Length: 18' 0" - Width: 22.00" - Starting at: $3395.00See More Details about this Kayak
On the performance side of the equation, I don't think you can find a better overall sea kayak. It's fast, efficient, sprightly, tracks well, turns well, and is quite comfortable for long hauls. It's easy to surf wakes and waves, and always feels comfortably stable, exhibiting great secondary stability. It lean turns superbly for such a long boat, and with the rudder you can really whip it around. I like the Sealine rudder system - the boat responds almost instantly to rudder input, and it's easy to adjust and use. Overall, the boat feels like a sports car to me.
As to quality, this boat leaves a lot to be desired. The gentlemen who owned the boat before me was a fanatic about protecting and caring for his boats, and I've always stored my boat indoors and taken good care of it. Nevertheless, the gelcoat has spider cracks all over the place and the seam tape is coming off. I've also had to replace the Sealine rudder pedal system in the cockpit area - the original pedal adjustment housing was plastic, and cracked. The new housing is aluminum, and appears to be very durable. The hull is soft, and I have some indentations in the hull from where the boat rides on the saddles on my rack. I believe mine is somewhat heavier than listed as well. On the plus side, my hatches are easy to use and seal pretty well. One stays completely dry, while the other will leak a little.
In spite of the quality irritants, I really like the boat. I bought a QCC 700XL last year, intending to replace the Epic 18 Endurance with 700XL, a much higher-quality, made in the USA boat. As it turned out, I sold the QCC and kept the Epic. The QCC was beautifully made and very solid, but it had a "big boat" feel compared to the sprightly feel of the Epic, plus it was slower (GPS confirmed numerous times over the same course) and less comfortable (part of that was the after market back band, but I didn't like the seat as well either). Looking at the two boats side by side they looked pretty similar, but a close examination shows the Epic possesses a sharper entry on the bow and exit at the stern, along with some other subtle differences that add up in the water.
I've since moved into a Thunderbolt for racing and rarely paddle the Epic anymore, except in winter, but I've loaned it out to a friend's son to get him started into USCA marathon racing, and he loves it as well.
A great boat, with a few caveats.
The bungee cords on the back deck are useless for a paddle float rescue, however, and need to be replaced by solid lines if you are going to use that technique. That said, the boat rolls easily and if I trashed out of the boat, my first self rescue would be a re-entry and roll followed, if needed by a paddle float re-entry and roll. There is plenty of storage for longer trips, and while I can get about a sponge full of water into the hatches, this amount is not dangerous. Critical gear that cannot get wet should be in drybags no matter how much you trust your hatches anyway.
I only use the rudder when the wind is on the beam or further aft. Any other time, the extra drag is not worth it. That is also why I wouldn't install a longer rudder. On a steep following sea, it will wander a bit until the rudder bites, but that's what your paddle is for.
My question is about the speed this boat is famous for. I also paddle a Mariner II and a Betsie Bay Recluse. On a measured course with the same paddler (me) and the same paddle, the Epic is not much faster, if at all than these others. Maybe that's because I am 63 years old and can't push any of these boats that fast. I can do about 7.5 knots over my 2 mile course, and all 3 boats are within seconds of each other.
There's no excuse for crap like this in 2009. I took it back after 3 months because the seat had worn through the hull. The Sydney distributors at that time told me it was my fault. Sorry for sitting in the boat. I've watched Freyer Haufmeister struggle with her, specially prepared Endurance too:
So, what is it about making a kayak that's so difficult. And how come she's testing new fittings paddling around Australia? I thought that would happen in the LAB.
When I ask around people always talk about the factory burning down, the Chinese factory problem and stuff. Hey guys, that's not our problem... If people deliver a product and don't stand by it, that's not what Sea kayaking is about, is it? I like the design but the company owners ought to be held accountable for this abysmal quality.
I liked the finish of the boat, black with red on the bow and stern. Perimeter lines felt a bit thin, but adequate. I found the add'l bungee cords aft of the rear hatch very convenient. I couldn't grasp the small diameter bungee cords wearing neoprene gloves-I added a knotted loop of cord to each bungee to correct that. For carrying the boat, I like the suitcase style grips far foar more than grab loops/plastic handles on other boats.
I found the cockpit an excellent fit and the padding adequate. My size 11.5 feet fit with Teva sandals & kayaking booties, but not with the bigger Keen Newport sandals. The footpedal system works, though it did break. Cascade Designs responded promptly and replaced the unit. I have since improved my technique a bit and stress the braces less. I have had to re-glue the knee pads on both sides. Rumors of Epic moving production to China may improve quality. The seatback adjustment system seems excessive with plastic ratchets, maybe useful or just Rube Goldberg. The stainless bolts have moderate rust. Water leaked in at the cleat holding the rudder up/down line. Rubber ring washers fixed that. Periodically, the nylock nuts & bolts holding the seat/backrest unscrew themselves. I had to restitch the webbing hardware for the hatches.
I found the 18 to have exceptional primary and secondary stability but that might come from my having used it for so long as well as having paddled a Seda Impulse for two years. The Impulse has a narrower and rounder hull. The 18 turns well on edge, but you have to sweep the paddle blade from the bow out and back to the stern. The lack of much keel mandates a rudder for tracking. I have had the 18 surfing windwaves and swell up to 1.5 feet--the boat generally does well but will broach with following seas when the rudder clears the water.
The Boat rolls well empty. I have never loaded the boat with more than 10 lb of gear. A low cockpit at the rear enables layback rolls. Some water found its way into the rear compartment after rolling--it leaks either from the hatch cover, the bolts/nuts holding the decklines/bungees or the bulkhead. Both bulkheads have very small ventilating tubes.
As for speed, I haven't paddled a faster boat. A very accomplished paddler friend of mine prefers it to his Seda Glider. My paddling has improved, but I still haven't taken a gps aboard.
Overall, the boat wins my vote for best boat for lightness, speed, handling, stability, fit, footbrace/rudder system. the boat loses a point for quality control.
I'm learning the boat and found it to be quite forgiving. Glides through the water effortlessly and provides some great workouts. Rudder system works well but I can see why some suggest larger blade.
One thing that did surprise me is how easy this 18 foot boat is to steer with my hips. I imagine it has something to do with the rounded bottom and light weight. I really love the rudder pedals. The foot braces are solid and the rudder pedal is actuated with your toes. I found this easy barefoot and with booties. It would be tough if you use rigid soled shows, though. It also seems that they must have listened to folks on this forum as they now use a firm, narrow back band that seems to work well although it takes awhile to get it adjusted properly. The only thing I don't like so far is the black color. On a big lake the boat is nearly invisible. It looks fantastic, but I am in the process of adding some 3M reflective tape. It seems like a shame to to it, but getting hit by a boat seems worse!
Construction is fine, with a tight front hatch, reasonable rear hatch. The rest of the boat is nicely built and put together.
Overall, a top performer with excellent speeds, stability, reasonable comfort, and durability. A sea kayak (USCA definition of sea kayak) that just can't be beat by anything in its class.
The service from the people at EPIC and Cascade Design (Smart Track mfgr) has been EXCELLENT - Thank you GB. I want one of the new black boats but don't want to buy it from our local dealer who has no use for racers. It's the one boat you can use as a daily paddler and as a weekend racer that gives you a decent shot in the touring sea kayak class - EFT's and Nelo Razor "cheater" boats not withstanding.
Carved turns surprisingly well but the rudder was a big help in the wind. Once turning had started the boat wanted to keep turning even when brought back to an even keel. This boat was easier to turn for me than the CD caribou but did not stop turning as crisply, or track as well. If I get this boat I will get a rudder and the trim tab adjustment and use it exclusively. I also need to raise the pedal height but that is down to me not Epic. I wonder if I could get the trim tab and leave the toe pilots out ( I know it is not standard design but... I will paddle this boat soon in conditions, and if I decide I need a fast sit in boat it's likely to be purchased.
Seat back is quite sad but what do you expect. It is way too tall and way to flimsy. I doubt that seat backs are a big concern of Greg or Oscar. The boat rolled OK but did not pop up like the romany explorer does (few boats do.) Weathercocking was noticable but not outrageous. The reason I would get a rudder is because of the boats tendancy to keep turning. I was very pleased with the lack of drag fron the sealline rudder.
Overall, I was quite pleased, and very pleasantly surprised at the boats ability to carve I weigh 225 have snort legs and have been working at improving my paddling skills for about 4 years three of them year round.
Hatches are well secured, and have not leaked noticeably in 2-3 ft seas.
I'm 230lb, 6'3", and find the cockpit to be a bit snug, but comfortable enough. The boat is stable enough to adjust the foot pedals in chop sitting on 1" thick padding added to the seat.
Paddling into the wind the bow cuts through the wave. When the nose comes down, it slices very nicely through the forward wave, which aids in steering. Paddling with the wind. The knife bow aids in steering and the flat mid section hull planes very nicely. The rudder system steers beautifully. On some waves the kayak had a tendency to broach when the rudder was out of the water. Paddling 3/4 to the wind. The large bow has a slight disadvantage here, but weather cocking was easily corrected with the rudder.
Initial stability and secondary stability are better than the looksha 2. I am surprised that a boat this fast could feel this stable. Weight is an issue, as my boat definitely weighed in at more than 41 lbs. My Looksha was actually lighter.
Quality of construction I am told is being improved. The hatches leaked and needed work. I canít give the Endurance a 10, because of the hatches, but performance is where this kayak outshines the others Iíve paddled. Best paddling to all. A great boat for those looking for boat with a rudder and a fast touring model.
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