Kayaking on the Hudson

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kayak Review: Charleston 14' by Dagger

Charleston 14' kayak on the Erie Canal
This kayak wasn’t made for very long and was never very popular.  Sounds bad, but it means that if you find one, you can usually get it for $500-$600, which is pretty cheap for a 14’ kayak.  The Charleston was a weird cross between a whitewater kayak and a touring kayak.  Dagger used a flat hull (from its whitewater designs) which makes the Charleston really easy to turn.  It also means the Charleston doesn’t track well, especially in the wind.  To compensate, Dagger put a drop skeg on this model.  This really helps with the tracking.  I paddled a Charleston for a whole season and found that it wasn’t so great in whitewater, but was awesome in tight marshland areas when I had to turn frequently.  It has dual bulkheads, decent deck bungees (but no deck lines) and a really cool seat that has separate inflatable chambers for the seat and back.  If you mostly paddle quiet water, this is a great kayak.  (14ft.  48lbs.)  If you paddle bigger water, then try a different 14’ model like a Tsunami.

Pros: Lightweight (about 5-10 pounds lighter than competing models), very comfortable.  Great stability, medium speed rating, good all around outfitting, great seat.  Inexpensive compared to competition.

Cons: All Daggers are prone to denting (thin plastic) so care must be taken when storing and transporting.  Slower than some competing models like Tsunami and Alchemy (which replaced the Charleston).  Hull shape renders kayak not very good in high seas and high wind.

See you on the water,
Don Urmston

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