I have owned a Pilgrim Expedition for just over a year now and used it on crossings and trips over a week in duration including some pretty horrible sea/wind conditions. I am a slight built male 5ft 7" weighing 65kg and have been paddling over five years in both sea and rivers. This kayak compliments a smaller more maneuverable day tripper I also own.
I was immediately sold on the Pilgrim Expedition with its fit as I had been looking for an expedition capable boat that fitted me well for a year plus, the thigh grips on the cockpit and knee bumps fit like a glove. The cockpit is not quite wide enough to raise both knees at once but I see that as a good point. The seat with its foam back block which looks suspect at first is ingenious, I ordered it with an additional back band but removed it as it was not necessary. The standard bulkhead was fine for me and just holds a five litre water container jammed behind it and the foot pegs on trips, the pegs themselves are solid and not the annoying sort that have levers and flex, I have the pegs set to one off their lengthiest setting.
The kayak pretty much rolls itself the low back deck assisting greatly, it almost feels like cheating using it for Greenland rolls, the fitting really is perfect.
The Pilgrim Expedition is fast and although about the narrowest kayak I've seen on the go it holds a ridiculous quantity of stuff, when traveling with others you may find yourself carrying the bulk of the kit! It can be a bit of a slammer in some seas, still trying to get to the bottom of this. As would be expected it does not manoeuvre anywhere near as well as the shorter Pilgrim, edging is slow going and I find myself using the skeg a fair bit more than I used to but it's not totally reliant upon it as other kayaks are. As it says on the tin, this kayak is an expedition/multi-day job and needs to be loaded; it is horrible in strong winds if not.
The main problem I have had with it is regarding some faults. The first boat had to be returned due to a serious defect, the second has to be repaired due to a less serious defect. I would be weary about buying another boat from this manufacturer as a result, but to be fair they sorted the problems without question, it just leaves a bad taste and confirmed what the head shakers said when I announced I was getting a SKUK kayak.
The other niggles are as follows:
All in a perfect fitting boat for the slighter paddler with stacks of room for multi-day trips and expeditions. It is a shame about the pre-purchase known and unknown niggles and the build issues but I value the fit highly and as no one else matches in this area I have to make some compromises or keep waiting for perfection!
- The annoyingly small hatches, I know their reasoning behind them but to be frank I think it's a nonsense excuse that causes continual inconvenience. Including a tie down point as found on most other manufacturers hatches on the inside or outside would be a simple and good idea to prevent loss if they need opened at sea which is a far more likely problem than the problem "solved" with the small round hatches.
- Another already known niggle is the knocking toggles that will annoy you every minute of every paddle/drive for yet a lightning strike probability "risk". Easily fixed with a loop of thin bungee on the front and back RDF for use during tripping or when on top of the car.
- The skeg knocks against the inside of the box when deployed, this is loud enough that other paddlers will wonder if you're clipping your paddle off the deck every other stroke on a quiet day. This was fixed by adding some washers to the support pin as is found on nearly every other modern kayak I've seen, why the omission?
- An extra RDF beside the day hatch would have been handy.