2016 River-Runners: Dagger Axiom 8.5 and 9.0

An updated RPM-style river runner, with magic stern chine and 21st-century comfort

By Nick Hinds / Photos and video by Dan Patrinellis and Mike Hagadorn
L: 9'; W: 27.75";78 gals., 45 lbs. $1,059 dagger.com

Dagger's new Axiom series (we tested the 8.5 and 9.0 versions) harken back to the golden age of retendos, squirts, and neoprene bibs. The hull surfs well on green waves and is light enough to throw around, from hard cutbacks to wave wheels and kickflips. The flat rocker profile makes the boat fast out of the bottom of drops, and zippy coming into and out of eddies. The Axiom holds a line and drives.


The 9.0 is a dream for larger paddlers. Even at 6'4" with size 13 dogs, I was comfortable throughout a long play-filled day on the Sky. Despite my 210 pounds, though, I had a hard time initiating squirts in the 9.0. There's plenty of volume in the tail, which is loath to sink but absolutely loves to set an edge.

The Axiom is reassuringly stable in stout conditions, with performance characteristics Dagger paddlers will recognize from the company's Mamba and Nomad creekers. While it doesn't resurface as quickly as a creekboat, it boofs like a champ. And then there's that edgy stern, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Stay forward, engage the stern, and paddle the same old runs with a whole new perspective. This boat encourages good paddling technique in an era when too many paddlers rely on a boat's volume to compensate for bad form.




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