Sea Eagle 380x Inflatable Kayak Reviews
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380x Reviews (71 total, avg. review: 4.6 out of 5)
For the last two years I've owned both a SE 385 FastTrack and a SE 380X Explorer. Both are excellent inflatable kayaks each with their own strengths and weakness but the 380X Explorer is the best in my opinion. First, a little about my wife an I. She's 5 foot 0 inches and I'm 5 foot 8 inches and we are both very overweight. If you're a tall person or weigh over 200 pounds then this review will more ▼ pertain to you.
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.
The Sea Eagle Explorer (47 years in business!) is an excellent class IV rated white water inflatable - yes you heard right: inflatable - kayak.
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.
If you enjoy the water you will love the Explorer 380x made by Sea Eagle. This inflatable kayak is tough and rugged and yet fairly spacious even for someone who is 6'8" like myself. It holds up to 750 lbs including cargo which gives plenty of space for overnight trips.
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.more ▼
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!
Very happy with this so far. Have done high class III's on the Potomac and it rode the high waves without ever feeling like it would flip. Problem is that it fills with water very fast since Sea Eagle does not yet make any kind of splash guard for it. So you have to dock and drain it from the valves. Otherwise, it handles quite well for it's size, even through some tighter turning. On flatwater, the skeg is A MUST. Otherwise, you will fishtail a lot. I hope Sea Eagle makes a splash guard to fit the 380 soon. But overall, a very fun all around kayak that transports easily.
My wife and I took the 380x out for our maiden voyage yesterday. Class II/III WW on the Colorado river. We went with rafter friends for support and river advice. The only reason I gave an 8 is that the self bailing is not that great. You sit in water once you hit any WW waves. Otherwise the boat was extremely stable and comfortable. It forgave a lot of bad moves through the class III WW. Never came close to tipping. Even when going through waves that were two or three feet high. Scary for a first ride but now I'm looking forward to a second run.
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 more ▼ 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.
What a great inflatable kayak. I have been kayaking for over 20 years in a variety of hard shell kayaks. Being of age now and having had several surgeries, my legs just aren't what they used to be, so I have been searching for a solution to getting out of our kayaks with my weakened legs. I fitted it with a seat similar to the optional fishing seat, and what a dream come true. It is so stable and easy to get in and out of now. I can keep up with my wife in her 13' Perception America except in strong wind. Sitting higher in the fishing seat as opposed to the Deluxe or Pro Highback seats makes paddling a breeze.more ▼
I highly recommend this kayak fitted with or without the optional fishing seat.
We purchased this boat this spring as a whitewater tandem since my wife was wary of paddling alone. We intended on running the upper New in WV. The boat is great in mild whitewater...with the valves closed. We ran the Lower Yough in SW PA this weekend. A much smaller river that packs a big punch with most of the rapids rated III/IV. We still ran with the valves closed because if the rear paddler is a little larger, he sits in about 2 inches of water that slows quick moves required on this river to a great extent. Getting hung up on a rock can spell disaster as the boat quickly fills with water and made it like trying to turn a battleship. I have contacted Sea Eagle to find if an additional floor can be added or a thicker floor installed to displace the water that enters when the valves are open.more ▼
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.
This is my first kayak. I've rented hard shells for flat water paddling. I've been on commercial rafting trips through class IV.
My first impression of the 380X is the rugged construction. I took it out in the San Francisco Bay the day I received it in 30 knot winds. I really couldn't control the direction or make any headway by myself. On a lake the next day with little wind the boat was great.more ▼
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.
I've been padding solo canoe and kayak (hard shell) for nine years. Just got my 380X last of August. Outfitted it for W.W. Got the optional bow float and made a custom foot rest. Added a set of thigh straps. These two elements are key for W.W. First 3 times on the lake. Did 6 miles on a narrow dam controlled river. Class I high 2's. Had to get technical with some moves. With drains open the boat looses performance because all the water doesn't exit the boat. At the end of the run it was holding quite a bit of water under the floor. This makes the boat handle sluggish. Thinking of retrofitting the floor with foam. With the rib shape of air floor water has a place to accumulate.
After a lot of online research, I picked up a Sea Eagle Explorer 380 in June. Spent the summer fishing the Cannon and Mississippi river from the Explorer. This is one well put together boat, very tough and stable. My son and I did a run down the Porneuf river through Lava Hot Springs, many rapids and small waterfalls. At not time during all my trips I have I felt unstable like a regular kayak. The boat does not track like a regular kayak, but some practice in rowing and the rear stabilizer helps (think quick shallow strokes). I works well for two people to fish out of. My recommendation would be skip the tall back seats and go with the deluxe kayak seats, much better back support and comfort. They also let you sit 4 inches higher for easier fishing. The deluxe foot pump allows me to fill up the kayak in 5 minutes or less. Yes the Sea Eagle Explorer is more expensive but I look forward to many years of kayaking without it wearing out.