The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is advice many adhere to, while others seem determined to prove it wrong. The new Da­gger Mamba falls into the latter category, showing paddlers that it is indeed possible to take something great and make it even better.

Dagger Mamba Specs
Length: 7’7” / 8’1” / 8’6”
Width: 25.5” / 26.75” / 27.5”
Volume: 64 / 77 / 89 US GAL
Weight: 41 / 44 / 46 LBS
Paddler: 120–170 / 150–220 / 175–260 LBS
Forward hatch: 10×8 in
MSRP:  $1,049 USD

Dagger first launched the Mamba in 2005 as a river runner that was designed to inspire confi­dence in paddlers whether they were learning the basics, figuring out how to spin, or already drift­ing over horizon lines.

With three sizes to choose from and a choice of creek or play outfitting, Dagger had a clear winner—so why the change?

We spoke with Dagger team manager Andrew Holcombe and he told us the new and improved Mamba is a little more aggressive for those who want it, has extra safety features, looks sleeker, fits better and is more comfortable for more paddlers—they’re just tweaking an already good boat.

Features of the Dagger Mamba

Greater size and volume

The most obvious change to the Mamba is bigger sizes across the range.

Increased length and vol­ume accommodate a greater paddler range and the extra volume around the knees makes for a very comfortable and aggressive seated posi­tion. Added volume in the stern keeps the boat floating higher so the ends stay clear of grabby eddylines and boils.

The planing hull is sandwiched between long carving rails that extend almost the full length of the boat, tapering off into the rounded bow and stern. This allows you to aggressively carve across eddylines, wave faces or out of holes and yet still spin, side surf and cross currents without worry of window shading.

Improved strength and handling

Other improvements push the capabilities of the redesigned Mamba toward more difficult whitewater.

These include repositioning the ex­isting front safety bar and adding a second bar for easier carrying, dragging and extractions. The creeking outfitting also now features a molded-in stern foam wall mount to boost structural integrity.

Charging down steeper class IV–V rapids, we loved how this Mamba handled holes. Although a bit slower than Dagger’s displacement hull creek boat, the Nomad, it carved out of holes that would’ve had Nomad paddlers looking for a rope. The Mamba’s narrow, sleek bow punches holes and deflects smaller, choppy waves so the river doesn’t high five you in the face every few seconds. Boofing is a breeze, although on some higher volume runs we had to aggressively lean forward to avoid surprise stern squirts.

Customizable outfitting

Comfortable and easy-to-adjust outfitting means you can paddle all day without needing to get out and stretch every 10 minutes.

Spend some time adjusting the seat placement, as slight changes in positioning dramatically affect how the rails work and the boat performs.

Summing up the Dagger Mamba

The tweaks to the Mamba allow paddlers to charge harder whitewater than the earlier version and we suspect some paddlers will make this their dedicated creek boat. Responsive han­dling should make it a go-to ride for the big water crowd and improved stability and predictability make it a solid choice for developing paddlers.

With this Mamba, Dagger could coin a new ad­age: It ain’t broke but we made it better anyway.

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Tackle whitewater with confidence in the updated Dagger Mamba kayak. | Feature Photo: Mike Kobzik

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