Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Romany vs Zephyr or Tempest

Long time lurker here, first time posting. I've been following conversations for a while, especially those with advice on what sea kayak to use for what occasion. Also on Drysuits vs semi-dry.

Finally the time has arrived for my first sea kayak purchase. I've been kayaking a rec (10 ft) for over year, my wife and I recently moved and will begin sea kayaking this season. I've already lined up indoor pool lessons for us (rescue, wet exits, beginning sea kayaking, etc) for the next month or two.

As I researched for almost a year, out of everyone's reviews I was leaning towards a Zephyr 155 or a tempest 160 as my first sea kayak. It's in my price range, people review them very highly, and they seem to have what I'm looking for.

- A boat I can grow into
- Playful *** very important
- Can handle camping gear (I don't need extended trips' worth, but for a weekend or so they seem to have more than enough space)
- Decent speed
- Comfortable seat
- Eventually I'd really like to learn how to roll

The truth is that I won't need to be the fastest on the water, especially since I will almost always be paddling with my wife who is a bit slower paced. However, if I go with other groups I want to be able to at least keep up with the group.

So the dilemma comes late into my search. It seems that most people still consider the Romany worth checking out at some point in their kayak career. So, in your past experience, do you guys consider it a better idea to search for a used Romany or the like, or would a Zephyr/Tempest suit me well? What about the plastic version of the Romany? Does anyone have experience with it?

Also, my stats are 5'11", 165 lbs.

Any feedback would be a great help. I know there isn't one boat out there that's perfect for everything, but I think I can certainly narrow it down based on what I want to do with it.




  • For playful....
    -- Last Updated: Feb-26-13 4:22 PM EST --

    Tempest goes to the bottom of the list, especially the 170. (Oops - I missed that one. Same question as pikabike)
    The Romany may be the friendliest to rolling, but the Zephyr is hardly going to give you an uphill climb either.

  • Zephyr
    I found the Zephyr 160 easy to roll, it's the only boat I have been able to roll on my own so far (still learning). My daughter has it now and she is very happy with it. It is a fun boat to paddle, and can be a bit directionally challenged without a bit of skeg deployed. Very maneuverable, and the Zephyr 155 is supposed to be even more playful (it's too small for me). I hope to get another Zephyr 160 this season.
  • For playful
    Expand your mfg parameters and add the P&H Delphin or Aries. Still has a good cruise speed for a 15'5" kayak, wicked manuveable,, enough storage to pack for overnighters, forgiving and quite easy to roll. There's a couple of 3 hatch 2012 Aries models on eBay.

    Oh, it's also a hoot to play with in the surf.

    See you on the water,
    The River Connection, Inc.
    Hyde Park, NY
  • I'm unsure how to reply
    to everyone at once. Thanks for the comments. You're right, the tempest from what I read isn't playful, but so many people hold it in high regards. Seems to always make it onto "must try sometime" lists.

    I think since I'm a bit on the slender side the Z155 would be a better option than the z160.

    I thought about the delphin, but in a lot of reviews people seem to think it's the best at playful, but not at calm waters. It's worth checking out though.

    I'll have to look into the Aries. I don't know much about it.
  • Options
    i have
    the zephyr 155rm. ive owned and paddled the T165 and ive finally checked out a romany.
    The zephyr is very solid uyet playful. it turns on a dime, very good edging capabilities. its made for surfing. Its one of the nicest rolling kayaks ive tried. One site with the legs quite a bit furter out to the sides and this gives more torque with the legs for rolling edging etc. its nice in wind and surrpisingly fast on flat water.
    the romany i felt is very easy to paddle.Very stable it seems to be "unaffected" and its one of the boats id consider if i were to get a new roughwater boat.
    the tempset165 is a very good alround kayak. Good roughweater kayak, well marked V shape makes it very good for learning ednig tecniques etc.
  • what can you get in and demo
    -- Last Updated: Feb-26-13 8:38 PM EST --

    I am a big proponent of demoing. What boats do you have near you that you can demo? Definitely worth the cost to rent different boats and see what works (and many shops have a deal where you can apply rental charges toward purchases). If you can't get your butt in the boats you listed to try them out, I would take them off the list (exception to this is if you can get a good price on used, where you could resell it for what you paid should it not work out).

    Demoing generally requires going to a specialty kayak shop, as opposed to a big box or general sporting goods store. Buying form a reputable and knowledgeable shop provides added benefits, like easier warranty should you unfortunately need it and access to better selection of additional gear needed.

    The Aries is the composite version of the Delphin. Delphin and Aries are both fine as day touring boats. Not as fast as some longer boats, but not that much slower.

    I ended up getting an Alchemy instead of a Delphin, but the basics are the same (shorter, more playful boat). My much longer Valley Aquanaut hasn't seen water in over a year - seems the Alchemy has been my go to boat for everything I do (including day paddles in the 10-15 mile range and overnight trips). If I had a Delphin instead of the Alchemy, would likely be the same result.

  • What Peter-CA said
    Time to go play with kayaks. Awfully hard paddling electrons here.

    So, where are you located? Your profile doesn't state it.

    See you on the water,
    The River Connection, Inc.
    Hyde Park, NY
  • I'm located
    in weschester, NY. Right by the Long Island sound and CT border.

    We have a great shop nearby, "the small boat shop". I'd love to test as much as possible, but it's still on the cold side here. They can order for me at the shop, so I was thinking of working something out where I can test it before making my final decision.

    They carry/can order from

    Current Designs
    Epic Kayaks
    Kajak Sport
    Ocean Kayak
    Old Town
    Wilderness Systems

    as well as any used boat they might have in the store. Great selection overall. But the Z155 usually is not carried by any store and has to be ordered.
  • Tempest 165? Is there a 160?
    Or do you mean a Tsunami 160? I didn't think there was a Tempest 160.
  • For where you are....
    wait to buy until you can get your seat into boats. You are by some fairly serious and often underrated water. The right sea kayak will make a of of diff here.

    Also, find someone to start you rolling as soon as possible, even see if there are pool sessions. The LI Sound is a much better place to paddle with that issue at least in progress.
  • you're right
    I meant the 165
  • We Can Talk
    I've owned a Tempest 165 for a long time. When you demo it keep in mind that the seat can be moved back some to make entry and exit easier. I wanted a 2nd, turnier, playfuler, surfier, boat so I demoed the smaller Zephyr. I found the Zephyr to be a bit too similar to my Tempest 165. I wanted turnier. I found a demo Alchemy for half price and jumped on it. If you really value playful, try the smaller Alchemy. The T165 is a fine do-everything-pretty-good boat while the Alchemy is more of a leaky-rear-hatch plaything. (If you're bold you can also move the seat back in the Alchemy).
  • Tempest 165 and Romany fine for
    ...what you listed. Of the two, I found the Romany (LV version) more maneuverable. I've heard complaints about it not tracking well. Both are good all-'round boats, depending which way your prefs skew.
  • Thanks all
    For the lengthy feedback. This really helps. One question- would 14 ft be enough for rough waters? I think I saw that the alchemy was around that length. I might be mistaken.
  • Got drysuit
    -- Last Updated: Feb-26-13 8:03 PM EST --

    After this storm passes pop up the Taconic Pkwy towards Poughkeepsie. I've got a drysuit that'll fit you and the harbor's clear of ice. Some chunks adrift on the Hudson but that's just fun.

    No bad weather, just bad clothing.

    If not I've got the pool reserved for the next Paddler's Practice at the CIA on 3/10. Water is about 85 degrees. No eskimo pie headache for rolling.

    See you on the water,
    The River Connection, Inc.
    Hyde Park, NY

  • You're on the right track,
    demo, demo, demo. I,(5'10" 155#), own a T-165pro, Z-155rm & a Alchemy 14s(tight fit, the 14l is what you should look at). They are IMO, all very different boats with a fair amount of overlap; in turning & general playfullness, they'd be rated A, Z, T, in tracking without skeg, T, A, Z, in beginer friendliness, A, T, Z, in ease of rolling, T, Z gets an edge on A, in speed, T, Z, A, in "rough water paddling"(as in ease to hold course, least effort & least effected by quartering seas), T, Z, A, they all have enough storage for what you're asking. I should add that I'm usually more comfy in my Z than the Alchemy, so do a lot of rock gardening & surfing in it; if I could only have one, for me it'd be the quirky little Z since it's better in ways that are improtant to me & I can back surf it :).

    You should go to the "Kayak Academy" web site & read what they say about your first kayak. I would lean toward recommending the Alchemy because it'll take good care of a newb and when you decide to get a second kayak it'll be your go to rock garden beater.

    All the best, t.george

  • rought water and short...
    -- Last Updated: Feb-26-13 8:48 PM EST --

    Rough water and short generally go well together. Check out what Neptune's Rangers do at http://www.youtube.com/user/NeptunesRangers. P&H Delphin, dagger Alchemy, Pyranha Fusion are the most common boats used (but a few others are in there). Longest of that pack is the 15.5' Delphin. I show up in some of these videos in my red and orange Alchemy with red helmet, but I am not as good as the guys and gals you see the most of (t.george paddles with them also, so may also show up).

    Short boats generally lose in speed and storage capacity. A shorter water line boat will generally have a slower hull speed. And of course, less room to pack stuff.

    But if anything, I would rather a shorter boat in chop or the surf zone than a longer boat.

  • ...p.s....
    I meant to add that though I love the Zephyr, it does not perform that well without some deep edging and a fair amount of aquired skills; further it will punish bad technique. Conversely, the Alchemy will do quite a bit for the novice and can really really shine in the hands of the skilled.

    FWIW, t.george

  • Length and rough water
    It's the overall hull design and the features (bulkheads, smaller cockpit etc) that make a rough water boat. Until more recently the right features were rare to find in a boat less than 16 feet, not because it was impossible but because kayak manufacturers hadn't seen a clear market to design such a boat. But there is a solid consumer base for these boats and the manufacturers have responded.

    There are plenty of transition and rec-ier type boats in 14 ft that don't perform nearly to the level of boats like the Alchemy and the others like it, and would not be recommended for someone wishing to push their skills for big water. But that is because of the overall hull design and issues like larger cockpits that would make an on-water recovery more difficult, not because of the length alone.
  • Romany
    hands down the best of the bunch. It does everything well and has sufficient storage for weekend camping. Rock solid and well tested. Get the standard fiberglass setup. Comes with a skeg and a day-hatch, which is a very handy hatch to have. Hardly ever use the skeg. Tracks very well and speed should be very good for you at your weight. If you get almost any boat in plastic, you've got to transport the boat on its sides or upside down to prevent oil-canning during the heat of summer... The Romany has a key-hole cockpit which allows sit down and then bring legs in and vice -versa. The hatches are extremely dry. They are built to take punishment. Primary stability is excellent as is secondary. The boat tracks very well and carves turns easily while on edge. I love mine and my wife likes it a lot. I prefer glass boats over plastic, until I hit an oyster bed...
  • Matter of fit too
    -- Last Updated: Feb-26-13 11:27 PM EST --

    Blah! I hated the fiberglass Romany in terms of fit and cockpit ergonomics for me. The plastic Z 155 and the T 165 and the Delphin 155 were all more ergonomic and easier to adjust the fit out of the box for me... Nothing that some foam padding would not cure probably around the knee area, though the seat and back band in the Romany were also rather nasty to my bottom parts.

    Once you paddle a Delphin, there is no going back to other 15-16 footers -;)

    All this shows that personal preferences and intended use mean the perfect boat does not exist outside of a combination of factors that changes over time even for the same paddler...

  • You guys are completely right
    There won't be any one boat out there that will cover everything. However, I think once I get my first, it'll be a couple of years before I get the next one. I'm not worried about the learning curve. I'd rather struggle a bit as I learn and take classes and have plenty of learning room for the next couple of years.

    Peter, those are some crazy videos. It's funny, at times it's like watching ww videos, only the water comes from every side. It's also very strange to see small boats with GL paddles, but it makes a lot of sense. Both you and Celia bring up good points I didn't think about. In my head I was thinking that the longer the boat, the more floatation. Therefore longer would be better for rough waters. Couldn't be more wrong though. Those small play boats are huge in volume and perfect for quick movements. (Just like in ww). I'm starting to get how shape provides different functionality, but it's all about preference more than anything else.

    The only problem I see with getting a romany would be that I'd probably find it on eBay and it would be completely unpredictable. I'd hope the last owner took good care of it, etc. This being my first big boat, I keep thinking it might be better to get something new that I know is in perfect condition and can have support from the manufacturer if there's anything wrong. Plus, that I was able to test in person.

    Thanks all. This is extremely helpful.
  • Get the Z 15.5
    This is the most versatile of the bunch with play as a high priority and by far the cheapest, along with the T165. The Zephyr is also lighter than the rest, even the plastic Z is lighter than the fiberglass Romany and probably more durable where hard banging against rocks is involved. The Delphin handles better for bigger wave surfing and for currents, the Tempest is nicer to cover some distance in. All good choices, including the Romany, but for $600-$900 used a Z or a T makes a lot of sense to me as a firs boat for what you want. They are a bit lively but actually quite stable once you get used to them. The Delphin (and I think the Romany too) have stronger initial stability since they are flatter and more square bottomed, so they will be easier to get in and just paddle coming from a rec boat. The Delphin is unfortunately quite heavy at over 60lb and the T165 is low in the cockpit, which some don't like for long days on the water. The hatches on the D are watertight and very solid; the ones on the Z may or may not bewatertight (more variation there) and are not as solid, but still fine and safe. So try them all - as long as the skeg works, the hatches close well, and the foam bulkheads are sealed (you can do that yourself easily if they aren't) - there is very little that can be wrong with a used plastic boat, so IMO the risk of buying used plastic Z or T is low, if they look good overall - fiberglass you have to see in person carefully as there might be hidden damage/soft spots/repairs/cracks etc. that are not easily evident from photos.
  • Hey Luke,
    Check out what is available from Novus Composites Kayaks. They are all American made and are super kayaks. nckayaks.com.
  • keep in mind
    What I said about shorter being better was a generalization, and Celia added a very important note to this - only works on boats that are made as touring boats (so have hatches front and back, hull shapes made for moving,m etc.). Rec boats are shorter, but are not made for rough water.

    And don't necessarily mimic what Neptune's Rangers do. Going too short, like the white water boats, adds risks (and takes away lots of speed). The Fusions and sometimes even true white water boats used by Neptune's Rangers are only used when the rock play spots are close to the launch, and even then add in additional risks (particularly the true white water boats). These guys have true bombproof rolls (most of those guys only swim once every few years, even with what they do), have as much added flotation as can be added, know how to do a TX rescue if it gets that far, etc. Not for mere mortals like me.
  • Avocet?
    At your size, don't miss an opportunity to demo an Avocet RM.
  • Others in the lineup
    In addition to something Delphin/Aries wise, when you're up for it and here, others that'd be worth taking out of the Boathouse would be;

    North Shore Polar
    P&H Scorpio (std. or lv - depends on fit)
    Venture Islay/Islay LV - Might not be a bad combination of features.

    See you on the water,
    The River Connection, Inc.
    Hyde Park, NY
  • Looks like I have a new list
    To continue researching. Thanks again all. We have our first indoor pool session coming up this weekend. I'm pumped to get going.
  • Options
    Many other boats to try
    Unfortunately I am bigger than you and do not fit well in the Romanies, and Zephyr 155. I really liked the Zephyr 160 Pro for fit and maneuverability. It would be a great all-around play boat. Rolling the Zephyr 155 was the best next to my SOF. Wilderness has the best seats. After trying the Aries 155 and Delphin 155, I think they are the best all-around play boats. I found a good deal on an Aries 155 and now have one.
    Some other boats to try are Necky Elias, Eliza, Chatham 16, and Chatham 17. I found the Elias composite to be a fantastic rough water boat. The Delphin provided a little more secondary pressure for big waves than the Elias because of my high CG. Medium size paddlers should enjoy the Elias. If the Elias cockpit is too big try the Eliza. There are plenty of reviews on the Chatham series. Valley has the Avocet which has great reviews. They have 2 new small boats out also. So you have many choices for play boats. Now which to choose play boat or touring?

  • Tempest 165
    I got the Tempest 165 for Christmas and it's a fantastic boat but don't even consider it...you'll never fit. I'm 5'6", 150lbs and with size 10 shoes. The foot room can be a bit cramped for me at times but otherwise it fits me like a glove. The 170 or even the 180 Pro would be great for you size wise.
  • not necessarily
    Fit for the OP may depend on what type of footwear is used, and whether the Tempest seat were to be moved back, as a number of owners have done. There are guys that size that enjoy the T165.
  • I think sizing will be determined
    When I finally get to sit in some options and test things out.

    As far as playful vs touring, in my head I'm looking at it the way I approach snowboarding. Some like going fast. Some like trick courses and halfpipes. I like neither, I like going on intermediate runs or whatever level the group of people I'm with is at. I like enjoying the ride, and the moment I see a jump on the side of the trail I'm on it. Same goes if I see a quick run into the woods, or a place to explore. Therefore my board is neither hard for speed, or super soft for tricks. It's right down the middle. Plenty of speed, but handles beautifully the moment I want to have some fun.

    That's what I want out of my first boat. I want to be able to travel with a pack of kayakers, as well as be able to take enough equipment for short camping trips. However, the moment I get the chance to play in some surf (once I learn enough skills of course) or some small ww patches, I want to know my boat can handle it and it'll be a great time. I don't want to get stuck with a boat that can do only one of those two thing beautifully. I want to find one that might not be the best at either, but as good a crossover as possible. We'll also see what my butt tells me once I sit in a couple of options.

    Once again, thanks all for the superb feedback.
  • One more addition
    I also think I'll be able to get another boat down the line depending on what I like best at that point. Maybe I fall in love with playing in surf, I think at that point it would be excellent to then purchase my next boat specifically for that task. And vice versa...
  • A quiver full
    Welcome to the addiction.

    See you on the water,
    The River Connection, Inc.
    Hyde Park, NY
  • Gremlin!
    -- Last Updated: Feb-28-13 4:40 PM EST --

    That's so not true. I have a buddy at about 6'4" and about 175 pounds who thoroughly enjoys his T165. He just had to move the seat back some.


    Dear Wilderness Systems, God knows how many people are passing up your fine boat because the seat is bolted in too far forward. Make the damn thing easily adjustable.

    Your friend,


  • Now Yer Talkin'
    If you want a 'do everything pretty good' boat my vote is with the T165. Down the road look at the Alchemy-Delphin-type shorter-funner boats.

    And remember, you can move the seat back, or your local shop can move the seat back to make getting in and out easier.
  • Yes, and, it's not like they're clueless
    I have a Confluence Wavesport Fuse. The seat pan and attachment is nearly identical to the Tempest. The Wavesport pan is slotted, where we typically drill the extra holes in our Tempest pans. And, there's a unified thread plate on each side, instead of two nuts. So, you just loosen the external phillips heads, slide the seat, and tighten the screws.
  • Exclusing others
    The Yost designed Swift Saranac Series, 14 and 15 ft, high and low volume decks, respond nicely on the water for me. Easy to get a perfect fit with four, actually five choices, snd designed by a master to track and turn without skeg or rudder.

    And they are lighter to tote to the beach.
  • I fit the 170
    Comfortably and not the 165. I'm 5'11" long legs 190 lb. size 12 shoe.
  • 6'4" size 15 foot at 185lb and ...
    -- Last Updated: Feb-28-13 7:20 PM EST --

    With a 36"+ inseam I have long legs attached to my size 15 feet...

    And, I could live with a Tempest 165 barefoot for "workout" paddles (i.e., a couple of hours at a time out and back). Have not really tried it for longer. The later models (post 2010 or so) have the seats further back; the seats on the older ones can be easily repositioned too (requires 2 new holes - easy to do).

    Yes, not much foot room in the 165, but these are not barges - they are meant to be snug fitting. The 170 I can paddle with my paddling shoes on comfortably and without repositioning the seat - that feels rather spatious now (but seemed cramped a few years ago when I first sat in it)...

  • Romany
    Among many benefits of the Romany is that there are many around and you can pick-up a used composite Romany for less than a new poly boat.

    I've played in dozens of boats and few are as much fun as a Romany. I've put more different people in my Romany and seen them smile broadly as they get the feel of the boat.

    There are better all round boats (e.g. Tempest 165). There are sexier boats (e.g. Nordkapp LV). There are currently more faddish boats (Delphin, Gemini, etc...). But there are few that are as supportive of skills development and ease of handling in an array of sea conditions.

    You will not outgrow a Romany. Do not even consider the poly version.

    Find a Romany, try it see how it feels to you. If comfortable get one.

  • Hopefully this thread...
    Hopefully this thread and the varying opinions about what would work, what would fit, etc. and how some people say yes to one boat and others say absolutely no to the same boat has convinced you (the OP) as to why butt time is important...
  • Absolutely.
    I'm starting lessons on Sunday, so at least for now I know I will be testing a couple of differen boats, even if they're not the ones we've discussed in this thread.
  • Fit indeed!
    I love the manueverability of the Delphin and that lovely sound it makes when you break the stern loose and skid.

    But I could not paddle one for moe than 45 minutes or so without everything from my waist down going numb, regardless of adjustments. I also could never quite find the sweet spot for a consistent hanging draw . Probably not the boat's fault, but it does go to show that boat fit has everything to do with what one can, and can not, do with it. A least comfortably and easily.

    My Romany, on the other hand, fits ME like an old pair of well broken-in Saucony track shoes. I can paddle it for hours without fatigue ( or shin splints ;-) and stroke combos, draws, braces, etc.are instant, effortless, and instinctual.

    So, as everyone here says, "dem, demo, demo ... ". And for more than ten minutes a ride.



  • opinions
    as you can see everybody has an opinion as to which boat is the best for you. What I'm hearing is that they are all good boats---my advice is not to be an a hurry to buy one--try out as many as you can and then go with the one that suits you best. At your height and weight you have a variety of choices. And don't believe those folks who say you are too big or too small for a boat--try it yourself before deciding---what one paddler may find as cramped, another would find snug and secure, even responsive. Good luck and have fun paddling
  • not necessarily II
    I'm 6', size 11 shoe and have been very comfortable paddling a few different Tempest 165s.

    Foot wear is important. Two pair are for in my ww boats as my other paddling shoes don't fit in them. My mukluks don't comfortably fit in half my sea kayaks.
  • So for our class this weekend
    I got to paddle a p&h Cetus, glass. I couldn't believe how comfortable and well fitting that was. Towards the end of class (3+ hours of jumping in and out of the boat) I was starting to wish the seat was maybe a little more comfy. But overall, the fit was superb. Extremely out of budget of course. My wife was in an alchemy 14. She really liked it, super nimble and comfortable. We're certainly thinking of something along those lines for her. We also liked the tsunami 140.

    Just thought I'd send out an update.

  • Seats
    Sounds good. Given your initial responses to these boats, the other two will probably grow on you better than the Tsunami.

    Seats can be tuned to be more comfortable for long paddles as long as the initial comfort is there. One of the nicer things about having your own boat is being able to mess with it - rearrange the rigging, glue in minicell foam to soften up the hard spots etc.
  • Cetus Budget Alternative
    If you liked the floorplan of the Cetus (MV? HV?) then you will likely react well with the 3 layer poly version of it, the Scorpio. 17' rather than 17'8" or 17"10". Internal height is a bit bigger then the Cetus MV. Weight is about the same as the longer Cetus in Fiberglass. Price is $1900 vs. the $3900 starting price of the composite Cetus.

    See you on the water,
    The River Connection, Inc.
    Hyde Park, NY
  • Thanks for the info
    As usual. Will continue researching.
Sign In or Register to comment.
Message Boards Close

Hello, Paddler!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!