Zet Cross: Team Paddler Review #1


CROSS side profile

The new CROSS has landed here in Canada and I have been lucky enough to be one of the first people to get out on the river in this new machine. I have spent the last few days ripping laps and getting a good feel for the boat so here are my thoughts about the newest design from ZET:

I say machine because that’s what this kayak is. Coming from two years in a TORO it’s as if one suddenly has been given a previously absent 6th gear. The high bow rocker makes putting the nose of the boat on top of curlers or waves (or anything really) effortless, contributing to an ease of cross current moves. Adapting from the TORO, I first found myself carrying more speed than required from feature to feature, often rocketing out of drops into the cabbage or simply driving the boat beyond my original target. The quick fix to this would be more conservative calculated input, gently driving the kayak on top of this or that. The fun fix and something I find myself doing more and more everyday in the CROSS is harnessing the speed and picking faster more direct lines down rapids. The last bonus of this speed is acceleration. When speed is lost or has to be made in a new direction, one or two paddle strokes are all it takes to get the boat moving, with the boat clipping along after three or four. It’s awesome being able to turn, point, take two paddle strokes and absolutely soar a boof.

According to the specs the CROSS measures in at a mere half inch narrower than the Toro. Despite the seemingly small change in spec, the CROSS falls without a doubt into the category of narrow creek boats. The primary stability is still excellent with good secondary stability that is shorter compared to the TORO. The narrowness of the kayak makes it extremely easy to roll on its side and engage the edge for a carve or boof. The trade off is it take less accidental lean or weight shift to fall over completely, however the secondary stability is easy to identify and quick to adapt to.

The CROSS comes with ZET’s standard outfitting. It’s simple, easy to adjust and bomber. The only changes of note here are a geometry change with the narrower boat and the new ZET bottle cap style drain plug. At 6ft with size 12/13 booties, I typically find myself with a bulk head near full extension. I was blown away to find the amount of foot and leg room within the CROSS. With the seat adjusted to the centre, I have the bulkhead two notches away from fully short. It would easy fit someone with much, much longer legs than myself or someone shorter, with the potential to add foam to the bulkhead for someone with especially short legs. The new geometry suits me personally better than the TORO did, with the narrower knee position allowing more contact with the thigh hooks and a more secure fit all around.

Cross edge profileCROSS top profile

The CROSS has a delicate balance of edge which is most pronounced under the centre of the boat. More characteristic of the edge seen on a 9R or my Necky Jive with no defined “rail” but significant “edge”, I’m convinced ZET nailed it with both the location and amount of edge on this boat. The boat holds ferry angles against strong current effortlessly. It carves when put on edge but doesn’t get pushed by every boil or current from side to side. At the same time it has no “grabby” feel when moving slow though cross currents or boils. Thus far it seems a perfect balance of the amount of edge required to give a boat performance and advantage over a current, without so much as to be constantly tripping one up or making the boat scary and unpredictable in funny water.

The new CROSS provides a platform that will be as at home on a race course as it would be on a Class V creek. It takes the advantage of the performance provided by a race design and puts it into an incredibly user friendly package. The narrower platform would not be my first choice for instructing an absolute beginner, however I am confident both the intermediate and advanced paddler would quickly adapt and benefit from the advantages of a fast, high rocker design. Whether harnessing the speed to charge a race course, or make that seemingly impossible cross current class V move, this design speaks to the modern age of paddlers demanding high performance boats to paddle everything and anything in. I personally couldn’t be more stoked to paddle one on everything, moving forward with this season and many to more to come..

Happy Paddling friends,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *