I'm looking at buying the Venture Easky 15 LV and was looking for some reviews and thoughts.
I'm looking for something I can do mostly a couple hours on a lake, but some day trips (30 - 50km), and maybe some weekend trips. The two lakes I'll mostly be paddling (Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada, if anyone knows those lakes) can both get very choppy with larger waves and strong winds. I don't know how big the waves would be, but I'm guessing up to 5 feet.
I'm a male, 5'7, 150lbs. Based on some recommendations from a previous post, I tried out the Easky 15 LV recently, but only for about 30 minutes. Very tippy, but I think the good kind of tippy, that will allow me to develop my skills and improve. Nice, snug fit as it's a more narrow boat, and I guess I technically qualify as a 'small paddler'. Edging appeared to be nice, and tracking was good. Skeg is nice too.
My questions are:
- Is it too tippy if I just want to hang out on the water sometimes and not be paddling hard or touring?
- For the longer trips, with larger waves, will it be too tippy? Does it handle waves well? I've seen reviews that it will handle everything but the most extreme conditions, but I'm not sure what 'extreme conditions' means...
- Will it handle week long trips if I decided to do some?
The reviews I've read so far indicate that more experienced paddlers love the Easky 15 LV for the playfulness, edging ability, and tracking, while less experienced paddlers find it too tippy and not enjoyable. I'd say I'm somewhere in between, but definitely wanting to lean toward becoming more experienced.
*I bought the kayak and posted a review below ("9 months later"), if you're intested
Haven’t paddled the Easky, but seen a lot of good reviews. I’m roughly your size and have an Avocet RM (16’ x 22"). A few general thoughts on stability:
The Easky appears to have a hull shape that’s more of a shallow V than an arc. Some V-bottomed kayaks can feel unstable at rest because they “want” to be on one flat or the other instead of upright. The feeling usually goes away when you’re moving.
Stability is very subjective. most paddlers find that stability magically improves with more butt-in-boat time. As your skills and confidence improve, you relax more, and become comfortable letting the boat move under you instead of fighting to keep it perfectly upright
Learning to brace & roll is a huge help because it decreases the fear of capsizing. If you’re not tense you’re much less likely to capsize.
I’ve fished from my sea kayak. I have to pay attention to the direction the pull is coming from, but it’s not a big deal.
Handling waves is more about paddler skill than the boat. 5-foot swell should be no problem. 5-foot breaking surf requires a bit of skill…
As for camping, it depends if you want to pack like a backpacker or a car camper. Be realistic about the amount of time you’ll spend with the boat loaded. A common mistake is to buy an “expedition” kayak better suited for a once-a-year trip than the shorter day trips that make up most of your paddling.
Another review: http://www.canoe-shops.co.uk/reviews/canoe-and-kayak/touring-sea/venture-kayaks-easky-15.htm
Demo some other similar boats if you can. For your size the Tempest 165 and Avocet RM would be a couple of candidates, and there are many others.
I have one and love it
I've owned 8 touring kayaks and currently have an Easky 15LV so I can offer an opinion of it compared to other models. Truth is, I love this boat. I'm 5' 5" (with long legs) and 160 lbs so it probably fits me in a similar way to how it would fit you.
Yes, it does feel "tippy" at first but once you have some seat time in it you will learn to trust the boat and feel completely comfortable in it. The secondary stability is excellent and it is wonderful in rough water. For instance, I often paddle on the large industrial rivers in my city (major Mississippi feeders) and encounter huge power boat and barge wakes. With some of my other kayaks I have to stay aware of such waves coming at me broadside, but the Easky just pops over them like they were only little ripples. I have seen these "mini-tsunamis" flip wider flat bottomed kayaks -- this is where the seocndary stability of hulls like the Easky's is so great.
In fact, I tend to search out waves and wakes because it is a blast to turn 90 degrees from the shore and surf them in the Easky.
I have had it out in windy Lake George and the coastal Great Lakes and have complete confidence in it in any conditions in considerable waves. I have even taken it down Class II whitewater streams and had a lot of fun with it there. In two years of use it has never capsized on me except when I did it deliberately to practice re-entry.
It's a hard-chined hull kayak, meaning that when you do lean it you are placing the boat on a second flat surface built into the hull, which gives it that heeled over stability that keeps it from going over all the way.
The boat tracks really well, too. Mine doesn't even have a skeg or rudder (though it has the fittings to add the latter) but I have never had any weathercocking problems with it. I can also easily keep up with friends on group tours, many of whom have high-end fiberglass and composite boats and are expert paddlers (I would place myself in the middling intermediate class.)
Plus I think its a good looking boat and well outfitted. The seat (which I use in the folded down, backband like position) is extremely comfortable on long trips and the thigh hooks are excellent. Even that nice little touch of the metal bar for a security cable to fasten it to my roof rack is something I wish all my boats had.
In fact, my boyfriend (who also has several kayaks) has borrowed the Easky a couple of times and loves it so much he wants one now (he's 5' 8" 190 lbs).
My advice is -- get the kayak. You will quickly get past the initial "tippy" feel and discover it is a bombproof and really fun boat to paddle. It's also a boat that you will be able to develop skills with and not quickly outgrow. She's definitely the most versatile kayak in my fleet and the one I use most often.
Thanks for you thoughts, all really good and helpful. The one thing that really hit me was this line - "A common mistake is to buy an "expedition" kayak better suited for a once-a-year trip than the shorter day trips that make up most of your paddling."
That's what I'm afraid of. Realistically, I won't have the kayak loaded up for most trips. Most of the time I'll be hitting the water for a couple hours, and then maybe 3-5 day trips per summer of 30-50km each. Probably not many weekend or overnight trips. But I want a narrow boat that fits me nicely (and where I can improve my skill), and I can't seem to get that in a shorter boat. Hence, the Easky 15 LV. I'm part of my local canoe and kayak club and I have tried out a bunch of other boats, but many of them have definitely felt too wide.
Based on that, would you still say the Easky might be too much boat? Should I go for a 13 foot boat that is wider but isn't as snug and doesn't fit me as nicely?
Also, thanks for the points in about the tippiness. I am aware of primary and secondary stability and soft and hard chines. I guess my question is that if on a 2-hour paddle when I just want to take it easy and even stop paddling and relax sometimes, can I do that in this kind of boat? That'll be about 35% of the paddling I'll be doing.
Re: I have one and love it
Thanks for your tips. You definitely make the boat sounds like a lot of fun!
I’m just copying and pasting what I wrote to the previous poster because I’m hoping for your thoughts too. About the tippiness…I am aware of primary and secondary stability and soft and hard chines. I guess my question is that if on a 2-hour paddle when I just want to take it easy and even stop paddling and relax sometimes, can I do that in this kind of boat? That’ll be about 35% of the paddling I’ll be doing.
It’s not “too much boat”. It sounds like a fine day-paddling boat. That’s how I use my Avocet.
You won’t have a problem paddling slowly. The “tippy” feeling at rest will rapidly go away as you get used to it.
Just as an example – The Avocet is “tippy” enough that I can use just my lower body to rock it until the cockpit coaming is in the water. But I’m perfectly comfortable just floating along sitting still.
It’s actually one of my warmup exercises: hold the paddle loosely just in front of your shoulders, shaft parallel with the water. Use you hips and legs to rock the boat from side to side, gradually increasing the angle as you get comfortable. Let your upper body stay relaxed and keep the paddle level.
Just my observations
I’m willing to bet the first few times you’re out in the boat you won’t feel too confident in the stability, but like both of them have said, with some seat time you will learn to trust the kayak.
I’m thinking the first couple of times you will come back pretty exhausted and sore, but as time goes on you won’t be “fighting” the kayak as much and will become really comfortable and relaxed in it.
I initially thought that about the Dagger Alchemy I tried, but I know with more seat time I will adjust. All it takes is time.
water comfort level
Yup. To be fair, I had a lot of time on other tippy wet things(sailboard, Sunfish, etc.)before I started kayaking. Feeling mildly unstable on the water is pretty much normal, and moving in three dimensions is what water does. That’s why it’s fun!
It just takes time on the water. A sense of humor about getting wet helps too…
Re: Just my observations
Thanks, that’s pretty much exactly what I’ve been thinking, that I’ll get used to it. I’d rather buy a boat that’ll challenge me and that I can grow into rather than a more stable one that I’ll outgrow quickly (if I’ve not outgrown already).
Funny that you mention the Dagger Alchemy by the way. A lot of people have suggest that boat to me, but I can’t find a place around me that sells it.
Good stuff, nice to know I can just coast if I want to! That’s what I’m looking for - something I can be aggressive in, go for long paddles and push my ability, but also that I can take it easy in when I want to. That’s looking for the best of both worlds, I know, but it sounds like the Easky 15 LV has a good blend of what I’m looking for.
Thanks for the warm up tip too, I’ll definitely use that one!
I’m kind of a wimp
I'm a bit of a wimp, honestly. I had inner ear damage from a bad bike wreck many years ago that affects my balance so I am apt to be a little freaked by instability. I have another hard-chined kayak that is definitely more squirrelly than the Easky. That boat can be tiring to paddle, but not the LV.
My sense of "tippiness" in the Easky disappeared within the first 15 minutes of using it. I took it on its maiden voyage on one of the rivers when we had a low water situation which caused the shallows along the bank to reflect the power boat wakes, creating some crazy wave patterns. I quickly found the boat could be trusted and have felt that way ever since.
Like Angstrom, I sometimes sit and rock side to side in it when sitting in calm water, just to loosen my hips. But I find I can drift in it just fine on lazy days and it stays centered without any effort. The chine is low, unlike the chines on my Greenland boat, so it is not a lot of travel from side to side, just a slight wiggle. When it is loaded down there is less wobble since it sits lower in the water.
If anything, I consider it a lighter touring boat, not "too much kayak" at all. It has barely medium baggage capacity -- fortunately I have ultralight backpacking gear so I can fit enough in the hatches for a camping trip but you definitely have to plan carefully for that. I mostly use it for day trips -- at 44 lbs it's really easy to haul.
That’s pretty much the same situation I’m in. I happen to demo the Dagger Alchemy about a month ago. I loved it so much I wanted to buy one on the spot, however all they had were demo boats for sale.
Now I can’t find anybody around me that sells them, hahaha.
I think it is a good value
A close friend paddles one, it is his only sea kayak and he uses it for all the things we do on the California Coast.
About the only thing people talk about changing is the backrest out for a backband.
It has a great hull shape, works well for ocean surfing as well as for long distance trips.
I am frankly surprised that more people don’t own one.
Thanks! And a couple more questions…
Just wanted to say thanks for all your comments and help! I was already leaning toward getting the Easky but needed a bit more info. You’re help has been perfect, and I’m convinced now! I’ve reserved it yesterday (it’s off the rental fleet for the summer, which is not my favourite option by saves me a lot of money), and I’ll be picking it up the labour day weekend. Woohoo!
I do have a couple more quick questions. What size spray skirt do I need? I do want to be able to do rolls. Will nylon work or should I spring for the more expensive Neoprene?
And Willowleaf, how do you surf waves in a kayak? Just turn perpendicular to them and paddle hard when they come?
Thanks again all! Any other comments, feedback, or tips are always welcome!
If you are talking about surfing breaking waves near shoer, that is a skill set in itself and deserves some time with others to learn.
If you are talking about simply handling non breaking stuff out in the open, once you are comfortable in the boat there is no need to pick a particular way to take them. If anything that is one place where people make their lives unduly difficult.
We have had instances in a group where someone decided that they had to be perpendicular to any waves and, because of that, went way, way out off the straight run to the take-out and got apart from the group because of the zig-zagging involved. They were a heck of a lot more unsafe by being that far away from the main pod and feeling freaked out about waves than if they had just relaxed and taken them at a lesser angle, and got to the launch faster.
Re the skirt, there is one caution. Do not go out with a neo deck skirt without having practiced getting it off in calm water. They generally have to be pulled off, you can't just push, and we've had a local paddler arrive with their brand new neo skirt that never got wet and had to be pulled out of their boat on the first capsize. Plastic boats are easier, but not enough to negate the difference between nylon and neo deck skirts.
Personally I find that skirts with a rand are much more difficult to get off than ones with bungies, to the point that if I was tired I could be pushing my luck. I generally opt for a skirt that is not as watertight as some but I know I can get off in any difficult condition. You should figure out your own tolerances here.
If you plan to spend time inverted, go with neoprene.
In my experience, skirts with a rubber rand seal to the cockpit better than skirts that just have a bungee, but can be a bit harder to remove.
Venture seat backs have changed
Venture changed their seat design around 2010. Mine is that year and has a sort of convertible seat back that folds in half to make a very backband like arrangement (i have Snapdragon backbands in two other boats). It unfolds to make a higher support, which I have never used in that format.
The Easkys prior to 2010 had a larger bulkier seat back and completely different coaming (so the new seats can’t be retrofitted to the old boats.) I was able to see this last weekend when I stopped at the boathouse at Lake George Kayak with the intent of buying one of their rental fleet Easky 15’s for my boyfriend. Unfortunately the only ones they were selling off were the older versions with that higher backed more conventional seat. One of the things my BF likes about my Easky is that newer seat. So I didn’t end up buying the older boat.
So if you are looking at a 2010 or later Easky it should have the new fold-down seat back. The design of the coaming attachment is such that you could easily swap it out for a Snapdragon or other aftermarket backband, though I have found that the back is close enough to one that I have not bothered to do so.
i suspect you don’t see many Easkys around because dealers are rare for them. My local independent shop stocked them alongside Wilderness Systems boats for years but have found that beginners were not as easy to sell on the Easkys due to that “tippiness” the OP has mentioned. So they have regretfully reduced their stock of them. It’s a shame, because for the same price point as the madly popular Tsunamis the Easkys are lighter and better performing boats, at least in my opinion. A good friend has a Tsunami 140 that I have paddled a number of times and I find it sluggish in the water and a pain to load.
Bego, I’ll check my sprayskirts when I get home to see which models fit. I have a bunch of them so I honestly can’t remember which I use on the Easky. I did recently buy a neoprene/nylon combo skirt for it that was a good deal on sale somewhere. As I recall, the coaming size is pretty standard and I have not had trouble finding skirts to fit. Skirts I already owned for some other boats fit it as well. This year the rivers have been so low our trips have been pretty much flat water – for those I’ve used a Harmony half skirt just to keep drips off my lap.
Seals lists the size for their skirts to be 1.7 for the Easky. However, I bought a used whitewater boat this summer that came with a Seals 1.7 skirt. I tried fitting it on the Easky and it was too small. Even with two of us tugging on it, one in the boat and one outside, we could barely get it over the lip and it popped right off as soon as I moved. You could see it was an inch too small in both directions.
So I would advise that you wait til you get the kayak and then try to find stock skirts that you can actually try with the boat.
one skirt that fits
This skirt (Immersion Research Excursion) in the size XL fits the Easky 15LV. I bought one in June.
The deck is neoprene but the tube is breathable fabric, like Goretex, so it isn’t quite as hot on a warm day. It has a snug rand but is simple to pull off due to having both a tug strap and a piece of webbing across the deck. Price is pretty decent at $70. The tube is not as snug as a full neo would be, but with a paddling jacket pulled down over it, the arrangement would probably do OK for rolling.
paddle the 15 (not LV) and love this kayak. The build quality is outstanding, especially compared to the Tempest (16) I had. Venture is owned by P&H and the poly formula they use is very durable…no flex (I’m 6-2/215) and the material is very scratch/scuff resistant compared to the WS Tempest or my Necky Vector SOT. Fit and finish on this kayak is exceptional and very happy with it’s performance. Thought you might enjoy this video of one being made: