Most Recent Reviews
I've owned my 16x in performance spec for 10 months now.
I bought it as a long distance tourer where efficiency and comfort were the priorities. Unfortunately the standard carbon seat is anything but comfy so I swapped it for a P&H Aries seat with a Connect 30 backband. The seat needed some adapting to fit to the slider rail and was also fitted as low as possible to lower the centre of gravity and thus increase stability. Comfort now sorted. About 30 minutes into my first full day trip and I learnt how easy it is to roll, as I was talking to my friend and wasn't paying proper attention the swell suddenly pulled back revealing a submerged rock and the next wave flipped me over the rock. Rolled up with no issues at all. Over the winter I fitted a Flat Earth sail kit and found out just how fast this thing can go! Great fun. We were planning a fairly big open water crossing of 22 miles (35km) and with virtually no wind the sails were next to useless. It was very early in the season and I was far from paddle fit but we did the crossing in 4 1/2 hours so averaged 8kph with fully loaded boats. My partner was in a Rockpool Taran 16 and these two boats are pretty evenly matched for speed with the Epic being more maneuverable. So the Epic 16x has proved to be a great for what it was intended. What has really surprised me is just how good it is in very rough confused water. I used it for a weekend playing in big tideraces where I would usually use in my Valley Sirona. Quite frankly I was amazed. The extra speed made paddling against the flow a little easier, but the rudder was a revelation in these conditions, and a couple of times the huge front end volume saved me from purling. Next I tried it on the famous Bitches in South Wales. The Sirona is great on the wave, if I can actually get on it. Again the rudder made all the difference. Not only was it much easier to get onto the front wave, once surfing on it I could pretty much stop paddling and just use the rudder for minor adjustments - Great fun.
So why not 5*? The day hatch. The two main hatches have proved to be watertight in all conditions, however the day hatch leaks quite badly. With a hinge on one side and just one clip on the opposite side when the clip is closed the hinge side lifts slightly and allows the water in. Most of the time it's ok but in a big following sea it's lets far too much in. I've added silicon the to hatch rim to reduce this lifting and this has improved things but not stopped it. A standard Kajak Sport round hatch would be better or this carbon one with two or three clips to equalise the closure should work. It would however not be so easy to use on the water.
So overall I am very pleased with my purchase. It's (now) very comfortable, fast, stable in conditions and eats loads of kit easily. It's more than a match for the Taran in all conditions, but it is more fragile, so rockhopping has to be taken very carefully! I would highly recommend anyone after a fast touring boat, which you can still throw around, give the Epic 16x a thorough test drive. They might be very pleasantly surprised.
I bought an ex demo Sirona direct from Valley in April this year (2017) and have paddled it extensively for 6 months now. Initially I found the primary stability a little low but this may have been because i came from a P&H Cetus which is almost flat under the cockpit and the seat is very low. Whilst the Sirona is also pretty flat the seat is set quite a bit higher. After a few weeks I lowered the seat to just 5mm from the hull, thus lowering the centre of gravity. This transformed the boat and I would now rate the primary stability as excellent/very high. The secondary stability when on edge is also excellent. For a 16ft boat this is extremely maneuverable, and I personally find it turns quicker than a Delphin. This boat revels in rough water and the surf zone. It shrugs off big seas and catches waves very easily. It's far and away the best rough water boat I've paddle and has become my go to boat over the Cetus and Xcite. Much more fun then either. There is of course a downside to all this and that's speed and tracking. Being so playful it does compromise a bit on both of these. It is skeg dependent to assist with tracking and whilst perfectly quick enough for most group day paddles it can be hard work keeping up with the composite ones. It is faster than a Delphin though. I've used it for multiday trips where I know I will be playing on the way. It has plenty of room for a weeks worth of kit and loaded it does track just a little better. The outfitting I find very comfortable, but this is obviously a personal thing. Valley have nailed it with this kayak, which they class as an ocean playboat. I think this description is spot on. I'm lucky enough to have a number of kayaks, but if you can only have one boat as a "jack of all trades" the Valley Sirona is well worth a demo.
It has much higher initial stability than the T and rock solid secondary when on an edge. As expected the tracking is faultless. It's still very easy to roll. Although it's exactly the same length the higher volume means it sits a little higher in the water - subsequently the slightly shorter water line means it's not quite as fast - but it's still a quick boat. This shorter waterline means it is more as the skeg disengages more easily. I can turn it a lot quicker than I can the T.
I never had a problem packing the T for a few days, but with the GT I don't even have to think about what I'm taking. It swallows everything. It's also much better in the rough stuff. It doesn't nose dive in a following sea and the hard chines don't seem to "catch" as a beam wave passes.
Where I live we have the second highest tidal range in the world, so very strong currents and tide races. This boat just shrugs it off. This really is a great all rounder - fast and comfy for long days, manoeuvrable enough to get in close to the rocks and playful in the surf. Everyone who's seen it has commented on how good it looks and it really does perform even better than it looks.
I paid £1650 for it new, built to order, in the colourway of my own specification, so a real bargain for a kayak of this quality.
I really can't praise it enough.
I'm 5'10 and weigh 88kgs. I have no problems fitting in the low volume Greenland. The first time I got in it I found it a little tippy, but my old boat is a lot wider. Once I got moving it soon settled down. Within 20 minutes I was happy. What really surprised me is the secondary stability. It's great. So easy to hold an edge and thanks to the hard chines it turns very smoothly and very quickly.
It's reasonably fast. The rocker and very sharp ends reduce the water line, but it's not meant to be a sprint boat. It tracks beautifully in all conditions. I tend to only use the skeg in a heavy following sea or surfing. I've never needed it to prevent weather cocking.
It's a great boat in waves. Rides up then punches through easily. In a beam sea, the V hull and hard chines mean bracing into the wave is easy. Its the easiest boat to roll I've ever paddled - even when fully loaded.
A lot of people thinks it's too low a volume for multi-day trips. I've now done two 5 days trips, with no issues at all. But coming from a mountaineering background I've spent far too much money on lightweight kit, and work on the principle "If I can't carry it I can't take it" and the boat still has way more volume than any rucksack!
The build quality and attention to detail is excellent. I find the seat and (basic) back support very comfortable. The footrests are solid and very easy to adjust. All three bulkheads and hatches are completely watertight. I never had a drop get in yet. Apart from a few very minor scratches from spare paddles on the stern deck there's hardly a mark on it. The hull is still unmarked despite a few beach landings. I've added some more bungy to the front deck and a mount for a Silva 70 compass.
Everyone who's paddled it falls in love with it - if they haven't already been wooed by it super sexy looks. This is going to be my kayak of choice for a long time!