Impex Cat 3

I paddled an Impex Cat 3 for a bit this morning. I didn’t know there could be a production touring model that was too small, but I found one. I fit with my drysuit and a fairly heavy layer, but it is snug, and this is with no outfitting. This is truly a “smaller” person’s kayak. It is quick on take off and tracks pretty well. It rolls just as easily. Unlike the Outer island, (granted it is shorter by a foot) it carves turns pretty well. For smaller folks 170 or under I would recommend giving one a try. I am only 5’8" and 170-175 and it was a squeeze. I think for anyone heavier carving would be harder, and the boat would be sluggish.

I still like my silhouette better overall. But the cat 3 is a sweet little boat.

Good point about the snug fit…
with immersion gear. I hopped in one yesterday in the showroom with slacks on, and I thought it fit great. I might have to give the Cat.4 another look-see so I can wear dry gear, etc.

I thought the fit was akin to the Vela, Outer Island, and Sirius for those that have been in these boats. The Sirius is an oddball comparison I know, due to the extra near 3" of depth, but the difference occurs where I’m not in contact with the boats.


too small?
Wow, that’s surprising. I thought you’ve been in the Valkyrie. I felt that the Cat 3 was bigger than the Valkyrie, Rumour, Silhouette, and Outer Island. I would say that the volume felt close to an Anas Acuta for me. Of course I have skinny little legs and you’re a runner.

I think if I removed the seat I might
have some more room.

Which is not something I put in the original post.

It would give me quite a bit more room, but it is smaller than the valkyrie in cockpit fit because of the keyhole. Something that a lot of people who like ocean cockpits don’t think about. The ocean cockpit sweeps up at the front lip to accomodate the round shape and entry inside the boat. A keyhole depends on the longer opening, so the deck actually tends to be flatter. So there is actually less leg room in the cat 3 than in a valkyrie.

very good point about the deck
One of the reasons that I decided to not wait for an Ocean cockpit was because of this rise to accommodate getting into the oc. The deck is flatter with the keyhole and with some ingenuity, you can put in a temporary masik that allows you to roll just as easily.


I can shoehorn myself into the 3 and it’ll carve fine but it definitely sits lower in the water and has a terminal velocity. My wife takes it out and she makes it fly as if she was in a 14’ Mystic. Give me the Cat 4 or 5 for the zoom factor. Keep glancing out the window at the 4 on my car, playing hookey is calling!

See you on the water,


Have you considered moving the seat?
I thought a bit about the OI. I make pretty decent contact with the thigh braces in this boat (rarity), but I thought that moving the seat forward just a few inches might solve some problems. It may give you more deck contact like an ocean cockpit, and give you even more room for laybacks. It would also trim out the boat a little more so that the skeg may be more than just an ornament. Heck, it even gives you better access to the deck rigging and still allows faster entry/egress than an OC. Lord knows there’s pleanty of leg room til you get to the bulkhead to do this.


moving the seat
Moving the seat as little as an inch can make a big difference in thigh contact. I had the seat in my Aquanaut moved forward about an inch and I could feel the difference.

Moving the seat a few inches forward might impact the trim of the boat in uncomfortable ways.

Evan has his seat affixed with marine velcro so he can adjust its position and the boat’s trim.

Cat 4, OI and Explorer
Hi Marshall,

What do you think are the difference in these 3 boats. I’ve never paddled the Cat4, but when I picked up my OI from Danny, it sure seemed like the Cat4 hull was pretty similiar to the Explorer with a bit more emphasis on top end speed.



makes sense…
I guess the reason it felt so roomy was that the first thing I did with the Valkyrie was to shove about 3 inches of foam in it to give me a tighter fit. Now if you want to talk about a small boat, I was playing around in a Jackson Star yesterday. It was comfortable once I squeezed in but I was submarining that little kayak. Of course it made for some fun flatwater playboating since a sneeze would practically throw it down. Since I didn’t have to worry about double pumping, it really helped me work on my cartwheel body transitions which I then transferred to my own kayak. That kayak would be a lot of fun in a gentle park and play spot but man would that kick my butt on a real river. :slight_smile:

Thanks Keith
Confirms my suspicion that my fat rear would never make it. I saw one a couple weeks ago at a demo event - sort of - all wrapped up. Rep never broke it out. Given the size of the sea kayakers thereabouts - and the majority of attendees being rec/SOT shoppers - can’t say I blame him for leaving it on the trailer. Still would have been nice to see it (maybe it came out second day).

I have tried a Force 4 briefly. Seems like a good all arounder. Should be a popular coach/trip leader boat - reasonably quick, stable, and maneuverable. Decent balance of things. Good for cat herding in a range of conditions. Even at 220 it seems big to me though (deck ahead of cockpit mostly). Hard to imaging needing a 5! I much prefer the OI in all regards, except the way you can spin the 4 around (but I can live without that).

Explorer vs. Cat. experiences
Factors to keep in mind that influence my opinion;

  1. I’m biased towards Impex obviously.
  2. My time paddling an Explorer is limited to flat calm water for about a half hour with the boat unladen.

    The Explorer I paddled had a very ‘bobbly’ feel to it as if it needed some balast to even out the ride. Initial accelleration was very good. Interior room felt a bit much for me. (I’m 6’ 200lbs.) The hull shapes of the two I’d say do fall into the same overall design but I think that the Force 4 & 5 are a little longer waterline at the bow and definitely a lower deck on the 4. Same hull on the two, just one deck is for regular sized feet and the other is for big footed (sp?) large thighed paddlers. One student of mine is a long time mtn. bike racer and loves the non-charliehorse fit of the 5.

    Surprising how nimble these 18’ boats are if you are aggressive with your edging &/or bow rudders. Also the secondary stability is interesting. Unlike the Currituck/Assateague which has a definitive end/stopping point for it’s secondary stability all the Forces seem to have a fuzzy transition from secondary to final. This makes the boat extremely easy to hang on it’s edge and roll. All in all, the 4 & 5 have become my favorite paddle.

    Spring here so I’ll probably sneak out on the Hudson again for an hour or so, maybe lunch on the river instead of the showroom.

    See you on the water,


Needs seasoning imo

– Last Updated: Mar-29-06 12:16 AM EST –

I am a fan of Impex in general, quality, service, good folks. I very much enjoy my Impex OI. I also own an Explorer

Impex has come up with the Force series in some folks minds as the "Explorer killer" I have been in them and like the boats. However, they are version 1.0. I think they work pretty well in mild to larger conditions, but need some tuning with regards to the chines. There are a very short list of boats that experts would choose if they were going on a dangerous, remote, and difficult trip, like Antartica, Greenland, etc. The Explorer is one of those boats. It inspires confidence in the most important ways.

Time will tell about the Force boats. I stay tuned in, but imo, wait a bit to see how they refine them. IMO, not quite there yet.

“Explorer killer”

– Last Updated: Mar-29-06 8:21 AM EST –

So far, in the 13 years since the introduction of the Explorer and Romany, there have been many boats designed to compete, some of which are excellent boats. However, thusfar no boats have quite managed to be both as suitable for novices learning and advanced paddlers in challenging conditions.

Many other boats do some things better than a Romany or Explorer. Few boats are as confidence inspiring as either of these NDK models.

One may choose another boat for personal reasons (as I did my Aquanaut over an Explorer) but anyone who is a dedicated paddler should demo these boats as part of their education and decision process.

When I demo the Force boats next month, I will be thinking of how they compare to both an Explorer and my Aquanaut. Just as when I demoed a Montauk, I thought of how it compared to an Avocet and my Romany.

When the Explorer came on the scene, paddlers were comparing it to the Nordkapp which it came to displace as the choice for many adventurous paddlers.

Instructor’s Boat v. Paddler’s Boat
I often see it said that a certain boat would be good for an instructor or guide. What are those traits and would it be fair to say that a paddler who is not an instructor or guide might not prefer such a boat for their personal use? As in such a boat might be too dull under normal circumstances?

Smaller paddler
As a 5’5" 135lb paddler who already paddles an impex mystic, do you think the Cat 3 is a nice step up for a longer boat? I’m toying with the Montauk as well as the P&H Vela/Capella 161 to try to demo out there for longer expeditions in the ocean (thinking of the Maine Island Trail). Hopefully, I can try out both at the ADK paddlefest in NY, but thinking that I already have and enjoy my 14’ Mystic for the lakes/rivers/mod ocean, the 17’ might be better match with my Mystic than say the 16’ Montauk…


My wife liked both Mystic & Cat3
She said the fit was better in the Cat3 than the Mystic for her, but close. She still likes the Vela best for fit tho, and she’s 5’4", 125#.


"instructor boats"
This term is typically used to describe kayaks which are stable, self rescue demonstration friendly, manueverable, and tough. With those qualitites in mind a NDK Romany is often referred to as a good boat for instructors. While I personally would choose to paddle a Silhouette, Anas Acuta, or SOF kayak, they would not be ideal as they have less stability and for two of them they have ocean cockpits which do not facilitate demonstrations of the standard paddle float reentry.

As for being too dull, it depends on the person. Most instructors I know use their “instructor boats” as their every day boat and most “instructor boats” would be boats that everyone could enjoy. Of course I like narrower and lower volume boats so the typically “instructor boat” wouldn’t be my preference.

would be a trait I’d like to have while teaching/leading

I think

– Last Updated: Mar-29-06 11:42 AM EST –

those comments really only matter, or make sense, if you care about which kayak is better. NDK has a great design, and Impex certainly hopes to reach some of the same customers as the explorer, but as to whether or not one "kills" the other, maybe that's all in your head.

You haven't even paddled the boat and you are commenting on the chine profile. That's like looking at a pot of soup and saying it needs salt without even tasting it. It may very well need some modification, but based on your experience with paddling, and the kayak in question your comment is for complete lack of any other word... worthless.