Submitted: 02-05-2008 by Ironpaddle
I purchased my Explorer HV in 2005. I am 5' 11" and 180 lbs. It is a normal lay-up boat with a rope-skeg system. I have been sea kayaking for a little over 20 years now and have paddled in almost every type of wind and water conditions to be found on Lake Michigan and Superior. I previously owned a standard Explorer, a Valley Canoe Selkie, a Valley Skerry RM, a P & H Orion, and my first boat, the legendary (tongue placed firmly in cheek)Aquaterra Chinook. The Explorer is by far the best handling boat that I have ever had the pleasure of paddling and owning. I am currently 54 years old and I have no plans to purchase anything else because I don't believe there is anything better out there, and I plan to continue paddling, God willing, for the next 20 years if I can.
The quality concerns that others have written about are valid comments. Although personally I have had pretty good luck with the two Explorers I have owned, I have talked to a number of others that have had problems, and there are a LOT of Explorers out there.
I was at home in the cockpit from the first moment I sat in it, although I do feel much more comfortable in the HV version I currently own. For some reason my back and my thighs don't hurt me like they did in the standard model. That could be more a function of my age than anything else.
Now on to boat handling. I don't know if I can add to what has already been said in praise of this topic but I have been in very rough conditions, like 6' - 8' swells, 25 - 30 mph winds, and even 4' dumping surf in all of the boat models I have owned, and the Explorer is THE best boat to have under you when the going is rough. The handling is responsive, predictable, forgiving, supportive, and just the best damn kayak out there period. I am considering being buried in it some day rather than a coffin (okay, I jest) but if you are considering purchasing a serious all-around camping, day-tripping, surfing, durable, rough water handling sea kayak, just buy it. But, check for defects on the hull and test paddle it if you can to make sure there aren't any major leaks anywhere. Get a good one, but get one!