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Design & Illustration

Nordr – background

Seabird Designs – no thanks! After some years with poor quality, unwillingness to take responsibility for problems and arrogance towards customers, as well as dealers and partners, I no longer have anything to do with Seabird Designs.

The NORDR kayaks from Seabird Designs

Nordr? Why the extra ”r”? Well, Nordr is the old Norse name for North. Nordr, ostr, vestr and sudr were the cardinal points on the Viking vegvisir (compass). Northeast was called landnordr, meaning land-north, indicating that the geographical origin of this naming practice was the western coasts of Scandinavia. Northwest was called utnordr meaning out-north. Southeast and southwest were landsudr and utsudr.

Vegvisir With a Norwegian company and a Swedish designer, both from old Viking territory, a kayak name with some Norse flavor was of course inevitable.

But there is more to it than just the name. The Vikings were excellent craftsmen and boatbuilders, creating light seagoing ships, unsurpassed in speed and agility. A historian noted that the longships are the only ocean-going passage-making, fast and highly maneuverable landing crafts in history that could be hauled overland by the crew!

Those same words – light, seagoing, speed, agility – were high on the wish list for the new Nordr line of kayaks. With a moderate initial stability, but lots of secondary, and a slender hull, fine-tuned to soft, easy movements, the Nordr will provide a dry ride in waves, an impressive touring speed, and excel at maneuvering and kayak control. Of course, speed alone is not that interesting. Efficiency is. A kayak that lets you go farther in less time and with less energy spent is the ultimate passage-maker – and that is where the Nordr kayaks shine...

The hull is rounded with just a hint of chines midships to combine speed and maneuverability. With inspiration from surfskis (the volume distribution) and their superior handling in waves, the Nordr is highly controllable, whether surfing waves in high speed or negotiating rock gardens in low.

The load capacity is just adequate for long distance touring. I know that some kayakers prefer more volume for gear. But trust me: touring is more fulfilling when all those often-unused nice-to-have-gadgets stays at home. Then the kayak is lighter, faster and moves easier on the waves. It maneuvers precisely and reliably, with no unnecessary weight and volume for wind and waves to act upon. It becomes an extension of your body. And when you are dry, warm and satisfied in front of a campfire at night – you need no more.

Björn Thomasson


Hej Björn,

I'm thinking about buying the Nordr S from Seabird, but I'm in doubt of the quality after reading some of your comments on it.

Are there any news about the quality of the SeaBird Designs kayaks since you posted your criticism a few years ago? Perhaps they have improved the production process? Perhaps the decision to move production from China to Estonia had some effect?

Or do you still hear about the same problems as before?

And do/did these issues only affect the composite models, or also the HDPE kayaks?


Sorry Andreas, but I have no idea anymore. I can't justify spending time to monitor the dodgy doings of what has become an arrogant piracy business.

I don't hear that many complaints about quality issues nowadays, which may be due to the owner duo trying a bit harder, or, more likely, that the sales are dropping after years of neglect.

Maybe the move to Estonia improved the quality, but as I see it, the problems was never China. When I started working with Seabird 14 years ago, the production was in China and I was impressed with the quality and workmanship. When a company botch things up it is easy to blame it on workers, customers, the market etc, but as the saying goes: companies and stairways are cleaned starting from the top...

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