You are asking about replacing the Explorer with the Pilgrim. Or are you wanting to replace it with the Pilgrim Expedition? That's a better comparison, lengthwise, because the latter is 17' whereas the regular Pilgrim is 15'9".
Grammar aside, the regular Pilgrim was designed for--and works great with--lighter paddlers than 170-pounders. I have rented the regular Pilgrim twice and own a Pilgrim Expedition. I'm much smaller and lighter than you are and only got the latter because I wanted one kayak for both daytrips and longer camping trips. The dealer I bought from and another dealer I talked with (both of whom have paddled both lengths of Pilgrim) say the Pilgrim is targeted at people in the sub-140 lb range, and much above that they'd be better off in the PEX. Going up yet more in weight, a well-known paddler who enjoys longboat surfing and (I estimate) weighs at least 170 lbs was paddling the PEX in fall 2010 and only later decided he'd be better off in the Explorer after all.
If you demo, maybe you should add the Explorer LV to the mix. Same hull as the standard Explorer, but the very small keyhole and lower deck on the LV made it useable for myself due to good body contact. However, for me that boat really was too big; hence, the Pilgrim Expedition when it became available. Big difference in how they feel despite the "family" resemblance.
Deck Rigging Gear
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