I’m looking for a tripping boat. I’ve paddled many boats over the years, owning a Prijon, QCC 600, Explorer, Dagger Meridian, and a few other tupperware boats. Right now, we have three boats, including a Dagger Meridian SK, a Khaya 5.3m (don’t laugh, this thing is FAST for what it is), and my wife has an Aquasport Tampico (or something like that). My Explorer was a great boat, but after a few years I wasn’t paddling that much and it seemed kind of – well, kind of boring, to be honest. Not particularly fast, not particularly nimble, not particularly light, but pretty good in every area, and good in the Mid-Atlantic big water… I sold it about 4 years ago because we’d moved and I just wasn’t paddling as much, wasn’t teaching, etc, etc. For info, I am BCU, ACA trained, been paddling for a pretty long time. Lately, I’ve been doing more longer trips and teaching/guiding a little, and more inquiries are coming my way. I did a week in Casco ME awhile back, and have decided to reactivate my certs and move forward.

So I need a serious longboat (again).

My Dagger is a fun playboat and day paddler (and my 13-year-old loves it), and my Khaya is an excellent workout and distance cruiser (but needs some prodding to turn effectively), but I’m looking for a great rough water and tripping boat. I’ve been looking closely at the P&H Quest and the Quest LV, and another Explorer. Frankly, I think the Quest is faster than the Explorer and it actually feels pretty light and nimble in seas (I weigh 200 lbs, 6’1”). And I know everyone on the planet thinks the Explorer is the only worthwhile boat, but I’m thinking I may like the Quest a little better, for an all-round platform. It’s a half inch wider but doesn’t feel like it, has a little softer chine, and turns on a dime (at least for me). It rolls itself as easily as the Explorer, is at home in rough water, backpaddles easily, rudders easily, surfs well, braces well, great primary to secondary transition, and has a more comfy seat (did I mention that my Explorer seat exploded and I had to rip it out and make my own?). Back deck isn’t quite as low as I’d like, so Greenland tricks would be more difficult, but the Explorer back deck isn’t all that low, either.

So what am I missing? Can someone here who is more experienced than me give me the lowdown on the Quest versus Explorer? For record, I am also looking at a Quest LV, Cetus, Kajak Sport Millenium, Greenlander Pro, and the Point 65 N XP. Also, I’ve paddled the Caribou and Solstice GTS (thumbs down on both for my purposes). I figure we have the Meridian for short trips and surf fun, the Khaya for workouts and local distance paddles (I live on the sound), and so I am leaning more to a traditional Greenland boat so I can kick in greenland techniques.

Can anyone give me some good advice, without bashing any boats? Sorry for being long-winded.

And Thanks!


Why not Valley?
I happen to like the Aquanaut a lot as my tripping/rescue platform etc… boat. Though I often recommend Explorers, I find them boring. I chose an Aquanaut over an Explorer 5 years ago and have not regretted it.

If you are a confident paddler, you might try a Nordkapp LV. Fast, responsive, fun and sexy.

I don’t like the feel of the Quest. I was impressed with the Cetus but found it enormous. Haven’t even seen a Cetus LV.

Impex Force 4
might be worth a try.

my 2c
Nordkapp LV vs Quest LV - these are more in my weight class that Nordkap or Quest. I felt Quest LV to be better balanced than Nordkapp LV. Also, the Q LV hull, I think, was sitting a bit lower in the water that N LV.

I also tried Aquanaut LV. I will take Q LV or NV LV over it any day.

Cetus is a big boat, but the OP is not a very small/medium person as well. I, at 150, was not overwhelmed by its size, probably due to good stern/bow balance of the boat.

every paddler’s take is very subjective
These are all good boats and each paddler’s take is very subjective.

I am an intermediate paddler. I am 6’, 180+ lbs. I paddled a Quest LV for a day on Muscongus Bay last year including paddling out to Eastern Egg Rock. The boat was fine but felt somewhat jagged in its response to chop, quartering seas, etc… compared to my Nordkapp LV or Aquanaut.

In my experience: the Nordkapp LV seems to have less freeboard than the Quest LV. It is a more fluid boat and feels very fast in lumpy seas. It does not have a lot of primary and does not seem to have a ‘hang-point’ on its side. I am not a confident enough paddler to use the Nordlow as a resuce platform.

I look forward to the opportunity to try a Cetus LV. The regular Cetus is a very well behaved boat. It is very wide at the hips with a large cockpit. I just about fell out of the boat when I rolled it.

Thanks for the responses
You have a very similar physique to mine - 6 feet, slim hips. Although I can easily handle the Quest, I do have some thought that it may eventually be too fat for my liking. I had no idea the Cetus was that wide - I thought it was around 21.5 or so. I’ve also paddled a Legend a bit, and while it’s fsst I don’t like that it has no keel - only that rounded bottom and the chines.

I really hadn’t thought about the Aquanaut - looked closely at a used Argonaut, though - very clean but Huge for me and not on the list.

Yeah, Impex
I’ve looked at them in a shop, never drove a Force - but the specs say it’s designed for a paddler max 220 lbs - and on my last weeklong trip I had to bring water - 5 gallons at roughly 8 lbs each. That forty lbs, along with my 200 lbs and my 30 lbs of gear (maybe 40 with paddling gear), brings total load to 270 lbs (conservatively), not to mention space. And then, too, I don’t know if I want to work hard enough to make the Force series perform (with that little teeny rocker and all).

I did try a Diamante years ago, and was highly unimpressed - it was fat, slow, and squatty, and my Prijon Kodiak was (faster believe it or not).

Guess I owe it to myself to test out an Impex Force, though. I want to make a move in the next few weeks of possible.

wider than stated
The person whose Cetus I paddled said he measured it and found it notably beamier than stated in P&H literature. He was still very keen on the boat, but was struck by its width.

Force size
I think the 220 pounds is suggested paddler weight, not toatal load. I demoed a Force 4 and it felt big for my 160 pounds.

I have a Cetus, and I really do not find it that big. Most NA kayaks are probably bigger. The problem with falling out may have to do with the small thigh braces, which really need to be padded out.

This kayak is a really fun all rounder. I had it on a sea trip to the south brooks off North Vancouver Island a couple of weeks ago, and with a full load including all the water we needed for the trip it handled very well( I am 5’10" and 170 lb), paddling efficiently and directionally stable. I also had it out on a very twisty small river a couple of nights ago and never had so much fun in all my life. It is fast, and turns so well you slide around the corners like a power boat, easily turning from side to side under good control. I still have not had really rough water, so cannot comment on that performance criteria of the OP, but it has handled surf and the conditions I have had it in so far very well. Definitely worth a look.


Cetus NM

Don’t want to start old discussions
But why aren’t you considering a QCC700x? It meets all your criteria. And it is easy to test paddle one. You can make an arrangement with QCC to paddle one owned by someone near you.

Been There, Done That.
Well, at least with a QCC 600 XL Kevlar. I really do like the fullness of the bow on the QCC’s, but my 600, while very fast and a good moderate-condition boat, just didn’t stand up to the thrashing of the Mid-Atlantic coast. I won’t bore you with the details here, but I ended up sending my 600 back and bought a Brit boat. Slower? Yes, probably. Maybe not as contemporary? Probably. But the Brits make resilient, maneuverable, take-a-beating boats, and I opted for that instead.

Don’t get me wrong - QCC is a good boat relative to hydrodynamics, speed, etc, and great for moderate conditions, but it is not an offshore, rock garden, surf-landing piece of gear. At least it wasn’t for me.

Different boats
Especially for your size. I am 5’10" and 190 and I consider the 600x too small. My wife paddles one. That despite the fact that I generally prefer boats where I am at the top of the weight range. But, as others remark, the choice is very personal.

Force boats different
These are not your old Impex boats, which except for the Mystic I agree never rang my bells. The 4 is too big for me, but I was impressed by how much boat the Force 3 felt like.

Force 4

– Last Updated: Aug-22-08 10:30 AM EST –

Try the F4! It's pretty quick and really turns when you edge it. Very good for teaching. I'm 6ft and 155lbs. I don't have a problem being too light for it. I really like the fit of the F3, but it's not quite as fast. I want Impex to make a Force 3.5... The cockpit and low deck of the 3 and the hull of the 4.

Force 3 v Force 4 fit
Just rechecked your size - if you get to some place that has both for demo you should make sure to sit in both of them on the water. I can’t speak to either in terms of tripping comfort - don’t have that kind of time in one - but one thing they did to make the 3 fit someone my size is to run the thigh braces back much further than in the boat for larger folks. You may be right at the cusp of whether that is comfortable or the 4 is the only choice.

Mark Schoon of Carpe Diem Kayaking in Bar Harbor used a custom-layup Force 4 to do the Maine Island trail a couple of seasons ago. It might be worth checking in with him on performance as well as layup considerations. You just may have to try hard to reach him - the symposium they run each year is not far away so I am sure he is very busy.

Force 4 fit and feel
At 6’, 180+ pounds the Force 4 felt like the right model for me.

As an intermediate paddler who likes coastal work and wanted a ‘do-everything’ boat, my short list would be:

Impex Force 4

NDK Explorer

P&H Cetus (LV if available)

Valley Aquanaut

WS Tempest 170 and Necky Chatham 17 are also worth considering.

For fun, I do think you should play with a Nordkapp LV :wink: Currently, it is the boat I most often paddle if I’m not paddling my Romany.

Seat width
The F4/F5 seat width is a bit on the narrow side of things, 15 inches between the hangers. 16 or wider was typical for other Impex boats I measured (not including the OI, didn’t measure one of those). I fit in there ok (5-10, 190lbs), and paddled one for a full season last year without any discomfort intense enough to do anything about, but it became apparent in the off-season that something bad had happened to my right hip, and I eventually decided that was the main cause. Especially after starting this season and being in some real serious pain after paddling only an hour.

Of course, seats can be taken out and replaced with something else, if you really like the boat otherwise. I did some experiments with that in mind but decided in the end to replace the boat with a bit shorter and more-rockered alternative (P&H Capella 167), just for a change of pace. For me the comfort is much better in this one as well, and my hip is getting better finally.


Actually, of all the Forces,
I like the Force 4 best because of the front deck height - remember, I already have day boats, I am looking for an expedition/teaching boat - up to 10-14 days. And I weight almost 190-200 lbs with a 6’1" frame. I’d love to try a Force 4 out, but I think it pushes the upper limits of what I’m trying to accomplish.


(whew) a lot of Force fans here…