See Current Kayaks from Valley Sea Kayaks
in the Buyers' Guide
Select Kayak to View in Buyers' Guide
A good boat but there are better out there (e.g., VCP Aquanaut, P&H Cetus).
The boat is very easy to roll and surprisingly easy to turn on edge. I love the style/look of the boat and the Valley hatches are truly watertight (I spend a lot of time just practicing rolls and never get a drop in the hatches).
At 6' 175# size 12 feet, the boat is very comfortable and roomy in the cockpit. The storage volume is good but not as much as I was expecting. The tail and bow is very long and slender. I paddle on long trips with a bunch of guys that own the QCC 500 that can carry more load (and they have no trouble keeping up or handling big waves).
As far as the ride, the boat handles extremely rough water with ease. The only complaint is that my skeg needs some attention. On a recent trip in September to the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, I ran into trouble with the skeg sticking. We set out one day into 20+ mph winds and I had dropped the skeg by hand before taking off (we were heading into the wind but about 2 miles later we would be turning around the point of an island and coming with the wind). About half way, I had to pull the skeg up and let the boat weathercock into the wind, which made it much easier to paddle. I was a bit worried as we approached the turn, however, on how the boat would go with the wind with the skeq up. It was a bit scary until I managed to get the skeg to drop again. With the skeg down, the boat tracks like a missile in the following seas (4-6' swells) and was a blast. Extremely seaworthy boat, but the skeg is a must. I'm going to try to modify my bungee style skeg to make it operate more reliably.
The Aquila may seam a bit shaky for some-particularly for those who are a bit "top-heavy," but I found its initial stability very comfortable-much more stable than the Nordkapp, but not quite as stable as the Romany. But this boat's secondary stability is rock solid. I can put this boat comfortably on its side to turn it, even in rough water, which is sometimes scary in the Nordkapp. As far as rolling and high brace recovery, the Aquila is similar to the Romany-very responsive. This boat is much easier to roll than the Nordkapp, and almost as easy to roll or high brace as the Romany. What this boat has over the Romany is that it is a faster boat and can carry more gear. In addition, the larger front and rear hatches are easier to pack and can accommodate the small size bear containers.
A complaint I have about this boat concerns how well it tracks. The boat has a lot of rocker, which makes it very easy to turn-too easy. I would gladly give up the maneuverability for something that tracks better. I often lower the skeg slightly (even in calm weather) in order to keep it from weather cocking. This is not as much of a problem with the Nordkapp or Romany.
I really like this boat and I'm sure I'll do many more long trips with it. I have a foot pump and a knee tube, which are nice features. I recommend that if you buy this boat that you order it with a custom bulkhead so that you have even more space in the front hold.
100,000+ people can't be wrong!
The Paddling.net Newsletter is a must if you like to canoe or kayak! Each week it is packed with great articles, photos, product reviews, and special features. Better yet, we promise not to sell your email address to anyone; that's right ZERO spam! Sign up today and find out what you've been missing!