Romany LV vs Pilgrim/Pilgrim Expedition?

NDK really doesn’t make it easy to differentiate their boats. Confusing names notwithstanding, it’s not entirely clear their difference from their discrition.

It just so happens all of the above are available in my area. But not all in the same place. I have to go paddle them each on a different day…

Anyone paddle more than one of them and care to offer their personal impression?

My current boat is Avocet. Had tried the Avocet LV and like it a lot more than the regular Avocet (too much volume for my weight). Both Avocet are quite playful, while tracking isn’t their strong point. I’m ok with the compromise. So if you had paddled the Avocet LV and one of the above, I’d be happy to hear your opinion too.

This will be my all around boat, day trip and camping (just a long weekend max). The Avocet LV would have enough space for my gear so I’m assuming the NDK boats would be similar in storage space too. I’ll probably sell the Avocet regular if I buy one of these.

Romany LV Not a LV Hull
The reason for the Pilgrims is for NDK to have a truly lower volume boat. The Romany and Explorer LV’s are both the medium (guy) hull with an extra small cockpit and a deck as low as possible. They are not a small person’s boat, just a small person’s cockpit. They came out before the crop of truly low volume boats.

The Pilgrims are a lower volume/small person’s hull.

Is the LV out of production?
NDK still have it listed on their website. Are they being replaced by the Pilgrim and no longer made? Or is it now being produced side by side with the Pilgrim and targeting different audience?

As Celia said, there is nothing LV about Romany, unless you get one of the earlier models of Pilgrim, which for some reason were labeled Romany LV.

Both Pilgrim, and Pilgrim Expedition are excellent boats.

Paddled all 3

– Last Updated: May-16-12 12:29 PM EST –

Paddled the Romany LV for a 5-day class, the Pilgrim for another 5 days of class plus a rental stint of almost 2 wks elsewhere, and I own the PEX as well as an Explorer LV.

NDK/SKUK does confuse with its casual naming. The Explorer used to be the Romany Explorer (there's an old Sea Kayaker Magazine review of it). The prototype Pilgrim I used for the second class was labeled "Romany LV". When I bought an Explorer LV, they left off the "LV" decal, which I later added.

You did not supply info about body size/weight, experience level, etc. Without those, it's hard to evaluate which you'd prefer. Demo ALL of them, if you can anyway.

But in general, these are the diffs that I found relevant:

* Romany LV is the most easily maneuvered of the 3 you named. It is definitely not the same as the Pilgrim even though they are the same length. However, both the Pilgrims are still nicely maneuverable even for light paddlers. Just not the same as Romany LV, where I was looking for excuses to turn as tightly as possible.

* When reverse-paddling, Romany LV felt squirrely, hard to keep straight going backwards. Pilgrim regular was easiest, PEX in the middle. Some of this may have to do with cockpit (and therefore, paddler weight) placement relative to the ends.

* Fitwise, the knee bumps in the Pilgrims will give you more room for leg pumping than the Romany LV does. In the Romany, I was comfortable for most class days, but on the day when we did the longest paddle, I wished for a little more vertical wiggle room. I like the Pilgrim's stock smaller glass seat better than anything else I've tried, but obviously that will vary by paddler. NDK says you can get it in 2 sizes.

* Stability of all 3 is very good for a small/light paddler. I'd say Romany LV has the most primary of these boats, but both the Pilgrims have surprisingly high secondary despite their narrowness, because once you edge it over onto the knee bump sides, they help resist going over. While I paddled in small surf in both sizes of Pilgrim, I only paddled the Romany LV in non-surf conditions--so I can't give a direct comparison. However, I'd be happy to use any of these without worry about stability, either primary or secondary. Again, that is coming from a small paddler's perspective.

* Speed: PEX wins this one. Makes's the longest of the 3 without being wider. But I never tested against a timer, so it's purely a "feel and see" thing. And I don't think there's a big difference between them anyway. I got the longer PEX more for the additional cargo room than anything else.

Again, demo all of them yourself. If you rush the process and skip one, then later try that skipped model and find you love it, you'll kick yourself. At least you CAN demo all of them, even if it means some inconvenience.

Available special order
There is a small market for the Romany and Explorer LV for people who have the weight for the hull and also enjoy a remarkably tight fit.

I know a smaller woman paddler who went from the Explorer LV to the Pilgrim. She is very happy with the Pilgrim. I have an Explorer LV myself - and I spend most of my time actually paddling a lower volume Vela because I can get quickness that is not available in the Explorer for me.

Coming from an Avocet, I suspect all of the Romany are less manuverable. Not that I would lose sleep over it. I do have the strokes to move boats every which way.

My main concerned is the Romany isn’t exactly low volume. I only weight 110# so it’s hard for me to edge a regular volume kayak. And for the most part, I want to make a change to something that fits me a bit better weight-wise. Better than the Avocet (regular) I currently have, that is.

One of the issue with too much volume is windage. Unless I have the boat fully loaded with camping gear, I got blown around a lot. When I’m sitting with the group on water, I’m always the one who takes off downwind while I did absolutely nothing!

Romany and windage
Romany cockpit is further back than usual, including the Explorer. Maneuverability is certainly comparable to the Avocet. It’s just that it is a (very) loose bow boat. The latter could add windage when the person in it is too light.

It is a great boat. But at 100 pounds for your weight, it is not your boat, nor is the regular Avocet.

You need to get into a boat that will respond to an edge from your just shifting weight rather than having to haul and shove the boat over to get a deep edge. I get it - it’s me in the Explorer. You should have a decent shot at that in the Avocet LV or the Pilgrim. Ease of edging will compensate for much of any trackier aspect of these boats because of a narrower width.

Current Designs Suka is definitely a
smaller person’s boat. I can barely get my thighs under the braces at 5’6" and 160 lbs - and my thighs aren’t that big.

It might be worth checking out if you can find a dealer anywhere near there

on windage
I would venture a guess that your kayak’s trim is a little off. I always see this problem when folks’ weight doesn’t match kayak design specs.

NDK boats
"I get it - it’s me in the Explorer. "

I actually test paddled the Explorer a while back, good hour on a fairly windy day (10-15 knot). I was surprised at how well it turns. Must be the trademark “loose bow” of NDK boats?

So where does the Pilgrim Expedition fits volume-wise? If the Pilgrim is a scaled down Romany, the Pilgrim Exp would be…?

Loading the Romany LV
Windage was most noticeable on a short camping trip (part of the class). I made the mistake of loading the Romany LV as if its balance were more like, I guess, most sea kayaks. I should’ve put more weight in the bow. So that loose bow also rode a bit too high.

I thought the Romany LV was very easy to edge, probably partly because of its snug vertical fit. Explorer LV, which I had been warned might be a pain to turn, actually was also fairly easy to edge, UNloaded. The LV cockpit and lower deck help a lot with giving body contact. However–and this turned out to be a big however–I had bought it for both day trips and longer camping trips. Once I actually loaded it (and not even with a full load), I thought it took a lot of effort to edge, more so than the loaded Romany LV. Caveat: Every kayak I’ve paddled with camping gear has felt harder to edge, no surprise. But the Explorer LV was so stable in the first place that adding weight pushed it into the “hmmm” category for me. I found myself wishing there were a narrower, lower-volume hull slightly shorter, like 17 ft long. Perfectly happy to lose some of the stability. And guess what, the Pilgrim came out, followed a year later by the Pilgrim Expedition.

Can butt-cheek-edge in the PEX, too
For lack of a better term, that’s what I call it.

At 110 lbs, she will be able to edge the Pilgrim Expedition just by weighting one cheek instead of relying on leg contact with the thigh braces. It is narrow enough to make the difference from the same action undertaken in the Explorer LV by the same lightweight paddler. Namely, me; so that is why I can say she (only slightly heavier) will be able to butt-cheek-edge it.

Of course, having leg contact feels more secure and is good for greater degrees of edging, but it’s nice to have a sea kayak that will initiate a turn just by my shifting weight a little and looking in the direction of the turn. I do have to say that the Romany LV is low-volume enough (because it’s short) that I could butt-cheek-edge that one also. As well as a P&H Capella 161 even though the latter has a large cockpit. Lack of snug fit in the cockpit made me feel a little uneasy, but the fact was that I could butt-cheek-edge that kayak also, and it would begin turning.

Thanks a lot
for all the info. I’ll keep those in mind when I get to test paddle them.

The Avocet I have is surprisingly snug fitting. Thigh contact isn’t great due to the relatively high deck (not high by any standard, just hight FOR ME). The thing is, however, I’m not sure I want to be “locked in” on long paddles. As observed by many others, it’s nice to have a bit of “wiggle room” under the deck. I can still roll the Avocet without trying very hard despite the lack of solid knee contact.

I have yet to find a seakayak narrow enough or with low enough volume I could edge it by cheek-to-butt. The fact I’m tall and slim (I termed it “light for my height”) might have something to do with it, the lack of lateral leverage. I’ll have to see if the Romany’s changes that.

To repeat…
The Romany will not give you a deep edge just by butt-cheeking, at least given the very deep edge the Romany is capable of. You don’t weigh enough. That is what the Pilgrims were created to do.

I have to ask - you have been told a number of times in this thread that the Pilgrim is a better fit for your size. But you keep coming back to sounding like you want to make a Romany work. Is there some reason that you want to make the Romany work, like having access to a good price on a used one?

light for your height?

– Last Updated: May-18-12 10:52 AM EST –

How tall are you, then?

I am 5.9x150, Pilgrim/Avocet LV/Pilgrim Ex/TideRace XCite-s allow me to have relaxed torso rotation, butt edging, and enough room under the deck to move my legs.

Edit - I find regular size Avocet FG lacking in response where edging is concerned.

Yeah - load a bit more bow heavy
Not a lot, the Explorer and Romany stop working right if you overweight the bow. But the 40 front 60 back theory isn’t a plan for light people in these boats. I go 50/50 in the Explorer. With the seat set so far back in the Romany I’d at least start even front to back.

– Last Updated: May-18-12 11:55 AM EST –

"like having access to a good price on a used one?"

Yes. That's part of it.

But more significantly, I'm not convinced I shouldn't even try it before ruling it out!

I'd like to get a handle on what to expect and what to watch for when I test paddle. That's about it.

Wasn’t saying not to try
It is just that it sounded like you are trying to make the Romany work. And you have had little in the way of questions about how to hook up with a Pilgrim to try. They aren’t the easiest boats to find because they are newer, so they aren’t everywhere like the Romany/Explorers. The Romany is now a 20 year old design - 1993 was the first year - and the Explorer came soon after. The Pilgrims are at most 5 years old, I think more like 4.

I would suggest that you get into any low volume boat you can, even if it is not one on your possible wish list. Some of what you have said above indicates that you have gotten maybe too accustomed to a volume that is bigger than you need to be pushing. The sea kayaks truly designed for smaller paddlers really are a lot more fun to paddle.

You’ll probably like both Pilgrims
The knee bumps give you some extra room for up-and-down leg movement, while being narrow enough overall for easy edging. A lightweight person won’t miss the lower primary stability (compared with wider boats).

But I still think you should demo all of them. The Romany LV is a fun boat, though quirky.