QCC 400 vs 600 ...again

Hoping the QCC crowd can bear with the topic for another round… I’m 155, 5’7", 54 and reasonably fit. Wife and I canoed a lot 25 years ago and recently got Kayaks for fitness and enjoyment. We plan to paddle mostly quiet water but may do more as our abilities improve. The wonderful folks at QCC felt 600s were the ticket and we have 3 weeks of time in said boats. Both have skegs. She’s pretty happy in her’s and I love the speed but really wondering if I’d be happier in the 400. I’ve never been a strong swimmer and lack confidence in the water. Most of my research indicates I may be able to relax and enjoy the 400 a lot more… but concerned the higher deck and width will seem too much after the 600. Going to try renting a Caspian Sea locally to see how it feels. Wife is much more confident in the water but I tend to out-paddle her. Would we be better matched if I went with the 400 and she in the 10x? (she’s 5’4" and 140 lbs) Would appreciate any thoughts!

it’s all been said
before; it’s all been written in the book …" - apologies to Bob Dylan.


That said; it all comes down to: Are you happy where you are today with how/where you are paddling? OR Do you want to have the option to evolve your paddling skill set? ANY 21 in. boat you paddle will demand more of you as a paddler.

Have you considered paddling lessons from an ACA or BCU certified instructor? Lessons are a great investment, no matter what your ultimate choice in kayaks.

Responding to the information that you have supplied in your post, had I been on the phone at QCC, I would have recommneded the 600. I am a skeg not person, but that is a the subject of a different post entirely.

A kayak is like a tent; a kayak is like a healthy 30 year old marriage: it’s all about compromise.

All the QCC interest surprises me. Wonder has if the QCC coven put something into the public water supply?

Tough call, as this is…
… all about you and not the kayaks.

My best suggestion, in addition to giving the 600 a bit more seat time, is to practice wet exits and various recovery methods - A LOT!!!

This will obviously help the water confidence issues - but even more so the comfort/stability in the kayak. Once you get to know that a capsize need not really be that big of a deal, you’ll be able to relax more - and know the hull’s properties better - and so be far less likely to capsize unexpectedly. If you learn to roll, so much the better as far as all this goes.

Taking the opposite approach that so many do - of putting off/avoiding such practice - and paddling timidly and afraid all the time - kind defeats the purpose of paddling for recreation.

If all that wet fun isn’t for you, maybe a more stable kayak is - but you’re already expressing reservations about a wider deeper kayak…

Yes–more seat time…
is definitely in order. Took lessons from a pro last week and will get some more… and get wet. I thought I’d be able look behind me at this point but–still too stiff! Reading comments about “reserve bouyancy” in a little fatter boat has me thinking that may be a better choice. Perhaps I’m wimping out but have to think about how much time it’ll take to teach an old dog new tricks!

For my wife–any 10x owners out there willing to share their thoughts would be most welcome too.

this is something new

– Last Updated: Jun-26-08 10:42 PM EST –

it's like you just bought a road bike and haven't ridden a bicycle since you were 14. You may or may not be "happier" with the 400. What you bought is a sea kayak. It's not a rec. kayak. There are minimal skills required to relax and enjoy it. Those skills will not develop in a few hours,,sorry but thems the facts as I see 'em.

get Derek Hutchinsons dvd "outside the cockpit" or somethign like that and practice the maneuvers he models.

You HAVE TO learn how to incorporate bracing components in your stroke. You HAVE to have a flexible connection through your hips.

I'd say if you haven't started to feel comfortable after a dozen two hour times in the kayak after taking classes a couple times you could consider a more stable kayak. But not yet.

Try this. Near the waters edge where you don't CARE if you wet exit.

1. sitting in the kayak put your paddle in the water next to you parallel and floating on the water, then put both hands down in the water next to the hull, the paddle can be between your wrist and the hull but don't try and grab it. You're just keeping it from floating away. Take a few deep easy breaths, wiggle your shoulders, wiggle your hips so the kayak tilts left and right with your spine relaxed and vertical.
If you cannot do this you're definately too stiff or the kayak is too tippy,,,but your height and weight doesn't make me think this.

2. now pick up the paddle, normal grip with the shaft across your cockpit, relaxed and parallel to the water and right in front of you, a few inches above the coaming.
Now do the same hip wiggling thing. You can just let the paddle shaft rest on thumbs, no need to grip it.
If you can't keep the paddle parallel to the water while you tip the hull left and right it's not worth going much further. Put the paddle back in the water, hands in the water, shoulders relaxed and wiggle the hull without tensing your shoulders. Then try it with the shaft. The whole idea is the get your hips, spine, shoulders and hands loosened up. This may not be a normal thing for you,,it wasn't for me when I started.

Do this everytime you get in the kayak,,next learn sculling braces and combining various braces with your strokes, forward, sweep and reverse. These bracing components are like the confidence you have leaning a bicycle in a turn. You don't necessarily fall over when you lean in a turn, it's a balance of speed and radius. Same with the paddle/hips. It's a balance of support outside the cockpit using a dynamic movement with the blade.

My thoughts
We have a 700 for me and a Q10 for her. She is 5’6" 125lbs. I have not paddle the 400 so I have no comments except it would likely be more stable for you. The Q10 is faster and roomier than we expected. In fact, I was able to stuff my 185lbs in it easily. I believe the Q10 may be faster for women that don’t have the strength to push the 600 to speed. I believe the Q10 will emerge as the best boat for athletic women under 150lbs.

One thing to think about. From what I have heard, the QCCs are more stable when lightly loaded. For example, the 700 may be more stable for you than the 600 and the 600 more stable for her than the Q10. That is what I have heard anyway.


– Last Updated: Jun-27-08 7:33 AM EST –

get the 600, my wife is 5,4" and took to my, now hers 700 with no problems from day one. She had seat time in a wide tarpon. how ever she like the speed & efficiency of the Q. you wont out grow the 600. personally i like the QCC rudder system better then the skeg system. The sealine rudder system is pretty good, looks goofy as heck, but it works.

This isn’t about which boat
Seems that your wife just needs to get into a properly fitting boat and that’ll work out. As to your choice, IMO the issues you have won’t be much different unless you get into something like a Pungo. As mentioned above, you are starting out in boats that aren’t barges to start with. Any boat you try in the class of boat you are looking at will require that you do something about your fear factor.

I’d add swimming lessons to Greyak’s list, maybe get someone who can work with you on what I think of as “survival” moves like swimming on your back, floating, the kinds of moves that make it easier to hang out in the water with very little exertion.

helpful advice
Thank you so much for taking the trouble to respond. I will certainly try your suggestions. What you seem to be telling me is that if I can get on to this it will be worth the rush!

Another point. It seems from reading previous related posts that paddlers at the lower end of the suggested weight scale have more tracking and turning difficulties without a rudder than those at the higher end. This has been our experience so far also and is a reason my wife is considering the 10x. Also if it would be easier for her to keep up a moderate pace. She’s reasonably strong- she had no trouble lifting the 600 out of the water from a dock six inches higher and shouldering it to our truck two hundred feet away. (Which totally thrilled her.)

Thanks again for your help.

helpful advice
I was composing my response above when these last posts came in. It is really great to have all this input and support. Thanks.

I paddled next to a 400 last week
and that thing looked tall to me. Not sure I would want to be in it if I could comfortably fit in a lower boat. But I have never paddled a QCC so I can’t tell. Plus my preference is for more playful boats with more rocker anyway…

That said, I think getting wet definitely helps. My first 2-3 weeks in a 22" or so boat felt very unstable. Now I can comfortably (almost fully comfortably) edge the thing past the point where the cockpit fills-up with water and there is secondary stability remaining, despite my 6’4" height. I still can’t roll, but yesterday I added a paddle float on my paddle and was able to roll with it installed. In a few weeks I should be able to roll it, and that is where you want to be to be comfortable. With these exercises, you will learn the boat’s stability boudaries and then you can decide if you like it or not. It just takes some practice. 30 days (if this is your trial period) may not be enough for a begginer paddler who is still learning, so that makes things tough. If this is the case for you, try to go out at least 2-3 times a week for 2-3 hours and practice in any condition you can find and is safe for you.

Practice really makes a huge difference, but some boats are just easier and more forgiving, even though their width is the same. So that being the case, if after solid hours in the 600 it still feels tippy and you can’t relax, then it would be time to either practice more or try something else.

I have a 400X and a CD solstic eGTS
Both are great kayaks. I am a fit 5’ 11" 190 lbs. I am comfortabe in both. The 400X with thigh braces still gives me plenty of room. At your weight the 400X may be too large for you. The 400X tracts well and turns easily. I would listen to the QCC folks they are good people. I am still looking for a kayak comparable to my wifes CD Squamish that will fit me. Maybe Lincoln Schoodic?

If you want your Qcc to feel more

– Last Updated: Jun-29-08 9:52 PM EST –

stable why not add some ballast. There is a reason why weebles wobble but won't fall down. All their weight is at the bottom! Give it a try.

agree with jaws
as long as you aren’t exceeding the design displacement of the boat; adding ballast should help stabilize the boat.

QCC is one the companys that make that piece of the puzzle public - some don’t. Lots of space (e.g. 400x) doesn’t mean that you can stuff the boat and have it perform optimally.

400X turns easily?
I’m 5’6" and 155 lbs and my Caspian Sea without thigh braces or rudder doesn’t seem to turn well without quite a lean. My Aquaterra Sea Lion turns easily. Another example of where “turns easy” is a relative term.

it’s a basic thing
It was also a way that I could screen people right off. We’d go through basic stuff on the dock then paddle 100’ out to begin instruction. That way there wasn’t a struggle for some folks to figure out a straight line and we could do first things first, seperate out the motion of your hips from anything your hands/arms are doing with the paddle.

Most folks have developed simple reflexes for whole body motions when gripping a bar with two hands, squat, grip, lift. The entire torso stiffens up symmetrically while hands are gripping tightly. With a kayak paddle there’s none of that. So you get the hip wiggle down with arms/shoulders relaxed and no head bobbing side to side. It’s a way to make holding the paddle intentional and not from reflexes that aren’t applicable. Then when you hold the paddle just rest it on the shelf of your thumbs, no gripping. If the paddle stays parallel to the surface of the water then you swivel one side down then the other then you are alternating relaxing and tightening side muscles assymetrically. If one side doesn’t relax then the other side can’t contract as far which makes the shoulders wiggle and the shaft wobble.

Go paddle for awhile then do it again. Then go on to sculling braces.

Why skegs instead of rudder on your QCCs

– Last Updated: Jun-27-08 11:51 PM EST –

? I'm just curious as to why QCC recommended skegs instead of rudders on the your 600Xs. My Caspian Sea/400X seems to track quite well, but requires a bit of work to turn it quickly.

Edit to add: I've never paddled a 600X, but would like to try one sometime.

Outfitting also matters

– Last Updated: Jun-28-08 2:20 AM EST –

Seat time rules, learning to stay loose and let the kayak do the work vs. tensing and overreacting is key, but small outfitting tweaks can also make a big difference.

On my 700, early on when still a bit wobbly in it, I did two things:

1. I added 1/2" of padding under the thigh braces. Small change that bought me a lot more control.

2. The other thing that had similar impact was getting rid of that sling style eat that comes with them. I changed to sitting on the bare seat pan and using an IR Reggie back band. Even a 1/4" lower will be more stable (and I found it actually more comfortable over a long paddle), and the back band gave better contact and control (low hip support vs a high seat back) without slouching (which slows reactions and over time is tiring and bad for the back).

Mine has the skeg like yours - so another option is to change from foot pegs to a full foam bracing surface. It's hard to explain just how much different this can make to overall comfort over distance. Suffice it to say it can releive all sorts of other issues (knees, back) and beats the heck out of being frog legged with the balls of your feet locked to one position on small hard pieces of plastic. Might be worth it for the rudder users, but no reason the skeg/nothing people need to suffer them unless in rental/loaner kayaks.

What works for you will be different, but the stock setup that you get from QCC is not optimal, and this is easy stuff to play with. The 400 might be more stable, but it's depth and width makes it even harder to dial in these sort of tweaks.


This community is…
awesome. I can’t overstate what a blast it is to tap into the knowledge and experience presented here. Especially valuable to us newbies whose “need to know” (for wife and I read: trial period) is somewhat acute but our experience, by comparison, non-existent. It would seem there are small subtleties in fit and fitment that can have big results. The more we digest, the more we feel my wife would be happier in the QCC 10x. From what most of you have said, I need to develop my confidence and give the 600 more time. I will try the Caspian/400x but may be too small below deck (155 and 5’-7" w/small thighs) for good control without a ton of padding. But the 10x for her sounds like a no-brainer. I’m hopeful the smaller boat will give her a bit more speed and be easier to handle both in and out of the water. The lower deck should be a better fit for her shorter torso.

“The mind of the beginner
is empty, free of the habits

of the expert, ready to doubt, and open

to all the possibilities …”

Shunryu Suzuki