Well I’ve been paddling the Nordkapp LV for a few weeks now and wanted to post a follow up to my previous post about this boat.
I feel a need to talk about this boat because it is so unique in my opnion.
Another review I read online stated that Valley “got it right” with this kayak and that they may have achieved the “holy grail” of kayaks. Well I would have to agree.
I have owned a lot of different boats over the last few years to include a Chatham 16, Explorer, Greenlander Pro, Aquanaut, Romany and an Avocet. All were good boats, but each with their set of trade-offs. Basically just different flavors of great boats…just pick the one that best suits your tastes.
The Nordkapp LV though is a much different boat. It is different in that it has a much different feel to it (one which takes a bit of getting used to and one that may not be for everyone) but it is different to me in that it offers overall performance that I have not yet found in another kayak. It is more than just a new flavor of boat, it is somewhat of a new genre all together.
I am somewhat perplexed by its combination of attributes that are usually mutually exclusive. It is a full length 18 foot class boat, yet offers superior maneuverability and playfulness. Attributes not normally found in a boat of this length. Additionally it offers fairly descent tracking and superior speed.
It seems to be an expedition length boat with the maneuverability of a Romany or Avocet. As a result it represents a pretty good all-around boat in that it combines the attributes of an Explorer or Aquanaut with the maneuverability of a 16 footer.
It’s speed is quite impressive as well. I would say this is the fastest boat I have owned….even faster than my Greenlander Pro (which is a fast boat) and offers good acceleration as well.
I have only had it out in rough water / high winds a couple of times now (wind around here has not been cooperating lately). In both cases the winds were around 30 knots. The boat tracked fairly well in these conditions and I was able to keep it on course in any direction. I was impressed with its ability to turn up into the wind without aggressive sweeps alone and without having to use a bow rudder.
One thing I have noticed about this boat though is that it does require a bit more action on the part of the paddler in such conditions due to the boat’s more tender stability. The secondary on this boat is light. In rough water I find myself having to use my knees and hips to right the boat as it gets tossed around. In this regard it is different from a boat like the Explorer or Aquanaut whose secondary stability tends to make the boat “self-righting” in such conditions. Also occasionally needs a light brace to assist.
I think that this attribute can be looked at in two ways. While this may not be my first desire on a long expedition in rough seas, it makes for fun paddling in a day boat. I also think that it will help me to ultimately become a better paddler since it does require a bit more input on the part of the paddler in such conditions.
I just sold my Explorer (which the Nordkapp LV will replace…although sad to sea that rough water machine go). Right now the only other boat I have is my Greenlander Pro which I always found to be a maneuverable and playful boat in rough water, as well as a very fast one.
Today was a windy, rough water day. Winds were about 30 knots and the temperature was just above freezing making for a cold, rough water paddling day. I took out both the LV and the Greenlander Pro. I took out the GP just for comparison really. I have not paddled it much lately (as it is for sale).
It was interesting paddling these boats back to back in such conditions. After paddling the Nordkapp for some time and paddling it first this morning, the GP felt much different. The GP felt slower and duller in comparison, and much less maneuverable and playful. I was somewhat surprised since I always found that boat a spirited boat to paddle. Today it felt muted in comparison to the Nordkapp. On the other hand the GP did track a good deal better in these conditions and felt a lot more “confidence inspiring” given its outstanding secondary stability. It required a lot less attention and hip action in the high winds and wind waves; however to me the winner for me was the Nordkapp. More lively and spirited for sure…and faster in the rough water and in the flat.
The last thing I will say about the Nordkapp that I have noticed is something somewhat strange. It is the only boat I have ever paddled that feels as if you can surf it upwind. Yep, that sounds like it doesn’t make sense, but for some reason the few times I have had it out in high winds and wind waves, it seems that when paddling into the wind the boat feels as if it is surfing. Perhaps it is just able to slide of the waves more smoothly than other boats. Not sure, but it is an interesting feeling.
Great boat for sure, but again, not for everyone. I think it will appear to a smaller group of paddlers than a boat like the Aquanaut or Avocet. I believe that in the hands of someone with some experience, a good skill base, and good rough water skills it will be a rewarding boat to paddle. For most it may not offer the same big water confidence that a boat like the Aquanaut or Explorer would offer, but I believe it ultimately offers a higher level of performance and may offer more room to grow as a paddler.
I look forward to getting it out to the coast here soon to take it out in the surf and get it out in a nearby tidal race. I am curious to see how it will perform. I think it will be a good surfer, although I imagine will require a lot more bracing in the tidal race than my Explorer. We’ll see.
Well I’ve been paddling the Nordkapp LV for a few weeks now and wanted to post a follow up to my previous post about this boat.
somewhat of a new genre all together.
Matt, I’ve enjoyed my Nordlow greatly and your description of its performance is consistent with my experience thusfar.
However, I’ve been wondering how different is it really from an H2O? I haven’t particularly liked the full size Nordkapp when I’ve paddled one - always unloaded. But Jeff Brent throws his full size Nordy around as if it were a Romany.
Peter’s video asserts they really just scaled the full size Nordkapp down for the LV.
I’ve read a few reviews wherein the Nordlow was paddled alongside a Rockpool Alaw, Aquanaut, Quest LV, etc… but not a side by side comparison with a Nordkapp Standard.
Today I had mine out in the roughest conditions that I’ve had it in when unloaded. It was in the same location and near identical conditions that I’ve struggled with other boats. The LV didn’t get blown around and would change headings with very little urging.
To paraphrase one review, “She’ll play with you all day long, just don’t turn your back on her”.
i learned to roll in a Jubilee…while in it you can certainly do layback rolls it in now way compares to our Tempests…how is a layback roll in the LV, can you really lay flat on the back deck without coming eating your vertabrae?
All the attributes you describe I also ascribe to the Q-boat but the Q does allow the laybacks.
I agree with mman’s question.
My Nordkapp Classic HM requires getting one;s boodocks off that seat to achieve a layback without snapping the spine like a dry twig. Yet, the Avocet requires none of this for layback rolls, but is a real backbreaker from no support when paddled for over a couple hours. Go figure.
Which is the Nordkapp LV (and by the way, B1, cut and paste this thread with your initial impressions thread and submit all together to Pnet Reviews, please, so that it'll live on in infamy.
I find I have to lift my buns off the seat to do full laybacks in the 'kapp LV. I wish it had a lower rear coaming and the seat was not quite so close to the back of the cockpit.
The all time easiest production sea kayak for laybacks I’ve paddled is my Elaho DS. The rear coaming is lower than the aft deck. It is very easy to lay back flat on the rear deck. The next easiest is my Romany.
Ok, now I really want one…
I paddled one briefly in calm conditions and was amazed how well it accelerated. And what nice response to an edge! I wasn’t fond of the cockpit, but a little minicell should make me happy. I would probably like it even more if it were about 6 inches shorter (I weigh 150 lb)
what i’d like to see
is a direct on the water comparison between the NordLV and the Q-boat…seems both are up to speed, both can turn well for their length, both can roll, and both are low volume as far as packing volume is concerned…
I too wonder how the LV compares to the standard Kapp. According to the folks at RI Kayak Centre the are essentially identical except that the LV has a lower deck.
However, if you listen to what Valley says in their little video clip about the LV and if you read other reviews online, it sounds as if it truly is a different boat completely. That was always what I had understood.
I sat in both the full size Kapp and the LV when at RI Kayak Centre, and they fit basically the same (to my surprise) although the front deck was way higher on the standard version. Excessively high almost.
Supposedly the LV is designed to paddle like the full sized Kapp paddles when it has a load…as most of us know the full sized version had often been criticized for not paddling well without a load on board.
In regards to the Q boat…I have not paddled one, but I’ll bet that the LV blows it away. I have a Greenlander Pro which I would have described as being similar in attributes (speed, maneuverability, etc) to the LV, but when paddled side by side the LV excells noticeably over the GP. My assumption would be that the Q boat and the GP handle similarly.
On laybacks…I don’t do a layback roll, but I have noticed that the back deck in high on the LV. I often like to lay back over the back deck to stretch a bit while on the water. I would think it would get in the way with layback rolls. Therefore, I would not think the LV would be the ideal boat for the Greenland rolling enthusiast. For all others though, you can still achieve a killer roll without lying on the back deck…probably even a better roll but that’s another topic.
GP vs LV
"...Greenlander Pro which I would have described as being similar in attributes (speed, maneuverability, etc) to the LV, but when paddled side by side the LV excells noticeably over the GP"
The Greenlander Pro (GP) was, as far as I understand, designed to favor tracking over manuverability. The Nordkapp LV appears to be designed to favor manuverability over tracking. Your experience seems to support this. If this is the case, these two boats are not "similar".
The layback is painful, even on the kap lv, for me. As Matt observed, the kaps also don’t have that self righting feeling that the Tempests have, and the Explorer and Romany have.
The Q-boat is the loosest tracking boat I have ever paddled. I borrowed a Jubilee for a week. IMO, it tracks well enough and also turns and takes corrective strokes nicely, so just the right balance between maneuverability and tracking. The Q is just too loose, at least for me. The Q is a great roller though.
My experiences anyway.
I guess I consider them similar in that they offer an easily edged boat with low primary stability that is both fast and maneuverable at the same time.
Guess you are right on the tracking…although the Nordkapp is supposed to be a good tracker as well since, afterall, its roots are as an expedition boat.
Of course it’s all about trade-offs. GP is a better tracker and more confidence inspiring in rough water. Also has more hatch volume. As a result it may be a better true expedition boat than the LV.
For fun day paddling though…I think the LV is a better all-around performer.
After all, tracking is nice, but not essential in my opinion. A maneuverable boat that lacks “tracking” can be easily forced to track by proper edging in the wind and by using its maneuverability to course-correct. In most day paddling situations this is fine, but again on an expedition it may become an issue…but the increased speed of the LV may make up for this in a longer trip.
Splitting hair here, yes…but I do that a lot!
Looking at photos of the Standard Nordkapp and the Nordkapp LV is is plausible that the LV is simply scaled down - it is narrower, lower decked and shorter.
And though its personality feels very different to me, that is pretty much what Peter says in the video.
The additional playfulness the 'kapp LV seems to evidence may be a combination of lower volume (less boat to throw around) and the rocker having more impact because there is less keel line.
NordLow vs. Nord
The lines for both kayaks have appeared in Sea Kayaker Magazine. I don’t have a copy of the June 2004 issue otherwise I’d do a quick comparison. Anyway have both the June 2004 and June 2006 issues?
I’ll never forget taking the Jubillee
out for a day paddle after many trips loaded for 4-5 days…it was like who took my Nordkapp? and even with the weight with footpump the Jubilee felt like it was corking on waves without a load.
I’ll argue the point of the Q not tracking-you just have to drop the skeg-duh?
I’m glad everyone is loving their LVs, its such a statement on the prowess of Valley.
a statement on the prowess of Valley
Yup, Peter and the gang are doing a great job. The Nordkapp LV is a very sexy boat. I bet as they start getting into paddlers’ fleets we will be hearing neat things about the Avocet LV.
There’s nothing like a Valley!
“The joke that it should have been named the “Nordnaut” is apt (though I think Aquakapp would be more entertaining) as the general feel of the Aquanaut is very close to that of the new Nordkapp H2O. The Aquanaut has a longer narrower waterline than the Nordkapp. The Nordkapp has higher decks, is quicker, and has a bit lighter initial stability. The Aquanaut is very responsive without feeling quite as tender as the Nordkapp. My preference is for the lower decks of the Aquanaut.” - wilsoj2.
I think this is a very fitting and, to this day, apt comparison. From the text above regardin the slightly high copaming for layback rolls on the Nord LV, the A’naut still holds many pleasures, perhaps one of them being the lower decks and cockpit coaming, inckuding for layback rolls. Of course, wilsoj was commenting on the NOrd standard and A’naut standard, not the newer LV version of each.
A’naut still holds many pleasures
Thanks for the reminder. I wrote that when I had recently spent some time in an H2O, which I haven't in a while.
I'm keeping my Aquanaut. I still feel it is one of the best all round boats available.
The Nordlow is much more playful than either an H2O or full size Aquanaut. For me the 'kapp LV is a playboat with more speed and challenge than my Romany ;-)