Performance on flat water and class 1 or 2 is great. Rudder can be very useful. The cockpit is roomy for 5'11" 180 pounds, but big for my wife (5'2").
There are some serious comfort negatives - the seat can be a killer after 45 minutes and using the high coaming as a thigh braces contributes to the discomfort. Cushions of various sizes have been tried (several inflatables and several foam) without relief. Perception/Dagger no longer seem to sell thigh braces that fit it, and they say the Carolina thigh braces can't be used with it.
If the seat and thigh brace problems were solved, I would give this a solid 10.I use my Catalyst 13.0 for river paddling. It's highly maneuverable for its length, so it's great on Class I and Class II rapids. The big bonus is that when you reach the flatwater sections of the river, this boat slips along like a dream. It's got it all -- strong stability, nice speed, great tracking, and great turning. Dagger found the magic formula for both tracking and maneuverability in one hull, which is very hard to come by.
The tracking is still great when going into the wind; however, with tailwinds the back end wants to blow around. Of course, in river valleys in the Upper Midwest where I live, wind isn't much of an issue.
Dagger used to make a boat called the Cypress. The Catalyst seems like a new and improved Cypress to me. I liked the Cypress, but the Catalyst turns much quicker. Plus, with the front and rear bulkheads and hatches, the Catalyst is a seaworthy boat. If big waves splash over the rear deck though, the rear hatch cover will let in some water.
Stability on this boat is awesome. Initial stability is very comforting, and the secondary is super strong and lasts forever, it seems. I'm a paraplegic over 200 pounds, so I'm top-heavy and need some stability from my boat to make up for a lack of trunk stability of my own. I'm paralyzed below my rib cage. The only modification I made to the Catalyst is an extended backrest to reach up into my functional musculature.
I know that Dagger called the Catalyst a touring kayak, but really, it's not a true touring boat. However, it is the best multi-purpose boat I've paddled to date. I've got six kayaks -- different boats for different purposes -- but if I were forced to choose only one boat, it would be the Catalyst 13.0 because I can do anything with it if need be, and it simply excels on rivers up to Class II.
My thanks to Dagger for building a little plastic piece of magic.I am 300 lbs and 6'2" and I am somewhat satisfied with the Catalyst 13.0 I have probably paddled over 250 miles in it since buying it in May of 1994. I was going to buy the Kestel from Current Designs but my kayak dealer didn't have any in stock, but introduced me to the Catalyst. At first I thought the dealer was trying to unload the Catalyst on me instead of ordering the Kestrel. But after demoing the Catalyst, I really liked it. I find no problems getting in and out of the Catalyst with my large frame and it fits just right in my truck if I place it diagonally in my truck with the tailgate down and a red flag on the part which overhangs.
The only complaints I have is that my long legs over extend the footrests making them useless. But my feet do rest upon the front bulkhead which is actually pretty comfortable. What is not comfortable is the seat. At times it digs into my back and I am going to replace it with a better one.
Overall I like the feel of the Catalyst and I do recommend it, but be sure you try before you buy.I recently upgraded to the Dagger Catalyst 13.0 from the Liquid Logic, Saphire. An unbelievable difference. I'm not saying anything negative about the Saphire though. As a starter boat, it performed flawlessly. This is my second year kayaking and I was tired of struggling to keep up with my friends in longer boats, so hence the upgrade. Initial stability in the Catalyst 13.0 was good, keeping me feeling balanced and in control of the boat. The boat I have did not come with the skeg and the lack there-of was definitely noticed while paddling in slightly windy conditions. However, it did track fairly well in the lightest of winds and very well with no wind at all. I love the storage capacity and overall shape of the boat.
Well, I have to throw in a few not-so-negative downers. First, for spending almost $800.00 on the kayak I would have expected a company like Dagger/Perception to put just a little more thought into the comfort of the paddler. The seat and backband could be improved so easily with only slight (and welcomed) weight gain to the boat. I think it would be worth it (if you guys at Dagger/Perception are reading this anyway). I plan on modifying the seat/backband area at some point when I find a suitable replacement.
Also, I did feel a little loose in the kayak so I added a pair of thigh braces (your local Yak shop can order these from Perception, they fit the Dagger line perfectly). This was an easy upgrade and made me feel totally secure. It's still a glove like fit, but mucho betta’ anyway.
I hope this review helps someone. I am not all that experienced at kayaking as of yet, so I have to be fair about reviewing this boat. Anyway, I have to give it a 9 because kayaking manufactures (generally speaking of course) can't seem to figure out this whole seat thing. I wonder if they read these reviews?????? Have fun!!!!!!!