Finally I got my chance to paddle a new Eskimo Xeno yesterday, and I compared it side by side with my Eskimo Quadro.
First impressions: Better volume distribution, same size cockpit, different plastic, no throwbag (sponge :-) ) holder under front deck, same foam block style footbrace (but with attachment point to keep it inside the boat!), a drain plug, different decals, different seat with anti-slip pad, lower toe-bumps.
After paddling straight for a couple of strokes, I immediately noticed that it tracks less than the Quadro. It definitely feels loose(r) on a wave, making spins a lot easier! Because of the better volume distribution, it has a lot less problems with staying horizontal in a hole. The Quadro tends to bury its stern in most holes, no matter how much I lean to the front, staying more or less diagonal when you're doing moves.
The Xeno slices through the pillow with a lot less effort, making spins in a hole a lot easier than with the Quadro. It rolls a bit different than a Quadro, maybe because it feels flatter and wider... It's still easy to handroll though, so no problems whatsoever.
It's just as easy to stern-squirt as the Quadro, however, the front wants to go down a lot easier than the Quadro! Here I managed to surprise myself, throwing a few ends in the eddy before flipping, something which I have real difficulties with in my Quadro. Mind you, I'm no playboater by a long shot, but this was fun.
The boat handles well, and because of the softer chines, it is less likely to flip an unsuspecting newbie while entering an eddy... Something that my Quadro did rather well! :-)
The new one colour Eskimo plastic feels good: I slid over some sharp rocks, bumped the bottom of the hole when trying to throw an end, and I was worrying about any deep scratches, but after close inspection later, I had difficulties finding any scratch. Cool!
I like the extra's in comparison with the Quadro, such as a drain plug, a small shock cord holding the footbrace into the boat (even if it manages to wiggle loose after you bail out), and the pressed Eskimo logo in the bottom.
The cons: Lower foot room in the Xeno. That is not so much limiting the length of feet going in the nose, but it does put more force onto the ends of the toes. As with the Quadro, the foam footbrace-blocks need to be cut diagonally to provide more support for the lower part of the foot. I got a personal reply from Eskimo after posting a review on Boatertalk.com, telling me that they are already changing the footbrace.
The bottom of the Xeno "flutters" slightly when you ride the boat vertically (staying upright for a while after a stern-squirt) into the current or into an eddy. The Quadro also did this at first, but gluing foam under the seat stopped the flutter.
The seat feels good when you sit in it, but if it was a little bit stiffer (I could bent the front of the seat up far enough from the bottom to stick a hand under it) then it would support the bottom better.
The stickers/decals: these are of really bad quality, rubbing off during the first hour of paddling. I was really happy to see the thick plastic triangular decals disappear, but this isn't really an improvement... In their e-mail, Eskimo also informed me that they have moved onto molded into the boat decals, so this shouldn't be an issue any more.
All in all, a really fun boat for tall paddlers like me, and I'm now seriously thinking about getting one myself! :-)
Wilko (6'8", 220 lbs)