For the last 4 months I’ve been paddling the new FIVE from Zet and here are a few thoughts on the boat and a little look back on how it has performed.
First a little background on myself. I have been paddling now for 16 years, traveling and paddling in many countries around the world. These days I am living in Norway and getting to play in paddle paradise which is the west-cost of Norway. I have paddled for the Zet UK team for the last 7 years, starting with the Raptor then moving onto Toro and now the FIVE. Therefore I’ve seen the development and the way the boats have changed. But I also try as much as possible to jump into other people’s boats and paddle as many models as possible, so I can have a good and honest opinion of what is out there.
My first impressions: when I jump into the boat is how narrow it is. The FIVE is 3cm narrower than the Toro and you really feel this. It leads to a much straighter sitting position and a boat that has a much more dynamic and livelier feel to it. Below I’ve reviewed each main key feature points about the boat.
How it paddles: The FIVE continues in the trend of all Zet boats. A high performing boat that you need to drive to get the most out of it, and it will tell you off if you’re lazy. That said the FIVE is a lot more manageable than any of the other Zet boats that I’ve paddled.
The FIVE has more rocker and a longer rocker profile. Allowing it to turn quickly and stay on the surface, along with skipping nicely through holes and drops. The narrower profile also helps you shift from edge to edge quicker. This make it super playful and fast in and out of eddies.
The boat does however still maintain the common Zet characteristic of tracking well. It´s not as loose and easy to change direction in, as say a Waka Stout, however it will hold the line better when you need it too. If you get off line it’s easy to correct it again. The down side to the narrower hull is it feels a little more unstable when you first jump in the boat, it took me a few trips to adjust but when you have this boat and get used to it, it becomes so much fun.
Size: Just a quick mention on the size of the FIVE as a lot of people think this boat was meant to be a replacement for the Toro. It was not, it´s much closer to the Raptor. It suits someone from around 55kg up to 80kg. I’m 75kg and feel to boat handles well but I definitely would not want it to be any bigger. I would say the FIVE is not the boat to be doing lots of big multi day trips in, 2/3 days no problem but much more and you would be better with the Toro.
Sitting position and outfitting: This is very personal, I have made a few modifications to the outfitting but I do have several friends who have changed nothing. Firstly, you sit with a much straighter leg position from other boats, it takes a small amount of getting used too, but personally I really like it. There is also a lot less height from the seat to the thigh braces. For me this did not work, so I’ve taken out the foam seat pad and have cut 2cm off the bottom to drop myself down in the boat and give more height. Then I re-drilled the thigh braces to open up the angle and give the high and position I desired.
The boat come with the classic bomb proof outfitting and the simplicity of this makes it super easy to modify and get the perfect custom fit for you.
Conclusion: This is a fast, fun boat. It’s definitely not a boat for someone who wants to float down the river and have the boat look after them. If you want a boat that will reward you for paddling hard and driving the boat its perfect. For me it’s a great balance of a playful hull which will keep you entertained on easy water, but when you need it, it will perform at the high levels required. I’ve had this boat in Iceland for two weeks this summer as well as at the Norwegian Classic and it just keeps getting better and better. Its definitely a boat that is going to make you a better paddler the more you paddle it and push yourself.
Words by Zet Team Paddler Nick Pearce
Photos Courtesy of: A&S Media House