I first test paddled the P&H Scorpio LV during a 4-day sea kayak camp back in the Fall on 2008 (see my initial review below). I eventually purchased a Scorpio LV ('Mark 1') in June 2011. I paddled it for 4 years before replacing it with the newly updated Scorpio LV (MK2) early this summer. Since taking delivery of the MK2 I have logged quite a few on-water miles including trips to Narragansett Bay, RI; and the mid-coast of Maine. The kayak has been paddled in a wide range of conditions from dead-flat local waters; to bumpy beam seas in Rhode Island; to tidal races and rock hopping/surfing in Maine. I've found that although the Scorpio LV (MK2) may not be the "best boat" for any single task, it performs quite nicely in a wide variety of venues. Hence the label "all-rounder".
The Scorpio LV (MK2) inspires confidence in challenging conditions. Novice will appreciate it's initial stability, but intermediate paddlers will like it on edge. It is well out-fitted kayak and rolls easily. Three of the four Kajaksport hatches are nearly water-tight, letting in only a teaspoon or two of water even when getting window-shaded multiple times in the surf zone. The small 4th hatch on the fore-deck is not watertight, but it is handy. The hatch lid seals solidly, but this "glove box" style compartment can pick-up water internally via the cockpit (e.g. when rolling or deep sculling). P&H kindly warns users of this. I simply dry-bag any items I am worried about, such as a cell phone.
Having paddled both the Mark 1 and now the Mark 2, I can offer a direct comparison. The MK1 was quite skeg dependent if one was trying to maintain a straight course even in moderate crosswinds. However, the kayak could easily be turned when on edge and with the skeg was fully deployed. I found this handling characteristic odd, but usually fun. It's understandable that many users did not care for this trait in following or beam seas. The new MK2 really does not need much skeg at all and if the skeg is deployed the boat will remain on a straight course even if edged, which honestly is the way it should work. The MK2 will turn nicely for a 17 footer if edged when not deploying the skeg. Yes, the MK1 could carve a slightly tighter turn than the MK2, but at the loss of predictable forward tracking.
Handling summary: The Mark 2 definitely has a better overall balance of handling characteristics.
My Mark 1 came with the original P&H skeg control slider, which had the annoying tendency to be a sticky and often difficult to use. I find the new skeg or 'Scudder' system on the Mark 2 easier to deploy and trim. The slider has also been relocated to a more convenient location right along the cockpit coaming. This allows one to easily avoid hitting it unintentionally with the left hand.
With the new MK2 P&H reduced the height of the rear of the cockpit coaming making lay-back rolls a little easier, however, I found my original MK1 was no slouch in the rolling or bracing department. One nice change I did not anticipate was a reduction in the overall length of the MK2 cockpit and a corresponding increase in the volume of the bow storage compartment. I believe P&H moved the forward bulkhead closer to the paddler by approximately 2 inches. I only noticed this because on my MK1 I had the footbraces set back two slots from their forward most setting, yet there was still considerable empty space between the forward bulkhead and the foot braces. The original cockpit was really too long. On the MK2 I have the footbraces set all the way forward in the last available slot, and the wasted volume in front of the foot pegs has been reduced. Ironically I also found that I have just a little more toe room for my size 10 shoes in the MK2. In the MK1 toe room was tight, particularly if I was wearing my dry suit and heavier water shoes/boots. With my 31" inseam I fit nicely in the boat and it appears that the length of the bow storage area has been increased by those 2". I appreciate the additional storage space. Note: if you have a 32"+ inseam, or greater than size 10 shoes I suspect you will have to move to the larger Scorpio.
P&H continues to use their 'Corelite' tri-laminate poly for the Scorpio. Having bounced off many rocks in both versions I find it to be a very durable and UV resistant material.
Is there a downside to this boat? Well, it's not the lightest 17' kayak on the market, but I never expected it to be. Ironically it's only ~5 pounds heavier than my comparable 17' glass British-style boat. For all its features, balanced handling characteristics, and durability the Scorpio LV (MK2) costs less than half the price of many new composite sea kayaks.
User Summary: This is a solid sea kayak and has become one of my all-time favorite boats. It's a very nice upgrade from the original model design. The P&H Scorpio LV (MK2) is a keeper and I am temped to give it a 10 out of 10, but I was taught that there is always room for improvement. If one is looking for a 16 to 17 foot, plastic all-rounder, I believe it is the best currently on the market, and I have paddled quite a few including, but not limited to: WS Tempest 165 and 170; WS Tsunami 145/155; Capella 166 RM; Chatham 16 RM; Valley Avocet RM; and Aquanaut LV RM.
Fwiw: my Scorpio LV was purchased from Marshall at The River Connection. Based on the great service I have consistently received over the last 8 years I will continue to buy my kayaks there.
Other issues in my generally beautiful boat (I love it really) is the skeg. Yes, you do have to tighten and eventually replace the bungee on it but it's the ratchet system which becomes impossible to pinch to move without the use of 2 hands when my hands are really cold - I paddle in all weathers.
Lastly, the wonderfully convenient small hatch in front of you, houses a totally un-watertight compartment. It's a good place to put things but don't do so if they can't cope with being wet. I keep choc bars, glasses, spare compass and spare paddle mitts and my mobile/gps in its own waterproof box in here.
I noticed one person say they could fit their size 10s inside. I have trouble with my size 7s - it's certainly not spacious. I also changed the area round the footrests by carving out a plank of wood to the shape of the inside-foot area and then cable-tying it to the footrests - I now have a foot-board and I wouldn't do without it.
I frequently come into contact with rocks on local lake island shores as well as rock-hopping in the sea. This boat takes a huge number of knocks, pain-free. It's a fast boat - I rarely come across paddlers who can keep up with me when I'm really trying and I'm not young any more.
All in all, it's a lovely boat with one or two minor issues above which I've learned to live with.
All in all, I love the boat as it does everything I could ask of it. Tracks well for distance and fitness paddling with a little skeg and maneuverability is great when creaking or bird watching etc. I also find it very comfortable whilst still being a snug fit when adjusted for my 5ft 6in and 11 stone frame.
John had just taken delivery on the boat from P&H and it was still sporting new factory tags. Initially John asked me if I wanted to try it on for fit, since I had indicated to him that I had demoed the Standard Scorpio at The River Connection on the Hudson River (Hyde Park, NY) earlier this summer. I had really liked the standard Scorpio's characteristics, but it was simply too big on me. I go 5'9" and about 150 pounds with size 10 feet. I slipped into the cockpit. The boat was a decent fit and I had yet to adjust either the pegs or movable thigh/knee braces. I could get my bum in the boat and then slip in my feet, which is a feature I really appreciate in a kayak. I estimate that those having feet much over size 10.5 or 11 are going to find foot room quite snug. This is due to the relatively low fore deck and the 'knee tube' that forms the compartment for the fourth hatch. I had no problems using my size 10.5 ankle-high Five-Ten water booties with a dry suit and medium weight socks.
After lunch on Day one of the camp John asked if I would like give it a test drive? Oh, boy! The Scropio LV would end up being the only boat I would paddle for the next 3+ days as my own Valley Avocet RM sat collecting sand on the shore.
Conditions: I paddled the boat in a variety of conditions from nearly pancake flat water with less than 5 knot winds, up to 4-5' seas with some breaking waves, steady 20 knot winds and some higher gusts.
In short the Scorpio LV was a dream to paddle. It is one of the few plastic boats I have been in that feel like a composite kayak. It paddles and maneuvers as well backward as it does forward. The Scorpio LV exhibited very good initial stability for kayak with a 21" beam, yet I could really crank it up on edge before I got it past the point of no return (great secondary stability).
The Scorpio LV did very well in the soup and handled the 4-5' beam seas without difficulty. It holds a straight course better than my Avocet RM, but turns just as well if edged. Boy does it turn.
I noticed that the Scorpio does weathercock quite a bit more than either of my Valley boats. This is easily corrected with proper use of the skeg. I did not have to fully deploy the skeg in the 20+ knot beam winds. P&H's new 'Kink-Free' skeg is quite different in design than those I have previously used. It is not quite a simple slider. As a rookie user, I did struggled a bit with skeg deployment and adjustment. I simply should have asked John or Ben how to use the new skeg, but I was reluctant to look a bit foolish. Note to self: "The only stupid questions are the ones not asked". :-[
I came across this video after I returned home from the camp. I recommend it to all potential P&H kayak users. I was definitely trying to squeeze the slider and click release mechanism together, which IS NOT the way to adjust this skeg.
The Scorpio LV is equipped with four Kajaksport hatches. Apparently P&H uses slightly different Kajaksport lids on their new composite boats. The forward/aft hatch covers on the Scorpio and Scorpio LV are of a soft rubber material, where as the hatches on the new composite P&H kayaks have a harder plastic-like top with softer rubber-like sides (the day hatches are the same on both composite and poly P&H boats). I am not sure why P&H uses slightly different forward/aft hatch covers on it's composite boats than on the Scorpio series. Cost?
I did have to adjust my mounting technique when using the Scorpio's Kajaksport covers. I am quite use to using VCP lids, which have almost a Tupperware-like seal. I found that the soft rubber Kajaksport hatches had some stretch to them. They are almost like mounting a tight spray deck or cockpit cover. At times I would just about have the aft KS hatch fully mounted when it would slip off the opposite side of the rim. Once properly sealed, the KS covers proved to be water tight. I had no unintentional hatch dislodgements, even after performing a number of rescues. I had previously experienced this sort of problem on the 2004 Tempest 165 Pro, that I once owned (with Wildy's proprietary hatches).
The Scorpio LV is the only boat, since my Tempest, that I could perform a successfully scramble/cowboy rescue on. I believe that is due to the very flat aft deck and the boat's overall stability.
The Scorpio LV rolled quite nicely, but I could probably do even better with some additional personalized fit adjustments.
I need to spend more time using the new P&H skeg slider. I am obviously not accustom to it.
Observation: on the last day of the camp we had our boats lined up on the beach prior to launching. We were working on navigation 'problems'. One of the teams actually used the aft deck of my Scorpio to lay out their chart and calculate their course. Two in their group apparently ended up pulled quite a bit of weight on the deck of the Scorpio. Ben noticed that they had deformed the hatch cover. Initially I didn't think anything of it. Ben reset the lid, but then I watched him put up on the aft deck lines near the day hatch to pull the deck up. Apparently the aft deck had sagged a bit under the combined upper body weight of the two paddlers. This surprised me a wee bit. The Scorpio is built from stiffer tri-laminate poly. It was not a hot day, nor where the paddlers overly heavy.
Standard Declaimer: I have no affiliation with P&H or Sea Cliff Kayakers, nor do I own a P&H boat.
Scorpio LV specs:
Length: 509 cm / 16'7"
Width: 53.8cm / 21"
Volume: 2755 lts / 73 gals
Weight Range: 45-105 kgs / 99-235 lbs
Depth: 325 mm / 12.8"
Front hatch: 35 lts / 9 gals
Day Hatch: 17.6 lts / 4.6 gals
Rear Hatch: 55.6 lts / 14.7 gals
Fourth Hatch: 4 lts / 1 gal
Cockpit Length (internal): 75.7 cm / 30"
Cockpit Width (internal): 45 cm / 17.7"
Cockpit Length (external): 84 cm / 33"
Cockpit Length (external): 48c m / 18.8"