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Merlin XT

by Eddyline Kayaks

Reviews

Eddyline's Merlin XT is a phenomenal kayak. The Carbonlite material on mine…

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Eddyline's Merlin XT is a phenomenal kayak. The Carbonlite material on mine is over 15 years old, and with basic maintenance looks just as good as a new one. Much less time consuming maintenance than my fiberglass kayaks, and very little is sacrificed in terms of material flex/performance. For someone that wants a kayak that they won't have to worry about scraping onto a beach I would highly recommend the Eddyline lineup. These are very comfortable kayaks that can easily accommodate a very wide range of folks. I also appreciate that you can purchase nearly any replacement part from Eddyline through their online store, so it's easy to maintain their product in top condition.

Having owned many kayaks the Eddyline's are the best you can buy in plastic-by far. Others that have imitated the ABS plastic (circa 2007 Current Designs, Hurricane, etc.) do not compare to the durability, quality, or design. That said, the ABS plastics simply do not perform as well as composites; the stiffness and energy transfer is not the same.

The Merlin XT itself is a good transitional kayak, serving the role between recreational and experienced sea kayak. At only 15 feet this kayak does well without a rudder, adequately stable for beginners, yet provides enough performance to still be a fun ride.

I just bought a Merlin XT for about 850 bucks. A great…

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I just bought a Merlin XT for about 850 bucks. A great deal if I say so myself. These boats are about 2k new, and are always way better in the water when compared to roto molded plastic kayaks. I took it to the water right after buying it, and I love it. I had been looking at quite a few kayaks, and I never found a review which compared other models to the Merlin the way I needed them to review it. SO here is my review that I hope will help someone else make their decision in the future.

The Merlin XT has an awesome cockpit. Many newer kayaks have transitioned to the ever so annoying key hole cockpit (which leaves very little room for anything else). The Merlin has an egg shaped cockpit (which helps you by giving you the room to get in and out easier, as well as allow you to access the pedal adjustment with relative ease. The kayak is light, easy to load and unload, and glides beautifully in the water. It is able to turn on a dime thanks to the soft chine, however, because of the soft chine it can also be considered a lot less stable than hard chine kayaks. You will find that you must keep yourself braced when paddling, or you might just topple over and find yourself practicing rolling in the water. It is extremely comfortable and has a very well shaped seat.

The part that no one said in their reviews which I find most important is the leg room. In the Merlin XT you have the leg room to put your foot on the interior peg, and bend your knee pressing it against the sides with just enough of an angle to feel comfortable and stable. It is more important to me than anything else in a kayak to be able to bend my knee far enough to feel good while sitting for possibly hours. Out of all the other kayaks I tried, only the Merlin XT and the Wilderness Tsunami 140 had the correct amount of room in which to do this. Kayaks that I tried such as the Nighthawk kept my legs perfectly straight, and had no room to bend your knee even a little. Not being able to bend your knee will leave your legs feeling very cramped and cause them to hurt within a few minutes. In fact, the Nighthawk I tried was being sold by a gentleman who did not even sit in it before buying and discovered too late the negative aspects to the absence of leg room. He had even told me that many others had come and sat in it before me and none of them called back (well I was in that category as well after i sat in it). Other kayaks like the Pungo, skylark, fathom, or any of the Necky, or current design kayaks all either had the straight leg feel, or so wide that in-order to bend your knee and brace yourself to add stability you would be spread eagle sitting in the kayak straining yourself to keep that position. However, the Pungo was more like your knee's were not inside the kayak but pointed towards the sky and you would have to be constantly adding pressure outwards (as if your legs were trying to flap like a butterfly) in-order to brace for your next stroke.

I really did love the Wilderness Tsunami 140 as well, however, it was root molded plastic and had a keyhole cockpit that was very small. But to it's credit I had purchased the tsunami but left it in the store until I was able to check out the Merlin XT. Although once I sat in the Merlin XT I knew it was perfect for me. Yet, if the merlin had been as tight a fit as the Nighthawk, I would have simply picked up the Tsunami from Tumalo Creek canoe and kayak and taken it home. It really was a great kayak as well. It was very quick, and had the benefit of a hard chine which makes it much more stable than the Merlin series.

I will warn you though, the Merlin will require effort to keep it balanced when paddling, and requires a lot of extra practice in learning how to lean turn. But it does allow you to rest, and if you sink down into the cockpit wanting to take a break and read a book or something, you will be able to do so without worrying about toppling over in the water. It does have decent stability so don't let all the other reviews freak you out. It's really not that bad. Just remember, whatever price whoever is selling it at is, it will be half the price or less than a brand new kayak with the same quality build being sold at your local dealer. It is the same material, and has a very very similar design. It tracks very well, turns very well, and glides very fast and sleek through the water. It took me 2 strokes to begin gliding upstream in the Deschutes river (in a very fast moving portion of the river may I add). So anyone who says it does not do any of those things well is either very fat, or very negative and picky, or even comparing it to a super long and skinny kayak that will obviously go faster due to its design, however, will it be comfortable or will it keep your legs cutting off blood flow until when you try to get out you find your legs are still located in the kayak and you are now a legless midget in a sea of tall people who realized leg room in kayaks does matter! Jk.

As the Merlin series has been discontinued, I have no idea what other people will be selling them at, or where you will find one. At this point there is no dealer who has them, and most employees are so new they do not remember this series of kayak and can offer no help in your purchase comparisons of other kayaks against the Merlin XT. All I can say is, do not use pictures to guess if it is like another kayak (because I did, and it led me to almost not go look at it because I thought it would be the same as the nighthawk due to the fact that it looked to be the same size as the nighthawk in the picture), and do not simply buy one because its a good deal and not even bother to sit in it (this will lead you to regret buying it, and try to desperately sell it like the owner of the nighthawk I visited).

Leg room is key, and feeling good sitting in whatever kayak you choose for hours on end is the most important aspect you should be looking at when choosing your water toy. I am about 5'8" and weigh about 145 pounds. My legs are shorter, and my torso is longer, I do not have a gut (I am skinny), and the Merlin XT is perfect for me. It is a 15' kayak, and is 23" wide with a 19" wide cockpit and does have the leg support bump that sticks slightly inward from the edge of the cockpit and is where my legs hook in in-order to be able to brace my body and easily use my hips to balance the side to side motion of the kayak.

The Merlin XT is by far my absolute favorite kayak in all existence now, and I did try out just about every kayak on the market. So maybe what works for me might not work for you, but at least you now know my size and the Merlins size, and you know how it fits me and what I look for in a kayak to make it a pleasurable experience. I hope this helps, I never saw one review that spoke about the topic of bracing and leg room.

Merlin XT
-good leg room
-able to brace knee's and control stability
-soft chine (less stable than most others)
-glides very well (carbon lite allows easy upstream movement)
-turns on a dime (soft chine makes water flow under the kayak with greater ease allowing water to flow under the kayak a little easier making for quicker less strenuous turns)
-comfortable seat
-Egg shaped cockpit (easy to adjust pegs or reach supplies stored between legs
-only 49 llbs (easy to load and unload)
-multiple easy to open storage compartments
-good length kayak for general use in rivers or sea
-cheap accessories (such as $70 skirt)
-comes with cockpit cover for storage (keep spiders out)
-Made of durable carbonlite plastic which is UV resistant and gel coated for very fast movement
-tracks very well
-much much harder to lean turn (no secondary support in lean turns)

Comparing the Merlin to other kayaks is best said in what other kayaks have that it does not (which is a very short list)
-no secondary support (hard chine is where they design the secondary support into the bottom of the kayak in-order to greatly improve stability, it is also why they discontinued the Merlin XT)
-No deployable skag (the rear fin that new models have which is able to retract into the hull of the kayak when not needed or during transportation).
-slightly heavier than some newer models at 49 pounds but the same weight as others (all in all an average weight for the length and material used in/of this kayak.
-thats it.

what the merlin has that most others do not
-leg room
-comfortable
-easy turning
-better price (now that it is discontinued it will be sold at a steeply discounted price by private parties who either no longer kayak or are making the mistake of getting a different model that probably has no leg room.

I tried almost every eddyline, current design, wilderness, and Necky kayak that is on the market today (July 2015) and I can tell you that either they have leg room but no way to brace your knee, or they have a way to brace your knee but not enough leg room to feel comfortable. Or they have a keyhole cockpit that is so tight you have to slide in with your legs straight and feel like a sardine being packed for shipment. Only the Merlin XT seems to have the carbonlite exterior and is built with both the leg room and cockpit that makes you feel like you could kayak 24 hours straight without needing to stand up and stretch. To me these are the only things that matter when choosing a kayak, because who wants to feel like they have to stand up every ten minutes or their legs with cease to exist?

The Merlin XT is the most amazing kayak I have ever tried and the only thing I would change is to make it a hard chine, but seriously the soft chine really isn't that much less stable like most in this forum lead you to believe. Hope it helps, and hope you make a good decision and buy the kayak whose features perfectly coexist with your bodies shape, length, and needs.

I have owned the Merlin XT for about 7+ years and have…

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I have owned the Merlin XT for about 7+ years and have done extensive day trips with it in the Puget Sound and Victoria. As a LARGE paddler - currently 300lbs and 6'1" I have had no problem with the stability or ability to put the paddle in the water. I am now using it as my exercise machine averaging 1hr20min in the boat and traveling at an average of 4mph (3.5knots) which puts me at a speed-length ratio of around .93 which is extremely great for such a short kayak.

Right now the Carbonlite is beginning to show its age and I will be bringing it back to Eddyline for some long overdue maintenance, I only hope the Herons I own will be as durable.

I owned an Eddyline Merlin XT for about 3 years. It…

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I owned an Eddyline Merlin XT for about 3 years. It is a beautiful boat and it tracks well. However, it has always seemed a bit unstable, especially in steep side swell (I'm 5'10" and 180lbs). I used it in Flathead Lake in MT, where big waves frequently come up rapidly. I was once out with five people ... the three with Merlin XTs were all rolled, but the two in Merlin LTs were fine. Finally, this year I traded my XT in for an Eddyline Journey. It is MUCH more stable, and I feel more secure. The Journey does not track as well as the XT with the skeg up, but the skeg down it is as straight as an arrow.

My husband and I have paddled with the Merlin LT and XT…

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My husband and I have paddled with the Merlin LT and XT since 2000 and love them. We paddle in the open waters of the San Juan Islands, around Seattle in the bay and all over lakes in the state. They are well made and still look like new even though this is our 12th season. We highly recommend these!

I have been paddling the Merlin on flatwater and rivers in Iowa…

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I have been paddling the Merlin on flatwater and rivers in Iowa for five years. It is a 15 footer, 23" wide, 46#; made of Carbonlite 2000. I find it to be a very good all around boat. It is reasonable fast (about .3-.4 mph slower than my Solstice GTS); has good stability; is fairly maneuverable; tracks fairly well; and is easy to enter and exit. It is a good boat for some of the faster rivers here. If you want a boat that does a lot of things well, this is it.

I paddled the Merlin XT cabonlite that my neighbor bought. It was…

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I paddled the Merlin XT cabonlite that my neighbor bought. It was a paddle of about 9 miles at the local lake. The first thing to impress me was the fact that it tracked very well. The second was edged turns. It is very responsive to edging. After getting all excited about how well it handled I was ready to cover some water and see if it had any real flaws. Well within a few miles all the excitement was gone as this kayak just does not glide through the water. I had brought my gps along to see if it was reasonably fast. It is not. As far as stability is concerned it is a little light but no more than many other kayaks. I never felt uneasy in the Merlin. I so wanted to like this boat but I need a kayak with some glide and the Merlin suffers in this area. It might be different for a lighter paddler but for me at 190lbs. this boat returned to little forward motion for the effort applied.

The Merlin XT has been discontinued, so you should be able to…

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The Merlin XT has been discontinued, so you should be able to find some very good deals on it now, possibly even new leftover boats from dealers.

The Merlin XT is not a beginner's boat. Beginners will find the stability, both initial and secondary, insufficient. Experienced paddlers may think the stability is perfectly fine. The stability problem is caused by the very deep V hull. This is NOT a shallow V. In calm water the Merlin gives a smooth, fast, stable ride, very responsive.

The shape of the Merlin is now outdated, compared to the beautifully designed new Eddylines. But it does have huge storage capacity. The cockpit is large and comfortable. The seat is only moderately comfortable. The Merlin has the usual beautiful Eddyline thermoform finish and is very light weight.

I'm giving the Merlin a low rating due to the stability problem. Otherwise it does have some qualities and might suit an experienced paddler.

I have had my XT out on two 8 mile trips in…

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I have had my XT out on two 8 mile trips in the sound and love it. It is stable, light, fast and will hold a lot of weight. The finish looks great.

I have owned my Merlin XT in Carbonlite for over a year…

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I have owned my Merlin XT in Carbonlite for over a year now, and am very pleased with it. It's lightweight, seems fast to me, comfortable, and durable. It requires no rudder since the shallow V hull makes it track like an arrow. The low profile makes for a very wind-resistant watercraft, which I really like. Hatches are roomy and stay dry. Cockpit is plenty roomy for those of us who aren't supermodel slim. (Had a Merlin LT before this, and needed WD-40 to get into it, and the jaws of life to get back out.)

The only reason I don't rate it a 10 is that, while some have said it "turns on a dime"... well, that's not my experience. The Prijon Yukon Expedition is the only long kayak I've ever paddled that I could paddle straight or turn abruptly (trihedral hull), but that boat is hard for some to handle. Another thing about the Merlin - it has the great looks of a composite kayak but you don't have to baby it. Small scratches are easy to repair; the carbonlite is a very tough material. The Eddylines are a tad expensive, but worth it in my opinion.

I recently purchased a Merlin XT and could not be more pleased…

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I recently purchased a Merlin XT and could not be more pleased with my purchase. I had a perfectly good kayak that I liked but my back had given me some trouble so my doctor suggested that I get a lighter boat. The criteria for the new boat was different than when I went looking at my previous boat. I needed a boat that not only was light, and stable, but extremely confortable. Most importantly I wanted a boat that would track well without the use of a rudder. The pronounced V hull keeps the Merlin going straight ahead without a rudder or skeg. The boat will also turn on a dime. By not having to push my foot down on the foot pedal my back is not strained. So this over 50 year old paddler is very pleased with the stability and confort. There is one other nice surprise I encountered with this kayak. The boat is extremely fast. I have timed my paddling at the same areas that I went with my previous boat and I would say I am paddling 10 percent faster. The added benifit is I can get to my destination faster and sit for a shorter period of time. Overall I would recommend the Merlin especially if one has a back problem. The boat can handle waves very well, is confortable, pretty and tracks beautifully. I also use it for photography and I have no problems taking pictures.

I've been comparison testing a number of boats over the past two…

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I've been comparison testing a number of boats over the past two weeks. I currently own a Necky, Eskia which was right for me two years ago when stability meant everything. So, by a process of elimination, I zeroed in on the XT. This is a lively boat, turns easily and tracks extremely well without skeg or rudder. Paddled today in gusty winds and the boat held its course, first with a rear quartering wind, then into the wind and finally a front quartering wind. Just occasional leaning and double stroking needed to hold it on point. I even did a paddle float re-entry in wind and waves without a problem.

I both tested and bought the model with the conventional, non-keyhole cockpit, I would have bought a longer Eddyline but their keyhole cockpits are apparently intended for double-amputees. I don't know why Eddyline seems to favor the smaller paddler.

Anyway, considering price, value and seaworthiness, the Merlin XT does it all.

Also, while the XT is certainly not a racer, it sure is considerably faster than my Eskia. As measured with a GPS, I had no trouble getting the boat up to nearly 5 MPH. It's easy to maintain 4-4.25 MPH without wind/wave assistance. In comparison, under identical circumstances, the Eskia averaged 3.5 MPH.

I've had my Merlin XT for a 2-3 years and still enjoy…

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I've had my Merlin XT for a 2-3 years and still enjoy it very much. I've found it a very stable kayak to paddle (which again proves how individual kayaks fit and why trying them out is a must!). I often take my camera along and have no problmes stopping and taking photos. Since I'm on the heavy (but not tall) side, getting out of the keyhole cockpit is a struggle, so I'm glad that Eddyline has done away with it. (It was never useful, since my knees/legs firmly grip the deck without use of the keyhole.) It tracks and responds to leaned turns well. I think its about 50 lbs. which works for me to load and unload solo. This is not the fastest kayak around, though I've had no problems keeping up with the group on most trips. I'd recommend that anyone try this boat out. David.

Bought the 2000 version of the Merlin XT in Carbonlite. This…

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Bought the 2000 version of the Merlin XT in Carbonlite. This kayak is finished inside and out very very well. Anyone considering this kayak should definately TRY IT OUT before purchasing. I bought mine in the winter and didn't try it first. Cockpit opening was a major problem-too small for tall/heavier people. Definately a smaller-person boat. The hard plastic seat and seatback were also numbing after only a short distance. I think my biggest gripe was stability. Think you might like to quit paddling the Merlin XT and take a break? NO WAY JOSE! Unless you want to do eskimo rolls. Just sitting still in the XT was a feat only a high wire artist could appreciate. I have never sat in a kayak so tippy in my entire life. It has a pronounced V hull, and even at 23 inches in width, this thing was like straddling a torpedo. You simply couldn't take a rest or God forbid try to open your sprayskirt for a drink or a snack! I gave it the benefit of a doubt and took it out on three different occasions in three different environments to see if it was just a fluke, but I came away disliking this kayak more each time. Luckily, I sold it for more than I paid for it, so that wasn't disappointing. Definately NOT a beginners kayak, and not one for taller/heavier people. Quality and workmanship are top-notch, however the carbonlite isn't that light in weight. The newer version of this kayak has a much larger cockpit opening- but that still doesn't address the stability issue at all.

I only have 14 hrs in my 2002 Merlin XT but Eddyline…

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I only have 14 hrs in my 2002 Merlin XT but Eddyline has outdone themselves with this great kayak.T he most important thing for me was a longer cockpit, which has gone from a keyhole 31 1/2 long to an oval at 35" long. Lord, what a difference. Now I can straddle the kayak from the back, walk up to the seat, sit down and and then put both feet in. (couldn't do that with the 2001 XT ). It still handles, carves and paddles like the older XT's, which always was great. But now I can get in it without falling over. Thanks a million Eddyline!

I purchased a new 2001 Merlin XT this year, my third kayak…

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I purchased a new 2001 Merlin XT this year, my third kayak, for use as a evening fitness boat that I could leave on the car over night on occasion. It is light and short enough to easily toss on the car. Responsive, a carver with the well defined V shape, yet good stability. A blast to paddle in wind waves, a jumper and surfer, leans and handles well. The hull seems to slide well on launches like plastics (isn't as gougy as fiberglass) but has the glide of glass on the water. It has enough capacity for weekend trips but you would have travel light for longer trips. I dont like the weenie deckline clips (which break) and the handles with the little velcro holders and the cockpit keyhole is a little tight in front getting in but seems to have a tighter knee brace feel when you are seated. Overall a great boat providing diversity to my little fleet. When a take a friend paddling, I use the Merlin.

First off-Your faithful correspondent: a 50-year-old out-of-shape 5-10, 200# newbie to paddling…

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First off-Your faithful correspondent: a 50-year-old out-of-shape 5-10, 200# newbie to paddling, with one season's experience on a 12' sit-on-top, though I've been around boats small and large all my life. Goal: day paddling on Lake Michigan off the beach. Have tried a number of boats on demos, and had the Merlin XT in Carbonlite over the Labor Day weekend. Verdict: No issues with materials or execution--well built and finished. Nicely responsive, tracks well sans rudder which really doesn't seem to be needed at all. Doesn't track like the 17' Solstice GT I tried, but would be a lot easier to carry up 2 flights of stairs to the garage from the beach!

Problem: At my weight, the stability is an issue; felt insecure initially and I couldn't define a solid sense of the secondary as I have in other trials. Between that and the cockpit--OK once in, but tight on the way--entry and exit were a challenge, except for the unplanned wet exit, which turned out to be surprisingly easy! Didn't feel secure enough to reach around the boat without keeping a paddle blade in/on the water; wouldn't want to try photos. Definitely felt insecure with the seas (1-1.5') on the aft quarter; better with the seas from ahead of the beam. By comparison, I felt significantly more confident in a Caribou-S I tried, even though it's narrower; the V bottom on the Merlin definitely translates to less primary than a different design would have, and I suspect my weight has to do with the weaker secondary than I expected. Would be a great boat in the more compact category for someone lighter or more experienced.

I've had my XT for a couple of months now and love…

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I've had my XT for a couple of months now and love it. I also purchased the boat for the forgiving properties of plastic but the look and feel of a composite. I've already had many comments on the design and look of this boat. We just finished a 2 week vacation paddling on the California Northcoast and Southern Oregon coast. We've been in sloughs, bays and flat rivers throughout the area and I'm more impressed with this boat with every outing. I've had the boat in 15mph+ winds and found it easy to maintain course with just paddle strokes and edging only occasionally. It was especially nice when in tight quarters of a flat water creek we found in Oregon ... this boat turns on a dime. It was also a pleasant surprise to find the boat rolls extremely well making practicing my rolls a lot of fun. Speed is about what you would expect from a 15 footer, but I had no problem staying with a Looksha IV while exploring Trinidad Bay. I was looking for a rudderless design that actually lived up to its hype and I believe I've found it with the XT. This boat deserves a look from anyone looking for a kayak that does a lot of things well.

What a great plastic boat. I bought this boat for three…

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What a great plastic boat. I bought this boat for three reasons -- the price (the dealer was selling his boat to free up capital); the looks (of all the plastic boats out there, this is a true beauty -- it does not look like a plastic boat); and, the rudderless design (this boat is designed to track well without a rudder). On the water, this boat is truly a pleasure. It tracks well; it has good initial and secondary stability; and, the cockpit is large and comfortable. Further, the boat can be edged well. It takes wind well and has only a slight tendency to weathercock. It is also light (for a plastic boat). The only complaint that I have about the boat is that the covers for the forward and rear hatches are difficult to secure so that they are water-tight. A suggestion given me by Eddyline -- apply some 303 to the covers and the seals. Another small complaint -- the deck behind the cockpit is raised in the middle. This makes self-assisted re-entries using a paddle fl! oat not as easy as they should be.

All in all, a great boat that fulfills a wide range of activities well. It works well; it looks great; what a boat!!

I am a new owner of an XT. The reasons for choosing…

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I am a new owner of an XT. The reasons for choosing it were weight (it is much lighter than comparable plastic boats), manueverability, comfort and storage capacity. My typical trips are exploring the Columbia River and the coastal bays of Oregon and Washington with . I've had it out in some fairly big weather so far - 20+ winds w/waves to 3 ft - and I'm very pleased with how it handles. It is more expensive than comparable plastic boats but if you don't need a full-on expedition boat, the XT is worth a look.