NDK Explorer HV vs Foster Shadow

I’m going to be purchasing a new boat in the next couple of weeks.

I think I have it narrowed down to the Nigel Foster Shadow or an NDK Explorer HV.

I currently paddle a Gulfstream. I’ve paddled the Shadow, but not the Explorer–yet.

Anybody have any experience with both of these? For the record, I’m a bit top heavy at 5’9" and 220 lb.

Do you need the HV?

– Last Updated: Dec-22-05 2:55 PM EST –

I wonder whether you really need the HV version of the Explorer.

What's wrong with the Gulfstream?

the NF Legend, I think it may be more your size than the Shadow…Remember Foster boats like to lean slightly on their chine while at rest, don’t fight it…it will be quite a change over both the Gulfstream or the Explorer

Best Wishes


At 220
You might be better off trying a Foster Legend and a regular Explorer.

Both very good boats - very capable, but very different personalities.

Very different boats!
I am about your size and have paddled both. The Shadow has much less initial stability but is faster. Cant go wrong with an Explorer. Tempest 170 is another one if you havent already tried it. Rent for a whole day if you can… take your time for sure.

Regular volume Explorer
You don’t need the HV- I’m about your size and rented and LV in San Diego. Alway liked the Explorer - but didn’t care much for the HV. You’d need really long legs to need the extra deck height. Short of that you’ll just get poor fit/control/wind liability. I’d actually like to try an LV - but the cockpit is smaller and I might have issues there (though building a SOF with small ocean cockpit so maybe not).

Only had a Legend on dead flat water. Definite personality difference. Rather psychotic feeling actually, whereas the Explorer feels like a good friend. You’ll love an Explorer right off, but I think for most you have to grow to love the Foster boats after going on many somewhat awkward dates together. Of course the flip-side is the Explorer can also be described as a bit dull feeling.

The Gulfstream is a great boat.
What I would like to see in a boat is one that is a little faster - the GS is a tad slower than the 18 foot boats, and more importantly, one that handles following seas and surf better.

The GS really likes to broach.

The main reason that I want a new boat is that the GS is now 8 years old and very much showing the hard use it has had.

Perhaps you are right
Perhaps you are right about the HV. Although it is true that the HV is great for long legs and bigger feet, it also is nice for folks with thicker thighs as well. If that fit is good then, who cares if you have slightly more volume otherwise, and you can order one with the bulkhead where you want it.

Regards dull, we all know no accounting for individual taste, etc., but it is one of the most versitile boats going. For an all around boat especially rare for this kind of boat to be a great day boat. IMO, as for a novice as for an instructor like me, or someone going to iceland in it, not dull!

Just my take,


1 Like

Deck height
I have 26" thighs - so not too small. The regular Explorer has a foredeck as high as my QCC 700. At 5’9" I have ample room in either. I would likely add a bit of foam - and I don’t like a tight fit but more of a fitness paddler outfitting so I can move and work legs.

Agree the Explorer is a great boat - and “dull” translates to manageable when things pick up to edge of comfort level.

Of course you might also fit in Aquanaut
As another alternative you might consider a Valley Aquanaut, faster above 4.5knot, somewhat less primary, carves rather than slides, needs to be edged some to turn, bit more playful than the Explorer, near equal secondary stability, confidence in big seas, good guality construction in most cases, excpet new ulthalight layup is untested (quite new, some problems I hear). Somewhat different cockpit shape and size but a lovely boat both as day and expedition boat. IMO one of top 5 boats around.

I paddled the NF Legend
at a demo last summer and just LOVED it! I assume its “big sister” performs similarly. I paddle a Slipstream so have a similar level of comparison as yours. Comfortable, fast, manueverable; the Legend put a smile on my face and envy in my heart. You’d probably do great with either boat as compared to the Gulfstream.

HV and Shadow
Both the HV and the Shadow are a bit unnerving at times . While they both are made

for large folk , the Shadow is not very deep . You may feel top heavy at times . With the

HV you have to have your seat and cockpit right . It is a stable kayak , yet if your a little

off the mark , it can be a task. I still have the Shadow in glass . After trying to sell it

last summer I am looking forward to paddling it again . John

Yes the shadow is not deep

– Last Updated: Jan-01-06 9:09 AM EST –

Some thighs are tapered; some are like treetrunks.

The shadow really outcarves the legend!

Good luck.

Agree with Peter and note on seat height
Agree with Peter im experience about Shadow and Legend.

Seat height is a topic here all by itself. LCG lower center of gravity makes a huge difference, I suppose if we had keels like sailboats it would indeed be a different sport!

Lowering seat height 1/2" can increase stability as much as 20% many techno reports have asserted. IMO may not be that much (I am 6’3" and 176 lbs with long legs and not especially long trunk, so my CG is not as high as some my height but it matter for us all as the earlier poster says. Even a super secondary kayak like the Explorer can be made more stable by lowerinng the stock seat or replacing it with foam, etc.



Agree w/ Evan
I am not quite 6’ but weigh in at 220#s. I have had a few NDK Explorers and Romanys and the time has come to move into the HV. First time out in it was as a guest observer in a rough water clinic and found it stable as could be while sitting still in clapotis. Personally, thats all I need to know about the initial stability. IMHO the Shadow also has great stability both initial and secondary. The main difference in the boats is that the HV has more rocker so it is incrementally more manueverable and the Shadow is definitely faster. test paddle them both at the same place same time if you can, they are very similar yet very different and one is sure to appeal to your paddling senses. You can’t go wrong either way. Good luck

Thanks to all - ordered a new boat
I demo’d the NDK Explorer and Nigel Foster Shadow today. I had paddled the Shadow about two years ago and really liked it then. I had never paddled an Explorer.

Conversations with many respected paddlers had me convinced that the Explorer was probably the boat for me. We paddled out into a five foot swell coming quite a ways into Mission Bay against an ebb tide. The waves really steepened as a result and where the channel narrowed, they started breaking.

I found the Explorer really handled the rough water well, but my abs and butt were really starting to hurt. My partner mentioned that when he bought his Pintail, he had the same problem and it took him several months to strengthen his abs to the point where he could paddle his normal distances.

I was resigned to this, but decided to take a Shadow out one more time. All of a sudden, the initial instability I remembered when it wasn’t moving was gone. It handled the rough water well and most importantly, it was much more comfortable for me. No more pain in the abs or butt.

I now have a new Nigel Foster Shadow on order. Thanks to all for all of the help.

Are you still down here Waterdoc?
Come on over if you are.

Unfortunately no
After our workouts in the entrance to Mission Bay yesterday, we were exhausted and still had a 180 mile drive ahead of us so we left SD around 3:30.

I’ll be back as soon as my boat arrives and also sometime in mid January, I’ll be joining Tsunami Chuck when he drives doewn to pick up a whitewater boat that he bought from a friend of mine.

We have tentative plans to go out on a whale watching paddle. Maybe you could join us?

I’m also suggesting to that friend that he bring his girl friend to you. She is looking for a FAST boat that can handle pretty much anything. She is a real athelete - triatholon and a fairly new kayaker, but she’s already showing that she can handle some big surf and chunky conditions.

Maybe one of your boats is just the thing for her.