Looking for a lower volume kayak...

I’m currently in a WS rm Zephyr 160. At 5’10" and 155# I’m staring to think I need to find a trade for a lower volume rm boat with similar attributes. Boats on my list to try are Zephyr 155,(obviously), Necky Chantham 16, Valley Avocet. Ideally I’ll find someone local in an undersized boat to trade, but I may end up selling mine and buying something else. Any other boats that should be on my try list? Definitely looking for a rm plastic boat with a playful side.

Many thanks, t.george

Two maybes
Theae suggestions are preceded by the following caveat;

Test paddle.

P&H Scorpio LV

P&H Delphin 150

I’m sure other suggestions will follow.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY


Dagger Alchemy
The smaller one.

The 15.5 Zephyr is
a very cool boat. I have the 160 like you and it fits me well given my every expanding dimensions and weight. But I did paddle the 15.5 (EMS sold me one by mistake and I didn’t realize it until I paddled it once). Although I does not have enough volume for me I could tell it is a very sweet boat - they might have hit the sweet spot with that boat. I bet you would like it a lot.

Eddyline Fathom LV

lower volume…
…lower volume usually means lower deck heights too…leave room for the feet!

starting to think I need lower volume
Trout’s point is a very important one. Not just feet room, but room to wiggle some in the cockpit, goes a long way for comfort and performance.

I experience the pros and cons of volume, and have ideas of situations where lower volume could give me a meaningful advantage, and the majority of the time, where comfort and room to twist in the cockpit is a much bigger advantage to me. But people experience and reason through things differently, and to a much greater degree, have differing ideas of ideal kayak performance. Not only the conditions, but what I’m doing in the conditions, makes the difference.

So out of curiosity, what are the experiences that have you thinking you need lower volume? How do you think lower volume would have changed what you experienced?

For what its worth -
I paddled the Zephyr 155. I am 5’10" and at the time I weighed 235 Lbs. I wear size 11 shoes. I have large thighs and butt (belly too unfortunately). The truth is I was able to fit in the 155 pretty well. It was too small, no doubt about it. But not THAT bad. The real problem was that the boat behaved like a squirt boat with me. It was really low in the water and unstable. I bet that the OP would fit really well in that boat and that the volume would be perfect from a handling point of view as well. Just my guess.

I ended up in a Zephyr 160 which I am very happy with. But I imagine that the 160 must feel very big for the OP. Certainly it is way too much volume for him in my opinion.

I’d suggest…
you look at a WS Tempest 165. Fine craft for lots of reasons.


I don’t fit the 160 badly…
so much as it rides fairly high out of the water with me in it. This seems to affect tracking and edging turns the most. I can roll the boat fairly easily. The little bit of time I’ve spent in boats that are lower volume have seemed a bit more responsive to my inputs. The more I progress the more I’m noticing that the 160 and other boats of that size have a mind of their own at times, needing heavy handed rather than subtle inputs. In contrast, I got to paddle a Sterling Ice Cap today, very resonsive to all my inputs, alomost over-rolled a couple of times, really nice boat & had great fun with it,(though not what I’m looking for at this time). At this point I just want to get into a very similar rm plastic boat that’s sized better for my weight with a little snugger fit and without breaking the bank.

T 165
I agree that the 165 is a great boat. I’ve been paddling one for quite a few years. But our buddy, t george, is looking for a boat that is as, if not more, playful than the Zephyr. I’ll repeat the smaller Alchemy suggestion. I found it to be more ‘turny’ and fun than the Zephyr.

zephyr is big
I’ve paddled the Zephyr 155, and it struck me as quite large (I’m 6’, 180).

At your size, I’d second the suggestions for the Tempest 165 (if you want a playful all-arounder), and the Delphin 150 (if you want an ocean playboat that’s still tolerably fast to paddle).

The Zephyr 15.5 may be a bit big
The 15.5 is not huge but I think you definitely want to try it first. I am 6’4" at 185lb and size 15 feet and fit in it rather well (barefoot with foot rails moved forward 1.5"). For you at 5’10" and 30lb less you will have a rather big cockpit and a lot of stability that you may or may not need for what you do. For me personally the Delphin 155 fit is a bit snugger in the cockpit but with more foot room than the Z (check my reviews of both). The Delphin 150, when it comes out, might be the one for you.

The Tempest 165 will probably be a better cockpit fit than the Z for you, but I do not feel it is nearly as turny as the Zs. Better for just paddling though and easier to edge as it has less secondary stability.

I am not familiar with other small playful plastic boats enough to recommend as alternatives. But the above will certainly fit the bill. The Z is a lighter (probably not far from 10lb less) than the D too and it does make a difference to and from the water.

Not much foot room in smaller Alchemy.
My size 8.5 with smallish booties seemed to be cramped when I tried one on for size at Canoecopia.

Fathom LV is more playful then Zephyr
15.5 or Tempest and fit my 5’6" 160 lb frame with size 8.5" feet pretty well with plenty of foot room and snug enough foot room.

My Issue…
It didn’t let me wet exit as cleanly as my Tempest. My fix was to move the seat back and take out all the stiffening junk. Plenty of foot room now. I bought the boat used so I wasn’t shy about modifying.

Thanks for the input.
From the suggestions made and my previous research I’m going to try to paddle;

Zephyr 155

Avocet 16

Chantham 16

Scorpio LV

Delphin 150

These boats are all in the ballpark of what I’m looking for; able day tripper, playful, easy to roll, snugger fit for lighter paddler, friendly for re-entry & enough storage to do lightweight camping. My understanding is that thermoformed boats are not as easily repaired as rm boats, so while I may go ahead and paddle an Eddyline I don’t think it’s what I’m looking for. The Delphin may not be quite what I’m looking for either, but, I may get a chance to paddle one a bit in the surf next weekend , maybe the extra weight and touring “penalty” won’t matter that much. I’ll probably paddle a Tempest 165 even though it’s going the wrong direction for what I want.

Thanks again for all the input and thoughts, I’m still open to more suggestions as well.

All the best, t.george.