A Kayak Owner's Manual


Kayak Safety Boat FeaturesOutfittingTouring Kayak OutfittingWhitewater Kayaks and C-1 OutfittingSit-On-Top & Recreational Kayak OutfittingMaintenance and RepairEquipmentConservation/Resources

Caution Safety Warning


Paddlesports can be physically demanding and/or dangerous. The user of this product should understand that participating in paddlesports may involve serious injury or death.


Observe the following safety standards whenever using this product. Children should always paddle with a qualified adult.


Actual safe capacity of all boats depends on factors such as water conditions and paddler skill levels.

  • Get paddlesport instruction from a licensed or certified instructor.

  • Obtain certified first aid and rescue training and carry first aid and rescue equipment.

  •  Always wear a nationally approved personal flotation device (PFD).

  • Always wear a helmet where appropriate.

  • Dress appropriately for weather conditions; cold water and/or cold weather can result in hypothermia.

  • Check your equipment prior to each use for signs of wear or failure.

  • Never paddle alone. Paddle with a friend. It's safer and more fun.

  • You must not use alcohol or mind altering drugs prior to using this product. • Do not paddle in flood conditions.

  • Be aware of appropriate river water levels, tidal changes, dangerous currents and weather changes.

  • Scout unfamiliar waters; portage where appropriate.

  •  Do not exceed your paddling ability; be honest with yourself. Know and paddle within your limits.

  • Consult your physician prior to beginning your paddlesport training.

  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for the use of this product.

  • If additional outfitting is added to this craft, use manufacturer's approved materials only; do not impair entry or exit access.

  • Read owner's information package prior to using this product.


The user of this product acknowledges both an understanding and an assumption of the risk involved in paddlesports. If you have any questions about this or any Dagger product, call (865) 882-0404 or e-mail dagger@dagger.com. Dagger is a division of Watermark Paddlesports Inc.


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Kayak Safety


Assuming the risk and minimizing it!


Safety must be the foremost consideration in any watersport activity. While kayaking is a challenging and rewarding sport, it presents the risk of serious injury or death. Kayaking is an acquired skill; there is no substitute for experience. A boat owner is obligated to understand that kayaking, canoeing, or any other form of boating is potentially dangerous. The user of any Dagger product is personally responsible for his/her own safety and assumes all risks of and responsibility for any injury or death which might occur while using any Dagger product.


While the risk involved in paddlesports can never be eliminated, it can be greatly reduced by following a few simple rules BEFORE using any Dagger product.


Specifically, the paddler should:


1. Obtain suitable instruction in proper kayaking or canoeing techniques, including techniques of paddling, seamanship, river reading, rescue and general safety, such as the use of CPR and first aid BEFORE using any Dagger product. Refer to the resources listed in this manual to assist you in locating an approved school.


2. Learn general safety and first aid procedures such as the use of CPR and the risks and prevention of hypothermia.


3. Learn essential skills related to paddling, such as the selection and proper use of appropriate gear and clothing, including footwear, and the use of ropes and other tying materials. Learn and practice self- rescue techniques and the eskimo roll.


4. Be sure you can exit easily from your boat. Practice wet exits in a pool or another controlled situation before venturing out.


5. Read, understand, and follow the safety guidelines found on page 2 of your Kayak Owner's manual.


6. Before using any kayak, canoe, or sit-on-top in whitewater, read, understand and follow the guidelines set forth in the American Whitewater Safety Code. If you don't already have a copy of the code, call Dagger or the American Whitewater Association (see page 11).


7. If you have a touring kayak, read the TAPS sea kayaking safety guide enclosed with this owner's manual.


8. Read this manual thoroughly before using your new boat.


Anticipate that you will be confronted with a situation which calls for the skills and knowledge referred to above. Never assume that boating emergencies only happen to other people!




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Touring Kayak Features



Whitewater Kayak Features



Sit-On-Top Features



Recreational Kayak Features


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All Dagger boats will come well equipped and ready to paddle, but in most circumstances, paddlers will choose to increase their boat's performance through custom outfitting.


The following are a few suggestions to increase the fit and performance of your Dagger boat. These Harmony Accessories are available at your local Dagger dealer.


Use of Adhesives: In many circumstances, you won't have to glue anything to your boat. However, there are situations where a person prefers extra outfitting to achieve a proper fit or additional comfort. Most plastic adhesives are compatible with polyethylene plastic, but make sure, and check to see whether it is waterproof.


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Touring Kayak Outfitting




For touring kayaks without sealed bulkheads, additional flotation is a must. Touring kayak flotation is designed specifically for touring kayaks. Bow and stern bags are cut to fit the longer hulls of touring kayaks. Available in storage and regular styles, flotation bags will make you more confident and your outing safer.




Always paddle with a sprayskirt, especially in rough conditions. The skirt will shed water and greatly facilitates rolling in case of a capsize. Tourskirts come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but use one based on the conditions in which you expect to paddle, i.e. more waterproof for colder water, and more breathable in warmer conditions.





Yes, you will need a paddle. But how long should it be? What about Take Apart Paddles? Blade shapes? Weight? Most of these questions can be answered just by knowing how much you want to spend, but the length of your paddle is more subjective: touring kayak paddles range from 210 cm to about 240 cm in length. If you are just about 5 feet tall or a bit over, use a paddle in the lower range; naturally, taller people will use a longer paddle. Given variations in torso length, arm length, and boat width, it's a good idea to test different paddle lengths to determine your own personal preference.



Compass Mount


Quick Release Compass Mounts are designed to eliminate the need to drill a large hole in the deck of your sea kayak to mount a compass. The rugged molded base is padded by non-absorbing minicell foam to provide both a firm mount and protection from scratching your deck. Two bungee cord mounted hooks allow easy, secure attachment. Contoured mount and foam core allow fit on a variety of crowned decks.



Storage Options


The Touring Deck Bag provides convenient and secure storage of items. It lashes securely to your deck rigging and can be positioned in front of your cockpit.


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Whitewater Kayak and C-1 Outfitting


Dagger has spent a considerable amount of its research and development time with a view towards making your kayak as comfortable as possible. Still, there are a number of options available to you which can further enhance comfort and performance according to your specific needs.





For any whitewater use, you should have flotation for your kayak or C-1. Harmony flotation bags come in different sizes and styles depending on your needs and are made to fit your boat. Ask your local Dagger/Harmony dealer which set of flotation bags is right for the conditions you expect to paddle.




Whitewater kayak paddles range from 194 cm to about 208 cm in length. If you are just about 5 feet tall or a bit over, use a paddle in the lower range; naturally, taller people will want a longer paddle. Given variations in torso length, arm length, and boat width, itÕs a good idea to test different paddle lengths to determine your own personal preference.





Always paddle with a sprayskirt, especially in rough conditions. The skirt will shed water and greatly facilitates rolling in case of a capsize. Whitewater sprayskirts have different sizes for the paddlerÕs waist and for varying cockpit sizes. There are also different types of rands, or skirt edges.



Interchangeable Thigh Braces


Your whitewater kayak has come with either "Less Aggressive," "Aggressive," "Comfort Fit" or "Freestyle" thigh braces, which are designed to be easily interchangeable for optimal personal fit. Your body frame, fit preference and the conditions in which you paddle your kayak will determine which to use. If you need a different thigh brace, inquire at your local Dagger dealer.



K-1 and C-1 Custom Fit Kits


Although most Dagger boats fit better from the start, you may need to outfit your kayak or C-1 with extra padding to get more of a feel for catching those eddies or rolling. The K-1 Fit Kit includes hip bolsters and seat pads. The C-1 Custom Fit Kit includes back support pads, knee brackets, hip blocks and ankle support pads. Most of these items are also available individually through your local Dagger dealer.



C-1 Hipgrabber


The Hipgrabber is a rotationally molded part that wraps around the back of the cockpit rim of Dagger's new C-1. The hipgrabber adds much needed support around the waist, and with the addition of the Hipgrabber Pad Kit, you are as snug and comfortable as anyone has ever been in a C-1, and the boat becomes an extension of your body.


CAUTION: Never modify your Dagger boat in any manner that limits your ability to rapidly and safely exit the craft. Practice exiting your Dagger boat under safe, controlled conditions after modifying it to make sure that your ability to execute a rapid and safe exit has not been compromised.


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Sit-On-Top Outfitting


Sit-On-Tops, by nature, need minimal outfitting; a few items can enhance your experience. A backrest makes a long day's paddle more comfortable and one can be added to any Dagger SOT. Thighstraps and paddle leashes are also available if you are planning for whitewater or surf-zone use.


Recreational Kayak Outfitting


Dagger "Rec" Boats typically require no additional outfitting. Some accessories can be helpful though. A spray skirt is an option which helps keep you dry on drizzly days or in choppy water. You can also store food and clothes in a drybag or a storage flotation bag.


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Storage and Transport


Storage Boats made from polyethylene plastic are strong, rigid, and highly impact resistant, but due to the nature of plastic in general, it is important that you take steps to store your boat properly. It is always best to store your kayak indoors, out of direct sunlight and protected from inclement weather. Preferably, you should stand your boat on end or hang it suspended by slings or the equivalent. Hanging your boat from its grab loops or handles increases the likelihood that your kayak will experience warpage. One storage alternative is to use a foam cradle. You can also store your boat on the floor, upside down, but only as a last resort.



Composite Storage


It is good to store your composite kayak as shown above, or cockpit-down with the rubber hatches loosened or removed to allow the storage compartments to "breathe."




Because of their light weight and shape, kayaks are ideally suited for car-topping. But it involves more than just placing the kayak on the roof of your car and tying it down securely. Your primary concern in carrying your kayak is that it stays securely tied to the vehicle. As with storage, another concern in transporting your kayak should be potential distortion of the hull. Car-topping the kayak is best done with a quality roof rack specifically designed for attaching kayaks.


Foam cradles attached to wooden racks are another option. The boat should also be tied to the vehicle as well as the rack by using its carrying toggles. Cinching down these bow and stern lines too tightly, however, will increase the likelihood of hull warpage, as will leaving the boat tied tightly in the sun.


Tie appropriate knots! Care should be taken to make sure that the kayak and racks are properly secured to your vehicles in order to avoid damage to your vehicle or kayak, or injury to other persons.


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Care and Maintenance




Clean polyethylene with mild soap and water. Use 303 Protectant or a similar plastic protectant to guard against UV rays and to help your boat shine.



Touring Kayak Maintenance


With preventive and seasonal maintenance your Dagger touring kayak will last through many seasons of hard use. Before heading out, look over all of the shock cord and static lines. If any are too loose or frayed, replace accordingly. Check to see that the footbraces adjust easily and aren't jammed with sand. If they are, remove the pedals and use a small scrub brush and a garden hose to remove the grit. If you have a boat with a rudder or skeg, check to make sure that all the moving parts are not binding. Clean by scrubbing away grit and then by coating the parts with WD-40 or other silicone lubricant.



Hull Distortion



transportation of a plastic boat can potentially distort the shape of the hull on your boat. If your kayak does become the victim of slight distortion, correction is a simple process. Brief exposure to the heat of the sun is often all it takes to restore the hull to its original shape. If that doesn't work, the hull can usually be restored by applying heat to the outside of the boat with a hair dryer or other low-heat source such as a 75-watt light bulb. When the hull is pliable enough, it can be pushed back in shape by hand. Be careful not to overheat the hull as you might get burned or damage the hull. A weight can be placed inside the boat against the warped area to help maintain the shape of the hull as it cools. Although cooling normally occurs quickly, we recommend that you allow up to 24 hours to ensure that the process is completed.


A kayak that is used in normal conditions will receive scratches, especially on the bottom of the hull. Scratches do not alter the boat's structural integrity or navigational capabilities and should be of no concern.


Repair Options and Procedures


Although it is unlikely that your Dagger kayak will need repair during its lifetime, it is possible that a hull crack or puncture might occur due to extreme impact or contact with a sharp object. If this happens, first contact Dagger or your Dagger dealer to determine if the damage falls under the boat's warranty. We will need the identification number of your kayak (located on the stern), a good description of the damage (a photograph is very helpful), and a description of the incident during which the damage occurred. All this information will help us to determine the best course of action. As an owner of a boat made from plastic, one repair option which may be available to you is welding. Polyethylene is recyclable and repairable, unlike many other plastics. Incidents necessitating welding happen to less than one percent of Dagger boats, but if for some reason you should get a crack or hole in your boat, call Dagger and we will send you the materials and instructions necessary to return your boat to peak condition.



Composite Maintenance


We've found that automotive wax designed for fiberglass works best in keeping the high luster on our composite touring kayaks. Other maintenance includes regularly applying 303 Protectant to your rubber hatch covers, which helps maintain flexibility and watertightness.


There may be times in the lifespan of your composite kayak that call for minor repair situations. Contact Dagger or your local dealer for more advice on your specific situation.


Dagger uses an expensive, very tough gelcoat, but even the best gelcoat will crack under a direct impact or eventually scrape off of the keel area. Do not be alarmed if the gelcoat has scraped off on the keel: it is mainly cosmetic. Dagger sells a gelcoat repair kit with detailed step by step instructions on how to repair your kayak. Contact your local dealer and specify the color so you can get an exact match.


In the event that your composite kayak suffers structural damage, this too can be repaired. You can purchase a fiberglass repair kit with detailed instructions. If your kayak has suffered major damage, you can have it repaired at a professional marine or automotive body shop.


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The equipment necessary for kayaking can vary greatly according to the type of trip being taken. For example, navigational (compass, maps, tidal charts) and rescue (flares, air horn) equipment may not be needed for paddling at your local pond or creek, but vital for safety in an extended open-water crossing. Whitewater paddling requires equipment and boat outfitting significantly different from touring.


Touring Accessories


Some accessories you can't do without, like a paddle and PFD. Most of the items listed above, while not essential for every trip, can play a large part in enhancing your it. Items marked with an asterisk (*) are essential for any outing. Items left unmarked are either highly recommended or essential for longer trips.



Cartop Rack

Spray Cover



Bilge Pump

Paddle Float

Emergency Radio


Spray Skirt



Paddle Jacket






Wet/Dry Suit

First Aid Kit



Whitewater Accessories


Of course you'll need your paddle, PFD, helmet and sprayskirt, but you should also consider some additional items which can make your trip more enjoyable and also safer. Items below marked with an asterisk (*) are essential for any outing:



Cartop Rack

Spray Cover

Paddle Jacket/PFD*



Dry Top



Spray Skirt




Safety Whistle

Spray Skirt


Neoprene booties

Wet/Dry Suit


Clothing is a major consideration in canoeing. Cold water and/or cold weather dictate the use of a wet or dry suit, usually combined with a warm, fast-drying synthetic insulating layer. Always dress to be warm!

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