The new Etain 17-1 provides a very similar fit as the successful Avocet LV, but at over a foot longer, it offers greater forward speed, improved tracking and more loading volume.
Ideal for those paddlers around the 100 lb. mark attempting longer open crossings or multi-day trips. Really, the 17-1 is just offering smaller paddlers the same choice of true expedition style kayak models the rest of us have enjoyed from Valley for years.
Read and submit reviews for the Etain 17-1.
I've owned this kayak for just over a year. It's perfect for the smaller or even medium'ish paddler. I've owned bigger boats but this one fits me better. I'm 175 cm and weight 75kg which puts me at the top end of the idle dimensions for this boat. But, it fits like a glove and the high quality Valley finish is worth the extra money. It's much easier to turn than larger sea kayaks. I would compare it to owning the smaller SUV's such as a Mazda CX-3 as opposed to a CX-5 or larger. The secondary stability is phenomenal. It certainly bobbles but it doesn't fall over easily. I can easily hold it on an extreme edge with a brace. In big waves it just nestles in between them on its own. Just let it do its thing and it seems to figure it out by itself. The low back deck makes it easy to roll. Cargo space is limited but adequate as I've managed to pack a weeks worth of gear in it.
I am a small (164 cm) and slightly curvy woman. I have spent years touring with and living in and out of a PH Capella. It kept me safe and felt stable, but there was little contact between us. After trying a few other models of kayaks, I purchased a pure greenland-style kayak, light, but with not much loading capacity. Hence, I wanted to complete my fleet with something that will fit me well and will be capable of taking some load.
After months of research, comparing, reading and testing, I have chosen Valley Etain 17.1. The reason I am submitting this review is that there are a few detailed reviews of larger Etains, but almost none of this size. And how this one feels might be different for small persons. I have to say that there are not many models one can choose from being a small size kayaker (and at the same time, not being hysterically thin to fit into child models). While I am very happy with my purchase, I had a lot of considerations and difficulties when deciding. There are many cheaper models on the market, but I have also taken into account the ethics of manufacturing and transport footprint and whom I want to support.
Valley had quite a few models that I could evaluate. Anas Acuta was definitely my favorite - until I leaned back and hit a very nasty cockpit edge, meaning it will leave a mark on your back if you try to roll it. I did not try Nordkapp Førti, but the specs suggest it is built for slightly bigger paddlers than myself. Sirona turned out to be a great playful kayak. If I was on a lookout for some rockhopping kayak, this would be my first choice. Also, I like plastic kayaks - they tolerate some misuse and make life easier when it comes to landing and take off. However, while the smallest plastic Sirona felt good to sit in and was not even so heavy as plastic kayaks tend to be, unfortunately, I could not fit in her with my thighs. That was a big disappointment, but my thighs were fine in fiberglass option. I was considering ordering small size Sirona RM with medium size cockpit, but eventually this seemed way too complicated and I have no idea if this would be possible to produce. Nonetheless, Etain was promising a bit easier tracking, if not a faster trip than Sirona and these characteristics were the ultimate reason I let Sirona go. At this moment, Etain 17.1 is not produced in plastic, so I had to go for a fiberglass. Of notice, Etain 17.1 has the smallest packing volume of all in the Valley fleet! I do dread the day I will have to pack my Etain for some serious touring, but plan to utilise the leg space as luggage space as well and remain hopeful to apply my minimalistic skills there. I have to say that even though that it seems to be a rather low volume kayak, I appreciate that Etain does not feel as bulky in front for me as other kayaks do. For packing, there are always some items that do not have to be in watertight compartments, but true, you risk loosing them if putting them in a cockpit. The Etain I got does not have removable pod in front, I think they gave up producing it and I definitely support this decision. One can always put a "sock" in the day hatch and pull it out when you need to wander.
The boat is super easy to edge and you can easily lower yourself on the back deck. I tried it in some wind and waves and am still in adjusting phase, but the boat feels super stable (almost too stable for my taste) and (!) to my big surprise, it does not weathercock much. I am, however, on the upper side of ideal paddler weight and even so, the boat is - unpacked - well out of water, so I do not worry too much. The only current downside perhaps worth mentioning is that it does not have that many deck lines - it could be of course worse, but it could also be a bit better with a few more lines and while I am not fan of gadgets and novel inventions that might break in the future, I would like to have a paddle insert on the deck for that paddle float rescue. I warn you that a metal plate that should provide easy locking can be easily unscrewed, so I would not recommend to lock this pricey kayak in this way! But as you know, the plate is a cool thing to have to hook other things on the back deck, if you wish. Seating is very comfortable, except given my previous paddling style, my legs just wont stay under thigh braces and often slide in the middle. I have not tried to roll it yet - next on the list - but given how it looks and feels, this should be easy. Last, but not least. As far as tracking and speed go, the boat caused a full family drama yesterday when it turned out that I was overall faster than my male partner and things became edgy. The manufacturer is very cautious on the website not to call it a "fast" boat and I should have known better, too, and pace down respectfully, but I was just too tired and wanted to come back after a long trip ... So all in all, women out there, be considerate to your paddling buddies and careful with this one, it might be too fast for a touring kayak, giving you an (un)fair advantage.