Reviews Touring Kayaks

Venture Kayaks Islay 14 LV Touring Kayak Review

The Islay 14 LV opens up coastal adventure and inland touring potential to a smaller, lighter paddler, giving them the opportunity to enjoy nimble manoeuvring, stable hull and straight tracking performance on calm or more exposed waters. P&H heritage and Delphin like design features have really put it at the top of its class. Venture Islay & Islay LV are fitted with performance outfitting featuring a floating backrest to give a greater level of support.

Every Venture Kayak includes recycled material sourced from our scrap produced in our factory and from second-hand kayaks, this allows us to effectively close the loop on our manufacturing process and helps to make us one of the greenest kayak manufacturers in the industry.

RRP: £719
More Info:
www.venturekayaks.com

Specification

Length: 420cm
Width: 57cm
Volume: 284L

Features

  • Semi flat mid hull with a slight V: Gives stability, manoeuvrability and great tracking.
  • Full volume bow: Helps lift over waves and give you a drier ride.
  • Volume in bow and stern: Carry all your gear with ease on calmer water.
  • Rear weighting & squared off stern: Long water line allows you to keep speed up across the bay.
  • Ergonomic cockpit position: So you can paddle all day in comfort.
  • 2 large hatches and paddle park: Store all your gear for longer trips.
  • Removable storage pod*: Get quick access to essential gear while paddling.
  • Deck elastics: Store map and spare paddles for easy access.
  • Fishing rod holder flats: For optional fishing rod holders.
  • Security bar & Paddle recess behind the cockpit
  • Rudder Ready: Optional rudder can be attached.

Paddler Verdict:

Designed specifically for smaller and lighter paddlers in mind, the Venture Kayaks Islay 14 LV touring kayak is an excellent addition to Venture’s fleet of touring kayaks. Playful in nature and impressively manoeuvrable, the Islay LV nevertheless packs all of the forward speed and tracking you would look for in such a boat. What also sets it aside is the handling offered in both placid water and small chop: here its sea kayak heritage (from P&H’s Delphin) really shines through. Beginner or experienced, the Islay LV has something to offer you; be it smooth and effortless handling even for the smaller and lighter, or all of the convenience of a day or overnight touring kayak with added playfulness.

We were excited to get our hands on an Islay LV, a new offering in 2013 from touring kayak and canoe design and manufacturer Venture. Here LV stands for low volume, and the Islay 14 LV is indeed the smaller – although no shorter – counterpart to last year’s much-celebrated Islay 14 touring kayak, which boasts 374 litres of volume to the LV’s 284. Well suited to numerous touring environments, from green and leafy rivers to slightly more exposed patches of open water or coastline, the Islay 14 is a kayak that received our stamp of approval when we tried it out last year. More recently, we’ve been busy out on the water with the LV, having a look to see what difference 90 litres can make…

On The Water

It is unrealistic to expect anything like the nimbleness of handling from a touring kayak as you would from, say, a square-bottomed whitewater kayak. The Islay LV may well come closer than almost any other tourer we’ve ever paddled, though. We were amazed by how tight the turns we were able to make in this kayak were. The semi-flat hull with a shallow V’d mid-section contributes to a truly impressive turning circle, and allows for very dynamic paddling of this kayak: you can move across a flow or turn 180 degrees up or downstream in a small arc without compromising your forward speed. Alongside the obvious practical applications of this manoeuvrability, this sort of dynamism lends the Islay LV a playful nature that is great fun to paddle.

Although all of this can be said of both sizes of this touring kayak, we found it to be particularly true of the LV. Designed with smaller, lighter paddlers in mind, shaving off 25% of the volume means that you can carve and turn the LV around all the more effortlessly. If you are of the smaller, lighter demographic you will most certainly benefit from this, and even if you are a slightly larger paddler in search of a touring kayak that is extra playfully responsive then, so long as you don’t exceed the recommended maximum paddler weight of 100kg, you too might consider opting for the Islay 14 LV.

The above is a great bonus when it comes to touring kayaks, but as enjoyable as it is to have good manoeuvrability, it should never come at the expense of forward speed and good tracking: two things that the Islay LV has in great supply. Thanks in large to the long waterline, facilitated by a squared-off stern and set-back cockpit position, you can eat up an impressive number of miles exceedingly efficiently in this boat. We were pleasantly surprised by how well the Islay tracked even when paddled upstream into considerable flow: here an efficient forward paddling style will be handsomely rewarded with a relatively un-impinged pace.

This is beneficial for anyone who wants to take a trip in the Islay, because it means you can cover more distance per calorie burned and cover more miles, but that advantage will be felt particularly by a beginner, who should feel immediately at ease when climbing into this boat and paddling almost right away in a straight line. As narrow-hulled touring boats go, the Islay is by no means notably unstable, either; another great confidence-boost for the less experienced paddler.

The Islay LV is a versatile kayak, and while we’ve made much of its inland, flat water capabilities, we can’t overlook the prowess it displays in sportier conditions in open water. A not-too-distant decedent of Venture’s sister company’s, P&H’s, Delphin sea kayak, the Islay has certain features reminiscent of its ancestor. Intelligent volume distribution means keeps the large bow riding high and dry over chop and small waves, but with plenty of kayak towards the stern still in the water, keeping the tracking under control and preventing cross-winds having an unreasonable level of impact.

Storage

There is plenty of room contained with the 14 feet of Islay for packing gear for a day or out on the water in the LV. A decent-sized oval hatch at the fore and aft, separated by bulkheads from the cockpit area are great for loading up the bigger items that you don’t necessarily need access to while out on the water, while the handy removable deck pod is there for you to store items you need to be able to get at.

While the LV’s 90 litres of shedded volume are hugely advantageous for smaller, lighter paddlers or those just in search of an even sportier ride from their touring kayak, the inescapable fact is that decreased volume does impact a little on carrying capacity, and we found ourselves limiting the extra weight in gear we were prepared to carry before it started impacting on the otherwise excellent handling. This isn’t to say that you can’t take all of the gear you’d need for an extended day trip or even an over-nighter, but it is advisable to pack smart and distribute weight sensibly between the fore and aft hatches when loading up the Islay LV for a trip.

For extra storage, the deck elastics are handy for items such as maps, spare paddles and even bilge pumps if requires, all easily accessible from a seated position in the cockpit.

Fixtures and Fittings

The Islay 14 LV is fitted with performance outfitting, which includes a floating backrest designed for maximum support. We certainly found that we were able to paddle the Islay for hours at a time without so much as one achy vertebrate to show for it. The twist-lock foot pedals are easy to adjust, even when sitting in the kayak, so you can be on the water with minimal tinkering and tweak even without having to get to a bank and hopping: particularly handy in open water.
A drop-down skeg comes as standard, and there is an option to upgrade to a rudder and pivot pedals if you so wish. Another optional extra is fishing rod holders.

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