Submitted: 07-02-2009 by Paddle2See
Finding boats that fit me is a bit of job, given that I am 6'3" and 250 lbs. Cockpits are often too tight or leg room is too short. That's what first drew me to the Zephyr 160 - I actually fit in it fairly comfortably. I could use another half inch in the foot pegs but it's close enough. The seat and the the thigh braces are fine and there seems to be plenty of room for my size 11 feet.
I like the outfitting...the elastic bungies are carried up the front deck quite a distance, which works for me as I use a Greenland style paddle with a very low stroke and I like to have the front deck completely clear in my paddling box. That means anything on the front deck needs to be way up front. The whole boat seems to work very well with my low angle stroke...the front deck is not too high and there is nothing to catch my fingers on as I paddle. The skeg control is recessed out of the way.
Paddling the boat is a blast! It has amazing stability but turns very easily with only a bit of edging. I have had it out in some pretty brisk conditions now and have never needed the skeg. It's nice to have it for when I'm working the camera though.
It seems to track a bit better than my Sirocco yet is easier to turn too. A bit of a paradox...I don't know how they did it.
Rolling the boat is very easy, with the low back deck and the secure thigh braces. I haven't done a lot of rolling with it, due to a back problem I'm dealing with right now, but the few times I have I have been very favorably impressed.
My complaints are few. The foot braces do not seem as comfortable nor as solid as the aluminum ones I am used to on my other boats. They are easy to adjust but they seem wimpy and just not as comfortable. I'm looking into replacement options. The hatch covers have let a little water into the hatches during rolling practice. Maybe securing them around the rim with bungee cord will help cure that problem. The build quality left a bit to be desired: The seat seems to be off the centerline of the boat by about 1/4 inch which doesn't affect performance but does seem a bit sloppy. Also, one of the thigh braces was assembled with the wrong size screw head - again a minor thing but sloppy. That might have been the boat dealer's work though.
Quality nitpicking aside, this boat is a LOT of fun for the larger paddler who is looking for a day tripper and you should definitely give it a try.