Submitted: 07-28-2006 by Dave N.
Wow, a kayak that actually performs exactly as claimed by the manufacturer and as set out in the reviews! I am a newbie, with several inherent handicaps to developing skills in a sport I am starting to love: I am 210 pounds with broad shoulders and short legs (28" inseam.) The result is a build that makes tipping over all too-easy to do -- unintentionally. I am also 58 years old with limited agility courtesy of Uncle Sugar circa 1969.
My first outing in a kayak which was supposed to be "very stable" resulted in rolling over at the launch. I switched to something said to be suitable for a beginner with "great primary stability and good secondary." I rolled that one over the first time I tried to apply a little force doing a draw stroke. Looking around a bit more, I decided that the hull design of a Tsunami 165 with its shallow V and distinct chines (easy for a newbie to feel and hold the secondary stability) would work for me. It did, but the tradeoff was a rather heavy boat at 65+ pounds, one a bit hard to turn, a tad ponderous to move out, but great once you got it going. So I wanted something smaller and lighter, and more "agile" but with the same type of chined hull and stabilty.
I did my research looking for another hull design with a shallow V and chines, and ended up speaking to Joe at Eddyline. Joe went into detail about their design objectives and, after describing my size and build, said go with their Equinox. He hooked me up with a local dealer (Great Lakes Kayak in Lake Bluff Illinois) who had a demo and several new boats in stock. The demo was the next day.
I spent a minute looking at the hull design with its distinct chines, we put it in the water, and I said, "Gee, it feels a bit twitchy." No, that turned out to be just quicker response on a lighter boat than the one I was used to (the 45 pound claim Eddyline lists is correct.) The Equinox is also superbly balanced, providing faster and more precise reactions than I was used to from my heavier, and longer Tsunami. The first paddle was all it took to feel what is indeed very good initial stability and then a quick lean and --- YES, THERE IT IS-- very distinct and wonderful secondary stability. This little puppy has simply marvelous secondary stability. If you want to tip over, you have to work at it. I bought the new one right on the spot.
I took it out for three hours late yesterday on Lake Michigan after a storm, conditions mostly flat with gentle 2 to 3 foot swells. It handled them comfortably. You paddle, it moves out fast. Tracks dead on, and turns on a dime. I started to have a lot of fun and managed to lean over and start to 'carve' without feeling the least bit nerous or needing to.
After wringing it out and trying out all I had been taught, This kayak is a great sports car. A responsive hull that feels like it is one with its paddler and responds like my son's Mini Cooper, you give it the input, and it leaps to respond! Speed is no doubt less than longer, narrower boats, but seems plenty fast for it length/beam. Again, if there is any trade off in this design it is would only be 'top end' speed, which I am quite willing to give up for its sports car handling and agility.
Comfort? The cockpit is a perfect fit for me, despite my large size and the boat's relatively short length. The footbraces are a snap to adjust, and the tigh and hip braces fit me fine, even with my large upper body build. The seat looks hard, but after three hours without a break, it proved to be very comfortable. I did see the other review which has some reservation about the seatback comfort, but even with a wired-together and fragile back, I was fine once I picked one of the three easily-adjustable seat back heights. (Adjustment is a ten second, one screw process, with no need for tools.)
The build quality and detailing is outstanding. I would recommend this boat for anyone like myself, new to the sport and with any issues at all about stability. I can also see that it would be a great boat for those who need something lighter than a full-on touring kayak or want a boat to go out and just have fun for a day.
I plan on keeping the Equinox for a long time, since even if I can get to a level where I am a 'pro' I cannot imagine getting rid of something this responsive and this much fun.