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Reviews for Specter 15.5 Kayak by Dagger


Rated: 8/10 Based On: 12 Reviews

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07-03-2014
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I bought the Dagger Specter about 4 months ago and have had it out in the Barnegat Bay and in the saltwater marshes about 20 - 25 times now. I have canoed for years but this is my first kayak. I am 6' and about 210# so I was looking for something to fit me and something very inexpensive to learn on.

I got the Specter 15.5 Airalite used for a great price and I really liked the classy non-plastic look of it - and the cockpit was a great, roomy fit. As a newbie to kayaking I prefer a little wiggle room. As I gain experience and confidence I will probably move up to a more snug fit for advanced maneuvering and rolling. Also as a newbie, I have found the rudder to be absolutely invaluable. I don't always use it because I am trying to develop some paddle control but in very windy conditions, confused chop, maneuverability, or when I get tired, I have been totally grateful to have it available. Additionally, it is awesome for maneuvering through the saltwater marshes. The primary stability still kind of freaks me out but I feel confident in the secondary stability. I have little to compare it to as far as speed, but it is quick to get moving with little effort and seems to move along pretty good with some effort. I thought it would coast better/longer when I stop paddling, but that's probably due to my weight. Now that I have some time in the cockpit, I will soon take it out on the open ocean water. I'm really looking forward to that.

The only drawbacks I would mention are the less than confident primary stability, the weight for a 15.5 ft 'Airalite', and (although the neoprene hatch covers have always remained watertight) the top covers over the hatches donít stay completely in place.

Overall, for the great price, I am very pleased with my purchase of the Dagger Specter. I really do love the look of the Airalite. I am very happy with this being my first kayak to learn on this season Ė although, since I have definitely caught the kayaking bug, next season I will be trading up to a sweet, lighter, more advanced ride for big water touring.

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07-02-2014
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     I bought the Dagger Specter new and have been moderately happy with this boat. I will admit that it is heavier than I prefer but this has had a least the advantage of less weather cocking than a lighter boat would have. The boat tracks well with or without the rudder engaged and rocker is not bad. It is a very stable boat both initially and secondarily. Not being as limber as I once was, I greatly appreciate the very generous cockpit opening. It make my entering and exiting the boat a much easier task. the thigh braces are too high for my 5 foot 10 inch frame and don't help at all. The seat is comfortable for long paddles. Dry storage is generous.

Having other kayaks to paddle, I don't use this boat as often as I used to but I have taken many beginning paddlers out for their first time ever in the Dagger Specter and their favorable first experiences were formed by having a safe and stable feeling.

I would recommend anyone looking for a good used, stable, durable and comfortable boat to buy a Specter.

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05-15-2009
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 5 of 10

     I tested the Dagger Specter on a calm lake for about 45 minutes but did not buy it. (You'll see why.)
The Dagger Specter is no longer made but you might find a used boat here and there. It will be difficult to figure out the exact specs of the boat---the width, length, etc. on the label inside the boat were different from those listed on the internet.

The Specter was among the first generation of thermoformed boats. Compared to today's thermoformed kayaks, it's about 10 lbs overweight, which is a significant disadvantage. One of the main benefits of thermoformed plastic is its light weight, but at 57 lbs the Specter is as heavy as it would be today in cheaper rotomolded plastic. And in fact there are rotomolded kayaks at that weight that have better paddling characteristics than the Specter.

So you won't be buying the Specter for its light weight. The next advantage of thermoformed plastic is its stiffness, which normally means a faster boat---but not in the case of the Specter. I agree with the reviewer who called this a "big, heavy, high-volume boat." You will feel the extra 10 lbs and bulky hull shape with every paddle stroke.

The cockpit of the Specter is suited only to a quite large person. Sitting in the boat with my knees bent, the thigh braces were about 3" above my thighs, providing no support at all. The cockpit is cavernous---plenty of room for comfort, but it would only provide good contact for a very large person.

The seat pan is comfortable. I don't personally find any backband comfortable, but this one is considerably better than most, and some people will like it. On me it didn't provide lumbar support, being too low. It is wider and more padded than most backbands. The ratchet adjustment for the angle of the back is easy to use while sitting in the boat.

The Specter has a shallow V, multichine hull. It has good stability, both initial and secondary. It doesn't have much rocker, so it racks straight but is slow to turn even on edge. It does feel stable on edge. This boat could be paddled by a beginner.

To its credit the Specter comes with a rudder. But I would not want to paddle this already slow boat with the rudder creating even more drag. The design of the hatch covers is poor, as mentioned by other reviewers. There are no perimeter lines, which is a safety issue.

In a nutshell, the Specter is not competitive with today's thermoformed boats.

    Why would you buy this boat in 2009? You would buy it if:
  1. You are a really large person
  2. You find it at a greatly reduced price, under $1000. If you have more than $1000 to spend you should be looking at up-to-date thermoformed boats from Current Designs, Eddyline, Swift, and so on.
  3. You want to use it for camping (the hatches are large).
  4. You don't care too much about elegance and speed.
  5. You like the looks of airalite---it is an attractive material.

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06-10-2008
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Bought a Dagger Specter 15.5 in Airalite. I bought this boat as a spare/loaner. After I took it out, I was impressed by the way it handles. It's heavy and has a high foredeck which I don't like but for the money it's a lot of boat. With composite boats heading toward $3,500.00 and climbing would say look for a used Specter 15.5 Airalite. I've seen them used for less than a $1,000.00.
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06-12-2007
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     We purchased 2 used Dagger Specter 15.5, 2004 models, this now being June 2007. I think that's the first year they came out.
Love how it handles on rivers & open water, does well in choppy too. As said there is some side movement corrected by edging, but you get that with any number of kayaks. My concern is with the seat mounts, They were cracking, particularly where the back support attaches. The dealer was no help at all, Dagger came through with repair suggestions involving epoxy and cevlar. They did not take any responsibility for the design flaw, though. We repaired the mounts with our own heavy duty epoxy and cut up truck mud flaps. Sanded, cut to fit, glued and clamped, and better than new.
So watch those seat mounts, but we're betting this was corrected in the next years' models.

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03-12-2007
Submitted by: MAVSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I purchased a used Airalite Spectre 15.5 wt/rudder and love it. It's my first kayak and I wanted something a cut above a plastic boat...this is perfect for my needs. I picked it up on sale for $1000. Just minor scuffs and scrapes on the bottom. My only problem is the hatch covers tend to not seal flush with the deck...mostly cosmetic. The boat cuts thru the water like a knife...I cruise with minimal effort at 4 to 5 mph. Seems very stable to me but I'm a newbie...only been in rivers, lakes, and protected bays. Also the pegs seem to be a bit awkward for my feet...nothing some minicell couldn't fix when I get the time. I'm 185lbs and 6feet tall.
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09-11-2006
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I have the Airalite (ABS) 2004 model (without a rudder) which I picked up as a new left-over ten days ago. During these ten days I have taken it out on a large motorboat lake eight times. My other boats (current and past): Dagger Blackwater, Necky Manitou 13, Prijon Kodiak, Pyranha H3 255

Fit: I am 6'5", 240 lbs., size 15 feet. This boat fits superbly. Unlike my 17' Prijon Kodiak, where I have to remove the thigh hooks to fit in, this boat lets me use the integrated thigh hooks (which are perfectly positioned for me).

Handling: Leaning and edging are absolutely effortless. Secondary stability seems solid. Just finished a six hour intermediate paddling course where the Specter responded immediately to everything I asked of it. Pleasure boat wakes and jet ski wakes present no problem. Does side-slip somewhat in the wind but this is corrected through edging. Speed is good, comparable to other quality plastic boats. Tracking is a bit soft (perhaps due to the boat's maneuverability).

Outfitting: Seat and backband are extremely comfortable on multi-hour trips. Bungees are functional and conveniently rigged. As others have said, the external hatches do slip a bit but the bulkheads have remained dry. I am a bit concerned at the lack of perimeter lines and plan to add those this winter.

Summation: For the XL guy, I believe this to be an outstanding day tourer.

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09-05-2006
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 7 of 10

     Demo'd this (the Duralite version) for about half an hour. I would not buy it... for me. A fat high deck increases wind resistance, as does the higher seat back and coaming lip behind the seat. I just do not like the top deck design. The Specter did move pretty well once it gets going but I have gotten better speed from kayaks two feet shorter and as wide. The rudder's easy to use, however, as a beginner I want to develop good paddling habits rather than rely on rudder correction... and I will not be out on the ocean. So that was not a big perk to me. The demo came in a silver, nice looking but hard to see on the water. It seemed like a big heavy high volume boat... which is exactly how the guy at the demo described it after I brought it in. Seems like a kayak for a big person w. high center of gravity.
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02-09-2005
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 8 of 10

     As a long time whitewater paddler and previous owner of a Perception Chinook years ago, I couldn't wait to try out my Specter 15.5 Airalite. I initially intended to get a shorter poly boat, but once I saw it and sat in it, I decided it was the boat for me. I've had it out three times, never in more than 6" chop, so I can't attest to its weathercocking behavior or rough water personality. I am 6'1" and 180 pounds and am very pleased with its comfortable cockpit. I have added foam at the usual locations and it now fits me quite well. Roll and reentry practice will have to wait for warmer conditions, though. I bought it for inland cruising and fitness paddling and it seems to be very well suited for that. I like the balance of initial and secondary stability, easy to lean but reassuringly stable on edge. The rudder seems to work fine, though I have yet to paddle in conditions that would dictate its use. The hatch covers do tend to slide around some, but I added some rubber weather-stripping with self-adhesive to the underside of each cover and that has greatly reduced any movement. My GPS indicates a 4.0 mph relaxed very low effort cruising speed, but that may say more about me than the boat. All in all, I'm very satisfied with the boat.
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02-07-2005
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     This is a great boat...finally got my Airalite Specter 15.5 and after adding a bailout container for flares and a bow line, I took it out. I'm new to sea kayaking, but compared to other boats I've tried this one has great acceleration, is very stiff fore-and-aft and turns better than any with a moderate amount of edging required. I opted for a no-rudder model, and found it for $1099 as a demo-used boat...even with the reviews I've seen that mention weathercocking, I can say that in a 15-knot breeze you only have to lift one knee a bit to keep her going straight ahead. She's really a low-effort boat in general, and with a Werner Corryvrecken high-angle paddle, even a beginner like me can get up near hull speed and maintain it there with an easy cadence. I see where some reviewers found a large bow wave, but it didn't seem to affect maneuverability or indicate a hydrodynamic problem (I'm 6'2, 204)...rather it was the same result as with my surfboard, it paddles the fastest even when the water looks too high up near the front end.

Overall a very satisfying boat, with enough space for a few days' worth of camping gear, perhaps not a full expedition to Antarctica but it does what Dagger says it will. Only gripe is the hatch covers sliding around some during rescue practice, but the watertight integrity is never affected. I'd recommend this boat strongly to anyone who can't afford a $2500 kevlar British boat but still wants to feel they made a good investment, and the Airalite material is a lot tougher than is generally discussed around here. 9 out of 10...one point off for hatch covers and no perimeter grab lines, but they're easy to add anyway.

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07-28-2004
Submitted by: WJLSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I am a big guy. I weigh 270 Lb, have broad shoulders, muscular legs, and the additional weight that being 53 years old gave me. Note my weight is far under the gross weight advertised for the boat. I test paddled the boat, and found it easy to get into, and the cockpit felt comfortable for me. I thought "all right" I found the boat for me.

I started out into the lake, and found it easy to handle, it tracked well, and was easy to turn. I was happy so far. I then started to see how it would go thru the water when I put some effort in the paddle strokes. The boat picked up speed, and still tracked well, but I noticed a problem, probably related to my weight it was carrying. The bow was curling the water up like it was a snow plow going thru snow. Instead of it cutting thru the water, the bow was pushing a wake up almost to the edge of the deck.... out at the bow of the boat.

After the test paddle, I talked to the shop owner about this, and he tried the boat after me. He is not as heavy as me, but he noticed some of this also. If you are around 200 Lb or less, this would be a great boat. Or if you are just looking for something more recreational than touring, You will do well with this. I like to get out on large lakes, etc, and just go, so this wasn't for me!

Just as a note, after the test paddle, I wrote an e-mail to Dagger commenting on the boat, and they never replied anything back to me. It has been over a month now, so I guess they are ignoring my negative comments. I was dissapointed on that. If you are lighter in weight, want a nice Rec kayak, take a look at this, as it seems to be a real nice kayak!

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06-01-2004
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 8 of 10

     This boat was everthing Dagger said it was. The boat when leaned over it turned quickly. The rudder made it track very well, not that it needed it. At 57 lbs W/rudder it seem very light, and it was quick to get up to speed, with a comfortable cruse speed of 5.5 mph. I liked the boat so much I bought it on the spot!
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