Monday, April 17, 2023

P&H Leo Sea Kayak First Impressions

This spring, we added a P&H Leo Sea Kayak to the Liquid Fusion Kayaking Fleet.  We will be using the Leo for students who want to learn touring sea kayak skills.  Personally, I am planning to use the Leo for kayak camping trips, sea kayak touring, and kayak sailing.  We recently had the Leo out for a couple of paddles on the Mendocino Coast.
Sea kayak rock gardening Mendocino
P&H Leo Sea Kayak at a Blowhole on the Mendocino Coast of California

Before paddling the Leo, we moved the seat and the thigh hooks.  Both Jeff and I found it to be quite comfortable.  Jeff is 5’11” and 145 pounds.  I am 5’4” and 122 pounds.  I had the foot braces adjusted to the shortest setting.  Paddlers with shorter legs than mine might need to make some additional accommodations to reach the foot braces. (My inseam is about 28”).

Jeff and I took turns paddling the Leo.  The other sea kayak we were using was the P&H Virgo.  Both kayaks were the medium volume core-lite models.  

sea kayaking mendocino
Side by side look at the P&H Virgo and P&H Leo

My first impression of the Leo was how stable it is. I was pleased that it had a bit more glide and hull speed than the Virgo.  The extra hulls speed was nice when riding surges through rock garden channels.  I did not feel that it this increased length sacrificed maneuverability.  Of course, one needs a little more room in a sea cave to turn the 15’11” Leo in compared to the 14’5” Virgo.  Both Jeff and I did bump the stern a few times turning around in tight spaces.
Mendocino sea cave kayaking
Jeff Laxier taking the Leo for a spin in the sea caves of the Mendocino Coast.

The Leo definitely rewards a skilled paddler who edges their kayak to turn.  As sea kayaks are becoming shorter and more maneuverable, we see paddlers not using this key skill that really makes a sea kayak sing.  A slight edge freed up the hull of the Leo to dance about.  I will be following up with another video experimenting with the different amounts of edge and the edging effect on maneuvering the Leo.
edged sea kayak turn Mendocino California
Edged Turn in the Leo

The Leo doesn’t have a lot of bow rocker which inclines it toward tracking in a straight line.  I think it is going to be a ton of fun surfing following seas and kayak sailing.  In a skilled paddler’s hands who is comfortable edging to turn, I think the Leo’s maneuverability is comparable to the Virgo and perhaps a bit more nimble; however, neither boat would be my first choice for rock gardening, sea kayak surfing, and coastal play.
sea kayak rock gardening mendocino
Sea Squirting the Leo.

In terms of first impressions - I think the Leo is a fun touring sea kayak.  It is remarkably stable and ideal for paddlers of all skill levels that are looking for a general purpose, durable, low maintenance sea kayak.  Compared to the Virgo, I would most likely choose the Leo over the Virgo.

Here is a video of our first journey in the P&H Leo.  We will be posting more reviews and content on the Leo and instructional contacts on the LFK YouTube Channel so be sure to subscribe to get the goods.

We will be paddling the Leo more later this spring.  If you have questions or would like to see something in particular, please let me know in the comments.

Best of days on the water,

PS While the Leo is not designed as a rock gardening kayak and is not my first choice for coastal play, I still couldn't resist running a few pour-overs with it.

sea kayak rock gardening mendocino
Cate Hawthorne rock hopping on the Mendocino Coast.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Great video, I have just got a Leo MV and wondered where you moved the seat position to? Aft, mid or front? I am 5'6" and have been experimenting with the boat fit. Thanks in advance Dave