Valley Aquanaut LV vs. Avocet

Currently I’m paddling an Eddyline Fathom. It has a bit more room in it, which is great for long trips, but most of my paddling is for the day.

I’d like a boat that I can “wear”.

I’m 5’8", 145 lbs. Medium build.

I love the feel of the Valley boats. I’d like to hear from someone who has paddled the two mentioned above to give me tips on which way to go. I am hoping this is my last purchase for awhile.

I know I would like to get the Kevlar and the clear gel coat on the bottom due to trying to get the lightest boat possible.

Thanks for any suggestions.

I have an Avocet RM
and have paddled an Aquanaut and Aquanaut RM. I have also paddled an Avocet LV and I think you should look at that boat rather than the composite Avocet. The Avocet RM is a tigher fit than the compostie Avocet, which would be rather large on you. The Avocet LV would be sweet for someone your size. However, either the Aquanaut or Avocet would suit your purpose as a day boat, but they do have different handling characteristics. It’s really a matter of personal preference.



Cockpit size

– Last Updated: Dec-22-08 2:18 PM EST –

I'm 5'9', 160, owned an Avocet RM for several years. I've only demoed those two composite boats. The Aquanaut LV was a much better fit than the stock Avocet. As expected(biased?) the Aquanaut felt faster and less manueverable than the Avocet, but was comfortable putting on edge to help turn. Nice low foredeck, sleeker than the Avocet. The Avocet felt like my old playful friend, encouraging me to do silly things. It's hard for me to be objective about it.

Most of my paddling these days is just playing around, so my Avocet is a good match. If I was actually going places the Aquanaut LV would be on my short list.

I've only sat in the Avocet LV. Fit was snug but seemed OK. I'm officially too big for it but would like to try one on the water.

Have you considered the composite Necky Eliza? Might be a good fit.

Try 'em
Valley lists the ideal load for the Avocet as 135 pounds, and for the Aquanaut LV 150 pounds. They are both great boats, and either should suit you.

If weight and ease of handling are key, look at the Avocet in Pro Kevlar or Ultra Kevlar. My wife is 5’11" and weights 135 pounds and absolutely loves her Ultra Avocet, as does every lady who has ever sat in it.

You live in an area where it should be no problem to get a demo of the two boats. If you want some expert advice, contact Sean Morley, who is the West Coast distributor for Valley. His website is

Sean is in Washington State often enough that he could probably set something up with you, or at least point you in the right direction.

Avocet paddler weight

– Last Updated: Dec-22-08 3:12 PM EST –

I know Valley lists 135 as ideal for the Avocet, but I think that's low for day/play use. I certainly don't feel big for the RM at 160.

"The Avocet is ideal as a general sea kayak for small paddlers, especially women, or for the average sized paddler it makes a playful and enjoyable day boat."

My 5', 120-lb wife rarely caried much gear, thought her Avocet RM was too big, and traded for something smaller.

Valley website wgt.'s
I’m not sure where they come up with these numbers. I’m ~175 and LOVE my Avocet. I know alot of others my size and bigger who also love the Avocets.

Like the other’s said, try 'em, and the right one will pick you. They’re all good.

Avocet LV for fun
At your weight I think the Avocet LV would be the most fun. I’ve paddled one, but at my weight it was a rolling boat :wink:

same decision
In October, I test paddled both Valley boats you mention with the goal of purchasing one. Already having and keeping a verys traight tracking boat, the Impex OI, the dealer strongly suggested I round out my possessions with a different boat-the Avocet. I tried the Aquanaut LV and while turning much easier than my OI, it did seem to want to be edged to turn. I ended up with the more playful Avocet. If I were only going to own one boat though, I would have got the Aqunanaut LV.

I will say that the huge variation in personal paddling goals and paddling conditions, even for day trips, makes it unwise to choose a boat based on comments here. Only you know precisely the type of paddling you will be doing.

Thanks for the input!

At the recent symposium I tried out various Valley boats…including the Avocet LV–it felt really good but I was concerned about extended time in the boat–if I would feel cramped or not.

I have a friend who is much more petite, and she got the LV which fits her perfectly.

Thank you for your insights. I am leaning toward the Avocet but was concerned on extended trips if I am overloading the boat.

I have a paddle buddy who has an Eliza–after paddling her boat, I realized what a kayak could feel like, so that moment triggered my search for a boat to fit my body.

I hadn’t heard of the Ultra Avocet–so I will need to inquire. At the Port Townsend Symposium, I think Sean Morley was there, as well as Rob. I demoed many of the Valley boats, included the Avocet LV–too small for extended trips, I think. Plus I am pushing the weight limit on that boat. I wouldn’t be able to pack anything otherwise I’d be below sea level with a snorkel.

The only thing that bugged me a smidge on the Aquanaut was the minor peaked front deck. After paddling the Fathom for a few years, which has a major peak in front, I wanted to find something that was flatter and out of the way when paddling.

I’m a little shorter…
Four inches shorter and 10 pounds lighter. I spent a day in the Avocet LV and like it for many purposes, and it did handle my normal day trip stuff fine which is considerably more crap than most people carry. I think you would want to check the fit - I did feel like I was not at the light end of the boat’s capacity.

It rolls great and to my mind tracks better than the regular Avocet. The boat wasn’t spritely in its response compared to my Vela, which was why I gave it back.

I haven’t had the occasion to try an Aquanaut LV, but I suspect that you should make sure that you give it a try with your size.

Thank you
Wow–that is interesting. Your wife sounds just a bit smaller build than myself. They make an Avocet LV that seems to be popular out here with the slighter built women.

The ideal weights posted on the Valley site made me rethink the Avocet was right for me. I figured once I packed up, I would all out of the ideal range…so maybe I should be looking at the next boat up. Though my goal was to have a great boat to handle in many conditions, and be able to easily load/unload myself.

Thank you
That is really good to know. That means an Avocet would be fine, still handle the conditions well, and carry my load when packed for extended trips. Thanks for the positive comment!

Funny visual image–I did paddle the LV Avocet, but I think that boat is better suited for my smaller friends. It was a good fit for 20 minutes, but I think after hours of paddling in that boat, I’d have to have someone peel me out.

Thank you
True statement. Before purchasing I need to take those two boats out and paddle again. I do want to make one purchase…and donate my Fathom to hub. I think it will suit him better than myself.

Thanks for your comments.

Thank you
Interesting you gave it back…hadn’t heard of a Vela, either. I think I’ve narrowed my search down, but will need to go back and paddle the two boats again for comparison. Thank you for your comments!

Vela recently discontinued

– Last Updated: Dec-23-08 10:22 AM EST –

It's an older P&H boat, on the niche side in terms of its appeal. But it's a quite different personality than my expedition boat, which is why I like having it. I think it's good to mix boats up.

The Aquanaut LV is likely to be a little stiffer than the Avocet LV, but for the purposes you describe either may do. You are at the top end of the Avocet LV, but might find yourself at the bottom end of the Aquanaut LV volume and fit. These two boats are not the same level of "LV", they are each just LV compared to their full size cousin. It's just one of the less well-standardized parts of labeling kayaks.

I am not a fan of the regular Avocet for my size. I feel like it puts me into a really froggy leg position and I am reaching too much for the thigh braces. But that's me at 5'4" and ten pounds lighter. As others have said above, that boat will happily carry more weight than Valley suggests, and you are enough larger than me that it's worth a look.

You are right - a well-fitting boat (in cockpit fit as well as volume) will be a LOT more fun to paddle.

Note on weights listed for 'yaks
Paddler weight means just that - they assume that there’ll be a decent load of gear in the boat on top of that.

Valley Specs
Valley does not list paddler weights, but suitability against total load. I have found their specs to be exactly correct.

The Avocet ideal load is 135 pounds, and it stays in the ideal range from about 85 to 185 pounds. A lot of heavier paddlers like this boat as a playful day boat. Sean himself has an Avocet that he loves, and I think that he was in an Avocet for some of the takes in This Is the Sea. But I have paddled with him in his Avocet, which he loves, and he is towards the high end of the range too.

If you had a chance to paddle the boats with Sean, then you probably have the best advice you will get.

The Ultra construction is more money, but it is very light and you will love it (after you have paid for it). For a general purpose kayak, it would be hard to think of something better.