Read reviews for the Explorer 380x by Sea Eagle Inflatables as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!
When I got into kayaking a couple years ago, I wanted something that could handle up to class 4 whitewater, but also be good for taking my kid out on the water with as well as doing overnight trips on the river. I ended up choosing the 380x. No regrets. It is a great IK if you are beginning, and even great if you are doing whitewater and are an amateur.
Stable kayak, versatile - from lakes, big rivers with calm water (put the fin on), and even fast flowing creeks with serious whitewater (unleash the self-bailers). I've done all different kinds of water in the 380x and have had great results. My only con really is storage and length sometimes. It's not really meant to do long 5+ days on the river, unless you pack efficiently. Can be difficult fly fishing (fishing is good with the fishing seat attachment). Also, the length can get you into trouble if you are whitewater kayaking creeks or small rivers with tight corners and eddies and tall canyon walls. I have slammed into rock walls and trees on challenging whitewater. The 380x kayak still held up, and I haven't had to patch it yet with about 20 river trips thus far, about 10 in whitewater.
I recommend for the newcomer and even the amatuer whitewater kayaker. This kayak covers a lot of ground.
I bought my Explorer over 10 years back, driven by storage space and portability requirements.
On both counts I had NOT been disappointed. The kayak is easy to carry around, quick to inflate, and small enough to store.
I also bought it in mind to be paddling in the ocean (must withstand the caustic effect of salt water) and being able to ride in tandem.
The quality of materials and manufacturing are superb for these boats, so even now it is in near-perfect condition. The spacing on 380, however, is quite limited, so to ride with another adult and paddle becomes difficult.
On a separate note, the boat is extremely stable both in a slightly choppy ocean condition and when fishing on lakes. Just great really!
Here are some things that I did not like off-hand (and why I gave it a 7.)
1. Hul is not sold with a rudder (at least on the older model), so the boat gets span a lot either by the wind or paddling action. It took some getting used to and was barely manageable by me until I bought Sea Eagle rudder separately.
2. I also bought an electric (Bravo) pump for the boat, which stopped working once the battery died, the battery not recharging, and I believe, I was not able to get it running even with another battery.
3. Paddling this boat is a bit awkward if you are used to sit-in kayaks, especially when using their standard low seat. Deluxe seat gives you the additional lift that make it better.
4. Carry bag, even if you manage to put the kayak back tightly, is still fairly inconvenient to carry around. Not much of an issue for me, as I got a portable folding cart to transport it on land, and trunk for car, but still, would be cool to just strap it on and go.
Overall, of course, it's a great boat for fishing, moderate riding in calm waters and family fun!
I give the 380X a 9 rating but that really should be a *9. The asterisk is because this is marketed as an all water, versatile kayak and it is... it's just not equally good on all types of water.
First, where the 380x shines, white water. This is what the kayak was really designed for and it does it well. With the skeg removed this boat is very turny and for white water paddling that is a good thing. It will go straight if you use good technique but when you need to turn you can do it on a dime. It rides nicely over waves and when water does enter the boat it drains quickly out of the 16 self draining ports. Also, the drop stitch floor can be inflated to a very high pressure (14psi) and that makes the boat very rigid. The only down side, and the reason for 9 rather than 10 stars, is a significant amount of water does enter the boat through the drain valves when they are open. This adds mass to the boat and while I didn't really notice any difference in turning, it can sap some of your burst, not a great thing for white water. This can be mitigated somewhat by making sure the floor (it's removable) is strapped down tight and the pontoons are properly inflated as that will help reduce the water intake. On the plus side, I've found that if the floor is inflated to at least 4 psi I am not sitting in a puddle of water like on a kayak with an I-beam floor (I'm 6'6", 230 lbs) I have seen a few reviews that complain about getting wet when the valves are open and I honestly don't quite know how to respond to that. If you are paddling white water you ARE going to get wet, if you are doing it in a SOT kayak water IS going to enter your boat so... If you are not on white water closing the valves keeps the boat high and dry which brings me to the next section.
Flat water paddling in the 380x isn't actually too bad, as far as inflatable kayaks go. Assuming we are talking about a somewhat protected, deep river for example, you just put the skeg in and the kayak tracks as well, or better, than any hard shell SOT I've ever paddled. It's not even all that slow. It isn't keeping up with a hard shell sea kayak, or even a skin on frame, but as far as inflatables go it isn't terrible. However, it has very little glide which means to maintain your forward progress you have to maintain a moderate frequency on your stroke, there will be no mini-breaks in this boat. I give it a 7 for good tracking and reasonable speed.
On open water the big pontoons start to become your enemy. Wind is not fun to deal with in the kayak, and while that is true on any water craft it is especially true of the inflatable kayak. The skeg will keep you tracking straight, even in relatively high winds but you will notice the wind is going to push you quite a bit. On the plus side the boat is very stable, handles swells and waves very well and is actually pretty fun in a surf zone. Still, if you are primarily looking for a boat for open water and are insisting on an inflatable rather than a folder, then you might want to check out the Sea eagle fast tracks or the Razorlites they are supposed to be decent on flat and open water (can't say, I've never paddled them). As far as the 380x goes, I give it a 5 for open water just because it will easily ride out most water conditions, but plan some extra time in getting to your destination.
Okay, those were the specifics for various water types. In general the 380x is highly stable, the drop stitch floor gives the kayak tremendous rigidity (more so than any other inflatable, some of them quite a bit more expensive, that I've paddled), it tracks very well with the skeg in, it is easily manageable solo but can be used tandem (it's going to be a bit cramped for taller paddles in a tandem configuration though), more than enough room and weight capacity to carry all your gear for an extended trip. It's tough, you aren't likely to puncture it on anything that wouldn't hole or crack a hard shell but if you do manage to puncture it, field repairs are easy (certainly easier than a hard shell). It is easy to set up, fits in the trunk of even a small car, and the removable floor makes clean up at the end of the day very easy. To be honest, you aren't going to find a better (inflatable) boat in this price range or even for 30 or 40 percent more. Great product, lots of fun to paddle and it comes with a 3 year warranty and 180 day, no questions asked, return policy (if you buy direct from SeaEagle). Hard to go wrong with that.
-It bails quickly. I have sat, stuck, in a class III rapid, and witnessed the kayak not filling all the way.
-Space. Despite being the same length as the 370, it has far more elbow room, due in large part to the drop-stitch floor.
-Material. It's tough. You'll have a very hard time puncturing either boat, but especially the 380x which is far tougher.
-It sits lower in the water than the 370, so it isn't affected by wind as much.
-It has a removable skeg. This helps to track better on flat water.
-You can use either the high back or the low seat, and both secure to the boat.
-The removable skeg. If you are on a rafting trip with stretches of flat and whitewater, just leave it out. It's annoying having to flip the boat over and take it out, put it in, take it out, put it in. If you are in low water, also, take it out.
-The self-bail design is poor in comparison to NRS's boats. With theirs, you are sitting dry; with the 380x, you are sitting in two inches of water all the time. Since the plugs are on the underside It doesn't matter whether you have just one or all 16 plugs open.
-Closing or opening the drain plugs is a royal pain in the rear. Even with the boat completely deflated, it takes effort; with it inflated, you need little monkey hands to get to them.
When I was looking for my second inflatable kayak, at first I thought $1K was too much. I know I only have one experience with the boat, but I believe it's worth every penny, plus with the 180-day trial, 3 year warranty, you can't go wrong! You might find the same boat on other online stores, but you will NOT get the 180-day trial period.
Overall, I am very glad I got this boat! Well done sea eagle! and thanks!
1. Very slow in flat water.
You can find my detailed review (constantly updated with my experiences) with pics at:
The SE 380X Explorer is great for people who are heavy but no so much if you are tall or have long legs. The extra large 11.5" diameter tubes are excellent at holding lots of weight while keeping the kayak high in the water. Much better than the 10" diameter tubes on the 385X FT and WAY better than the 9.5" tubes on the current 2014 model 385 FT! With two people in the boat plus coolers and gear the 380X Explorer still sits high on the water while the 385 FT sits very low and sometimes allows water into the boat during fast turns especially in light whitewater. On both models the person in the rear sits very far back while the person in front sits just ahead of the middle of the boat. This causes the boat to rise in the front and drop in the back. Having the extra air volume in the 380X Explore keeps the water out even in moderate whitewater. Having larger tubes does pose one problem though. There's less room width-wise which can cause the tube to pinch you and cause discomfort. Riding two up in the 380X Explorer the person in the rear has less room than the person up front due to the tubes converging at the rear. Riding two up in the 385 FT both persons have more than enough space without the tubes touching them. On the SeaEagle website it says that both boats have 3'1" of interior width but I disagree. The 380X Explorer has a few inches less due to the larger tubes.
Regarding leg space the 380X Explorer wins hands down. According to the SeaEagle website the 380X Explorer only has 2" of extra interior space but it feels like a lot more. It's possibly due to the placement of the D-rings that hold the seats to the boat but I don't think so. When riding in the back of the 385 FT my feet touch the back of my wife's seat but in the 380X Explorer I have 6 inches of space which is just enough for me to place my cooler there. My wife has the same amount of legroom on both models. If you're taller than 5'8" or have long legs I highly recommend you look at the larger 420X Explorer or 465 FT especially if you want to bring a cooler or two or plan a multi day trip.
Both models track great on the water but the 385 FT tracks best and glides further on less paddle strokes especially with the front keel inflated. The 380X Explorer track great with the removable skeg installed but just ok without it. The larger tubes on the 380X Explorer make it susceptible to wind even with the skeg installed. For lakes and other flat water the 385 FT is best but on bayous and especially whitewater the 380X Explorer without the skeg installed is king. Our fully loaded 380X Explorer with two riders can easily float in as little as 5" of water but the 385 FT needs at least 8" due to the inflatable front keel even with it un-inflated. On rivers or shallow bayous the keel gets stuck quite often on rocks, tree stumps, and sandbars. Tree stumps grab hold of the keel and won't let go which means a trip into the water for me to get the boat free. The 380X Explorer gets stuck less often and when it does I can rock the flat bottomed kayak back and forth and usually get free.
While the 385 FT has some great features that make it superior to the 380X Explorer like better tracking,longer gliding per paddle stroke, and more interior width it does have one fatal flaw. It does not hold up to the extreme Texas heat. The material used to make both models is top notch and have held up to rebar, sharp rocks, sharp tree branches, and being dragged across concrete while inflated but it's the welded seams that hold the 385 FT together that are weak. After each trip I always inflate the boats and wash them to keep nasty smells from sinking in then let them dry in the sun. Last summer both boats were drying in the back yard when I noticed the 385 FT was losing air. Seems the 100 degree heat had melted the 'glue' holding a seam together and air came pouring out. I tried using the included patch kit but to no avail. A quick call to Sea Eagle headquarters and a replacement hull was delivered in 4 days! Sea Eagle has THE BEST customer service hands down! No questions asked, they just sent a new hull. Last weekend my wife an I went for a trip down the San Marcos river in the 385 FT. The San Marcos has Class 1 and minimal Class II whitewater but nothing the 385 FT can't handle. After portaging a large dam we set the 385 FT on some gravel on the side of the river and ate lunch. Fifteen minutes later we heard a loud swoosh and looked to see that the heat had once again melted the 'glue' on not one but two seams and the boat was toast. It was only 95 degrees that day but the gravel rocks must have been hotter. My sister was using the 380X Explorer that day and it was sitting right next to the 385 FT with no leaks. The 380X Explorer has larger weld seams which make all the difference in the heat. My new 'second boat' will be a 420X Explorer due to it being built better plus the extra legroom.
I have had different types of hard shell and I can honestly say the Explorer soft shell 380x is an amazing Kayak very forgiving, you can sail, add a motor or paddle it. at the end of the day deflate it and pack it in your car trunk. this Kayak is very rugged and durable awesome unit highly recommend it.
The 380x can handle class 3 and 4 with ease. this kayak is great in white water in addition to paddling in the ocean. I have used it to travel down the kayak down the Snake River in Wyoming and "kayak surfing" in California. I agree that a directional stabilizer or fin is needed if you do not want to fishtail while paddling on flat water.
I do wish that the kayak had a spray guard to limit the amount of water during white water kayaking. All in all, this is one inflatable that everyone should enjoy!
I would say the control and steering are comparable to a canoe. You can't turn on a dime like a hard shell kayak but you don't have to worry about tipping. At 50 yrs old I'm more into the safety and comfort than high performance sport kayaking. I'm 6'1" 225lbs and had plenty of room. The high back seats were very comfortable and secure. I may go to a higher deluxe seat for my wife. She did not enjoy sitting in the water.
The 380x seems to be high quality and very durable. I spent a little more money for a boat that will last many years. I ran the boat up the concrete exit ramp and it didn't even scratch the bottom.
So with the self bailing exception, the 380x is all that I hoped for in an IK. Safe, stable, durable, comfortable and fun. I look forward to many years of river runs and camping floats.
I still like the boat but with the design as it is, the floor needs to be thicker to displace the water so the rear paddler sits at or above the water level and the self bailing feature really works, because as it is now, it really isn't a self-bailer, at least not with the high back seats.
I can attest to the fact that even filled to the brim, it still CAN be paddled.
I have the optional fixed rudder and I think it helps the tracking. I ordered the thigh straps and took it to South Fork American Fork to run the Gorge. It was flowing 1500 cps. With two people first time, self guiding, class II rapids blind, the boat forgave our many mistakes. For the class III section we had an experienced guide showing us the lines. We flipped in a scary place but I was able to dolphin kick myself back in kayak in calmer waters. The guide we met was impressed with the boat's capabilities and the boat really forgave our many mistakes.
With the directional stabilizer boat tracks straight & moves slower than a kayak but faster than a canoe.
Paddling into a strong headwind requires effort but this is really a great boat that will handle open water & for some reason is easier paddled sitting up front as possible, & even easier when there is some weight behind you as the boat will carry it's momentum better.
Big waves & boat wake are easily handled & still water is surprisingly fast.
Tandem paddling gets you moving at a brisk pace & there is lots of room for two people to sit comfortably with some gear.
The Deluxe seat will put you higher up than the Pro seat & is also a good platform for fishing. You can jump from the dock into the boat without worrying about tipping.
This is a very fun boat & it will do everything from solo to tandem paddling with relative ease. The 380X was faster than the 340X solo. See my 340X review.
I paddled this boat for hours in 30 mph wind on an East Texas lake, transiting open water and along shoreline structure while fishing. I have no qualms with the way it handles. Does it handle as well as a hard boat? Yes... a canoe. But not a kayak. But for an inflatable kayak, that's as good as it gets! I even paddled the boat for an hour while my brother fished where I was sitting in the bow and he was fishing from the stern. 290 lbs of former football lineman sitting over the skeg and 30 mph winds...and I had no problem keeping him in position for fishing the shoreline we were covering.
But my favorite things about this boat are that it is ultimately comfortable and it has nothing on it to foul a fly line when fishing. These are the two most important ingredients for any fishing boat in my world.
In flatwater any substantial wind will seriously affect your progress and while this may be true of all water craft the effects are really serious with the sea eagle. We purchased the boats for long (read 7+ days) treks in rivers of Canadian wilderness. The boats are great for that. Have taken them in Class 3 rapids fully loaded, while you do get wet, the boat rides the rapids just like a raft. No more long portages. One benefit of these inflating crafts is that they load on aircraft at a fraction of the cost (or impossible for) hard shell watercraft. They pack inside your vehicle and no wind drag. We plan more river trips in 2008.
I agree with most other positive comments on this site (regarding comfort, paddling, skeg etc). When loaded with equipment in flat water with chop the self bailing plugs usually do not work very well.
The only drawback is that it floods rather quickly in big water. It drains eventually, but if you get stuck in a big hole, you sure do feel like you are one with the river!
It comes with inflatable seats, but I prefer to paddle it kneeling down. It is still quite comfortable and you can see a whole lot of the river downstream.
If you are looking for an inexpensive white water "Ducky" this boat has what it takes to get you out on the river safely. I have just upgraded to a WW K1 and will not be selling this boat due to the overall amount of fun I had last whitewater season. It will always find its way back to the river.
Two 6' 180lb guys fit in the kayak/canoe comfortably. If I would have adjusted the straps on my seat more I could have put my legs straight out, so the interior has plenty of room. I haven't tried it without the rudder/stabilizer; with the stabilizer in place it tracked straight. I felt the 380x was a sturdy, reliable craft. Since the bottom has so much surface area you can't get moving that fast, but it turns ok and is comfortable. One negative is that it seems a bit wide for the type of strokes I wanted to do. Since you're not packed in like a sardine you've gotta pay for that comfort somehow!
I'll try to post a follow up when I do some summer paddling, but I predict this will be very enjoyable for some leisurely River Running and Class I/II action, with a little current to keep things interesting.
For someone looking for a recreational paddling solution, the 380x is a nice combination of comfort, stability, and portability.