 9.5 is a very capable boat at a very reasonable price. Unfortunately this comes with a weight penalty of about 56lbs, which can be felt when trying to travel with the roam. It takes a large human being to independently load something of this mass and weight onto a rack by themselves thus we highly recommend purchasing a kayak cart before leaving the store. Once in the water and for its intended use the weight won’t be much of a disadvantage.

From the first paddle I appreciated the shape and stability that this boat provides. You can be as squirrely as you would like and you simply won’t tip over in calmer waters. On numerous occasions I paddled over schools of fish that I had to see for myself. With a proper dismount and reentry from the side of the boat perpendicular to the seat I found myself spending much of the time in the water on my own terms. For the average person this Roam will feel quite nimble for a sit-on-top kayak. Our previous paddling experiences and super light carbon paddle had us maneuvering with ease. Another strongpoint of this model can be found in the self-bailing scupper holes that come with plugs if you desire them. These holes effectively allow water to enter and exit freely in small amounts. Especially for an extremely buoyant boat such as this one you really want to sit a bit lower in the water and these make this possible.

To accommodate the larger surface area of the hull and flat rails the Roam is constructed with a TruTrack adjustable skeg system. We won’t be the first to tell you that this is priceless feature whether you are exploring lakes or pacing the coastline. With a small hand held grip as our engagement device I was able to deploy the spring-loaded skeg and bring it back in before landing. Without hesitation I would label this as the most noticeable feature on this boat. Without the skeg deployed the roam 9.5 feels like a snow sled that jerks side to side with every twist and turn. This may be great for kids, as you never want them to venture off too far. As soon as it was deployed the handling and tracking completely changed. In the local ocean conditions around us as well as in the harbor we simply couldn’t paddle without the sked in the water. Designed as a multi-water boat we understand that paddlers of all types need a dynamic kayak to accommodate their local environment. From larger lakes to harbors and the open coastline the Roam 9.5 will work as a recreational kayak that can handle a ton of abuse.

To even further add to this boats dynamic nature we tested maximum weight capacity with a paddler weighing in at just less than 250lbs. Similar to out 150lb test the boat felt more stable than ever and still tracked in an acceptable manner. For both large and small paddlers the Roam offers an exceptional seat and cockpit arrangement. The seat itself is very comfortable for a continuous feeling of relaxation on the water. The adjustable backrest truly sits in a pain free position and provides enough stability to allow for adequate power transfer. The built in footrests are also adjustable to accommodate rider height and leg length. After using the foot rests we don’t expect them to remain functional for the entire lifespan of the boat. They are a bit flimsy with soft plastic construction and appear to be breakable under any strenuous conditions.

Along with a comfortable cockpit the in-mold construction incorporates a zippered pouch for storage as well as bow and stern hatches for dry storage. A paddle park also allowed us to set our carbon paddle aside while taking a quick dip in search of the perfect GoPro photo opportunity. To finish off this dynamic cockpit Dagger includes two thigh straps to assist paddlers in their whitewater or surf zones.

Overall the Dagger polyethylene construction of the Dagger Roam 9.5 results in a durable boat that offers up plenty of dynamic features for multi-water use. This boat can be effective on most class 3-whitewater runs while rolling through rock gardens. In the ocean and on lakes the roam relies on it’s drop skeg to track well enough to paddle from point a to point b or simply to find your next fitness challenge. The plethora of storage options is great for any situation and truly helped us enjoy our surrounds with a hands free feeling. Stability is a strong point for the roam 9.5 as the boats contour shape can handle much more than we threw at it. As primarily ocean paddlers we would like to see a weight reduction as transporting this kayak will be a challenge for many. If you have the correct racks and need for a versatile setup we are confident that you will be pleased with its price tag of $855.

One pro tip that we can offer for even the beginner adventurer is to invest in a comfortable and lightweight paddle. Adventure Technology designs some of the most comfortable and lightweight paddles on the market today with proven scientific research as their foundation. Both of their fiberglass and carbon options will keep you on the water for a longer period of time with a greater amount of fun to ne experienced.


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