New Boat

I am trying to decide between buying an Epic V8 and a Stellar 18S. I looked at a the 18S and really like it but I am worried about handling it since there are no handles. The boat would weight 35 lbs and moving it around when wet seems problematic to me. Any comments or suggestions?


I have tested both
I have paddled both briefly and my impression is that the Stellar S18S is a much better boat than the Epic V8. Both are very stable, but the Stellar is much faster.

If you are wide-hipped like me, you will also appreciate the wider seat in the S18S. I felt squeezed into the V8, but extremely comfortable in the S18S.

The one thing I don’t like about the S18S is that it’s made in China. Apart from that, it is a superior boat.

Epic Made in China
Aren’t Epic kayaks made in China also? I have a friend with an 18s that he really enjoys. He has never complained about the lack of a handle for carrying. I assume you are talking about a handle around the cockpit for carrying. You could always add a handle if you found it to be a problem.

I’ll Take a Stab at “much faster”

– Last Updated: Jan-15-14 10:34 AM EST –

I'm really doubtful one is "much faster" than the other. I'd like to see that backed up. I will bet that no one will see much differences in speed between the two, provided they fit in them. These are both very fast for their length and width. Any difference would be within seconds of each other on a 5 mile race and I highly doubt one can measure such potential difference reliably. Does it matter anyway for a non-elite paddler (as an elite one would not be racing these regularly)?

The Epic is more ergonomic to paddle, provided one fits in the bucket. The cutouts for the paddle make a nice difference, as does the contoured seat. It was redesigned recently, with a superior draining system, and as far as I know, longer and different cockpit than the previous version. It has 3 options for the foot plate to accommodate regular, tall, and big foot folks.

The Stellar has hatches, which could be handy. The 3 rail foot plate is more solid.

Both I hear are well built.

I would not worry too much about the presence or absence of carrying handles all else being to your liking. They are a nice feature, especially at the cockpit as these skis are a bit wide to wrap your arm around like you can on narrower skis. But it sure can be a chore to deal with the skis in wind on land without a good grab on them. In quiet weather you put them on your shoulder and the handles don't matter much. The front handle especially is good for safety though, in the water, to tie a deck line or a leash in a certain way that matters in big conditions only.

I did not know Epics are made in China
I had no idea they were. I guess there is no escaping that. :frowning:

I don’t see how I could “back it up”

– Last Updated: Jan-15-14 3:49 PM EST –

"Speed" or "efficiency" is one of those things that we all subjectively feel, of course. But I am not the only one who perceives the S18S to be much faster. Two other guys I know had the same impression. None of us was out there with GPS units and cardio monitors, but we all were surprised and disappointed with the V8 when we tried it--surprised at how stable it is and disappointed at how "not fast" it felt. We were expecting more.

On the other hand, the S18S felt tippier and a hell of a lot faster. The tippiness is another good indicator, as stability and speed are usually correlated. And the S18S is one inch narrower. How much an edge that would contribute I don't know.

BTW, I happen to know a guy who prefers to race on an S18S when he's doing marathon races like the Missouri MR340, which incidentally he finished in the top five last year. He says the storage compartments and hatches make it very good for those long races that require you to carry much water, food and other supplies.

Older or new model V8?
The S18S is one inch narrower, so that could give it an advantage over the V8. The reviews I have read on the Stellar vs. the V8 have as far as I know anyway been the original V8, and in some cases the S18R, not the S.

By the reviews I have read, the new re-designed V8 model that came out the middle of last year is generally considered to be faster, some have said much faster, than the older V8. The new model has less rocker, straighter keel, and from what I understand a bit of volume removed from the hull.

I have the new design V8, and never tried the Stellar or older V8. Place I bought the V8 also sold Stellar, and the people there favored the Epic’s and the V8. All subjective of course…

If the new V8 came out mid '13…
…then I tested the old one, because it was in late 2012 that I paddled it. Now I am curious and want to test the new one. But if the seat bucket is just as narrow as on the old one, then it’s no good for me. Plus the S18S has the hatches and I like that a lot.

No idea on the bucket …
… If that was changed at all. Fits me fine; any bigger and I’d be sliding around.

For me, I’d take carry handles over hatches. I’m paddling for fitness and fun, so all I take along that needs to be stowed is a water bottle. The V8 has a water bottle holder (even comes with a water bottle).

At 35 pounds its light, but slippery when wet, and at 18 feet there is a lot of surface area for the wind to catch. Along with the light weight comes the honeycomb construction, which would you would probably not want to risk hitting the pavement or other hard objects. With carry handles on each side of the bucket, the V8 is an easy pick up and carry, and easier to control with if the wind catches it. Without these handles this would be one of those awkward hard to get a good grip on packages.

With my sea kayak, the carry weight alone all too often discouraged me from paddling, and I always had to plan where to park and launch, often with a drop off first. These skis are so light that I don’t give any of that a second thought, and will park in a lot, put my gear on, and literally walk from the car to the water, get in and go.

IMHO, these extra handles make the whole easy to launch proposition actionable, and allow me to take advantage of the light weight where that benefit matters most: carrying the boat.

As far as quality and fit etc, these are both made in China, and as I understand it (could be wrong), Stellar started with the molds Epic gave up when the changed factories. In other words, the difference between these companies probably lies in how each of their respective models fit you, and what that allows you to do with them.

I don’t pretend to know much about skis or these boats, but I did read a lot before getting into one. My perception, again could be wrong, is that the Stellar 18R and Epic V10 are more aligned as far what they are intended for. The V10S is a more stable V10, but a little less stable than the S18S, so the V10S should be a faster (all things equal) because it’s 2" narrower and 2 feet longer. The S18S is a more stable S18R, a little less stable than the V8, and the 1 inch narrower hull may give it a little speed advantage, especially compared to the older V8.

So I think if you want more speed and stability similar to the S18S, the Epic model you may want to compare to is the V10S rather than the V8. Sounds like a lot of folks that start out with a V8 go to a V10, sometimes quickly. If you are comfortable already on a S18S, you may find going to one of the V10’s more challenging, or an S18R, especially if you want a little more speed and a little less stability.

On the other hand, if hatches and carrying gear are important, the the V8 is not going to meet that need, and the V6 won’t have the speed of the S18S.

Thanks for all the replies,
If the V8 fits me as well as the 18s,thats what I am going for.

Thanks again


Speed & Stability
Wesley recently published an excellent article on the topic. Although the more empirical, objective data is specific to his overall morphology and capability as well as environmental factors, the analysis is sound and quite interesting.

Discussions on speed and stability come up so frequently, it’s best to start with as much factual data as possible.