Anyone have any feed back/experience with either of these watercraft other than the information provided by the manufacturer? I’ve been doing a lot of research and can’t find a lot of obvious differences as far as performance in either kayak. I am trying to decide which of the two to purchase and can find a lot of info on the epic but not the Searocket. Any feedback would be appreciated.
I very recently got a new 18X sport in Ultra layup. 2019 model with the integrated drop down rudder. I personally would have preferred the performance layup simply because it’s a bit tougher and only something like 3 pounds more. I will say that most of the fit and finish comments I read when researching it aren’t an issue. Things like the roughness under the combing, the rudder being cocked when it’s retracted. Maybe refinement over the years of manufacturing? As for performance I don’t know how much I can add since the Epic and I are still getting to know each other. After my Chesapeake this is a learning curve. Like I needed to hit shore when I switched from my greenland paddle to the mid wing to paddle. It is a light weight, fast boat! I took a look at the searocket real quick and I see the hull shape is way different. Different in a way that I would expect a lot more initial stability. It will be a couple months before I can talk in depth about it since I haven’t done much yet besides simple paddles getting used to it and haven’t loaded it down and gone anywhere yet.
Thanks for taking the time to reply. One of my main concerns was with the fit and finish. Like you it seemed to be the primary critique on these models. Looking forward to hearing about your experiences with the 18X.
A couple more questions I thought of are, does the 18X have good secondary stability? And in your experience, would the different shape of the hull effect the speed of the sea rocket?
I’m not a fan of the Smarttrack rudder pedals. My old Epic 18 had them and they broke a few times. If you can get an Epic with their track master I would go for that. Hulls look identical, so speed and handling should be the same. Weights are also comparable.
As a guy who uses the kayak for fun and to head out away from people and go camping, I may not be the person to ask about the speed differences in the hulls, especially never having paddled the sea rocket, but I believe the 18x should be faster. It was built with speed in mind which was one of the reasons I wanted it. Is whatever difference exists noticeable to someone who doesn’t race? Probably not. As for secondary stability, again it’s early for me to judge on this. The 2" wider hard chined Chesapeake is the closest to this I’ve spent time in and the differences are so great that I have learning to do before I can comment on that. Theoretically when I get it all figured out the hull should be great, but being used to a hard chine where essentially you lay a different V bottom under you in a lean, it is completely different.
If you do go with the Epic, I could not recommend Texas Surfskis and kayaks enough. Not only for price, but they are great people and they personally delivered my boat from Houston Texas to Coeur D’Alene Idaho. Did it in short order and only charged $200!! The boat also came with a cover and a cockpit cover.
I bought an Epic 18X Sport with the basic Performance layup last year and glad I did. It goes fast which is why I bought it, 625 miles on it so far. I paddle a lot more than I did before I bought it, but part of that is thanks to COVID. I mostly paddle flat river and lake water, no stability issues the one time I paddled in one foot waves on Lake Huron. Haven’t practiced a roll yet.
No issues with the build. Edges are smooth, nothing sharp when carrying, weight is as advertised, hatches are tight.
I found the factory seat to be very uncomfortable; the back edge hit the base of the spine. My wife says I have no butt, YMMV. I ordered a foam seat from Redfish, great product.
I’m 6’2". The cockpit is big enough that I can easily get in and out. Wearing size 11 1/2 Converse All Stars I have to point my toes a little more than I’d like to fit my feet under the deck. My Keen water shoes stick out way past the toe, making them useless for kayaking.
This boat has the rudder that is a hinged part of the hull with a drop-down. I don’t use the drop-down as a rudder much, more often as a skeg. You can’t rudder without dropping the drop-down. The boat paddle-turns a lot faster if I don’t deploy the drop down than if I deploy it and rudder hard over and paddle-turn, so for me it’s usefulness is limited to opposing windsocking. However, the high front / low back on the Epic causes the boat to windsock a lot less than my other boats. No rudder issues except that the foot pedals feel spongy - if you want to adjust it a little it is hard to tell if it moved, and re-centering can take a few tries. Occasionally the drop-down snags water weeds but a quick pull and release on the raising rope clears it.
Dunno how I ever lived without a day hatch.
Hull material is quite different from my old (mid seventies) glass and kevlar boats. I somehow put a permanent dent in it near the bow above the waterline. Likely I whacked it on something while carrying. A glass boat would have bounced back or shattered. I feel it scratches easier and have to be more careful with it than my old boats.
Not sure how I feel about white. It sure shows the dirt, pollen, and PFAS foam scum better than my red boats. And in freezing weather the ice doesn’t melt off the deck when the sun comes out.
I don’t think there will be enough difference in them to matter.
What matters is what kind of access do you have to them. Here in the states almost every state has at least one Epic dealer. I haven’t seen one for Zegul. The state I live in has at least six Epic dealers and two Reps. They do a good job of keeping people happy with their boats. What do you do with a less than optimal Zegul?
This is an excellent point.
Thanks! They are the ones I’ve been contact with, since I do live in Texas. Already experienced phenomenal costumer service with them.
Can’t go wrong with them, other than they showed up in Coeur D’Alene and just happened to have a mid wing paddle with them, which I had been thinking of buying so I ended up spending a bit extra! lol Wanted to try it instead of the greenland with it…
Even at that, since I wasn’t planning on buying more than the boat, I didn’t have the extra cash on me when I met up with them she just said don’t worry. Just mail us a check. If I ever do decide to buy a surf ski some day, they will be who I buy it from.
What are you goals and intended uses for the kayak? Racing? Fast touring?
I have used an 18X in many Everglades Challenge races, so am very familiar with it. I have owned both the Ultra and Performance hulls and prefer the Ultra. Fit and finish has not been an issue. The 18X day hatch allows easy one-handed operation and is dry. The front hatch is dry but the back hatch leaks a very small amount (on the 3 18Xs I have owned), but has never caused an issue. Keep in mind that the 18X was recently redesigned, it is now based on the 18X sport (slightly wider), and Epic eliminated the “waggle rudder” (TrackMaster Plus) and went with a conventional SmartTrack rudder, and installed a vanity hatch on the foredeck. You can still find the old model available at some dealers.
For those with the TrackMaster Plus rudder, the rudder locks as it does, when the “skeg” is retracted, so that you can paddle backwards more efficiently without fighting the rudder. This was intended to be a “feature” by Greg Barton. That said, you can grind/cut the tab off the back of the carbon skeg to disable this and allow the rudder to be used even with the skeg retracted. I haven’t bothered to do this.
Stability is relative. When I first got my 18X, I had some hairy moments in large reflected waves . Now it feels so stable I have even fallen asleep in it. Compared to an elite surf ski an 18X is very stable. Intermediate kayakers coming from wider sea kayaks should expect some “butt time” before they become comfortable with stability in rough conditions.
I haven’t seen the Searocket. That said, like the 18X, this style of kayak is often paddled like a ski (and often with a wing) with feet and knees close together for maximum torso rotation – rather than the non-ergonomic splayed-out position that is common for touring. The SeaRocket has small, separated footbraces which I don’t prefer. A full footplate (such as on the Epic 18X and some Stellar models) is an advantage for comfort, strong leg drive and allows more options for foot position. There are aftermarket footplates (e.g. BigFoot) that can be used to upgrade many performance kayaks.
Some people love a vanity (foredeck) hatch. That said, IF it prevents your knees and feet from being close together that would be a deal-breaker for me. You may need to demo one to find out if it interferes (the same holds true for the vanity hatch in the redesigned 18X).
If you like these boats then also check out the Stellar 18r (g1 and g2), Pace 18, Taran 18.
As has been said, it’s good to have local dealer support.