I demo'ed and eventually bought an XP10 in the last year and have been very happy with it for easy white water and narrow twisty streams but really not a flat water kayak beyond that it does tracks very well with the skeg down. This is probably going to be true with all the kayaks you are looking at.
Last month I took a friend of mine out who loves to go kayaking, on nice mellow lakes, but is a horrible paddler -- after years of trying to help her improve her forward stroke I still catch her with the paddle upside down or backwards at times. I let her use my Dagger Axis 12 and I took the XP10. I just was not able to keep up with her unless I paddled very hard. We went out for about 4 hours and she was still pretty fresh while I really felt a bit burned. It wasn't miserable experience and fine if you just want a mellow lake paddle. It pushes water in a stroke or two and not many more I feel like I am hitting the max speed of the kayak.
On moving water it is great. Stable, comfortable, and pretty agile.
I bought the XP10 mainly as I really need a slightly longer cockpit then the others and like to keep my cockpit about that size so I can use a single skirt. The other kayaks you are looking at all have smaller cockpits. The outfitting is really comfortable and maybe it is me but I find it lot more comfortable when on the water then I do sitting at home (actually didn't like the seat at home when setting it up but felt great on the water).
I have looked at the Fusion but never demo'ed it. You have a smaller cockpit, and if you get the connect outfitting you get the bulkhead footbrace. The XP has footpegs. Overall, I liked the outfitting on the XP better (expect the pegs). The backband on the XP seems pretty low but when paddling it feels fine. I thought I might add the high seat back.
My poor paddling friend tried the XP briefly. She liked the seat, hated the backband, and when she pulled the skeg up couldn't figure out how to paddle the kayak straight at all and was all over the place. It may not be the best kayak for some beginners but should offer a stable enough rec kayak feel for them if they keep the skeg down all the time.
Heel and Pegpads™
Reflective Hull Decals
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