Length: 17' 7" - Width: 21.50" - Starting at: $1999.00See More Details about this Kayak
I find the Etain a little roomy for me, but I am not sure if that is necessarily a very bad thing yet. That's because it has a lot of storage capacity for tripping. One thing that stands out to me is how well it turns for such a large kayak. It doesn't have aggressive thigh braces and with the cockpit being roomy for me, you would think the braces wouldn't provide the support I need for aggressive maneuvers and rolling. But again it's surprisingly not a big problem either. When I am practicing rolls and going back and forth from side to side with and without paddle, I kind of wish I had more support, but its ok with the current thigh support setup.
My hatches don't leak. I think the little 4th hatch in front of cockpit is nice. The cockpit opening is huge. Well at least I know I can jump back in easily if ever in a pinch.
Overall a good kayak. "8" for me means good to very good. I am not sure I have enough knowledge to give it an accurate rating though.
Now that I had more confidence in it's downwind / going with waves handling, I took it out in 2m waves and had a blast. It surfed very very well.
I had a lot of faith in the designers at Valley and knew some of my doubts would come to pass and boy was I right. What a difference moving the seat back 1" made.
The skeg is a bit vague and really less effective than the one I had on my Aquanaut Club RM. Running with the wind/ waves even with the skeg fully down does not stop weathercocking completely. I'm not sure if this is due to the swede form design or me being at the low end of the recommended weight (I'm 175-180lbs). In short I have to do a lot more edging and sweeps in certain conditions.
As for speed, it's slower than the 'Naut but not by much. It also feels more porky. I've also surfed some small waves and it was ok. As this boat handles completely different than the 'Naut, I'm still taking my time to figure out it's handling characteristics before venturing out on some real nasty stuff.
Overall still happy with my purchase.
As a previous Aquanaut RM owner I found the Etain familiar but different. The triple layer poly was rock solid and can take major abuse. The low point is that at close to 60lbs there is a bit more heft to carry from car to launch point. The new Valley seat is a huge improvement over the old and I cannot find any fault in terms of comfort. The new back band is better but I still replaced it with an Immersion Research lounge back band with the pro straps installed ( I can't say enough good things about this set-up!). The original thigh pad placements were uncomfortable. I moved them forwards, drilled some new holes and rebolted them in place. Easy fix. The rubber hatches work well and are easy to put on and off. I fitted some bungy cords with plastic snap clips to secure the hatches to the deck rigging. I also bolted the day pod/4th hatch to the hull and used rubber washers to keep it watertight. I did this because I saw a video on Vimeo that showed the pod blowing off in surf as well, the pod easily moves out of place when you remove the hatch. Another easy fix.
I have only taken it out once for a 10km paddle in calm conditions as it is still cold on Lake Ontario in March. The primary and secondary stability were just awesome compared to my previous two 18ft kayaks....I can't wait to go out in white caps! I also find the Etain is more responsive to turn than the Aquanaut. As some pebbles jammed the skeg in the up position I can't comment on it. The good news is that even though the wind picked up the tracking was still very good. I still think the rope & cleat system was more robust and reliable than the slider system as I never had a skeg jam with it. I did not bring my GPS but I was probably doing 6-7 km/hr (I still need to build up my endurance after my winter break from kayaking).
All in all a very nice kayak that should complement my requirement for a kayak that is good for day tripping, multi-day camping and handling rough conditions. I also wanted something that could take the abuse of hitting rocks and being dragged out of the water. So far this boat is a home run! I gave it a 9 because I still needed to do a few modifications to make it perfect.
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