I am wondering the major advantages and disadvantages of using a Current Design Freedom fitness kayak vs Epic V8 for flatwater only paddling. They are both 18’ and weigh close to one another. I like the idea of the V8 in the warmth of the summer but Spring and Fall conditions here in the midwest probably favor the Freedom. Any recomendations?
Different boats for different reasons
I have a kayak, canoe and a surf ski. Each has something different to offer. Use the right tool for what you want to do.
You clearly need both.
I think he’s asking for opinions on what the right tool might be for his interest…
I use SOT’s/surf ski’s
in the winter here in Kansas City. I just dress warmly.
Of course, a friend of mine was convinced that I had some Inuit somewhere in my family tree!
I don’t get cold very easily.
How cold is the water?
The main difference IMO is the easier re-entry in the ski that you need to balance with the warmth and dryness that a kayak provides.
I've actually paddled the Freedom briefly, but it was a while ago and I'm sure I will think differently of it now. I think the V8 might be a bit more stable and probably more comfortable too (foot rests and seat are nicer and more supportive). The Freedom is fast (won the fast kayak at the Blackburn this year, I believe, with some V8s close by). The cockpit is big and if I recall not as ergonomic as the Epic's kayak's when it comes to bracing but great for paddling with knees together. I thought the construction was a bit flexible around the cockpit - I think it is Kevlar only and was not as stiff as some other light fast kayaks I've had. Not sure if that flex has any other implications such as potential for cracks developing down the road.
I think you mentioned small protected lakes as your target paddling area. Rudder on the Freedom is overstern, so good if you plan on hitting things in the lake. So an overstern should work well there. It loses traction on waves though, but then I don't think the Freedom will be great in waves, where the V8 can go anywhere, pretty much.
I sold my fast kayak (Valley Rapier 18) in order to get a ski (currently a Epic V10 Sport) this year and don't regret it. I've paddled a ski mid-winter before too and I was comfortable. Winter paddling around here means freezing waters (sometimes can't paddle because of ice completely covering the river). With a few layers under dry pants/dry-top or a full dry suit and neoprene on the feet it is just fine. But I'm used to paddling with rolling and splashing even in a kayak, so having not just my upper half but my lower half wet is something that does not bother me. If on the other hand you are used to staying mostly dry, it might bother you to be sitting in a puddle of cold water all the time (it is very nice in the summer, not great in the winter as you lose body heat faster than in a kayak).
Sorry, no matter how many answers I got when I was asking similar questions a while back, I would not have known for myself until I had spent some time in a ski... Got to try/decide for yourself.
To be honest, I prefer the warmth of a kayak in the winter but the safety of an easy remount in a ski is probably more important when cold. I was not 100% sure of my roll in my Rapier in rough conditions when tired and I knew it would flip me over from time to time. I have no problems re-entering and in flat conditions I would not worry about it at all, but I like to go out when there is some action in the water and there I feel more secure and relaxed in the ski. On flat water it probably does not matter much as one can re-enter just about anything that floats with some practice and possibly a little paddle float assistance (plus you would be highly unlikely to go over in the first place and a roll works a lot better on flat water than in rough)...
That sir, was a good post.
Please dress to swim
You said dress warm. I saw guys in a canoe wearing hoodies. Did you ever lift a wet hoodie from a washer? A kayak gives you a false sense of warmth because you are not warm outside the boat in the water. Today with water and air about 50 degrees, I will wear fuzzy rubber farmer john and neoprene shorts with fuzzy rubber balaclava hood tied to my front to be warm in case I swim. I use a narrow ski and stay close to shore because I am not handy getting back in the narrow mohican. I have laid across the back hatch and paddled it back to shore.
Getting back into a ski is about as difficult as rolling. Neither is easy. A downside to skiis is that a leak in a ski can be impossible to fix.
Wet you hat
I forgot to say that if I get hot while working hard in the boat I wet my golf hat. The water feels good in summer and is a good warning in fall. relizing just how cold is the water is good. Real open water kayakers will roll as soon as they launch. Platypus no hand hydration is great. Some swim as they lift on the paddle while lifting water bottle. In the ski I can pop out my feet while adjusting sunglasses, etc
second that - nice post
ski for sure
Unless your self-rescues are bombproof and/or you’re paddling very close to shore, I’d get the ski… assuming your balance is good and you are past the ‘feeling tippy’ stage of surfski paddling. Accidents happen and a botched remount in a sit-in kayak may be disastrous. I paddle my skis until the ice forms - using a farmer john with knee-high waterproof chotas, and a faux gore-tex paddling top just to keep the spray off. No cold issues at all - though I’m usually paddling pretty hard. I remember roasting even in freezing temps when paddling my old cd extreme with a drysuit. A compromise boat may be the think Fit - you can use a skirt if you want, but it remounts like a ski. Cold weather paddling is a blast, but you definitely want to plan for all contingencies.