Tempest 170

Width (in)
Weight (lb)

Tempest 170 Description

Mid-sized paddlers will relish the fusion of performance capabilities in this award-winning kayak. Get added control and durability on your expedition from the redesigned TruTrak Skeg System

Winner of the Sea Kayaker Magazine Reader's Choice Award for "Best Day and Weekend Touring Kayak."

Tempest 170 Specs and Features

  • Structure: Rigid / Hard Shell
  • Cockpit Type: Sit Inside
  • Seating Configuration: Solo
  • Ideal Paddler Size: Average Adult, Larger Adult
  • Skill Level: Intermediate, Advanced
  • Ideal Paddler Size: Average Adult, Larger Adult
  • Skill Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Wilderness Systems
Tempest 170 Reviews

Read reviews for the Tempest 170 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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intermediate paddler 6 feet…

Submitted by: cheekymonkey on 12/27/2023

intermediate paddler 6 feet 180lbs, tried the fiberglass version for a test, wilderness system hit a home run with this pro version of the kayak, no longer made in fiberglass, if you find one buy it, good primary and excellent secondary stability, playful, turns well on edge, quick easy paddle, ergonomics are spot on, tracks well enough without even using the skeg, was so impressed by the kayak that i m trying to find one now


have a kevlar one still a…

Submitted by: paddler1901599 on 3/10/2022

have a kevlar one still a little heavy great for heavy guys keeps me high in the water great tracking and good on leaning into turns easy to roll very nicely built tried a lot of them but liked the tempest the best


I absolutely LOVE this…

Submitted by: NattyBreaD on 10/5/2021

I absolutely LOVE this kayak. It's quick and stable, yet nimble enough to be fun. My experience on other kayaks is pretty limited so my opinion might not mean all that much. I went from an ill-fated, new Focus 15.5 to a used Tempest 17 and never looked back. It's taken me up and down the Hudson River, around Manhattan and on some great camping trips. The only reason I might replace it is for a newer Tempest of a different color. You won't go wrong with a Tempest!


This Tempest is my second…

Submitted by: NattyBreaD on 7/8/2020
This Tempest is my second (first one was a Focus 155). I've had it for 2 years now and still love it. It's got enough volume for long camping trips, is a straight tracker, handles well in rough conditions, and is easy to roll. Also, it's super comfy for long days (I've had a few). If I were to criticize it, I'd say Wilderness Systems needs to revive the small day hatch in front of the cockpit like the Focus had. That's a really handy feature, especially in choppy conditions when reaching behind you might result in tipping. Over all, I can see why people have said it's the last kayak they'll ever need to buy. I can definitely see myself hanging on to it even if I end up buying a glass boat, because it'll make a good second boat for those trips where I might encounter lots of rocks.

Great kayak! After reading a…

Submitted by: river_rat_one on 6/10/2020
Great kayak! After reading a lot of reviews here I'm so glad I went with the 170 over the 165. At 5'9" 165lb this is a perfect fit. But I have no idea how anyone larger than me would fit. Maybe it's because I'm coming from a 12' recreational kayak, but still it's a tight fit for me even though that's what you expect from this type of kayak. Great tracking, quick, and the skeg is amazing when even a little wind picks up. Perfect amount of storage for a longer trip, plus some left over for any extras you may have needed to skimp on with a smaller kayak. The only thing I wish it had was a paddle holder like my Perception Carolina. But I can probably add one easily.

Tempest 170 is a stable fast…

Submitted by: NordIsacson on 5/11/2020
Tempest 170 is a stable fast boat that tracks well. The skeg makes it ideal for long sweeping strokes. I have used it extensively in the open water and tidal estuaries of the Connecticut coast. Because of its great tracking ability, a low brace is required to turn in tidal estuaries. I have rolled the boat easily in calm water.

The Tempest 170…

Submitted by: mojocracker on 9/4/2019

The Tempest 170 (roto-molded) is my first kayak. It's a great entry level boat to ramp up for longer distance kayaking, touring or camping without breaking the bank. This roto-molded boat is sturdy, of tight construction and has the Voyager seating system which is reputed to be the best in this price range of kayaks, I did find the aluminum adjustment system of the Voyager backband to be problematic in that the previous own failed to rinse of the saltwater after his five-day paddle in Haida Gwaii, (aka the Queen Charlotte Islands British Columbia), so I replaced it with a Seals back band that features all plastic hardware and sets up in a little better spot on my back.

This kayak can take a lot of punishment like dragging over rock beaches and teach the aspiring touring kayaker a lot. Tempest 170 is not the most playful kayak around (57 pounds) but it will respond to your turning abilities as they develop and give you decent feedback. You can surf this kayak no problem. It's not the easiest kayak to learn to roll in. But you will, eventually and when you do, you can be confident that you can easily roll a lighter more playful kayak with even more aplomb.

The boat responds well to dropping the skeg for long straight-line paddles as well as raising when you want to get more playful (spin, roll etc.). It will "tell" you to drop it as you paddle in wind or across a current. I personally prefer skegs to rudders for ease of ladder or cowboy self-rescuing. Mine did have a kinked cable when I bought it used and replacing that is a $60 part and about an hour of labor. The skeg system is not the easiest in which effect a skeg cable repair but there is instruction online and anyone with a modicum of mechanical skills can figure it out.

My Tempest 170 has peg and track slider foot-rest adjustments which can be fairly easily adjusted even using your feet while underway. The boat has plenty of storage with a day hatch just aft of the cockpit, and very generous forward and aft main hatches. Deck-lines and storage cords run the full length of the boat.

One more advantage to owning the Tempest 170 is there are a lot of them around so you can find parts and swap tips with other owners. Again, mine is the roto-molded version (New = $1,500 used $1,000 or less), Wilderness also sells the Tempest 170 in pro/fiberglass version which retails new in the $2,500 range.

If you want to learn kayaking and aren't sure the bug is going to take but want a safe, sturdy boat, consider the Tempest 170 from Wilderness Systems.


The tempest 170 is a great…

Submitted by: mickalous on 9/4/2019

The tempest 170 is a great all round kayak. It is a medium size kayak 22 inches wide and 13 inches deep. Kayak cruises steady but turns well with lean turns. The drop skeg works well in waves to maintain your heading. Typical weight 57# for a roto molded boat.


I used the Tempest for…

Submitted by: paddler531875 on 7/22/2019

I used the Tempest for recreational day use and light touring. It has terrific primary stability. Great for beginners. It has a very comfortable seat and thigh brace system.

I give it 3 stars due to the skeg operation - the skeg controls can be lodged with sand, silt and salt after a period of use, resulting in the inability to use your skeg until you disassemble the skeg and control line and clean everything out. This would happen after 4-5 months of heavy use.


This is the boat I wish I…

Submitted by: River_Whiskey on 3/15/2019

This is the boat I wish I had bought. I own a Tsunami 165, which I love, but the Tempest handles like a dream.

I am 5'10, 180 lbs with long legs and arms. I find the Tempest 170 to be a comfortable snug fit with excellent hip contact, yet sufficient leg room. I had no trouble edging or wet exiting with a neoprene skirt.

I have taken several sea kayaking coursed with LL Bean. Since I own the Tsunami, I always request the LL Bean provided Tempest 170. I always feel that my Tsunami is the family SUV and that the Tempest is my neighbor's Vette.

Once you get over the fact that the boat has almost no primary stability, you find that she can stand on edge with excellent secondary stability. Edge turns are a dream in this boat and so is almost every maneuver that I have tried.

During one of the classes the sneaky teacher had us paddling in a cross wind and tidal current. The idea was to teach us a lesson in navigation. Without thinking about it, I deployed the skeg and headed straight for the assigned destination ahead of the rest of the class. The skeg made the boat almost immune to weathercocking. The teacher noticed the deployed skeg and laughed out loud that I cheated. The lesson I learned is that it pays to have the right equipment.

I love this boat and would give it a 9 out of 10. What would make it perfect is a more comfortable seat. However it has the same strap seat that I have on my Tsunami 165 and I have learned to sit up properly in it.


I paddled the Tempest in the…

Submitted by: mickalous on 7/31/2018

I paddled the Tempest in the past and last year purchased one that was used. The tempest is a solid boat that cuts the water nicely. It has a drop skeg that can help with keeping a heading in waves by anchoring the stern.

The Tempest is reasonably quick and turns nicely on a lean turn. On a 4 mile paddle I averaged 5.2 mph with top speed of 6.8 mph.

I replaced the backband because it was broken when I purchased it. This is very unusual and not likely a design issue.


I'm a novice and have been…

Submitted by: l2t on 7/18/2018

I'm a novice and have been in just a few kayaks in lessons and rentals, tzunami 145' tzunami 165, and zypher, and a tempest. I was a bit afraid to trust eh tempest as I expected it to be a lot tippier but I found it the most fun of all of these. As a novice, it feels a bit tippy when you first get in but it has very good secondary stability. And unlike the wider boars, I can actually start trying to learn to edge in the tempest.


I have had three sea kayaks…

Submitted by: Zavman on 6/18/2018

I have had three sea kayaks now, paddled several others, been kayaking for eight years and am probably and advanced intermediate. At 6ft 235lbs I am probably larger that they intended for this boat, but I find it stable, I learned to roll in it, and it is a joy to paddle for me. My favorite kayak. Stable enough that I have put complete newbies in it and they are comfortable. The seat bottom is the best I have seen and my tailbone does fine on long paddles of several hours. The back band allows a layback for rolls, but for me does not offer much support, a compromise. The hatches allow good use of space and the day hatch is appreciated. The safety and storage line rigged around the boat are both well done and well placed. I find it tracks well with no skeg, and takes very little to track very well. I did move the seat back about two inches to easy getting in and out and it seemed to have no notable effect other than what I intended. The cockpit coating is rounded enough that carrying the boat on my shoulder is almost comfortable. Great boat, I love it and recommend it to all levels.


The Tempest was my second…

Submitted by: techbeaver on 6/18/2018

The Tempest was my second boat. I went from a 10'6 inflatable AE AdvancedFrame to a 17' hard shell. Two completely different boats.

For people transitioning from a wide recreational kayak, the Tempest can feel tippy at first, but the feeling goes away after 20 minutes. Just try to put the boat on edge and realize that the secondary stability is awesome.

The Tempest is fast. I was able to cruise at 4.5-5 MPH accordingly to my GPS. Much more fun to paddle than the wide and slow AdvancedFrame. The seat is comfortable, but the back band can be challenging to adjust. I had an old 2009 model, I believe the new back band is better.

Tracking was good even without the skeg. Turning can be challenging without edging, but if you put the kayak on edge, it will turn 90 degrees with a couple of strokes. Long turns can be done easily just by rising one knee while paddling forward.

The main downside of the Tempest is the weight. My RM weighted 57 pounds and could be difficult to put on the roof rack when I was alone. However, very often a good Samaritan would offer help.

Fit wise, I'm a big guy. At 5'11, 235 lbs, and shoes 11, the cockpit was snug. I didn't feel cramped, but getting in and out required seating on the rear deck. Wet exits were no issue, but reentry could be challenging.

On a last note, the Tempest is a well proven kayak. If you are not completely sure about it, look for an used one, they pop up frequently on CL and they are quite easy to resell. It took me literally 10 minutes to resell mine.


As a 6'4" 235lb strong…

Submitted by: paddler236776 on 5/19/2016
As a 6'4" 235lb strong intermediate I have personal experience in how different boats behave for different people as I tend to be somewhat of the atypical paddler. I've enjoyed my WS-T170 for several years now. It's one of 4 boats, including a Cetus HV, Tahe Greenlad T and Romany Surf, and is my go to boat any time I may be banging around on rocks. I love it because it fits me like a glove without being constricting yet is low enough around the combing that I can get solid hip action with it. It is a very solid all around boat that I've been recommending to folks for years, good in wind, good in rough water, good glide, well built, easily adjustable, a boat you can grow into, which is what I did.

This past weekend I took it out into steep 3' waves thanks to the "fresh to strong" breezes blowing across the bay. I felt perfectly fine in the boat in every orientation except for when I was consciously trying to surf the waves. It was fine paddling in the following sea, but if I tried to catch a wave it was nearly impossible to keep the boat straight. Leaning forward, leaning back, skeg, no skeg, and waves caught pre and post break didn't matter, it was going left or right just fine, but never once straight. The only way I could stop it was to rudder to the point where I slowed and missed the wave. I was out with someone who teaches surfing skills and they said I wasn't alone in my experience with the T170.

So my verdict is still that it's a great all around boat that's a joy in most conditions, but when the next opportunity to practice surfing arises I'll be grabbing one of the other 3 boats. Safe and enjoyable paddling everyone!


I have 13 kayaks and I always…

Submitted by: banjopatty on 4/29/2016
I have 13 kayaks and I always paddle Ruby my plastic Tempest 17. She is fast. My other boats have a little more initial stability but it took about 5 minutes to get used to the tippy feeling. You can get a nice leaned turn with this boat but retract the skeg first for best response. She has quite a bit of rocker so I always paddle with just a touch of skeg. I would prefer a little less rocker so I can go without the skeg when conditions are right.

I think the reason I love this boat so much is the fit. I am a 5'8", 130# woman and I fit like a glove in her. I paddle the coast of Alaska so we see all kinds of conditions here. I never feel this boat will let me down. Did I mention she's fast???? hahahah...I can get all my camping gear inside but I have small backpack gear. I cut out the bulkhead between the day hatch and main so my bedroll would go in crossways at the widest part of the hull. This worked great for me. Try one. You just might be sold.


The Tempest 170 is my 1st…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/7/2015
The Tempest 170 is my 1st long yak. It is fast and has good storage for a kayaking camping excursion. The only drawback for me is entering/exiting. I am 6'2" had have to be careful entering/exiting because of my leg length. Other than that I love my Tempest.

I think the Tempest 170 is a…

Submitted by: paddler231524 on 10/6/2014
I think the Tempest 170 is a very good, standard sea kayak. I paddled it for 3 years before switching to valley kayaks. In my opinion, new kayakers who want something that they can grow into and will perform well in most conditions can't go wrong with the Tempest. I think it is probably faster than my nordkapp rm, although I don't know that for sure. However, if it can beat the nordkapp in speed, the nordkapp makes up for it in its rough water seaworthiness and surfing ability. The rigging and seat of the Tempest are good, as many reviewers have pointed out. The plastic is not as tough as the British made plastic boats plastic. Overall, good yak.

Out of my ten kayaks, this is…

Submitted by: banjopatty on 8/10/2014
Out of my ten kayaks, this is the one I paddle all the time. I love all my boats and even have one I built myself but every time I go out I seem to grab my Tempest. First and foremost is the speed and glide. I can paddle with ease and still get somewhere. I love the narrow beam and I can still get all my camping gear inside. There's enough rocker to make this a fun boat and really carve a turn but the drop down skeg keeps her tracking really nicely when you want it. You can add just as much skeg as you want to fine tune your tracking depending on wind direction. It works almost as good as a rudder that way. Here in Alaska we get some pretty nasty weather but I have never felt my Tempest wouldn't bring me back safely.

I did modify it a tad. I removed the bulkhead that separates the day hatch from the back hatch so I can stuff my tent and bedroll in the widest part of the boat. It didn't affect the boat structurally at all. It was easy to cut out with a serrated knife. Now I love my boat even more.


I recently purchased a…

Submitted by: WaterHorse on 7/11/2014
I recently purchased a Tempest 170 mango. I have now had it out in numerous scenarios, on glass water with no wind as well as white cap waves on larger lakes. Initial stability is fine and secondary stability is good. I have also had it out on an overnight excursion so packed to the top with a sleeping bag, air mattress, extra clothes, camping gear, etc. It performed well weighted down and was even more stable than normal even in high waves.

I had read that turning the kayak would be problem but I have found quite the opposite is true. It turns easily for a 17 foot kayak - maybe this is a function of technique - I largely use a cross bow brace turn with edging and that results in a quick powerful turn. The fittings have been solid thus far. One complaint is the hard plastic cap on one of the handles broke, more flexible plastic would be better there.

I installed a Ritchie compass in the compass recess and it works well. I have treated it with UV Protectant (303 Aerospace) and that makes the surface look great but more slick as well. I have rolled numerous times so no problems with that and there have had no significant leakage in the hatches. The foot rests make a bit of a squeaky noise with pressure. The seating is quite adjustable and one can go for long trips without getting too uncomfortable. I stuck a vinyl decal on the bow hull to personalize the ship - I was surprised that has adhered to the plastic surface.

Overall the fit and finish is good and one looks good paddling this ship. The skeg works well - I try not to use it unless there is significant weather cocking from cross winds and then I slowly increase it till I sense the sweet spot that keeps the ship straight. The mango colour looks awesome. Overall this is a good buy and I would recommend it to others.


This kayak had been on my…

Submitted by: timfrick on 7/2/2014
This kayak had been on my list to purchase but I didn't get a chance to either try it or buy it until now. I rented the Tempest from Paddle Toronto for the day and travelled across the busy Toronto harbour to Toronto Islands. Within about two minutes of battling the boat wake I instantly realized that this should have been the boat for me. Here is why:
It tracked really well and yet was responsive to edging. I didn't need the skeg at all even in sections where there was a 3/4 wind/wave combination.

The boat was comfortable with easily adjustable footpegs and seat back. The seat back was lower than I am used to, but was comfortable just the same. In fact it felt as if I had a greater range of motion in my torso. When crossing large boat wakes it rode the wave as opposed to diving through. i like this feature as it keeps you dryer.

Both primary and secondary stability were impressive and it always felt stable yet manoeuverable. Can't really comment on hatches but the deck rigging was ample. Lots of places to strap gear to the deck.

The only reason for a 9 would be that I couldn't test the boat loaded. Otherwise it was a delightful paddling experience and I will be on the lookout for a used one ASAP.


I bought a second hand…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/20/2013
I bought a second hand Tempest 170 two years ago. This is my first kayak. I had paddled numerous recreational kayaks before, but never a full size sea kayak. I visited a local dealer and the expert convinced me I would like this as my first kayak. He was right. The stability has not been a problem.

I usually paddle for 2-3 hours in the ocean. I love the way the boat feels in the waves. I use the skeg unless going directly upwind. It helps a lot with tracking. I considered getting a glass boat but decided on the plastic model. I'm glad I did as I don't worry about minor scratches. The weight is the only downside. It's a bit of a struggle to get it on the roof of the car solo. No issues with quality. Very slight hatch leakage. I did add a thin layer of closed cell foam under the seat bottom.


I really like this boat. It…

Submitted by: tnave863 on 8/6/2013
I really like this boat. It has very good stability, very fast, comfortable seating and excellent outfitting. It took me a while to get used to it. My previous kayak was a British Style. So initially I was comparing the handling of the two boats. I do/did have some issues with the round hatches leaking a little, but I put bungee around them and that solved it. Other than that I'm really starting to love this boat.

My wife and I have been…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/17/2013
My wife and I have been paddling roto molded Tempest 170s for about a year and a half. We paddle in the Puget Sound and British Columbia waters. Have done multiple 1 week trips (takes careful packing a lots of small dry bags vs large dry bags). Very happy with the boats. Have added Keel-eze strips to reduce keel line damage from rough beaches. Agree with the comments about keeping the skeg clean and wish they still had the bar on the skeg control rather than just cable.

Overall, affordable, reliable well mannered boat that is a perfect "one boat quiver" for beginning to advanced paddlers.


What can I say? I love my…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 3/20/2013
What can I say? I love my Tempest! A few years ago a friend of mine sold me their Tempest because they were moving away. I was going from an old Dagger 14' so the maiden voyage was a little different at first. (my Dagger was very wide and flat bottomed)

I have now owned my Tempest for 3 years and it is definitely my go to boat. My only complaint would be the skeg. Wash it out the minute you get home if you ever take it to the shore or in an area where there is small gritty pebbles. The debris will get stuck up inside and when you go to deploy it the cable will kink. Otherwise I am perfectly happy with keeping this boat for a long time.


I have owned a plastic…

Submitted by: paddler234913 on 3/12/2013
I have owned a plastic Tempest 170 for a little over a year now. I have probably paddled it about 500km in that time in a variety of conditions from flat river to open southern ocean in winds to about force 4.

Compared to a number of other kayaks I have paddled, the primary stability is lower than some, but I have not found that a problem. My wife, who is less experienced, while having a problem, finds it less confidence inspiring. Secondary stability is by good. I have found I need to try to push it over and, apart from one bad broaching on a 1m following swell beach landing, I have yet to go over without doing so deliberately. I paddle around Western Australia near Perth which is a pretty windy place (Fremantle doctor sees 20knot winds on a regular basis). A lot of people around this area recommend the use of a rudder as a result. While there have been a few times in bigger winds that I have thought a rudder might be nice, I have found that I could manage reasonably well without; with just the skeg. Crossing oblique to wind in an up wind direction requires a reasonable degree of edge and a bit of offset paddling to maintain course with skew down nonetheless. Direct into the wind or any direction down wind is no problem, particularly with the skeg down (particularly downwind). In lesser conditions, I find that the ability to adjust the extent of the triangular skeg useful to tailor the amount of directional stability it gives. Most of the time a little above half way seems to be the sweet spot. Curiously I have found that the boat seems to edge more reliably with the skeg in this position than with it fully up.

As to edging, it is reasonable, but not wonderful. In flat or low wind conditions it edges quite well, but particularly downwind it takes some effort. In some ways this is good. I love surfing into the shore and have found to stability makes this pretty easy, but, when you have to adjust, it takes a bit more than a lift of the knee to make that correction.

Speed: it is reasonably fast boat, but I have to work hard to keep up with a couple of my friends who have less efficient paddle strokes, but quicker fibreglass boats. I can relatively easily maintain, on flat water, an average of about 7.5 km/hr (4 knots), holding it about 8km (4.5ish knots) for any length of time is hard work.

Quality: hmmmmnnn.... Overall the quality is reasonable to good. I have had no failures or issues with the boat, and this includes the much maligned hatches and bulkheads (these have been through many big paddles in decent waves with virtually not a drop of water inside the hatches after and extensive roll practice sessions with a similar outcome).

Really my only complaint is the stiffness of the boat. It gets hot in Perth (40 degrees C is not unusual it he summer). Above about 30 degrees C the boat is a noodle. Trundling it to the water sees the bottom deformed and requires some effort to push back into place. Once it hits the water, this gets a bit better, bit it remains notably flexible. My wife paddles a Easky 15, also plastic, which displays none of these characteristics.

My other minor complaint, is the way in which the deck bungies are mounted and tied just to the forward of the cockpit. While the figments are slightly recessed, the bungies are tied at this point, from the factory. They sit just right to catch your thumb if your stroke isn't just right, particularly in wavy conditions! I have moved the ropes back so they finish on the figment one forward. However, I still get this on occasion. A relatively minor change to the position, or redesign would probably fix this problem which has seen me with skinned and sore thumbs many times.

Overall a good boat. Better suited to someone a little more experienced as less experienced paddles who have used this comment on how tippy it is (referring to the primary stability really). The pro model would no doubt overcome the flexibility issues, and if you don't live in a very hot climate, this is probably much less of an issue. I paddle with a high entry style, so a low entry style would probably have less problems with the fitments issue.

A good boat that will keep a more experienced paddler happy and allow someone with a bit of experience to advance their skills.


My review is specifically for the plastic model. I briefly owned a used…

Submitted by: paddler234734 on 8/24/2012
My review is specifically for the plastic model.
I briefly owned a used 2008 model last year and fell in love with the boat after paddling it for the first time. The problem with the 2008 boat was the stern hatch. The larger oval hatch cover wasn't rigid enough to stay sealed properly. I knew I couldn't trip out of this kayak with the hatch like that. I let my ex keep the kayak since I didn't want to deal with the hatch problem. I also had to seal up some leaks on the bulkheads (which are made of dense foam). Other than that I knew I would want to own a newer Tempest (with redesigned hatches).

Earlier this year I purchased 2 new 2012 Tempest 170 RM's for my girlfriend and myself. We love them. This boat glides through the water and paddles like a dream. It tracks great. I use the skeg often to maintain a straight course. One must be careful not to kink the skeg cable when deploying it. The older models had a metal bar on the slider to prevent the cable kinking there. When I deploy the skeg I keep my thumb against the cable as I slide it back and it works fine. Looks like WS cut back on some costs. They should have left it the way it was.

The boat has good speed. It handles great in rough conditions, rolls effortlessly. It has great deck rigging and has very comfortable seating. The seating does seem to be more cheaply made than the older model.

My girlfriend's Tempest came with a few problems. The underside of the combing and plastic part of the thigh brace support were not sanded down and were very sharp. We both received good cuts while practicing wet exits. I sanded them down when we got home. My boat was nice and smooth from the factory.

Both boats needed to be sealed in spots on the bulkheads. I sealed the bulkheads where the skeg cables passed through them. As well, one boat had a big gaping hole on the bow bulkhead near the deck that had to be filled. I think the quality control might be down a little at WS. I haven't tripped with the boat yet but it can easily be done. It doesn't have huge volume for cargo but there is still enough for a well planned week.

I gave the boat an 8 only because of the few problems and the quality control. The truth is, I still love this boat and love every minute I am on the water with it. If I had my way and could have my Tempest made with a few changes, this it would be them:
- add the metal bar back to the skeg cable slider
- make the bow hatch into a larger dome
- use Valley hatches (they may be a pain to put on and take off but they are watertight)
- uses plastic welded bulkheads
- somehow make the Poly boat more rigid like Valley has done with their poly boats

I only transport my boats on their sides. These are plastic boats with foam bulkheads and can easily suffer hull damage while strapping them securely. Strapping them on their side allows the boat to be snugly strapped without crunching the hull.

If you are thinking of buying a fun stable boat then take a Tempest out for a test paddle.


Very pleased with the…

Submitted by: paddler234411 on 1/18/2012
Very pleased with the Wilderness 170 poly. Has been my first kayak and have had it for 1 1/2 years. I'm 5-10 and 200#'s and I like to call it a sturdy body style:-) After reading some posts about the hatches coming off/lose, I did put some cross straps on them and have never had a problem.

While I haven't got a lot of experience in others except for short stints, it seems to track quite well w/o using the skeg, and with it, it feels like its on a guided wire. I don't roll in it but a re-entry is not difficult. Haven't had to do that in rough water as the boat feels pretty stable. I have done a little surf paddling around Seattle and over some LARGE container ship waves where if you take them head on, you can spear the second.

As far as speed, I have little to compare to, but I have paddled 40-miles in about 7.5 hours from Olympia to Seattle (Alki) without exiting the boat. I've had some high-angle training and using a more upright angle really makes a difference in speed. It's not "light" to lift onto Thule racks on an SUV, by I go one end first and then the second w/o a problem. Haven't camped in it, but there's lots of room compared to panniers on a motorcycle:-))I think you could easily do a week if you packed camper style. The seat is very adjustable and is a strong point, as are the adjustable foot pegs. Although I'm building a cedar strip kayak to try a 60-mile in a day paddle in May of 2012, and won't hesitate to use this as a back up.

Wouldn't hesitate to recommend. docked it 1 point maybe for the weight, but it's not bad at all really


I have been paddling my…

Submitted by: paddler234192 on 8/4/2011
I have been paddling my Tempest 170 for a little over 2 years so a review is now appropriate. First, I'm giving this boat a 9 because all of the ratings seem like high numbers and I want to match that scheme. The very best boats out there should really rate 8 to leave room for something way better in the future, but that's not how people seem to rate boats.

My boat was a very worn rental kayak when I bought it. I had to fix some of the seat straps and replace the skeg cable. The boat is scratched up quite a bit. I also replaced the small plastic thingies that hold the carry handle in place. All of the work I did was easy and nothing in the design of the boat caused me problems.

I really like this boat. I've paddled a Necky Zoar Sport (14') with a rudder and a Necky Manitou (13') and the performance I get from the Tempest is great. It is faster of those boats and handles rough conditions very well cases. I can roll the boat easily. The rigging handles everything I want to stick on the deck including a spare paddle. The only things that are not quite right are the kayak steering itself to the left and the skeg being too small to handle surfing short wavelength waves. Neither of these are really important since the steering is probably due to the hull being bent from abuse before I got it and the fact that no skeg or rudder is big enough to handle the waves I encountered a few days ago. The left steering problem is not my stroke. I can be out on a calm day and give a strong stroke on the left side and the boat will still turn left. In more typical conditions, the skeg is great and can be adjusted to account for wind and waves from any direction. It performs almost like a rudder when dealing with a consistent wind.

I have paddled up to 16 miles in the boat in one sitting and have been comfortable enough to not hate being in a kayak that long (4 hours). I'm 6'1" and about 200# and there is room to move around in the boat to stretch out a little while resting. When paddling, the cockpit, seat, pads, etc., all fit well.

I can roll the boat easily even with gear on the deck. I need to make a small adjustment to the thigh braces to tighten things up but the adjustments are there to make when I get around to it. The boat has a good balance of initial and secondary stability and is not easily knocked over by any waves so far.

Overall, it is a good, appropriately stable, reasonable fast boat. It is just "light" enough for me to get this on the top of a Nissan XTerra myself but maybe heavy for someone smaller. I don't camp but there seems to be lots of room for at least a few nights worth of gear and probably a weeks worth for a hard-core camper.
I like it and I'm going to keep it.


I'm about 230#, 6'-1". This…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/10/2011
I'm about 230#, 6'-1". This is my go to boat. I have 3 touring sea kayaks, this is the one I use the most. It is the most versatile: durable, fits well, and rolls easily although it has excellent stability so rolling is not really an issue. If you find yourself capsizing a lot, you need to work on your bracing strokes.

This boat will hold enough gear for a 3-4 day trip, although you need to have a backpacker mentality. It's not as fast as some other boats in its class such as the Valley Nordkapp RM, or Necky Chatham 17 but I find this boat to be really good all around.

Suggestion: If you're an REI member, wait till their spring on fall sale, you may be able to get a 20% discount (I think this applies to boats but not exactly sure).

I give the rating a 9 because it's a little slow.


I bought a 2010 Tempest 170…

Submitted by: paddler233855 on 11/3/2010
I bought a 2010 Tempest 170 in May 2010. Since then I have paddled it several hundred miles on day trips and on multiday trips. The longest trip so far was a 7 day backcountry adventure in the Adirondacks of NY.

The more I challenge this boat, the more it impresses me. Whether fully packed with camping gear or nearly empty, this boat paddles fast. It tracks well without the skeg, but can still turn better than most boats several feet shorter. With the skeg down it tracks like an arrow.

This boat handles the chop and swells of the Atlantic Ocean with ease. And glides on the glass like a rowing shell. The versatility is just amazing.

The cockpit could be a touch more spacious, as my 6'1" 220 frame cannot enter butt first. Always needing to go feet first, while balancing on the deck behind the cockpit is a bit tough at times. I do wish the back band offered higher support, and that the seat could be adjusted fore and aft on the fly.

The capacity of the hatches is fairly impressive, but of course, the skeg eats valuable space. But the advantages over a rudder outweigh this issue. I was happy to learn that a bear canister fits in the stern bulkhead. And again, I do wish the cockpit box was a bit larger, especially in the foot area. It is too tight for me to fit large shoes on my size 13 feet. Only thin water shoes will fit.

About a month in, I did have a foam bulkhead leak between the cockpit and day hatch. But the manufacturer mailed me some adhesive that addressed the problem instantly. They blamed the shipping process, but it appears that additional adhesive from start would also have helped.

The deck has a compass well for a permanent install. But it is so far forward on the deck, I could not read the compass. The rigging is certainly decent, but a better paddle stow setup would have been a nice touch. I would also have liked a bilge pump option from the factory. The cockpit coaming isn't quite aggressive enough, so water comes in a bit more than I'd like, even with a full neoprene skirt on.

But all in all, this boat inspires confidence, and makes me want to get on the water and paddle. And the value was great as I bought it on a 20% off sale in tax free DE.


I LOVE THIS KAYAK!!!I love how it handles in rough tidal races…

Submitted by: eyesofsummer on 8/17/2010
I love how it handles in rough tidal races, as well as being a great weekender explorer tool. It has deepened my love for kayaking and and I notice for newcomers to kayaking its beginner friendly as well. It's a sure cure for being bored because it makes you come alive. And it looks very cool in the water.

I love this kayak. I've had…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 7/14/2009
I love this kayak. I've had it for 7 months and I've probably paddled it for 200 miles, including some long overnight trips. It is an '08 model and I bought it new. The hatches have performed well, including a lot of rolling in surf. The outfitting is very snug (I am 6'1" and 175 lbs) with a lot of hip and thigh contact so leaning, sculling and rolling are pretty easy.

While the foot braces were designed so that you could easily adjust them, I view that as a negative. With aggressive paddling, they can slip, which causes you to open the spray skirt to reset them. The kayak balances on your shoulder very well and it is easy to portage and put on and take off of your vehicle.


This is a very nice kayak. I…

Submitted by: paddler233086 on 4/28/2009
This is a very nice kayak. I do not feel qualified to go into a technical review of this kayak, since I am new to the sport, but it seems to track well and is easy to maneuver. I did not have a single issue with water entering the hatches, either from the retractable skeg area or from the hatch covers. I was told to use a non-petroleum-based lubricant called '303' on the hatch covers to keep them pliable and tight-fitting. I was also told the hatch covers had recently been redesigned and upgraded. These hatch covers have a center gray plastic/rubber that is more dense than the rubber that mounts over the openings. Maybe that makes a difference. Overall, I would give this kayak a favorable rating.

I have had a rotomolded…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 1/12/2009
I have had a rotomolded Tempest 170 for about a about 8 months now and have logged 600kms on it on everything from rocky, tight shallow rivers with rapids, canals, open great lakes with huge waves and backcountry expeditions with long portages over rocky ground using a cart.

For the most part, I am very pleased with the Tempest and find it is an excellent all around kayak. I find it tracks very straight without use of the skeg in most conditions. It handles and turns well and it is relatively fast, I can sprint at up to 12 km/h for short sections. No complaints about the seat - it is good for sitting in it all day. The rotomolded version is very durable and can take anything I throw at it. I've certainly bounced it off enough rocks, scraped the bottom and dragged it over enough rocks while portaging and it still keeps going. The hatch space is more than adequate to hold enough gear to go on week long + trips.

My biggest issue I have with this kayak is the small quality issues by Wilderness systems. Loose fasteners from the factory I had to tighten up. The hatches are a slightly leaky through the bulkheads and the. I have had to re-silicone the bulkheads myself the first week after getting my kayak in order to seal them properly. I think the rear hatch is still leaking through the skeg control cable hole as well and I have to look at it and silicone it up to seal it before next season.

Other improvements I would like to see with this kayak would be a a GPS marine mount in front of the cockpit, and the skeg slider block is a bit hard on the fingers when actuating the skeg as it has hard edges on it.


I am 5'10" tall, 180 lbs. 55…

Submitted by: VegasPaPa on 7/2/2008
I am 5'10" tall, 180 lbs. 55+male. Have owned 3 touring boats and a couple of SOT's. I have paddled almost 2 years. I love the response, fit speed and comfort. It comes as close as I have paddled to being perfect for 4mph river, 1/2 mile wide river long touring and workouts. I paddled in 2 foot mixed, choppy water in high winds and felt very secure. Skeg is great for having option to track or maneuver. I have not yet timed it for top speed but it seems to keep up with faster paddlers.

Bought the tempest used (like…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/8/2008
Bought the tempest used (like new) last Nov so had not been out in the boat much until this year..I have the tempest pr 170 in Kevlar..it a beautiful boat..handles like a dream..it's quick... compared to my plastic Capella 166... light enough...around 53 lbs... and just a pleasure to paddle. This is my LAST boat! I am a happy camper.

I've been paddling a kevlar…

Submitted by: zevdog5211 on 3/14/2008
I've been paddling a kevlar Tempest 170 since last June, and absolutely love it. It fits like a glove, is responsive to leans, perfect for layback rolls, and does everything I ask it. Plenty of room for gear, also. To date, I've not had any problems with water in the hatches while practicing rolls. (And, I have to practice a LOT...)

I had paddled a number of kayaks in a demo day in Spring '07, and knew the Tempest 170 was "my" kayak after just 10 minutes. Love the outfitting, the feel, everything. I'll be paddling that boat for years to come.


I purchased a roto Tempest 17…

Submitted by: paddler232470 on 3/3/2008
I purchased a roto Tempest 17 last year after lots of research and several test paddles. While it is not as light as the composite model it is tough as nails! This boat is incredibly comfortable - really a boat you strap on and not just sit in. It handles very well and tracks straight with the skeg down. I have had a few issues with the hatches but these have resolved as I now take a lot more care in making sure they are secured properly all around. Overall a great boat for the money and I would recommend it highly.

The Tempest is a British…

Submitted by: paddler233435 on 10/26/2007
The Tempest is a British style kayak, i.e. skeg not rudder, relatively narrow, semi-hard chines, moderate rocker, low rear deck for rolling. It's useful to evaluate it in that context, while recognizing the boat is aimed at kayakers with a wide range of skills in North America.

By all these measures, this is a very good kayak. It is stable, but not a barge. It is maneuverable, but tracks well. It is predictable and responsive when conditions worsen. It's small enough to be a good day boat and large enough to be a short distance overnight boat. In short, it's a very good and very versatile sea kayak. I say this owning four other kayaks, all from England, all being fiberglass.

Will I sell it? No, I value far too much its versatility, including its ability to take rough handling and remain intact. The Tempest 170 is one of my favorite kayaks.


Paddler: Male 6'1"/216 lbs;…

Submitted by: Kyaker63 on 7/24/2007
Paddler: Male 6'1"/216 lbs; Conditions: Open Water 10 kt wind and light chop SF Bay Area.

I recently went for a paddle without my boat and was provided a rental. When asked what was the closest boat to the CD boat I paddled, I was provided the WS Tempest 170. I used to paddle WS boats and enjoyed them having both owned the ALTO and EPIC. The Tempest (compared to the EPIC) is a "Tank." I was not impressed and and found difficulty with the Skeg also. Although the design layup is nice, it is lost in the weight of this RM sea tank.

Would not recommend in Poly layup. To be fair - it may perform better in Carbonlite or glass.


My wife and I bought 2…

Submitted by: paddler231939 on 2/26/2007
My wife and I bought 2 Tempest 170's in poly last summer. Even though we had very little experience we couldn't pass up a great deal. The kayaks we bought were on clearance since they were a year or two old. One was also a demo but looked like it had never been out of the shop, not a mark on it. We have been very happy with our boats. I feel like it was custom fit for me. I describe it as not getting in the kayak but rather, putting it on.

The only complaint I have is a small amount of water getting into the hatches, mostly the forward hatch. I tracked the problem down to a bulkhead that was not completely sealed.

Overall I would have to say this was a fantastic purchase.


My wife and I have now owned…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 2/26/2007
My wife and I have now owned our Tempests for 3 years and have put quite a few miles on them in both flat and bumpy water (2-3 waves). I would reiterate my earlier review that I think these are good boats, however I believe I now understand the complaints with leaky hatches. We always use the bungies that came with the hatches. I had the opportunity to use a Tempest at Sea Kayak Georgia's BCU symposium last October (a great event!). This boat did not have the same hatches that ours did, nor did they have the bungies to secure the hatches to the boat. There was never a day that went by when I didn't have at least a quart of water in the back and day hatches. This is definitely a problem for those who might want to keep their kit dry. So, my strong suggestion is that if you want to assure that your stuff stays dry, use the bungies! If you do, our experience has been that the hatches are pretty water tight.

My wife and I have owned a…

Submitted by: paddler231747 on 8/16/2006
My wife and I have owned a Wilderness Systems RM Tempest for about one year now. It gets used about 4 times a week for about 1 hour workouts. I am 6'3", 195 and find the boat an excellent fit.

Overall I find the boat excellent. With the skeg down either partially or fully the boat tracks great. With the skeg up it likes to weather vane in winds over 15 knots. But again when you need just put down the skeg or a little lean and sweep will work also.

The boat definetely makes you perfect you strokes. If you are not equal with both left and right strokes it will not track well. That is probably because it is made to be a turny boat. No complaints.

I learned to roll in this boat and it seems real easy. I haven't rolled any others so I can't say how easy it is compared to others. But I did learn on this on so...

I noticed in other reviews that people had problems with the hatches leaking. I notice that as long as you hear the little thunk as the hatch goes on it works fine. I also burp the hatch like you do with tupperware containers. I'm not sure if that's what's been doing it but I know that after about 12-15 rolls the foreward and rear hatches are bone dry. The only hatch I've noticed that leaks at all is the day hatch, it usually has about one half cup of water in it after a rolling session. But this could be because my spray skirt leaks like a seive and there is constant water in the cockpit. So maybe some of that water is leaking through the bulkhead. Overall I really love the boat the only reasone I gave it a 9 out of 10 rating is the day hatch leak. Hopefully one day I'll be buying the kevlar version!


I have the 170 in Poly. I…

Submitted by: FredC on 10/15/2005
I have the 170 in Poly. I think it is a great kayak and would buy it again. I would even think about it in glass. Why the rating of 8? Customer service is practicaly non existant. If you have an issue (broken part or replacement part needed etc)it will most likely not be resolved. The people that answer the phones are very uninformed. They seem able to send out hatch covers and the like but just don't expect them to be for your boat! : ) Otherwise I am happy.

My wife and I purchased Poly…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/26/2005
My wife and I purchased Poly Tempests in 2004 (I have the 170). I am 6'1" and 180 lbs. In the last year we've had the boats out close to 50 times in everything from flat water to 2-3 waves and up to 20-25 mph winds. The boats are stable, handle waves well, turn easily, are easy to roll, and are well equipped. I do notice that my 170 does weathercock a bit in a wind, but that's easily compensated for by using the skeg. We've had no problems with water getting the hatches, even after 20-30 rolls. You just need to make sure that the hatches are properly secured. We can easily carry enough gear for a week long trip. The Tempest is reasonable fast, and we've never been the boat anchor on any of our trips with friends. On the whole, we are very happy with the boats and I would recommend them to anyone. I didn't give the Tempest 170 a 10 because I've been in boats that don't weathercock as much, weigh less, and I don't believe in perfect boats.

Bought a polly 2005 this year…

Submitted by: cliffrnatp on 5/26/2005
Bought a polly 2005 this year and have about 50 hours in it so far, mostly flat water. I love this boat. I never use the rudder or spray skirt and don't miss them (yes the skeg does rattle slightly when deployed). I rolled the boat at least 15 times in a pool one night and never saw a drop in the compartments. I am 6'1" and 185lbs and I usually go out for two hours at a time, and I must say that it is very comfy. I can go fast, but when I want to turn around to see the sites, or lay back to stretch I don't have to worry about tipping over. I have one circuit that includes carrying the boat for almost a quarter mile. However, this is not done easily at all. Many times I wish I had the glass/kevlar boat, but I have yet to cry when scraping rocks (I seem to have a knack for finding them). I know few women that could carry this boat any distance (I would recommend glass for them). I bought this boat last winter without a test paddle based on all the reviews. I am not disappointed at all.

Just purchased a poly Tempest…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/22/2005
Just purchased a poly Tempest 170. This after 3 months of reading reviews, asking questions, and trying as many boats as I could find.

Paddler type; Beginner (less than 10 times in a kayak) 215 lbs, 5'-9", I was looking for a boat that would server me well for 1-4 day expeditions as well as be a good boat to "workout" in calm to 10-15 mph winds and up to 2-3 foot seas (Columbia River, Or). I wanted it to be boat enough for a couple of years of progression. I'm a tech / gearhead sort, wanted high-end quality but couldn't afford composite (or at least justify at present!!). It's a snug fit for me, but I like that, very good contact w/ the boat and have had some 2-3 hr paddles with the boat --no problem.

Boats I tried: Necky Zoar, Necky Chatham 17, Necky Elaho, Necky Eskia, Eddyline Night Hawk, Eddyline Phoenix

Chose Tempest because; Quality to detail (slide lock footbrace system, phase 3 seat & adjustment system, 3 hatches & well done bulkheads, rigging- well thought out & close to seat, skeg rather than rudder, tracks straight (skeg up or down) w/ even my paddling ability, responds well to edged turns, great stability.

I am VERY happy with this boat and will paddle many miles/trips with it. The only reason it did not get a 10...I was determined to not get a boat w/ "bottle cap" hatch covers. However, I bought one anyway because of my overall infatuation with everything else about it.

I make it a point to pop all the covers and secure every time I go out. I have found that part of the secret is learning a technique to close and seal the hatches. I have gotten much better over only a couple trips.

Don't buy a poly boat in the length before trying out the Tempest...but then again, don't try one out...UNLESS you are prepared to buy it!


Leaky Tempest 170 hatches? I…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 5/18/2005
Leaky Tempest 170 hatches? I bought a poly version used and had the problem until another Tempest 170 owner told me I was missing the three hatch-cover bungees which seal the covers well and good. I called WS and they mailed out two sets (6 bungees) at no charge. The bungees did the trick! Now the hatches do not leak when I roll. In addition, if you have a hard time pounding down the hatch covers over the lip to seal, treat with "303 Aerospace Protectant" -- easily found at most paddling stores. Spray it on both sides of the hatch cover and wipe off after 15-20 minutes (don't let the solution sit overnight. It will make the cover too pliable).

I initially had the same…

Submitted by: jonsprag1 on 5/16/2005
I initially had the same problem with leaky hatches that Mark did (scroll down the reviews and you will see). When I learned how to put the hatches on, the problem went away--the trick is to make sure all three of the hatches fit over the lip of the hatch hole---hit the edge of the hatch with the palm of your hand all around the edge and make sure it is all the way down. Then go try rolling and you will see that you take little if any water.

I love my Tempest 170, but…

Submitted by: paddler230870 on 5/12/2005
I love my Tempest 170, but dang those leaky hatches! Half a dozen capsizes for rescue practice and the day hatch is accumulating enough water to make the boat unstable and hard to scramble back in, and the front and back hatches both seem to perpetually have minor but annoying leaks.

Noisy skeg I could live without too, but overall, this is a very comfy and great handling boat. There must be a solution to the leaky hatches but I haven't found it yet, and another outfitter friend reports that her new Tempests also leak.

Fix those leaks, Wilderness!


Okay, when I first bought…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 3/27/2005
Okay, when I first bought this boat in August of 2003 I posted several messages stating it was slow, I couldn't turn it, couldn't keep up. I'm 5'4", 120 lbs, female - thought maybe the boat was too large volume for me. I had been paddling a Betsie Bay Valkyrie, and wanted a larger touring boat. Okay, later that season I did a round Manhattan paddle, and found myself in a tricky situation with an 8 foot backwash from a ferry that sent a friend into a bunch of pilings and a very life-threatening situation. Meanwhile the boat handled like a dream and sat up on those 8 foot wakes like it was parked on a concrete pier. Hmmm - I started to like the boat. The following summer I paddled it from Albany to the Battery and found myself out in front of the crowd most of the time. Bottom line? It's the best boat I've ever paddled - handles like a dream, and rock solid. Comfy as hell, too. The front and rear hatches leak a couple of teaspoons on a 6 hour paddle - the compass and the skeg are at fault, I'm sure, cause the day hatch is dry as a bone. But that's what the dry bags are for, and I can live with a few ounces of water...I LOVE THIS BOAT!

I bought my 17 ft. Tempest…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/28/2004
I bought my 17 ft. Tempest (plastic) after renting one on Cape Cod two summers ago. The guides there claimed that the plastic Tempest closely mirrors the feel of a glass boat. After adding a Sealine pad to the back band I find the cockpit to be extremely comfortable and it's easy to feel connected to the boat. With the skeg up you can practically spin the kayak and with the skeg down it tracks very well and resists weather cocking. I find it easy to put on edge and don't miss the rudder on my old Cape Lookout. The kayak is wicked fast (despite its 61 pounds), playful and loves the waves. The bulkheads stay dry and when one of the bungees snapped, WS sent me another even though I bought it used (A lifetime warranty!) I could not be happier with this boat.

After several years of…

Submitted by: Tempest_rider on 9/19/2004
After several years of looking for the right boat I finally bought a poly tempest. I had paddled most of the other boats in its class and was not thrilled with any of them. When I paddled the tempest for the first time I knew that it was what I was looking for. I paddled it several more times, rented one for the weekend, and then bought one this spring.

With the skeg down it tracks great in all of the conditions I have paddled it(from calm to windy with 2-3 foot waves). With the skeg up it is very nimble for a sea kayak. When you put it on edge it is amazing how sharp of a turn you can make. It rolls easily and has great secondary stability.

The only thing I don't like is, as was mentioned before by another reviewer, the skeg rattles when it is down. This can be fixed in the way he mentioned.

The hatches have to be sealed correctly in order not to leak. Once you get the hang of how to seal them there is no problem. I have rolled 30 or so times in my tempest and have not had any leaking from the hatches. The deck rigging is very good and the seat and brace outfitting is great. It is a fun boat to paddle.

The only reason I did not give it a 10 is that I am saving the 10 for a review on a kevlar tempest (hopefully in a few years.)


Just purchased a roto version…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/13/2004
Just purchased a roto version of the 170 after renting one on Cape Cod for a week over the summer. I tried a few other boats over the last two seasons. Overall the Tempest seems to be forgiving enough for a beginner like me to learn on...with the added benefit of being a boat that someone can grow with over time and not get board.

Boats like the Cape Lookout and Horn have better primary stability...great for using the rudder to turn, but less uncomfortable when leaning into waves and turns. Tried a plastic Carolina...primary and secondary seemed less comfortable to me, and overall the boat seemed cheap compared to the Wilderness boats. I was pretty much sold on the Horn until I tried the Tempest. My first impression as I was gliding along getting comfortable was that this might be too much boat for me, but I soon realized that this boat can rock from side to side but it's not going over. After a few hours in the waves (later) I learned to really trust this boat's secondary stability.

Used the rental boat a variety of conditions... a few times in some good size waves, with water breaking over the back hatches more than a few times. I did notice some water in side, especially the large rear bulkhead. The one I purchased is a 2004 model and has bungees for the hatch covers. So far no water. Could be because the rental had no bungees, or that the hatch covers seemed looser (it was a rental and had been well used).

Someone mentioned the skeg banging around ... I noticed this on the rental, but on mine I've only noticed it in waves where I'm broadside (or nearly so) and the stern is lifted up and down. Other wise the skeg seems quiet to me so far. I did notice that the boat tends to carve to the right, especially when gliding. I then noticed that the skeg has a pronounced front to back curve. This the only defect and my dealer will replace the skeg this week.

The fit and finish seems great to me, and the boat a natural fit. If you're thinking of a Horn or a Capella, try the Tempest and see what you think.


Ignore my last post---I have…

Submitted by: jonsprag1 on 7/6/2004
Ignore my last post---I have rolled my Tempest many times since and have taken great care to insure that the hatch covers were properly fastened(it's easy to do it incorrectly--you have to make sure the cover snaps on COMPLETELY over the lip, ALL the way around the hatch) The hatches remained dry(except for the smidgen of water in the rear hatch that seems to come in through the skeg when the skeg is lowered and raised. (less the one tablespoon).

I have taken my plastic…

Submitted by: jonsprag1 on 6/16/2004
I have taken my plastic Tempest out in a variety of conditions now and my opinion remains the same---it's very good. I am relativly comfortable with it in rough seas(compared to my old perception vizcaya), like the speed and particularly like the skeg--much better than a rudder--it helps me go in a straight line, avoid windcocking and at the same time remained braced inside the kayak---a difficult thing to do with loose rudder pedals. If I had to fix one thing it would be the hatch covers. They are fine when the boat remains upright even in rough seas but when I roll with it a little water gets in the front and day hatches and a little more in the rear hatch(although it may be that I wasn't carful in closing it) I certainly don't have the fear of death that one of the reviewers below did---there was just a smidgen of water in the front and day hatches and less then a pint in the rear and that was after rolling about 15 times. Also all the covers stayed on---they were nowhere close to falling off and at that rate I would have had to roll 100 times before the water reached a level to effect the boats boyancy--my advice would be to keep your camping equipment in dry bags and make sure that the hatch covers are sealed by pushing the rubber down over the lip before the bungee cord goes on. Incidently I met a Registered Master Maine Sea Kayaking Guide while paddling last week end and he told me that this problem with the hatch covers is typical of so called British Design boats. He was paddling a Current Designs with similar type hatches and hull design as the Tempest.

The Tempest is the best boat…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 6/7/2004
The Tempest is the best boat I have paddled. A very well outfitted boat similiar to a whitewater boat with its hip pads and thiegh braces and an extremely comfortable seat and backband. You can paddle all day and be comfortable. It is also a very fast boat, faster than other 17 footers. You give up some primary stability but you have enough but anyone should demo it in rough water to be sure. The only fault is the skeg rattles in the plastic version. You can hear it hit the sides of the the skeg housing as there is too much play so the skeg bangs back and forth. You can fix that by placing some velcro into the housing on both sides to tighten it up and you have a quiet boat. Give it a ten after you quiet the skeg.

The end of a long road - I've…

Submitted by: paddler230491 on 6/4/2004
The end of a long road - I've finally purchased a poly Tempest 170. The quest for a kayak started by looking at rec boats. I paddled a few, my favourite being the Necky Manitou. But in the process my wife and I realised we really wanted touring / weekend tripping kayaks. So the quest took on a new direction.

Given that the boats would do a lot of daytrips, we wanted "playful" boats as much as straight-line tourers. A Current Designs Expedition would not fit the bill for example. Given that we're buying two, glass boats are too expensive, and plastic boats are a bit more tolerant of our rocky beaches anyway. We didn't care about rudder versus skeg; we've paddled with both, and they're both okay with us. So the end criteria were: plastic, decent speed, decent tracking, good turning when edged, a boat that would surf when on the swells, comfortable, reasonable initial stability (so we can drift around & take photos) and good secondary.

I looked at the following boats: Boreal Designs Inuckshuk, Current Designs Whistler, Storm, Squall, Sirocco, Necky Elaho, Eloho HV, Looksha IV, Chatham 16, Perception Carolina, P&H Capella, Wilderness Systems Cape Horn 15, 17, Tempest, and some others I forget now. A lot of paddles and demos! Fun though.

Some comments on the boats that made the shortlist. The Capella didn't have enough initial stability for the "drifting around" and taking photos idea. Although it's quite stable when it's moving. The Elahos are nice boats, like to surf, but their comfort and outfitting just don't fit me all that well (5'9" 160 lbs); the seat would numb my legs, and the thigh-braces were in the wrong place. If the Elahos were more comfortable they might have won. The Sirocco was a real fun boat on a windy choppy day, decent comfort too. But it didn't seem overly keen on surfing the swells. Maybe that's a good thing for stability, but it's certainly less fun.

The Tempest won out. It's comfortable, with a good adjustable seat and well-placed thigh braces. The back-band is also decent. It paddles straight when it's kept level, and I found I didn't really need the skeg most of the time. Good initial stability. On an edge it turns great, and it happily surfs the swells. Even a small lean on the boat will have an effect, making it easy to keep yourself pointed in the desired direction.

Some folks commented about weathercocking. I took it out on a reasonably windy day (15 knot winds blowing whitecaps on the water) and had no difficulty at all. In fact I hardly needed the skeg in those conditions, although it did help a little.

The hatch covers are tricky to put on properly, but once they're on they seal very well. The rubber hatches need to hook *under* the plastic hatch combings. It's easy to just push the hatches on, where it'll appear that they're on, but in fact are not fully sealed. The trick is, push down on the edges of the hatch cover. If the edge moves, it's not on right. When it's on properly, the bottom of the rubber hatch cover touches the kayak deck, and pressing down on the hatch cover edge results in the edge not flexing down at all. The hatch covers are tied down from the inside, so you can't lose them. The retaining bungies are not however, so it's not a bad idea to tie them to their respective hatch covers.

Deck rigging is the best of all the boats on the list. One minor comment is the rear bungy which crosses immediately behind the cockpit. It's so close to the cockpit combing that putting anything under that bungy will get in the way of your sprayskirt. I'll be moving that one bungy aft just a little bit. Speed is good; on the GPS the Tempest was on par with every other boat on the shortlist.

So that's it; I've finished boat-hunting. Thanks to everyone for posting their kayak reviews on this site; it's really helped me. The poly Tempest 170 came out on top.


I bought a plastic tempest…

Submitted by: paddler230596 on 6/2/2004
I bought a plastic tempest 170 last fall. At the time of purchase I was concerned about the hatches, they just didn't fit well, even with the bungees provided to seal the hatch covers tighter. This spring my worst fears were confirmed when on a four day IDW I found water in all three hatches. The hatch covers on this boat just don't fit tight and the bungees don't do the job either. Really this is a well designed boat, paddles well and handles well. The problem is that it is positivly dangerous not to have watertight hatches. Wilderness Systems needs to address this problem before someone gets hurt.

I bought my Tempest 170 last…

Submitted by: jonsprag1 on 3/30/2004
I bought my Tempest 170 last October after renting one in Canada. I got a great deal on it ($896.00 brand new at my local dealer's year end sale in Bangor) I had paddled a Perception Vizcaya for the past three years but felt the need to move into something that could hold more gear and take bigger seas. Also my Vizcaya had a rudder which I hardly ever used. I wanted an Engish style kayak with a retractable skeg, not only for esthetic reasons(looks a hell of a lot better) but because I've always felt more comfortable steering with a paddle then with a rudder, probably due to my coming to sea kayaking from white water river paddling. I find it much more secure to turn with a paddle, and hence being ready to make an instant brace, then using a rudder. I've had my Tempest out in October, November and in March, a couple of weeks ago. I was in 15-20 mph winds with 2'--3' waves on upper Penobscot Bay--the boat handled beautifully--to those critics who complain that the skeg isn't sufficient in a cross wind(at 35 mph)and that they had to do a lot of bracing, well acutually a rudder wouldn't have been sufficient either. I couldn't imagine going out in a 35 mph wind and not having to do a lot of bracing, unless you are on the Queen Mary. Where I really notice the difference between the skeg and a rudder is going down wind in a chop. On a rudder equipped boat, any chop 2' or more will lift the stearn and rudder out of the water when going downwind, causing the boat to weather cock and requiring strenous correction with the paddle. In a skeg equiped boat, unless the seas are huge---10' plus---the skeg will remain in the water going down wind and the boat will not weathercock. Also the Tempest rolls easier than a 2 doller chippie. Literally all I had to do was think about rolling up and up I came. Finally the seat is extremely comfortalbe when compared to my old boat. I can sit in it for two hours without geting the numbness in pain I used to get in my prior boat after one hour. I'm looking forward to doing a lot of camping and paddling in heavy seas with the Tempest this summer and will get back to you regarding this. But for right now I don't think you could get a better boat for the money.

After paddling this boat for…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 3/15/2004
After paddling this boat for a full summer, i have to say.. all in all, it is a nice boat. i am an intermediate kayaker, but have tested and owned a few kayaks. the boat has good speed, one of the most comfortable seating systems for back and leg support, tight hatches, pads to add/remove to fit, and great stability. i have had the boat out in larger waves, and it takes waves and rougher water capably. i was even taken by suprise by a good size wave, and put to the extreme side of the boat, and managed to recover. 2nd stability is great, as initial for hanging out for a few. the only drawback, as someone else mentioned, is the skeg. although the boat seems to track fine in reasonable winds, strong winds will have you doing some correcting. i amnot sure if the skeg is quite long enough. overall a fun comfortable, and nice quality boat.

I tried the plastic Tempest…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/22/2003
I tried the plastic Tempest 170 at the Fort Worden symposium yesterday. I did not take it on a long paddle and the sea was smooth and calm, so I cannot say anything about the handling of this boat in rough conditions. What I can say is that (1) It handled beautifully in the calm conditions. (2) I have never sat in a better fitting boat. The fore-and-aft-adjustable thigh braces are superb,just like in whitewater boats. The seat is very comfortable and you sit in an excellent upright posture rather than laid back like in some sea kayaks. As soon as I got in the boat I thought: "This boat has been custom-fitted for me!" (3) I have never been in an easier to roll sea kayak. I thought my Romany was easy to roll until I tried this boat. This boat just about rolls itself. (4) The price is a bargain. If I did not already have a good boat (Romany), I would have bought this one on the spot, especially since one vendor was giving a generous discount. (5) This boat is much better for a long camping trip than my 16-foot Romany, which just doesn't have the room.

My apologies. In my review of…

Submitted by: Kudzu on 8/28/2003
My apologies. In my review of the 170 I complained about tracking in the wind. Turns out I was in the wrong boat for my weight. I recently rented a Tempest 165 and paddled it in very windy conditions. It behaved beautifully. It was a perfect "10". I traded my 170 for the 165 and I'm sure I'll be happy for a very long time.

After many years of no…

Submitted by: paddler230236 on 7/7/2003
After many years of no kajakking due to studies, kids and career priorities, I found I missed the sport. So I went hunting for a kayak that was suitable for the climate, the rough surfaces of the few beaches I can access; one that was fast enough and manoeuvrable. I also wanted a boat that could take me AWAY from it all for more that a weekend. After some search I found the Tempest 170 with skegg. I remember how many times I got irritated by the rudder in my old kayak; I had 2 Nordkapps 20 years ago, one with a type 4 rudder and the other with a 'skegg like' rudder. I liked the one with the skegg best.

The Tempest fits me perfectly, I am 176 cm tall and I have long legs so the knee pads here are great! The seat is comfortable; the cockpit's opening large and safe to get out of. This boat has 3 compartments and all kept my stuff dry after rolling training in the sea. The boat I bought is orange so I can be easily spotted in the dark waters of the fjords...

I tried my Tempest in rough sea, which is, by my standards 2.5 meter waves. I did not even feel it! The Tempest is stable and easily manoeuvred in these conditions... The Tempest is made of Polyethylene, which makes it stronger against rough surfaces, although it is about 5 kg heavier than the lightest glass-fibre boats (28 kg against 22 kg). Here, in the western coast of Norway, there are many rocks and hard surfaces to 'land' on, so I did not want to repeat the worries I had with the old glass-fibre boats I had previously. If you want challenge, fun, speed, elegance, lots of carrying space, dependability and a boat that can turn around on a quarter, the Tempest 170/skegg is your Beast of Burden!


I was in the market for a…

Submitted by: Kudzu on 5/23/2003
I was in the market for a longer, leaner boat after about 2 years paddling a Cape Horn 15. I liked the idea of a skeg also. I read the glowing reviews of the P&H Capella and demoed it twice. I tried and tried to love it like the folks who reviewed it but the cockpit opening would not allow me to draw my knees up without raising my butt off the seat. I really wanted to be able to raise the knees so I could stretch safely out on the water. A larger opening also makes exiting the boat easier and safer for me. The Tempest 170 cockpit allowed me to do what I want. The Phase III seat is extremely comfortable. The hip pads fit me perfectly straight from the factory, and the thigh support feels great. (I'm 5'9" and about 170 pounds). After paddling the Cape Horn I was impressed with how quickly the Tempest can turn.

I have had my poly Tempest out in rough conditions and was pleasantly surprised to find the hatches completely dry. I mounted the Nexus compass in the recess on the deck and have found I can read it easily. The slate grey color of my boat knocks me out and the deck rigging is perfect for wedging a gps between the bungie and the coaming recess. It sits right up where I can easily read it. The day hatch is huge. Far better than the one on my Cape Horn.

If I had to say something negative about this boat it would have to do with tracking. In a really strong crosswind (I'd estimate 30 mph) I was doing a lot of sweep strokes to stay in line. I was wishing that skeg would dig a little deeper down!

All in all a great boat!


I rented a Tempest 17 (poly)…

Submitted by: PHILIPJEDLICKA on 5/5/2003
I rented a Tempest 17 (poly) this weekend for 2 days to "try before I buy". I currently own a Cape Horn 15.5' w/surf rudder. Over 2 days I traveled about 40 km in it in various conditions.

Quite frankly all the hype about this kayak is true: it's super fast, quite light, great hatches that don't leak and although narrow, it's quite stable. I also like the fact that it comes in Blaze Orange, which can be an important safety factor when traveling in congested waters. The Phaze3 seat is really good too, save for the lack of a cup holder. Basically you can go and go and go and never get tired!

I really wanted to like this kayak but the one thing that put me off over time was not having my surf rudder to control trim. I must admit that the skeg works fine. I guess I'm just not big on turning by bracing & paddle strokes. Yes, I can do it but it's annoying in cross winds and choppy water, I much prefer to drop the rudder and concentrate on other things. For much the same reasons I moved to a Cape Horn from a Manteo. A good analogy for this kayak is "it's like a great TV with no remote". You'll leave other kayaks in your wake but you won't do circles around them either.

For me this makes it one point away from 'absolutely perfect' so I give it a 9 out of 10. So, no sale either! I think I'll try out the Cape Horn 17' (longer and slimmer than mine too but with a surf rudder to boot).


Great boat. I added a set of…

Submitted by: steveB on 2/6/2003
Great boat. I added a set of thigh braces from a Transformer for better control, replaced the skeg cable with a stiffer cable and reshaped the skeg edge for better performance. Great in the surf, needs some skeg in a quartering wind, a lot of room for gear and almost rolls itself. I'm really impressed with this boat. Good speed, agile, just fun to paddle!

There are no bad boats; only…

Submitted by: paddler230024 on 1/3/2003
There are no bad boats; only boats poorly suited to how they are used.

People loose sight of this fact and ask the impossible of their kayaks. A single kayak can’t turn on a dime, track flawlessly, win races, and satisfy an apprehensive novice. Every boat is a compromise. The challenge is to understand what you want and pick a kayak that hits the right compromise.

With this in mind, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect, rough water, expedition sea kayak. I want a kayak that (1) cruises well for long distance paddling, (2) turns tightly with a heavy lean, (3) tracks well in high cross winds, (4) has enough primary stability so I can relax a bit during a long day on rough water, (5) can accelerate and track well when paddling backwards, and (6) can handle rough surf landings.

My search for this mythical boat has stretched-out over the last few years. I’ve tried the British boats. They come close, but they sacrifice too much primary stability in their quest for macho, secondary stability. I’ve tried heavy-duty touring kayaks from North American designers, but they aren’t playful enough in the surf. I’ve enjoyed some of the more radical designs for coastal paddling, but they don’t cruise well for distance paddling.

I had despaired of ever satisfying my quest. Then I paddled the Tempest 170 from Wilderness Systems. This kayak is awesome. It hits the right compromises for rough water, expedition paddling. Of course, this is exactly what it was designed for, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

Here are the basic numbers. The boat is 17 feet long, 22 inches wide and 14 inches deep. The widest point is just in front of the cockpit. While I was using if for day paddling in the surf, I checked out the storage and figure it would be straightforward to pack a week’s worth of gear in the boat.

The seat was comfortable. It might be a bit high for some paddlers, but I found it to be no problem (and I like the leverage from a higher seat). The thigh braces fit well and had enough adjustment options to fit most any paddler. The seat included integrated hip pads which given my generously apportioned tush, I needed to remove to fit in the boat. The backband provided plenty of support but didn’t get in the way. I was very pleased that I could layback on the rear deck in this kayak.

This is an expedition kayak built with heavy surf landings in mind – and it has the weight to show for it (58 pounds with the fiberglass construction). This was a loaner boat so I didn’t test it by smashing it into rocks, but everything about this boat felt strong and solid. The deck rigging was complete – enough to make the staunchest BCU snob happy. The bow and stern handles were well designed for an easy carry (at least, easy given the heavy weight).

The boat accelerated up to speed nicely. I didn’t have a knot meter, but it seemed fast enough and easily kept up with everyone in the group. The tracking was good. It did weathercock slightly in a cross wind, but a drop of the skeg fixed that right away.

I tried to bury the bow and pearl the boat while surfing. I picked a moderately steep wave and shot straight down the face. For a moment, I thought I’d go tumbling end over end, but then the bow floated up to the surface and I had a wonderful long ride. This is a boat that likes to surf.

My biggest complaint about the boat is its hatches. They use bungie cords around the rims to provide additional pressure for rough conditions. This trick works well as the storage compartments were bone dry after a full day of surfing. Getting these bungies back on, however, was tough; especially on the larger stern hatch.

As I played with the boat further, I did find some limitations in the handling. My Necky Looksha Sport with its sharper chines turns more sharply on a strongly leaned turn. The secondary stability on the Tempest is well behind that of the British boats I’ve paddled.

But this brings me back to my earlier point; no boat can do everything. This boat is second to none for expedition paddling in the roughest of conditions. A serious expedition boat needs to carry gear, surf well, have good maneuverability, yet provide sufficient primary stability so you can paddle all day in rough seas without becoming overly exhausted -- Or stop bracing long enough to take a picture or assist my paddling-partners on the water. The Tempest 170 does all of these and more. No other boat that I’ve found even comes close to the Tempest 170 as a well rounded, rough water, expedition kayak. As far as I’m concerned my quest is over.

Note: the reviewer is a 5’8”, 230 pound male. Testing was done during a single day of paddling in the waters around Fort Canby State Park in Washington. Conditions were breezy with well spaced modest surf. Out around the south jetty, we did encounter some very large, steep swells and high winds. We finished the day with a surf landing on Waikaiki beach. All in all, it was a good day for testing a coastal expedition paddling kayak.