Q boat vs. Explorer

Fellow Paddlers,

I am reaching out to the community to derive some solid opinion and experience…

This summer I am planning an extended journey, roughly eight weeks, 1300 miles and potential for some big water. I will have food drops along the route, and will be carrying supplies for 12 days at maximum.

I am curious to know what the general consensus is between the Valley Q Boat and the NDK Explorer. I know the NDK boat is a proven expedition champ, holds the gear, handles the seas, and will efficiently get you from point A to point B.

I know the Q boat is a blast to paddle, very playful, fast, but I haven’t had the opportunity to paddle it on extended journies. The low volume stern makes me wonder if that cuts out important equiptment room, or if the high volume bow makes up for it.

Any words of advice, experience or opinion are greatly appreciated…



I say take the one
you enjoy paddling the best! Either will function well and carry all you’ll need so pick the one that you enjoy the most.

"will be carrying supplies for 12 days"

Being a bit more precise about what “supplies” means might be helpful.

  1. Equipment.
  2. Food.
  3. Water.

    Regarding equipment, what you need for 12 days is pretty-much what you need for 3 days.

Explorer vs Q-Boat
They both carry a good amount of gear. I think it depends on your preference. I might be wrong but I think the Q-Boat might be a more efficient paddle tha the Explorer.

Also consider a Nordkapp Jubilee. It is an excellent expedition boat. It is not as tippy as the old Nordkapps and I think you may like the way it paddles.

sack consensus
and paddle the boat you’ve got the most seat time, experience and comfort in.

you’re the one taking the trip and for 1300 miles…me, i’d rather be comfortable in the boat than give a hoot what someone else has to say.

I agree
Having camped out of my greenlander and my pintail and both worked fine. It’s easier to tailor your packing than to spend a week knowing you could have been more comfortable.

most seat time, experience and comfort
I think Rick has it right. The most seat time, experience and comfort will make the most difference.

Both boats are capable choose the one that you are most comfortable paddling.

Another perspective…
First I would have to ask if you own one or both boats, or if you own neither and are considering a purchase.

If you are condidering a purchase…

I would say that boat fit and comfort is the most important. No matter how good the hull is you will not get max performance out of it if it does not fit you right.

Which you like to paddle is very important as well as others have said above.

I would add something else though. The Q boat is somewhat of a niche boat. It may be a blast to paddle, but your tastes may eventually change.

Personally I think that the Explorer is a safer bet (but then again I am risk averse).

I like extreme hard chined boats…I had a Greenlander Pro for about a year and really liked that boat a lot. However, after a year of evaluation I found that the Explorer was a better boat for me.

I think that there is something to be said for boat design and how it has evolved. If super hard chined Greenland style boats were the superior design I think we would see more of them on the market.

I think it is hard to beat the Explorer. It may not be as lively and “fun” at times as some other boats, but it is a damn solid design and you absolutely cannot go wrong with it. It is super sea-worthy in some super big conditions. I am sure the Q boat is good too, and of course it is the paddler that matters the most; however, for most paddlers I would think that the Explorer would ultimately better serve their needs.


An Explorer…Inevitably
Isn’t an NDK Explorer inevitably the answer to all such queries?

Valley Aquanaut
it seems to me this boat is likely a great go to boat, fun to paddle, easier to pack and better made than the Explorer.

Not at all
You just belong to a club that is immersed in NDK, Brit mantra, which is all excellent, BUT, it aint the whole globe! Many more miles have been paddled on expeditions in Nordkapps than the Explorer I’d bet, not to mention all sorts of other kayaks from all over.

If you lived in New Zealand, or South Africa, or Japan, you may have other thoughts. It is a terrific tool though.


– Last Updated: Apr-30-08 12:40 AM EST –

Geez! I'm just making the same observation made here a few months ago in another thread (by jbv) "...i think the correct response to your question, will eventually come down to NDK Explorer, so i'll just tell you that now and get it over with." As it seems no matter what, when someone asks about a boat recomendation, a large number of folks weigh in with "Explorer."

I don't own an Explorer. I chose an Aquanaut over an Explorer as my main boat and still prefer the 'naut. My most recent sea kayak acquisition is a Nordkapp LV.

I own 4 sea kayaks and NONE of them are an NDK Explorer.

I've been in many BCU training sessions wherein Explorers outnumbered all other models combined. That alone reinforces my gratitude in not choosing an Explorer at any time in my paddling life -- not that there is any thing wrong with it ;-)

heck, I woulda suggested a QCC700
or Mariner II


Pygmy Coho


Take this with a grain of salt as its based on my impression after only a few hours of paddleing but I didn’t think the Q-Boat was very fast and it seemed to take a lot of effort to go straght. It would not be my first choice for an expidition boat. More of a play boat in my view.

kayaks with rudders?
certainly we’ve tread this path before, and i made that comment, ‘i believe the Explorer is the correct answer to any question regarding which boat’.


however it is such a general, do everything dam good kayak, and still kinda fun.

but original poster, good sir (madame?) other boats that have been highly regarded by many an expedition paddler here in BC with many long trips to their names, and worth your consideration:

CD Expedition- narrow, fast, and deep- huge capacity.

Seaward Ascente/Chilco- good, slim, all around touring boat, very well made.

Atlantis Titan. on the larger side.

CD Nomad- lower volume version of the CD Expedition. great boats all, not sure though if these are what you had in mind…

Good advice all

– Last Updated: Apr-29-08 8:45 AM EST –

It is important to paddle each kayak in the average and in the worst conditions that you anticipate on the trip. That'll tell you a lot. On a month long expedition to Newfoundland, I went back and forth between an Explorer and a P&H Quest. I eventually chose the Quest. Why? Besides being more comfortable for my skinny butt, it was faster and, key for me, big hatches are easier to pack and unpack. At the end of a long day with bad weather and/or bad bugs, the advantages in economy of energy with the Quest made my life easier. OTOH, both my partners paddled Explorers and they were fine that is except for complaining about the hatches. Lastly, as another poster said, these are very different kayaks. I mostly paddle Greenland style boats. If you like G-style kayaks, the NDK Greenlander Pro may be a better comparator to the Q boat. If you like Brit-style kayaks, I'd suggest that you look at comparing the Explorer to one of the many Brit-style expedition kayaks on the market beginning with the Aquanaut, Tempest and Impex Force 4. Best, John

Not all about Brits…
I did not mean to come across as being strictly focused on British boats. I just think the Explorer is generally a very safe and conservative bet for most paddlers. It’s kind of like a Ford Explorer…

I personally did not mention other boats because your question pertained just to the Q Boat vs. the Explorer.

There certainly are other boats out there that would be great.

I agree with others about the Impex Force 4 and the Quest. Those are two that I would put on my short list as an expedition boat, as well as the Cetus from P&H.

However, between the Q boat and the Explorer, I would recommend the Explorer for most paddlers if it fits well.



Confession is good for the soul
You know that in that far, dark, hidden place where those thoughts dwell you never share and seldom acknowledge beats a constant refrain, “I wish I had an Explorer.” Confess and you will be free.

I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition

– Last Updated: Apr-29-08 9:02 AM EST –

My 'confession' is that I recommend an Explorer more often than any other boat. It is a very reassuring boat that does most things very well.

If you don’t repent
It will be off to the soft comfy chair.

Good grief, even the jokes are based on Brit TV shows. Its worse than I thought.