Epic Touring Cruiser 16 - Carbon

with Smart Track rudder.

I’m buying a used 2004 carbon Epic Touring Cruiser 16 from a few states away without having paddled it and would like to get a little more general information about the Touring Cruiser 16 in general and the Epic carbon construction in specific.

I’ve read the three reviews here on p.net and searched the archives for previous discussions and think I have a general idea of what to expect, but any input from others who have either owned the boat or paddled it a fair bit is very welcome.

I plan to use it for day trips and exercise on smaller flat water lakes. I might get into some wind and waves once or twice a year on larger lakes in central IL.

Fit wise, I sat in white Epic 16 about three years ago at Fluid Fun in Bristol, IN and the cockpit seemed to be comfortable and there seemed to be plenty of foot room. That was quite a while back and my memory may be a bit hazy of the fit details. I didn’t have time to paddle it. I’m 5’6", 160 lbs with size 8.5 shoes and expect my size 9 Chota Quicklace mukluks to fit in it pretty easily.

I’ve been on the look out for either an Epic 16 or QCC 600X for a few years with the expectation that either would be quicker and more maneuverable than my QCC 400X and the Epic 16 light weight construction (39 lbs in carbon) was particularly attractive and this is the first of either that’s come available at a tolerable price at a time when I can scrape together the money to buy it.

My expectation is that the Epic 16 will be more maneuverable for me with the rudder up and width a bit of an edge than the QCC 600X would be. I’d expect the speed to be somewhat similar and have know idea how the initial and secondary stability and cockpit would compare.

The kayaks that I either currently own or have owned recently are kevlar Perception Eclipse 17 Sea Lion and kevlar Shadow 16.5, kevlar QCC 400X, Eddyline Nighthawk 16 and Merlin LT and finally, Phoenix Isere.

I’m selling the 400X and Merlin LT because they aren’t playful enough for my preferences. I sold the Nighthawk 16 last month for the same reason.

Of above boats, the kevlar Eclipse 17 Sea Lion fits and handles closest to my preferences - snug enough in the cockpit, plenty of foot room and turns quickly and predictably when edged a bit with the rudder up. I rarely use the rudder on any of my boats in normal paddling conditions because I enjoy playing around edging the boat while following irregular shorelines on the somewhat small local lakes. The waterline length on the Touring Cruiser 16 is possibly longer than on the Eclipse 17 Sea Lion because of the significant overhand on both the bow and stern of the Eclipse 17 Sea Lion and the relatively plumb bow and stern on the Touring Cruiser 16.

I’d like a shorter an lighter boat than the Sea Lion for daily paddling and exercise. My impression is that the either the Touring Cruiser 16 or the 16X would fill the bill.

A few specific questions:

  1. Does this clear coat carbon boat need to remain in it’s bag when it’s on the car rack for several days at a time? The seller suggested that it remain bagged when exposed to the elements, even when on the car rack, in order to reduce the possibility of the clear coat turning milky.

  2. Any particular construction or operational issues to be aware of and keep a lookout for with the carbon Touring Cruiser 16?

    That’s all I can think of right now, it’s about time for bed.


Not the 16, but…
Had the carbon Endurance (18) of about the same vintage and when they were made in S. Africa, if memory serves. It did turn milky and had some delamination/blister problems. The hatches were unacceptable. Overall quality was substandard.

The original owner hadn’t been satisfied with the rudder system and replaced it with a kick stick (tiller). Don’t know about the hull design of the 16, but the 18 was great for straight-ahead speed, but had little play or maneuverability.

That’s not encouraging.
Could you expand on the hatch problems and blistering problems so I’ll know a little more about what to look for when I inspect it before accepting it?

I sure hope that the Touring Cruiser 16 is much more maneuverable than you describe the 18X. I want it to be more maneuverable than the Eddyline Nighthawk 16 and Merlin LT, as well as the QCC 400X.

Thanks for your input, Wavespinner.

Any other feedback?


– Last Updated: Oct-24-11 10:10 PM EST –

The outer coat flaked off in many places. The hatch mechanism was clumsy and the seal wasn't very good. I would also look for any damage where the rack bars would contact the hull.

Stressing that I had the Endurance 18, it was nowhere near as maneuverable as the Nighthawk 16 that I owned. The Endurance's plumb bow extended the waterline almost to the ends and it had little or no edge. Don't know about the 16, but the 18 was designed to go straight and fast.

Epic 16 Carbon
First of all, I must say that the Endurance 18 that I have is for sale on this site. So much for full disclosure.

I lived in Florida for over 35 years owning my own marine canvas business, and eventually working with Morgan Yachts performing warranty work. After crawling through boats of all sorts, and can say I know what is good and bad in the boat construction business. After retiring, I returned to California and worked with California Canoe and Kayak in the Sacramento area.

I saw the end of the South African Epics and the switch to the Chinese produced Epics. The first year of the Chinese kayaks were so inconsistant that Epic sold them on consignment to the dealers. The company, as I understand, was not only training the layup workers boat by boat, but also totally redesigning their entire line. In other words, new workers and new ideas equalled new problems.

I purchased the Epic Endurance 18 from CCK after seeing it waiting for a buyer. I believe the customers that came into the shop saw a black carbon boat as an unusable boat in this part of California due to the rock beaches. What I saw was an industry that failed to educated the public on how to treat high tech paddle boats. RotoMold (RM) was the perfect “drag through the parking lot” kayak for the conventional public.

If a boat looks good, it usually sails well. Look at any airplane, and you can see it’s function, and the same with kayaks.

The Smart Track rudder system is easy to adjust while under way. Being able to put it up or down is a control choice the paddler has which is not available on the newer designs.

Any level of paddler can safely use this kayak on flat water. I have a P&H Cappella 163 which is famous for comfort, and it is. The Epic is far more comfortable than the P&H, however. Unlike the 163’s ability to play the role of Polo Pony, the Endurance is the long haul work horse.

The factory told me that the weight was 30 pounds for my Epic Endurance 18 Carbon. I’ve read 36 pounds in the literature. But just like light weight bikes, load a couple of bottles of water, and the numbers are not critical. It’s a light boat going into the water, and a seemingly heavier boat coming out. It is so relative!

Care: my boat simply does not touch the bottom! I carry two large kayak type sponges which I set the boat on at the shore line. The sponges are my portable beach. Carbon is tough stuff! The gel coat does have to be babied if you want to keep it looking new. This includes keeping it out of the sun as much as possible. Just treat it like you treat your skin. Use UV protective coatings. Mine was made in 2005, and there is only a small difference in color where the hatch straps cover the carbon.

I have the full factory bag, but I don’t use it. Imagine how it feels when riding in the back of a pickup truck with your clothes beating against your skin. Hauling your boat in a bag for daily use will present the problem of marking the boat. If you are going on long hauls, wrap the kayak in a cheese cloth tube bag first, and then bag it. Many kayaks come to the dealer this way from the factory. Check with a local high tech kayak dealer in your area such as CCK, and see if they have something available. Plus, if you have an awesome looking kayak, show it off! On the water, this boat looks like a mini Atom Sub coming towards you.

Finally, you will be pleased with the Epic 16 that you are considering. Yes, it is partly from the high tech Old School, and may not be as fast as the latest computer generated vessels out there. But this is a solid boat that has nothing to prove in construction, performance, and, especially, looks!

Dave Rollins

A somewhat local to me 16X

When I think maneuverable , I think Rocker and edging. I don’t see that with this boat - just goes to show that each individual has their own needs and preferences, and opinions are just one data point, to be considered or discarded.

Thanks for your information
and suggestions. I was wondering if the bags beat the boats up while in transport at highway speeds.

Pictures can be deceiving regarding
maneuverability when edged.

I’d like feedback from someone that’s actually paddled a Touring Cruiser 16 or 16X, but it seems few people that have actually paddled one frequent this board.

If it ends up being too straight tracking for me, I’ll pass in on to someone else that wants a 36 lb go straight boat.

I have paddled the Epic 16x
and I liked it a lot but did not find it very maneuverable or, at least, not so much as my Caribou S. Nice boat, though. very efficient and fast.

Turning a 16x
The Epic boats, including the touring 16x, all have rudders. They are not designed for turning by edging. Use the rudder for that.

jmyers & Dr_Disco, thanks for the

The guy I’m buying it from has been using it without the rudder installed most of the time, we’ll see if I find a need to reinstall it to use it on the small local lakes that I paddle most of the time. The rudder is pretty easy to mount & dismount.

Hopefully, I’ll take delivery of it before all of the water around here is frozen.

If it’s easier to edge and turn than my QCC 400X (which I’m selling), it should be good enough.

I have a feeling that I’m going to enjoy the efficiency and comfort of the Touring Cruiser 16, even if it’s not as maneuverable on edge as my ideal would be. I know I’ll enjoy the 36 lbs. I’ll still have my kevlar Eclipse 17 Sea Lion for the times when I want more playfulness and quick maneuvering.

I picked it up yesterday.
Hopefully will paddle tomorrow for an hour or so to run it through it’s paces. It looks pretty good. It was originally purchased as a blem with some milky areas on the clear coat, so it doesn’t look perfect. Very few scratches.

Surprisingly, the seat fits my hips tighter than my kevlar Perception Shadow 16.5. The seat pan seems well designed. This should facilitate good boat control. I haven’t made any adjustments to the seat location or fit.

Epic did the same silly thing with one set of recessed deck fittings as Perception and some other makers have done and placed it right in the middle of the range of the foot peg adjustment range, which means it can impede toe control of the rudder if leg length is just wrong. This really puzzles me. Why do they do it? It takes a boat might otherwise have plenty of foot room for the person that’s unfortunate enough to have leg length that puts there feet right under the recessed deck fittings. My preference would be to either leave that set of fittings off the boat or not make them recessed. It’s much more important to me to have freedom of foot movement than to have recessed deck fittings in that location.

At 36 lbs, it feels refreshingly light to carry and load on/off the car.

Merry Christmas to me.

First paddling impressions:
I’ll preface this report with the fact that I hadn’t paddled any kayak or canoe for about two months, so my paddling conditioning and form aren’t what they were a couple months ago.

I’m 5’6" and 160 lbs and 30" inseam.

Fit: The fit seems pretty good and the seat pretty comfortable. With the seat in it’s current position, where the relatively tall and thin seller with 34" inseam had it, the thigh braces contact me as much in the knee as in the thigh, but it’s not too bad. The recessed deck fitting turned out not to be an obstruction to foot movement where I had them positioned today, and hopefully won’t be in the future.

Handling: Seemed to track plenty good enough without the rudder and I was pleased with the maneuverability - it seemed to edge turn easier than my QCC 400X and former Eddyline 16 and less easy than my kevlar Perception Eclipse 17 Sea Lion. I paddled most of the time without the rudder deployed. I didn’t have anyone on shore to evaluate the trim with the seat in this position, so I don’t know if it was trimmed ideally or not.

Speed / Efficiency: It could be my deteriorated conditioning and form since I last paddle my other kayaks, but it seemed to require more effort to maintain a moderate cruising speed, guessing about 3 - 3.5mph - than I was expecting. Seemed similar in effort to my former Eddyline Nighthawk 16. It seemed less easy to keep moving at a moderate pace than than the QCC 400X, kevlar Eclipse/Sea Lion or kevlar Perception Shadow 16.5. I just may not have the motor for the boats with the longer keel line.

The relatively light 36 lbs was very much appreciated for loading on the car and unloading from the car, as well as carrying to and from the water.

Hopefully I’ll get another chance to paddle it before the local lakes ice up.

use the rudder
You have a rudder. What is the point of not deploying it? If you wanted a boat without a rudder, you should have gotten one.

Rudder unneccesary most of my
paddling and many boats turn tighter when edged without the rudder than with the rudder. I have had boats without rudder, such as the recently sold Eddylines Nighthawk 16 and Merlin Lt, which also turned too slowly on edge to meet my taste and both of those had skegs.

Also, I haven’t learned to effectively use toe control rudders while driving off the foot pegs. It just feels awkward to me.

Regarding rudders, the rudders on my QCC 400X and the Epic Touring Cruiser 16 seem to have a better turning effect on the kayak than the rudder on the kevlar Perception Eclipse 17 Seal Lion has on it.

I am open to boats without rudders, I just haven’t found one light enough that handles the way I like that is within my price range. I test paddled an Eddyline Fathom LV this summer and was greatly pleased with it’s fit and handling, but didn’t have the cash for a new one and there aren’t many used, yet. If I found a carbon Necky Chatham 16 for the price I got this Epic 16 for, I’d buy it in a minute. I tried a poly Chatham 16 about 5 years ago, but it was too heavy at 62 lbs for me to load on the car after paddling for 2 hours, so I didn’t buy it.

On a kayak, such as my Perception Eclipse Sea Lion, the rudder is more useful for me to keep the boat tracking in adverse conditions, than it is to turn the boat in calm to moderate conditions. For me, it turns much quicker on edge than it does with the rudder.

I’m still looking for a non-ruddered boat that meets my preferences. The Walrus Griffin looks like it might be a good candidate, but I may never have a chance to try one of those here in central IL.

Most days, I paddle in conditions that don’t require or benefit from either a rudder or a skeg. The local lakes are pretty small and I paddle along the irregular shorlines to make it a little more interesting, so a boat that turns nicely on edge is much appreciated.

vs the kevlar Perception Eclipse 17
Sea Lion:

Paddled my kevlar Eclipse 17 Sea Lion today on the same lake in similar conditions, but with a bit of ice glaze in places and a bit less wind than two days ago in the Epic 16 and the Eclipse Sea Lion just seemed much easier to keep moving at an easy cruising pace.

The Eclipse 17 Sea Lion also edge turns much easier, but turns less well with the rudder.

Even though the overall length of the Eclipse 17 Sea Lion is longer than that of the Touring Cruiser 16, the waterline length is longer on the Touring Cruiser 16, and I suspect that’s a considerable factor in the handling differences between the two boats. The hull shapes / cross sections are the other big contributors.

16X edging and rudder
There were quite a few comments here on the 16X turning with or without a rudder. I have paddled my 16X with the new style rudder for about a year now and she is superb!

The rudder can be deployed or left retracted which locks the whole rudder mechanism in the center position. You do not need to use it. The rudder is a lot more affective than what I had on the Necky Looksha 17’ I changed from.

The boat edge turns well to the degree that the rudder is hardly ever used. The foot bar is a solid bar across the boat and is easy to adjust forward and aft. The rudder pedals are toe operated and that is all it takes to operate. The seat can also be adjusted for and aft either to trim the boat or to get the optimal position for your knees under the coaming for bracing.

The light weight, stability, speed and comfort makes this the best boat I have ever owned. I am 6’, 33" leg and weight too much.