Paddler Reviews of Valley kayaks.


Below you’ll find a selection of reviews from paddler forums around the web:

To read the review of the Nordkapp RM in Britains renowned Sea Kayaking magazine Ocean Paddler, click HERE.


General Review on Valley RM Kayaks

From Canoe Colorado

Valley Sea Kayaks are built for expedition use, where they will survive in very harsh conditions. They are equipped with small details that are appreciated by expert paddlers. When you compare a Valley kayak to other boats in the same range, it is their attention to design that stands out. They are building boats to be used, not just boats that look good on the showroom floor. Even their budget minded kayaks like this poly series exceeds expectations.

The Valley polyethylene kayaks use a three layer rotomold process. An outer skin of linear polyethylene is poured into the mold, then a stiff foam core is added before the final layer of polyethylene is molded in for the interior of the kayak. The dayhatch is one of the only places this three layer is visible, you can see the outer layer is a speckled granite, then the off white foam, and finally the inside layer which does not have the same speckling. The three layer process results in a very stiff hull, and so far has shown no inclination for deformation due to heat fatigue. The bow and stern grab handles have been drilled through the boat, eliminating eyelets which can be torn out. A shock cord pulls the T handles to the deck, eliminating flop, but allowing the handles to extend for comfort. The stern is pre-drilled to install a rudder, should an expedition involve a degree of sailing. The deck of the kayak has a slight matt finish to reduce glare and reflection. There are perimeter lines around the kayak, as well as paddle holders both on the front and rear decks. Just in front of the bow hatch is a recess for a Brunton 70P compass. The VSK Oval hatches use a plastic coaming that is welded to the boat. The day hatch rim is molded as part of the deck. The welded plastic bulkheads are double sealed to eliminate the possibility of leaks. The cockpit includes a padded plastic seat, backband, adjustable thighbraces and Werner footpedals. The cockpit coaming has a good lip, and securely holds the sprayskirt in place. The thighbraces are held in place with two stainless bolts. They can be adjusted to offer smaller paddlers an increased hook. The underdeck is not padded, but adding knee paddling would smooth out the transition to the thighbraces. The dimples seen above the footbraces are from the recessed deck fittings. They do not have any exposed nuts, eliminating the possibility of leaks.

The skeg is adjusted by a slider control on the left side of the cockpit. When completely lowered, the skeg sits 6" below the hull of the kayak. The wire control is easy to use, and allows the skeg to be fine tuned for conditions.


Nordkapp RM


“I just love the Nordkapp. It’s the best boat ever made. It’s very narrow—21 inches, 18 feet long. It’s not the fastest boat, but when it comes to rough water it performs. It’s so stable,” wrote seasoned expedition kayaker and scientist Stanislav Chladek (Canoe and Kayak, June 2007). I couldn’t agree more.

The Nordkapp Rotomolded, unveiled in 2006, was purchased by me new in red for this review in spring 2007. I was seeking a long, sleek low volume boat with speed and the ability to handle rough waters. I own, for comparison, the extremely tender Prijon Barracuda, and the Valley Avocet RM playboat (see separate reviews). This review is based on stroking the Nordkapp RM for only about three months on inland waters (not ocean) by me, an intermediate paddler of 5 foot 8.534 inches and 161 lbs. I have expedited this review as there is a paucity of information about this particular boat online.

The Nordkapp RM, the legendary flagship of the British Valley brand, is a low volume vessel meant for big water. The RM (triple layer rotomolded polyethylene, very tough plastic) is based on the hull design of the Nordkapp LV with only slight modification, and thus requires a sit-in test for fit. A larger paddler, perhaps 200# and over, would truly need to determine if the volume is too sparse for their frame, particularly their feet in what is a low front deck. The graceful lines of this boat are the prettiest overall that I have ever seen; the Nordy is not only upswept stem to stern but is also extended and thin, reminding one of a sultry blonde screen siren stretching across a lounge chair beckoning to her photographer. You will need to ride her to determine if you fit the role of her Tinseltown suitor, however. She is fetching, but is not the fastest pussycat. The Prijon Barracuda, who can be a bitch in heat on textured water and punish you like a disobedient shrew — a swimming shrew, that is — pays off in speed. If taching on the GPS is your mission, try the blowmolded Prijon 'Cuda. The Nordy, conversely, can still bang out reasonable speed, but will caress it’s passenger in chop rather than serve as a diving board. The Nordkapp is forgiving, and if your goal is specifically big water and waves, skip the Cuda and buy the ‘Kapp.

The stability of this boat is less than the playful Avocet RM, yet it still edges for responsive directional control in chop, and this is the strongest virtue of the Nordkapp—it may well be the fastest kayak that still excels in the soup, with more surfski-like boats being faster but being more likely to jettison their paddler in angry seas. The ‘Kapp behaves like a reliable cocoon in windy turbulence. Although I’ve not paddled it laden, expedition gear will raise the waterline but probably not affect performance adversely, if the Nordkapp’s acclaimed lineage is any indicator. If one were a frequent camper/expedition paddler, a careful investigation of the packing volume to assure its ability to suit your needs is recommended for this generally low volume boat.

The cockpit of the Nordkapp RM could use refinement. Peter Orton, director of Valley Canoe Products, is aware of the miserable reputation of the Valley backbands and is in the process of modification of the band on newer models. The backband is simply insufficient in support of the lumbar spine, particularly as it is set back on the seat pan and encourages a slouching posture. Adding a one inch thick minicell pad to the backband helps immensely. I have additionally Dap Weldwooded contoured minicell under the stock thigh pads. The flat “meatless” thigh pads are woefully insufficient for any locking during directional control, but minicell can accomplish a fix. Valley might take a lead from the aggressive thigh control of their Rapier, and might consider a similar hook option for the Nordkapp. The ill-designed cockpit outfitting mandates the subtraction of one point on any review.

The Nordkapp RM at 56 lbs without hatch covers is not an easy portage, but for twice the price you will save only 7 lbs as the Nordy LV composite is 49 lbs. I prefer the polyethylene boat for its indestructibility, and the Valley triple layer plastic is flexless. The coaming features a lip more prominent than Mick Jagger’s, and readily sucks onto even a wet sprayskirt. The deck fittings are standard Valley; I find the rear deck bungie cords to be too far back to be useful on the water. The foredeck bungies are ideal for your spare paddle. The Valley hatch covers will keep your gear dry, and the day hatch is useful on the water only if you have a feline-type sense of balance. The toggles are bungied down to prevent flap, and the skeg control is at the left cockpit and not as prone to accidental bumps as the Avocet due to the more curved deck. Skeg deployment is less frequent than on the more rockered Avocet.

All in all, the Valley Nordkapp RM is the single most versatile kayak this intermediate kayaker has paddled. It is the consummate blend of rocker for soup, svelte beam for speed, and length for tracking. Bring your camera when you demo this “looker” and you’ll find yourself stealing glimpses of Nordy’s trim waistline on your laptop and in your dreams.

High five to Stanislav: indeed, this boat rocks!
Rating: 9 of 10


Aquanaut RM


“This is a follow-up review as I have now had my Aquanaut long enough to have paddled it in many differing conditions on the Maine coast and Lake George.

The Aquanaut is an absolutely confident boat in challenging conditions. It feels as if it can handle anything with aplomb. It has very smooth transitions through the water. It likes being on its side. I find I’ve dropped the coaming into the water with the slightest lean.

A neoprene deck and tunnel skirt should come as standard equipment. Not only is the coaming in the water on a moderate lean, but the bow cuts through much small to moderate chop resulting in water hitting the cockpit and paddler more often than in most boats. The boat tracks very well. I believe it tracks better than the Explorer. It has much less rocker than an Explorer and handles following seas the best of any boat I’ve tried. It turns easily and is fine with either inside or outside lean – though it does prefer outside. The Aquanaut has a very active hull with rock solid secondary stability. It also seems to have very good glide. It is a pretty fast boat. It is noticeably faster than an Explorer and only slightly initially slower than a Nordkapp.

The joke that it should have been named the “Nordnaut” is apt (though I think Aquakapp would be more entertaining) as the general feel of the Aquanaut is very close to that of the new Nordkapp H2O. The Aquanaut has a longer narrower waterline than the Nordkapp. The Nordkapp has higher decks, is quicker, and has a bit lighter initial stability. The Aquanaut is very responsive without feeling quite as tender as the Nordkapp. My preference is for the lower decks of the Aquanaut.  The build quality and finish on my Aquanaut is beautiful.”


From Canoe Colorado

The Aquanaut can easily maintain a pace of 4.7mph. We paddled for several hours around Chatfield and found that it was very comfortable in that range. You can expext a small bow wave that is generated when the boat is pushed above 5mph. On short sprints we were able to reach speeds as high as 7.2mph, but after we stopped paddling the boat would instantly drop down to the 4.7 range and remain there for a few seconds before slowly losing speed. Dropping the skeg had only minor changes on speed, and with the dropped skeg the boat still cruised in the 4.7 range.

The Aquanaut HV will respond to an aggressive lean turn, but does not quickly react to subtle shifts. With the skeg up the pivot point is near the front bulkhead, lowering the skeg shifts the pivot point further back. It required 1" of skeg to keep the pivot point at the cockpit. With the skeg up, the boat responded very well to stern rudders and sweeps. Aggressive leans would carve a nice turn, but a slight pull at the end of a stroke was all that was needed to make minor corrections. With the skeg totally dropped, the boat tracks very well, and is not as responsive to leans, sweeps or rudder strokes.

The stability was very good for a 22" kayak, with a comfortable shift between primary and secondary. The boat remains firm as the sprayskirt is dipped into the water, only needing to brace once the paddlers body weight moves beyond the edge of the kayak. With the very cold water conditions, we have not yet rolled the Aquanaut LV, but our impression is that she should be very easy to roll.

The Aquanaut seeks the best performance out of the skeg. With the skeg raised, the boat will turn into the wind (weathercock). With the skeg completely dropped, the boat will turn away from the wind (leecock). Depending on which direction the paddler wanted to go, it was very easy to fine tune the skeg control to make the boat track appropriately in relation to the wind.


Aquanaut HV RM


The Aquanut Rm is rotomoulded in a 3-layer foam core polyethylene for durability and hull stiffness with a full expedition specification as standard.

This modern Greenland design with shallow "V" hull and moderate rocker enhances manoeuvrability and directional stability. The hull profile provides a comfortable degree of initial stability and the soft round chines give solid secondary stability for confident edging. Carrying capacity for extended trips is excellent with simple loading through two large oval hatches and the round day-hatch, standard on all Valley kayaks.



Avocet RM


The Valley Avocet RM is a nimble, mid-sized sea kayak with more rocker than Keef Richards and the ability to soar across choppy water in a fluid, dynamic fashion. Manufactured by Valley Canoe Products (VCP) in England, mine is an orange 2006 model (and I have paddled it for one year) and features a sturdy and stiff rotomolded triple layer plastic that is, frankly, second to none. I am a German-made Prijon fan, but even that blow molded plastic, as exceptional as it is, is not as stiff as the Valley plastic. The VCP finish is excellent, with a handy placement of bungie deck cords, even some near the bow for a temporary paddle hold, and a sturdy perimeter deck line for rescues. The bow and stern toggles are bungeed down to prevent wind flap. The hatches are with plastic bulkheads and are sealed at all edges, and access is by two large oval Valley “tupperware” type covers with a smaller round day hatch cover behind the cockpit. The Avocet has a lineage in the Pintail, which I also considered. The Avocet has less rocker than the Pinny, and the slightly longer waterline makes it a tad faster, yet not nearly as fast as the Nordkapp RM, which I also own. The Avocet rocker makes playboating in surf and boat wakes fun, indeed, and plenty of skills can be gained in edging and directional control with a boat with this degree of playability. The Avocet excels at playing in wakes and chop, where the boat always feels firmly stable—both primary and secondary—and is a thrill to capsize, roll, and practice reentries and rescues. For a truly traditional Greenland style boat with loads of rocker, one could consider the Valley Anas Acuta, but with its tight ocean cockpit, it’s availability only in composite (not roto), and it’s even more generous rocker than the Avocet, it is a specialty boat and thus I did not choose to purchase the Anas Acuta.

I am 5 foot 8.5 inches and 161 lbs, and find the cockpit size on this 16 foot boat to be ideal with adequate foot and thigh movement/space, yet a firm feel for being in contact with the boat when upside down. The skeg control is front right of the cockpit & the skeg itself, plastic, works well, and seems to stay in place for partial deployment, allowing precise trim control. The Avocet features Yakima brand footpegs, which are easy to slide

I should add a comment about speed in particular as there is likely a kayaker out there considering an Avocet for its size and fit, but wondering if they can keep up with the Jones’s in their paddling group. In short, yes, it is reasonably fast. It is not a high performance speed shark, but is plenty forgiving in chop and even on flatwater feels stable to this paddler. It’s size is medium, as it was based primarily on the Nordkapp LV, and thus you would want to compare this boat for fit before choosing an Avocet; it might better suit your needs if speed is the concern. The Avocet is not slow, but adding rocker does have it’s disadvantages in water speed. The Avocet is roughly 10% slower than the Nordkapp.

All in all, I find the Avocet RM’s superior plastic, 22 inch beam, exceptional stability, and playful nature that can be tamed with the skeg (necessary in extreme wind or for making dedicated forward progress in highly textured water) to be a winning combination for it’s intended purpose. It is a sublime vessel for day tripping, playing in soup, and rolling. It would not be my first choice for long crossings, keeping up with a fast paddling group, or expedition paddles—the Nordkapp RM is superior for those purposes. But, if shear fun is the name of the game, and a paddler is smaller sized, the Avocet RM is king. Coupled with the extended bracing and maneuvers available with the better skills you invariably pick up paddling this boat, the Avocet RM becomes a ballroom dancer on the water. Valley Canoe Products is a top notch company and provides support for their line of legendary sea kayaks. They make only higher end sea kayaks (no recreational models) and seem to always push the limits of improving hull and boat design and function. Like a fine European auto maker, VCP is always vying for the next tweak to even better establish their name as the penultimate brand in sea kayaking. Take a Valley Avocet out for a spin. I think you’ll appreciate its playful nature—like a Labrador pup, always yanking at the leash to get you to romp with it.”