Perfect yak for up to class III. Turns on a dime, very easy to maneuver. When you hit the calm sections drop the skeg and it tracks strait with little effort. Only complaint is the hull is a little soft and sharp rock scratch deep.
I bought my Fusion in 2012, after a fair amount of research and test-paddling, with much glee and giddiness. That lasted three years. Ever since 2015 that boat has been the bane of my paddling existence. Let me tell you my story.
Crossover boats in general, and the Pyranha Fusion specifically, is to kayaking what Subarus are to cars: hybrid models with a little bit of Columns A & B in their design, even though they're neither A nor B. A standard Subaru generally has high ground clearance and AWD; but it's not a 4x4 truck. A crossover kayak has Class III rapids in mind, as well as quietwater, but it's not a true whitewater boat -- or even a recreational one, really.
But the crossover kayak is still a cool concept, especially for "lightwater" paddlers (among whom I count myself) who like to dabble in Class II and even III rapids, while still having a small, nimble boat that's apt for narrow(ish) streams with adequate current but no true rapids. For my paddling druthers, the crossover kayak was -- and still is -- my favorite kind of boat, seemingly designed for me personally. I love moving water on an intimate stream, and there's no challenge I further embrace than a half-informed, half-half-assed run of Class III rapids. That is, in between quieter pools where I can still enjoy a refreshing beverage or two.
Initially, I loved the Pyranha Fusion and favored it unhesitatingly over its rivals at the the time.
The first thing that broke was the deck pod thingamajig, the not-waterproof plastic container that's oddly shaped to fit hardly anything in it and flimsily connected to the deck itself. While getting dumped in a Class III rapid, the thing snapped off and floated to who know's where (as I never did find it). Not a big deal since it wasn't ever used.
The second setback was the hardware that keeps the hip- and knee pads in place. While practicing my roll on a lake, one set simply got loose and then got lost. I will say that after I contacted Pyranha about this, they sent me replacement hardware. That was cool and appreciated. But the problem has continued, in other places, not just the same original one. And for what it's worth, this is not something that happens in my other boats, so it's not an owner-operator thing, thank you very much.
Then, in 2015 I somehow got a 3-inch crack on the bottom of the boat, underneath my butt. For point of reference, I'm a skinny, in-shape guy, and this was on a predominantly muddy river, not a whitewater stream. I must have hit a weirdly angled rock (I guess), beneath the surface, at virtually zero miles per hour. Nonetheless, the hull was cracked -- the "super stable & forgivable hull," to quote from Pyranha's website.
I tried fixing this myself, failed, and then had it actually fixed by the designated boat repair guy in the paddling shop in town. Two trips later a new crack occurred, inches away from the original. That was October 2015. Ever since, I have taken on an unwanted hobby in plastic welding. These stop-gap patches work for only so long, until a new crack occurs or the same old one undone. Either way, it's an Achilles Heel-type of thing I've been dealing with for the last three years now, always paddling with a towel and a roll of duct tape.
Let me be clear: I am not a true or even amateur whitewater paddler. I can count on both hands the times I've used this boat for real whitewater conditions (for me, meaning Class II-III) and still have an appropriate finger left over to give Pyranha. This boat was never damaged using it in actual rapids.
I've been sorely disappointed by Pyranha as a company. I've reached out to two separate employees as well as a general inquiry via their "Contact Us" website tab, and have received exactly this much response: zilch. Honestly, I don't know whom you have to sleep with over there to get any customer service, but it inspires no confidence whatsoever.
I'll point out, too, that the back-band seat is very uncomfortable and requires an after-market product to make due, plus it comes with no beverage holder (I mean, come on!) or deck-rigging behind the cockpit (only in front). Also, the cord for the skeg deployment breaks easily and is close to impossible to keep in place when not deployed.
In conclusion, like a Subaru, the Fusion is finicky, breaks easily, and then is expensive to fix. It's an admirable Jack-of-all-trades approach, but definitely a master of none. Unless you mean regret. It's definitely a master of regret.
A very good boat for very specific occasions/ environments, but not really a versatile or reliable kayak.
I bought my Fusion with much adulation back in 2012. I chose it over the Jackson Rogue and Liquid Logic XP -- the other two crossover kayaks available at the time; the Dagger Katana was not then an option. It seemed like a perfect hybrid for my paddling druthers: a boat designed for considerable but not crazy whitewater (Class I-III), while having a unique retractable skeg to keep from fishtailing on flatwater or against headwinds. I'm the exact kind of paddler I swear Pyranha had in mind when designing this boat.
Generally speaking, it's a solid boat with those two aspects in mind -- light whitewater handling and flatwater adaptability. One totally deserved shout-out the boat gets is its watertight rubber hatch cover. The hatch itself is quite roomy, but the cover is rock solid and keeps things dry as a bone. The only bungee rigging is in front of the cockpit. The boat would be much improved if there were additional rigging directly behind the seat, in between it and the hatch. (The Katana has this.) On the plus side of the deck rigging, there's a thoughtful, nifty little "hook" to strap your paddle onto. It's a nice touch.
But there are several notable problems and pet peeves with the Fusion.
First, it's a heavy boat -- 50 lbs and change for 10' of plastic (although this weight is comparable for other crossover boats). By contrast, my 15' canoe weighs less (and it's not kevlar).
Second, the backrest of the seat is seriously uncomfortable and non-supportive. You'll be buying an aftermarket cushion or seat rest or whatever to compensate for this. (By contrast, the Liquid Logic XP is downright dreamy!)
Third, the Fusion comes with a plastic container pod that attaches to the deck bungee rigging in front of the cockpit. It's really not large enough to fit anything critical into. Also, you shouldn't, because the attachment is flimsy and half-assed. Mine snapped off during a spill in a set of rapids. I had to wet-exit and didn't even notice the deck pod missing until several minutes later. It must have floated downstream somewhere; never did find it. Fortunately, there was nothing inside it since hardly anything fit into it anyway. So, it's a thoughtful concept, but poorly executed/ designed.
For all that, why not provide a cup holder instead? I'm pretty sure most paddlers drink beverages while on the water.
Fourth, while practicing rolling on a lake, after owning the boat for only a year, the internal hardware that keeps the right knee brace intact came loose, then fell out entirely (kerplunk! into the lake). Thankfully, Pyranha’s customer service did send me replacement hardware, after I contacted them, but still.
Fifth, the skeg. I and my best paddling friend have had issues with the Fusion's skeg. For me, the thing rarely stays up. Even when I retract it, pulling the cord as taut as possible, still at least 1/4 to 1/3 of plastic stubbornly resists going up. This gets a little dicey when there's whitewater afoot. I have cleaned out all the areas of concern -- the skeg itself, its recess, the pull cord, the plastic tubing through which the cord is threaded -- but invariably, and quickly, the problem reoccurs. It's a pain in the ass. Even the way the cord is designed to stay in place when you wish to pull the skeg up is really unreliable and poorly designed for real-life situations.
My friend's skeg problem was much worse. After having paddled his brand new boat less than a dozen times, the cord mechanism just broke while on a river. The skeg drooped down like a broken limb, just dangling. He of course contacted customer service and Pyranha's response was none too sympathetic. They simply told him what size cord to replace it with. There were no apologies or offer to send him any courtesy cord (worth a whopping 75 cents). So now he carries extra cord in case it ever happens again mid-stream, which is kind of ridiculous. And to be clear, it’s not the easiest thing to fix.
Speaking of not being easy to fix, this is my last issue with the Fusion -- the biggest of them all. After owning my Fusion for 3 years, it got gouged (I guess by a rock) in a shallow-water stream. The result was a 3"-long slice in the hull, right below the seat, resulting in a whole lot of water coming into the cockpit from below. Mind you, under the “key features” menu on the Fusion web page, Pyranha touts the “Super Stable and Forgiving Hull”. Let me be clear about this: this crack occurred on a mostly muddy river bottom (the Kickapoo River in southwestern Wisconsin) where there are no rapids. Stable, maybe, but "forgiving"? Hell no.
I took it to be repaired by the touted boat repair guy at Rutabaga, in Madison. The "repair" took over two hours and cost me $90. Two trips later it cracked again, at the new patch inches away from the original crack. You can imagine how upset I was by this point. Since then, after taking notes from the Rutabaga guy and watching a ton of how-to videos on YouTube, I've taken to repairing the boat myself each time it sustains a new crack or slice, which occurs on average once or twice a year. As my friend takes extra cord along for his skeg, I always pack a huge roll of duct tape to cover my wet butt while on the water.
It seems that this is just my boat's Achilles heel, so to speak. Once damaged, forever compromised. I can't really ever sell it with this known flaw -- at least not without losing a lot of money. So, I'm stuck with a broken boat, all the time, which sucks and makes me feel like a schmuck.
I really wanted to like this boat -- and there are some aspects to it I do in fact like. But for me, the cons definitively outweigh the pros. I do want a replacement crossover kayak, because this style accommodates most of the paddling I do. When money allows, I'll eventually do just that. But it won't be another Fusion (unless Pyranha wants to get right with me and give me a replacement or great deal on a new Fusion).
I finally got to put the Fusion SOT through its paces. It was the second time out in it so I got to give it an accurate evaluation. A friend also got to use it and give me another impression which was very similar to mine.
It performed exactly how I had hoped it would. It behaves very predictably with no noticeably bad characteristics. The thigh straps keep you connected to the boat and provided noticeably more control in surf and rapids. It surfed and played well, even in good current. I was able to get up on edge and not get grabbed. Even the higher center of gravity due to it being a SOT and sitting higher above the water was not noticeable. It performed well with no bad characteristics Drop the skeg and it tracked well. The convenience of the SOT, especially in shallow water when you have to get out and drag or portage is perfect. Yet still having the playfulness in whitewater is icing on the cake.
The biggest complaint both my friend and I had was the backband. Especially compared to the Jackson Traverse fitting. You lean forward and it drops down to your lower back and doesn't give support. You can pull it up, lean back and it will give support and be comfy. However the moment you learn forward (like you often want to do in rapids etc) it drops down. In long stretches it tires your back and gives some discomfort and soreness. I will likely be trying an addon seat cushion from amazon (about $25-35) While giving more support, it will prevent you from leaning over the backdeck, and potentially rolling it if you want. I did add a 3/8" foam pad to the seat when I purchased it, as I figured the long stretches of paddling would make the molded seat uncomfortable. Therefore I'm unable to evaluate the stock comfort level of the molded seat.
Overall its a great boat that does what its intended to do. I'm very pleased with it. However due to the back band I could only give it four stars.
Sometimes it's hard to know whether it's the boat itself you love or the places you take it on. The Pyranha Fusion is the first boat that I've used on Class II-III whitewater. In such conditions it's been great! It turns on a dime and is very agile. Between the foot brace and the hip pads, I feel totally locked in the cockpit, the kayak and I a grafted union of harmonious synthesis. The raised lip of the cockpit prevents my lap from receiving excess water, which is nice when a surprising wave or drop comes my way in colder weather and/or when I'm not wearing a skirt. The drop-down skeg does a very admirable tracking the boat straight. On a light current you'll still veer left or right, and eventually go backwards, without continually paddling to keep straight. But the skeg is truly a godsend on flat water sections.
The back hatch is totally water-tight, yet not at all difficult to take off or put back on. Very spacious too.
The bad: originally this came with a detachable plastic container that set on the deck in front of the cockpit. Nice idea, but it really wasn't wide enough to stow anything significant. After one dump on a Class III set of rapids, the cord that this container was attached to broke and I never did find it afterward, washed downstream...
The pull-cord for the drop-down skeg can stubbornly refuse to engage sometimes, but often is difficult to keep retracted. Also, my friend has the same boat, purchased brand new in March 2016. On his second trip using it the pull-cord snapped entirely off.
There are no cords to attach any gear behind the cockpit.
The back-rest to the seat is next to nonexistent and not terribly comfortable. I bought a seat supplement just for back support.
My boat has had three cracks beneath the seat in the last year. Sure, these things happen. But three all in the same area all within one year -- after zero cracks in four years? Seems suspicious.
Overall, a solid boat. Great for beginner whitewater and combined whitewater/quietwater day trips. Great for narrow, meandering creeks. Agile and responsive. But the seat is uncomfortable, the skeg can be problematic, and the boat has some definite vulnerabilities.
I'm 6', 200 lbs., with 35 years canoeing experience (flatwater - Class III). To date, everything positive about the Fusion in other reviews and on-line videos are on point. It seems to well-adept for a variety of water-types and meets the multiple purposes for which I wanted a kayak - afternoon cruises and 2-3 day tours on protected ocean bays, Class I-III rivers, and lakes. It certainly is a true crossover kayak.
The adjustable drop-down skeg works great (tracking and retracting). The boat is very responsive to the paddle's power for maneuvering and speed. The seat systems is comfortable enough and effectively connects the paddler to the boat (however, this does make the boat less-forgiving to misplaced body leaning and weighting). The hatch is snug and tight.
The Fusion rides over waves and stays stable in them. Overall workmanship and design is commendable. Although so far I've not tried to roll it yet, it likely will do so well judging from other moves done. If the Fusion M (medium) were available instead of the Fusion L, I would have bought it. Although my size is within Pyranha's range for both the M and L models, my personal preference would have been for the slightly narrower cockpit.
There are only two complaints about the boat's manufacturer, P&H in the UK. The instructions for fitting the seat system are somewhat incomplete/unclear and the 4-5 hours it takes to do so (but it's worth the effort!). P&H never replied to an email request for move detail and information.
If you're seeking a crossover kayak for river running and light touring and possess some moderate paddling skills and experience (or will acquire them), the Fusion could well be your boat. On-the-other-hand, if you prefer more casual/recreational paddling or light sea kayaking, look at P&H's Venture Kayak Flex 11.
If I had it to do again, would I get a Pyranha Fusion? You bet I would!!!!
The Pyranha Fusion is a good design and is meets the requirements of a cross over boat. The molding material and molding process parameters gives the boat a sturdy, rigid feel that appears to be thick and solid yet lightweight. The no glare surface treatment is functional and gives the boat a not cheap appearance. The hull design performs well in white water with the skeg up and the boat tracks nicely in flat water with the skeg down. The boat is fast and responsive. The deck design allows for ample leg room, sheds water well and allows the paddler to not make contact with the deck with knuckles while paddling. The combing design allows for a good skirt seal. The grab handles are sturdy and comfortable. The Connect 30 seating is comfortable and the footplate is solid. Entry and exit are not difficult.
The ratchet seat adjustment system is a quality design but requires engineering attention. The ratchet can slip under load allowing the backrest to abruptly move out of the desired position. The ratchet unlock mechanism has a random, nuisance issue of not releasing the strap one position at a time. The strap sticks then can quickly come out of the ratchet system requiring reinsertion to the first catch rib. This issue has occurred on one side only. The skeg activation chord works smoothly and is positioned well for ease of use (I do have a suggestion for a design improvement for the manufacturer).
The rear hatch has ample room to stow enough gear for an extended trip. The skeg box is in a good location, out of the way of the hatch opening and is robust. The hatch seal / cover is water tight and does not implode in white water
Overall I am pleased with the Pyranha Fusion C30 performance, appearance and design and price. It is my "go to" of all my boats for most of my paddling trips.
The cockpit is much more narrow than the XP 10. IMO, it is not as stable as the XP series, but is still very stable. Where the Fusion surpasses the XP is in speed and tracking. The XP felt like a big bath tub to me. The Fusion feels like a Formula 1 car. Fast and nimble and tracks great with the skeg up or down. The skeg is not as friendly to use as the XP but it doesn't take long to feel comfortable with the lift rope system. I agree with the comments about the hatch being hard to get on and take off, but that is also what helps it stay completely water proof (XP seems to leak a bit.)
I wrote this review for anyone who is thinking about getting one of the cross over yaks as there is not much info for them in a head to head comparison. Here is one review that I found helpful in my decision:
In my opinion, if you are tired of just paddling small portions of the river and would like a true WW boat that will take you the distance without working you to death, the FUSION is your boat, hands down.
The kayak is very agile and forgiving, stability is high, with the skeg down it is very easy to hold course on flat water and helps a bit when surfing standing waves. Personally I felt the kayak could be smaller as it felt quite high in volume, of course after I get the standard model they announce a small model, unlike the Dagger Approach 9 this is still a kayak most people will be able to fit into, I'm 6ft with size 11 feet and find it sill quite roomy, the volume is 250 instead of 300ish on the bigger model, the kayak is lighter to paddle, easier to edge, a bit more agile, still stable, its an inch narrower, the hatch is round instead of oval and is easier to get on and off.
Overall a fantastic bit of kit, the small version being my favorite by far.
Now I have only had this out on class 2 so far, but it is now my go to boat for those conditions. It has a feel reminiscent of my H3, but without grabby edges. On bunny waves it is a carving fiend and it punches through and over the medium waves I have put it through so far. There might be some comparison to Dagger's Green Boat, but I have never paddled that boat.
The only negative for me is the cockpit is slightly too small, but I am a large person (5'7" 275lbs) so a smaller person would do fine.