Dagger Axion Whitewater Kayak Specifications
|12kg 148 Litres
|13kg 193 Litres
|15kg 238 Litres
|16kg 295 Litres
The design brief for this kayak must have caused a few sleepless nights for the backroom team, as it’s basically aiming to be all things to all paddlers.
A playful surf machine for ripping it up on waves and holes, a solid dependable river runner, a forgiving platform for beginners and intermediates, but still with enough performance to keep the experts happy.
All in four different sizes!
No easy task, we can tell you.
On first glance, the Axiom is very easy on the eye and it certainly takes a nod to its distinguished predecessor with its long sleek lines.
A roomy dry-riding bow leads into a slicey, playful but forgiving tail.
The soft-profile sidewalls make it forgiving and easy to learn in, while the harder chines as it meets the hull allow for crisp carving performance.
On The Water
If you’ve grown up paddling in the modern world of specialist kayaks, a super-short freestyle boat for playing, a big volume creek boat for river running etc., then paddling a boat like the Axiom is going to take a bit of getting used to.
An all-round boat is about getting the compromises right, and it will never be as good at playing as an out and out freestyler or as capable on the really hard stuff as a full-on creeker.
What it can do though, if the designers have got it right, is do everything well to a fairly high standard.
Lets face it, the majority of us out there on the river will never be, or want to be, busting double-doner-kebab flips backwards on Bus Eater, or running 50-foot waterfalls and then charging the grade 5+ gnarl on a daily basis.
What we do want to do is to make our way down the river safely, push our limits occasionally, stop for a play at a nice wave or play-hole and have a lot of fun doing all of it.
That is exactly what the Axiom is all about!
After paddling this boat a few times we take our helmets off to Dagger because they’ve done a fantastic job of ticking the boxes with this one, and in our opinion, they’ve solved that tricky brief and got it just about spot on.
What the Axiom does is surprise you.
You look at it and go “nice boat, I fancy a go in that, it’ll be all right at most things” then you get in it and it plays way better than you were expecting.
Of course it’s adept at things like stern squirts, and will happily twirl away vertically on an eddy line, how could it not with that tail?
But it surfs a wave like a demon, cartwheels in a stable, controllable manner and was surprisingly nimble in the hole.
Break out of the eddy in to a rapid and it’s the same.
It looks like it will be okay, but its river running performance is right up there.
It accelerates well, and the bow lifts and punches through waves, holes and radials with ease.
On swirlier water, the slicey tail can catch you out at first, but a few sessions in the boat and you’ll find that you’ll be fine.
The lower stern also creates a perfect pivot point for the paddler to alter direction quickly, which means you can spot a downstream obstacle, spin round on the stern and be powering away while your mate in the ‘Big Boat’ is till struggling to turn, very tidy indeed.
Eddy hopping was crisp and we liked the nimble feeling the Axiom gave us as we made our way downstream.
The size range is great.
We’ve been paddling the 8.5, as we’re all on the large size, we tried hopping in the next size down to use as more of a play boat with grin-inducing results.
The biggest version, the 9.0, is going to be able to take really big paddlers.
The smallest size, the 6.9, is going to be awesome as a kids boat.
Oh and we nearly forgot, it’s not just river waves that it’ll carve it up on. For a river boat it’s going to kill it in the surf too.
Fixtures & Fittings
As we’ve come to expect from Dagger, the outfitting is excellent in a no-nonsense style.
A fully padded seat and adjustable hip pads, good, easy to hold and attach to, grab handles and a full plate footrest.
- A true jack of all trades and master of all.
- Playful surf machine, dependable river boat.
- Great size range for all sized paddlers.
- Solid outfitting, comfortable and as you would expect from any great kayak.
- If you want a specialist boat, go with a specialist boat. Although not strictly a con, it is important to note that this kayak is meant to be an all-rounder, not a specialist raft.
It’s all too easy when producing a all-rounder to come up with a boat that is merely mediocre at most, or good at one aspect and pretty pants for the others.
The Axiom on the other hand is the real deal, it really is great at everything and that’s going to make it a very attractive option for those who don’t want a quiver of expensive plastic stacked in the garage and are looking for that one-boat-does-it-all package.
But a true master of all!
This led to the Axiom scoring one of the highest scores out of all our whitewater kayak reviews.