I had heard many good things about the latest rendition of the Storm from an acquaintance that I thought I'd bite and purchase from the "older in name," but newer kid on the block with the NA re-launch. I had heard they had a few quality issues the first couple of years of the re-launch, but the fit and finish on my paddle was excellent and no noticeable flaws. I was able to also utilize the ACA Pro discount which brought the overall cost in line and a touch under similar high end paddles. At full price, this blade would probably be out of my range.
My first impressions are how well balanced and the relative lack of any swing weight. Yes, it's carbon and supposed to be light, but it's impressive how effortless the blade moves through the water and sets up for the next stroke. I can link all the strokes I want with ease. In the interim while I was carbon paddle shopping I was using a blade from another higher end company and it turned out to be a battle axe. The paddle was a few oz. heavier than the Lendal, but the swing weight was all off and the paddle was nowhere near as balanced.
The 215 cm length is spot on my expectations. The MCS shaft hand holds are slightly wider than my old paddle and I'm adjusting easily. Love the slight oval to the shaft and the paddle nestles perfectly in the crook of my palm. Almost so perfectly I barely need to grip the paddle shaft. As advertised, the paddlok system is spot on and until you see and use it, do you realize the benefit. I'm not sure why anyone would want a larger blade surface than provided by the storm. I'm a bigger, broad shouldered guy and I'd not want to push a bigger blade around all day. I have a pretty fast boat in the NDK Greenlander Pro and I feel like I'm leaving speed on the table with the Lendal. The paddle wants more than the boat can give. I'm pushing the boat's hull speed to the max, and on sprints I top out the hull speed.
The only thing I was surprised about was the sticker ID for the offset and it's accuracy. I set-up the paddle for my normal offset and it wasn't working, so I had to play around with the angle until I felt comfortable. I know other companies have moved away from the sticker. This is minor, but thought I'd mention it, especially for a blade in this price range.
When selecting a MCS shaft you have to select right or left hand drive. This paddle isn't adjustable for L or R, like similar paddles. I didn't switch often with my other paddle, but it was nice to be able to change if I wanted to.
What attracted me to the AT blade was the high angle, similar blade shape to the Werner Shuna. I am also aware that AT makes a quality whitewater blade, so I was willing to take a chance on a newer touring blade in their quiver. I also like the neon green blades, some may not like them, but I thought they are sort of funky.
Out of the box the fit and finish of the paddle was fine and of very good quality. I could tell the weight of the paddle was in the shaft and it appears the diameter of the carbon/fiberglass shaft is greater than Werner Brand paddles. The ferrel system is like many others with the little lever that lifts and closes to lock the offset into place.
I held the blade up to my glass straight shaft Shuna and the blades are almost identical.
On the water it took a few minutes to get comfortable with what was the left or right hand drive on the paddle. I had to rotate clockwise for Right vs. rotating counter clockwise with other paddles I own. The bent shaft offset does look a little unusual. On the Werner paddles their offsets bend back to the middle of the shaft and align with the shaft portion attached to the blades. The AT paddles bend and then don't bend again to align with the blades. This did take some getting used to and wasn't as comfortable out of the box as my Werner paddles. Once I got it dialed in the purchase was strong, the blade didn't wobble and I found my rhythm.
The only detraction is weight compared to other paddles I own. The AT is well engineered, but in this case it may be over engineered. Their ww paddles are bomb proof, but for this touring blade they could have easily have shaved off 5-6 ounces and the paddle could have still been strong.
The swing weight on the paddle is very noticeable compared to some of my other high end paddles. The Bent shaft Shuna with a similar blade and length is listed at 29 oz. The Oracle is listed at 34.5 oz. I knew the weight difference before I ordered, so it wasn't a total surprise. Like with anything, after a few hours, the extra weight difference wasn't too noticeable, but I think AT can shave some weight and still have this be a superior touring blade.
Rolling with the paddle is strong, but if you're very adept at rolling, you can roll with a 2x4. I had to adjust my wrists slightly to compensate for the different shaft bend on the AT. Nonetheless the catch was strong and powerful and rolling was comfortable.
I wasn't in a coastal situation, but I attempted to mimic some in water rock gardening strokes along a stretch of dock and with a right handed setting my on-side was comfortable, but I really had to concentrate on my left to do slicing strokes with my left hand (off side). I attributed this to the getting more comfortable with the different bend in the blade shaft.
The one thing I didn't get a chance to do is surf and maybe I'll update this report later. The blade does have a powerful catch and anticipate this being a good surfer.
I'm glad I've added this blade to my collection and do anticipate using this blade as one of my go to touring paddles.
For the price and features, I’ve found the Fathom to be a good value. When I decided to upgrade I was paddling a soft chine Perception Eclipse. I was looking for a boat with hard chines, a skeg, mid to high volume, 16-17 ft in length, something lighter than my 66-68 lb tug and something that could perform like a composite boat, but still take some abuse. The Eclipse is a good, fast, long distance hauler for a ton of gear, but I’ve found my needs don’t require hauling that much gear and the weight of the boat was wearing on me, especially during races. After researching thermoform boats and looking at the Perception, Hurricane and Eddyline boats, I narrowed the search to Eddyline after reading about the company and seeing the Fathom. The boat seemed to have everything I wanted in an upgrade, it had the hull features and skeg I was looking for, it weights between 50-52 lbs, is 16’6” in length, a 22” beam, has a day hatch and nice features like the retractable grab handles and a flat compass perch molded into the hull. You’ll pay more than a roto-molded boat, but not as much as a composite boat. The carbonlite material will put you closer in price to composite boats, but I believe you get similar performance capability without having to worry about your gel coat every time you land on the beach or near a rocky shoreline.
The review in Sea Kayaker Magazine featured smaller paddlers and a paddler that resembles my dimensions 6’2”, 210 lbs and the specs from Eddyline say that it's designed for both larger and smaller paddlers. I’d encourage anyone to demo it, but in my opinion the boat will feel large on anyone under 5’9”, and that is basically because of the high volume front deck. The rest of the boat fits the specs of a mid-volume boat except the area right in front of the cockpit. The low windage rear deck is clean and low to the water. My wife paddled it as well and she's 5'9" and considerably lighter than I and she looked like she was sitting in a pot-hole up to her chest. The high arch deck is designed well for a paddler with a vertical paddle stroke, smaller kayakers and paddlers with a horizontal stoke may have trouble with the deck height. The width for me is perfect at 22" and is a touch narrower than my Eclipse and is basically an inch narrower than similar length boats in its class. My current boat (perception eclipse) has a 14" depth to the front deck. The specs on the Fathom say 13.5" deck height. In my opinion there is a weird optical illusion between the Fathom and my Eclipse. The Fathom front deck appears higher and I think it's because of slightly shorter length than the Eclipse. On the Eclipse the front deck is stretched out a bit. I think Eddyline did a good job angling the deck so it shouldn't interfere with your stroke. The inside knee bracing is well padded and you feel locked in. The food pegs, back band and seat padding are comfortable and easily adjustable. My current boat pegs are attached to a rudder and can be squishy when I bear down or brace hard.
For the past 5 months I've researched hundreds of boats, compared specs and pricing and have eventually come to the conclusion for my weight and height, the height of the front and back decks are only off by an inch or less across every make and model of boat out there. I'm a bigger/taller guy so my weight and cargo puts me into higher volume boats. The fit of the cockpit is almost identical to that of my Eclipse, so that comparison put both boats neck and neck but everything I mentioned in this review puts the Fathom heads and tails above my current boat. I get my current fit and feel, but I pick up a ton of the features I'm looking for. At first it was weird for me because the cockpit feels like my old boat, but in the long run I gain everything else I want in a boat. The final tipping point for me comes down to two things: hull material and price point. For the price, I think you get a lot of boat from Eddyline. You get the performance characteristics of composite but the durability of plastic with their carbonlite material. Engineers reading this will probably disagree and pull out their slide rules and try to show that carbonlite flexes more than composite, but if you want to measure the results in microns, go ahead. For me the performance characteristics are almost non-distinguishable. The curve between roto-molded and the carbonlite is much greater than carbonlite to composite. The price for me comes in below composite and I don't have to worry too much about destroying the gel coat on rocks or beaches. The specs say this is a very maneuverable boat, but at my first demo, we weren't in conditions to really try this feature with 50 degree water on the Detroit River. At my second demo, I was really able to play with the maneuverability and was pleased with the results.
As I narrowed my search, I wanted to compare the Nighthawk and Fathom before I made my final decision and ultimately went with the Fathom. With the new release of the Fathom the word of the day at the second demo was from people wanting to compare the Fathom to the Nighthawk. Ultimately, the Fathom had the few extra bells and whistles people were looking for. Even though I'm on the lower end of the weight scale for the boat, I loved the control the hard chine’s offered. The Fathom tracked straight and fast, and I felt I could knock off a 90 degree turn if needed by edging the boat. My current boat has soft chines like the Nighthawk and after spending a second lengthy demo in both the Nighthawk and the Fathom, I enjoyed the performance handling of the Fathom. I was on a moving river with some ripples and I could put the Fathom on edge and without a stroke, knife across the current to another eddy. With the Nighthawk, I really had to work the paddle, like my current boat to keep it on edge and work my way across the river. I ended up making my way up river fairly easy to a low head dam/waterfall in the Fathom, I tried to do the same in the Nighthawk and I really had to work to get close to the same spot. For my size, the Nighthawk was snug but not uncomfortable. Several other demo participants similar to my size found the same thing and liked the extra volume of the Fathom. I still think I'll look into getting a Nighthawk for my second “buddy,” exercise and racing boat, but the Fathom will serve me well as my daily hauler / excursion boat. In comparison, the Nighthawk is a fast boat, but I felt the Fathom accelerated faster, easier and held its speed well. It might be the extra 6 inches in length and the hull configuration, but I would be curious to see how they would compare at race distances or a long-day haul. Any corrective strokes I made with the Fathom were instantly recognized by the boat (chines), where the Nighthawk needed some extra hip action and an occasional corrective stroke to keep me in line. These extra strokes and hip corrections can add up to a lot of extra effort over a long day. I'm more interested in saving my energy and putting it to good use going forward when racing or on excursions.
I’m curious to hear what others are saying and for now, I’m looking forward to growing with my new purchase. I wish we didn’t have to rate the boats when we post reviews, because almost everyone posts a 9 or 10. Each boat needs to fit the paddler in needs, fit and capability, for now I’ll give the Fathom an 8 with the hopes that in time it will be a 10 for me.