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I continue to be satisfied with this boat, the only one I own, which is a good compromise for me between agile "play boats" and high volume camping boats. My kayak buddies almost all have two or more kayaks.
This short boat performs well in waves up to the 2 meters (crest to trough) that I have been in and in larger swells. As far as I can tell, it is as stable and controllable as any of the boats I have paddled with, which includes those up to 18 feet. I routinely load a few pounds of emergency gear in the forward hatch on day trips to keep the bow in the water going through waves, otherwise it tends to "bang" down.
I have removed the factory seat and now sit directly on the plastic base, which for me is quite comfortable, and have made a short foam "back" which is just high enough to keep me from sliding backwards. I find that I should paddle sitting up straight with no back support, so this works well for me.
The cockpit opening is short, several inches shorter than most of the newer designed boats and narrower at the forward tip, which means it is hard for me with long legs to get my legs in and out to do a "straddle" type of launch/exit. If QCC redesigns this boat, a better cockpit keyhole shape should be a priority. Also, a lower back deck behind the seat (but not over the back storage area) would make rolling much easier (as it is, it is impossible to lay back on the deck as rolls are now taught here), and a lower/flatter "hump" in the deck over the leg area would be better in my view. The hull design is great, but the deck could be improved.
Speed is good. In calm water I can usually stay with the 16.5 to 17 foot boats, but not the 17.5-18 foot ones. Interestingly, in bad chop the Q400X is as fast as any other boat I have paddled with, which is nice since when it is time to "get out of here", I often lead the pack.
Storage capacity, surprisingly not stated by QCC, is very good. I estimate the total in the two compartments to be 184 liters (by measurements and trigonometry), which is more than in some 17.5 ft kayaks. There was plenty of room for gear on several short camping trips, with space left for more food for longer trips. I needed to glue in thigh braces and hip padding for good control, absolutely essential for rolling classes. The supplied "thigh braces" provide no lateral support, but are excellent locations to glue added shaped foam blocks.
The high stability feels nice in waves, but makes edging harder, a trade-off I am still comfortable with at my level. The biggest waves I have been in so far were 3 foot and the kayak was predictable and controllable. Hull seems strong and mild encounters with rocks have only given expected gel-coat damage. Seat is comfortable for me, backrest provides fair amount of adjustment. My kevlar/carbon boat weighs in at 46 lbs with rudder, exactly as currently advertised. The Q400X is a "big" kayak with a short overall length.
I finally ordered the 400X because of the product reviews and the money back guarantee. The sales person convinced me to purchase the 400X without the thigh braces. And, I did, but it just didn’t work for me. So, I returned the otherwise beautiful boat and they constructed and sent me another 400X with the thigh braces, retractable skeg and recessed compass hatch. The boat is so darn pretty, I’d love to hang it on my living room wall. But, instead, when not in use, it’s wrapped in a wonderfully well-made "Kayak Sak" from Kayak Covers of Charleston.
QCC took the returned boat and sent me the new 400X without a whimper or a whine. They refunded my entire purchase price for the first kayak and paid the freight both ways. They were, in fact, both encouraging and insistent that I receive exactly what I wanted. Their "100% Satisfaction Guarantee" actually was as simple as it sounded.
Once I floated the new 400X, it was everything that I had hoped it would be. The seat was comfortable and offered good support. And, the boat itself was easy to pull through the water, tracked straight and was extremely stable.
I'm now in my 60's and the boat is still light enough for me to sling it over my shoulders and walk it down to the beach. I know it's hard to tell from this review... but, I love my QCC!
Here are my impressions after 3 months of ownership with day trips in coastal BC. I am male, 5 ft 10, 160 lbs, age 66, Level I skill.
The boat feels very stable, as good as anything I had rented previously and better than most. Tracking is impressively good for the length - with the rudder up I have no difficulty keeping a straight course without weaving. In spite of the high deck profile, it seems not to have weathercocking problems at least in the moderate wind conditions I have been in - people in longer and lower kayaks were complaining when I had no problem. It seems fast for its length as I have had no trouble keeping up with the group - the waterline length is actually longer than any other kayak in the group up to 17 ft. overall length. I have not had it out in wind waves higher than 1.5 feet and it did OK but was showing some 'slapping' when the other traditional sloped bow kayaks around me were cutting through, so I am waiting to see what happens when I hit larger waves. (Whether that 18 inches of sloping bow of the other kayaks has an advantage in waves remains to be seen.)
The cockpit is quite wide, probably too wide for my narrow body, but certainly easy to enter. My legs are long for my body, and there is plenty of length to the footpegs, so the Q400X should be good for a person over 6 foot and considerably heavier. The downside of the long cockpit is that the forward bulkhead placement reduces potential forward stowage volume. There is no lateral thigh support. The optional thigh braces only provide a wider horizontal lip. So far I have not found this to be a problem as I can exert enough vertical pressure to keep from sliding horizontally, but possibly some modification may be desirable in the future.
I have not been able to weigh the kayak, but helping to carry other boats in our group shows quite clearly that my Q400X kevlar/carbon, while lighter than any of the fiberglass boats, is heavier than any other kevlar boat that I have helped carry, including 17 footers. Part of the weight is likely due to the high sides and domed foredeck - there is simply more area of composite for its length than lower boats. However, I think other new boats likely have more advanced construction methods to reduce weight. Still, it is a relatively light boat.
My main disappointment with my Q400X is with the construction quality control. It looks very nice externally and the deck fittings are high quality, but the underdeck finish is really very poor. The interiors of all brands of kayaks in my local showroom are far better looking. The QCC looks non-professional in contrast. In particular, the sealing of the bulkheads was not only aesthetically ugly but allowed for fairly serious leaks into both the forward and aft compartments. There was also a minor leak along the deck seal line. I sealed all of these myself with 3M 5200 marine sealant. The bulkhead seams are now even more ugly, but do not leak. This only cost an hour or so of time and $20, but should not be needed on a new boat. Another problem was that the forward deck perimeter lines were cut too short so that one side could not even go under one of the fittings and the knots had no free line at all so that I was concerned that they would work loose and if they did it would be impossible to retie them. This was a safety concern. I replaced the line with the reflective type. Again, this was relatively inexpensive to do, but should not be needed.
I have not yet measured the volume of the storage compartments - QCC gives no specs - but it seems to be large for the length. I hope to go camping this summer with it. I have no experience of how it handles loaded with gear.
I did rolling and edging classes in a pool with this boat. On edging it is stable to slightly more than 90 degrees on its side (slightly beyond being right on its side) with no change in feel - a very pleasant surprise to me. I am still learning to roll, but my initial impression was that the high deck and wide width were not presenting a problem, when I managed the right technique, I came up. However, in the abstract, a narrower and lower deck boat would seem to me likely to be easier to roll - more experienced people can advise on this.
The hull design is clearly unlike any of the other boats owned by people I have paddled with. It does "look odd" when surrounded by the sleeker designs. It looks "big" in spite of always being the shortest one (length over all) in the group. This design does seem to offer some functional advantages, but it does stand out. I don't mind this myself being more functionally than stylistically biased (an ex-engineer you see) but others may feel differently.
So overall, I am pleased with the boat. I will try to update this review when I have had more experience with it.
So we headed for the West Coast Kayak Symposium at Port Townsend. We spent the entire day trying boat after boat, kayaks of all sizes, all materials, every length, beam and volume then in production. That day, I gained an appreciation of the way design results in the way a boat feels and handles. Some were like highly tuned race cars but took all my concentration to keep it upright or on course. Another was like paddling a truck. Yet another was a bathtub toy, useless for anything more than play at the swimming beach. I was getting pretty discouraged until I heard her voice coming from the water saying "You gotta try this". She was just off the beach, smiling her trademark "this is mine" smile from a QCC 400XL with a mango-yellow deck and white hull. So I tried it. She was right. We bought that boat right off the beach and I ordered an identical one from Steve when we got home.
We've now had our twin 400XL's for ten years. Seattle is surrounded by fresh and salt water and our boats are perfect for enjoying Lake Union with its views of the downtown Seattle skyline or Puget Sound, our vast saltwater inland sea. We've ghosted along on millpond-flat water, worked into headwinds and two-foot seas with quartering waves. We've even played in the mouth of Thunder Creek up in the Cascade mountains. The John Waters design is in-freakin'-credible. I still don't think I've come anywhere near the limit of what these boats can handle. And Jeni never looks more beautiful than when she's in the cockpit of that mango-yellow 400XL she discovered in Port Townsend.
Just a word about Steve Freund; since we came upon our boats with such serendipity, I corresponded with Steve for a time, asking many questions and clarifying fine points. Anyone else would have been justified in declaring that guy in Seattle to be a nuisance. But not Steve. He even hung in there with me when I asked for digital art files for the QCC logo, so I could make my own mango-yellow vinyl signs for the side of our Outback kayak-hauler. I have never met a merchandiser as willing to accommodate his customers. Thanks, Steve. You have all my admiration and respect.
I am a beginner so my handling description is limited by my experience. I wanted a kayak that has lots of room for my skill set to grow into. I wanted a fast kayak that handled well on large lakes, rivers, the bays and eventually the ocean. So far I noticed that it likes rough water, seems to paddle as fast backwards and is fairly stable. I got a rudder just in case but you won't need it until extreme conditions. I got the basic fiberglass version. Back band is fine but I had to pad out the bottom in front of the seat for support to my long legs.
I did a lot of looking and web research before buying. QCC kayaks have the best value for the quality. I did not mind paying a little more for what I perceive as much more build quality. And it is cool to pick whatever color combination you want. They are one of few companies that actually spells out their warranty in plain English. I heard a lot of the old, "we stick by our product" from other manufacturers but try to find it in writing.
It is a leap of faith not to try it or sit in it but I am sure you read it in all the QCC reviews, don't worry it is an excellent buy. The more I use it the more I realize that it would be really hard to tell which kayak really is best unless you are very experienced. A beginner just can't pick out little nuances between kayaks. Now, that doesn't mean you shouldn't do demos, I quickly learned that I did not want a poly boat or something like a Pungo. I also saw the difference in kayak width, handling, and stability.
I noticed the little rub marks and scratches to the gel coat from small rocks near the shore. I am careful but a beginner. One of the things I did do to protect my hull was to add a thin clear layer (8 mil) of protection 3M film that I have used on my cars for 10 years. I put on a 18 in wide by 8 ft long strip in the middle and 6 inch width to each end. I got the bulk film from XPEL.com for a cost of about $120. It is easy to peel off by heating it with a hair dryer and then wiping the hull clean with alcohol. Get the install kit if you do it.
And naturally everybody gives their kayak a 10 unless it really sucks.
The 400X is stable yet a lot faster than one would expect for boat that is 24" wide. I am relatively inexperienced and welcome the confidence it gives me. I am able to keep up with my cousin's Dagger Lassitude (a 17'+ ocean kayak) and recently when the wind and waves came up, his kayak watercocked and swamped while my 400x sailed on without so much as a burble.
If you are wondering about buying a kayak online, unseen and untested, don't worry. QCC is for real and stands 100% behind their product. Best of all, they don't forget you once you've paid, but are always willing to talk and help with any questions. If you are in the market for a new kayak, do talk to QCC – you won't be disappointed.
I ordered my QCC 400X in September 2007 and made monthly payments until March 2008. It was sort of painful to wait that long to get my boat but I knew I wasn't at the point where I wanted to paddle in winter conditions so the wait really wasn't too bad. I called QCC in late March, made my final payment, and had them start building my boat. It arrived in mid-April, in time for me to get in a few paddles before a weekend-long skills clinic.
I do love this boat! The fit and finish are flawless - a testament to the craftsmanship that goes into their boats. It's comfortable - I haven't had to make any modifications to the seat or back band after many paddles, from 3-4 mile quick trips to 10-12 mile day-long outings. It tracks beautifully. You can lean this boat pretty far over without feeling unstable. It's a fast boat and just a delight to paddle. Deck rigging seems well thought out and more than adequate. My budget dictated the fiberglass construction but this boat is FAR lighter than any of the plastic boats I previously paddled - I've had no difficulty getting it on top of my car or carrying it back and forth on my shoulder. Customer service has been the absolute BEST!
So... the 30 days passed long ago but I never had any interest in returning this boat. In fact, after the first weekend of paddling I sent an e-mail to QCC and told them I had already cut up the cardboard shipping box and had taken it to the recycling center! I was totally satisfied from the very first time I put the boat in the water.
If you're at all concerned about buying a kayak sight-unseen ... don't be. The odds of you not liking a QCC kayak are very, very small. And if, for some reason, you don't like the boat they'll take it back at no cost to you. You'll find an almost cult-like following among QCC owners which, I think, speaks volumes about the boats and how satisfied we are with them!
Anyone looking for a kayak - I highly recommend this company and their product. I was a first timer at kayaking 2 years ago and you couldn't have gotten me near one before that. After trying several out on Lake Superior at a kayak festival in Two Harbors, you couldn't get me out of one! Just kidding. It is wonderfully peaceful and relaxing to just get out and paddle quietly and watch the stars at night, like I just came off our small lake, or get some exercise. Several people have commented on the kayak and its looks and stability and capability as they've seen it in action.
I bought the kevlar/fiberglass layout with rudder. haven't weighed it, but I'd say close to advertised weight (about 45-50lbs). I have no trouble hoisting it onto my car, but it still gets heavy when I carry it to a boat launch that is more that a couple hundred feet away.
Fit and finish is perfect. Great flush-mount hatches that so far have no leaked. Nice rigging all around and good bungie cords for storing stuff. Kayak is very easy to get in from a low dock. I have not tried to get into it from a dock over about 2 feet above water, though.
Performance wise, it tracks like an arrow, leans super easy on edge, has great initial and secondary stability. I have not leaned it all the way onto edge where my cockpit is in the water, since the water is still cold, but I have leaned it pretty far and been able to upright it with a quick brace. I have not rolled it yet, but I think rolling it wouldn't be too hard. I don't have a reliable roll, so I can't tell you.
It has no rocker that I can see, and soft chines that make the edging so easy. The bow is level, so it may bury in waves, but on light chop it handles great. I cruises about 4mph with little effort on my part. I have a Carolina 14.5 also (a great boat, btw, especially for beginners), and this boat is easily 1 to 1.5 mph faster than the Carolina.
So in short, I am very happy with my purchase. If you can wait a month or more for your boat, you can get a great boat at a great price.
After four years of paddling, the boats still regularly get comments from other paddlers and bystanders about their appearance... a combination of the workmanship, range of colors available, and the color choices of my "fashion police" daughter.
We have the carbon-kevlar layup with the smarttrak rudder. The lightweight hull make it easier to load/unload and my wife and I can easily carry both at one time from the car to the water.
Living in Connecticut, our paddling involves a mix of inland and coastal kayaking. We are very satisfied with the performance over a wider range of conditions. Not being overly long has allowed exploring marshes and river channels, however the speed and stability are fine for coastal kayaking. A 4mph cruising speed is easily maintained in favorable conditions. Stability is fine--we have handled offshore swells and wind whipped/white-capped lakes without incident. I would definitely recommend the rudder (or skeg). The high volume design does have a tendency to weathercock in higher winds. The rudder solves that issue. (Also, Olympic gold medalist Greg Barton says a rudder is a much more efficient way of steering than paddle correction.)
Overall, very happy paddlers in our QCC400's
The boat certainly is beautiful. I appreciate the color choices, which allowed me to design a distinctive boat. Construction seems excellent. The seat is comfortable as is the knee padding. The rigging seems quite substantial.
Yesterday was my first time out in the new boat: 90 beautiful evening minutes on Penn Cove (Whidbey Island).
This may not be unique to QCC, but the weight is substantially more than advertised. As far as I know, the rudder is the only thing on the boat that is non-standard (surely the rigging is included in the advertised weight?), yet the Kevlar boat with advertised weight of 45# shows up at 52# on my digital scale. This is a problem for me since I have to hoist it up on a van and like to go out alone.
Have not been in a kayak in six months, but it struck me that the initial stability was not really high. Tracking is good, even with my limited skills. Once I got the hang of the SmartTrack rudder, it did a great job compensating for wind/tide. Raising and lowering the rudder is a snap.
The QCC seems quite fast to me; I was covering ground at twice the pace of the Perception. I think that is due to the combination of speed and tracking.
My size 12 feet in heavy mukluks just fit in the boat; no problem except when operating the toe rudder controls.
After a long night in the garage, I got up with the sun and put in on the water.. After about 4 strokes, I had a feeling that I was gonna throw away the shipping box (you see, QCC let's you paddle it for 30 days…and if ya’ don't like it? Ship it back!) After the second day - well the shipping box is history!
Today when I had it out, a squall kicked up without notice. Cross winds and head winds…for some reason, this boat really seems to enjoy a good head wind...either way, it was stable and handled great!! Lots of room to take along - stuff. Even enough room for a night or two! I think that the purple color makes it go even better, but, well... that could just be me.
QCC was the best decision I could have made in buying my new kayak.
Oh yea, I almost forget - the boat tracks perfectly. John Winters did an excellent job on designing this kayak. Two thumbs up!
(PS - We snuck up on that elusive beaver the second day out!!)
Its been upside down quite a lot as I practiced my capsize recovery - and neither the fore or aft hatch has leaked. The hatch covers are completely flush with the deck, structurally rigid, tethered to the hull and have an automotive door seal that compresses into a recessed channel with the adjustable straps. The fore and aft bulkheads are structural carbon fiber composite (not molded plastic), epoxied to the hull (not glued) and are perfectly positioned to maximize storage and minimize the flood-able volume of the cockpit.
There is just enough room behind the seat for a large fanny pack, a pee-bottle and a jacket or rolled-up spray skirt. There is room between the seat pan and hull for a large bike bottle next to each hip. It tracks quite well - so I don't use the Smart Trak rudder 90% of the time. However in a cross wind, a quick flip of the cord out of the jam-cleat drops the spring loaded small rudder blade so I don't have to waste energy on a lopsided stroke. The fixed foot pegs can be used for bracing whether the rudder is up or down. For long paddles I have adjusted the pegs up and back just to change leg position. This is easily done while in the cockpit, without even leaning forward. The rudder is really an adjustable trim tab for enhancing tracking and correcting direction a few degrees to compensate for current or wind. Its not designed for turning the boat.
At 44 lbs (with rudder) I can easily carry, unload and load the boat by myself. That's the good news. The better news is....there is absolutely no bad news.
The Seal Line Smart Track rudder is really a work of art (but then again - so is the entire kayak!) Best control of ant rudder I've seen. Just a bit of pressure from your toe, and the rudder does it's job. Also super easy to deploy the rudder -- just lift the control line and release it.
A little glued or self stick foam outfitting for the hip and thigh area, and the boat really responds to your commands, but still behaves if you miss-cue...alll in all a fun but reassuring ride! Visit the QCC web sit for an education. Try it, you'll love it!
This may be the ultimate real-world boat. QCC's kevlar/carbon design is cheaper, lighter, stronger and more impact resistant than anyone else's fiberglass boat. QCC puts the kevlar on the outside for impact resistance and the carbon on the inside for strength. You can't see the kevlar because of the colored gel coat but the entire inside of the hull is high gloss black woven fabric - very sexy.
I now have about 40 hours on my QCC 400x, including a recent 2 night camping trip where I hauled about 45 lbs of gear and food in the fore and aft hatches. I've used the Smart Track rudder a couple of times in cross winds to help the boat track straight - so I could avoid using an inefficient and tiring asymmetric paddle stroke. The fixed foot pegs on this rudder design allow you to brace against the underside of the deck when you want to lift a knee to enhance the turning performance.
The QCC 400x is an efficient hull, so it takes very little effort to accelerate and keep going. Stop paddling and it glides a very long distance. It slices, rather than pushes water - which also makes it very quiet since it produces so little wake. Good for gliding up to wildlife.
Coming from a significantly wider boat, the QCC 400x felt a little twitchy the first time or two. But now it feels quite stable. The cockpit is roomy and easy to enter and exit. This is a touring boat - designed for efficient paddling over distance. Unlike a "play" boat it tracks quite well - meaning it can't be spun around without a little effort. But with a knee lift and a single sweep stroke it can easily be reoriented 30 degrees.
So far it has seen some open lake wind chop and boat wake, and some long ocean swells just inside the harbor mouth. Next up is some formal get-wet training by a certified British Canoe Union instructor.
P.S. I still think this is a great touring boat - exceptional quality and value.
I did a lot of research before selecting QCC - including poking my head into quite a few hatches and cockpits on several major upscale brands of composite touring boats. I narrowed the field to Current Designs, Seaward and QCC. Since QCC sells over the internet (like Dell Computer), I finally had to link up with a QCC boat owner so I could see a real live boat - that convinced me. So I put my money down and waited 6 weeks while the wizards in Wisconsin built the perfect boat.
On virtually every other boat I looked at compromises were apparent to control material and labor costs. There are no compromises in QCC's boats. There is nothing that could have been improved - not a better material or component or assembly method or finishing touch. And yet their boats are very attractively priced - VERY!!
For less than $3000 (the same price as a Current Designs fiberglass boat) I received a Kevlar / Carbon boat, Lightning carbon paddle, Lotus PFD, bilge pump, paddle leash and paddle rescue float.
As a mechanical engineer in the quality assurance field for 30 years I've been called "Perfectionist", "Dr. Nit-Pick" - and several other R-rated titles. I do have high expectations - especially when buying cars and other expensive toys. The folks at QCC Kayaks exceeded all my expectations.
100,000+ people can't be wrong!
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