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Dagger Nomad Review

Ah yes, the Dagger Nomad- one of the great kayak designs of all time. The boat of choice both for Tyler Bradt’s record-shattering 186-foot waterfall as well as my Dad’s routine low water descents of the Numbers here on the Arkansas. Whether you’re pushing the limits of the sport or your own personal limits, the Nomad’s appeal is it forgiveness, comfort and safety.

Pros:
-Easy Handling-
with its very soft chines, displacement hull and rocker profile, the Dagger Nomad is maneuverable and can spin on a dime if you need it to. It’s very forgiving and not at all “edgy.”
-Great Boofing- whether you’re boofing straight downstream over a hole or looking to “angle boof” off a rock and catch that critical eddy, the Nomad’s boofing abilities will not let you down. The front deck also has a subtle ridge which sheds water and helps the boat resurface under control.
-Easy to Roll- It’s easy to roll. Enough said.
-Safe-
the Nomad sports six anchor points providing maximum access in the event of a pin or other mishap. The molded plastic center pillar is a key safety feature in respects: first it is designed to maximize the boat’s strength and rigidity in a pin or broach situation; secondly, you can step on it in order to exit the boat in the event of a vertical pin.

Cons:
-Bulkhead System Isn’t as Safe As Jackson’s-
no one wants broken ankles, and the injury is all-too-common among creek boaters. Jackson Kayak’s Uni-Shock Bulkhead System (read more in my Jackson Kayak Villain Review) seems to have been a major advance for creek boat design and safety. The Nomad comes with foam pads for the bulkhead, but the bulkhead itself is still bolted to the sidewall. Bottom line is I would rather be in a Jackson boat for a big piton (actually I would rather not have a big piton at all, but you get the point…)

Sizing:
I actually owned both sizes of the Nomad when I was on Team Dagger, and I paddled the Nomad 8.5 (the bigger one) almost exclusively. It never felt too big, but it had the volume to handle the gnarliest of creeks or high water. I’m 155 lbs, 5’8″, 30 inch inseam and size 9 feet.

Verdict:
The Nomad is currently one of, if not my favorite creek boat design. We’ll see if this changes after I paddle the Pyranha Shiva and Liquid Logic Stomper. Stay tuned!

4 Responses to “Dagger Nomad Review”

  1. Shannon Christy
    April 18, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    You should go for a ride in the new Mamba! I love it. I'd like to see what you think!

  2. dustinheron
    April 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Thanks for the comment, Shannon. You're right, I'm really looking forward to trying the new Mamba! I'm hoping to actually try it side by side with the previous Mamba design so I can comment on the differences. Should be fun! Stay tuned

  3. Keith
    August 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    Hey Dustin,

    Great review! Quick question for you…I’m looking into getting a Nomad, but at 150 lbs and 5’6″ ish…I’m having a tough time deciding between the 8.1 and 8.5, feel like I’m right in between sizes. What are your thoughts/recommendations?

    Cheers, Keith

    • Dustin Urban
      April 26, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

      At 155 and 5'8", I prefer the 8.5 and I think you would too if you're planning to do some serious creeking in it! The small one is good, but the 8.5 is not huge compared to other large creek boats. You'll want that volume for resurfacing, etc. Good luck!

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