Dagger GT 8.1

10 out of 10

Stats: 5'9" 170 lbs.

I bought this boat as a river runner/all arounder in 2004.(Got too many boats)
Dagger markets the GT as a river runner/semi playboat.I agree to a point.
In the hands of an experienced paddler the GT is lightening fast.Probably too fast for beginners.The volume is good for big water,but I found it harder to roll than my other boats.Width equals stability,but makes rolling a bit harder and slower than I'm used to.Might be me,not the boat.
The only boats I know of that are a close match to the GT 8.1 are the WS Diesel 75 and the Perception Sonic.Never paddled a Sonic so I don't have an opinion of how it compares in the lineup.
I let a friend who has a Diesel 75 paddle it on class II and he flipped the GT four times in a two hour run.He couldn't get used to how quickly the GT responds to minor corrections.He said it was too fast for him and wanted his Diesel back before he drowned himself rolling.I sort of liked the slower response of his Diesel 75,but I warned him before we traded boats.
Since I am not a playboater I cannot vouch for the GT's abilty to do the latest play moves.It carves on a dime and eddies in or out with moderate ease,ferrying is a breeze if you keep the edges up,otherwise be prepared to spin.The GT excels on fast technical water.Surfing? Who cares? I run rivers for the enjoyment of it,playboating I can do in a swimming pool.To each his own,there's plenty of water for everyone.I just might take up playboating when I turn sixty,right now I love just running rivers for the challenge.
The seat puts my legs to sleep.Dagger's molded seat has high front edges.You might like it,it's very posh and durable.Backband adjustment is very fast and works almost as good as the ratchet systems.The inflatable hip pads are a hoot,very fast adjustment.Never had an air leak,so far.
I prefer minimal outfitting and a very loose cockpit.I usually remove the hip pads from every boat I paddle,but I left them alone in the GT.
I believed in the snug fit philosophy until I got myself pinned upside down between a strainer and a huge boulder in a very fast current.After that episode I swore I would never outfit a boat for a snug fit again.I found out if you can't wet exit in three seconds or less you just might not live to tell about it.I almost didn't.Tight outfitting can be dangerous in some river situations.Rolling isn't always an option.
One of the reasons I bought the GT was the large cockpit size,it's huge and comfortable.Exits are super fast,I like that.

Overall:It is fast and loose.The GT is a Ferrari,not a Honda Civic.( I own two Civics,no flaming please).
If I had to rate the GT as a single purpose river runner I would give it a big 10.It will get the job done.Nice boat.


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