I quite liked the 2012 boat, basically because it felt relatively light weight. I believe it was about 52 lbs. The sub-par construction was not that evident, maybe some gelcoat cracking in a couple places.
It was with great anticipation the day I went to pick up my new boat. There a time of denial, because I could not believe how much heavier it was than the other boat. I estimate it to be around 58 lbs, not a great weight for a composite boat. I find I don't carry it more than a few feet by myself. But using a caddy is easy to do and allows loading everything into the boat and making one trip. The rear hatch will just fit the caddy if I need to bring it along.
One reason I bought the boat was the excellent seating system WS offers in their touring boats. But the cockpit size is a bit short. They advertise it to be 34" long, but measured to the actual opening, it is only 30 1/2". Many folks, including myself have moved the seat mounting location to the rear by 1-2". I actually met the boat designer, Steve Scherrer, once and he said that was fine to do it. But it is still a bit tight at the shins when exiting. Wet exit/re-entry has not been a problem at all however. The boat feels great when seated in the cockpit with all the wonderful seating adjustments available. The boat has the best seating, outfitting hardware, and lines of any I have seen on the market.
The design is beautiful and the boat handles well. I wish it was closer to 50 lbs in weight. It is a bit sluggish on acceleration but maintains pace easily. This model is no longer available from WS.
I recently completed a 46 mile bay trip and the only complaint is the seat which they say is the best. After 8 plus hours in the boat the seat cover was a real pain. There is some piping around the back end that presses into you butt and is really uncomfortable. Also the elongated front portion of the seat used to raises your legs hampers quick entrance and exits. After removing the seat pad and the front portion I have since had it out on open water and it handles great in all conditions.
With the seat changes it is can be 10.
It's like dating a supermodel: Though one of the sexiest boats out there the craftsmanship is lacking with minor nuances - think custom built supercar, not Honda.
Being glass you are hyper-conscious of rough shoreline landings, shallow rocks, and pebble beaches.
Weathercocking starts pretty early, and is controlled with dropping the skeg, BUT returns once waves get larger.
A tight cockpit means sliding in feet and legs first with lots of follow up wiggling adjustment to get settled.
She's not any faster than her poly brothers.
Living with this boat was a pleasure for a week in the Apostle Islands with everything from mirror smooth, to 4' rollers, to stormy whitecap waters.
The drop down skeg/rudder often became stuck when dragging the tail from the shoreline as the sand would jam things up.
Do not buy "sight unseen" or mail order without inspecting the build quality first - otherwise a winner.
After contacting Wilderness Systems through REI, I was told that there was no replacement part for this screw. The skeg was non functional without it, plus the boat was now heavily leaking water into the rear hatch from the point where the skeg wire had been connected. So essentially I had a non-functional $3000 piece of fiberglass sitting in my garage. Fortunately, REI has an unlimited return policy and they took the boat back. I would not buy this boat again, considering this obvious design flaw.
This boat is a step up from a Tsunami 125 rm. My wife and I are paddling more and more on Lake Superior and are graduating from recreational boats to touring boats. The 170 Tempest Pro is a great looking boat. The finish is flawless, inside and out. No leaks in any of the compartments. This was one of the biggest problems according to all the reviews I read (and I read them all). The fiberglass boats are now made in China, and it seems their Quality control is working.
Having taken delivery in Nov. I only had about a week to get it on the water to try it out before the lakes froze up. The boat paddled easily, carved turns with a slight lean and a stroke of the paddle, and is quite a bit faster than the Tsunami. The 2 times I had it out were about 3 hours each time, and the boat was very comfortable. Water conditions were calm to a 1' chop. We did a 1 week trip at Isle Royal, (excellent kayak destination) in our Tsunamis and had enough room for our gear. The Tempest has a lot more storage and we will have more than enough room for our gear and then some. The shipping label had the boat at 45#, and the boat seems very rigid, no flexing when I sit on the back before sliding in the seat.
The fact that the boats are made in China kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but it's no different than buying a boat from any other country. I would also like to see a better color selection, you get red, yellow, or lime. That's it! Can't wait to get on the water next spring.
First I have to say that the store is very impressive and I like the fact they have a small calm lake nearby to test paddle what they sell, saying that I was there twice and never saw the owners, you know of those YouTube videos. Oh well. So I had to deal with a much younger man than myself and was a little disappointed as obviously he did not have the experience which is mainly why I traveled over 2 hours to go there for. Oh well.
Anyway I decided to buy this craft, It was a choice between the Caribou from CD and this and I really liked the way this kayak performed although I did not try the Caribou.
I was sold. I own an Essence RM and really liked that but this is not in the same class at all. First the F.G. is lighter and the kayak is a fish form design, it's about 1/2 inch narrower and 6 inches longer but man it performs very well. The rigging is incredible, much better than the Essence and I thought that was hard to beat. The hatches are air tight and the boat just looks really good.
I only had a chance to paddle it 3 times so far including the test paddle and my impression of it's handling and speed hasn't changed. Love this design.
No problem with the skeg and the seat is incredibly comfortable, after a few hours of hard paddling with the Essence I would get a sore back, not with this thing. Although I haven't tried edging it to the point of capsizing yet, mainly because I don't need to, very little edging is required to make this thing respond compared to the RM Essence. The boat makes me appear much better than I am . Very impressed with that.
Speed is also a nice surprise, I read some reviews of the 170 especially regarding speed or a lack of it. Well on my last outing I hit 6.2 miles/hr on a sprint. Avg. of 3.5 miles /hr for 6.1 miles. Against the wind and current I managed 5.3 miles/hr. in a sprint. Could never do that with the Essence.
The boat is lighter than models of previous years and I believe it's due to a reduction of material being used. It feels fragile to me but then again I'm used to a plastic boat... The storage space is incredible, I like to go out with comfort and this will allow me to do that. Just the day hatch is so much more spacious than the Essence and bulkheads are made of F.G. plus the hatch behind the seat is angled which should make for less water if ever I need to do a wet exit and re-enter.
As stated above, this is lighter about 51 lbs as stated by W.S. but it feels more like 49-48 to me. Again maybe that's just because I’m used to lifting a plastic.
The only peeve I have is that the hull seems a little deformed by the skeg. I didn't really get to notice this due to my excitement at the store. And I also just recently notice a little pimple like dent (about the size of my baby fingertip) pushing outward where the day and aft bulkheads are, seems the material at that spot is thinner. Not sure what would cause that but I didn't see any effect on it's performance and it's hardly noticeable, but I know this will keep bothering me as I'm a bit anal when it comes to these things.
I'm about 5'10"+ and about 185-190 lbs (depending on my eating habits) and I can lift this thing strait on my saddles without a problem.
If this didn't have those defects I mentioned above I would rate this boat a 9 -10. But because it feels fragile and because of the deformities I will still give it a solid 8. I contacted Confluence too see what they recommended for that little fingertip dent protruding outward (It would seem almost as if the pressure of heated air inside that day compartment pushed out the hull at that spot).
Still a very good kayak and I have no regrets in purchasing it. I just need the time now to go out on a multi-day trip and really test it when it's loaded up:)
Now to the flaws. The manufacturing of the boats seems to be lacking in quality consistency. The original Tempest that I bought had an obvious flaw in the glass work - the black band that goes around the boat along the seam had a gap at the stern tip of the boat. While this was only cosmetic, I don't think that a $3000 boat should have a dime-sized flaw coming from the factory. the next issue I had with the boat was a leak into the rear bulkhead, which I suspected came from the skeg housing, which showed two little holes right by the pivot point of the skeg. Since I didn't really want to start 'fixing' a brand new boat, I exchanged it at REI for another one of the same exact model.
After paddling the new one a few times now, I've come to the conclusion that this model ALSO leaks into the rear compartment, and it's from the exact same spot - the skeg housing. I filled the bulkhead up with water to confirm that that was where it was leaking from and could clearly see the water run out of the skeg underneath the boat. I don't think that this is 'coincidence' that two boats have the same exact flaw. WS needs to do better quality control and figure out how to solve this issue, since it's not acceptable to me that a boat this expensive leaks a quart of water into the rear compartment during a two hour paddle on a totally flat lake. It's unfortunate, because the Tempest is a great boat other than this significant leakage issue.
I've not had any trouble out of this boat, and do have an attachment to it. One reviewer below tagged it as a "tank" - they were right in the moniker, but wrong in the context. It is a tank in the fact that it will take you and your gear to hell & back, and survive beautifully. It is not a tank in the fact that it paddles like a world class kayak should. It's really not fair to post a review of a boat that is a "rental boat" as they're not well kept and tend to have problems, i.e. the skeg complaint. The review was also on a poly boat - if you paddle a glass boat, then hop in a polyboat, sure, it feels like a barge. And the reviewer did acknowledge that.
What I Like: pretty much everything! It has full perimeter deck lines, plenty of bungie, enclosed cable & rod skeg control that prevents any cable kinkage, foot pegs adjustable while sitting in cockpit, well padded thigh braces, recessed compass mount, carry handles that retract.
The construction is top notch: layup is stellar - no globs of resin, discolorations, rough spots, or stray glass fibers. The insides of the storage are smooth and virtually blemish-free. The skeg box is well constructed and smooth on the inside compartment - nothing for gear to hang on as it slides past.
It had a pretty nice seat system, but for some reason, no matter how I adjusted the thigh lifters, my legs still went to sleep. I ended up ripping it out and built a custom seat from foam: http://kayakfit.tripod.com/instructions.htm
I also ended up glassing in a small bulkhead and adding a foot pump, and also a keel strip. My hatch covers are of an older design, and after 2 years, I've started getting a little bit of water in the storage, but only when I roll. The amount is nothing to get excited about. Recent Tempest Pros I've seen have a different, beefier hatch cover.
What I don't like: weight - in this day & age, it's an overly heavy boat. But for it's size/weight, it handles as well or better as any other boat in that same class. This last weekend, I spent A LOT of time at a symposium paddling several new boats as I was in the market. I probably spent 30-45 minutes in each boat (I know, that's not long enough to REALLY know a boat, but it is long enough to get a good feel). I tried the P&H Cetus, and it came in a close second. It is a well crafted & designed boat. It handled beautifully, and I liked the forward "day hatch" feature they put in it. The only problem with the Cetus was that it wouldn't track true without the skeg down - it would wander one way or the other. My third choice would have been the the Impex Cat 3 or Outer Island - they were nicely built and handled very well, but I noticed rust on some metal parts. My final choice would have been the NDK Explorer. The boat is built big & solid, and is meant for big open water, expedition-style trips. There seemed to be some sloppiness in the layup on the ones I looked at. It handled ok - a little slow to start the turn - to be honest, I thought my Tempest handles a lot better, and seems to be of better construction quality than the Explorer (plus $400 cheaper), so I choose not to "down-grade".
What was my top pick? One that completely surprised me - the SEDA Ikkuma 17. It was a real dream to paddle that boat. I ordered a Carbon/kevlar layup - I'll post my impressions after I've paddled it for several months.
It fit like an expensive glove, and the stability was good for me who is somewhat afraid of the water, but loves it. The boat could do everything that was asked of it. It edges well and does not weathercock as severe as the P&H boats without the skeg.
I did have a minor problem with a leak in the day hatch cowling which was epoxied by the store, Calif Canoe and Kayak. They supported me and made the ownership of the Wilderness enjoyable. This was done even though Wilderness no longer allows them to sell their boats.
I took the boat back to the dealer (Alder Creek, in Portland, OR) the next day. They offered to repair the boat, but I didn't like that idea. So I wound up trading my new boat and $180 for a Kevlar demo Tempest 170.
Bottom line: Alder Creek treated me well, the Tempest Pro 170 is a great boat, and, after a bumpy ride, I'm now a happy camper. But why oh why doesn't Wildnerness Systems do a simple quality-control check on every boat that leaves the factory? Stick a garden hose in the aft compartment, run a few gallons of water in there, and check for leaks. That extra five minutes of effort might save some customers from inconvenience, disappointment -- and perhaps even danger.
I have read complaints about leaky hatches but this has not been my experience (touch wood) even after many rolls. As long as the hatch covers are on correctly I haven't had a problem. I did have a small amount of water getting into the rear hatch via the skeg cable but Steve showed me how to fix that problem and so far it has not re-appeared. I have paddled similar boats like the NDK Explorer, Boreal Designs Ellesmere, and the CD Gulfstream but in my view the Tempest was the best of the three for me. It did everything I wanted and then some. The seat is far and away the most comfortable I have sat in and made paddling long distances a snap. The outfitting is second to none and makes rolling and bracing considerably easier due to the snug fit. I found initial stability sufficient and secondary stability very reliable. The boat edges like a dream and handles rough water with ease. I can honestly say it has given me the confidence to become a better paddler and I would recommend it highly.