There may not be such thing as a "Do All" anything, but in the world of paddling this comes pretty close. I bought this boat 4 months ago but have waited for the "NEW" to wear off so that I can give a unbiased review..... unfortunately I don't believe that is possible! I am without a doubt Biased towards this kayak. I live in the mountains of N.C. which allows for paddling as diverse as the people of this region. From "Conservative " flat water lakes, to "Moderate" slow moving rivers such as the French Broad River, and "Liberal Radical " class 3 and 4 whitewater like the Nantahala and Green River.
"Do all" is a very broad term....would you want to take this boat out in the ocean, probably not! Or class 4 rapids such as the "Green River Narrows", you can but I won't be following you! But I would have no reservations taking this boat on a 15-20 mile flat water paddle. With the retractable skeg down it tracks like a 13' touring boat (I have in fact recently did a similar trek with some friends that had 13 footers and had no problem keeping up). Yet it is still short and nimble enough to tackle class 3 rapids.
It's not an ocean kayak and it certainly is no whitewater play boat, but if you are like myself and can only afford one kayak but want to paddle different waters this is the boat for you. With adjustable seating, a back hatch for ample storage, and the ability to add a skirt. This is a very utilitarian kayak. For $750 retail its a bargain. I had considered buying the 11' Zydeco for $550 to save a few bucks but in hindsight that would have been a real mistake. Though its a fun recreational kayak there is no possible way it would track like a 13' and a class 2 is the limit it could do. If you have the opportunity buy this boat!YES! I did a lot of research before I finally settled on the Axis. I saved a good bit of money by opting out of the Liquid Logic (whose comparable skeg equipped model now escapes me). So far I've only had it on flat water, and with the skeg dropped, the things tracks straighter than I could have ever imagined. Another point about this boat that's worth mentioning is that I have already overloaded the thing by 30 pounds and still managed to keep up with the pack; no sinking, no bogging, no problems.
I can't be happier with my purchase. It's too bad that upon delivery the bulkhead had pulled away from the hull. I figured it was easier to seal the thing myself rather than send it back. It was an easy $4 fix (thanks Geocel!).
Don't hesitate if you have the money.Several months ago my wife and I decided to try kayaking. I went to our local sporting goods store and found us a couple of the Old Town Otter XTs at a cheap price and bought one for each of us. Having never been in a kayak and believing them to be unstable, I wasn't all that willing to put much money into the sport. The Otters were cheap enough to get us on the water to try it out without breaking the bank.
After a few months of paddling the otters around, (and I proved my fears of kayaks being so unstable as unjustified)I decided to stroll in to our local kayak store to see what they had on display. I gazed around at the rows of boats standing against the walls while wiping drool from my chin. But... I wasn't looking to buy, only window shopping as it were. After several minutes of looking around I was heading for the door when one particular boat caught my eye. The Dagger Axis 10.5 in red. For a month I thought about that boat until I admitted to myself I had to have it. So I bought it, licensed it and set out for a nearby lake to put her in.
I found the boat to be very roomy. (The Otter forces me to curl my toes due to the low deck height. The Axis has enough room I could wear work boots in it... though I never will...)
The boat is very stable, comparable to that of the Otter and the cockpit is roomy enough for me to get in and out with very little effort. There is NOT a lot of room between the seat and rear bulkhead, but there is a little. Just don't expect to store much behind the seat. The dry storage at the stern is room enough for storing gear for a day trip or an overnighter if you pack light. There is also room in the bow to store some small things if needed.
I was impressed with the forward deck rigging as it comes with a netting of sorts. This is perfect for storing small items that would normally fall through the normal bungie rigging. It also has a console of sorts inside the cockpit with a cup holder and a tray with a couple bungies to stash small items.
The seat is quite comfortable and has an adjustable back.
When paddling the boat with the skeg in the raised position it is very maneuverable if not a little...loose(?)... But once the skeg is dropped this boat will track very nicely even in strong winds.
In all, I am very pleased with this boat and would definitely buy another. My wife being somewhat shorter than I found the deck height on the Axis to be a little more than she wanted. She said it felt like too much boat to her. I ended up buying her a Dagger Blackwater 10.5 which has a lower deck.I have been canoeing for 10 years. Boundary Waters, lake and river paddling, etc. This spring my wife decided she wanted to take up kayaking, and without ever trying one out, she bought an Axis 10.5, and ordered another one for me. Since then we have paddled in Lake Michigan, the WI River, several other lakes and small rivers in north-central Wisconsin.
Not having much experience in other yaks to compare with, but I still feel these are awesome boats. I feel a little guilty that my canoe has been neglected this summer. But I would rather paddle the yaks with my wife than the canoe solo. They are definitely quicker than my canoe, and much more comfortable too. But don't worry canoe, you will still be my choice in the B-dub next summer.