Boat Review Category

Eddyline Kayaks

Eddyline Kayaks

Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe has a full line of Eddyline Kayaks to demo. Our Eddyline Kayaks demo fleet includes these recreational kayaks: Sky 10, Sandpiper, Rio, Skylark, Equinox. These Sit on Top Kayaks: Caribbean 12, Carribbean 14 and C-135. We have these touring kayaks: Samba, Denali, Journey, Raven, Fathom and Fathom LV. We also have these tandem kayaks: Whisper CL and Shasta.

This fleet is available to test paddle at our Jantzen Beach location: 200 NE Tomahawk Isl Dr, Portland OR 97217 Our shop is  on the North Portland Harbor of the Columbia River. The water is right behind our building. We can have you out kayaking 7 days a week in just a couple minutes. When it comes to deciding on the right kayak there is no better way to decide than spending a few minutes (or a few hours) test paddling.

Call to make a demo reservation: 503.285.0464

We stock most of the fleet for sale but if we do not have the color or model in stock you desire our close proximity to the factory makes getting you the correct Eddyline Kayak a snap. Most of the year we can have your boat delivered to our shop within 2 weeks form the date of order.

What makes an Eddyline kayak special? They are light in weight, pretty to look at, comfortable to sit in  kayaks that have been designed to paddle efficiently. Each boat is a “best in class” design matching the desired use to the paddler who is targeted to that boat. Come try out an Eddyline Kayak at Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe today!

YouTube Preview Image

Check out Eddyline Kayaks Skylark. The top selling 12′ thermoformed kayak.

 

YouTube Preview Image

Check Out Eddyline Kayaks Denali. This is a very comfortable kayak for the larger paddler.\

 

YouTube Preview Image

Check Out Eddyline Kayaks Samba. A very light full performance touring kayak for a smaller paddler.

 

YouTube Preview Image

Check out Eddyline Kayaks Caribbean 12. A light and full featured Sit On Top Kayak.

Stand on Liquid Native 12’6” Touring SUP

Stand on Liquid Native 12’6” Touring SUP review
by Jeffrey Briley
@jeffreycbriley

L:12’6”
W: 30”
Thickness: 6.7”
Vol: 282 L
Weight: 28 lbs
Price: $1399 $1099
Buy it now at http://bit.ly/1BxSnmB

Native 12'6" SUP

Native 12’6″ SUP

Recently I had the opportunity to take the Stand on Liquid Native 12’6” Touring SUP for a paddle, and the speed and stability profile here is excellent. This board has it all. It’s sleek, it’s really really fast for a 12’6 (actually faster than another manufacturer’s 14’ racing model), it comes outfitted with gear bungees for packing plenty of gear for touring and oozes northwest style.

As I paddled East from our shop on Hayden Island on the Columbia River, I sliced into the current and noticed little resistance with this board. Its displacement nose design reduces drag and assists the single fin in making it an excellent tracking SUP. For the first 2 miles I was able to hit an average of 3.18 knots and once I turned down stream for my return, I was cranking along at a blistering 4.77 knots average and a top speed of nearly 6 knots! Overall that day, the SOL Native 12’6” did just over 4 miles right at 55 minutes. Catching the eye of many a boater on this beautiful sunny morning, one sailor even shouted “Hey! It’s a no wake zone!” So for a board not designed for racing to hit consistent speeds that could keep up with the pack in any SUP race out there, that’s exceptional.

Beyond it’s speed, this is one of those boards that can do it all for anyone. Regardless of your size, the 282L volume ensures stability and adequate flotation to log some knots and enjoy the glide.

Come on up to Alder Creek’s Jantzen Beach location to give the Stand on Liquid Native 12’6”, priced at just $1099 $849, a look and we’ll get you out on the water.

Valley Gemini SP poly

I first paddled the Valley Gemini as a prototype at Alder Creek’s Paddlefest in April 2013.  For those who don’t know, the Gemini comes in two varieties, SP or Sport Play, and ST or Sport Touring.

 

Valley Gemini SP Poly; Photo by David Dalbey

My current boat was a hoot.  With it’s flat bottom and lots of rocker, it loved to surf.  It was also relatively efficient, so I had no problem keeping up on day trips.  The problem was that it was a bulletproof composite layup that weighed a ton!  When I tweaked my back getting it on my truck solo, I decided it was time to make a change.

 

The Gemini I demo’ed at Paddlefest was composite, but I was drawn to the new triple-layer polyethylene version partly due to economics, but also because it would be durable for rock-garden play, and I just wouldn’t have to perseverate over gel coat chips and the cosmetic stuff.  I knew I needed a lighter weight boat and I was pleasantly surprised to find the poly Gemini was about 15 lbs lighter than the composite boat it would replace.  I had no problem throwing this one up on the truck by myself!

 

I was never worried about the Gemini’s ability to excel in dynamic water.  With its fairly flat hull in the mid-section and decent volume in the bow, it surfs easily.  It has quite a bit of rocker and defined edges, which keeps it pretty loose for a sea kayak.

 

More concerning was that this would be my every-day boat.  How would it feel to paddle it 10-15 miles with my friends on flat water?  Would it be a dog in flat water, like some of the other rough water play boats?

 

Even though my Gemini was the Sport Play variety, I was very pleasantly surprised by it’s performance on benign water.  Its first test was an OOPS club trip to the San Juan’s.  We’d be camping at San Juan County Park and day touring, so no need to bring my full on touring boat, so brought the Gemini.  Day one we paddled about 15 miles down to False Bay and back.  This boat was easy to paddle at cruising speed.  Day two was 12 miles from Griffin Bay, across Cattle Pass to Lopez Island & back.  Again, no problem keeping up and it was a hoot when we had the opportunity to play on eddy lines and in current.

 

I’ve owned the boat for about 4 months now and found that it works well for just about any kind of paddling I’ve done.  I’ve had it in the ocean & surf, in the Columbia River gorge on wind waves, on small rapids in rivers, and paddled it on flat-water trips on the Willamette.

 

Many people have noticed that the cockpit in the poly version is tighter than the glass prototype.  I originally planned to pull the stock seat out and put in a Valley foam seat, however, I found that quite un-necessary.  What I did do was lower the stock seat about 1/2″ by shaving the foam on the under side of the seat pan and adding spacers between the seat pan and where it attaches to the under side of the deck.  It would be easy to lower it up to an inch.   I also moved the thigh hooks into the forward position and added some very thin foam at the thigh hooks to make it easier to grip the boat.

 

All in all, my Gemini has proved to be an entertaining all-around day paddling boat!
-David Dalbey

 

 

How I lowered the seat:

Step 1 – Remove the seat pan from the boat.

Seat-less cockpit; Photo by David Dalbey

 

Step 2 – Mark the amount of foam to trim and cut it with a hand saw.

Seat pan marked for trimming; Photo by David Dalbey

 

Trimmed seat; Photo by David Dalbey

Step 3 – Cut 1″ wide and 1/2″ thick blocks out of polyethelene and drilled holes to correspond to the holes in the top flange of the seat pan

Seat shims; Photo by David Dalbey

 

Step 4 – Matched the blocks up on top of the seat pan and bolted it all back together again!

Bolt it all back together! Photo by David Dalbey

 

Jackson Kayak Karma review

Whether you’re into paddling big water, big drops, big trips or if you’re just plain big, check out the Karma from Jackson Kayaks.  This brand new creek boat is an amazing combination of speed, stability and agility that is a perfect fit for the Pacific Northwest or anyone who wants a super versatile everyday whitewater boat.  Despite the unprecedented width and volume of the LG Karma (28” wide and over 100 gallons!), it’s still an incredibly fast and maneuverable hull that is capable of making the tightest moves with ease.  At 6’2” and 220 lbs, I had plenty of room to spare in the LG and yet was still able to drive this boat as easily as my old creeker.  The Karma features just enough edge to make carving turns, catching eddies and ferrying predictable and easy, yet it is soft and forgiving in swirly water and behaves like a true displacement hull when taking on steeper drops.  Ample nose rocker makes boofing a cinch (even in a 9’ boat), and it also does a great job of staying dry as you punch through larger features on the river.  The stern of the Karma is cavernous, which makes it beyond ridiculously stable and a great option for self support multi day adventures.  Fantastic cockpit ergonomics make the Karma a very easy boat to roll, and the easily adjustable outfitting makes it a versatile option that is easily adaptable to any kind of kit set up.  Like all Jackson kayaks, the only holes in the boat are the cockpit and drain plug, making it a warm, dry and comfortable ride.  All Jackson boats are backed up by the best warranty and customer service in the paddlesports industry; and with 3 sizes available for the Karma there’s something here for everyone.  Come demo one today and see for yourself, you won’t be sorry you did!

-Dave Trageser

See what Alder Creek has in-stock HERE!

Tiderace Xplore X

By Andrew Brown

If you’re the kind of person that most other people look up to, literally, the kind of person with X’s and L’s on their clothing labels, who doesn’t get blown over in the wind easily… there is a sea kayak that may be of interest to you. The Tiderace Xplore X.

There aren’t many high performance British style sea kayaks made for large people. At 6’3’’ and 240 pounds I can get into the P&H Cetus HV, or the NDK Explorer HV, or the Valley Etain 17.7, or the Tiderace Xplore L for that matter, but they all feel, how should I say… on the tight side. A bit like flying coach – okay for a while, but having your legs wedged into the seat in front of you for hours at a time is somewhat unpleasant. On paper the specs on the Xplore X looked very appealing, and I was excited to finally get the chance to paddle one recently.

First off this kayak is indeed big, very big, worthy of the X in it name. 18 feet long and 24 inches wide (23 inches at the water line) with a deck height of 13.7’’. There is plenty of cockpit space for someone my size, and it may actually be the first kayak that I would need to pad out the hips and knee braces to get a good fit. At 24 inches wide it’s something of an outlier compared to the Xplore X’s more slender siblings, the Xplore L, M and S. The X is also a big jump up in volume and carrying capacity. The overall volume is a whopping 113 gallons, capable of carrying large loads of gear and supplies. Like other British sea kayaks, its composite layup is solid and robust. Tiderace lists their “G-Core” construction at 63 pounds (28.75 kg), so it’s on the heavy side for an 18 foot composite boat.

On the water the shallow V hull tracks pretty well and, for such a high volume kayak, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to control and how little the boat weather cocked in the moderate wind conditions I paddled it in. With its smooth chines and moderate rocker, I was really impressed with how the boat performed on edge. The extra volume and width really float the ends out of the water on edge, enabling precise control and effortless turning and maneuvering, something that doesn’t happen in lower volume kayaks for someone my size.

I was also impressed with how the Xplore X performed in rough and moving water. That wide beam gives the kayak rock solid stability, very reassuring in waves and crossing eddy lines. The Xplore X is a lot of fun to paddle, and it’s a kayak I’d feel comfortable taking just about anywhere in a wide range of conditions.
The only down side of the width is that the Xplore X is a little slower, compared to the other narrower kayaks in the Xplore line anyway. It still felt plenty fast enough though for a touring kayak, and would certainly not have any problem keeping up in a group. But if you’re regularly in a hurry to get from A to B, this may not be the boat for you.

Tiderace lists its suitable paddler weight range for the Xplore X as 188 to 242 pounds (85-110kg). I would say it would certainly be capable of accommodating and floating paddlers heavier than that as well just fine. At the bottom of that weight range you have other options choose from. But if you’re a larger paddler of about 220 pounds or more, tired of squeezing into smaller kayaks, or resigned to paddling unexciting barges, looking for a high performance sea kayak to explore faraway places and have fun along the way, definitely take a look at the Xplore X.

Given the large volume and excellent rough water handling, the Xplore X is a great expedition kayak, and will also appeal to any sized paddler who needs the extra capacity to haul gear and supplies for those extended multi-week expeditions they’ve always dreamed of doing.

 

Take a look HERE to see what we have in stock, and call 503-285-0464 for more details!

Valley Gemini SP review

Friends:

Thank you for the opportunity to demo the newly-arrived Gemni SP.

I’m the happy owner of a Tiderace XCite and am looking for an *even more* maneuverable and fun sea kayak to paddle in down local rivers, play along eddy lines, and during rock gardening. I tried the Tiderace Xtreme and didn’t find it different enough to justify the purchase. I tried the P&H Delphin (stand-in for the Aries) and just had the wrong chemistry with the boat, in addition to it not feeling enough different. The P&H Hammer seemed to hit all the sweet spots I am looking for (giving me a huge grin), but taking it down the Lewis river with some friends it turned out to be difficult to keep pace with more traditional kayaks.

So best I can see, my choice is pretty much down to the Gemini SP (other recommendations welcome). And it does not disappoint. It’s almost as maneuverable as the Hammer (big grin again, even though it is not quite as stable), while having good forward acceleration, sustained speed at minimal effort on flat water, and tracking. It felt really nice on eddy lines and in the mild waves east of Hayden Island and around the wing dam. It seems to want to surf on waves barely high enough to be visible (very promising for on the coast). It didn’t particularly want to weathercock in the 5-10mph winds we had on the morning of the 20th. This is a really exciting hull, and I can’t wait to see what the elite paddlers can do with it.

Thought you might find the feedback interesting/useful!

Cheers,
Charles

Boatin like it’s 1995

The Prijon T-Canyon. Introduced in plastic in 1987. State of the Art creekboat when the Perception Dancer was king. 11 feet long. No rocker. Very fast. Great boat for attainments. One of the first boats with a large keyhole cockpit. Also one of the first with a bulkhead footbrace. Prijon’s plastic is legendary for how well it holds up. One thing the T-canyon is infamous for is “missile lock”. Paddle the boat long enough and you will experience this phenomena. The boat will lock onto a course, usually heading someplace bad that you do not want to go. No matter what kind of stroke you throw, the boat ain’t turning. Good luck with that. For this reason, some folks in the mid-Atlantic region nick named the boat the “T-Beast”. Due to the lack of rocker and length the Canyon is a hard boat to boof. Due to its lack of rocker it will plunge to the bottom of whatever pool you miss your boof into. If you ever want to find out how deep the pool at the base of a waterfall is, take the T-Canyon. Due to that lack of rocker, the canyon will drill a hole in the pool, stop, then slam into reverse. The boat will explode into a mighty back ender, sending you back into the curtain of the waterfall you just ran. This is how rodeo was invented back in the day. Good times!! Suffice to say, its a fun boat to paddle! Livens up those runs that have gotten a little boring 😉 For the Chattooga, the boat will blow the doors off everything else going across the lake, getting you back to the beer cooler way faster than anyone else you are boating with. Then again, the boat has a tremendous amount of storage space. Fitting a case of PBR in the back of the boat will be no problem.

Dave Slover gettin his boof on at Hammering Spot, Canyon Creek!

Pyranha Nano

The Pyranha Nano: Business on the top, Party on the bottom.

The Medium Pyranha Nano was the perfect blend of the Jed’s loose and explosive freestyle hull, with the solid predictable “creekability” of the Shiva.  It’s business up top and party on the bottom.  Add some Burn characteristics in the stern with some chine releasers to the edges, and you have a Creeking, play boating do anything machine that will just about fit in your pocket.  I took it down some low volume steep creeks then cruised out to a favorite surf spot.  Huck the falls and then turn on all the best play waves in your favorite creek!  Get your “Freak-Style” on with the NEW Pyranha Nano in two sizes!  I certainly did!
-Paul Kuthe

Get specs on the Medium Pyranha Nano HERE!

Paul Kuthe freewheeling his Nano off Sunset Falls, East Fork of the Lewis River

What the hell is this Nano all about?
Well after paddling it today on the SG at a med juicy level i can say it is a blast to paddle. Just enough volume to make you stay on your toes in the big rapids. Surfing, Enders, Wave wheels, Yup it loves them. Boofing over big holes? Best have good body positioning!! Rolling? Well after paddling the Stomper for a while, I can say that it is almost too easy to roll, as I almost over rotated playing around a few times. Silly easy to roll. Silly I tells ya. Super fast for its size and great in even the funny water for a small boat. Awesome practice/training tool when you are comfortable on the run you are doing..

Great addition to the kayak quiver for those days when you are wanting to push your comfort level on those harder runs.

You were right Paul. This boat is a blast to paddle..
-Joey

 

Recently, I got my first chance to test out the LG Nano, one of the latest offerings from Pyranha Kayaks. As someone who’s paddled longer, displacement hull style creek boats for almost my whole whitewater career, I was a bit apprehensive about the aggressive edge and short waterline of the Nano, however I was also excited to try something a bit more playful than my current boat.  After just a couple of peel outs and ferries across the river, all my apprehension was washed away and replaced with a huge smile!  Despite the flat bottom and sharp, hard edges that extend the whole length of the Nano’s hull, I found it remarkably stable and forgiving, even in swirly and confused water.  As soon as I found a suitable wave and dropped in for a surf, I appreciated those edges even more as I carved back and forth with ease and was rewarded with some of the longest and most fun rides I’ve ever (intentionally) had on the river.  Small, shallow holes and waves were no problem to surf in thanks to the Nano’s short length and buoyant nose, and steeper waves were extremely easy to catch as well (I get the feeling that a more skilled boater than I could do all sorts of things on a steeper wave in this sporty little play machine).  Boofing was another strong suit for the Nano, thanks to ample bow rocker and its compact design.  Rolling the Nano was no problem at all, the puffy stern made it surprisingly forgiving and the cockpit ergonomics (comfortable and engaged knee position, low point by the hips) helped tremendously.  Speed is the only thing the Nano lacks, but that compromise allows it to surf and play as well as it does and it also compensates by being incredibly maneuverable and easy to drive and keep on line.  All in all, the Nano met every expectation I had for it and exceeded my expectations in several cases.  The Nano comes in two sizes currently (I am 6’2″ @225 lbs, felt like the upper end of the range for the LG), making it a great option for paddlers of almost any size.
-Dave Trageser

Get specs on the Large Pyranha Nano HERE!

Venture Kayaks Islay 14 LV


Venture Kayaks Islay 14 is already a staff favorite.  I have had great responses from both introductory students as well as instructors who have tried it.  The Islay has the unique ability to appeal to both beginner and experienced paddlers.  New students can jump in this boat and quickly build confidence while established paddlers can have a blast carving around on a stable secondary edge.  With Pyranha’s Connect30 thigh braces, the outfitting is quick to adjust while being comfortable and secure.  There’s plenty of storage for overnight trips, and the removable deck pod is a great alternative to a deck back for stashing gear.  We have great expectations for Venture Kayaks Islay 14 in the coming season and I am sure we won’t be disappointed.

–Happy Paddling!

Steve Pilch

P&H Hammer Review!

The NEW P&H Hammer Review:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a new breed of sea boater pushes the limitations on the water, their craft must be up to the challenge. Leading the way, P&H Custom Sea Kayaks has stepped up and is introducing a boat that is proving to be the first true play / freestyle boat for the sea! Leaving compromises behind, the Hammer feels just as at home on long multi-day canyon river trips as it does in it’s true home; the surf, rock gardens, and tearing up tidal races big and small.

The boat’s shorter length, unique volume distribution, and flat planing hull give it solid stability and spin on a dime maneuverability, while the drop skeg, 3 bulkheads, and proper sea kayak rigging and outfitting including a day hatch and convenient 4th hatch up front, make this boat sea worthy and ready for some serious salt water action! Connect 30 whitewater style outfitting creates a comfortable and adjustable fit that offers maximum contact and control. The Hammer’s Precision performance and all day comfort come together beautifully to allow for a super enjoyable paddling experience.

This is not just a park a play machine. It’s able to cruise right along with most standard sea kayaks and feels quick and snappy on the water. It only takes a few strokes to match wave speed and start shredding. The boat surges forward on even subtle waves making it capable of paddling longer distances using swell energy. You can tell it WANTS to surf.

Set flat on the wave, the Hammer is loose as a goose and willing to go almost anywhere you like. Once on edge, it will drive the line and is capable of cranking wicked bottom turns with major thrust and speed. Amongst the rocks it felt cushy and confidence inspiring. Never feeling locked into any certain boat angle makes it possible to commit to bigger waves, tougher slots and pour-overs and more turbulent tidal races.

The hammer has the volume, safety features, and capabilities of a sea boat in a shape that could change the way we all think of sea kayaking and open up new possibilities for your paddling and our sport as a whole.

Review by Paul Kuthe

 

North Shore Aspect RM

The North Shore Aspect is the ideal day touring kayak for anyone who doesn’t want to compromise performance. Many of the boats in this category focus more on comfort, than a sleek hull design. Don’t get me wrong, the Aspect is very comfortable and supportive, but what your really paying for, is a versatile performance hull. At a length of 14 ft 9 in, the Aspect has an ample water line for quick acceleration and fast cruising speeds. Plenty of free board paired with a relatively soft chine provide massive amounts of secondary stability and predictable edge control. With a moderate beam of 23.5 in, initial stability is no problem either. I’m about 6 ft tall and 190 lbs and it fits me great. However, It could accommodate someone slightly larger quite comfortably. They have also recently released a low volume version which will fit smaller framed paddlers like a glove.

Buy The North Shore Aspect

The Aspect has moderate rocker profile, which is all to commonly absent amongst short touring kayaks. This gives you outstanding maneuverability, and reassuring performance in choppy conditions. The chine is not so soft that it detracts from surfing either, so you can confidently put the rocker profile to good use. There is also a skeg for increased tracking in wind or current. However, the Aspect does track quite well on its own. They really have built a fantastic blend of features into this hull. They managed to preserve maneuverability without compromising speed or tracking. They didn’t sacrifice initial stability to obtain the responsive edge control. There are very few mid length kayaks with so much versatility for any type of touring. Its simply brilliant.

-Meloy Ady

Jackson Fun Runner Kayak

Jackson Kayak had a couple new boats this year, and the Fun Runner delivered just as I’d hoped! Geared down, I weigh about 160 lbs, so the Fun Runner 60 worked very well for me. In fact, it was near perfect for the Class III+ Middle White Salmon and my paddling ability! Lower volume with a longer water line made the boat playful and responsive for surfing waves and holes without sacrificing hull speed. The low volume stern made it incredibly easy to shift my weight back and stop the bow from pearling. Long, well defined rails not only help the boat surf and track but also make ferrying, eddying, and attaining a breeze, even across surging boils and waves. The Jackson Fun Runner boofed well over ledges, pour-overs, and Husum Falls, and the hull design offers good secondary stability. Ultimately, the Fun Runner is more than a stretched out Fun; the Fun Runner is it’s own boat. Perfect for a casual run filled with playful features, I will definitely paddle Jackson Kayak’s Fun Runner again!

-Andrew Romanelli

Dagger Mamba 8.6

Dagger Mamba 8.6.  I am 6’ 1” 235 lbs and have been paddling for the better part of 30 years. I currently focus on family trips – running class I to easy IV. My other favorite WW boat is  the Jackson Rogue 10. In the past I paddled the Mamba 8.5 as my primary boat.

I like all the changes made in the new Mamba series. I think this is a great beginner/learning boat that should be considered as a river runner/creek boat for advanced paddlers.

Changes from the Mamba 8.5 that I like are the higher deck height and better knee position, the puffier stern for a more stable feeling in and out of eddies and in squirrelly water and the increased bow volume and bow rocker which makes surfacing below drops and holes better and more predictable. The planning hull rounds out at the ends so you get the best of both worlds, stability with quick turning and easy rolling. The stern edge does not grab on eddy turns which makes this boat comforting for beginners in class II and experts making that must catch last eddy.

The day I test paddled the 8.6 we also had a 170 lbs guy in the 8.1 and a 135 lbs woman in the 7.6.  Everyone liked their boats and felt the same as I did. This is a winner of a kayak series that should take a place in the quiver of many kayak schools and be a favorite of those running the gnarr. I suggest the “creeker” outfitting system for extra safety and security.

I rate this boat “Five star’s”

-Dave Slover

Perception Expression 15

Review: Perception Expression 15

Length:  15’0”
Width:   24”
Weight:  55 lbs
Capacity:  308 lbs

Strengths
• British style hull design makes the kayak edge turn exceptionally well and handle loads in conditions
• Terrific primary and secondary stability lend confidence
• Spring loaded skeg operated with a string – can’t kink
• Comfortable seat and snug thigh braces
• Winner, UK Canoe Kayak Touring Boat of the Year


Summary
The Perception Expression 15 hands the keys of kayaking’s essential skills to novices and intermediates! I recently guided a tour and coached classes while paddling the new 2012 Expression 15 and came away very impressed! I wholeheartedly recommend this kayak, and the Expression 14.5 to novices and intermediates working on climbing the skills ladder! All at a price that beats its competition!

 

Design and outfitting
The standout feature is the British-style design of the Expression’s hull. It has soft chines and a moderate rocker with a shallow “v” hull. While this design evolved out of the rough waters of the British Isles, it makes kayaks carve turns and handle loads well. Rather than a full on sea kayak, the Expression adds width, lending an extra dose of primary stability. The spring-loaded skeg is simple and effective. Up top, the cockpit is comfortable even for larger paddlers. The seat pan tilts upward cradling your hamstrings and keeping your thighs in the braces with no effort at all. Two hatches/bulkheads for gear, and perimeter lines/bungees on aft/foredecks.  The high seatback is a bit of a hassle for spray skirts, though I was able to get mine over it.

 

Performance
Primary and secondary stability are rock solid. For beginners, the Expression’s primary stability should make them feel invulnerable. But when edged over to the cockpit rim, the secondary stability is also dead solid. This means intermediates can confidently explore edging, bracing and carving turns. I performed inside and outside low-brace turns, bow rudders and simple turns on the outside edge. Each time the Expression telegraphed its eagerness to carve. It does not resist carving in any way. When paddling using primary stability, wind does cause weather cocking, but the skeg effectively eliminates the problem. I liked the spring loaded skeg – it can’t kink. But I wasn’t very impressed with the dangling skeg cord on the side of the boat.

In accelerating and keeping speed, the Expression showed some weakness. At 24” wide and only 15’ in length, its glide was average.

In rescues, this kayak is competitive. With full perimeter lines bow and stern there is plenty for a rescuer to grab and stabilize; likewise, for re-entry the perimeter lines are very useful. On the downside, the seat back is so high it can get in the way of re-entering.

 

Conclusion
For those looking for a day touring kayak, or for those looking to improve their skills the Expression 15 and 14.5 should be on your short list. Unlike competitive offerings in their price and size range which impose limits on skills, these kayaks will reward the aspiring paddler!

-Rod Richards

Valley Sea Kayaks: Aquanaut LV

The Valley Sea  Kayaks Aquanaut LV plastic has been my ride for almost three years now. It was a perfect fit right from the start. It speeds up quickly, can hold its own at speed, and can haul enough for an extended trip. I’m 6’0” and 178 lbs. The cockpit feels just right for me. I’m comfortable for hours with no need to writhe around getting blood back into my legs. To get the fit right, I removed the seat cushion. On the water, it is super stable on edge – where it carves turns beautifully. The Valley Sea Kayaks Aquanaut LV’s true personality is hidden until you encounter conditions, where its true self emerges. The boat settles down in rougher water, where it is at home. It also shines when loaded with gear. I find the Aquanaut LV Plastic a snap to roll and self rescue. Outfitting is without peer. The triple layer plastic with rigid bulkheads makes the boat the toughest plastic boat in the industry. The Valley hatches and hatch covers are a system – the hatch openings and hatch covers are a system. The hatch openings, when combined with the specialized rubber of the hatch covers are unequaled. Easy to put on, and they even double seal. In summary this boat does it all, at an affordable price!

-Rod Richards