Valley Nordkap vs. NDK Explorer

I am looking to purchse a new kayak and these are the two that I have narrowed it down to. Does anyone have a thought on the better of the two. thanks

Apples and Oranges
What kind of paddling are you going to do?

totally depends on You…Nordkapp is full o"spirit"

explorer is a work horse…both serve the same purpose…vanilla vs Neapolitan

Best Wishes


I have the same question
but I also add in the Valley Etain. My interest is in a boat that I can go on longer day trips in (over 12 ocean miles), and keep up with the group, and have it be as comforting to paddle in rough water as my WS Zephyr.

Thinking about the boat

– Last Updated: Mar-02-12 9:23 AM EST –

As above, these are not all that similar of boats.

With an NDK Explorer you don't have to think about the boat when things get nasty. Just keep on paddling and the boat will handle the rest. Some find this overly boring. But the darned boats just keep getting patched up and showing up in fleets again, beaten to shit.

A Nordkapp is much better behaved when fully loaded, but even loaded you'll have to allocate some thought to handling the boat itself when things get nasty. Some people find this a little to much over time. Used Nordkapps are not usually all that hard to find.

I didn't invent this - it is the difference between the two boats that was given to us by a superb paddler who had done Greenland in a Nordkapp. But after that he needed to teach and worry about students. The Nordkapp stayed on shore and the Explorer was his ride.

The Explorer has slower hull speed than the Nordkapp, but the speed it does comfortably is where someone is likely to be for a longer trip.

Valley Nordkap vs. NDK Explorer vs. Tiderace Xcite vs. P&H Cetue vs. Valley Etain vs. Valley Aquanaut vs. etc…

Lots of choices, type of paddling, athletic experience, height, weight, where will you be paddling all help to answer the this vs. that question.

To expand a bit
The Nordkapp will seem impossibly tippy at first. But with time and experience you will learn to balance without thinking and the boat will be fine. Lots of expedition paddlers use and have used the Nordkapp in extreme conditions. The Explorer makes fewer demands on balance and is more forgiving of carelessness.

Nordkapp does just fine in the rough stuff if you can rely on your skills instead of the boat to bail you out. The Aquanaut is the yak you want if you’re looking for something less lively and more forgiving.

Further thoughts on the Aquanaut
My husband has one. He found the Explorer to be too “unlively” in its feel and just couldn’t warm up to it for an all day sit.

The Aquanaut offered the same kind of good behavior in nasty stuff without the deadly quality. It’s a faster hull as well. It just takes a little longer to get used to.

If I were to compare apples to apples here, it would be the Valley Aquanaut to the NDK Explorer to probably the P&H Cetus (in the right size). No experience with Valley’s newer expedition boat, but since the Aquanaut behaves so well we really haven’t figured out what niche it serves well.

My viewpoint…
…which is seldom shared by others; I use my Nordkapp when play is the priority. When it’s a long trip requiring hauling a lot of freight, I go with my Aquanaut.

Explorer vs. Aquanaut
In my experience, the Explorer has less feel than the Aquanaut. Explorer is more approachable for beginners, but the Aquanaut is faster, and offers more responsive ride, and better feel in rough water, IMO.

When comparing Nordkapps, keep in mind that there have been a handful of variations built with that name. The originals are quite different from the models built today.

I’ve never felt that the nordkapp is all that fast. I wouldn’t race in mine. I agree with its play-ability. I like mine for surfing and playing in the rocks. Never paddled an explorer, so can’t comment.

Nordcap vs. Explorer
Low stability vs. high stability

Speed vs. stability

Higher skills needed vs. less skill demanded for the same conditions.

Nigel Dennis proved to the high-end kayak world that stability was a very desirable thing and that paddlers would gladly trade speed for stability.

Both boats are good performers in all kinds of conditions.

According to the paddler…

– Last Updated: Mar-03-12 4:04 PM EST –

Lots of excellent expedition boats available. Like others have noted above, if I want to have fun and am not going to be paddling tired, or be responsible for less experienced paddlers I often use my Nordkapp LV. If I don't know what conditions I may encounter, need to know I'll be fine no matter what and can handle rescuing others I often paddle my Aquanaut.

Explorers are fine boats, but a bit too staid for my taste. The Aquanaut gives me headroom I appreciate with more liveliness than an Explorer.

There is nothing like a Valley and there is no more of a Valley than a Nordkapp. As also noted, the 'kapp has been in production for decades and there are many variations. Try a Nordkapp in the array of conditions in which you may wish to paddle. Also when you are fatigued... I love my Nordlow but am not confident enough of a paddler to have it as my only boat.

After 17 years and 20 boats…
…if there could be only on to do it all, it would be the Nordkapp H20. Fortunately, I somehow always keep myself burdend with a quiver.

LV? or regular Nordkapp?
I’ve never heard the standard Nordkapp accused of being easy to turn. What model Nordkapp are you referring to?

I’m 6’1 @ 210lbs, & have been paddling a Nordkapp H2O pretty much exclusively for several years. Once you get beyond the initial learning curve, it is a fine boat for most anything one might try in a sea kayak.

I’ve test paddled a lot of boats since getting the Nordkapp, and they all seem mundane in comparison.

My next boat might be another Nordkapp.

guy…unabashedly. it’s a sports tractor sort of boat - not terribly fast but it just…does…everything. the rougher the conditions (which is what i’m looking for), the more you appreciate the boat. i like lively in my water, not my boat. great teaching platform and just comfortable. new one will be on the trailer leaving holyhead in a week or so.

rick_s. is it black? i went by eckerd the other and thought of u.


black betty (bam-ba-lam) is being retired to only days where it’s going to be rescue intensive (teaching tidal stuff) and beating along rocky coastlines.

the new beauty is steel blue/white/grey hull…still haven’t sorted out a name yet but am leaning toward “watery tart” a la python.

going to holyhead in may…hopefully, she’ll be here before i go so we can log a few miles together (and…you know, help get a trailer unloaded) but eh, worth the wait.

hope all is well in snow country.