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.

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.

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.

1 Like

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,

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 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 ( 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.

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.


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.