I haven’t really seriously paddled a Dagger kayak since I owned a Vertigo years back. At the time I was pretty happy with the outfitting although I did change the back band. I was therefore very interested in giving the Kingpin a go to see how things had developed over the years.
The Kingpin comes in the now traditional three different sizes. I managed to get hold of a Kingpin 6.3 for a few days at the end of the summer. I was fairly limited on where to paddle it due to the lack of rain but did get to spend several hours throwing the boat around at a local P&P spot.
Since I picked the largest boat I wasn’t surprised to find that it was comfortable with enough foot room not to cause too much discomfort. The Kingpin comes with foam footrests and if this were my own boat I would have spent an hour or two making sure that they were spot on for me.
The seat was very comfortable, although the inflatable hip pads were a concern they did work rather well, although by the end of the session I found that they were deflating and/or taking on water. The thigh braces were also comfortable but I did find on the boat I was using that they did move a little.
The backrest was very supportive and seemed to sit in the correct place. Of course it was adjusted using cam lock system – in this case I did find a little slippage which needed regular attention during my paddling session. Unless you are throwing the boat around hard this probably wouldn’t be a major problem.
As a P&P boat the Kingpin will serve you well. Cartwheels, splitwheels, and bow stalls were easy to achieve with the boat showing not too much bounce when on end. It carves reasonably well and its speed is not bad for such a small boat.
I like the Kingpin a lot, but have been disappointed with the quality of the outfitting and concerned that the hull of the boat has two bolts through it to help hold the seat structure in place (rocky UK rivers?!?). If it were my boat I would certainly put in the time and effort to refine what I could. This would probably entail ripping out the inflatable hip pad system in favour of some good old minicell foam.
The Kingpin has now been superseded by the Kingpin Icon. I believe that some of the outfitting niggles I found have been addressed and early feedback from the Icon suggests that the great Kingpin hull has been given the necessary boost to turn the Kingpin into the boat it should have always been. I look forward to trying the Icon out.