I bought one of these for my wife so she could paddle with me, $360 (Bay Trails Outfitters, Mathews, VA) and we love it. It's stable enough without being a raft, and while it's not as fast as my Chesapeake 17, it's much easier to turn. It also tracks much better than I expected for a 9ft kayak. I love it, she loves it. Best of all though, it fits IN THE TRUNK of my Expedition!!! I'm 5'4" and hate loading my CH17 onto the roof, so this is a revelation.
Downsides? The seat might not last as long as the hull, and the blunt bow makes a lot of spray when paddling fast. Other than that, a great buy.I recently took this boat to the Congaree Swamp, and it worked nearly perfectly. The only problems that I had were that the stern deck rigging was too close to me, and the end of the cord hit my elbow, leaving a few scratch marks. This was easy to fix when we returned by flipping the cord over. Also, when I leaned forward to reach my deck bag, the spray skirt would pop off. However, one of the best parts was that there were a few logs that were just over a foot over the water. when most people had to carry their canoes around, I slid all the way forward and could lay down with ease. This saved lots of time and energy, considering that there was almost no current on the six mile stretch that we paddled on, leaving me worn out. This was probably because I was using a 200cm Werner Desperado paddle.
Finally, the length was perfect to fit in our minivan, which was one of the main reasons I bought it over a Pamlico 100, which at $430 was not the best deal, particularly because it has a storage hatch but it is not dry storage. The best place for me to purchase it was at Kenco, because shipping was ~$100 less than any other store.For class-1 to low-3 streams; hour long jaunts to 1-2 day floats, I can't imagine a single boat that meets my needs any better than the Zydeco. I've used several others (Otter, Acadia, Sierra, Swifty) numerous times, but they all (except the Swifty) have major drawbacks. I found the Otter very uncomfortable, and all boats over 10 ft. much less maneuverable.
The main difference between the Zydeco and the Swifty is that the Swifty doesn't plow through calm water quite as much, but the Zydeco tends to handle low class-3 water just a little better. Paddling a little more in calm water is an inconvenience, whereas handling rougher water is more of a safety concern during unexpected thunderstorms.
A friend of mine with Jr. High boys w/friends borrows my Zydeco to supplement his rec boats. He says there's always an argument as to which boy gets the Zydeco. Although I could personally care less, the Jr. Highers definitely think the Zydeco is the "cooler" of the several boats.We bought two Z's (one for me and one for my wife). Prior to buying, we had tried some white water and sea kayaking; enjoyed both. We decided to buy the Z's because it's a good way of experimenting further with all types of kayaking without spending a lot of money on "specialized" kayaks. We are thoroughly pleased; it has got to be the "most kayak for the money."
We're still experimenting. So far, we've been on two lakes, feeder streams, one river, and one rapids. The Z has performed well in all scenarios and seems to be exactly what we were looking for: sort of a "jack of all trades, master of none." Example: It cruises/tracks well but has a definite comfort zone. When you push the speed, it results in the noise/water on bow that's mentioned in other reviews. We solved the problem of "lost articles behind the seat" (detailed in another review} by purchasing a set of NRS split storage floatation bags (#2084) to fill the deep space behind the seat. While not inexpensive, they can be used in other kayaks as well. With those in place, we still had room for a soft cooler directly behind the seat for easy access in one Z and a dry storage bag in the other.
Dagger gives the Z a low rating for overnight/weekend trips, but with the split storage bags and leftover space behind the seat, it would be possible to do an overnighter easily and possibly a 3-5 day for us (using the both Z's). Have been in feeder streams for the lakes in about 4-5 inches of water; cruising in, the Z was so quiet we could see the fish spooked as the bow glided past. We have spray skirts and opted for touring paddles because of the width of the Z. All work fine.
It seems the Z will do anything you might want a kayak to do as long as you stay within its limits. Add in the overall quality and low price, well, what more could you ask for in a purchase? Bonus: When we do branch out to other kayaks, the Z's will be perfect for "guests" because of their stability and large cockpit. I have owned my Zyeco for about 18 months. I originally purchased it to use for flyfishing still waters and slow moving waters. It is the first kayak I have paddled. I have also used it for some fitness crosstraining activities and although it certainly isn't a fast boat, it can give you a pretty good work out.
Recently I have had it out in some fairly rough conditions in Puget Sound and the way it handled in those conditions ( amazingly well ) is why I finally decided to rate it here. Even broadside to the waves, it was stable and instilled confidence that you wouldn't get into trouble.
This is a great little kayak that I would highly recommend to the beginning kayaker or for fishing in inland waters.I was looking for a compromise boat to use in paddle rivers. I looked at white water boats and paddled several. I just hate paddling them because they made me work so hard to keep the boat straight. I paddled several rec. boats at demo days and liked several and was convinced that I wanted a rec. boat rather than a white water boat. I bought the Zydeco new after buying a used WW boat and I love the Z. I am 215#, 6' tall and the Z fit me better than all the other rec. boats. Some of the others sliced through the water better, and were quieter ( I agree with some one else in here that the Z splashes quite a bit when cruising and Dagger could have shaped the bow differently and fixed this, I am sure).I bought some thigh braces for some other boat and outfitted my Z with them and some padding to take up some of the room around my knees. I think I will be able to roll this yak as easily as the Corsica WW boat that I used in my first roll class and was able to roll it. I love the boat and would like to buy another one used and get rid of the Corsica. I like paddling moving water rather than flat water and have not had this on the Potomac but have had it on several small streams in Maryland and it handles very well.
The WW people were telling me that I did not want to get a rec. boat, but I have had the Z about 2 months (with a neoprene skirt) and it is a great compromise boat. I wanted a short boat, basically a 1 person canoe with a spray skirt and this is about the perfect boat for me. WW boats scare me, as I am not able to keep them going where I want them to go and they are more difficult to exit than I like. I do not want to get sideways near a rock or ledge that I wanted to go at a different angle. I think this boat will be able to control. The Z is very easy to get in and out of. If I turn it over, getting out is still easy because it is so roomy. I do not have to slide it off like an RPM max or Corsica. I do hope to learn to roll it and stay in it most of the time, or not tip over. I look at this boat like an enduro motorcycle (trail bike that is street legal) It is not the best for WW or Cruising but is a good compromise.