The Pilgrim is a responsive, fast, and efficient kayak designed for the small or slim paddler. The narrow hull offers quick acceleration to higher speeds while requiring far less effort to place and hold up on edge. It is easily turned and controlled even in strong winds, and rolls like all NDK Greenland style kayaks. The Pilgrim fits the small kayaker due to its lighter paddler design and narrow beam, and is also comfortable for the taller, slim kayaker due to the knee bumps on either side of the cockpit. The higher knee position increases leverage and power. The Pilgrim is fitted with an adjustable high performance composite seat available in two widths. It has a smaller keyhole cockpit for excellent grip and control, a low rear deck for easy rolling, and a sloping bulkhead behind the seat for quick efficient emptying by simply lifting the bow; no x-rescue is necessary.
I also agree with the remark about stability. Despite the narrow hull, the boat has a lot of initial stability. I believe that's because the hull is basically flat under the seat. The Pilgrim also has enough rocker to sit down in the waves. I felt the difference in a West Coast sea kayak with a straighter keep line. In that boat, in short chop I felt the ends were supported on two waves with nothing under me for support -- kind of like sitting on a log over a stream. I felt shaky in that kayak.
I have yet to test the capacity of the Pilgrim for camping -- hope to soon. I do appreciate the very large day hatch, where I can stash lunch, snacks, water, and jackets plus a few other odds and ends. The Pilgrim gives me great confidence in the sea. It is a great design, and it really does fit smaller people, particularly with the low back deck and low foredeck. I have no complaints and only compliments for this kayak.
The quality is tops, and with the option of the foam seat, a truly comfortable and reliable kayak to own. Mine is a gorgeous white/white with black trim... people stare when it is on the car, and become envious when it is on the water... Quality throughout with retractable skeg, reflective decklines, dry hatches, this is THE kayak to own. The lower back deck makes rolling so easy you'll think there was a "roll" button.
My advice? IF you can find one - buy it! It's "competitors": Valley Avocet, Romany LV, Vela, Force3, etc.... no competition at all...
Looks great; low deck in both the front and the rear; comfortable seat (I prefer the molded-in backrest instead of the included but detachable back band); completely dry hatches even after 2 rolls; day hatch behind the cockpit; solid fiberglass layup - lighter layups are available, but I tend to be rough on my boats, so I went with the traditional layup; good speed (got up to 5.5 miles with a tailwind without really trying - was able to keep up with the other boats in my group, all of which were at least a foot longer); nice deck rigging, bungees for your extra paddle in the stern, etc.; dangling toggle carrying handles that won't pinch your fingers; tracks well with one exception which I will discuss under cons, below - I didn't use my skeg unless winds were 10-15 knots; good primary stability and excellent secondary stability.
Seems to cock to the right. At first, I thought the bow was just turning into the wind, which would be normal. But at other times, when the wind was coming from a different direction, it continued to cock to the right. A more experienced paddler who has the Explorer LV wanted to demo it and she also found that it cocks to the right. Could it be that it is designed to be fully loaded, and I was doing day trips, so it didn't have enough weight? In a few weeks I'll be going on a 5 day camping trip and the I'll get to see how it handles fully loaded; foot pegs are comfortable and solid, but they are the traditional adjusting kind where you have to reach way into the cockpit and adjust them from behind - I prefer the kind where you can adjust them with a lever even while you are underway, if necessary.
Overall, I am very happy with this boat and I'd encourage anyone who is shorter or lighter weight to give it a try.
When I first saw the Pilgrim I new this was NOT the boat for me. You know, all those quality issues, and those funny looking knee bumps. And then I test paddled it in surf off Tybee. What a GREAT boat! It had all the speed I needed. Easy to edge and VERY stable on edge at only 19.75" wide. So easy to roll! A great surf boat that could catch the waves, stay under control and take me on the best rides ever.
After a week at Tybee in surf from 3-6 feet I am in love with my Pilgrim. So much so I am planning to sell my Nordkapp LV. I just do not take trips and have discovered I prefer a shorter boat. I purchased the standard layup so I can be rough with the boat. It weighs 55 lbs, not light. But after going airborne off a six foot wave and landing hard I was glad to be in a NDK hull.
I give it a 9 because of the weight and because it does not turn as quick as my Nordkapp or my wife's Avocet. By the way, I am at the top of it's weight range at 160 lbs.
The Pilgrim fits me to a "T", is fast, turns like a dream, is a reasonable weight, responds crisply when I try a more advanced skill, and I'm thrilled. I found the Romney was too large, the Romney LV too small (I am tall and slender with long legs), and the Pilgrim is just right. Call me Goldilocks.