Boat Review: P&H Scorpio MKII HV Kayak

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

Six years after the original Scorpio was introduced in 2009, P&H brought us a more innovative design: the Scorpio MK II. The first to arrive from the United Kingdom was the LV or low volume model. Then the MV in medium volume. Bigger paddlers and those of us going places with lots of gear had to wait the longest, but the wait for the large volume P&H Scorpio MKII HV is over.

P&H Scorpio MKII HV Specs (Corelite X lay-up)
Length: 17’7”
Width: 24”
Weight: 65 lbs
MSRP: $2,099 USD

Introducing the P&H Scorpio MKII

Before we get into the specifics of this new larger version, let’s first look at the entire MK II family tree. If saying the Scorpios are plastic versions of the P&H’s Cetus composite cousins doesn’t create a picture in your mind, then let’s say they are Swede-form designs with shallow V hulls and rounded chines. The LV is 16-feet eight inches long, 21-inches wide—the HV Scorpio is just over 17-feet and proportionally 24 inches wide with the MV as the happy middle child.

Skeg or rudder—why not both?

On top, P&H has updated the rigging fore and aft to include contemporary perimeter lines and bungee systems for ample rescue points and above-board storage. Two innovative details added on the bow deck are the pre-moulded fittings for the P&H Code Zero Sail system and the grooved slots on either side of the recessed compass mount to cradle the shafts of your two-piece spare paddle.

Fin on bottom of orange kayak
The Scorpio “Skudder.” | Photo: Gabriel Rivett Carnac

A few years ago, P&H turned the whole rubber versus skeg debate upside down. The Skudder was first introduced on the Jura, a recreational light-touring kayak made by P&H’s sister brand Venture Kayaks. The Skudder is being integrated into more models as they come up for redesign. I had never seen one of these systems before this. The concept is so simple, I wonder what took so long—as effective as a rudder system, except it deploys from the keel like a skeg. The pinch-and-slide mechanism on the left side of the bow deck drops the skeg varying amounts until it is free of the hull completely. When fully deployed, the Skudder allows you to actively steer the kayak like a traditional rudder using your toes on the fixed SmartTrack foot pegs.

When you don’t need the Skudder, it’s tidy and out of the way of wind and re-entries. Like with any skeg, after dragging the Scorpio II HV through the early spring mud and snow from my truck to the water I had to clean out the box for the Skudder before I launched. And, perhaps, the debate continues. Except, what looks like a fifth hatch is access to the guts of the Skudder system where you can adjust the lines and, if necessary, completely remove the Skudder for cleaning.

Hands on with the new HV model

“The boat is wider, deeper and longer than the mid-range MV size, which gives it additional capacity and stability,” says head of operations for Pyranha USA, Brian Day. “We designed the HV to meet the demand of larger paddlers or those who are taking longer trips.”

These changes included a lowered stern deck, increased bow rocker in the nose, and the cockpit shifted slightly aft. Day says they did this to the larger version to make the boat more neutral in the wind and less prone to weathercocking.

Hatch on orange kayak
The hatch fits tightly in warm weather, but can be a pain to open in cold weather. | Photo: Gabriel Rivett‑Carnac

I packed half the bed of my full-sized Nissan Titan pickup truck into the Scorpio MKII HV’s four hatches. With all the MKIIs, P&H improved drainage around the hatch covers. The hatch rims themselves are angled slightly to improve access combined with the accentuated openings and the standard snap-fit KajakSport hatch covers allowed the hiding of over 160 liters of awkwardly shaped gear, including my Greenland ice tools.

One thing I noticed during our early spring testing is the hatch cover is designed to fit tightly in warm weather when you are paddling the P&H Scorpio II HV in the colder seasons or closer to the poles you will find the plastic covers stiff and challenging to peel off and pound back on. That said, I’d rather have sore numb fingers than soggy gear. All four hatches proved 100 percent watertight after my dunk testing.

Cockpit on orange kayak
Extra volume has been added to the cockpit. | Photo: Gabriel Rivett-Carnac.

In the HV, extra volume has been added to the cockpit. This translates to a comfortably high knee position and copious amounts of legroom for my long pins. In fact, even with warm thick-soled booties there is still 11 inches between the backside of my foot pegs and the foam bulkhead. As with the hip pads, adding foam under the cover can easily customize the seat. The back band system is simple and effective, utilizing five different points of adjustment.

As a guide, I need to be nimble. Often I find myself quickly jumping out of my boat into surf landings or to assist guests in transitions in and out of their boats. The Scorpio MKII HV has a large keyhole cockpit. As I’m six-foot, two-inches tall, the large opening makes getting in and out a breeze. After performing a morning of scramble self-rescues I found access to the cockpit was seamless and the low back deck and adjustable back band did not interfere with re-entry in any way.

man paddling a P&H Scorpio MKII HV touring kayak
Check out all the features afforded by the high volume model of the Scorpio MKII. | Feature Photo: Gabriel Rivett‑Carnac

Try the P&H Scorpio MKII HV on for size

The Scorpio MKII HV is available in both polyethylene and P&H’s proprietary new Corelite X material. The Corelite X has all the benefits of the tri-layered CoreLite construction but with increased stiffness and greater durability. The Scorpio MKII HV in Corelite X is about six pounds lighter than the plastic model.

Sounds pretty good to me, I thought as I grabbed the bow toggle and dragged the 56-pound Scorpio down the gravely slope to the water and seal launched from an ice shelf.


This article originally appeared in Adventure Kayak
Early Summer 2017 issue.

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