Mystic vs. Fathom LV

-- Last Updated: Jul-11-10 3:57 PM EST --

I'm shopping for a sea kayak, and have paddled the Impex Mystic (fg)(among many others). I'm 5'2" and 125 lbs. The Mystic fit me quite well and I liked the way it felt and handled. I was looking for a lighter-weight boat (k-lite), but it seems that I'll need to give in on that, in favor of a more durable one. I've heard Eddylines are great boats, and I'll soon be demo'ing a Fathom LV. Any recommendations out there? One salesman said the Mystic is mostly a rock garden boat (he was selling the Eddyline) - but would it be just as nice on a lagoon? The Fathom seems kind of long at 15.5' - will this make much difference from the 14' Mystic? I plan on doing lots of paddling on bays/lagoons, but hope to get into the ocean as well. Any thoughts on whether the Fathom is a good small person boat? Thanks for any input.

Low volume is relative
I thing the Fathom LV will be too big for you, at least the way I like a boat to fit. The regular Fathom is a tub IMO.

Re: Mystic
> Any recommendations out there?

I have a Mystic (mainly for my kids) and a P&H Vela. Both are rather short, lightweight kayaks, I prefer the Vela, a bit tippier but faster. Hard chines.

Mystic and Fathom
I paddle a kevlar Mystic – bought one in 2006. It’s a GREAT small person’s boat. Fits me beautifully, and the seat and backband are comfortable. Also, it’s a lovely thing to look at, with a nice sheer line. The Mystic was my main boat until 2009, when I built a skin on frame in a class with Brian Shultz. Now I usually grab the SOF because it weighs only 28 pounds and because it’s faster than the Mystic even though it’s the same length (has a longer water line). But to me it seems absurb for a someone to pigeon-hole the Mystic as a “rock garden” boat. It’s really an all-round sea kayak. It rolls well. You can ride a little surf. You can camp out of it (weekend trips). You can day paddle it. It has a lot of primary stability, and I do a lot of bird counts and eagle nest monitoring out of my boat. The one thing where a few other boats beat it is speed. (Of course, the problem could be the motor!)

So, strangely enough, I’ve been wanting to demo a Fathom LV too. I’m building another skin on frame this fall, but I thought I might want to have a hardshell touring boat with built-in flotation, just for times when I might be camping alone at the coast. (I might look at a Nighthawk too.) A couple of years ago I spent 10 minutes in another paddler’s Fathom LV and it felt fast – really a discernible difference from my own boat, and it was exciting. Based on that one fleeting experience, I’ve always wanted to give a Fathom LV a real trial. Oh, and it seemed to fit me pretty well. An Avocet, which I tried at the same time, felt like a bathtub – but it wasn’t the low volume version. I just like a fairly close-fitting cockpit.

Hope this helps. If I were you, I would keep an open mind, give both a really fair try, and then decide based on how each boat feels. They’re both good ones, and I doubt you could go wrong with either.

If you get the Fathom LV, I’d love to hear your impressions of it.

G in NC

I’m 5 feet 3 inches tall and I’ve got 20 pounds on you, GiantSquid.

As for your concern that 15.5 feet is long, I wouldn’t worry so much. Seventeen feet IS long,not 15.5. At 15.5, you still could have a pretty maneuverable boat, especially if you feel comfortable edging your kayak. The one thing about the Fathom LV versus the Mystic is that its secondary stability felt just a little lower to me – or maybe just different. I was wary of putting it over on its edge because it felt different from my Mystic – which has great secondary stability as well as primary. But I really don’t think that’s a big thing. You learn to feel your boat and adjust to it. They all feel a little different. For what it’s worth, I briefly sat in a Vela once and hated it, because it felt so tender. But I’ll bet I could have adjusted to that boat too. Good luck! Always fun, trying boats and taking one home!

this is my…
…third summer in a Fathom LV. I’m 5’6" @ 145 and the fit is fine. The 15.5 foot length will not be an issue (especially if you decided to do some camping) but you might find the front deck a little high.

Impex was high on my list but the Eddyline dealer was much closer and since the shoe fit I never gave the Impex line a test drive (but I’d still like to try a Force 3).

Don’t get hung up about the overall length (LOA). The waterline length has more impact. No 15.5 ft boat is too long for anybody for sea kayaking. Lots of people buy really short, low performance boats and then find that they can’t keep up with real sea kayaks.

Try both boats. See if you can keep up with other paddlers, if the boat feels OK in wind and waves.

please keep us posted
My bet is that you find the Mystic just as well-fitting after you try a fathom. But keep us posted!

Comparing 14’ to 15’5"
Think of it this way: that’s 9 more inches fore and aft. When you’re sitting in the cockpit you will barely notice those extra 9 inches, but they may add to the performance.

The caveat to that is that a smaller person needs to be able to move that extra length and weight. “Long” only equates to “fast” when you’re strong enough to move a longer boat.

15.5’ is a great length for a kayak. Not too long for ponds, yet seaworthy. Manoeuverable when leaned. Having a 15.5’ kayak, I feel no need for anything longer or shorter. It does it all.

I’ve never paddled the Fathom LV. I have its big brother, the Journey. Eddyline put a lot of thought into the hull design of the Journey and Fathoms and they are very well respected for their performance, beauty, material, and quality of construction. Thermoformed plastic is a fabulous material with almost no vices (just don’t drop it out a 2nd story window in the winter).

Apples and oranges
I may catch a bit of heat for saying so, but, the Mystic and the Fathom are not similar boats. The hull designs are rather different. The British lines of the the Mystic and the American lines of the Fathom create completely different stability profiles, especially when you look at the beam in a side by side comparison.

The main similarity is the short length.

Thanks for the great replies!
I’m heading out tomorrow to paddle the Fathom LV and maybe a Merlin LT as well. Will let you know what I think.

Vela, Mystic, Fathom LV
The Vela is my primary ride these days because it is just plain easier. There are situations where the Explorer LV comes out for good reasons, but most of the time it’s the Vela . The NDK Explorer is not really an LV so don’t think about that one - it’s Pilgrim now in the NDK line for small paddlers. Vela has great secondary and it starts feeling a lot less tender pretty quickly. But at an inch less than me you may find it a little tall up front compared to the Mystic, though the overall volume may not be wildly different.

Fathom LV is low volume compared to a boat that is way too big for anyone your or my size - so it frankly might not be lv enough for you.

Mystic is a proven all around performer. Even if you wanted to change to another boat later, it’s unlikely you’d regret the time you spent in it.

The Mystic is turnier than the Fathom LV probably, with the Vela probably in the middle. I am guessing on where the Vela would fit into that spectrum. But the more maneuverable boat makes learning to handle conditions and all easier than a stiff tracker does. And a good forward stroke handles a slower hull design, or there wouldn’t have been NDK Romanys everywhere you looked in the northeast for so long.

Your comments are all very helpful!
I paddled the Fathom LV yesterday, and here are my impressions: I thought it was a very nice boat, felt very light in the water, and was VERY comfortable, I didn’t get that uncomfortable cramped feeling in my legs/hip. I’m comparing it to the Mystic that I paddled once last year, so I’m fighting my memory here, but even though I think I could probably do fine in the boat, I don’t think it fit me as well as the Mystic. I don’t think it turns/maneuvers as well as the Mystic, though I couldn’t tell that it tracked any better (or was as “fast” as the salesman said). The foredeck was high, and I remember the Mystic was nice and low, and remember liking that. It was harder to edge than the Mystic.

I think I’m going to see if I can find a Mystic in the PNW as we’re heading up there next month. All your comments have been quite interesting, helpful, and enlightening, I appreciate all the feedback.

size of the paddler
wow, lots of great comments…

GSquid, I’m 5’3", 117 lbs.

The Fathom LV is a wellmade boat, as are all the Eddylines. Length of 15’5" was absolutely no issue, but the fore and aft decks are quite high and I found the cockpit too deep. IMO it is an example of a fine LV for paddlers shading from the average to slightly larger range… not for true small paddlers like us.

Of course, some small paddlers may prefer a looser fit.

I find a snug fit helps me coax the best performance from my boats.

So that is very much individual preference.

I’d love to try a Mystic :smiley:

For reference, I paddle a Current Designs Suka (16’6",

21" wide, waterline beam 18") and a North Shore Shoreline Fuego (15’11", 20" beam, 19" waterline beam)

The seats on both are narrower - like 16", and the cockpits smaller…16x26 on the Fuego, 16x31 IIRC on the Suka. The foredeck on the Fuego 10" high, the Suka 11".

The Impex Cat Force 3 is well worth a demo. It is very sprightly for a 17 footer under a small paddler.

You might also want to put the Avocet LV on your list. Sixteen feet beautifully proportioned, much like the Mystic in handling.

You are on a good path to discovering the right boat for you. Pls. let us know how it goes!