Fjord Explorer in whitewater?

Hello all. I was hoping to get some comments by Fjord Explorer owners and their experience with whitewater. How will the Explorer compare to the Llama? I am going to be using the boat for a variety of conditions and think the Explorer is my best option. That being said I will be running up to Class III to access some areas and was curious if the difference in the bow (not being upturned) is a huge negative in this type of water. Thanks in advance!

See my response here,

I love my Denali and my Fjord but if it was a one boat deal for me I’d keep the Fjord with the rowing kit and spray deck, it’s really does quite well in up to class 3. The only drawback I could see is if you are any shorter than 6’ it may be too sloppy a fit for white water, I can barely reach the front with my toes to brace with a 10 ltr dry bag stuffed behind my back.

Thanks! Sounds like we have very similar uses… I just don’t want to spend another grand on a boat right away and would rather get the Denali if the Explorer didn’t handle class 3. I fish a lot of mountain lakes also, but in the NW. Main use for rivers would be for fishing access. Already looking at a trip that requires Class 3 to access the slower river with exceptional fishing. I am fairly close to your build. 5’11" and 190.

How different do the 2 boats feel? Not necessarily how the fit is - I realize the Explorer is going to be longer and take some adjustment for whitewater. But do the 2 boats handle significantly different? Going to be using the boat a lot in Alaska and just want to make sure the Explorer turns fast. I am thinking of a couple areas in particular that I have hiked and not rafted that have sharp 90 degree turns and lots of trees / brush on the opposite bank.

I have next to zero experience, so am going to be going out a lot on local waters to get the feel and skills with the boat.


I’ve been paddling a fair amount of whitewater these past few months in an Unrigged Explorer with a Cruiser Spray Deck. My impression is that the boat handles well enough in whitewater - when not flooded by waves, it is pretty quick and manouverable (mainly due to its (absence of) weight and the lack of drag it creates by sitting atop the water). It’s stability is far superior to a kayak, and hence portaging during rapids is made a lot easier as you can afford to get the boat into less secure angles in bigger waves.

The fact that the boat is inflatable and without a hard point at the front does tend make it ‘bounce’ off waves and holes, rather than cutting through. The absence of anything to hold your knees down (unless you were to install straps) also makes it a little harder to control in certain situations: i.e. showing an edge if you get yourself into a tricky hole (this is also largely due to the flat bottom of the boat) and means you’ll probably flip in this scenario (at least, I would probably flip).

The only other issue than I’ve encountered with my particular set up has been with the deck, in that its ability to stop the boat getting flooded in higher density rapids is very temporary (but maybe the deck isn’t part of you’re question, so I’ll leave that to another thread to answer).

I’ve taken the boat out into lots of rapids in the past month and it’s held up well. It’s made it through several short class 4 / 4+ rapids on the Futaleufu and countless other high-density class 3 and 4- on other rivers in the Chilean South. I nearly made it through a class 5- on the Futa, but - as with nearly all of my swims in the packraft - I was undone by a breaking wave which I simply couldn’t cut through.

Anyway, hope that helps. I don’t have any experience with other Alpacka boats, only the Unrigged Explorer and in kayaks! All the best.

I use an unrigged Explorer for river trips up to class 2-3. I’m 6-6 so I bought it mostly for size but I don’t feel like I’m at any disadvantage with the guys I paddle with in Denalis and Yaks.