Material: Single Layer Polyethylene
Class: Light touring/transitional
Deck Height: 13”
Weight: 51 lbs
Cockpit Size: 35 x 18.5 inches
Max Capacity: 275 lbs
TruTrak Wire Skeg System
The Dagger Alchemy 14.0S is a playful, well outfitted, light touring kayak suited for the smaller paddler. At first glance, the Alchemy 14.0S definitely had my attention with its complete outfitting exteriorly and interiorly, and for a 14 foot boat, it has all of the features seen on a regular performance sea kayak. The deck is outfitted with sufficient bungees fore and aft of the cockpit for plenty of quick access storage, as well as static deck lines that run to the bow and stern for increased safety. Bungee loaded toggles on the bow and stern also make for ease of land based transport of the kayak. The Alchemy 14.0S is equipped with three hatches, and three watertight foam bulkheads. A hatch at the bow and stern increases storage on longer trips, and the day hatch just behind the right of the cockpit makes for quick access to smaller items. Just fore of bow hatch is a molded section for an optional compass usually not seen on this size boat. Directly behind the cockpit is a security cleat for a security lock system, keeping the boat safer when left unattended on land.
The Alchemy 14.0S has a fully functioning padded seat with adjustable back band. The seat comes up at the hips with extra padding making for a snug and comfortable fit. However, getting one’s legs into and out of the boat is rather concerning. The plastic that extends into the cockpit from the cockpit rim to support the thigh braces decreases the opening area at the front of the cockpit. My knees were scrunched together during both entry and exit, bringing concerns for the less experienced paddler who may need to perform a wet exit if the boat capsizes. For a keyhole cockpit, one may have to enter and exit the boat as if it were an ocean cockpit. The thigh braces, however, are of high quality and conform to the paddlers legs very nicely. Paddlers should definitely experiment with the thigh brace positioning to benefit the most from the well conforming thigh braces. The foot braces are easily adjustable even when on the water. A simple lift of the adjustment tab allows the paddler to slide the braces forward and backward, and lowering the tab locks the braces into position. Running down the center of the inside of the hull is a support tube to increase the structural integrity of the hull and minimize warping.
I was amazed by the boat’s initial stability on the water. It instilled a tremendous amount of confidence having never paddled it before thanks to the semi hard chines of the hull. Putting the boat on edge requires a bit more input from the paddler; however, edging the boat seems unnecessary because it maneuvers so well initially. The boat does respond well to edging if the paddler desires, and a smooth transition from primary to secondary stability is confidence inspiring. The boat spins like a top with the help of its prominent rocker, taking only about six sweep strokes to turn the boat 360⁰. Of all the boats I’ve paddled in its class, the Alchemy 14.0S maneuvers the best. For longer trips, the Tru Trak wire skeg system vastly increases the boat’s tracking, yet still allows for effective maneuvers if necessary. The Alchemy 14.0S is a middle of the road boat in terms of speed, but it accelerates nicely, and maintaining speed did not seem to be a problem.
I thought I’d test out the functionality of the day hatch while on the water, and I came to the conclusion that anyone who wants to use the day hatch needs to have some serious muscle. Getting the day hatch off was a struggle and a half, and once finally off, putting it on required some added help from Kayak Dave. On land, I tried to remove and put back on the bow hatch cover, and that too was a struggle. The boat was fairly new so perhaps the hatch covers need to be stretched out through regular use. As far as carrying the boat around on land, it was no problem at all. At 51 lbs, an average weight for a polyethylene boat, the Alchemy 14.0S can be carried over the shoulder or thrown up onto a set of roof racks without an excessive amount of effort.
Overall, the Dagger Alchemy 14.0S impressed me with its performance sea kayak outfitting at a light touring size. The playfulness of the boat opens up some options for various paddling locations and conditions such as rock gardening. At 14 feet, the boat can access more intimate areas, yet still provide enough storage for overnight trips. As far as the hatch covers are concerned, they may need to be stretched out over time, and the difficult leg entry and exit of the cockpit is definitely something to be aware of. When all is said and done, I would recommend this kayak for small sized intermediate paddlers who enjoy a variety of paddling conditions with a boat that contains well integrated features.
Pros: Very maneuverable, extremely stable, sea kayak exterior and interior outfitting, three watertight bulkheads, versatile
Cons: Tight leg entry and exit from cockpit, difficult hatch covers
See Also: Dagger Alchemy 14.0L Review
Demo Notes: The Dagger Alchemy 14.0S was demoed on calm pond conditions with a light breeze