QCC 400X: Thigh braces or not?

Yesterday I travelled a round trip of 260 miles to pick up the new-in-box kevlar Q400X that I bought on ebay from a guy that won it in the padding.net sweepstakes this year and uncrated and discovered that it doesn’t have the moulded in thigh braces as described in the ebay ad.

I got the boat at a very good price, but was kind of looking forward to the thigh braces for more intimate contact with the boat than I get with my fiberglass 1997 Swift Caspian Sea, which is basically a 400X built by QCC for Swift, which doesn’t have thigh braces either. I just bought the Caspian Sea last spring.

Now I’m in a quandry as to whether to keep the 400X without the thigh braces or return it to the seller for refund. Returning it would require an investment on my part of about $40 in gas and a full day’s time to recrate it and drive it back over.

The lack of thigh braces in the Caspian Sea make it easy to get in and out of and allows more freedom of leg movement than my composite Sea Lion cockpit, which has thigh braces, but doesn’t have the intimate contact with the boat that the Sea Lion cockpit has, courtesy of the thigh braces.

I’ve never sat in a QCC or Swift kayak that has the moulded in thigh braces.

So, do you 400X owners have thigh braces or not and what do you see as the pros and cons of your current set up?

I also plan to call QCC after they reopen Wednesday after the holiday to consult them on the pros and cons of thigh braces in the 400X.

Thanks and happy paddling.

on what your going to use it for. In flat water conditions, or with the rudder always down (assume it has the SmartTrack system) in mild conditions you probably could get by without the thigh braces.

Otherwise, I would highly recommend the thigh braces for rough conditions, if you do not want to use the rudder or do not have a rudder, AND if you want to roll it-will really benifit/need the thigh braces then. A good glasser could add them on.

Thigh Braces on a QCC 400

I have a 400x without thigh braces and sure wish it had them. I’ve pestered qcc a bit about making a retro-fit kit that would allow for installation after the boat has been built.

They had plans on producing such a kit and then dropped the idea. Probably for lack of enough interest?

I find it a challenge holding on to the boat when rolling and have fit some minicell braces. Still wish it had them from the factory.

Minicell and glue
For less than $40 you can get some minicell, glue and sand paper and make thigh braces that fit you exactly the way you want them to fit.

get some 1/4" plywood
fiberglass and epoxy and minicell and you could probably make your own in a day

Yes, it does have the Smart Trac

Don;t knnow what the QCC is like

– Last Updated: Dec-30-07 4:50 PM EST –

...without the thigh braces, but I can tell you that I took the braces off -- completrely off--my Valley Avocet and Nord RM and added mincell thigh braces that are the bomb. I like adding my own mincell thigh braces, and woulkd guess that you could do similar for the Qcc. Glad you got it; I recall when we exchanged emails about that eBay add a couple weeks ago. Good deal, yanoer, you got a nice buy on that Indy QCC 16 footer. What you will do with that Homer Lake aluminum kayak, though, I have little idea.

Thigh braces are important
I have never understood why QCC offers the option of no thigh braces. Even in calm water thigh braces give you more control and make turning by edging much easier. The previous posters are correct that you can easily add your own so there is no reason to return the boat.

Some people like freedom of leg movement
available without thigh braces. That’s why QCC offers that option. People who like legs together, knees up and legs pumping like the no thigh brace option.

Thigh braces definately help for edging and boat control, but the entire underside of the QCC cockpit deck is covered with neoprene for pretty decent knee bracing when needed and my recollection is that with my Caspian Sea, which doesn’t have thigh braces either, dropping a hip works pretty well for edging, but it’s been over a month since I’ve paddled it.

As for adding my own thigh braces, if I decide that I need them, I don’t have a clue how to do that. I’d have to look into some of the methods suggested above. I’ve never fiberglassed anything and I’m a little hesitant about my first effort being on a brand new QCC.

I’ve never attempted a roll, but may give it a try next summer in the narrower Sea Lion. I don’t know if I’d ever try it in the 400X.

Thanks for your feedback.

Maybe you can stop by sometime
and take a look at the QCC and get an idea of whether or not it would be a good candidate for the type of mini cell thigh braces that you installed in the Avocet and Nord RM. You could come by tomorrow if you’d like.

It was a good price on the QCC.

As for the Homer Lake aluminum canoe, it is stationed at our family pond for family and friends to use. That’s probably the only place we’ll ever use it. It’s great for that application.

That’s a scary idea with my lack of
fiberglassing experience (none). I bet that I could really mess up that cockpit and make it look really ugly.

It looks like I do have some options for adding them later if I decide that I want/need them.


The 400 is 2" deeper…

– Last Updated: Dec-31-07 1:04 AM EST –

... (and 3" wider) than my 700, and I really can't see how the QCC style braces (which I have) would be of much use 2" higher up than mine are, except maybe to give you a little more surface to glue minicell to!

The QCC braces are at the same level as the coaming rim and are just a pair of bumps into the opening on the same plane. They do not drop lower and have no hook to them. In a lower kayak they may offer some contact, but I added a bit of foam under mine in my 2" lower deck 700 and I have big thighs. So again, I really can't see them being very effective at all in a 400 (this being paddling.net I'm sure someone can claim otherwise).

I really doubt you're missing out by not having them on this model, nor do I or see what QCC can do about that on the phone (except maybe lean you toward my closing thought below).

People giving you general thigh brace advice need to check the specs on this kayak before giving advice appropriate to lower deck (and narrower) sea kayaks. This is more of a deeper/wider crossover type, and the QCC braces are like no others I know of.

The 400 is a capable hull design, and all QCCs have same coaming dimensions, but it's much more rec oriented otherwise. If you want good contact, get a LOT of foam or a lower narrower kayak.

So bottom line is you have now 2 Caspian Seas (you knew this) - one with Smart Track rudder. If it makes you feel any better: QCC's thigh braces wouldn't make your 400 something remarkably different.

For any 400/Caspian owners looking for better contact for rough water, bracing/rolling, whatever - the QCC braces aren't the answer. Custom braces could be. A 600, 700, or 10X would be better still (and if you don't need the performance of those hulls, you probably don't need the braces either).

My thought: Sell all three and get a 600 or something else a level above what you have for yourself. Leave the missus on shore until she is more comforatble on the water, if ever. Kayaking isa NOT for everyone and doesn't sound like she's gonna be a happy camper in a kayak anytime soon. That sort of fear is hard to overcome - and someone REALLY has to have a powerful motivation to want to bother.

“I’ve never fiberglassed”

– Last Updated: Dec-31-07 8:05 AM EST –

Neither have I. Minicelling thigh braces is very easy with the minicell kit from eBay and tedagmar.


That kit is used as you need it: so the minicell does not go to waste, you can use the seta pad as more thigh mnicell, et cetera. Plus a little of this:

and you have a removeable, easily sculptable, any thikcness you want, thigh brace.

If you type in "minicell" on eBay, you see many other options for getting the raw material.

I think grey might be right, the Qcc specs show this to be more of a wide beamed boat, and the lofty cockpit volume will take some work with minicell to get it right. But it can be done, as I have done on my Prijon Calabria, for instance. Have you ever paddled that boat? It is 25 inch beam, and voluminous 'pit, but add some minicell on the seat, and on the thigh and knee contact areas, and bingo, feels much better. I frankly cannot see why anyone (other than sharing the boat with mulitple paddlers) would not minicell every boat. The comfort difference is incredible.

So grab some cell, drag that boat into the hallway this inwter, and start gluing. :-)

Thanks for the focused, thoughtful and
detailed response, it’s what I was looking for.

Lack of factory thigh braces appears to be a non issue in the 400X. Cool. It appears that I could add mini cell pads/braces later if I decided that I needed them.

Trading up to the 600X is very tempting and still isn’t out of the question, since the 400X is brand new and never in the water.

My wife is very comfortable in the 26" wide, 12’9" Old Town Castine and enjoys paddling it on calm lakes. She feels very safe and secure in it. I’d envisioned her also liking the 400X with rudder, since it also seems very stable and she could turn it without needing to lean it. I’d never take her out in very wavy conditions. Maybe the Castine is good enough for her level of interest, but I gotta believe that she’d appreciate the ease of moving the 400X along as compared to the Castine.

I envision my main use of the 400X to be for paddling before work for exercise on our local city park lake, which isn’t very big, and on a nearby 80 acre lake when I have more time. Thigh braces certainly aren’t required for those uses but are nice when practicing leaned turns and other maneuvers. If I can get the comfort level up enough, I might also use it on the 5 - 6 hour group outings on the larger lakes, but I’ve been using my Sawyer solo canoes (Summersong and Loon) for those outings because of their superior comfort for long hours in the boat. I do have to work pretty hard to keep up with the sea kayaks in the group when paddling the canoes (actually, they have to ease up a little so I can keep up), but I have fewer aches and pains at the end of the trip. Toward the end of the paddling season, I discovered that my 32 lb, 13’4" Sawyer Starlight solo canoe works great with a 230cm kayak paddle for the before work exercise outings, so the 400X may not be used too much for that, but at 45 lbs, the weight wouldn’t be as much as a deterrent as with the 56 lb Caspian Sea.

Last season I worked a lot of overtime and only made two group outings and this year may be similar, so maybe I should put less emphasis on keeping up with the group as a criteria for boat selection and more emphasis on my most common type of paddling.

Thanks again for your thoughtful input.

I have a lot to thinking to do. Too bad it may be three or four months until the lakes will be thawed out so I can actually make some on the water comparisons.

Happy new year.

Will QCC even trade the 400 for the 600?

Why not? Cost is nearly the same
and they have some demo 600s.

Doesn’t matter now because the 400X fell off my incomplete rack in the garage and is badly damaged. Trade in isn’t an option now.

just darn
I hate it when that happens.

400X fell off rack. Badly damaged.
At least I consider it badly damaged.

I opened the garage door this afternoon to complete the new boat rack and saw, to my great dismay, that the 400X had fallen about 4’ onto the concrete floor of the garage. It must have landed on the bow keel because that’s where all of the obvious damage was. I guess I should have finished the rack yesterday. Too late now. I thought it would be ok unless the rack was bumped.

The black seam accent strip at the hull / deck joint is cracked and split from the tip back for about 14". There is about 1/8" to 1/4" of movement at the seam when I push on hull just below the cracked seam stripe on the right side. Pushing on the left side in a similar manner shows no such movement. I looked inside the bow hatch to try to tell if the seam is completely separated and to look for signs of delamination on the inside. The seam didn’t appear to be split all the way through and I didn’t see any obvious delamination in the bow.

The other obvious damage is two sections of gel coat about two inches long and about 1/2" wide chipped off the bow keel line leaving the cloth exposed. More of the gel coat would probably flake off with a little assistance because there is some more cracking in those two areas. The hull still appears to be stiff in those two areas.

I have no expectations that I could repair this damage and will be seeking suggestions for professional repairs - preferably within an hour or two of Urbana, IL. I’ll also be calling QCC to get an estimate of what they would charge for me to ship it to them for factory repair.

Bummer. No more concern about that first bump or grind while paddling.

I’ll start another thread for repair advice.

I took some pictures of the damage, but don’t have web hosting for my pictures yet.

I could email pictures to anyone interested in helping.

I’m sick!!
damn I feel for you Yanoer! I have a 600X and I’m always terrified I’ll drop it or damage it in some way that it will never be repaired again!

Bent legs vs straight legs -
I assume that makes a difference of whether factory thigh braces in this boat would be in a position to make good contact or not.

I usually paddle with my legs somewhat bent - maybe because I also paddle canoes in a sitting position and have plenty of room for my legs.