Messing With The New X-Factor
The Malibu X-Factor is nothing new to us. Many of our employees and pro-staff have owned or still own that kayak, and for years it’s been one of our top sellers. It’s been such a successful design that Malibu based two other kayaks off of the X-factor, the Stealth 12 and Stealth 14, which have also been very popular kayaks since their release a few years ago. The Stealth 14 is essentially an X-Factor, only better, and so a re-design of the Malibu X-Factor was in order. We got a chance to check out the prototype and were instructed to see what we could do with it. Malibu wanted to explore the possibility of a bait tank system in the kayak, along with any other common installs we might do on a kayak. So we took advantage of a sunny afternoon, a cold six pack, and went to town!
Nothing has changed as far as dimensions of the kayak. We agreed that nothing needed to be done to the kayak’s performance on the water. It is one of the most stable kayaks on the market, but still maintains a good amount of speed. The Stealth 14 is built on the exact same dimensions and hull shape, and with its success, it’s no surprise that Malibu didn’t want to fix what ain’t broke. But when the Stealth 14 was released, it boasted an internal bait tank system, upgraded hatches and hardware, and two other size options with similar features and designs. So the X-Factor was left somewhat in the dust. Well, not anymore.
While the hull remains untouched, Malibu made major upgrades to the deck of the new X-Factor. The original rectangular storage hatch remains in place, but a second one has been added directly forward of it. This second hatch is raised about three inches higher than the first, and is completely enclosed, making a waterproof container, much like the Stealth bait tank, but rectangular. The bow hatch is now upgraded to the newer version with built in bungee storage and child’s seat, as seen on the Stealth series, X-13, and Pro-Explorer, departing from the older, higher profile version. A conspicuous flat spot on the stern of the kayak is another new feature.
Malibu’s original vision for the X-Factor was to make it easy and user friendly to add an electric motor to the kayak, as such accessories have gained popularity amongst the kayak fishing crowd in the last couple years. The enclosed hatch would house the large deep cycle battery, necessary for such motors, while keeping the original hatch available for storage, and the flat spot on the rear makes for an easy mounting point when the motor is installed. Well, we’ve installed plenty of motors on kayaks in the past, and since Malibu told us to explore other possibilities with this kayak, we put our own spin on it.
That enclosed hatch was just begging to be converted to a bait tank. It’s easy enough to rig a Stealth 14’s bait tank, it’s got pre-determined spots for the pump, inflow and outflow, all thought out ahead of time when the kayak was in it’s earliest design stages. But this would take a little more planning, and a lot more beer. We tossed around a few ideas, discounting one or the other for a variety of reasons. A fitting wouldn’t seal right, difficult access for our enormous, muscular arms, interference with the paddler’s legs, or any number of variables would contribute to the brainstorming. Eventually we needed more beer, and after that, we developed a plan.
Always looking to minimize the number of through hull fittings on a kayak, we decided it would be best to run the outflow out the side of the kayak. This is something we’d always wanted to try, but most previous bait tank systems sat too low in the kayak to drain efficiently anywhere besides out the bottom of the hull. With the elevated hatch, this gave us enough difference in height for the bait tank to drain efficiently even while rolling in swell. For the pump, we thought about running some tubing over the side of the kayak to a bilge pump that would hang in the water, leaving no through hull fittings in the kayak. The problem with that idea was two-fold. First, the tubing would have to run directly over the paddler’s leg, which is certainly not ideal. Secondly, to accomplish that, we’d have to pass a fitting (or two) through two walls of the kayak. One wall of the bait tank, and another wall of the kayaks’ foot well. These two walls were about an inch apart from one another, making it impossible to seal properly, or even install two separate fittings. So we decided to run a through hull pump just forward of the bait tank, toward the outside edge. It proved to be the cleanest, safest, and easiest option. With the inflow and outflow taken care of, we found a good spot for the toggle switch to go and that battery container was now a bait tank.
Fish finders are another common accessory that we install on kayaks, especially if it’ll have a 12 volt system wired for the bait tank. It makes it real easy to splice a fish finder right into the same battery. So that was next on our agenda. The drawback of adding that second hatch to the new X-Factor was that it completely eliminated the nice big center console that made it so easy to install a fish finder, rod hodler, or really any accessory without the need for a special adapter. The X-Factor lost that ability, but that’s not to say it’s impossible. With the help of a RAM mount we had no problem popping an Eagle Cuda fish finder in a prime spot. It ended up being in one of the best locations of any fishing kayak we’ve seen. It’s close enough to view very well, but just far enough away so that it won’t interfere with paddling, casting, knot tying, fish landing, etc.
When it was all said and done, we took a step back and realized we had a pretty sweet fishing kayak on our hands. The original X-Factor had been a favorite of ours, and we were nervous about any changes that might be made, but in this case it worked out for the better. The new X-Factor will have the option of easily adding an electric motor, as Malibu intended, but should you choose to keep it human powered, this thing can be made into one of the nicest fishing kayaks on the market. If you want an internal bait tank but don’t want to give up the storage space that you do in the Stealth 14, then check out the new X-Factor. And if you’re considering adding an electric motor to your kayak, this will be the easiest way to do it.
Buy the new Malibu Kayaks X-Factor 2013 - click here.
Buy the new Malibu Kayaks X-Factor 2013 Kayak Fishing Package - click here.
Buy the new Malibu Kayaks X-Factor 2013 Ultimate Kayak Fishing Package - click here.