I've finally had the opportunity to take my new X-13 out. Been out twice now and can say it's everything I hoped it would be. I'll try to not make this review all about how the X-13 isn't an X-Factor Make/Model of Kayak: Malibu X-13Length/Weight of Kayak:
4.2m/27kgApproximate Price (New/Used):
$1,699.00 (from BCF
)Key Features / Layout:
The Malibu large hatches are a big plus for me. You can pretty much put anything you like inside the hull.
Stability is a big plus. It took me a few minutes to adjust to slightly less stability than the X-Factor but the speed and ease of paddling more than made up for that.
The deck layout is really good. There are heaps of flat spots for mounting accessories and the area behind the seat is large and rectangular rather than curved like most yaks (including the X-Factor).
Out-of-the-box, my X-13 came with four flush mount rod holders behind the seat, paddle keepers on both sides and the rudder already installed.Allround 'Fishability':
The X-13 is more than stable enough for me to move forward and turn around with ease making it simple to store things all over the yak and still be able to get to them on the water. Sitting side-saddle, the yak remained completely stable. The available deck space, whilst simply laid out, was useful for keeping things like knives and tackle within easy reach without being in the way.Ability to Customise/Accessorise:
Lots of flat areas to mount accessories makes the X-13 easy to customise. As you can see from the photo, I've also fitted the X-Wing console which has made the job of accessorising so much easier as well! The transducer was easy to mount although the absence of a scupper under the seat to tie it too means I'm going to have to come up with another way to protect it from being knocked around. Mind you, the scupper on my X-Factor partially collapsed creating a massive leak which I had to pump full of silicon so I'm not to worried about the lack of a scupper on the X-13.Best Aspects:
Malibu have done really well with this yak. It has most of the stability of the X-Factor yet I can now comfortably keep up with faster yaks like the Swing. The lower profile means the X-13 is less effected by the wind but - stating the obvious - the rudder definitely makes things easier. The deep keel makes the X-13 track really well so you can get stuck into the paddling and she stays on course no problem at all.
It's easy to get in and out of at the shore and - although I haven't actually done it yet - I'm expecting a wet entry will be as simple as it is on the X-Factor.
The deck layout is, as I said, simple yet useful and it's easy to find ways to customise.Worst Aspects
Out-of-the-box, the front hatch (gator hatch) is not sealed well at all. I could easily slip my whole hand in without undoing the clips. This is due to the incorrect positioning of the clips and I have since added some additional fasteners to bring the clip lower down the hull and the hatch now pulls exceptionally tight on the rubber seal and I'll be very surprised if water gets in there now.
Being so low in the water, a fair amount of water comes in the scupper holes at the foot well and to a lesser extent, the rear cargo area. The seat area has scupper plugs and to my surprise, I've come out completely dry both times out on the water. The deck design very effectively compensates for the water in the foot well and prevents it from going anywhere but the foot well. With the rear cargo area, I found a plastic container at Crazy Clarks that fits perfectly in the area so my gear now stays dry without having to plug up the scupper holes.
I'm not 100% sold on the quality of the rudder. I fitted a Crack of Dawn rudder kit to my X-Factor and it seems to be a more robust unit. That said, I'm only speculating and the X-13 rudder may well go the distance.
As with the X-Factor, there are a mixture of metals when it comes to the fasteners. I know from experience that this ends in tears sooner rather than later so I have replaced, where possible, fasteners with 316 grade stainless steel and I've also sealed everything I can in multiple layers of silicon.
The rudder mount is exactly the same as it has been for many years despite Malibu knowing it's problematic AND having a rudder mount repair kit that makes it more what it should be from the start. I've compensated for this in advance by sealing it up with multiple layers of silicon to prevent salt water ever getting in.Conditions best suited to (Estuary/Offshore/Rivers)
My intention is to use my X-13 for river and near-shore fishing whilst keeping the X-Factor for offshore escapades when the sea is a little rougher. That's not to say the X-13 couldn't handle the rougher conditions, it's only saying that I've been spoilt by the extreme stability of the X-Factor and gotten very comfortable with it
I'd expect the X-13 to handle a fair bit better when it comes to surf landings in particular so my opinion may change over time.Overall score out of 10
To be honest, I'm not too sure how Malibu could have made this a better kayak. She's fast yet stable, deck layout is very good, perhaps a few more areas for holding bits and pieces could be the only thing they could add. I'm taking points off for the front hatch not sealing, the mismatch of metals in the fasteners and the rudder mount design.
8.5 out of 10.