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Shaman Description

The Shaman is a kayak brought to you by Wilderness Systems. Read Shaman reviews or submit your own review to share with the paddling community. Check out a few other kayak recommendations below or explore all kayaks to find the perfect one for you!

Wilderness Systems
Shaman Reviews

Read reviews for the Shaman by Wilderness Systems as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!

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I love this boat. It's my…

Submitted by: GraceBiggs on 3/22/2022

I love this boat. It's my "go-to."


I have had this boat for…

Submitted by: paddler430431 on 5/8/2018

I have had this boat for many years.. Bought as a DEMO boat with a few years on it from the Salesman who was it's first owner. Have had great fun with it.. and would like to get a few more years out of it. My current issue is that the seat cover has totally deteriorated due to UV and exposure... I can still use it but would like to replace it... I have purchased a few other boats over the years.. couple of Pungos and a Perception Tandem... No one has been able to help me find parts for this old boat. Have also had an issue with the foot pegs popping out of the track... Yakima used to sell a replacement but I never got one... Who out there can point me in the right direction? Jeff


I bought this at a yard sale…

Submitted by: ad2 on 8/17/2016
I bought this at a yard sale I am very impressed with this boat. I am a pretty big guy and when I get into it it feels like a part of me It is very stable and responds well.
I have 6 kayaks and this is far and away my favorite.
When I have kayak canoe outings everyone fights over the shaman If you find one buy it.

The Shaman is fun for what it…

Submitted by: paddler230610 on 6/8/2004
The Shaman is fun for what it is, a 12.5' toy. My problem was that the boat leaked where the holes were drilled for the perimeter lines around the rear hatch. This is supposed to be a watertight compartment. This is potentially a lethal error in construction. My biggest problem is that it leaked on BOTH sides. This tells me this is not just a simple error. I believe this to be a sample of either sloppy design or careless work. CAUTION. Honestly though, I am impressed with the boat as a fun craft. I just hesitate to support an error so, well, dangerous. Buyer beware.

Just spent the summer with a…

Submitted by: jboggs on 9/18/2003
Just spent the summer with a Shaman. It's a delightful boat. Both my son (age 14) and I have paddled it in windy estuaries, sizeable chop on Tomales Bay, calm lakes and winding rivers. Not the greatest craft for river currents, but for everything else and for just plain fun paddling, it's a winner. I'm 6-1 and 180, my son is about 5-7 (at the moment) and very light, and it fits us both with no problem. Thanks for the Phase 3, WS! And thanks for a very enjoyable boat.

This review is based on a…

Submitted by: ohioboater on 9/3/2003
This review is based on a week long demo of a plastic Shaman on sheltered flatwater lakes and Class I moving water. I am primarily a river paddler and this review reflects that bias.

The Shaman is a very nice flatwater boat, but it would be a handful on anything more than easy Class I rapids. The full-length keel ridge is pretty grabby when crossing eddy lines and confused currents. Also, because this boat can't be spun unless edged, it's tough to reposition yourself in a small eddy. Eddy turns also tend to degenerate into "eddy deflections" unless you lean the boat hard and plant a huge duffek stroke.

That said, the boat does roll easily and is very maneuverable for a narrow, keeled hull. On flat water (moving or lake), you can initiate and control turns just by edging (though I would need a lot of hip padding to keep me from sliding side to side on the seat). I don't know how it compares to a "real" sea kayak, since I've never spent more than 10 minutes in one, but it glides beautifully compared to pretty much any other rec boat. It threaded its way through lots of downed trees in current on my local river without much ado, and it had great speed for attaining upstream.

But it's definitely not a whitewater crossover boat--more of a high end day tourer, if there is such a thing. Can't say how it performs in "open" water, since I'm not a tourer and don't have access to such conditions anyway.

The Phase 3 seat was incredibly comfortable, mostly due to the adjustable under-thigh support. First factory kayak seat I've ever sat in that didn't put my feet to sleep within minutes. If I bought a boat like this, though, I'd probably rip the backrest out and replace it with a backband. I just don't use or like backrests, high or low.

The plastic is of average toughness, I suppose. I scratched the heck out of it in the week I had it, but then I was banging over rocks and t-boning the riverbank (before I figured out that the boat NEEDS a duffek stroke to complete an eddy turn :). It also deformed where the roof rack contacted the front deck, but what do you expect from unsupported plastic?

Overall it's a very cool rec boat, I suppose, if you want the look and feel of a sea kayak but don't need something 17 feet long.


I have been paddling for 10…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/30/2003
I have been paddling for 10 years and have looked for an all around boat and the shaman comes right up there. I have had this boat for about a year. I have taken it out 35 times so far. Some places being St. Agustine Beach Lake Hartwell, Charleston, Community Lakes, South Florida Inlet and Ocean. The boat handled well in every situation. Boat tracks suprisingly well. Handles chop like nothin. Even comfortable on hot or cold days. Paddle a 4 day trip down the Intercoastal with no trouble. Perfect for beginners or even the most experienced. Fishing in it for the first time might feel a little tough but with a little practice you could be fishing for 10 hours and hav no problem with tippiness or discomfort. I would highly recommend this boat to anyone. I hav been pleased with this boat. I'll report later.

Wow! This boat is great. I…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/14/2003
Wow! This boat is great. I have taken it out so far only a few times, like 2, and I can roll it without effort. Not bad seeing how I had never rolled a boat in my life before. This is my first Wilderness Systems boat and I am glad I bought it. It handled the chop of the Cheasepeake Bay beautifully.

I have the no rudder option but she trackes well enough without, that I am not sure I would even go back to have one installed. My only complaint is that in two outings the footpegs in mine popped out and rendered the boat virtually unuseable. So I called up Wilderness Systems about the problem and pronto new foot pegs where on the way. So I am sastisfied with that issue.

I have found that when I transport the boat the areas where the boat rides on the pads on the luggage rack seem to dent in, but with a few hours out in direct sunlight they seem to pop back up.

Over-all great boat for begginers, and great multi-purpose boat. Trackes well in chop, flat and moving water. Its going with me to the beach in a week, and from what my dealer said, shes a fine boat to surf in too.


Submitting this for my wife.…

Submitted by: paddler230278 on 7/25/2003
Submitting this for my wife. She has a couple of other kayaks, and wanted a light short boat for lake work. In composite it is very light, a joy to put onto the car rack, and is very capable in rough water. A really brilliant design for a short craft. Tracks surprising well, yet turns on a dime. Suitable for a beginner, but with the capabilities to make an experienced paddler smile. Nothing to fault, perfect 10.

I just spent five days in my…

Submitted by: paddler230104 on 5/1/2003
I just spent five days in my Shaman at Edisto Island, S.C. What a fun week. The Shaman handled the open ocean and inlets equally well. I got caught in some pretty rough weather out in the ocean and my boat handled well. Great boat for day trips.

Spent the day on Saturday…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/13/2002
Spent the day on Saturday paddling about 10 miles in the Shaman as a rental. It was my first time in one, as it seems hard to find the boat around my town, but absolutely loved it. Easy to paddle, INCREDIBLY comfortable with the Phase3 seating (makes it almost a no-brainer to buy a Wilderness Systems boat). Very easy to maneuver through riffles and light rapids, turned easily, but also tracked very well on calm water.

I wasn't sure about this boat from reading the literature, the cockpit seemed like it might be too small for my comfort. I was previously planning on purchasing a Pungo, but at the shop for the rental I hopped in a Shaman as it seemed designed for my interests in paddling (river touring, weekend + trips, class 1-2 water), and found it very roomy and comfortable. After sitting in it for 5 hours on the water, it proved to be very comfortable, and the new seating allowed infinite adjustments when necessary.

All in all, I strongly recommend the boat to anyone looking for a good multi-purpose boat. It fit me like a glove, and would work well for those larger and smaller than me (6', 205lbs). In fact, I liked it so much I ordered one and am picking it up next week! Why a 9? Nothing's perfect. 'cept maybe my wife... but the boat came pretty close to the elusive 10... I'll report again after more usage!


Very maneuverable, rudder…

Submitted by: paddler228898 on 9/11/2000
Very maneuverable, rudder system very effective, handled chop well, easy in and out cockpit, fair speed and cruise; rear-end tended to drag, as if seaweed tangled on rudder.

I could not be happier with…

Submitted by: paddler228882 on 9/5/2000
I could not be happier with my Shaman. The size is perfect; the lightweight poly design lets you move easily both in and out of the water. The rudder system is a great success in this design. The hull offers more than enough room for all of my camping gear, and it rides great with the extra 45lbs. I pack. I love it.

This is my first boat,I…

Submitted by: paddler228845 on 8/20/2000
This is my first boat,I really enjoy it.It turnes on a dime,can handle large chops and waves with no problem. I bought the poly version mainly because of funds but also due to alot of rocks in my area.I would reccomend this boat to anyone looking for a boat that can handle rivers yet also handle large lakes and bays.A rudder can also be put on,large storage and good deck rigging really round this kayak out.

This is my seventh kayak; I…

Submitted by: paddler228679 on 6/14/2000
This is my seventh kayak; I bought for a rather specialized purpose: to travel the entire lengh of the white river in arkansas and missouri, a river with some shoaly, rocky rapids in the headwaters, long empoundments in the middle, and long flat stretches near the juncture with the mississippi. so I needed something not too long, but with some storage room. I considered several choices, but my previous experience with andy singer designs encouraged me to this boat. I have not been disappointed. I bought the plastic model, so it's a little heavy, and some of the deck fittings are a little clutzy, but it is generally well laid out, fast for its short size, manoueverable, and hardly bothered at all by the wind. and the large cockpit makes it easy to hop in and out of when the water becomes too shallow to paddle.

This is my first kayak,…

Submitted by: paddler228645 on 5/31/2000
This is my first kayak, tested quite a few. I found the Shaman easy to use and faster then I thought it would be for a boat of its size.