Are Epics (composites, etc.) very delicate?

Howdy all. I’m looking to upgrade from my ridiculously heavy plastic Necky to something lighter, faster, funner. My local shop took me down the surfski path, which led me to Epics, which led me to this forum, where someone years ago talked about how delicate these foam core composite layups are. He suggested that the slightest bump or scrape could puncture the top layer.

While I don’t intend to rock garden in the new boat, and I am more than happy to wade out into water to launch, I also don’t want to be petrified at puncturing the hull if I start to roll up on the sandy beach of an alpine lake—especially after laying out $3,000+.

Thoughts? Maybe these high-tech foam cores are not for my use (SF Bay with docks and beaches, mountain lakes).


My 2019 Epic 18X has several thousand miles on it. It has some kind of hexagon-celled core visible inside the hatches and weighs in at 42 pounds. I can only compare it to my old 32 lb 14 foot fiberglass boat. Generally I would say it is much stiffer and possibly easier to gouge than fiberglass. The difference in stiffness is remarkable.

Most of the miles are on my local river which is mostly rock-free. Occasionally when running over invisible shallow logs at speed I hear a slight crackling sound as the weight of me and the boat deforms the hull, something that never happened with fiberglass. Initially I was alarmed at this but there is no visible evidence afterward.

I prefer beaching on sand - no damage. You definitely don’t want to beach on sharp rock with either boat. Sliding over smooth granite in Georgian Bay scrapes white plastic onto the rock same as rotomolds, but rotomolds have a lot thick hull to wear through. So far though I have nothing deeper than surface scratches.

Also paddling through skim ice notches the bow, so I have a gorilla tape rub strip there and on the stern.

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The Epic “Ultra” construction (red bow & stern) sure is delicate – it even has a warning sticker inside that says so.
The Epic “Performance” construction (black bow & stern) is a bit stronger.

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Just get an Epic river layup (tougher bottom) or Stellar multisport (similar tough bottom) and you won’t have to worry about some bumps?