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Submitted: 02-01-2011 by glennbrank12

I've now owned my QCC 500 (kevlar) for a year, and paddled under a variety of conditions, from Black Canyon on the lower Colorado to Monterey Bay to typical flat water lakes in California. (Read about these trips at norcalyak.com.) Rather than just repeating the previous accolades from other owners about QCC's value, quality, and performance, a few observations:

First, considering that QCC is a small company with virtually no promotion other than modest ads here at paddling.net, the QCC boats receive a ton of favorable reviews. Yes, you should take any online reader review with a grain of salt. But QCC owners are truly passionate about their boats. That should tell you something.

Second, where you find one QCC boat, you're likely to find more. In my paddling group of about a dozen people, we have one 400 (bought within the last six months), three 500s (two rudder, one skeg), and a 700. Once you've actually seen and paddled a QCC, chances are good you'll want one.

There is no one "right" or perfect boat for everyone, to be sure. (Hence no perfect "10" review.) But over several months, I tried out more than a dozen boats from various manufacturers, and I couldn't find one better for the money than the 500, by a fair margin. And the advice you'll get by talking to Steve at QCC directly, on the phone, is priceless.

I wanted a boat that could bail me out, no pun intended, if I got into trouble. Recently, I was out on Tomales Bay, north of San Francisco, when winds unexpectedly ramped up to 20+ miles per hour. There were some nervous folks in my group, and rightfully so. But I wasn't even using a skirt at the time, and I never felt that uneasy. The 500 is as steady as a rock in choppy water, yet it also can be quite satisfying to paddle across a calm lake. For what its worth, I prefer the rudder model for its flexibility in paddling under any conditions.

Yes, given my aging legs, I would have liked to have a slightly longer cockpit. But I get in and out okay. The seat base is just fine. As for the back band, it's like a bicycle seat no matter what band you put in a boat, someone will probably want to change it anyway. (I added an IR ergonomic back band for about $70, worth a lot more in comfort.)

I've noticed that a lot of cheaply-made kayaks offer very comfortable backrests to make themselves more appealing but I would rather put my bucks into first-class design and handcrafted American construction, not to mention a boat I can count on. I've got a kayaking T-shirt with a slogan that expresses how I feel about paddling in my 500: "The road to Heaven may not be a road at all."

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