NDK Explorer Elite Layup

I am currently selling my full size Valley Nordkapp. Nothing at all wrong with the boat. I simply lost 40 pounds and I am only 5’8". My current weight is 162-165. I would have to load the boat with about 60 pounds for it to perform properly. I paddled an Explorer, and it felt slightly smaller but most of all, it paddled better when not fully loaded. So now, I am looking for an Explorer. I found an Elite Layup for a fair price. The catch is, that I hear conflicting theories about the standard layup and the elite layup. Is the Elite that mush more fragile and more subject to damage?

NDK Elite Layup
I have an Elite layup Romany. Though it is notably lighter than a standard layup boat it seems no more fragile than most non-NDK/VCP boats. I’ve used it surfing and rock gardening and though it is not as tough as standard layup NDK or Valley boats, it seems as sturdy as P&H and Impex boats.

BTW, if you like a lively boat, you might consider moving to a Nordkapp LV. After having a standard 'kapp you might find the Explorer unexciting :wink:


– Last Updated: Oct-14-11 4:58 PM EST –

Totally agree. The Explorer may put you to sleep. :)
Sold mine, got a Nordy. Love it, Though I would like a short day boat, maybe a Romany.

Explorer is still a big boat. Have you looked at a Valley Avocet. Playful and a great boat for paddlers your size.

I mostly need a camping boat.
I have a Romany and Cetus LV which makes a fast day boat. I wish the Explorer LV would fit me. The regular Explorer is slightly smaller than the Nordkapp.

Romany is fine for camping
Paddled one on many distance trips. Take less crap.

Not missing anything

– Last Updated: Oct-15-11 10:50 AM EST –

FYI, the Explorer LV is exactly the same boat hull as the regular one. All they did was drop the deck and make a small person's cockpit.

For the original era of this boat that was a lot - I can't make it to 5 fingers counting the kayak makers who were trying to get an expedition boat out for someone my size. But that has changed.

Now - if you like that kind of design ethic but need to be able to fit thru the cockpit, you may want to give a shot to the Pilgrim. It is truly tuned for a smaller person, so should be more lively, but they did a bit of the knee bump thing so somewhat bigger people can fit in there.

Question remains on the layup…
Is the elite layup on an Explorer a compromise or trade off? Is the boat a lesser quality or durability specially for use like camping or taking heavy loads?

The layup

– Last Updated: Oct-16-11 9:33 AM EST –

The quality of any boat with an intentionally lighter weight layup - no matter the manufacturer - is only altered if the user includes durability for getting whacked over being light weight as part of their own quality standard.

But carrying heavy loads, or handling bigger water conditions, is not a place where the Elite layup should have any higher risks. Can't say that the Elite Romany has been asked to haul a lot, but my Explorer LV is a precursor of the Elite layup, does have the lesser thickness of gel coat etc, and I have crammed it full here and there.

The place that the Elite layup may have higher risks, depending on your use and skill, is not where you seem to be focusing. It's when you hit land - literally - that this may show up. So it may take less of a hit to crack some gel coat off if you land on the rock rather than the sand to each side, or the boat hits the a hard beach without you if you swim while surfing, or it falls off the roof of the car onto pavement.

(We have tested the Elite Romany landing on dirt and grass from the roof of a station wagon - it was fine.)

The thing to remember is that the Elite layups still have structural reinforcement along the keel at the bow and stern. So if you do drop the stern on a concrete boat launch and the gel coat cracks off to the keel, the boat is still fine and will paddle home for you to put in some new gel coat. (I tested that one.)

But I still wonder about the Explorer being maybe too predictable and sluggish for you to be happy with compared to your other ride, and think you should at least try to get into a Pilgrim Expedition if you are thinking NDK. You are on the cusp, but still at the bottom end of weight to find the Explorer easy to push. The Pilgrim is coming in as a reliably faster hull.

If part of your issue has been the Nordie's stability, the Explorer does resolve that. The problem is that it resolves it by being the extreme opposite, as in feeling soooo safe that you could stop for tea without getting out. Shooting down the middle may leave you happier long term.

Going on a bit of tangent, try examining layup of TideRace boats. They have a couple of expedition oriented models.

If you like the NDK Explorer…
you’ll like the feeling of the Tiderace equivalent. Same designer, and the same ethic about having head room.

That said, my husband who is taller and heavier than than the OPer spent some time in the regular sized TR Excite. He found it so similar to the NDK Explorer in terms of head room that it didn’t quite live up to its name.

Beautifully made though - killer quality. My only comment is that if you hate looking at scratches, the black hull they like so much may not be the best idea. Don’t know about the weight.

Tiderace has apparently revamped
its color schemes and added several boats for 2012.


Link no work, this does

– Last Updated: Oct-18-11 2:10 PM EST –


Yup, a big person's size in the Xplore and a model line that is new to me, the Xscape. I am a little perplexed as to why they need the entire Xscape line, since Aled Williams designs all of his boats with a ton of head room for conditions. But the Xscape line may come into play more where they are based, with notably bigger conditions than paddlers in this country usually hit.

Not sure what happened with the link?

I am not sure what happened to the Tiderace information I cited from the “GO KAYAK NOW” blog. It was there early this morning, but now has disappeared. If you do a goggle search on ‘Tiderace 2012 catalog’ it will generate three hits to the subject blog, but all of them now generate the dreaded “error 404 - page not found”. I’ll go ask the author, perhaps they were ‘jumped-the-gun’ and were asked to pull their posting?

The blog actually covered the new 2012 boats from Tiderace and revised color schemes for all models. At the moment there is no mention of these new kayaks or colors on Tiderace’s own webpage.

This link seems to work, but it is not in English,


What’s different?

– Last Updated: Oct-18-11 2:09 PM EST –

Do you recall? I saw two models/ model lines lines that were newer, the Xscape and the Xtreme, plus an X size of the Xplore as well as pics of a white/yellow and white/orange/color scheme on the Tiderace site. This was new to me, tho' I haven't been paying a lot of attention.

Check out the new E’tains LV.
It will give you a smaller expedition Valley Boat that is not as small as the Nordkapp LV. Great boat.


We should have the 2011
info up soon, I had the 2012, Tiderace want to hold off on releasing it.

If you are in a Nordkapp and want something newer and sexier.


Or Xcite are both very maneuverable and very cool. Two of the best kayaks on the market right now. Great construction and great hull design.

With salty on the fact that just about any sea kayak should do for camping. If it is too loaded, take less stuff. It is a giant backpack.

Though if you want to size up one to bring more beer, I am totally with you!

Highly recommend you demo one. I am a team paddler in full disclosure.

The xcape and the xplore_m
are both new, as is the xtreme.

xcape is between the xcite and the xtreme in volume and kind of in between in rocker and length.

Xplore_m is the new mid volume tourer that I am excited about.


– Last Updated: Oct-19-11 10:00 AM EST –

I use a Romany for camping trips and have room for community stuff too.

(It is possible that one might actually need a bigger boat. And one might just want a bigger boat if one camps a lot.)

Sooo -
did they go a size up and a size down from the original Xplore, as in neither is the size of that original one, or is the X size the original Xplore relabeled? I am assuming the XploreS is as before - that may also be wrong.