Submitted: 05-28-2008 by bikinjester
Since this product has yet to be reviewed, I have decided to put some brief words together about the Zephyr. I was able to paddle the rotomolded version for about 30 minutes in the rain at a demo day.
This boat is great for touring, but acts like it has the soul of a playboat waiting to come out. due to the increased rocker compared to the Tempest, the Zephyr paddles with much more play in the hull. This could be a positive or a negative, but being someone who likes to play in surf, I took this as a positive. The primary stability was average, and secondary stability was very good. I could place it on edge and turn very easily. The hull was also quite quick.
The outfitting inside the cockpit was typical of Wilderness Systems - enough adjustability to make anyone feel comfortable. This kayak had the Phase 3xp outfitting, which was very easy to dial in. The foot pegs are adjusted with their usual lift up - pull or push - lock down bar that is easy to reach from the seat. The thigh pads were also adjustable, if I recall correctly, via screwdriver. However, after reviewing the picture on Wilderness Systems' site, it is hard to confirm.
Storage was appropriate for this kayak. A round bow hatch, oval stern hatch, and round day hatch all worked well. There is enough deck rigging to suit my needs. Also, a compass recess is located just fore of the bow hatch. It felt an appropriate distance from the cockpit.
The kayak is also equipped with a skeg. I noticed the usual increase in resistance when it was deployed. Unfortunately, there were no crosswinds on that day, so I was unable to determine how badly the kayak weathercocks. The skeg did lock the kayak down pretty well in terms of tracking - it removed all the play out of the hull. The one thing I noticed during paddling is that the skeg clicked back and forth within its recess when deployed. I'm sure a plastic washer or two, or perhaps some soft side of velcro would probably fix this problem.
Overall, I am currently torn between the Zephyr 16.0 and the Tempest 170 for my next purchase. For some perspective, I am looking for a kayak that I can toss around in the surf and rock gardens without worrying about cracking the hull, but still possessing good hull speed and capacity for week-long camping trips.
I would give this kayak a 10, but due to slight imperfections, I have brought it down a point. This is also the first year for this kayak, and has not been in production for more than three months. I can't wait to have another opportunity to paddle it again!