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At 12.5 feet, it's short enough that it's very maneuverable, even though it doesn't have a whole lot of rocker. I like that it has good speed for when my friends are in their long boats. Although it does turn quickly, I haven't had any problems tracking in small winds, even though I never use the provided skeg.
I weigh 240lb, but the boat doesn't seem to mind, although it does have a tendency to bury its bow on a wave. The very plumb bow is a drag though, as it sends water shooting up on a wave and has a tendency to catch in the rocks. I've surfed the boat in 4' surf and found it rather maneuverable in the waves.
I don't know what Dagger really planned this boat to be used for and the plum bow make it a bit tough to use in the RGs where I usually use it, but I'm still having fun with it. For someone my size, it's a better fit than the Greenboat, but without the WW cred!
There are some things about it that are a compromise, but isn't that the idea? I don't have a problem with the backband because I primarily paddle marathon racing canoes, so back support of any kind seems like a luxury.
I learned how to roll in this boat, so I can't say if it's easy to roll or not because I haven't tried rolling anything else. I use a 204 cm Foxworx whitewater paddle and can keep up with 16-18 foot touring boats just fine when just cruising along.
I don't use the skeg, even on flatwater because it feels as though it creates too much drag. Although, when I loan it to someone who isn't used to a boat that turns this easily I have them use the skeg. As far as whitewater goes, I've paddled the Sacandaga and Schroon in NYS and it seems to go downriver nicely.
It will even surf pretty well if you anticipate a little when getting into the holes. The whitewater paddlers laugh at it and call it a barge, but I can do more with this one boat than I could with two specialized kayaks.
The plastic construction is tough, which leads to my only criticism and that is the weight. It weighs around 50 pounds, but as long as you don't have to carry it too far it's not that bad. Durablity is more important than light weight with a boat like this. The extra weight isn't really noticed on the water. Set up with a Harmony LC1 skirt and a pair of gloves, I can paddle until the rivers freeze in central NY and still be comfortable, which was what I had in mind when I bought the boat.
I give it a 10 because I think Dagger did a great job when they designed the Crossover.
6days, 5 nights and 84 miles later, I really appreciate daggers efforts to give some of us the best of both worlds. I do agree with some of the earlier reviews, the factory backband sucks. I replaced it with an Immersion Research band, and added some custom fit padding, and off we went.
The kayak tracks fairly true without the skeg, and even better with it. Skeg up, it handles mild to medium white water well, is very responsive turning and is overall a joy to paddle. I really think class 4 is do-able in this boat, if your just looking to get thru it, not play in it. There was enough room for all my gear, food, etc, and I now know that I could stock it up to take trips into the 7-8 day range. The only other modifications were re-rigging the deck bungees a little, and mounting a 'Watershed' deck bag to it. The kayak took quite a beating on the rocks, as the river was omly running about 1000 c.f.s. yet the scars are only cosmetic, nothing deep. Cupping didnt seem to be an issue, either.
Is it a pefect touring boat? No Is it a perfect w/w boat? No But if your looking for something that does give you the ability to do both, Would I recommend this boat? Absolutely!!! The only reason it gets a 9 rating instead of 10, is because the factory back band is junk, and the skeg cannot be dropped or raised from the cockpit. You have to get out and do it yourself, or have somone else do it for you. The Dagger company itself gives the boat a low rating for extended tripping, but unless your measuring your trip in weeks instead of days, this kayak is great. My hats off to Dagger for giving a small market-share an almost perfect boat.
I took it on a run a few weeks ago from Beasley Flats to Childs. It's 18 miles of class II-III-IV and V whitewater at 3000 c.f.s. It did real well in six and seven foot waves. I was very impressed with the handling features of this craft. I got caught in a hole below Punk Rock rapid, and had to wet exit. After my 3/4 mile swim, I found the boat pinned cock pit out against some trees in the current. True to advertising, after 40 minutes I was able to free the boat, and the dry storage did not implode. It had a football sized dent in it, but when I turned it over and laid it in the sun, it popped right back to regular shape.
I did the rest of the trip without incident. I recommend a neoprene whitewater skirt for this boat. And it does roll nicely. I use this boat up on the San Juan almost daily. Great boat that handles just about anything.
Prior to buying the Crossover, I considered a Dagger Blackwater but after paddling both, would definitely recommend the Crossover. The extra money buys more versatility, a thicker hull made from better plastic, and thigh braces that greatly improve paddling efficiency, comfort, and "rollability". Although many retailers suggest a 220-230 cm touring paddle with this boat, I much prefer a shorter (200 cm) whitewater style paddle and a higher angle paddling style.
At first I didn't have any issues with the backband, but as I have done longer, higher mileage days, and become a more skilled and agressive paddler, I agree that the band is not very comfortable - I keep it loose enough I don't touch it. I haven't found the skeg to be very useful, and in high winds the boat blows around some. I have had problems with water getting in the hatch (leaky bulkhead?), and I sunk the boat early on with a wet exit. Stern flotation is a must! I almost lost a foot peg in that same incident, they come off the track, so I put screws in the front of the track to keep the pegs from slipping off. This has worked well and I can still adjust the pegs using my feet.
I have done an overnight campout, with plenty of room for gear, and the boat still handled really well; some lake paddling, and lots of paddling in the easy sections of the Colorado river, both upstream and down. I am 5'8" and 140lbs. I am very happy with the Crossover, and would recommend it highly.
The tracking is improved with the skeg, however you should only need it in the wind.
The skeg really helps the learning curve. I depended on it at first, but needed it less as my technique improved.
There is ample storage for a 2-3 day trip (if you have light-weight/low-volume camping gear). I have only been on class 1 rivers, but I would feel comfortable running class 2 with this boat. Personally, I don't think my skill level is advanced enough to take a 12'6" boat down class 3 (shorter whitewater boat will be my next purchase).
I definitely recommend this boat, if you want a short touring boat that can handle some whitewater. For the record, I'm 5'9", weigh 180 lbs, and have size 10 feet. The boat fits great.
First of all the, skeg can make a huge difference in tracking. Granted, good paddle and lean techniques can make it unnecessary. But, if the form is off a bit, the skeg really makes flat water paddling easier. River tripping could be improved if the skeg could be raised and dropped from the cockpit. That way, it could be dropped in flat water water and raised in rapids, where it might interefere with maneuverability or be yanked off while dragging across a rock.
I second the backband comments already stated by other reviewers. In initially discussing the potential purchase of the kayak with a dealer, he wanted to include a new backband in the purchase - at full price. If no one likes the backband, then perhaps Dagger should just leave it off completely so buyers do not have to buy two of them.
The most perplexing thing I have experienced is that my Crossover is developing cupping in the bottom of the hull, right under the cockpit. There was some cupping evident when the boat was new, but it has gotten progressively worse. The dealer explanation of the problem - I had left it in the sun. The dealer advice on how to fix it - leave it in the sun and the cupping may so away!!?? First of all, the boat has never been left in the sun (I store it in a garage), and secondly, how can the same action be both a cause and a cure? The FAQ link on the Dagger web site has a statement that pretty well goes along with the dealer line. I'm not particularly a happy camper on this one.
The Crossover is not the only Dagger product I have bought. My experiences with their products is "almost, but not quite".
The Crossover is not light compared to smaller whitewater boats, but it weighs less than fifty pounds and it has some very nice features. First, it is not too long for boating something like the Ocoee, but it has enough length and keel to be a fun ocean or lake boat. It has a great little skeg that, though it looks cheesy, is very functional. The cockpit fits a wide range of paddlers, it has footpegs and moderate thighbraces, and best of all it has a dual-covered sealed bulkhead compartment!
The boat turns as fast one of the older rodeo boats like the Pirouette or Dancer, rolls easily, and has good primary and secondary stability. I would take it down the Gauley if I were going to paddle the Upper, Middle, and Lower sections.
If you are looking for one boat or you can't decide between whitewater and touring, this is a great choice. My wife loves the boat and even the kids (ages 5 & 8) have a great time paddling it. I even like to dink around in the Crossover, of course it's not much for throwing flatwater ends!
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