Looking for first ‘expedition’ kayak

ChrisPoteetPdx

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Jan 17, 2021
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Portland, Or
I'm so ready for this bad play on words, but I was in the same "boat" a few years ago when I started shopping for kayaks. And know the desire to hear someone say, "this is the boat you want." But unfortunately, it's going to take some time.

It has been mentioned a few times, and I'll echo the sentiment like a wave rebounding off Gabriola Island; be sure to sit in the boat to truly know if it's right. Pay attention to the seat comfort for your physiology vs. the marketing.

I found the Looksha IV was perfect size for the 5'10" to six footer. We picked up two Looksha IVs and swapped out one seat entirely because the guy who sold it to me put his own interpretation of comfort in it. For me it was unbearable, but I knew we could fix it.

I picked up a Seward Ascent and had to add a foam partition to the back rest because their stock plastic seating dug right into my ribcage from the back. The hard part about this was the discomfort did not manifest itself until three days into the trip. A different PFD may have been a better solution??? Awesome Kayak, lots of room, hauls @$$ and a lot of gear, however, Garbage Seat for me.

All that to say, please sit in the boat, you'll be glad you did.

...and welcome to the forum.
 
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drahcir

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Mar 26, 2010
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North Idaho (Sandpoint)
Pay attention to the seat comfort for your physiology vs. the marketing.
The seat comfort is very important, but can be modified in many cases. In my own situation, I nearly always need to reconfigure the back band because of a long-ago back injury. The back band is just something I expect to change in a new-to-me kayak.
 

chodups

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Nov 2, 2005
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I am going to weigh in here with ChrisPoteetPxd and drahcir. Sit in it, for sure, but know that you can change most any seat and improve it............HOWEVER........I recently had a surprising experience that brought home to me what I couldn't change. A month ago my 3 year old Progression was stolen. The Sterling folks told me that they had a Progression built for demo that I could buy so I told them "Yes please" and raced up to B'Ham to pick it up. It turns out that to get my butt into the cockpit of this boat I needed a giant shoe horn and a case of KY Jelly. I also couldn't get my legs in and out without a lot of pain if at all. I had been paddling my Progression regularly and knew the difference. They said that there was only one cockpit combing for Progressions so I must be mistaken but my butt wasn't lying. I knew better. No sale. The next day they contacted me and said that they found this other combing that they had a apparently used on some other P's but not any more.

The thing is, I had been paddling a Progression exclusively for three years and was ready to write the check, load it up and drive away but I sat in it and found that it would never do. Because of that cockpit choice I will never be paddling a Progression again but who knew? I sure didn't.

If you and I were the same size, our paddler profiles were similar and you were wondering about whether to buy a Progression I would have given you a big thumbs up. Now I say sit in it. See if you can get in and out without KY.
 

Yo H

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Feb 21, 2022
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BC
I think NImbus is still building a few boats, but I'm not sure. I get the impression that it's a bit like the Atlantis situation - 'When I feel like it, I build.." but that's just hearsay.
BTW the Atlantis Titan could go on your list - a friend who is a very experienced and strong paddler loves hers and has done a lot of miles in it, W Coast, N coast.

Mariner (Seattle) -not Mariner fishing kayaks - stopped building boats years ago. The Mariner website is still maintained and is an excellent source of general paddling info as well as info on Mariner kayaks. Owners tend to be quite loyal to their Mariners- "pry it from my cold dead hands" sort of thing. :) They are available used - more in the States than in BC. The hull design and build quality are excellent; the hatch arrangement (no forward bulkhead) is too old-fashioned for most paddlers nowadays.
Nimbus still makes great boats. They just don’t update their web site.
I got my Illusion 2 years ago. I love it for a weekend trip.
i still have Lootus that I used for 3 months trip 20 years ago.
 

Yo H

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Feb 21, 2022
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BC
The Epic,Stellar and the P&H Valkyrie are all modern style 'fast touring' kayaks with short overhangs.
Other similar boats would be the Rockpool Taran and Tiderace Pace.
Those boats would be in the 'rudder almost always' category for me: "It's a rudder boat, so I use the rudder". They can be paddled without the rudder, but what's the point?

A lot of paddlers here seem to prefer using the rudder 'only sometimes' - so many of the 'traditional' offerings from Current Designs, Seaward, Nimbus seem to be built with that in mind.

One of the more popular tripping boats didn't make your list: Nimbus Telkwa. The Telkwa comes in several 'flavours', I think - Sport to HV.
One of my pet peeves is the rudder rigging and foot pedal arrangement which is sub-optimal ( :) ) in some commercial boats. The rudder can always be upgraded if you get a good buy on a boat, but it's something to consider. Lots of discussion hereabouts on that topic!! :)
I am an old school paddler who is interested in a modern design boat.I have been using 2 Nimbus boats last 20 years. Do you know if Epic and Steller are durable as Nimbus and Seaward for abuse on west coast? Dragging loaded boat, hitting rocks, dropping, surf.
 

ABC

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Aug 26, 2021
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Victoria
I'm adding to the support mentioned by others for the Nimbus Telkwa and the Seaward Guide 17 - for your size both will fit and are incredibly stable and capable expedition worthy boats. They are not as fast as some of the other 'fast touring' models (also mentioned previously) however. If you're looking to try a Telkwa I'd suggest reaching out to Comox Valley Kayaks; the owner helped to design the boat and I believe they're still selling them. The website is a little more up to date at least.
 

Jasper

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Jun 8, 2017
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Portland, OR, US
I am an old school paddler who is interested in a modern design boat.I have been using 2 Nimbus boats last 20 years. Do you know if Epic and Steller are durable as Nimbus and Seaward for abuse on west coast? Dragging loaded boat, hitting rocks, dropping, surf.
No, not even close. They are primarily surf ski manufacturers and built for light weight, their primary customers are less interested in durability as they plan to buy the newest and greatest after a few years anyway...

I have owned an older Epic 18X Endurance. After less than a year of fixing delaminations where my knees engage the deck, the seam split in a surf landing and I decided it wasn't the boat for me. I understand they have learned a few things about composite fabrication since, but I still don't think they are really built for west-coast abuse.

That said, people in my regular paddling group have broken Sterlings, Aries, Delphin's, Virgo's, etc. It might just be us, don't buy a used boat from me :cool:

I have been enjoying my P&H Valkyrie, a fun, modern shape in 60 pounds of solid plastic. It is not an expedition boat though.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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Dec 7, 2011
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Victoria, BC
I'm adding to the support mentioned by others for the Nimbus Telkwa and the Seaward Guide 17
I wouldn't put the Seaward Guide 17 in the same class with the Telkwa. The Guide is the boat I posted about here a few years ago - with the rudder rigged 'backwards' - locked down and spring up. And Seaward didn't really fix the problem when the owner followed up with them. I've worked on a couple of other Seaward rudder boats since, and they weren't well-rigged, either. It really gives a bad impression when a company doesn't seem to care. Seaward Guide : "Let's inflate a Romany and throw a rudder on the stern..." Just IMHO, of course...
:)
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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I am an old school paddler who is interested in a modern design boat.I have been using 2 Nimbus boats last 20 years. Do you know if Epic and Steller are durable as Nimbus and Seaward for abuse on west coast? Dragging loaded boat, hitting rocks, dropping, surf.
You probably know the answer just by looking at the published weights. 'Magic thinking' (step right up, Sterling!) about light boats being rugged doesn't work for me.
Expedition Kayaks in Australia has the same view as I do...When I was inquiring about layups, Mark Sundin told me via email that they don't make light boats because they can't stand up to the conditions they're designed for. The carbon-kevlar layup is only a couple of pounds lighter than the standard layup - "but it is stronger". And the 'carbon' boat they made for me is extremely well-built - very clean vacuum (infusion?) construction. It weighs in the "mid fifties' (pounds) when I have 'the usual stuff on it (spare paddle, pump, paddlefloat, compass, etc.) .

Russell Henry split his Stellar enroute to setting the round Vancouver Island record. And Freya Hoffmeister had some comments about her Epic which she used around Australia and part of S America (?). She didn't have much better luck with her Point65 boats which she's using now, though.
 

ABC

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Aug 26, 2021
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Victoria
I wouldn't put the Seaward Guide 17 in the same class with the Telkwa. The Guide is the boat I posted about here a few years ago - with the rudder rigged 'backwards' - locked down and spring up. And Seaward didn't really fix the problem when the owner followed up with them. I've worked on a couple of other Seaward rudder boats since, and they weren't well-rigged, either. It really gives a bad impression when a company doesn't seem to care. Seaward Guide : "Let's inflate a Romany and throw a rudder on the stern..." Just IMHO, of course...
:)
Yeah, fair enough, that would leave a bad taste in my mouth as well. Maybe I should have added YMMV ;)
 

eriktheviking

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Jul 4, 2009
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Prince George, BC
There are some different schools of thought on boats- some love the Sterlings for sure. Also there are the Brit boats group, for example the NDK boats. If you have the desire to check that out, you can do a paddle with Blue Dog and rent one of theirs. I have a P&H Cetus with the heavy layup that I bought from a former guide- great boat but a heavy one to carry any significant distance. These are mostly skeg boats, which again seems to be the most popular choice for that crowd.
 

cougarmeat

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Sep 17, 2012
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958
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Bend OR USA
I once took a class in digital photography. It was mostly about being brave enough to get beyond all the "auto" settings. What amused me was when participants would enter the classroom, the instructor would ask if they had a Canon or Nikon. He put Canon people on one side of the classroom and Nikon people on the other (Olympus, etc. owners could sit anywhere). Different schools - all good.

It might relax the issue a bit if you think more in terms of getting your "next" boat instead of seeking out the "best" boat. Because there is no "Best" boat. And even if you found a "best" boat now, my guess is, your sense of best will change after a few years or maybe even after one summer.

I also wouldn't worry about such things as boat weight. You are not considering a Tandem and boats don't weigh very much when they are in the water. The amount of time spent carrying the boat from the car to the water is pretty short relative to the time spent paddling. And if you are in a situation where you mostly have long carries, there are two-wheel dollies. That said, I admit that I sold my Mariner XL and picked up a Kevlar Mariner Max. But I liked the color. :)

Fit can't be described. Not by me anyway. It has to be felt. And understand that a seat/fit can be modified somewhat. What becomes apparent is the ease in entry/exit, height for paddling shoe size, and space for thighs.

For example, a lady friend tried a Necky Eliza - specially built for the smaller of stature. She's only 5'6" and ... light. And couldn't fit in it, or rather exit from it, comfortably (kayak demo days are your friend). She settled on an EddieLine Fathom LV and is perfectly happy with it. Now that story could be reversed for someone else. And I could probably carry the LV inside my Mariner. But she doesn't need a lot of gear space because she'll never go out alone - that's not her desire. But if she did want to do solo trips, I know I could fit food/shelter/clothing for a week in her boat, though I might leave out the folding camp chair and use that space for water/food.
 
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Yo H

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Feb 21, 2022
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BC
Does anyone have thought / experience with Current Design Extreme which I do not see on their web site for west coast touring boat ?
Does anyone have experience with Nimbus Zoom for west coast touring ?

I am looking for a touring boat something between Nimbus Njack and Telkwa Sports. My Nimbus Lootas is getting old : over 20 years old and the hull is getting soft and weak.

Grand illusion with rudder would be great. However, it would be over my budget.Your suggestion for a new touring boat with a rudder is more than welcome.
 

red kite

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Feb 1, 2009
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comox valley
The Extreme has been updated and renamed as the Nomad around 2010 (I think). Narrow-ish (21" If memory serves me right, and looong (close to 19')

I've never seen a Nimbus Zoom in person, so not sure how many are actually around and if the plug still exist. Contact Nimbus for more info?
 

red kite

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Feb 1, 2009
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comox valley
I believe the Solstice is the current name for what they used to call the Extreme.
Unless my understanding is way off, the Solstice models went through at least three major changes / updates in the past 35 or so years, but the Extreme / Nomad has always been a quite different beast.
As a small paddler, the Extreme / Nomad has always fit me better than the Solstice GTS. Although, the deck is noticeably higher than my usual preference.
 
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Newbflat

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Dec 27, 2020
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Seattle
Having had a couple of Stellar boats in both the Advantage and Excel layups I don’t really see them as true touring boat layups. I liked the boats performance wise but the cored hulls are delicate. I’m a big fan of solid and thick fiberglass for real touring boats on the west coast. Way to many rocks and barnacles to be dragging a loaded thin skinned cored hull around the beach. I spent 6 weeks in Prince William Sound in a Mariner Max and it did fine being man handled. In no way would my Stellar have survived that trip unharmed. It’s also a lot easer to repair a solid glass boat than any cored hull at home or in the field. Especially if there is Kevlar in it… I hate Kevlar in a touring boat.
 
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