P & H comparable to Explorer

-- Last Updated: Jan-14-06 2:19 PM EST --

Is there a specific P & H boat model that one might want to test paddle, if giving serious consideration to an NDK Explorer?

I think the Capella is the best model for you to at least test paddle. The cockpit is quite roomy, mostly due to the high front deck, but you can always pad it out. Some people find that the high deck forces you to hold your paddle a little higher as well, which may or may not be a problem for you. I found that it kind of forced me to adopt a more efficient stroke, so in the long run, it was a good thing for me.

The boat turns very well with the skeg up and tracks well with the skeg down. I think you will be surprised at how fast it is as well. I love the way it handles in rough conditions.

It’s just a good all rounder in my opinion. It fits all of my needs more that any other single boat.

Quality is excellent in every way.

Plenty of storage space.

I have to disagree with the Capella…
being at all similar to the Explorer. I’ve owned both and while the Capella is a fine kayak it handles very differently than the Explorer and the deck height as mentioned is much higher with the Cappela. I wouldn’t even consider the HV Explorer similar. I’m not familiar enough with the other P&H kayaks to give you any better information on what might be similar to an Explorer. Valley would probably have something that would compare well.


Yes, already know about the Valley Aquanaut comparision thanks to my paddling friends who have both . .test paddled both.

My curiosity on P & H was deu to reading recent posts that comment on its excellent quality but more important . . a Kevlar option for MUCH less weight than the NDK lighter lay-up even.

Capella likely closest but

– Last Updated: Jan-15-06 12:23 AM EST –


that's really only in where it fits in the P&H line as far as its intended function. Or an Orion if you want to fo to a retro model. The Capella is intended to be P&H's allaround full expedition boat as is the Explorer in the NDK line.

As to similarity, they are somewhat different behaving boats last I remember. I've only tried out the Capella, have the Explorer. My biggest memory was that the front deck on the Capella was noticeably higher than even the standard Explorer (which is still too big for me). I think I've also seen/found that the Capella wants skeg down in wind a little sooner than it'd be dropped in the Explorer - neither are dogged straight trackers but as recall the Explorer is a little better there.

But it's been a while, and I haven't ever had a had Capella out in the bigger conditions I've been out in with my Explorer. Best to try out a Capella for yourself - since P&H changed their container policy a couple of years ago their boats are no longer rarer than gold to find.

For an expedition purpose, the Quest is the comparator. Not a great day boat, whereas the Explorer serves well as a day boat. I had to do extensive cockpit modifications to fit my 6’ 165 lb frame, but I’ve owened two explorers and would take the Quest over the Explorer any day for extended (weeks) trips. Holds more, packs easier, is faster, and very stable and forgiving when loaded. This is what it’s designed for IMO, but if you can only have one boat, the Quest is probably not the best option. For NDK, the comparable boat to the Capella would be the Romany, not the Explorer.

I hope I’m not hallucinating, but I think the original post has been modified.

It was originally stated that the poster weighed 165 pounds and I forget the height, but I think it was not that of a large person.

I agree that the quest would be the closer comparison and also a great boat, but I think it has too much volume for Martin. There was also mention of having some experience with the Quest already.

post changed
Yes, I did edit and reduce the original post which I thought ran on longer than needed. 5-7 and 165 lbs although hope to reduce the last number! Atlantic Kayak Tours is a P & H dealer so perhaps best to wait til the season opens to test paddle them on the Hudson River in NY State.

If overall, P & H front decks on expedtion models are higher - may not be interested. Do not like the required paddle placement as a GP user.

Quest and GP
I also paddle GP and with an 84" paddle the foredeck is manageable but not ideal. You’re better off with an Aquanaut or an Explorer if you want an expedition ready boat and can only have one.

GP User
I think a GP user would definitley find the front decks high on these boats.

Atlantic Kayak Tours
AKT handles all three of the major Brit lines, so it is a pretty great place to demo boats. They will pull any and all boats you would like to try and add a few that you might like.

Plan to spend the day, or at least the afternoon. Bill, Janice, and crew are great to deal with and amazing sources of information and experience.

BTW: P&H boats do have higher foredecks than equivalent NDK or Valley boats.

Boat choices
Additional thoughts . . .

Perhaps my original P & H thought was born out of this. I was not only impressed with my test paddle of the Explorer and Aquanaut, but I fully respect and trust the advice of my very experienced paddling friends (Jim!). My hesistency might be this . . . the extra layup weight of these Brit boats is obviously required for the conditions boats were designed for. I do not paddle in such conditions. So ideally, I want the best of both worlds. A boat that paddles like an Explorer but has a carbon-Kevlar layup like NA builders - 49 pounds vs 59 pounds. So yes, this post may really be all about 10 pounds??

Get t he explorer in an advanced
lay up. The quest is nowhere as near as balanced in the wind, nor does it handle the surf zone as well. especially for a 180 pound load.

And that carbon/kevlar P&h hull may have a diolene deck atatched to it. Make sure you know the specs.

Quest and Capella
The Quest is a huge boat. The P&H dealer we first found on LI, when you still had to drive 250 miles even in the east to find a dealer, himself had a Quest but told us that the Capella was the expedition boat for most paddlers because it was more appropriately sized. That was before the Capella was available in different models for size by the way - there was just one which was about halfway between the middle and the top size they have now.

This guy described the Quest as being for mooses like himself - and he was quite large and tall.

That’s exactly what AKT says on their site . . . a larger person’s boat. Clearly, the Quest is not for me.

The feedback here was of great help in aswering my question. Thus, I do not see a P & H boat in my future.

Maybe a Sirius is the kayak to look at!!
Jimmy Kelly is about your size and he has paddled the Sirius by P&H for 5 years and loved it. Not hugely roomy for alot of gear but I know Jimmy has taken trips that were 3-4 nights and had no issues with room. I own a P&H Capella composite 16.9 and I beleive its great. I am 5’9" and 190lbs and it fits me fine with no padding. I have also paddled the Quest and found it to be pretty well the same kayak as the Capella only its 17.3 I beleive so its obviously longer. The deck height on both kayaks is very similar if well the Capella is 13 and the Quest 14.5 but the feel is amazingly the same.

Both Valley and NDK have light layups
There are enough options in layups to provide you with the ability to get a light boat that paddles and feels best for you.

These days an Elite layup Explorer is probably around 45 or so pounds (My Elite layup Romany is no more than 45). Carbon/Kevlar even less.

Valley’s new layups should be very good and even their standard will be lighter this year.

While you are demoing boats at AKT, try a Necky Chatham 17 as well. Tom Bergh thinks it is the best of the Chatham hulls.

Best of hulls?
Here’s what puzzles about comments like these. “Tom Bergh says the CH17 is the best of the Chatham hulls.” Best how? I happen to know a lot about the three Chathams and I also have met, paddled with, and very much like Tom Bergh. Ironically, the designers of said boats paddle the 16, as it suits their paddling style and geography. A couple of Necky reps really love the 17 for it’s added glide, while endurance paddlers find the 18 a great, efficient, long distance boat in big seas. My point is that BEST is a poor word. My hunch is that Tom would say he prefers the 17, as it matches his style and what he likes in a boat. All of the above are excellent paddlers, so which is the best boat? No such thing, only best for you. I know I sound like a broken record, but why do people need to define things so absolutely??? It all depends on what type of paddling you like, where you paddle, how you paddle, lots of subjective stuff tossed in…bla…bla… Could it be that every kayak discussed in this thread is excellent? I think so…it’s a matter of matching the boat to the paddler, and I believe this will happen more easily with an open mind.

Naw…try the Explorer LV
Based on your size Martin, I would definitely try out the low volume Explorer. I am 6’1 and 195 and just can’t squeeze into it, but with your size you would have no trouble.

I have heard from owners and sellers of P&H Cappella’s that they track like doodoo. (and doo doo don’t track!) I have heard references to them wandering around like a Valley Pintail, and when I think about it, the Explorer hull is about the most neutral one that NDK markets. (IMHO) I love the Explorer hull, but don’t like the high front deck as I use a GP and like low volume boats such as the Valley Anas Acuta. (which I am too heavy for)

Anyway, try the LV Explorer and you should be able to recognize one of the best hulls around mated with a low-enough volume to give you a great fit.

My $.02 worth…


I’ll second the Sirius
I’m going on my 3rd year with it and love the boat. I’ve gone on a 10 day trip with it but admit it was a ridiculously tight fit…many bloody knuckles the first 5 days. Sorry, I can’t compare it with the Explorer. Lyn