Zet are relatively new to the UK market but have gathered a loyal band of supporters. The Zet Raptor in particular has been getting quite a lot of attention since it was released.
Zet are based in the Czech Republic and are a technical and design collaboration of the production engineer/kayak producer Zelezny, extreme kayaker Honza Lasko and the Czech whitewater slalom paddler Viktor Legat.
Weight Range: 65-120kg,
Kayak Weight: 19kg
Minimum number of bolts and holes in the kayak
Unique foam holder
Light and functional seat made from a ‘hybrid material’
Original and progressive design
On first look the Raptor looks quite basic, and although the outfitting isn’t as whizz bang as the offerings from Liquid Logic, Dagger et al it is both very easy to set up and it works. The plastic described as a “unique” foam holder in the blurb is part of the plastic that would normally be cut away when the cockpit is prepped, but Zet have used this to create a system that holds the front foam pillar in place without having to introduce any additional parts (and therefore weight). It’s a pretty good idea that works but it does look rather agricultural.
The outfitting appears quite basic, but it is easy to set up and is comfortable. There is also little to go wrong. The hip pads a fixed in place using hook/loop and the backrest is adjusted via two ratchet straps located at the front of the cockpit.
The backrest is one of the best I have used. It’s a great shape would a good balance of support and give. The seat itself is pretty comfy although it doesn’t look like it would be. Rather than being plastic the seat is made from closed cell foam that has a textured surface that helps your backside stay put. The fact it is foam also has the advantage of being nice and warm. Once set up the outfitting comfortable and allows you to get a good feel for how the boat is performing/acting. Therefore it does its job well. It is really important to try the outfitting out and spend some time with it rather than dismissing it as being too primitive.
What is quite interesting is that Zet have opted for a system that minimises the number of holes that are drilled in the hull to fasten the outfitting in. The fact there are no holes around the cockpit area means that the chances of water getting into the boat via the bolt or via an imperfect spray deck/cockpit seal will be reduced. As far as I am aware only Jackson Kayak are using similar philosophy.
Through the use of “Zelezny Technology” Zet have made the Raptor both strong and light. Plastic has been directed away from low risk areas of the kayak to those areas that are more prone to direct hits and harsh punishment. I have repaired a Zet that had suffered a fair old beating from running solo down a series of high grade rapids and it has faired pretty well considering the beating it received.
Where the Raptor really stands out is in the design/shape of the hull. Zet have produced a big water boat that still retains high levels of maneuverability and forward speed. This probably explains why so many slalom paddlers are using Raptors when they are not in their composite slalom boats.
Primary and secondary stability is good and even when charging on edge the Raptor feels relatively stable and is easy to roll. The Raptor likes big water and feels really nice when running whitewater and falls. The boat feels responsive and tracks well.
Zet also have a couple of other boats that share a similar design to the Raptor. The Veloc is designed for smaller paddlers and the Directors for larger paddlers and big water. All have the same superb characteristics.
In summary the Zet Raptor is a fast, stable, and comfortable creek boat that will easily fulfill the needs of a range of different paddlers from creekers to river runners. All in all the Zet seem to have the balance about right. Well worth checking out.