Here is a very unbiased assessment of the best Gorge boat out there.
Fast? Check. Surfs well? Yes. Cartwheels any feature? You bet. Spins with the best of them? Like a true ultracentrifuge. Stern squirts? No current needed. These are appropriate yet boring ways of describing the Dagger Ultrafuge’s attributes. The truest gauge of a proper boat is the size of the shit-eating grin lighting up the face of the one paddling it.
An Ultrafugical paradox:
I have been an avid ultrafuger for the better part of a year. The first time I squeezed into this boat I could hardly stand to sit in it, yet alone paddle it. After 20 minutes at Brennan’s wave in Missoula, I was frantically paddling to shore to restore feeling lost to my feet and the majority of the rest of my lower body. While on shore, I knew, I wouldn’t again allow that boat to torture my body.
At the Alberton Gorge the next day something came over me. I forgot the physical pain the boat caused me while remembering the 20-minute grin that spanned my ears. That run in the Ultrafuge changed how I approach river-running. A once straightforward stretch of whitewater transformed into a playground of endless amusement. The size of the feature did not seem to matter, the Ultrafuge made it fantastically fun.
Ultrafuge and the Gorge:
Anyone who has paddled the Gorge knows how playful of a run it is, especially at lower flows. A seal launch to begin the run ensures a smile from the get-go and serves as a beeline to Zero Wave. The Ultrafuge, unlike most modern playboats, will zip across the middle hump of Zero without flushing. Once over on surfer’s left, this boat snaps river-surfer-inspired carves with minimal effort. Like the Price is Right wheel spun by an amped up granny, the Ultrafuge is formidably fast when flat-spinning. This boat is sure to have its paddler sticking their tongue out in amusement.
In between the various surfs on the Gorge stretch, this Dagger will find any excuse to get vertical. Squirting any eddy-line or boil and cartwheeling in flat-water, this boat has not the slightest concern with feature size. Its ability to splat in Rollercoaster and Mermaid Rock makes the Dagger Ultrafuge an all-around playful machine.
Is this kayak for you?
This boat is uncomfortable. After 30 minutes on the water you may feel the need to get out and stretch. But do not stand up too quickly; you may find that your legs have not yet regained feeling. If you find that a little discomfort is just part of kayaking, then this boat will not disappoint. Give this kayak a try for yourself and analyze that discomfort to fun ratio. You may find a central spot for the Dagger Ultrafuge in your armada.
This kayak creates smiling faces on the river. And that’s what paddling is all about.