Mountain Buzz banner

Zet Raptor: in depth review

7401 Views 9 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  David Spiegel
I've heard a lot of people wondering about ZET kayaks, including a few threads on the buzz with folks asking for more info. Here is my honest opinion after 27 days in the boat, posted on

Link: ZET Raptor Review

I went pretty in-depth on this one. Post questions/comments here or on the site and I will answer them to the best of my ability. The Raptor is an excellent medium creek boat, and the best way to describe it is "fun."

ZET Director review coming soon.
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Great review. I'm itching to try out the raptor. Things like the simple outfitting, potential durability, and light weight have me intrigued. I have loved smaller 80 gallon creek boats like the nomad and habitat for years.

Will any kayak shops be carrying Zets in 2015?

Sent from my iPhone using Mountain Buzz
Awesome, thanks for the review. I've had my eye on this boat for a while. So if price & perceived durability were not factors, would you prefer this boat over the Nomad - overall?

I wish everybody would take a hint about innovating in the area of lighter outfitting and building a tougher hull, although the discrepancy from the advertised weight is pretty disgraceful. What about safety wrt to the lighter outfitting such as bow/stern structural foam and seat? Dagger/Wavesport definitely pay a significant weight penalty for perceived safety features of plastic in some of these areas.

I was bummed to see a 2 year US warranty as well. That strikes me as not backing up their claim of superior hull strength, esp with almost all the US companies using a pro-rated 3 year warranty. I'd have trouble justifying the price without more evidence that the hull will truly last. Also sounds like a touch more volume and length would be nice for most of us medium sized folks - you're the second person I've heard with similar feedback on this.
See less See more
Glad you guys liked the review, and I hope it is helpful since there isn't a lot of info out there about this boat so far.

Tango- That would be a question best answered by an email to ZET. They could probably let you know if a dealer might open up in your area. All I know is that Chad at ZET said they are trying to get a good demo system up and running out in Colorado. No specifics on where exactly. He said that they would like to bring on more dealers in 2015.

Kevin- Well as you know, the Nomad is near and dear to my heart. I paddled it off and on for the last three-four years. Both are excellent boats. If I could sum up the Nomad in one word it would be "reliable." For the Raptor, I would say "fun." The Raptor strikes a good balance between sporty/fun/fast and forgiving. These days I am focusing a lot on paddling fast and direct. The Raptor is really much better for that than the Nomad, so at the moment prefer the Raptor. If I was going to spend an entire season with a stern full of expedition gear then the Nomad would be my top pick for boats in the 80 gallon zone.

I agree it sucks that manufacturers understate their weights for creekers. Weigh your Nomad though, and I'll bet it is 2-6 pounds heavier than the stated weight from Dagger.

Safety with respect to outfitting: I don't currently have any concerns on this front. The foam seat is on top of a diamond shaped plastic structure that seems very structurally sound. Front and back pillars seem secure and strong. The foot foam on the bulkhead fits like a glove inside the hull, which should also add extra integrity. I've never been positive on whether or not plastic additions to center pillars really add that much extra integrity. Do you have any good info on that?

Durability is definitely a reputation that needs to be earned over time. I've spent two seasons in Norway and travelled around Europe a bit for paddling. The ZETs are very popular over there and have an excellent reputation for durability. I saw one go pilot-less for 3 miles down an extremely fast/shallow river in Norway and come away without a scratch. I'll update my review when I have more days in the boat or if/when something fails.

The warranty is tricky. If they offered 3 years then it would be a no brainer. As is, it makes it feel like a bit of a risk to shell out so much money for something that feels uncertain. Plus, ANY boat will break in the right conditions. Very tough call. Do you have any experiences, positive or negative, with warranty boats from US manufacturers?

Volume: I've heard that ZET is working on a boat in between the 80 gallon Raptor and the 96 gallon Director. No word on the exact hull characteristics, but I'm excited to see what they come up with.

What are you thinking you'll be paddling next spring? Sticking with the Nomad?
See less See more
Great review. Any chance you guys will test the flying squirrel anytime soon?
David, excellent review. I paddled both the Raptor and Director off and on since the summer and loved them. So much so that I've switched and am now solely paddling them. Speed, maneuverability, safet, comfort and design...

At 1.75m and 75kg I'm right in the middle of their stated weight range for the Raptor and on the small side for the Director yet I'm finding myself torn between the two. Yes the Director is a big boat yet I find paddling it a breeze. It shares many of the same characteristics as it's younger brother...turns easy, fast, great outfitting...but has some distinctly different design and performance characteristics. Hard to make a choice.

ZET will be releasing a new boat this spring between the Raptor and Director. I don't know the final volume and design details yet but I'm really excited to see what it is.

I'm down in Durango with all three of their current models so if you're in the hood and wanna get out give me a ring.

Black Canyon's at 850 right now....
See less See more
Safety & Outfitting: I don't have any good info. I suspect this isn't something that's been properly tested and is based on people's hunches or marketing driven. Personally, I think the new Confluence outfitting is over-engineered at the expense of excessive weight. I don't see why a good foam pillar isn't adequate for structural integrity. However, I have seen LL boats have the foam pillars twist sideways due to a lack of secure fit at the ends. I guess I could see the potential for that to happen in a bad pin. Seats - seems like foam is a good shock absorber and as long as it's structurally sound enough to keep the plastic from folding and not slide around, I don't see the necessity for a thick roto-molded plastic seat. But, that could just be ignorance on my part.

In terms of warranties, my personal experience is that I've tried to warranty a Habitat, 2 Nomads, and a Jefe. They all took a long time. One of the Nomads they wouldn't warranty because it was the Bailey Fest American Whitewater raffle boat that I'd bought from Dave. I bought another Nomad last Spring out of convenience and they warrantied that at no cost to me which I felt pretty satisfied with. I warrantied a Habitat that was pro-rated @ 20% because it was past the 1 year mark, but the cost was small and a good deal for a brand new boat. Warrantying the Jefe was a very difficult process and required a lot of personal intervention between the dealer & manufacturer to finally get it through and I was charged a lot to have to it shipped.

From observing other people's experiences, Jackson seems to be the fastest, easiest and most reliable when it comes to warranties. They also let you reset the warranty period if you pay something like $200 for a entirely new boat (i.e. not just the shell).

So I think the whole concept of "warranties" in the WW boat world is strange and ill defined. However, my belief is that with Confluence you'll be able to get one new boat off the warranty, even if you have to wait months to get it. LL I don't really trust for getting a reasonable warranty. With Jackson I think you're bomber and theoretically could go on indefinitely for $250 a year.

Given that I got a new warranty boat and that I'm going to put a little wear on at the end of this month, I'll probably just stick with the Nomad for next year. These days I'm bound pretty close to home for most of my boating days. If I was doing something other than Front Range creeking, I'd probably be more interested in other boats, but the Nomad is awfully well suited for that. It does bother me that I'm paddling a design that hasn't changed in over a decade, even though it's a good one. I also think it's good for you paddling to mix up boats.

Out of all the options, if I could get my hands on one, I'd get a Pure XL for the plastic strength and I think it's a solid design and decent size. Can't find them around here though.

If ZET had a slightly larger Raptor with a 3 year warranty I'd pay the premium for one based on what I've heard.
See less See more
KSC, great points. I've looked into the moulding process for ZET boats and others and it's interesting to see how each company determines moulding procedures.

When the boat's outta the mould, rather than cutting away the cockpit opening material, ZET utilizes that plastic and wraps it's around the central foam piller between your legs then thru bolts it with plastic. They also have bungee there for a bottle, throw bag, whatever. An interesting and really good use of that material. It also hold that's piller in place.

Another cool thing with the boats is you can order without bulkhead and associated hardware through the hull i.e. no holes anywhere in the hull. You can get a foam bulkhead much like a playboat that you shape to your needs. I like it because it should (don't know yet) act like a shock absorber on a piton. It's also much lighter this way.
See less See more
Idaho boaters are eating up the Zet. It's a great, great boat.

Thanks for the review.
Kevin- Thanks for the additional info on other warranties out there. Honestly I don't have a ton of experience in that department just because I've been lucky and I don't tend to break boats very often.

Paul- I'd love to demo/review the Squirrel 85 but I haven't been able to get my hands on one to test yet. Hopefully sometime this winter before everyone starts buying boats for spring.
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.