Nomad 8.5

9 out of 10

Personal: 6'2", size 11.5 feet, 34" inseam, 175 lbs. Boats paddled: Big Ez, Agent 6.4, 3D, Outburst. Favorite Class: IV/V. Styles of Creeks run in my Nomad: (All these runs are in Alaska) Six Mile > 11.5' (high volume creeking), Ingram Creek (waterfalls and slides), Campbell Creek (low volume slides), Lil' Sue (continuous boulder garden), Archangel (Steep continuous boulder garden) General Impression: I have really liked my Nomad 8.5. It behaves as a kayak should behave; everything happens as it should when I'm in my Nomad. The nomad is super fast. I'm usually pleasantly surprised when I charge a drop. The end result is much easier than I anticipate. Despite its length, the Nomad is pretty easy to boof and runs tight, technical low volume creeks. This is possibly due to how much speed the Nomad has. I really like the shape of the deck. The deck sheds water really well and causing the Nomad to surface controllably. I especially like the shape of the stern. It does not seem to get caught in holes or back-endered al all. The shape of the bow is really nice in that it deflects off rocks smoothly and controllably. However I have found that the Nomad is a little long in some situations. On steep small creeks the Nomad feels a little long, but it is still manageable. If/when I get a new creek boat I would look for something shorter. It would also be nice to have a little more of an edge on the Nomad. The edges are super forgiving, but they don't snap into eddies very well. I have the original model, with out the new seat. The way that the cockpit comes down and the seat is situated it is hard to get gear in the back. It takes a little finagling to get my first aid kit and spare paddle back there, I couldn't imagine how hard it would be to get over night stuff in the back. I am super impressed with Dagger's plastic. I haven't had any problems with it since I bought the boat in 2004. Granted I haven't had much time to get out and rally until this year, but I have put a few dents in it. The plastic is soft and stretches rather than cracks. I have put three dents in my Nomad and they all have come out either on their own or with a hot air gun. I have heard of people worrying about oil canning with Dagger's plastic. I haven't had a problem as long as I store my boat standing vertically. If it sits on my roof or its hull for a long time it starts to oil can, but as soon as I stand it on end for a little while it comes right out. Pros: Great design (bow, stern, rocker, deck), fast, forgiving, plastic. Cons: A little on the long side, no edges Conclusion I would be hard pressed to find a better creek boat. I am super comfortable running any type of water in the nomad despite its size. I wish I could give the Nomad a 9.5, but I can't. I'll settle for a 9 because it is a little long, hard to get into the back, and could be a little snappier into the eddies.
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