Available in Materials: Fiberglass and Kevlar
Weight: 50 lbs
Cockpit Size: 16.5 x 31.5 inches
Hull Type: Shallow arch midship; pronounced “V” at the bow and stern
MSRP: $2,699 (in 2004)
*This model is no longer in production
Dagger canoe and kayak products carry a bold name in the world of paddle sports. In the 1990s, we witnessed the paddling industry explode as the sport of kayaking moved into a new era of consumer driven designs. Where in the past kayaking was a niche sport crafted for the paddling elites of whitewater, slalom, and Olympic K1-2 racing, the mid-90s opened a window to consumers who wanted to get out on the water. Dagger was one of the first companies to begin building canoes and kayaks for the recreational market segment, and led the way in designing iconic canoe and kayak hulls for recreational, sea, and whitewater boats through the early-90s into the mid-2000s.
One of the greatest designs to emerge from the Dagger-era was the British inspired Dagger Meridian. At 16 feet in length and 22 inches wide, the Meridian was fit with a larger-than-average keyhole cockpit to accommodate paddlers of various sizes, and came standard with a drop skeg. In addition, the designers at Dagger incorporated the beautiful “zig-zag” deck line pattern that we traditionally see on the Valley Nordkapp. Similar in design function to the P&H Capella, the Meridian is a versatile sea kayak built to handle a wide range of conditions and purposes. The Meridian was released in two model variations: The Dagger Meridian Sk – featuring a medium to large volume trim. And the Dagger Meridian Sk-S – featuring a low volume trim. The Dagger Meridian was built from 1998 until it was discontinued, along with Dagger’s other composite models, in 2004.
I have been the proud owner of a Dagger Meridian Sk since 2009 and I recently purchased a Meridian Sk-S. Needless to say, I have been on many interesting adventures in my Dagger and have experienced a plethora of conditions which have tested my limits, as a paddler, and the limits of the Meridian. From a fifty-plus mile trip from Boston to Plymouth, surfing five-foot swells in Duxbury, instructing adults and kids in Plymouth Harbor, to competing in the Run of the Charles kayak race – I have witnessed multiple depths of kayaking in this boat.
One of the best features of the Meridian hull trim is its ability to balance both primary and secondary stability without compromise. The Dagger’s primary stability is impeccable, and provides the support and feeling of a considerably wider beam. Its transition between primary and final stability is smooth and predictable, proving the paddler with enough forgiveness without compromising turning agility. Its 16 foot construction shouts versatility, offering both stability and maneuverability on the water. As noted earlier, the Dagger Meridian has many British-inspired lines including a considerable amount of rocker. The generous quantity of rocker built into the Dagger hull design creates a kayak that turns on a dime when commanded by the paddler. One downfall to the high-rocker hull is the Dagger’s tendency to drift at the caprice of the wind. Weather-cocking is a common occurrence in the Dagger Meridian, and often puts the paddler in a position to over correct paddle strokes or utilize the drop skeg on longer day paddles.
Overall, the Dagger Meridian is, and will always remain, a classic and iconic American sea kayak. Although the Meridian was retired in 2004, the Wilderness Systems Zephyr is a close second as a “modern” rendition of the Meridian. When Confluence acquired both Dagger and Wilderness Systems, they merged resources and built the Zephyr – a kayak that shares the same hull mold as the Meridian. One might call the Meridian and the Zephyr cousins, but the Meridian being the older, wiser cousin, of course… As for me, the Dagger Meridian will always remain my favorite kayak and the companion that stayed with me as I developed as a stronger, more confident paddler.