Caught Between MV & HV– Which Way To Go?

-- Last Updated: Jul-10-12 6:20 AM EST --

Will be buying a new boat this year. My dilemma: Weight-wise, I seem to be caught between MV and HV hulls.

I could go with an MV (I'm medium height), but I wouldn't be all that far away from the top end of such boats' 'recommended load' spec– I could still carry some stuff, but apparently not a ton.

With HVs I don't have that issue, but as a medium-height guy I think such boats might be giving me more cockpit than would be optimal, plus, I dunno, maybe a bitt more buoyancy than I really need (tougher rescues), and not as good stability as if I went with an MV (my weight makes an MV sit lower in the water than an HV).

I guess it comes down to the eternal question, "Do you want a day boat or an expedition boat?".

I'm thinking I want more of a day boat than an expedition boat (probably would be used as the former about 10x more often), so I'm leaning MV

And it seems like a fair number of people are going with boats that a few years back would've been considered too small for them/they turn expedition boats into day boats via sizing.

But it'd be interesting to hear some further thoughts on the matter, especially from ppl who've gone a bit small on their boat on purpose. How did that work out for you?

Another idea would be for me to go HV, but ballast the boat when I'm not expeditioning in it, to make the boat sit lower in the water/up the stability some. Apparently some do that already, especially with twitchy boats (Nordkapp, etc).

PS – I'd also be curious as to what ppl think would be a good maximum paddler weight in 'day boat mode' for some of the boats I'm looking seriously at:

Etain 17-5
Etain 17-7
Nordkapp LV
Explorer HV
Romany HV
Xplore M
Xplore L

Thanks for any help or insights.

get the smaller boat
In general the smaller boat is more fun and better control. Another boat to add to the list is the Tiderace Xcite. Similar size cockpit to the Xplore-M but more rocker and maneuverability. I have a friend who does 5 day trips in his Xcite.

I found the Tiderace boats and the Valley Etain to be much more comfortable cockpit than the Explorer/Romany low deck, knees out position.

I’d also go smaller
I’d probably also go for the smaller boat. As much as I like expedition paddling, the vast majority of my paddles are day paddles.

That said, I also would not just reply on the printed specs. I wouldn’t buy any boat (except maybe a well-priced used one) without getting butt time in it. If a certain model is not available for me to test, it is off my list.

Re: replies
@nickjc: That’s a really good point you bring up on paddling position.

I myself much prefer a ‘knees up and closer together’ position (kind of more like a surf ski) then the splayed-out ‘yoga’ position. It’s light-years easier on my back.

But the nice thing aboyt the Explorer HV is that its got a higher deck, so you actually have enough room to get your knees up. I don’t think I could be comfortable over the long haul with the regular Explorer.

Btw, thanks the for Xcite recommendation, I"ll add it to my boats list. Everyone tells me it’s a great all-arounder.

@Peter-CA: Yes, butt-time is very important. Like you I wouldn’t buy without some.

But I’m lucky enough to live in an area where I can get my hands on pretty much any kind of boat there is, except Rockpool (what is up with them in the US anyway?).

I Went Smaller
I bought a Tempest 170. Had never heard of a Tempest 165. Then I paddled a rented 165. In the first couple of minutes I knew I had bought the wrong boat. Traded boats a couple days later.

Re: I went smaller
Kudzu, if you don’t mind me asking, what’s your height and weight?

I’m 5’ 9" and 165 Pounds
Here’s a trick: move the seat back a couple of inches and it makes it fit like a glove. I have a buddy at about 6’ 4" and about 195 pounds who paddles the Tempest 165 comfortably. Awhile back he paddled my smaller Alchemy with no complaints. Same deal, I moved the seat back in it.

For a day boat go smaller…but…
Why that boat for a day boat? I’d sure want something either faster or more playful. For most of the day boat stuff I’d want something like an Aries or Delphin if you are looking at P&H. I’d really like an Alchemy for a day boat too.

Like you, I’m a "medium"
and could go either way between the larger and smaller boats. I went with smaller for now because I’m a day tripper, not a camper, and light weight is important to me because I lug it around myself for the most part.

A smaller hull also displaces less water, therefore is more easily paddled at typical cruising speeds. If you want that last burst of speed on a sustained basis, you will need to go to a longer boat.

Sometimes I am tempted to go longer for the additional speed, but in the same size cockpit that fits me like a glove. A cockpit that is too large is no fun at all.

Do not
My advice would be to spend as much time as posible in the boats that make your short list and not be too influenced by boat specs. It’s often the form those specs fit into that really makes the difference. I’d also be concerned about what kind of water conditions would be most prevalent in your paddling.

A fast boat is almost always more fun than a boat that too quickly limits out and here again, it’s going to be about actually paddling and comparing how they feel to ya. I’ve also learned to be very skeptical about first impressions.

just thought of this…
All else being equal, the lower volume boat is going to be easier to roll, yes?

Nope- too tight limits you
A boat that is too tight is also hard to roll.

Try this on the floor - typical leg position for kayaking - legs slightly splayed, sitting up straight on your sits bones w/o rounding your pelvis. Try lifting one hip and then the other. Notice how high you can lift and ease.

Now try with your knees too close, observe. Try lifting one hip and then the other. Notice how high you can lift and ease.

Lastly, try with your legs straight out and knees down. Try lifting one hip and then the other. Notice how high you can lift and ease.

Which works better for you? That is what you should be looking for in fit.

All those low volume snug fitting Greenland kayaks are hard to roll because they are too tight? You might want to do some more research. :wink:

Yes but…

– Last Updated: Jul-11-12 8:05 AM EST –

It is also importaint that the kayak fits you and matches your body type in order to get the most out of it. I find lower volume kayaks not just easier to roll but easier to control. Just be sure that you are comfortable and will be able to stay in the kayak for long periods of time. There is always a bit of compromise either way.

On another note. Do not get all hung up on manufacturer suggested weights limits. There's a good amount of leeway there. I'm 6' and weigh 190 lbs but paddle MV and LV boats only.

lay back vs hip snap
Good catch. The main difference is that traditional rolling/Greenland utilizes more upper body action rather than lower body. Think about a traditional lay back roll w/ sweep. No hip snap is needed at all.

Greenland rolls/hipsnap
A standard Greenland roll (layback) uses plenty of hipsnap. Actually hipsnap is a misnomer since the movement is not violent, but is gradual and strong. Tremendous lift is generated from the paddle but it would be a mistake to think this technique is all upper body.

Some rolls, such as an armpit (aka shotgun) roll do use mostly sweep and very little hipsnap, and some Greenland rolls are primarily hipsnap (hand and norsaq rolls). Other rolls are a mix of paddle/hand sweep and hipsnap.

That said, an overly tight Greenland kayak isn’t great for rolling as you still need to move your lower body. Even a “cheater” rolling kayak has some room to move around. Also, if too skinny and too tight you might windowshade (come up and then go over again on the other side).

In the context of this thread, I assume the OP is not looking for a “competition rolling kayak”. If you have a good roll (just trying to come up – not trying to do anything fancy) it won’t matter if it, for example, you are trying to roll a regular NDK Explorer or a HV NDK Explorer, either will roll fine.

Greg Stamer

This is a bit like chasing a dark cat in a big room

What are you numbers - height and weight?

Re: say
5’11". Weight bounces around somewhere between 210 and 225, depending on time of year and how good I’ve been lately on working out and eating well.

I’ve also got some fairly big buff thighs too, which are a worry in the fit department. Not sure why, I don’t do leg presses or squats or anything, they just are.

I think the TideRace boats and SKUK/NDK are worth looking into.

PH Cetus models might be a bit problematic due to the knee tube - you mentioned wanting to bring knees together. TideRace boats have knee tubes as well.

PH Quest and Quest LV are worth a consideration as well - they allow for the more knees up ergonomics.

Can’t comment on Valleys

re: OK
To be clear, I didn’t say I wanted to bring my knees together, rather that I liked my knees higher and closer together than the traditional splayed-out ‘yoga’ position.

Knees all the way together would be pretty uncomfortable, I’d think :frowning:

Re: Tiderace boats, do they really have true knee tubes standard, or is it just the underside of the small 4th hatch intruding a bit into centerline underdeck space?

If its the latter, probably no big deal, as again I don’t want my knees completely together.

The Quest seems interesting, thanks for the recommendation. The Cetus seems to be the mainstay of P&H’s expedition boat line now, but some ppl complain about how big and intrusive the ‘glovebox’ is. THAT could be a problem. :frowning: