Length: 19' 2" - Width: 23.75" - Starting at: $2999.99See More Details about this Kayak
I find it challenging to turn the boat in strong winds when you expose the beam sideways to whitecaps, but this is probably also a rookie issue. It does seem fast. I can catch up with other paddlers easily even if they are a mile ahead (also in sea kayaks not plastic tubs).
The Expedition continues to surprise me in ways I never expected. I knew all along that the boat is very stable, but along with that, it is just remarkable how the boat acts like it has a gyroscope on board when it comes to confused sloppy conditions. It is actually fun to play around in tide rips where the waves are often quite daunting in a lesser craft. The Expedition leaves no doubt that it can handle anything that I am likely to blunder into.
After an outing in one of my other boats and then switching to the Expedition, I still sometimes have to ask myself if this thing is really faster. I've checked it with the GPS several times and it really isn't even close; the Expedition just slides through the water with such ease.
In my initial review, I mentioned that I had the builder position the seat as far back in the cockpit as it could be. I'm very glad I did; it makes getting in and out much easier and there is no downside to it. The seat itself has got to be one of the best in the industry and is more than just a spot to plant your rear end. Along with being very comfortable and supportive, it is an integral part of the structure of the boat. It obviously creates an additional connection between the hull and deck and serves to stiffen the entire boat. The seat is very solid and stiff, which means that it contributes some to the overall paddling efficiency. I have to say though, that I very much enjoy the pad my wife made for me, especially on longer trips.
So far there have been no problems with the finish, or any of the fixtures, but I did have to check with the builder about something I thought could lead to trouble. The front hatch and to a lesser degree, the rear hatch are sealing so well that pressure builds in the compartments. Up until the weather got hotter it wasn't enough to get concerned with, but recently it got to the point where I was worrying about it. They told me to bring the boat by and they'd fix it, or I could just drill a tiny hole in the bulkheads. I drilled a very tiny hole in the forward and rear bulkheads, but I left the one behind the seat alone, because the day compartment seems to be fine. As of this writing, I haven't had the boat out in the sun to see if the problem is fixed, but I'm reasonably sure it is. Oh, by the way, I love the hatch covers and wouldn't trade them for any other type.
One of the unique features about NC kayaks is what they call the performance flange. It is created by the method with which they join the hull and deck. It really does do all the things they say it does (stiffens the perimeter of the hull, deflects spray, lifts the bow in waves, etc.), but I have found that it also helps enormously in handling the boat out of the water and keeping it stable on the trailer that I haul it on.
To sum it all up, the Expedition has satisfied my quest for a long distance cruising kayak, far beyond my expectations. If there is a better boat out there for that purpose...well I guess that's just a matter of opinion.
I ordered the NC Expedition after looking at a lot of other boats, most of which I dismissed without even trying them out. I guess I knew what I wanted and nothing else was able to change my mind. I'm very happy that I settled on the 19 foot Expedition and not one of NC's 17 footers. That's not to say that the seventeens aren't great, but as I said, I knew what I wanted.
The seat, being an integral part of the structure of the boat is not adjustable, so I had them mount it as far back in the cockpit as is practical--so that I can enter and exit the boat in my accustomed manner, which is while in the water, one leg at a time and not having to sit on the rear deck (I'm 6'2").
I've only had the Expedition in the water a few times, but I've already gotten used to its handling and stability. Because of the boats remarkable ability to track, I had to use a little different strategy for turning than I do with my other boats, but I was pleased to find that the Expedition can be comfortably managed. The boat's stability actually took no getting used to; both the primary and secondary are exceptional—probably as good as it gets. Even so, edging the boat, which is seldom required, is effortless. I added a couple of knee pads under the deck in just the right spot for me and I'm good to go.
Naturally, I'm interested in the potential speed of the boat—not so much its ultimate banzai speed, but its comfortable cruising speed. My first impressions left me wondering if the 19'-2" boat is actually any faster than my other boats. The boat gives little to no sensation of movement through the water. There is barely a bow ripple and the same goes for the stern. My GPS revealed what my senses weren't able to—the boat is fast. Even against a fairly strong outgoing tide, I was able to maintain an easy 4 ½ mph. There have been a few instances when I got an adrenalin shot for one reason, or another and powered up. The Expedition can move and sometimes it's comforting to have raw speed to get you out of a situation.
The builder claims the boat tracks with little regard to wind and current; they don't lie. That cannot be said about wind when you're carrying the boat on your shoulder. This is a big boat and very light for its size, so you'd better be aware of what a gust of wind can do if the boat is sideways to the wind.
I have no doubt that the Expedition will live up to all the expectations I had about it being my long distance boat and from what I've learned about it so far, it instills a lot of confidence that it can handle anything I'm likely to take on and do it with style, comfort and very, very good looks.
Best: The fit and finish is excellent. This is a very good looking boat! The lift toggles fit well in the hand, allow for an easy carry, and the boat feels very light. This boat definitely tracks and holds a course very well. I noticed my 19 did not drift off course when I stopped paddling, like my other boat does. While I have not yet had it out in very strong winds, I think it will do very well. I can also use a camera or binoculars very easily as the boat seems to stay put in wind and waves quite well. The deck lines are nicely placed and I can easily do a wet exit and reenter the boat using a paddle float entry. The paddle float attachment straps are excellent. Greg at NC Kayaks is very nice and helpful, and I was pleased with the ordering process.
Good: The day hatch is very nice. I was pleased to be able to access it while seated in the cockpit. None of my other boats have this feature, so I have always had to use a deck bag. The speed of this boat is only good, so far. I could easily maintain a 4.2 MPH pace on my first paddle, but this boat doesn’t feel much faster than my well used Dagger Cortez. I had really hoped to notice a significant speed advantage, but it hasn’t turned out that way so far. (Now: With more paddles now under my belt, it does seem to be feeling somewhat faster). The boat is definitely stable and holds a lean very well. You can adjust the foot pegs on the fly, which is nice. The flange around the cockpit is deep and well designed, making spray-skirt attachment very secure.
Not as good: I was surprised not to be able to get into the cockpit butt first. For such a large boat, which I think would attract larger paddlers than I, this would probably have kept me from buying the boat if I had had the chance to try it out first. I have a slightly injured shoulder which is put in a strain when I enter and exit the boat. This boat is also not near as maneuverable as my other boats. It takes a long time to turn, especially when moving slowly. Hopefully, I will be able to change my paddling style to correct this problem (Now: I have been able to learn to turn it a little faster). A turn at higher speed requires lots of lean, and even then takes quite a while. I have been used to very agile boats, so this is big change. Over the last five paddles I have figured out to turn this boat, but I have had to modify my strokes considerably. The hatch covers appeared to be very good, but I did find some water in the rear hatch when I finished my first paddle. Now, it seems that these hatches all leak much more than they should. Given that I like to paddle year round in all types of weather, I am nervous about taking on water in the hatches. Greg at NC Kayaks suggests that you close the hatches with the handles to the side of the boat. I did try this, with no success. I have had gear mildew in the closed hatches of this boat that I have never had a problem with before. This boat does not have a rudder, which doesn’t particularly bother me except that I like to use an Action Pacific sail and I doubt if I will be able to handle this boat with a sail on it. The seat looks OK, but one leg started feeling tight during my first paddle and, because of the small cockpit opening, I had a hard time dealing with it on the water. Greg at NC Kayaks suggests that I move my foot pegs closer to me to relieve this. I have fooled with it in many ways and added a thin pad to the seat, but still think this is a problem after five or six outings. This is disturbing since I have never had a problem like this in the many boats I have owned or rented. The seat is extremely well fixed to the boat and I fear trying to make any adjustments. I have finally, after spending $85 on pads, worked out a system to make the seat almost comfortable. With as many comfortable kayaks out there, it seems inexcusable that such an expensive boat is so poorly fitted out! Almost every kayak I have looked at since has some method for adjusting the sitting position.
Pretty Bad - my boat now has a three inch crack on the right side of the boat behind the foot peg slide, which I discovered after my first paddle. This crack looks deeper than the gel-coat, which makes me worry about the future of this boat. The folks at NC kayaks are communicating with me on this matter, but I don’t relish having to fool with this, especially across the country. Greg has now said that this looks like a compression fracture - I agree - and may have been done during a tie down to a trailer or rack. While it is always possible that I damaged the boat unknowingly during the one transport before I discovered the crack, I doubt this to be the case as I have handled boats of all types for many years – as well as other types of cargo - without any significant damage resulting. This adds further, as you can imagine, to my frustration with this boat.
So, I am a big boy and know how I can sometimes get excited about a "deal" and end up not as satisfied as I would like. I cannot think of any item of sports equipment - bicycles, skis, skates, etc. - that I have been more disappointed with. However, I will continue to try to maximize my use of this boat, while keeping a eye open for the boat I feel I deserve.
Second, they really should brag more about the details on these boats, like their marine-grade toggling hatches. One of these held positive air pressure all the way from Tacoma to our altitude. If they’re airtight, you can bet they’re watertight. Yakima footpegs. The gelcoat and color is gorgeous, and the recessed deck fittings (bungee and perimeter cords, compass well, carry toggles) are top notch. Great coaming and seat (with perfect-height backrest), and (as mentioned here already) great fit. My wife is 5’3, and I’m 5’10, so with the reviews already here you can see these boats apparently have a good deck height and cockpit shape to help almost anyone hook up with their boat.
Third, the hull shape and waterline contours are impressive to study. The boat really tracks (as others mention), but that long stern taper also replaces the water smoothly, something usually only seen in racing hulls. Fast, easy paddling and sweet secondary stability have already been mentioned, I haven’t been out in big waves, but I was drawn to these boats because the bow and foredeck look designed for a dry ride with little deck splash.
Finally, the layup deserves more comment. I once worked in a kayak building shop, and I agree with NC’s website that Kevlar and carbon are light but limited. Looking into my boat, the LT layup shows just how light and solid professional hand-laid glass (with an Airex-style hull stiffener) can be. NC boats are priced right, but you’ll see their weights are competitive with funny-fiber boats, and I honestly agree an all-glass layup has real advantages.
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