Valley Kayaks are a UK based Kayak production-company with a long and fascinating history of making boats. They can trace the company back to 1959, when Ken Taylor traveled to Greenland to study the indigenous peoples and brought a Kayak back to England, that Greenland kayak, served as the model by which all of their other kayaks have been produced since. Valley Kayaks outfitted the British Norway Expedition in 1975 and can probably claim the longest production run of any commercially available composite kayak with the Anas Acutas. They are fantastic kayaks that enjoy some serious history, pedigree and performance. I can’t recommend them enough.
Why I Like The Valley Kayaks Sirona
This review is regarding one of their shorter models, the Sirona. The Sirona is a fantastic, playful model that hovers around 16 feet, depending on which model you choose. The Sirona 16-4 is 16’ 4”, the Sirona 16-1 is 16’ 1” and the 15-10 is 15’10”. Which Kayak you choose will correspond with the recommended paddler weight which is all on their website. I found the Sirona 15-10 to be a little tight for me, but my wife absolutely loves it. All of them are less than 60lbs and are pretty easy to manage on the beach no matter which one you choose.
The Sirona is a rigid, composite kayak made from thermoplastic with a pretty sharp V-hull. Which of course ensures it’s durability and longevity. Born on the rocky coasts of the UK, you can be sure that dropping or dragging it on the rocks won’t be something to worry about.
The Sirona, like other Valley Kayaks, has a very comfortable molded seat. It isn’t as plush as a seat from a Wilderness Systems boat, but it is comfortable and my European friends do like to insist that only we Americans would make a recliner in a Kayak. So some may view the seat in the Sirona as a “real kayak seat”, obviously this doesn’t matter at all…it is just comfortable and you should try it out yourself. As for the foot pedals, they are super sturdy and are used with a kind of pin system. You just pull the pin and then you can slide the pedals, easy. However this is difficult to do on the water so you really want to be sure that you have the right measurement before you begin.
Performance of The Sirona
These Kayaks have two bulkheads, on the bow and stern. A midship bulkhead for most used items would be great but it is not a deal breaker. A good PFD with some pockets would fill the same void. The storage capacity is ample, but I think most people would struggle to fit more than just a few days worth of kit in it. One to three days out is probably what most people would be able to squeeze out of this Kayak. As far as performance goes, this is a blast to paddle. The Sirona is super nimble and makes completing technical moves a breeze.
We often use this kayak to teach technique simply because it makes everyone look better when they use it. It is a very quick kayak, you can easily keep up with a group however it just won’t have the same hull speed as a longer kayak, like the Etain, which is also made by Valley Kayaks. The Sirona tracks well enough, but you absolutely need the skeg down in a stiff wind, it is definitely a challenge to keep straight. However, for rock hopping or surfing, this kayak shines. The playfulness and maneuverability afforded by a shorter kayak really makes it fun to paddle. I would say that this kayak would fit just about any level of paddler, it is a little tippy but once a beginner paddler gets their balance, they would find room to develop and become a better paddler. An expert paddler would definitely appreciate the quickness of this boat as well. However I have to add that this is a kayak for smaller or medium sized paddlers. A larger paddler may just not feel that stable or comfortable in this kayak. At its price, this is a pricy Kayak…but the build quality is excellent, the company is excellent and the kayak is a lot of fun to use.
It’s definitely worth trying this kayak if you have the chance!