I am trying to decide which of these boats to buy. They are similar but have some distinct differences. I plan to paddles bays, canals, with only day touring, little need for storage. Any thoughts?
Apples and Oranges…
They are as different as you can get.
The Epic is faster, built as a racing boat to fit in the sea kayak class. Soft chines, rudder dependant, more fragile if not treated as a racing boat.
The Caribou is slower, hard chines with a skeg, turns by edging the chines, low profile in the wind, likes rough water and a smoother ride. Built like a tank but takes some water over the deck in rough water. Great stability.
I have three hard chine no rudder boats. Try them both as they are very good examples of the extremes in sea kayak designs…
Completely different boats
You may find the Epic faster.
You may find the Caribou more playfull.
Are you serious about speed?
Or do you take your fun seriously?
I want both. Maybe my next wife with be more compassionate about a large fleet.
thanks & follow up
Thanks for the info. I really liked the initial stability of the Caribou, and I have only tried the 16' Epic Cruiser but want something longer.
It worries me that the Carobou is one of a few that have a hard chine. Does that make it more of a specialty boat? I'm no expert but I have been paddeling a Pamlico for a few years and want to move up to a glass boat that is faster, and one that I can grow into as my skills improve. Any other thoughts?
Speed is ok but need stability too?
I’d like better speed than I have with my Pamlico, but anything should be faster than that. Any recommendations in this class of boats.
Different, but both have…
… very friendly initial and secondary stability - as does the QCC 700…
Caribous I’ve paddled feel like old friends right off. The Epic and QCC 700 are also some of the friendliest feeling 21" beam kayaks you’ll find.
Don’t let similar looks fool you with EPIC/QCC though - they are quite different boats as well. As already mentioned, the EPIC is designed like a race boat that’s detuned a bit and has hatches and such added for touring. The QCC is designed as a gear hauler/touring boat that is efficient enough to be pretty fast.
If you plan to race a lot - and like to use a rudder - you’d be happier with the EPIC. If want to play a little more and have more feel of the boat, and like skegs - maybe the caribou. If you want to do a bit of everything - and have the option of skeg or rudder, custom colors, and superior quality - the QCC.
As the others have said, they are all quite different. Still, the EPIC and Caribou S both ended up at the top of my short list after a lot of test paddles - right behind the QCC. If I didn’t have the 700, odds are I’d have one of those.
This comes down to personality and interests. The kayaks can influence your future paddling - so ask yourself what you are most interested in doing/learning?
I suspect if I’d gotten the EPIC I’d be a little more than casually interested in fitness paddling, would race more than a couple times a year, and would be moving up to race boats or surf skis. If I’d gotten the Caribou I’d have worked on rolling sooner - focused on Greenland skills more (though none of these kayaks allows a decent layback due to high rear coaming) - and been drawn to building kayaks sooner. As it stands with the Q700, I remain interested in all of it.
The 'bou is a sweet sweet boat.
Fun to surf, carves nicely, loves rough water, very responsive and certainly not slow.
If you haven’t already, find one to test paddle. I doubt you will be disapointed.
if your experience is a Pamlico then the boats you are describing are as different from it as a pickup is from a sports car. Look for comfort/durability instead of the extra 1% in theoretical speed that comes with a training.
I think of the Epic as a big fast american car. Comfortable, capable, roomy and OMG quick if the paddler is up to the task.
I think of the Caribou as a neat little British sports car, small, nimble, less roomy but more intimate.
The speed dfference maters little to all but the most experienced. Buy the hull for your intended use, not because one is faster or tracks better than another.
Of course I’m a fan of small sports cars so take my perceptions with a grain of salt.
I have a Caribou, and an Arctic Hawk…
...and both are a joy to paddle; in any conditions you may encounter. I don't know the Epic, but as others have pointed out, it's quite a different design, with a different purpose in mind.
My Caribou is eight years old, built before they started putting skegs on them, and after eight years of paddling it, I still don't yearn for a skeg. It does weathercock a bit in certain conditions, but I don't have any trouble controlling that with a bit of edging now and again. The Arctic Hawk is a wooden boat I built from a CLC/Superior Kayaks kit (it is also a hard chine, no rudder/no skeg boat)...with a bit lower, flatter aft deck than the Caribou has.
When I first bought the Caribou, I had narrowed my choices to between the Caribou and a Wilderness Systems Arctic Hawk. The Caribou felt a bit more nimble in terms of maneuverability, and I wasn't as impressed with the WS fiberglass layup of the Hawk (felt a bit flimsy to me, and even oilcanned a bit in rough conditions; though this is not a problem with the wood/glass layup of the one I built). The Hawk seems to have a bit more "glide" than the Caribou, and this is a nice feeling. The Hawk also has slightly less initial stability than the Caribou, but its secondary is rock solid.
As I said, I love to paddle both of these boats. My next boat will be an even lower volume SOF boat, and it will be of a very traditional W. Greenland design (both the Caribou and Arctic Hawk are based on this type of design, with the Hawk being a bit closer to overall traditional design than the Caribou).
Both these boats are defintely slower than a dedicated racing boat (and some other sea touring designs), but I've certainly had no trouble keeping up with other boats considered to be "fast/faster". In fact, it's often my friends in these supposedly "faster" boats who have trouble keeping up with me at times (cruising/maximum speeds depend on the paddler/technique as well as boat design).
Finally, the best advice is always to paddle the boats you're interested in (and even some you're perhaps not so interested in as well), in as many different conditions as you can find. Only then will you be able to really figure out if a boat will satisfy *your* particular preferences.
I would throw this into the mix
Mako xt surfski. Great for day trips, distance, speed, surfing, less weight and comfort. Did I say cost? No need to learn how to roll anymore, as it is a sit on top. If you do go this route, you will need a wing paddle to finish off a perfect combo. This boat is a high perfomance boat suitable for intermediate through advanced.
I have owned in the past the Caribou, the QCC600 and 700, and the Epic. For what it is worth, I would never go back. However, when I had the kayaks, I thought they were a few of the best.
go to Oceanpaddlesports.com to see it
Those are very nice people
at ocean paddle sports
Ditto Seawave. I know Seawave is stirring the pot…but go look at the XT if you want a fun day boat. Also, call Epic, they may still have a couple of blem. boats left for under $2000. If not All Wet Sports in Jacksonville Fl. has one. The Epic is very light, fast and stable. If you camp out of the kayak go look at the QCC 700. It has similar performance of the Epic but has a huge volumn, great camping boat. Decisions, decisions. Good luck. Trying boats is a lot of fun and you can’t go wrong. Some people like rudders and some like skeg boats…the choice is yours to make. Franklin
I have a kevlar Caribou S and it is the boat I always go back to. It just does everything well. Not as fast as some but fast enough. It tracks well and turns easily. I dont use the skeg very often. Current Designs has excellant customer service. The only complaint is the hard corner on the coaming which hurts when you lay back on a roll. Some padding helps there. They really should round out that coaming.
for day touring the Caribou would
be the best fit. I agree with Greyak on his points, though I would argue that it may be faster than he thinks. I’d certainly choose the Epic for all out speed but for day paddling it would have to be the bou. I paddle with fast paddlers in fast boats and never work very hard in my Caribou so it’s not a slow boat. When it gets windy and rough I’d much rather be in a Bou even for speed.
The Caribou is a wet ride sometimes and doesn’t turn well when fully loaded, the aft deck has a crown to it so layback rolls are tough. But it tracks quite well, carves a nice turn, and you can lay down the miles in it. For just under 22" beam it’s very stable and comfortable.
The Bou isn’t my everyday kayak much lately but I use it for long trips and I still enjoy paddling it.
After all this talk today I took out my Caribou. I hadn’t used it in about four months And it was like putting on my favorite pair of old slippers or going to mom’s for dinner.
A perfect fit and a joy to paddle Thanks GH
I have a CD Caribou without skeg and just love it. I was out today with slight chop and wind about 18-20 and it did really well. I am not familiar with the other boat you are using for comparison! Sorry.