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Reviews for Zest Two EXP Kayak by Ocean Kayak


Rated: 9.2/10 Based On: 10 Reviews


Zest Two EXP Kayak by Ocean Kayak

Length: 16' 4" - Width: 30.50" - Starting at: $1099.99
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01-23-2012
Submitted by: fch
Rating: 10 of 10

     I've had the Zest II Exp for a full season now. It is night and day compared to my other tandem the Tarpon 130T in every way, workmanship, stability, features, space, handling and speed.

Feature-wise, I cannot say enough good things about this boat. I've got mine set up with two large ovals, and two 6" rounds. I use the rounds for cameras, keys and the ovals for everything else. Out of necessity paddling with two kids, I always pack a kayak cart, extra paddles, food, water, dry cloths, towels, cooler, and often stuff that my friends cannot fit in the Tarpon which can only handle two 6" rounds. The ovals are big enough for a small child to crawl into the hull which makes available the entire boat for storage. There are also quite a few choices for the kids to sit, again, unlike the Tarpon. Every piece of hardware and rigging is screwed into an insert or blind hole as opposed to through hole for nuts and bolts in my Tarpon. This makes is impossible to ever leak. The top surface is in a rough matte finish which provides incredible grip for slippery muddy shoes while the bottom surface is silky smooth. The deck bungees are all quick release. There are 4 handles which really comes in handy for such a big boat. Also there are two paddle keepers. The two molded in cup holders have bungee retainers, a great feature.

Stability wise, it's similar to the Tarpon, but that's expected in a wide SOT tandem, even though it's a few inches narrower. With two kids constantly jumping off or climbing back in, it never feel the least bit tippy. The kids feel so comfortable with the stability, they often spend their time standing in the boat. It even felt stable being broadsided by a 1-foot boat wakes. In fact, we now make it a point to broadside every boat wake we can find just for fun.

Speed and tracking are both far superior to the Tarpon. That's not surprising since it's the longest and narrowest SOT tandem I know of. On the flip side, because of it's un-rockered hull, it is a bit of a pain to turn (by myself). With the rudder system though, the 16.5 foot boat becomes a 10 footer. It won't win any drag races, but will cruise comfortable all day.

I recently sold the Tarpon knowing that I'd never want to paddle any other SOT tandem. My kids are strong enough to handle their own boats this season, so, I picked up a Carolina 12. As they get older, I'm probably gonna get another single boat so they could each have their own, but I don't foresee ever parting with the trusty no-brainer Zest II Exp.

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10-14-2009
Submitted by: JoseSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I purchased this baby in Puerto Rico in 2006, and one time I paddled this Kayak with three adults (my wife, her sister and me) without problem. Before the ride I was looking in the internet its capacity, because we want to show to my sister in law (she lives in USA) the beautiful view of Caracoles in La Parguera, PR.
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06-01-2009
Submitted by: DRSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     We rented this baby and it was a lot of fun. It was stable and pretty fast too (we hit 7.6mph with out even really trying or even paddling in sync). There is enough space between the paddlers that you don't really have to stay in perfect sync. I took it out by myself and found it really fast and very maneuverable (due to bow coming up a bit). If only we could agree on where to go!
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02-13-2008
Submitted by: JustinSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     An all around functional, and enjoyable sit-on-top! We went to the paddlesports shop looking for the Malibu Two, but fell in love with the Zest Two EXP. We got one that was set up with the Gaspachi hatches and cat bags, which are really handy! Handles well in light to moderate swells and wind conditions. My only recommendation would be to invest in a kayak dolly, takes the work out of getting the yak out on the beach!
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07-24-2007
Submitted by: mddSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     The main issue is "What are you using the kayak for?" Full disclosure for me: I wanted something to take my three children out on the beaches of S. Walton, FL and paddle among the dolphins and watch other marine life. My children (ages 13, 10, 8) love to take turns up front and it is a great workout for me. I lock the yak on the beach and head out in the AM and PM to fish. This gives me plenty of room and I have to only paddle out 400 or 500 yards to catch fish. This is a great kayak and has served us well.

Other reviewers are right that it is heavy to load and hard to portage. I have a Chevy Suburban which makes travel easier as I drive from Tulsa, OK to Destin, FL. The only reason I purchased this was to spend time in the water in Florida. I can imagine that if you want to yak in other bays that it can and work well. Hope this helps, but I would purchase in a heart beat. My wife gave it to me as a birthday present after doing lots of research. Buy IT!

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05-11-2007
Submitted by: MaxSend Email
Rating: 5 of 10

     Not a good choice for a serene river less than 500 CFS. It's a heavy boat that requires a lot of energy to keep it moving. I have three Loon tandems (two 16s with rudder and now one of the new 15s without a rudder) and they are much easier to navigate when in the water and to load when out of it. The Zest also has a fairly prominent keel which will rise up on a barely submerged log and off you roll into the water. I'm not saying I don't enjoy it; I do. It's a big boat that an adult can paddle while two small children ride and move around and so forth. I just prefer the Loons.
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11-10-2006
Submitted by: MikeSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have purchase several kayaks fom a yakboard for the kids, to an Angler Drifter that I like to use to fish in the Gulf of Mexico. We purchased the Zest Two EXP to take to the Florida Keys and we think it was the best tandem we could have bought. It is an all around good kayak- from paddeling the mangroves, to fishing the Florida Bay. We added the rudder kit which improved the tracking, and two oval hatches for dry storage. But to just get out and have some fun, the base model will do very well. If you weigh a little more, the feet wells hold water, not something that couldn't be helped with some scupper stoppers. Not as wide as my Drifter, so we could get it moving pretty fast. Stable and roomy too, comfortably allowed 2 to fish from it without the crowding like some tandem kayaks. Just a great all around tandem kayak. If I could do it all over again- I'd still buy the Zest Two EXP.
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07-21-2006
Submitted by: DTSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Bought my zest2 for diving in Monterey. However, I found so many other uses for it in around the lakes and reservoirs near my home. Very versatile! Love it! The biggest issue I have is its weight. Rather unwieldy when loading. I found that a pair of mako saddles and hully rollers did the trick.
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07-03-2006
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     This is just the BEST tandem around. It is FUN, stable, and fast. We rented one and went out on a very turbulent day, and had a great time. It is so stable that you have confidence even when the ocean is very crazy. Slap, slap, bang bang! Lots of fun, with little fear and struggle.

It is too bad that Ocean Kayak discontinued the Zest for a few years. It is the boat we really wanted to own. Fortunately they came back with the new model, which is even better than the old. Get one, you will love it! The only disadvantage is that is is a bit large and heavy. So what? You get what you pay for. Want to boogie on the big waves and lounge around in the quiet waters? You can't do that on a surf ski...

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09-05-2005
Submitted by: FredSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     My daughter and I just took my new Zest Two EXP on a trial paddle for 5 or 6 miles. The boat tracks very well, is extremely stable and is plenty fast enough. I've owned a Scupper Pro TW for several years, so I'm well acquainted with Ocean Kayak. We had rented an old Zest Two a couple of months back and were impressed with it. That was what convinced me to buy this boat instead of one of the traditional tandems I was considering.
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