I’ve been paddling the Axiom 8.5 for some time now and, being at the top of its weight range (I’m 185lb dry weight) and at the limit of its internal dimensions (6’4″ with size 15 feet), I wondered how the 9.0 would feel for me. After paddling both for a few months, I can share my impressions, in case someone else would be trying to make a similar choice.


From Dagger:

The award winning Axiom takes the speed and performance of a slalom boat, putting them into a dynamic, fun and forgiving whitewater package. Designed for the smooth, soulful feeling that made the RPM so popular, with the addition of edges and a modern planing hull.

My Thoughts:

The 9.0 is much bigger both inside in terms of space as well as in terms of feel on the water. It is only 5lb heavier but it is noticeable too. The 9.0 seems faster surfing on the waves because it planes easier (at lower speed). It is also a lot more forgiving in boils and messy water – at my weight it just stays on top of the water, where the 8.5’s tail would get caught under eddy lines if not careful. The 8.5 is a lot more responsive to edging and can change direction on top of the wave better. The 8.5, having a skinnier nose, also seems to slice out from underwater when surfing easier by edging it. The 9.0 floats me higher, so it catches less on submerged rocks.


So, for my weight, they are quite different: the 9.0 is reassuring and stable for bigger water where the 8.5 is more agile even though it is a tad slower on the wave but more responsive on the flat. They are probably equally fast, the 8.5 being narrower and using almost all of its length, where quite a bit of the 9.0 nose and tail are above water, effectively shortening its waterline).

The 9.0 is so great for worry-free river running, the 8.5 is great for more spirited and engaged paddling. The 9.0 is just as easy if not easier to roll and I can do an effortless static brace in it (where in the 8.5 I have very little spare buoyancy for static brace so I have to be more careful to not go under while doing it); I can do a flat layback in both.

Axiom 8.5

Length: 8’6″ / 259 cm
Width: 25.5″ / 65 cm
Max Capacity: 210 lbs / 95 kg
Deck Height: 13.5″ / 34 cm
Weight: 42 lbs / 19 kg
Cockpit Length: 34″ / 86 cm
Cockpit Width: 19″ / 48 cm
Paddler Weight: 130-210 lbs / 59-95 kg
Volume: 63 gal / 238 L

Axiom 9.0

Length: 9′ / 274 cm
Width: 27.75″ / 69 cm
Deck Height: 14″ / 36 cm
Weight: 45 lbs / 20 kg
Cockpit Length: 34″ / 86 cm
Cockpit Width: 19″ / 48 cm
Paddler Weight: 180-287 lbs / 82-130 kg
Volume: 78 gal / 295 L