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What the Eddyline LV excels at is comfort and cruising -- at least, in my opinion. I camped out of it for 5 days in the Everglades. It was great for that. Also, the relatively low weight for a sea kayak is a blessing -- 47 pounds versus, say, 57 for a British fiberglass kayak. And I think the Fathom LV is pretty fast. But I actually do not think the Fathom LV is the small person's boat it's cracked up to be. I'd say it's more suited for someone medium-sized -- several inches taller than I am.
My Fathom LV is a guest boat now. My F1 is my freshwater dayboat, and the Pilgrim is for the ocean and for thin water with razor-sharp oysters. And for rolling. Sometimes we just need a fleet, I guess!
I'm just starting to learn more more advanced skills. Just recently I worked on self-rescues and there were no issues. I had no problem getting back into the boat with a paddle-float outrigger. Next, I will be practicing assisted rescues and hip snaps. Its obvious this boat fits the need of any paddler that has the desire to improve and expand their skill set. I opted for this over the Journey because the Fathom and Fathom LV were faster.
Downsides to this boat are it probably doesn't have the carrying capacity required for a lengthy camping trip. Also, the price keeps it out of the recreational only range, but I don't think this boat was simply meant to paddle calm lakes.
I find the Fathom LV to be surprisingly fast – in my rather inexpert hands, over the same measured 20 mile course, the LV is only about 0.2-0.3 mph slower than the Epic (which is a racing boat) at a similar effort level - although I have to add the disclaimer that I am not nearly skilled or strong enough yet to utilize the 18x's full potential. Both I and my wife (who just started paddling this year) find the Fathom LV to track well and to be very stable. My wife was initially concerned that it was "tippy" but was comfortable in the boat after 5 minutes of paddling it!
The Fathom also maneuvers well – both loaded with camping gear and empty. The fit and finish of our boat is good, although it had a few dings and scratches when we bought it (as you would expect on a demo boat). It seems very tough – it survived an accidental fall from the top of my Ford Explorer (> 5 feet) onto a concrete boat ramp with only a few scratches. It is an excellent weekend camping boat – by traveling light (ie backpacker style) you could do a week-long solo trip. Of course, if you go with a group, you can share common gear and have more room for other stuff. By the way, I find that two 1 gallon Gatoraid jugs (for water) fit perfectly in the day compartment behind the cockpit with room left over for 3 days worth of food and a jacket– this places those heavy water containers near the center of the boat.
The hatches are smaller than those on my Epic and I find that I have to put my gear in smaller dry bags. My only significant complaint is that the rubber hatches are a pain to get seated correctly. However, on the up side, I have not observed even a drop of water in any of the compartments – even after the boat has sat on top of my car for hours in a pouring rain.
The seat and pegs are easy to adjust and the cockpit feels like it was made for me (5-6; 160 lbs). I have been in the boat for 6-7 hours straight and with no back, butt or leg pain.
Overall, the Fathom LV is not an expedition boat but is a great boat for short trips (week or less) and day paddles. In particular, I recommend it for new paddles who want a more performance oriented boat that they will not immediately outgrow.
Finally, note that an "8" is a really good review from me – I refuse to give a perfect 10 because all boats (all products for that matter) have some design compromises and are not suited for all uses. This is a great boat and if you buy one you are unlikely to be disappointed.
I do quality inspections and have trained several others for a major corporation and I know quality when I see it and the Eddyline boats have it. The hardest decision I had to make was deciding between the Fathom LV and the Nighthawk 16 because they are both awesome kayaks. Some day I'll have a Nighthawk too.
I tried out several boats in the 15 to 16+ range. My criteria was size, fit and feel in the boat, performance, quality, and weight. I believe the Fathom LV met them all, although it could be a tad lighter. The fit for me (5'6" and 149lbs, 63 yr old male) was excellent with great foot room and a good overall fit. The boat is of high quality and built in Washington State. Nice to see USA on label. The performance is fantastic for a boat that is 15'6" and 21" wide. When I first paddled it I thought it was a little twitchy, esp with side waves, but I grew accustomed to its handling and now feel that it is the best, almost custom-fit boat I could have bought for any money.
I have had this boat out in all types of water, flat, very rough conditions, creeks, rivers, Finger Lakes, Lake Ontario coastlines and it delivered excellent, predictable performance. The efficiency, speed, maneuverability, tracking are the best I have experienced and I have been kayaking since 1998.
Thank you Eddyline for the great design.
As for the Fathom, it didn’t seem to care which way the wind was blowing. During my five mile dig into the headwind and back to the boat ramp the Fathom seemed to be gliding on an invisible rail. After getting the boat on the right heading, it tracked like a train. I never bothered to drop the smooth working skeg. After the paddle my GPS informed me that my ten mile average speed was 3.3 knots which, considering the weather, seemed reasonable. On this day the deck got a heavy sloshing of H2O but there was nary a drop inside the Fathom.
By the way, in case you didn’t know, the Fathom LV is Eddyline’s compact Carbonlite variant of the full-sized Fathom. I’m five feet and six inches and weigh about one hundred and fifty pounds. The Fathom LV seemed to have been costumed designed to fit me. With its thirty one inch cockpit length, a butt first entry is easy. Once in the boat it seems to meld with me. The rear deck is low and I can lay back nicely. Internal volume seems good enough for some camping as long as I cram my dry bagged sleeping bag up in front of the foot pegs. My compact two person tent easily fits inside the rear compartment (using a tapered dry bag). That leaves a bunch of room for other stuff, like rum soaked freeze dried fruit cake, which makes a great trekking food as it can last for a century or more.
But going back to the Fathom, I had a list of boats with the usual suspects such as the Impex Force line and a couple of the Valley models. It just happened that the Eddyline dealer was the closest and it didn’t hurt that the Fathom was less costly to boot. I picked it up at Evergreen Outfitters in Ashville, New York. It was like buying a boat from your sister or brother. I felt so at home I felt like doing my laundry.
As for the Fathom, the boat is a looker and appears to be meticulously built. Once the local waters warm up I intend to work on my mediocre rolling and head out to Lake Erie. Maybe by then I will have found some issues but until that time I’d rate the Fathom a nine or better.
I'm 5'5" and fairly new to the sport, nevertheless, I wanted an aggressive, well built (preferably US manufactured), touring kayak for my 1st boat. I couldn't have picked a better one! It fits me perfectly, tackles Lake Erie like a demon, and is very light. In 3-4 foot waves, the retractable skeg keeps me straight on course. I haven't had too much need for my spray skirt either, since the water rapids spills off as the kayak slices through the water. I hope to use it in combination with a backpacking trip this fall either on lake or river. If anyone has questions or would like to see some photos, shoot me an email.
The sweet spot is right where it should be for a paddler my size. (5’4” 135 lbs). Draw strokes are magnificently efficient, even against the wind. I thought the shorter length would reduce the LV’s speed significantly, but not so, I find it a bit more speedy than the Nighthawk 16. And it rolls like a dream! As effortlessly as the NDK Romany. Yet I find the initial and secondary stability to be great! Some kayaks roll very effortlessly, but it also takes very little to capsize them as well. Not so with the Fathom LV. When it is right side up it stays there, and when it us upside down it wants to come up everytime! (the paddler does have to do a little work, but not much)
I have yet to get this baby out in big water. I am hoping to do that in the very near future; after I do, then I will give the kayak a 10 out of 10 for what I am looking for in a great kayak. (that is of course if performs the way I think it will).
The only thing that I have heard negative about the kayak is the bubbled foredeck, and the lack of cargo capacity in the bow and stern. My response to those complaints, is just paddle the kayak and then I will hear what you have to say. Anyone that owns a Romany says it is not a kayak for extended trips because it has very little cargo area. As far as I am concerned, the LV is just what it needs to be for a smaller paddler that wants a kayak that performs and is reliable and functional and makes the paddler look oh so good!
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