May 2010 I ordered an NC 17 Quest to try the MR340. I'd never been in a Kayak and hadn't padded anything at all in 30 years. I didn't like the idea of buying a boat without trying it out but there aren't many kayaks in my part of the country. So, I took the leap - and I'm glad I did. I spent four or five nights a week and all day Saturday out on the lake trying to get ready. It took me that look to get my body ready for the race but the boat was comfortable on the first day. I had to pretty much teach myself about kayaking but, even without any training, the boat was absolutely great for four days down the Missouri River. At one point I had to make a choice between going over a wing dam or heading out into the main part of the river right behind a fully loaded barge. I took off out into the river and the boat was terrific handling all the crazy waves the barge kicked up for the next mile or so downriver. Never once did I feel afraid of losing it.
There are only a couple of things I'd fault. One is the organization of the lines on the boat. I plan to rig mine differently at some point. I also plan to replace the seat at some point.
Overall, though, I'm very happy with it. It really does track well and, with a little practice, it does turn nicely. This isn't a boat I'd use in a rocky river but I'd go anywhere in open water in it. Good looking, very well built, a lot of fun to paddle long distances.I just bought one last week and took it out promptly for a 16-mile trek thru Hammersley Inlet and around Hope Island. The boat glides superbly after just a few strokes. Turning is a little challenging. However, with edging, bow rudder, and a sweep stroke, it turns ok. I need to play with it some more to see what the best combo is to turn it in a radius of its own length.
Speed-wise, like I said earlier, it glides and goes. Very pleased. It rolls easily as well. I am an intermediate kayaker and if I can roll it, then it must be easy to roll. The back deck is low enough that I can lay back flat on it.
The hatches are great - secure and keeps good dry. I kept my jacket in the bow compartment and it was dry.
The guys at NC are great. They made a few customizations for me before I picked it up. Very pleased.
Overall, I am very very pleased with the boat. I give it a 8 because nothing deserves a 10 - ever. And surely there is something out there that I think will be better. I am an anti-superlative guy so an 8 is very high mark for me.I have now owned this boat for several years and feel qualified to give it the review it deserves. Coming off of a Wilderness Systems Manteo this boat was markedly lighter and straighter tracking. That being said, it requires more effort and skill to turn. Comparing the two would be apples to oranges.
The Quest LT is a very light boat for its size. I put it on the scales and got 42 pounds. It is top quality construction with choices of colors and options I have not seen from other companies. I was also able to go to meet the builders/owners in Tacoma. They are confident about their product, they are all about quality, not mass construction. They have used deck fittings and thru-hull fixtures that are built to last and remain watertight.
As for how the boat handles, tracks like a dream and glides forever after only a few strokes. It is relatively easy to hit cruising speed with minimal effort and waves, wind, and current present very little obstruction. Primary stability is reasonable for the experienced paddler and secondary is amazing. I have not rolled it yet, but I haven't tried either. The rub rail detracts slightly from the lines of the boat but keeps the spray away.
I have only a few gripes with it. First is the foot pegs, on longer outings I need to install heel pads. Second is that I would have like to have seen more rounded rub rails. These are minor things having to do more with the owner that the boat itself. So why rate it an 8? A 10 would imply that it is the perfect boat, flawless in any situation or need. That being said, this boat is perfect for my needs and I will paddle it till my arms fall off.I purchased the NC 17 Quest in February 2009 from NC Kayaks, the light-layup version that weighs 46 pounds (instead of the standard 55 pounds). I live in Rhode Island, just half a mile from Narragansett Bay. It survived its long shipping trek from Tacoma, WA in perfect condition. I have been kayaking for only two years, but I have been doing a lot of it. Most of my trips have been on Narragansett Bay, with additional trips near Cape Ann in Massachusetts and the Connecticut Coast.
The kayak does everything it was designed to do: it is very fast; it tracks exceptionally well; it is well-constructed; it is light and therefore easy to carry; it has plenty of storage space in its bow and stern hatches; and it is easy to roll. For these reasons, it earns a rating of a full "10". Let me elaborate on my assessment. At the end I'll also mention what the kayak is not optimal for.
Receiving the kayak in February presented a practical problem, because the bay was only 34 degrees F. Not having the patience to try it out several months later, I took it to a YMCA pool that was having kayak lessons. First, to my pleasant surprise I didn't tip over. I was used to a much wider Seda Viking, so with my lack of experience on narrow kayaks I expected the worst. I'd rate the primary stability as moderate: not too tipsy, but in 2-foot seas I'd hesitate to try to take a photograph off to the side. Second, I was pleasantly surprised to roll it successfully five out of six attempts. My surprise came because I had learned to roll in the same pool only a month before and I had not practiced between those visits. The only roll I can manage on any kayak is a lay-back roll, and the Quest's low stern makes it easy. The seat and combing also aren't too high to get in the way.
I haven't yet attempted to load up the kayak with gear for an expedition, but I can attest to quite a bit of room under each of the two hatches. Because the kayak has no skeg, moreover, the rear storage section is roomier than otherwise.
I love the kayak's light weight. At 63 years old, my knees aren't what they used to be and I value a light boat. To me the light layup is worth a $1000 premium. The kayak's long length adds to its hull speed, which I greatly appreciated on long trips of 20 miles or more. I also have no trouble keeping up with younger, stronger, more experienced kayakers. I am 6 foot, 1 inch tall, and the kayak is plenty roomy for my long legs and size-12 feet.
My knees received some support from the inside of the combing, but I wanted a snugger fit and added foam knee braces. I am narrow at the hips and also added padding there. Customizing the kayak presented no problems. Because the kayak is narrow, one constraint is that I can't comfortably wear my chunkiest boots, but the tradeoff for speed is worth it to me.
My only complaint is a minor one: the front and rear perimeter grab lines don't extend all the way to the bow and stern. I wish the company would have an option for perimeter lines to go all the way forward and back. Despite this complaint, the kayak excels in all those other design specifications; it earns the top rating.
The NC 17 Quest is not my only kayak, because different designs are optimized for different conditions. When I want a "play boat" for rock gardens, where maneuvering quickly is required, I use my Necky Chatham 16. This boat has more rocker than the Quest, and unlike the Quest the bow and stern are more pointed – without a more vertical keel structure. The Chatham is also plastic, so I feel uninhibited as I try to master taking off and landing through surf. The Chatham is heavy but I'll work around that as long as it is not my only boat. Finally, when I want a kayak with very high initial stability – such as when I take a novice out on the bay – my old Seda Viking serves that purpose.
In sum, the NC 17 Quest does everything it was designed to do. No boat meets all needs, and therefore I wouldn't call it an "all-around boat." If you have some experience and want a high-end fiberglass boat, I strongly recommend this product.The Quest is my cousin's kayak but he is getting over knee surgery so I got to try it to make sure there is nothing wrong with it (I know it is tough but someone has to do it). I like it but at 6'4" and size 12 shoes I am too big for it. I fit in but my feet are jammed in and after an hour I would be too numb.
In defense of NC, their recommended limit is for a person of 6'2" and that is probably the very limit. It is a very fast and well made kayak. I tried it in kind of cold weather so I did not push the limits of lean stability. I really like the seat, it supports the back and thighs just right. If you are 6' or shorter it would be a great boat. It is neat the way you can order colors.Just got my new NC17 Quest, I love it!
Everything is exactly as I ordered, the boat was shipped common freight and was unharmed! Thanks Yellow.
The boat tracks very well as promised!
It is very stable! I entered from a floating dock in 12 feet of water, and stayed dry! The boat turns fine, for a 17 footer! I have only logged 5 miles in the kayak, so I can only give you a little detail, but I think I made a very good choice! I look forward to many more miles.