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Backpacker Magazine – Gear Guide 2013

Gear Review: Wilderness Systems Zephyr 160 Sea Kayak

This sea kayak from Wilderness Systems gives you the comfort and storage space necessary for a multi-day journey.

by: Eugene Buchanan

Wilderness Systems Zephyr 160 (Courtesy Photo)
Wilderness Systems Zephyr 160 (Courtesy Photo)

Float Away
More paddling gear reviews
[comfortable sea kayak]
Sit in most sea kayaks for a full day, and you’ll likely spend the evening groaning with aches and pains. Not the Zephyr. The cockpit offers the total comfort of a La-Z-Boy—but with agility and control. Testers felt like they’d never left the living room thanks to the kayak’s Phase 3 AirPro Outfitting, which features a handle between the thighs that snugs the seat up to your hamstrings and elevates your legs. It also features cushy, adjustable hip and back pads, and (finally!) an intuitive and easy way to adjust your foot pegs without cramming your head inside the cockpit. Simply pull a tab at each thigh to slide the braces for a secure fit.

The 54-pound craft carries more than enough gear for multiday outings (maximum capacity: 300 pounds), thanks to spacious cargo holds with three sealed hatches, plus four deck lashings for maps and gadgets. It also makes a great day-tripper that’s even more responsive with a light load. We tried it both ways on the Green River’s flatwater in Utah, and found it stable, even on edge, with good tracking. Compared to more sluggish recreational boats, a paddle stroke in the Zephyr equals instant propulsion. $1,499; 54 lbs.;

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