Gear Review: DAGGER NOMAD 2016 (NEWMAD)

Gear Review: DAGGER NOMAD 2016 (NEWMAD)

The first batch of brand new Newmads to hit the Indian rivers are finally here. After a lengthy delay due to our friendly neighbourhood ass**les at the customs department we finally managed to get our hands on our brand new fleet.  Outfitting these kayaks, just like all Dagger boats, is a ten-minute job. Adjust the foot-rests, tighten the screws, install the appropriate amount of paddling in hip pads and you are good to go!

We couldn’t wait to take these new babies to the river and so the mid-week holiday of the Indian festival Dussera gave us the right opportunity to do just that. Dussera, according to Hindu traditions is the best time to start something or purchase something new; not that it really mattered because anytime we get a chance to go paddling is an auspicious day as far as we are concerned.


The increased rocker is one of the first things that you would notice about the Newmad


The newmad’s are bigger, much bigger. The medium Nomad is about 326 liters, way more than the Nomad 8.5 and the Nomad L is at a massive 363 liters, about the same volume as the Zet Director.  I have been paddling the Director, so for me the Nomad-Large seemed like the better choice. The boat doesn’t feel so big since the volume seems to be evenly distributed and not just concentrated around the bow or the stern.  Like it’s predecessor and similar to all other offerings from Dagger, the kayak is slightly on the heavier side owing to the contour outfitting and the roto-moulded pillar system.

I spent most of initial paddling years on the Pyranha Karnali so I like my boats to be a little edgy. This is the reason that I never took to the old Nomad. I love the feeling of current catching the edge of my kayak and accelerating away while initiating a peel-out or a ferry. That was missing with the Nomad and on big water and one needed to really paddle hard to get the right momentum in order to dictate the angle.  However, that feature was great if one ended up sideways over a hole or pour-over.  The old Nomad with it’s super round body and forgiving edges would help one stay upright and paddle away without getting their hair wet. The hull of the Newmad is less rounded but not as edgy as the Zets or the Pyranhas. The big difference in the hull construction is the rocker, which is pronounced and very similar to that of the Waka Tuna. To me it seemed that the designers seem to have borrowed some of the good aspects from the Pyranha 9R and the Waka Tuna.


Combining the best of many worlds. The rocker design from the Waka, dimensions from the Pyranha 9R and legacy forgiving features from the old Nomad.

Now let’s look she performed on the water.


Due to the post monsoon releases from the dam on the Cauvery, we found really good water levels, around 12000-15000 CFS. Not the ideal testing ground for the Newmad since it is designed for creeking environments but nevertheless we were hopeful of finding a few big pour-overs/holes that we could boof over.  We weren’t disappointed. Some of the holes on the river were monstrous and the Newmad performed exceptionally well. It flew over just about everything that we threw it at. The pronounced rocker ensured that nose stayed on top of all the trashy stuff and glided past these features with ease.   It was just pure joy to paddle over big waves and punch those meaty holes with this boat.  The contour outfitting as expected is solid; if outfitted correctly the kayak is a snug fit and that really helps the boat respond quickly while trying boof or edge.

Keeping the nose dry while punching through big holes

Keeping the nose dry while punching through big holes

As expected though, the kayak isn’t as edgy as the Zet and it seemed to get pushed around a little when entering a fast current or trying to catch a small mid-stream eddy.  I am sure that this will not be such a problem in a low volume river but if you need to ferry out wide to avoid that bus-eater of a hole, then make sure that you have extra boat speed to make the line.


The newmad is a little annoying to paddle on gentle moving water because it forces one to throw in that big correction stroke every now and then. Slight changes in current tend to change the direction and due to increased boat speed of the nomad one needs to regularly make hard course corrections.

However, this kayak isn’t designed for flat-water and it on the rapids where this kayak truly delivers. The boat is fast, way faster than the old Nomad and seems to carry its boat speed really well over obstacles. Nothing seems to slow it down and even after having punched a massive hole this beast is hungry for more. So much so that I found it hard to catch waves, those that I would normally catch very easily on my Zet or the Axiom.  I had to really paddle hard upstream to slow myself down enough to catch some of the medium sized surfing waves, so not that impressive in-terms of downriver play.

The Nomad manages to stay upright over pretty much anything

The Nomad manages to stay upright over pretty much anything


Like the old Nomad, this kayak is really easy to roll.  The few times that I did go over while trying to surf a hole, I found myself coming back up rather easily even while trying to do so in the “boily” bits. Due my bad shoulder I have not hand-rolled for a while but with the newmad I was able to do it without any problems.


Demonstrating the awesome secondary stability of the newmad, a hallmark of the Nomad line of kayaks.


This is a super solid boat and we love it. Like I said that this wasn’t the ideal testing ground for this boat but I’m confident that it will really shine on a steep creek as well. The pronounced rocker along with the extra volume are great additions, to give one that confidence to push their paddling skills to the limit.  However, if you are looking for something that will be fun to surf, play and perform stern stalls then you are better off with an Axoim or a Braap.

All in all, this a great kayak for anyone from a beginner to an advanced paddler. The newmad has big shoes to fill given the popularity of its predecessor and we truly believe that it will indeed prove to be a worthy successor.

The newmads will be available soon on our store: and if you would like to try  it out then please call us and schedule your demo.  Happy paddling!

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *