Submitted: 11-08-2010 by schoborg
My wife bought a Fathom LV last spring at the Charleston Kayak festival. She loves it! I primarily paddle an Epic18x but I bashed in the bow on a night paddle in September. Being a supportive spouse, my wife has let me use her Fathom LV to train in over the last 2 months. I generally paddle 2-3 times/week on our local lake for a total of 30-50 miles/week. I also recently took the Fathom out for a 70 mile, 3 day camping trip down the Congaree/Santee Rivers to Santee State Park in South Carolina. So I have had ample chance to get a feel for the boat.
I find the Fathom LV to be surprisingly fast in my rather inexpert hands, over the same measured 20 mile course, the LV is only about 0.2-0.3 mph slower than the Epic (which is a racing boat) at a similar effort level - although I have to add the disclaimer that I am not nearly skilled or strong enough yet to utilize the 18x's full potential. Both I and my wife (who just started paddling this year) find the Fathom LV to track well and to be very stable. My wife was initially concerned that it was "tippy" but was comfortable in the boat after 5 minutes of paddling it!
The Fathom also maneuvers well both loaded with camping gear and empty. The fit and finish of our boat is good, although it had a few dings and scratches when we bought it (as you would expect on a demo boat). It seems very tough it survived an accidental fall from the top of my Ford Explorer (> 5 feet) onto a concrete boat ramp with only a few scratches. It is an excellent weekend camping boat by traveling light (ie backpacker style) you could do a week-long solo trip. Of course, if you go with a group, you can share common gear and have more room for other stuff. By the way, I find that two 1 gallon Gatoraid jugs (for water) fit perfectly in the day compartment behind the cockpit with room left over for 3 days worth of food and a jacket this places those heavy water containers near the center of the boat.
The hatches are smaller than those on my Epic and I find that I have to put my gear in smaller dry bags. My only significant complaint is that the rubber hatches are a pain to get seated correctly. However, on the up side, I have not observed even a drop of water in any of the compartments even after the boat has sat on top of my car for hours in a pouring rain.
The seat and pegs are easy to adjust and the cockpit feels like it was made for me (5-6; 160 lbs). I have been in the boat for 6-7 hours straight and with no back, butt or leg pain.
Overall, the Fathom LV is not an expedition boat but is a great boat for short trips (week or less) and day paddles. In particular, I recommend it for new paddles who want a more performance oriented boat that they will not immediately outgrow.
Finally, note that an "8" is a really good review from me I refuse to give a perfect 10 because all boats (all products for that matter) have some design compromises and are not suited for all uses. This is a great boat and if you buy one you are unlikely to be disappointed.