BIG PERFORMANCE, SMALL PACKAGE
Valley Avocet LV $3,799 (Ultra Kevlar lay-up)
L: 15 ft 11 in
W: 20.5 in
D: 11.5 in
Made in: Nottingham, England
Smaller paddlers have long craved a real "LV" (low-volume) sea kayak. This boat was the clear favorite of Kate and Danielle, and not just because it fit--the Avocet LV maneuvers effortlessly and exhibits remarkable secondary stability, while quick acceleration and agility make this boat a blast to surf.
It's everything you would expect from the classic Avocet, with a lower deck and half-inch-slimmer beam. A narrower foredeck transforms the design from fish-shaped to fairly symmetrical, which improves glide. It was well balanced in the wind, especially with the retractable skeg deployed. The keyhole cockpit was easy to enter and exit, though it took some well-placed aftermarket foam to complete the outfitting.
Valley taped the outside seams of the Kevlar hull with hard-wearing Diolen tape and contoured the bulkheads to flex with the hull, which lends hard-wearing strength. Thoughtful deck rigging, well-placed end toggles, and dry hatches make the Avocet LV ready for full-on conditions, yet still light and easy to slide on the car for a quick escape--it's better suited for a long weekend than a multi-week trip.