Last year marked the launch of the Dagger Alchemy 14.0 S and L, small and large versions of a performance-minded, light-touring kayak in affordable and durable polyethylene. With one master stroke Dagger nailed the golden crossover segment where high-performance meets recreational day paddling, filling the niche where most of us paddle most of the time.
Dagger Alchemy 14.0 Specs
(S / L)
Length: 14’ / 14’
Width: 23” / 24”
Depth: 13” / 14.25”
Cockpit: 35” × 18.5” / 35” × 18.5”
Weight: 51 / 54 lbs
Capacity: 275 / 300 lbs
MSRP: $1,295 USD or $1,450 CAD
Dagger’s Alchemy 14.0 has big capabilities
At 14 feet, the Dagger Alchemy is small, but not to be underestimated.
Paddlers will want to choose the size that fits them best. Small- to medium-sized folks will mesh perfectly into the sportier dimensions of the 14.0 S, the model reviewed here. Ours required removal of the foot braces to fit a six-footer. The equally priced L version is the same length but with added capacity from an extra inch of width and inch-and-a-quarter of deck height. Both sizes are designed to have a snug-fitting cockpit for solid control in rough water.
This kayak can really cruise
A combination of long waterline, low rocker and a Swede form shape result in impressive acceleration and cruising speed. We cranked out a consistent five to six kilometres per hour and topped out at 10 in a sprint—performance we’re accustomed to in much longer kayaks.
The Alchemy’s shallow-V hull with hard chines offers an excellent compromise of stability and edgeability—moderate primary stability for a performance feel without being twitchy, and great, confidence-inspiring secondary stability on edge.
The Dagger Alchemy 14.0 compensates for its short length by reducing the rocker. The result is something that feels longer than it is—more like a highly rockered long boat than other 14-footers we’ve paddled. The effect is that the Alchemy tracks well and isn’t too skittish unless you get some speed and put it up on edge, or edge it in following seas, in which case the stern will skid out as you would expect from a short kayak.
The skeg reduces the skid effect and also helps tracking in crosswinds and following seas, although weathercocking or leecocking are minimal because of the low windage of the Alchemy 14.0 profile. The skeg slider is conveniently positioned in a tightly recessed groove that keeps it out of the way of fingers and knuckles but makes it a trick to dial on the go until you get used to it.
The affordable Alchemy is feature-rich
The deck is nicely appointed with three rubber hatch covers, bungees, a locking bar and recessed fittings. The day hatch is a bit of a far reach from the paddling position (there’s ample space behind the seat for provisions), but it’s yet another sign of the Dagger Alchemy 14.0’s full complement of sea kayak features.
The seat offers multiple adjustments for hips, thighs, leg height and backrest tension. A plastic rail adds rigidity to the hull in the cockpit areas.
Get away for the day in the Dagger Alchemy 14.0
The capacity of the Dagger Alchemy 14.0 favors performance day paddling over hauling gear. It’s perfect for day trips or meticulously planned weekends. In the recreational price range with high-performance features, it best suits adventurous paddlers who want a kayak that will encourage them to grow and keep up with them every step of the way.