Submitted: 09-26-2011 by yAOm
For a while, I was looking to purchase a smaller kayak (16 ft) as a play boat for currents and surf. I finally got a plastic Wilderness Zephyr 16 RM (according to the serial # it is a 2009 model). I am 5'10", 220 lbs so I needed a sea kayak no more than 16' that could fit a larger paddler, and the Zephyr 16 was obviously the right kayak for me.
I enjoy the playfulness of this kayak in many ways. It responds quick to any paddle strokes and on edge, it makes you dance on the water. As for rolling, this kayak is effortless to roll, I can easily hand rolled the Zephyr without thinking that I might miss the roll. As for storage, do not expect to go for a multiday kayak trip other than if you are coming from a backpacking background. Because I am used to large expedition sea kayak (Wilderness Tempest 180 pro), it is not obvious for me to think that I can overnight camp with the Zephyr and leave luxury items behind.
As for quality, I had to do some work on the kayak, work that should have been done properly right from the factory but once again, buying a Wilderness kayak implies that you may (will) have to chip in for a bit of repair. The skeg blade is very noisy; I had to glue spacers for the blade to stay aligned when deployed. The skeg toggle is very hard to push back and forth; the cable does not slide easily in the housing. The foam bulkheads were not sealed properly, the water was freely going from one compartment to another and the stern was also taking on water from the skeg attachment. I resealed everything with Sikaflex, I even "gooped" the skeg attachment with Sikaflex and now, this kayak is bone dry. The hatch covers (2 wilderness - front and day hatches - and a KajakSport for stern) do not leak at all, this kayak stays dry, even after several rescues and rolls.
Overall, I am very pleased (so far) with this kayak, exactly what I was looking for - a "play boat". I expected and was ready to put some repair work on it, it is a Wilderness kayak...! I am hoping to have a lot of fun with this kayak, since winter is approaching, I just can't wait to go play in rough water.