Valley Etain RM (two sizes)


2018 Etain RM feature a true 4th hatch in front of the cockpit instead of a removable pod.

Kayak Academy is proud to be an authorized dealer for Valley sea kayaks.

In 2011 Valley introduced a new strand of DNA into their kayak family, one that is a little more contemporary both in style and paddling feel. Older Valley kayaks were “fish-form” i.e. widest point slightly forward of center. The Etain is more neutral, in fact slightly Swede form (i.e. widest point rear of center). Swede form kayaks have better maneuverability and more glide. Forward strokes are less encumbered (better ergonomics) because you plant your paddle in a narrower part of the boat. Other hull features for the Etain compared to older Valley kayaks are less ‘V’ in cross-section (for more initial stability), and a bit more rocker than the other expedition kayaks to provide a more lively ride than (i.e. slightly less rocker than the Avocet, but more than the Aquanaut or Nordkapp). The result is a kayak that makes things easier for intermediates and allows experts to paddle long distances in rough conditions with less fatigue and stress. Etains are performance kayaks, and as such most beginners find them a bit too tippy, but compared to a Nordkapp, Etains are quite stable. Etains are for Intermediate to Advanced paddlers who can handle a sleek hull that is responsive carving but want more stability and comfort than a Nordkapp. The Etain is designed to appeal to paddlers looking for an expedition style boat with a contemporary feel, comfort, and stability. The Etain makes converts out of those who have previously not been a fan of Valley’s traditional fit and handling, and for those who already love Valley kayaks - it's time to upgrade to the newer style of kayaks!


For 2012 Valley built on the success of the Etain by offering them in more sizes. As of 2012 there were two sizes available in roto-molded polyethylene and three sizes in the composite/glass Etain.

KA Review of the Etain

After a year of putting the Etain to the test, we love 'em because they do so many things so well and they are so comfortable. If you can only own one sea kayak, the Etain is tops. The Etain is an expedition kayak that also maneuvers well enough to be a fun day tripping kayak. Etains have good speed (comparable to an Explorer in our testing), easy to load oval hatches front and rear, and the kind of comfort and stability that an experienced kayaker appreciates after sitting in a boat for 6-10 hours a day for days in a row. As a comparison, the Etain is more stable and stiffer tracking than a Tiderace Xplore, and yet less stiff than the Tiderace Xcape.

As roto-molded sea kayaks go, we find the polyethylene RM Etains to be the best all around sea kayak - comparable to a WS Tempest, but with higher performance and higher quality. RM Etains cost a bit more than a plastic Tempest, but you get Valley hatches, a stiffer hull that's less prone to warping, welded in polyethylene bulkheads (instead of caulked in foam bulkheads), a forward day hatch (4th hatch), and a sleeker hull design. All of which makes the RM Etain well worth the price. You can't go wrong with a roto-molded Valley Etain - use it for trips, use it in surf, use it for rock gardens, it can handle everything.

As of 2018, the Etain features a 4th hatch in front of the cockpit instead of a removable pod that the originals had. This 4th hatch can be opened and closed by the paddler and unlike rear deck day hatches you can see what's in it! The 4th hatch is ideal for things like your camera, snacks, car keys, reading glasses/sun glasses and small items of safety-kit that you might always want close to hand.

Other features of the Etain include a locking point situated behind the cockpit (pass a bike cable through it or attach a padlock there) and special attention given to cockpit ergonomics - think comfort in an ergonomic way! It's hard to over state that the Etain is one of the most comfortable and ergonomic sea kayaks ever.

All Valley sea kayaks come standard with features you would expect in top-of-the-line sea kayaks (i.e. retractable skeg, day hatch, recessed deck fittings, rubber hatches, removable seat pad, and adjustable back rest).

*A skeg looks like the fin on the bottom of a surf board except on sea kayaks this skeg is designed to retract into a trunk on the bottom of the hull. With the skeg up, a kayak can be maneuverable; put the skeg down and it tracks straight even in side wind conditions where most kayaks without rudders weathercock (turn up wind). This combination of good hull design and a retractable skeg have made rudders (and all their problems and limitations) obsolete on sea kayaks (at least for people who know how to paddle).


Review by George Gronseth, Feb. 18, 2014

I've paddled both Roto-molded and Glass versions of the Etain 17.7 a lot over the past two years so I now have a lot of experience using them in every kind of condition a sea kayaker is likely to find: empty to heavily loaded, racing to rock garden play, calm to gail force wind from all directions, playing tide races with currents up to 8 knots, and overhead surf in the ocean. If you could only have one sea kayak to use for all the above types of paddling, I'd choose the Etain. Its handling is predictable in a good way - no unpleasant surprises in tough conditions. It excels for camping trips and long expeditions, but it's still maneuverable enough to be fun for playful day trips. And it is one of the most comfortable sea kayaks ever made. With three (soon to be four) sizes to choose from (in the glass version and two sizes in RM), there is an Etain to fit all but the XXL size paddler with little need, if any, for customization.

Roto-molded Etains are only available in the two larger sizes (17.5 and 17.7), but for people who fit one of these, the Etain is the best made and best handling roto-molded all around sea kayak. Valley uses the same hatches, skeg system, and seat in both the glass version and the RM Etains.

After writing this I reread our KA review from a year ago and saw that much of what I was going to say had already been said - it's still true. Etains are comfortable, great all around sea kayaks, etc. So the following are some new insights

If you like the Etain but wish it was an even higher performance kayak (like a TideRace Xcite), move the seat forward. It only takes about ten minutes and all you need is a a #3 philips. There are three positions for the seat. It comes with the seat in the middle position. To move the seat forward, just unscrew the four seat mounting bolts and push the seat forward till the bolt holes line up with the next set of holes in the top of the seat. (With the hip pads removed you can catch the threaded nut plate as your unscrew the second bolt on each side - each nut plate has two threaded holes for the screws.) Moving the seat forward has several effects. The Etain becomes more responsive to carving turns by edging while forward paddling (with or without a sweep) -- raise your left knee and the kayak carves a turn to the left. When stationary it makes the Etain quicker to spin (with it edged you can do 360's with just 3-4 sweeps). And my impression is that it also bumps up the top end speed a bit. The main trade off is that the tracking will be less stiff, but for skilled paddlers this shouldn't be an issue. If you don't like it you can always move the seat back. In both the glass and RM Etain, moving the seat forward also put my knees in a more comfortable spot, however, on the RM Etain I had to move the thigh brace unit forward too (This requires a 4mm allen/hex wrench and if the coaming is in the way of fitting the wrench into the bolt's socket, you may have to cut or grind the end of the allen wrench to shorten it). I have long legs so I found moving the thigh braces forward (this only pertains to the RM version) improved my fit even with the seat in the middle/standard position. After I moved the seat forward, I modified the thigh brace by drilling some holes in it so I could move it an inch further forward than the design range of the thigh brace. To me this makes the Etain like a whole new kayak, and it's even more fun to paddle now.

Etain Review (excerpt from Ocean Paddler)

I need to confess something. I’ve been having an affair. My own kayak (a P&H Cetus) has been playing second fiddle to the new Valley Etain, Valley Sea Kayaks’ first completely new kayak design for over a decade.

The cockpit is large and wide relative to the boat allowing an easy entry/exit, aided by the high front and relatively low back of the cockpit. The coaming is nice and sturdy and sits quite high off the deck, allowing for easy use of a range of spraydecks (particularly those with a corded edge). Although I had to battle somewhat to utilize a Peak corded deck on the Cetus (due to the narrow gap between coaming and deck), it fitted beautifully on the Etain. The seat is plastic with a padded cover attached by studs along with side pads and a padded back strap.
The Etain proved to be a beautiful boat to paddle on a number of different levels. Immediate impressions on the water were of excellent primary stability, subtly less than a P&H Cetus due to the more V-shaped hull, but excellent nonetheless; there are rewards to reap from this subtle difference in terms of tracking. Secondary stability is also excellent. I was able to put the Etain right up on edge supported by a confidence inspiring cushion of secondary stability. On the move, the Etain has a wonderful sense of gliding through the water. In more usual day-long paddles I found the Etain to hold a good average speed which was comparable and, particularly in rougher conditions, faster than the Cetus as the Etain tracked better. The Etain responds very positively to edging. Using slight edge to aid directional control was effortless and responsive. The Etain also responds very well to tighter turns on edge: while maybe not as quick to turn tightly as a Cetus, it is a remarkably maneuverable kayak for its size. Douglas likens its turning potential to that of the Rockpool GT;
on my part it out-turned the Tahe Marine Reval, another expedition-capable kayak I had been impressed with. Tracking on the Etain is very positive; I found myself using the skeg a lot less often than I am used to. In particular, it coped very well with rear quartering seas/winds. Paddling the Etain loaded only served to improve this performance. When I did need to utilize the skeg, I found it worked perfectly and I was impressed not only with the action of the skeg control but the fact that it can be removed for care and maintenance as opposed to a sealed fibre-glassed-in system that would require return to manufacturer if it became defective. While surfing with swell and windblown waves (as well as the wake from local ferries/fast cats), the Etain tracked well on the wave without fear of broaching. I had a lot of fun playing in a small tidal race that can appear off Stansmore Point in certain conditions, and benefited from the nicely designed hull of the Etain. I was very comfortable in the Etain. Foot/legroom was also excellent. The deck pod has been carefully designed not to intrude too far into the kayak. In my Cetus, I struggle with size 10 boots whereas the Etain has a nice roomy feel. Having grown used to larger deck hatches, I was initially concerned about the deck pod’s size. However, it has really grown on me due to a combination of the removable aspect and the extra cockpit room which it provides. The main compartments are very roomy and the Etain can certainly swallow a decent load, earning its expedition-capable credentials, while remaining nicely trimmed/balanced on the water
without overly careful packing. Rolling was nice and smooth and re-entry to the cockpit is clean and easy with the kayak settling nicely after a roll (no braces required). A reasonably low rear deck and the excellent stability allow a straddle and re-entry to be performed with no hitches.
The Etain is built as an expedition-capable kayak with the aim of appealing to paddlers who have not previously been fans of Valley’s traditional style. In my humble opinion they have succeeded with these aims and more. The Etain is certainly a very viable expedition craft, but with its excellent maneuverability and small kayak feel it also has serious potential as a day/weekend boat. While the excellent primary and secondary stability make it an appropriate boat for beginner/intermediate paddlers, it retains a lively ride and
should appeal to a wide range of paddlers. With its nice tracking and solid performance in waves and surf, I would suggest this is a true all-rounder and will make a superb addition to Valley’s current range. For those interested in how my ‘affair’ will end after the review period – the superior tracking (particularly in confused, rear-quartering seas), increased foot room and lower unloaded weight relative to my current boat mean the Etain has won me over. If I were buying a kayak today, it would be the Etain. VALLEY

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To see more specs, scroll table to the right


Etain M 17-5 (M)
(531 cm)
(54 cm)
(32.5 cm)
56 lbs
(25.4 kg)
143 - 220 lbs
(60 - 120 kg)
VCP rubber hatches - Oval Front, 6" Front day hatch, 8" Rear Day Hatch, and Oval Rear Hatch
Etain 17-7 (L)
(536 cm)
(54.5 cm)
(33.5 cm)
59 lbs
(26.8 kg)
198 - 297 lbs
(90 - 135 kg)
" "


Kayaks are excluded from our free shipping policy. Sea kayaks are expensive to ship and prone to being damaged. We recommend picking them up at our shop. If needed, we can provide contact info for specialty boat hauling businesses so you to arrange your own FOB shipping.