Post Paddle Snack: Super Mega deluxe burrito w/ sauce on top.
This past week, we found a Brand-Spanking-New Zet Toro floating around in the gear eddy. After some thought, we decided that the best thing to do was pack up the car for a 9 hour drive to California. After a few laps on the SF Yuba and an overnight’er on the Middle Fork of the Feather, what was the result? “Oh my GOD I WANT ONE of these things!” Enough said…ok, let’s elaborate.
The New Toro is a larger, faster and a more stable craft than the previous Zet Raptor, but smaller and more sporty than the Big man’s Director. It comes in at just under 9 feet (8′ 10″) and is quoted at being 85 gallons. (This of course is a subjective number. Most boats are + or – 5 gallons of the spec profile.)
At first glance, weighing 165 lbs and being 5’9″, I thought that this boat was going to be slightly to large for me. After sitting in it from water level, I realized that the more sporty bow profile wasn’t overwhelming, like many bigger boats are on a guy my size. The way that ZET keeps the volume hidden in the back, keeps the boat from back endering and more importantly, doesn’t leave me paddling with the cockpit rim in my armpits like the large mamba does. Volume is hidden in the shallow grab loops and space just behind the paddlers hips.
The boat was made for speed, but sacrifices very little when it comes to sending it off of vertical drops or off-angled boofs.
The hull design is this quirky combination of a planing hull paired with a liberal amount of nose rocker; allowing the boat to hold it’s line through chop on the way to firing off a huge boof at the horizon line.
A hard chine starts directly beneath the paddlers posterior (ass) and moves stern-ward. This is the hard edge that allows for such amazing control when setting a line. ZET takes a page out of designs like the Dagger Nomad or the Liquid Logic Remix and uses a “shoft” edge (sharp but soft) moving from beneath the paddlers posterior towards the bow, meeting at the apex of the bow rocker. In other words…you can go really fast and send it off into outer space with that final stroke.
The Toro snaps into eddies as soon as that sharp chine crosses the fence and turns back into the current on the same paddle stroke like a dream. SUAVE. The edges aren’t so aggressive that one needs to take a god-damned sanding-belt to them like the BURN.
The Stern is squared off at the end, which looked kind of toy-ish at first, but I assume that the designers are thinking that the square end allows current to build on the flat end and therefore assist in accelerating the craft downstream (much like many boats of this caliber are nowadays). It’s called the “transom-effect” and is commonly used on aircrafts to reduce drag.
Some other Pros:
The TORO is made with very few holes, making it incredibly dry. There are no external screws punching through the cockpit to hold the seat in place. If you order the boat with “FOAM ONLY” (which you definitely should if you are going to drop $1200 on one) the boat has no adjustable bulk head. This means a few things; 1. There are no holes in the front of the boat which are typically drilled, into a beautiful new hull, to allow for an adjustable bulkhead…and also increased leakage. 2. Instead of allowing any yoohoo to get in your $1200 boat and make it fit them, with a few minutes and thought put into it, you can custom fit the boat to match your exact torso/leg ratio. AND 3. Replacing the bulk of 4 nuts, and bunch of plastic and metal with some close-celled foam, lightens the boat up by a few pounds! That’s around 7% of the boats weight! Get with it people! Foam is home.
Another reason(s) for foaming: During a massive piton, there is more compression possible than with a rigid metal/plastic bulk head. ie- you’re less likely to break an ankle on impact and there is no way to get your foot entrapped in a bunch of metal and plastic.
The outfitting is so simple, which means less BS to break and lighter construction. The foam seat absorbs impact better than a hard plastic molded seat. Also, the elastic banding incorporated into the front pillar and crotch area, make simple and effective storage spots for throw-bags and water bottles. EASY. ZET Also has a 2 year warranty! WTF?!
ZET follows structural integrity the whole way through from start to finish by incorporating their first cut into the cockpit to putting in the pillars. The cockpit is trimmed and molded down into the foam to prevent the pillars from moving.
Cons: No place to grab onto the front pillar when shouldering the boat. It is no easy feat to remove the stern pillar for casual overnighters. Heavier than the Waka Tuna.
You’re not going to find any deals on these bad boys. Producing the boats in the Czech Republic makes for some expensive shipping rates for ZET USA. Dig deep and empty out your spare change if you want to add this boat to your quiver.
In conclusion: The TORO is fast, sporty, maneuverable, boofs like a champ, powers through chop, holds a line well, the outfitting doesn’t get saturated…and in the end, it’s just a fun boat to paddle both on your backyard run or on a massive expedition into the unknown.
According to Sam Wells: The best feature of the boat (better than the Waka) is a the single-stroke boof-ability. Due to the narrowed end of the TORO, when in those last hectic moments, the boat allows the paddler to get on edge and launch a last second boof to save a life… this is Sam’s go to move.