I bought a 2017 black tail/nose version about 2 months ago, and have used it 16 times, for a total of about 125 km on tidal inlet waters. This kayak was added as a workout machine to complement my Necky Manitou 14 (reviewed) which is now my "beach basher".
Me: 61, good health, active, etc. ~190lb, 5' 10".
I'm using a Werner Ikelos (reviewed) paddle, which in combination with the Epic, really produces a good turn of speed. Typical cruise for a 5-10 km workout is 9 kph, with bursts over 10.5 kph on short distances. Numbers provided by Garmin.
This kayak moves.
The Epic is taking a while to adapt to, as small positional changes seem to make a big difference in overall performance and comfort. It is narrow, and does feel tippy, and does threaten to broach in close choppy waters, so the ability to use a paddle to balance is a must.
This is not a beginners kayak. It makes no attempt to attend to your comforts. You will need to adapt to it to unlock its potential.
Seating further forward seems to help reduce the wind steer, however, the optimal seating position for paddling efficiency is knees up, not tucked under the cockpit sides. Your knees will then limit how far forward the seat can be placed. The footrest should provide heel support, leaving the toes to operate the rudder.
I don't have much experience with kayak rudders, and don't mind paddling without one. On the Epic, though, the wind steer can be very persistent, making rudder use almost mandatory in those conditions. I've found that just lowering the rudder seems to be enough to make straight line paddling easier. The lowered rudder does give the water more leverage, so it can exaggerate the tippy feeling when a wave rolls by underneath..
The kayak is very light, and relatively easy to handle on shore. The storage lids have stayed dry so far, though those levers can be tough on the fingers at times.
The construction and fittings all have a quality feel to them, and the kayak really turns heads with its sleek looks.
I've been able to pass a few well-paddled outrigger canoes who weren't too thrilled about it,
It is very fast, and it rewards proper technique and adequate power.
Having moved from a Manitou Sport, to a Manitou 14, to the Epic 18X Sport puts me into a difficult situation: This is it: there are no other kayaks to continue to move up to (other than the surf skis)...
I bought this 2017 Delta 15s for my "reluctant paddler" wife, who is quite petite, and also a bit shy about writing a review.
She had been using my hand-me-down Necky Manitou Sport, a short and wide (11' x 26.5") kayak built for someone much heavier than her (and lighter than me...), but she found it too difficult for her to keep in a straight line. She was easily pushed around by the wind, and with all the course corrections required, had trouble getting any more speed than 3.5 kph. Kayaking was no fun.
Her initial reaction when she saw the kayak (red) was how beautiful it looked. Her initial reaction when she got in and pushed away from the dock was that it's less maneuverable. ...which eventually became the more correct "it travels in a straight line!" My fear that being only 22" wide would make it an unstable experience for her was unfounded. The hull shape is very wide and semi flat and very stable. In less than 30 minutes, she was happily paddling across the water at the more reasonable speed of 5 kph, and having no frustrations. She's happy.
It has a rudder and a full length keel, so the rudder will eventually be used for tighter turns, but is not required to help it run straight.
The kayak looks good, is very well built, and has a real feel of quality to it.
She really likes the storage covers, especially the small one immediately in front, and has begun making plans for longer excursions, taking advantage of its greater storage capacity.
The kayak is light and very easy for her to move about on land, though she needs help putting it away on the the storage shelf that is well above her height. She has no trouble launching it and retrieving it from the dock where it is stored, and can move it around on the dock just fine.
With the addition of a bent shaft, small shaft, Werner Cyprus, she is a very happy paddler now!
After paddling a total 261 km in 3 months on the Manitou Sport (see my review), I moved to a new Manitou 14 just 5 weeks ago.
With 175 km now on the 14, it was time to write a report.
About me: 60, 5'10", 190lb, fit.
The Manitou Sport is an excellent beginner kayak, and is now introducing my wife to the fun on the water. I found that with my natural paddling cadence, and a Werner Cyprus paddle, I spent a lot of time at "hull speed", about 6.5 km/hr (4 mph, 3.5 kts), and was getting frustrated at the inability to move any faster. It felt like I was pushing a wall of water in front of me.
The Manitou 14 is longer (14.3' to 10.75'), narrower (24" to 26.5"), and heavier (52lb to 45lb) than the Sport. The storage location I have is above my head height, and 52lb is probably the limit to manage on my own. My next kayak (16' - 18') will have to be Thermo or composite to keep the weight down.
Initially, the narrower 14 felt less stable, but that feeling passed fairly quickly as I got used to it. I have no camping plans, only half-day use, so it's usually just my weight being added. My typical use is 6 - 12 km (4 - 8 miles), on salt water, and in light winds.
The Manitou 14 fit me like a glove once I removed the knee pads. Necky's idea of integrating the seat back adjustment strap into the knee brace is not a good one. It will get in the way of anyone that is larger than me. The 2 hatch covers seal well, just push down slowly with weight rather than smacking them. The "new" seat (blue and black) is very adjustable, and easier to adjust than the earlier 2-tone grey one, and just as comfortable.
Paddling: this kayak moves. Its length makes it easier to control in the light chop, and less water gets splashed into the cockpit. I don't like using the skeg, and prefer to adjust my paddling style to correct for windage. With the skeg down, when a wave or roller goes by under the hull when you are sideways to them, the skeg will get dragg ed by the wave, and make the kayak feel very tippy. Without it in the same situation it is easy to keep that nice rounded hull upright. My natural paddling cruising speed on 1-2 hr trips is faster, at 7.5 kph (4.7 mph, 4.0 kts), with 100-200 meter bursts of 9 kph (5.6 mph, 4.9 kts). I have managed to surf it on some larger swells (11 kph, according to my gps), but I haven't mastered the weird steering feeling yet.
Overall, this feels like a "Sports Kayak", easy to move quickly, yet still quite maneuverable. It's well made, it looks very good, and it's fun!
I got this paddle 2nd hand about 4 months ago, and have paddled about 350 kms (~220 miles) with it so far, on a Necky Manitou Sport, and a Manitou 14 (reviewed both).
No, you may not take it, you may not borrow it, you may not touch it!
I started with the standard Aquabound Stingray, which felt loose, wobbly, usually caught in the water on the end of the stroke, and was easily overpowered. Then I changed to a borrowed Werner Tybee, and what an improvement! The blade shape, the construction quality, and the stiffness were all better. I was paddling about 0.5 kph faster according to the gps. However, that paddle wasn't mine, so I picked up the Cyprus when I saw the ad.
Same blade shape as the Tybee, so no real change there, but "Wow" is that swing weight nice! The overall stiffness is much better, the blade seems to bite the water, and then pop back out at the end of the stroke. Not having a reinforcing rib down the back of the blade also means it's better at quick turns (lean on the back of the blade).
I can generate a fair bit of power, and it is more than equal to the task. No wobble, no joint flex (it's a 2 piece), no structural complaining. It will flex slightly under sustained pressure on longer strokes, and then release that energy smoothly into the ending of the stroke. You can feel the cavitation when pulling hard, and the stiffness also makes it easy to "read" what the blade is doing.
According to my gps, it also made me ~ 1 kph faster than the Tybee.
The only problem I'm having with it is that when I go paddling with my wife, she decides that it's better for me if she uses it! And that's, ummm, probably true...
Bottom line: Get one. It's what a paddle should be.