When we first clapped eyes on Dagger’s Kaos 10.2 (molten version) we fell in love instantly. Sleek, yet snarling lines, a vibrant colourway, impressive looking fixtures and fittings (set back support, thigh straps and thruster 2+1 fins); we knew this was going to be a fun sit on top to test.
Sit on kayaks have struggled to shake the image of being anything other than family beach toys in years past. A few brands these days are pushing shapes designed to perform, however, and more paddlers are seeing the benefits.
Dagger’s Kaos isn’t strictly a brand new boat but with a graphical overhaul and a few tweaks it’s looking meaner and badder than ever – yet thinking this its only attribute is to miss the bigger picture. So yes, it’s a sit on top with ripping/shredding waves in mind, yet there’s more to the Kaos 10.2 than you’d initially imagine.
With this in mind we’ve split the Kaos review into two parts, the first of which is going to focus on the boat’s broader appeal.
In the accompanying pics you can clearly see paddler and passenger. OK, said passenger is of smaller stature but the fact remains for a boat designed with manoeuvrability in mind it works with more than one pilot aboard. There are, of course, more stable sit on tops out there, but the Kaos copes with additional loading.
Dagger’s Kaos is certainly lively and loose feeling when you first jump in the cockpit. It has a tendency to spin, as you’d imagine being a surfing hull. But with a few paddle strokes you can bring the Kaos’ behaviour back under control.
The cockpit has ample room. Two full size adults might not fit but kids (up to a certain build) do so like a glove. And should you decide to paddle with a passenger, yet require a more locked in feel, donning the included thigh straps is doable, inspiring confidence as you go.
Further loading is possible, if your essentials on the smaller side, via the rear positioned hatch. Inside is a mesh liner that will hold modest size items – after all, the Kaos isn’t really a touring vehicle and doesn’t warrant oodles of room for this kind of thing.
On the water
For the purposes of this review we didn’t attach the included fins – there didn’t seem much point when not hitting waves. And we didn’t want to run the risk of grinding them into the sand whilst scooping across shallower stretches. As such paddlers will have to concentrate a little harder on keeping the Kaos tracking straight and true. With a few solid strokes this is easily achieved proving the efficiency of the design regardless of fins. Shifting weight forwards slightly brings the heavily rockered nose down and helps.
For a performance orientated surf kayak the Kaos glides well. The progressive curve of the hull doesn’t push as much water as you’d expect. Instead a few plunges of the blade will have pilots moving forwards efficiently. If you have a small crew then this isn’t affected other than having to paddle a little harder!
Many may be questioning the stability of the Kaos. We found absolutely no issue at all. Having used and tested a bunch of low volume, less stable kayaks in the past the Kaos ers towards the upper end of the spectrum. As in there’s a lively personality itching to break out but nothing that can’t be controlled.
Something that became obvious is the Kaos does take on water. Not excessive amounts but some none the less – pretty obvious when you think about the boat’s pedigree. A large foam scupper, located centrally in the cockpit, is able to be removed. When at speed (i.e. on a wave) water flushes straight out, but when you stop water fills back in, the only option being to manually bail. That said, even with extra liquid onboard the stability of the Kaos is right up there. And to be fair, as we said at the start, an extra body paddling with you isn’t what this boat was intended for even though it copes fine.
Dagger’s Kaos 10.2 is a versatile sit on top kayak, that’s for sure. While waves are obviously its forte we’ve found there’s opportunity to take it into less hectic paddling environments and still have some fun. Able to accommodate a small passenger – so great for paddling with kids – it’s a boat that tracks and glides well for something with such a pronounced rocker. Fixtures and fittings, such as the thigh straps and back seat rest, are top drawer and with the choice of using in either finned or non-finned mode there’s a tuning range that you don’t normally find with SOTs.