Tsunami 165

16' 6"
Width (in)
Weight (lb)

Tsunami 165 Description

More than capable for a weekend trip, added depth is suitable for mid-to-large sized paddlers while maintaining speed and efficiency necessary for longer distances.

Tsunami 165 Specs and Features

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

Wilderness Systems
Tsunami 165 Reviews

Read reviews for the Tsunami 165 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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Own it - bought it new in…

Submitted by: paddler1825927 on 12/14/2021

Own it - bought it new in 2007. Was my first kayak and still very satisfied with the choice. I chose this brand/model for the combination paddling and fishing that I do. It is very stable, e.g., even attempting to enter the cockpit from a boat dock, in which the water in the reservoir was drawn down to a point, that it created a significant distance between the two - it became a balancing act, in which other kayaks of less width and/or stability would have tipped; durable, e.g., the wear and tear it has taken from beaching the kayak on gravel/rocky shores to hitting submerged rocks on lower-class rapids, that this length of kayak (sixteen and one-half feet) can still adequately maneuver.

My only (minor) criticism, which wasn't an issue as a younger man (I'm 67 years of age), is I would of liked it to be lighter in weight. In itself, the weight is not significant, but with a kayak of this length, it results in an awkward carry and overhead lift by yourself.

Regarding the rating: if this rating system incorporated half-stars, I would have given this brand/model a 4 & 1/2 out of 5. Thank you for the opportunity to rate/review this well-made watercraft.

FYI: I have not been/am not employed by Wilderness Systems, nor have I received any type of gift from the company.


I am new to sea kayaking,…

Submitted by: River_Whiskey on 1/3/2019

I am new to sea kayaking, though I have used recreational kayaks for several years. I have owned the 165 for about 6 months. I have not yet used the boat in high surf, but I have used her in cold weather with high winds and in light surf on perfect days. Using a spray skirt, the boat stays very dry. I have continued to kayak on lakes through December in New England with no discomfort. I have been on the lake with floating ice around me and the durability of the boat allowed me to survive some errors in judgement.

The incredible stability and dry cockpit makes winter kayaking practical. I am not confident enough in my skills to kayak the open sea in winter, but I think that the boat is capable.

She tracks very well and does not weathercock as bad as you would expect without a skeg. I have a rudder, but usually I do not deploy it. By edging and paddling, I can turn very well and I can edge to counteract weather cocking.

I have also used a WS Tempest 165 and 170. I like the 170 for its agility over the Tsunami and the cockpit is big enough. The Tempest 165 was too tight for me. I learned with experience that a tight fit is a good thing in a sea kayak, so if I had to choose today I may select a Tempest 170. The Tempest fits me like a glove and is very playful. If you plan on a lot of rolling, maybe a Tempest is your choice.

The Tsunami is a great choice for most people, it is the SUV of kayaks. You can use it for the day or for an expedition. It fits my body well enough and has superior primary stability. You can keep yourself dry in all but the roughest conditions and it is a great choice for winter.

One disadvantage of the Tsunami is its weight. However, that comes with a durability advantage. I was lifting the boat up to the rack on top of my car when a high wind caught it and it flew out of my hands and landed 10 feet away on the pavement. I inspected it and found no damage at all. That sort of durability is really great for a novice who may run into rocks, ice, or other hazards.


I'm a novice so take this…

Submitted by: l2t on 7/18/2018

I'm a novice so take this review for what it's worth. I'm interested in sea kayaking but wanted a rental one day for river paddling and tried the 165. I suppose if you don't want something g with the performance of a more advanced kayak but instead wanted a leisurely stable boat but didn't want a floating dock like the cheap recreational choice, this would be a good choice. I think I could actually fish out of thsi kayak.


As a larger framed person I…

Submitted by: paddler419264 on 6/19/2018

As a larger framed person I have come to really appreciate my Tsunami 165. I'm 6', 230 lbs and have ample room and flexibility with this kayak. She's not the fastest boat but my main use for it is paddle in backcountry camping for up to ten days at a time. For this purpose the 165 Tsunami is perfectly suited. It is the definition of a touring kayak.
I hope this is useful to anyone looking for this type of use.


I've been paddling the…

Submitted by: Kayaking_is_religion on 6/18/2018

I've been paddling the Wilderness Tsunami 165 for about five years now and do not regret my purchase for a moment. My passion is saltwater kayak camping along the rocky coast of Maine. While the rotomolded polyethylene material is heavier than fiberglass, it has the strength to be dragged over seaweed and barnacle-covered boulders without a worry. And with the chining, the boat has exceptional primary and secondary stability. The rudder easily offsets any weather-cocking inclination. I've loaded the boat for five days of island camping. With proper weight distribution, you can easily put the boat on it's side for turning. While. it's slow getting up to speed, it holds the speed well once you get there. It's been a pleasure taking it out to the islands of Casco Bay. Some years ago, it proved it's worth when I was caught broadside in five-foot seas in Penobscot Bay while crossing a shipping channel. While I needed to brace, the boat never felt close to capsizing. My only beef with the Tsunamis is sealing those rubber the hatch lids. But applying a little petroleum jelly to lip of the covers helps solve that problem. Any of the Tsunamis from the 140 on up are great for saltwater use.


I am amending my review of…

Submitted by: fr3agnt on 1/6/2016
I am amending my review of the WS Tsunami 165 /rudder, made 2009-02-03.
I gave this boat a 10 out of 10 before and I still feel that way. After adding the WS back band along with the hip kit and will add the Keepers XL foot brace this coming summer. She will truly be The Fleetwood of the river as I have always thought of her. For me, it's the perfect kayak which has gotten better in the last 7 years.

This review is for the…

Submitted by: Japi on 7/1/2015
This review is for the Tsunami 165 with Rudder, bought around 2009. This is not the fastest boat, or the most nimble, and certainly not the easiest to carry, but it is a good overall boat. It is a comfortable boat, with a relatively large cockpit and a comfortable seat, and a good amount of storage capacity. The day hatch is easy to reach and open and can easily hold everything you want within reach.

The boat tracks reasonably well, and the rudder can be used in windy conditions to further reduce the need for correcting strokes. The rudder also works well if you are trying to take pictures and want to keep the boat pointed at your target. Unfortunately the rudder is the type where the pedals move, this can be annoying when you are trying to move at speed and really use your legs in the stroke. In that case I tend to push with both legs to keep the rudder in place, the cable hasn't snapped from all the stress so it must be strong. The only trouble I had with the rudder is a broken retaining pin from hitting the rudder on some rocks. It was cheap and easy to fix with parts ordered online.

The biggest drawback of the Tsunami is the weight. It's a real chore to load this onto the car after a paddle, and a portage with the boat loaded is a workout even with two people. The carry handles do fit well in my hand, at least.

The boat is stable in rough water, thanks to it's width and shape. It's very forgiving for someone learning sea kayaking techniques, or if you are trying to take pictures in bouncy water. Don't expect fast turns/handling, though with some leaning you can get it to move quick enough.

Put simply: It's a comfortable, easy to paddle sea kayak. It won't be a boat that challenges you, it's a boat if you just want to get out on the water and get to your destination with a minimal amount of fuss.


I just bought a Tsunami 165…

Submitted by: paddler236264 on 6/10/2015
I just bought a Tsunami 165 after trying out Necky, Current Designs and Akula kayaks. I am a day tripper, moderately experienced, upgrading from my old 10' plastic beast. I have a place on a West Coast Island off Vancouver, and while our bay is somewhat protected there is significant chop when we get out into the Sound and lots of boat wake from ignorant powerboaters along with swells from the wind and large ships like the ferries, tugs, and cruise ships, so i wanted something both stable and able to use for longer distances that could also handle our rocky shorelines.

I love this boat. It's heavy - but it's a 16'6" plastic kayak, so i don't notice an essential difference between it and the other similar length plastic kayaks I've used. I find that it tracks really well, and only use the rudder when i am fighting a combination of tides, winds and a following sea. It is certainly not the most nimble thing I have ever paddled (I think the Akula took that) but it is more than manageable with proper lean and sweep in moderately choppy seas without the rudder.

It's also exceptionally comfortable - I actually went for the touring seat that is normally in the 145 with the adjustable back, and i love it. I manage a good day trip in this easily without straining back or thighs. It just takes a little adjustment when getting the spray skirt on.

All in all, i am delighted with the purchase and look forward to many days of exploring our West Coast waters with it.


My WS Tsunami 165 arrived…

Submitted by: paddler236002 on 9/21/2014
My WS Tsunami 165 arrived yesterday in perfect condition. I was a little concerned with purchasing from a website (LLB) and shipping. No issues other than some anxiety that LLB could not track the order, only "ships from vendor, 1-2 weeks."

It's a very easy unpacking and set up. My first 'Uh-oh' came when I sat in the seat: the seat is fine; however, the back rest is useless; and the leg length was maxxed out. Luckily, the seat can be unbolted and moved back a couple inches. It really doesn't need to be bolted in, which allows the paddler to adjust the seat location easily. The back rest is another story. For my first paddle, I abandoned the back rest and used a good ol' foam seat cushion )i.e., throwable pfd). That worked great for flat water paddling, although it won't work with a spray skirt.

Then it was on to the water. This is my first sit-in kayak, but the large cockpit opening made getting in and out no problem whatsoever(!). Paddling effort was noticeably less than my sots (12' and 16' Tarpon). I paddled 4 miles without a break, easily. The glide between strokes was nice. This model comes with a rudder and it really helps maneuvering in smaller waters. I could glide and steer, hands free to take pics or whatever. Without the rudder, steering takes some effort and I'll admit that I'm learning. Nice boat on the water, and looks good too.

Overall, I have to wonder what WS was thinking with the back rest and the leg length. My feet (34" inseam) can reach the bulkhead, which positions the actual footrest/rudder controls back a couple of inches (i.e., too short). And that's after unbolting the seat and moving it back as far as possible.

All in all, I like the paddling, handling, everything except the backrest and less than adequate leg length. I can see some modifications coming....


I'm an expert whitewater…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 9/30/2013
I'm an expert whitewater canoeist (former slalom racer) who has been wanting to get a sea kayak for years — both for fitness paddling on a local river, and for longer journeys. Though I'm familiar with the advantages of composite boats, I decided plastic was best for me as I planned to store the boat outside at a local marina (because I'll paddle it 3-4x/week).

After doing some research, I found a great deal on a second-hand Wilderness Systems Tsunami 165. The boat is about 5 years old but has been garage-kept and is in mint condition.

My first impression on picking up the boat is that it's HEAVY. But that wasn't really a surprise. I knew it weighed around 65lbs, and knew that's just a characteristic of large plastic boats.

This particular year model (a 2008 or 2009) doesn't have a backband, but does have the Phase 3 seating (with the seat back that can be raised a good 6 inches). I kept the seat back all the way down and tightened the back strap considerably to cant the seatback forward, giving me plenty of lower back support. Between the Phase 3 seat and the adjustable padded knee braces, I found the cockpit to be very comfortable for someone my size: 5'11" and around 225lbs.

After dropping the kayak in the water for the first time, my next impression is that it is---as advertised---an extremely stable boat. I'm accustomed to tippier boats, and I could take a nap in this one, LOL. The multi-chined hull is rock-stable when leaned up on edge.

On my first paddle---on a flat, wide river with a slow current---I was able to easily get the boat up to a cruising speed of 4.7-5.0mph (according to my GPS). Paddling harder, I could get my speed up to 5.5mph without killing myself... but that's where the "speed curve" flattened out. I'm a strong paddler in good shape, and I found it *very* difficult to get the boat up to 6mph. So I'd say 4.5mph is an accurate "easy cruising speed" for this boat, with 5.0-5.5mph being the "pushing hard" max speed one could reasonably sustain over time. I'm not sure how this compares to other touring kayaks, but it's fine with me.

I should also add that I'm an aggressive, high-angle paddler. I tend to lean forward in the cockpit and smoothly link strokes, with a higher paddle angle than most.

Though my boat has a rudder, I literally haven't used it yet...mainly because the boat tracks pretty well and I haven't felt the need for the rudder. It does tend to pull to the right a bit (even in no wind)...but I'm starting to think that this is more a result of my paddling: being a lifelong canoeist who paddles on the left, my left side is obviously stronger than my right. So I think the rightward pull I've noticed will diminish as my right side catches up to my left!

As far as turning goes, this kayak is like most others: it won't turn on a dime (no long touring kayak will), but its excellent stability makes it easy to lean it up on edge, where it will carve a nice turn with multiple strokes on one side (and sweep strokes will turn it more quickly).

Regarding fit and finish, it seems fine. The thick rubber hatch covers go on and come off easily---I had no trouble with them. All the other hardware, safety lines, etc. seems well-crafted and solid. There's nothing shoddy about the construction I've noticed.

I haven't paddled the boat loaded with gear yet, no have I paddled it in rough water or open ocean. I do intend to do that eventually, so will add to my review then!

Overall, I'm very happy with this boat---and it certainly makes an excellent first sea kayak for my purposes.


I am amending my review after…

Submitted by: trvlrerik on 6/21/2013
I am amending my review after having the boat over a year. Still agree with my initial review (from 2012-07-03). The weight and tracking (on rails) make it an open water boat, not for exploring headwaters or short hop trips. I like the boat, it just fills a very narrow niche, not a day cruiser, this is the perfect station wagon for the long haul.

After making the transition…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 4/2/2013
After making the transition from white water to sea paddling, the Tsunami 165 was my first sea boat. I bought it without demoing it which could have ended up being a big mistake.

Thankfully, the Tsunami does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. It is broad and therefore has good primary stability but has surprisingly good secondary. Loads of space, making it a good multi-day boat and plenty of room for the larger paddlers.

What I didn't like: It doesn't have a skeg and unless you have a rudder fitted, behaves like a dog in a following sea. Because of the high volume it has a tendency to weathercock (a lot). For those that like a tight fit there is a lot of room in the cockpit. Quite a predictable paddle, not the most manouraveble boat out there.

Having said that, this is a decent boat for a beginner, it doesn't throw any surprises at you and has given me some excellent trips in the 3 years I owned one.


For a mass produced roto…

Submitted by: paddler235389 on 8/29/2012
For a mass produced roto molded kayak this boat is all that I could ask for since I am new to kayaking. Great stability even in sloppy water. Tracks great and has good speed. I have had it up to almost 7 mph on still water by GPS and I am 230 lbs. What would make this boat perfect is if it had the same back rest as the 145. Super boat, especially for a large person!

I am 6' 210lbs, bought the…

Submitted by: trvlrerik on 7/24/2012
I am 6' 210lbs, bought the 165 as a pack mule for longer trips. With nearly 100lbs of cargo aboard this boat is stable and tracks beautifully, is very responsive to edging, I did not roll it fully loaded but I believe it is very do-able. I have been out in 4' swells and 30plus mph winds and it takes things very easily without a lot of fuss. A good skirt is essential as water will broach when waves come from the sides or rear, waves head on are cleanly sliced. Empty the boat can be a handful, it weathercocks when winds are quartering from the rear pretty badly, but can be corrected with edging and sweeps. Quartering waves from the rear require sweeps and braces to correct the course. If you have plans on using the boat empty I would suggest the rudder option that is available. The boat is about average speed for a boat of this length, glide is not great. With a little practice surfing is good but again breaking waves will wash up and attempt to clear the deck. Seats and outfitting are typical of WS boats, good and functional. This is a boat I will keep, it is a work horse.

I give this boat the rating 8 of 10 due to weight.


This is a great boat. Used to…

Submitted by: paddler234656 on 7/13/2012
This is a great boat. Used to work at a kayak store and have tried over 20 different boats; this is one of my favorites. The seats are very comfortable and the boat paddles straight lines.

Purchased Tsunami 165 for its…

Submitted by: trvlrerik on 7/3/2012
Purchased Tsunami 165 for its carrying capacity as a pack mule on trips. I loaded it up for a test trip on the worst day possible, 30 mph winds on a busy lake the weekend before the 4th of July (loaded with power boats). The boat did not disappoint me.

I did not order a rudder, and the boat tracked like it was on rails, edging and paddling pointed it with very little effort. I un-balasted the boat with just me (210lbs) and went out again, still very little wind cocking in this high volume boat. Overall very controllable.

It does not turn on a dime but is pretty nimble for a mid length boat. Its speed was pretty average for a boat of this length, with a decent glide. I decided to throw caution to the winds and see if I could self rescue and did a wet exit, I was able to easily do a cowboy rescue (due to the large hatch), it is a wide boat, and very stable, I did not attempt a roll as I was without a skirt.

The back band style seat may not suit some people as you cannot rely on it to rest back on during a restful paddle, you do have to maintain your own posture, but it does allow full rotation and movement and is very adjustable for comfort.

Not a boat for a 3 hour trip, but a good boat for an 8 hour trip with a lot of stuff.


I bought my Tsunami 165 kayak…

Submitted by: fr3agnt on 2/3/2009
I bought my Tsunami 165 kayak in the Spring of 2008. Took two kayak Safety classes using it, Basic Paddling as well as Self Rescue. Had it out maybe, 45 times last season, paddling in large and small lakes as well as the Detroit River.

Very stable boat, tacks beautifully even without the rudder down. And, with the rudder down it takes away the need to edge constantly to stay on track. Although I hardly ever use it, I'd rather have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, I've got the best of both worlds with this boat.

I would not mind if it was a few pounds lighter, however the 62 lbs. is not a big concern, as I am able to carry and or lift it without any problem. This is my first kayak, and I don't see having to purchase another for 10 years or so. This may be my one and only boat, very happy with this choice.


I bought my Tsunami 165 after…

Submitted by: paddler232460 on 2/25/2008
I bought my Tsunami 165 after trying a lot of boats. All the others required KY to get into and a overhead crane to get out of (I am 5'10" 260 lbs. with 30" thighs). This boat really fit and the outfitting is stupid comfortable.

Most manufacturers think that big guys are too busy drinking beer, eatin chicken and killing deer to ever do anything like paddle, which is frustrating. Not all paddlers are 5'8" and a buck-fifty.

This boat fit me, and provided me with the right combo of load capacity, stability/maneuverability, and speed. I have a big engine and good paddling technique, and the thigh braces fit correctly, so a lot of people are surprised at how fast my "poly rec. boat" cruises, which is very satisfying. It wouldn't be a fast boat for the wrong paddler, though...

It also handles rough water and wind surprisingly well. If you are a big guy and have designs on taking a trip that requires packing some gear, the Tsunami is a good choice.

Now the bad: Rubber hatches are a pain to get to seat, and the day hatch is handy, but the lid is the stiffest and toughest of all to get closed. Lube may be required. No compass mount recess, (which is unusual for this type of boat, but I want one anyway.) Rudder is functional, but drags the boat down a lot more than other rudders I have tried. If you don't have to, do not completely deploy it. If you raise the seatback too high, forget about getting your sprayskirt on the coaming. Raise the seatback after seating the sprayskirt, but be aware if you snap it out of it's seat.


This review is based on a 2…

Submitted by: autiger94 on 8/27/2007
This review is based on a 2 hour outing on flat and slow moving water, 90+ degree summer day with a 5'7" 215 lb male paddler of intermediate experience.

I picked up my new poly Tsunami 165 yesterday and had it on the water for the first time today. I bought this boat for multi-day trips on medium to large rivers and lakes. It is, as advertised, a very stable boat considering it is less than 24" wide. For a heavier (60+ lbs) poly boat it has good to above average speed. The tracking was near perfect, even going upriver against the current and with a moderate breeze coming in at about 2 o'clock (just off the bow to the right). For a longer boat, it maneuvered well requiring just the smallest bit of edging to swing into a hard turn. Smaller turns or slight course corrections were made with a subtle lean or a single wide stroke. The footpegs adjustments are right at your fingertips and move easily. The 3 way seat adjustment really dials in the comfort level...I even stayed seated while taking a snack/water break. The day hatch is just behind and to the right of the seat and was fairly easy to access while seated. It has it's own bulkhead so smaller handy items won't roll around or get mixed in with larger gear inside the big rear hatch. I can squeeze a small soft sided cooler into mine and still have room to spare. The larger fore and aft compartments look to easily hold all of my camping equipment and supplies for several days. Hatch covers went on and off with ease and seem to seal well. I have heard some complaints about Wilderness hatches in general but this is my third Wilderness boats with no hatch problems to report. There is plenty of deck rigging for strapping down large loads or to keep odds and ends (paddle float, pump, water bottle, maps, etc.) on deck and close at hand.

I'm going to give this boat a 9. It's not perfect but it's close for me.


I don't have enough…

Submitted by: paddler231789 on 9/11/2006
I don't have enough experience with Kayaks to choose a precise rating however, but I'd think 9 would be quite fair. I have paddled a few boats and finally bought this girl after only sitting in it on the showroom floor. (Had to bite the bullet) I'm 210, 6', beginner/novice. I had always come off the lake or ocean with a sore back before trying the Tsunami 165. The first day out I noticed a quantum leap with this Kayak. I spent 3 hours paddling and before even thinking about the seat until I landed and realized how comfortable I found it. And so many "easy" adjustments. I found it very stable and easy to paddle. For a long boat such as this, I felt it was quite easy to turn once I had the rudder peddles set right. Only Con I can think of is the hatch covers are a little tricky to get back on. Something I could easily live with as it only takes a little more effort to ensure they are on tight.

A really good choice for a…

Submitted by: guest-paddler on 8/2/2006
A really good choice for a novice or beginning paddler in the 200 pound range and with limited agility. The intial stability is outstanding. The multi-chined hull and wide beam make it easy for a newbie such as I to lean, feel the secondary stability, and hold it there with ease without rolling over in the process. I tried several others at the same time and had some issues with stability given my size, build (large shoulders and short legs, so a lot of 'me' above the waterline.) Prijoin Kodiak? Rolled it over doing a draw stroke. QCC 500X? Secondary stability very hard to 'locate.'

The Tsumani is fairly heavy and is slow to turn and to pick up speed, a trade off I suppose of the factors that make it so stable and its solid build. The plus there is that it should take a fair amount of abuse. Tracks very well, little need to use the rudder.