Kayaking on the Hudson

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review: Tempest 165 by Wilderness Systems

The Tempest embodies everything I love about Wilderness Systems and everything that I don’t like.  For the money, it is really hard to beat this kayak.  It is a lean, fast, responsive sea kayak that comes with all the bells and whistles for a very low price.  (Currently the list price is around $1600  but no one pays that as you can always find them for 20% off).  It is 16.5’ long (also comes in a 17’ version), 21.5” wide and comes with adjustable thigh braces, removable hip braces, 3 bulkheads, a day hatch, full deck rigging and an adjustable skeg.  All of this makes for a serious sea kayak.  It has a medium amount of rocker so turns can be tough, but advanced paddlers will find that it leans very nicely so carving a turn is no problem.  It has a very narrow shape and cuts through waves effortlessly.  I paddled mine for a week on the Erie Canal and found it to be comfortable and fast.
Tempest 165 Kayak

Now the down side…  As with all plastic kayaks from Wilderness Systems, the plastic is very flexible.  This makes the kayak susceptible to dents and the caulking around the bulkheads is constantly in need of repair.  The adjustable thigh braces allow for a truly custom fit, but they stick out into the cockpit and I keep scraping my shins on them when I get into the boat.  And like most plastic kayaks, it is heavy.  The Tempest tips the scales at 55 lbs.  

Overall, I would suggest that you should put the Tempest on your list of possible kayaks.  You should also look at the Capella from P&H which is not as sleek and fast and is a bit more expensive, but is built from better plastic and has better bulkheads.  If you want a fast, sleek, maneuverable kayak, it will be hard to beat the Tempest without spending a lot more money.