Generally I do not like rudders but the SmarTrack rudder was easy to use and is the only rudder I would want. The hatches are huge and the covers are a dream to open and close. The day hatch with its hinged cover is easy to open and close while on the water. The shock cords in front of the cockpit are closer together then on my other kayak, so that I cannot use my regular deck bag but I use a North Water turtle bag which is just large enough for my electronic stuff. For larger items that I want at hand, I have installed 2 other bags inside the cockpit.
The X16 is the kayak I would consider for a multi-day trip involving big water. It is a fast, maneuverable, sea worthy, high volume kayak. I only wish my garage could fit the X18. Perhaps if I were to remove a wall...
I originally worried about how much abuse this kayak could take due to a previous review from another paddler. During this trip, it got launched from concrete ramps, landed on gravel bars, got stuck in sand and mud, got thrown over a drainage ditch and rode in the back of a rental truck along with other kayaks and survived a 200+ mile journey at high speed on top of my Honda. Yes, it is scratched up but it actually looks better for it. It deserves a 10.
I purchased the NC 15 Escape in the LT version because of its weight. Age and a back that needs cuddling being the main factors. The NC 15 Escape at 41 lbs is definitely a light boat. It is also a beautiful, well constructed boat and the folks at Novus Composites made the purchase easy. It was shipped to me in Florida in a huge box and arrived safely. Upon reviewing the website I had opted for one of the in-stock models which made it quite affordable although the shipping charge was much higher than anticipated.
I have taken this kayak up a very narrow twisting river with a very strong current and found it easy to maneuver it through the twists and turns. I have taken it out in the Gulf for a 20 mile trip on a day with moderate chop and the kayak tracked straight. For anyone interested in multi day trips rest assured that her cavernous bulkheads will carry a lot of camping gear. The boat is responsive to leans, tracks well without a skeg or rudder, and is very stable.
However, there are some things that I wish the company would have done a bit differently. This particular model comes with a D-Ring aft but it does not come with a similar D-Ring in the front although it is available as an option when you order the boat built. On my kayak, the screw securing the D-Ring to the deck is very long and protrudes way down into the kayak. This could possibly lead to the tearing of a dry bag or flotation bag. Also, the hatch covers (which I like a lot) are not secured to the kayak in any way. They are rather heavy but could still be separated from the boat by a strong wind while taking gear in or out of the kayak or also by some critter while camping (like racoons in the Everglades for example). Also, the footpegs cannot be moved while sitting in the kayak, a feature now available in many other kayaks.
That said, over all, I am very pleased with the NC 15 Escape. It is a good sea worthy and very attractive kayak.
The fastrack foot pegs and easily adjustable from a seated position. The seat and backband are adjustable and very comfortable.the Journey has a large cockpit which makes it easy to get this 70 year old frame in and out. Both hatches offer ample room for a multi-day trip camping gear. I would give it a 10 but for the stern hatch cover - it is very difficult to close.
The rack is attractive but most importantly, it is very sturdy and adjustable. SUSPENZ racks are modular and can accommodate kayaks, canoes as well as SUP's. I do wish they also had some way to accommodate all my paddles. When I put this idea to them they assured me that within a few months they will be producing a paddle holder.
I highly recommend the SUSPENZ racks to anyone looking for a strong, modular kayak, canoe or SUP storage system.