Read reviews for the Tarpon 160 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!
At 6'4" and 230lbs I felt comfortable in the Tarpon 140. With the foot pegs completely removed I felt safe and stable, my only concern was with the leaky rubber hatch covers. I purchased the Tarpon 160 with the goal of being more efficient and safer in a rougher sea state. Information from the brochure makes it look like the Tarpon 160 and the 140 have similar buoyancy. This is false. Even at 230 lbs the 160 has a lot more buoyancy than the 140. My guess the real buoyancy is probably 425 lbs. I also feel the 160 has a higher center of gravity due to the increase of buoyancy. This means in a rough sea state, offshore, the boat is bouncier, tipper and bobs more. Stability is actually decreased over the Tarpon 140. With the addition of more gear as ballast, the 160 will probably ride better.
As far as efficiency in mill pond conditions it's obvious the bigger and longer boat will be more efficient. As far as the hatches, the suck. I did change the deal in the front hatch from 1/4" x 1/2" neoprene to 5/16". x 9/16" hdpe weather seal. After testing with a hose and offshore in tough conditions, the new seal is leak proof. If my seal fails I could die. I don't think Wilderness Systems takes this part of the boat serious enough. With a rudder the boat is manageable to turn. Without the rudder the boat is unmanageable in the rip currents and wind.
Overall I think this will be a good boat for offshore. In the rough conditions I would add up to 30 lbs for ballast. I would also turn the boat over to seal test in in real conditions before risking your life on a $9.00 seal. Before you sell your Tarpon 140 to upgrade to the 160 I would rethink that. If you are big the 160 has more cockpit space. You will still have to modify the foot pegs if you have a 36" inseam, especially to make a rudder system work. For heavy water I would rather be in the Tarpon 140, which has less boutancy and squats lower in the water.
BAD: Bulky. No way to shoulder carry where the handles are, so expect to buy a sling or rollers. At 215 lbs. there is water from the scuppers even when out for an empty paddle - worry that going for a heavy fishing trip or multi-overnighter will have me in a puddle. Not compartmentalized, so things you store inside could be "anywhere" - possibly causing some balance issues. Waterproof and Wilderness Systems are not synonymous in my experience (Apostle Islands, BWCA/Quetico, Florida).
OTHER: Don't expect it to turn quickly, cruise like a 22" boat, or be lightweight. This is a SOT and does a great job at it. It is well designed and tough built. Ergonomics are first rate. WS does an admirable job with their boats and you won't be unhappy if this fits what your are looking for. Taking it out will make you want to do it again the very next day.
With so many great SOT kayaks out there, I was suffering from paralysis by analysis. I was considering kayaks from Ocean Kayak, Jackson, Viking and the Wildy Thresher (meant waiting but was thinking about it). I've owned the T120 in the past the T160 was at the top of my list, and when the 2014 T160 with rudder went on sale for just over a grand well I made up my mind.
I live in Northern VA so my main paddling waters are the Potomac River and its tributaries. I also have plans to fish the Chesapeake Bay in the very near future. So speed to travel long distance was my first requirement. I can comfortably maintain a cruising speed of 4 mph using a paddle-all-day effort. The other advantage of speedy kayak is paddling upstream to float downstream and fish. I wasn't thinking about this when purchasing the T160 but I love the fact that I can go 3 mph against current for an hour and float down for the next 3 hours and fish on the upper Potomac.
The T160 handles pleasure boat induced waves just fine. We have some large pleasure boats on the Potomac so these waves can be fairly bit. Also handles rough-ish water well. I was out on the lower Potomac when there was whitecaps and there were no issues. I installed thigh/knee braces and I really believe they make it easier to control the T160 in rough conditions. Really looking forward to taking the T160 on the Chesapeake.
Considering the speed of this kayak it is stable. Not stable as my Wildy Ride 115 (not sure if anything is as stable), but I can comfortably sit sideways and fish. Also, it is stable enough for me to fight and land many 20 lb catfish.
The slidetrax accessory rails are great. Makes mounting rod holders, thigh braces, etc a breeze. Tank well is huge easy to carry crate and kayak cart with room to spare. BTW – the T160 seems to track better with some weight in the back.
Nitpick – Just one. I wish there were more scuppers in the tank well. There are only two near the seat so any water can pool in the back of the tankwell.
I guess you can tell I really like my T160. I guess the only thing that can make it better is if it had a fishfinder pod like the Thresher (and scupper). Maybe the 2015 model will. And maybe that is the reason why the 2014 was on such discount.
All I can say I am thrilled with the T160, especially at the price I bought it for.
I am 6'2" and about 250 and while not as stable as the Ultimate the 160 is more stable than I expected. Build quality is good, seat is almost as comfortable as the Ultimate, and I maintain 4 to 5 mph with moderate effort. 6.3 has been my top speed. So far I am happy with the boat.
First the front hatch design. The design on the front hatch is designed so that water is retained around the hatch, if you open the hatch without tilting the yak onto the side to drain it, water will be going into the hull. The seal also does not seal well, so if water is retained on the hatch it will leak in a little, it's not going to sink you, but you should not leave anything inside that water could hurt outside of a waterproof container. The first time I took this kayak out I was in 3' to 4' swells and had my good camera inside the hatch between my legs and it was damaged (It was not in a waterproof container) I always carried my camera in the same way on my Tarpon 100 without any problems with water leaking in unless I did not close the hatch.
Secondly I also notice that when you beach this kayak in the surf it retains water in the back end (not sure what you call that area where you carry your bigger items on top and behind you). All right, just make sure all you items you are carrying are waterproofed as needed to protect what you are carrying.
The kayak is awesome otherwise.
I bought it without a rudder and it is slow to turn without it a real bear in the wrong waves and winds. I bought a rudder and had it installed. The kayak tracks very straight even without a rudder but by putting the rudder on it, it turns great and even in the wind she is sweat. She will stay straight with any wind coming at her from any angle. I also have a 2012 Tarpon 100 and when you're in any wind you are going to have to work harder on your paddling on one side or the other (Of course in Mangroves it is sweat also).
Both yaks are awesome in their respected uses. Just make sure you keep anything of value that cannot take water (Camera's, Cell Phones...) in waterproof containers. Of course this is good advice with any time you’re on water in any watercraft, But I love to take pictures and love to have a camera easily accessible to take pictures when I see the shot I want, I want to take it now.
I would not get rid of either of my yaks, they are both overall great.
I've had the boat on the water 19 times in mostly blustery (20-25 mph winds, 30 to 60 Fahrenheit, January through the end of March) and learned the following:
• There’s plenty of storage for my 2- dry bags (One for clothes and provisions, one for a dry suit.)
• It tracks like a train on tracks.
• I strongly recommend a rudder when paddling in moderate to strong wind.
• It's fast and coasts for a long distance.
• The seats on both the 140 and 160 are ergonomically correct. Note: I removed the seat and back padding because it allows for more freedom of movement and is in fact dryer than soggy padding.
• Both the 140 and 160 are average weight boats--meaning they are too heavy to heave onto a car or SUV. "Car topping," is a back breaker and can be dangerous. Using a trailer is the way to go. Ready-to-use kayak trailers now cost less than $1,500, although off-the-shelf trailers can be purchased and modified for well under $500. (Google "Harbor Freight")
Only two complaints, it is a little heavy to top load on a car but it is definitely doable, and it is not the best at turning. I have been able to get through bridge pilings and around parked boats in the harbor, but it takes a little planning. Definitely not a yak to make quick moves on.
Minus the cons the boat would be a 11 out a 10.
I must say that my Tarpon 160 gets many admiring comments for its long and narrow sleek looks, which I know is a nice compliment to the beauty of paddling it.
The tarpon still impresses me with its speed. Again I'd give it a ten but for the lack of a rear well as having two closed hatches on this boat is not very useful. I also wish it was lighter but I guess that would be toward kevlar. It does oil can a bit but so far I have seen these dings all push out.
All my fishing is ocean.. I have reeled in several three and four feet sharks off this boat no worries. I still hope some enterprising designer will make a fishing kayak that incorporates the tarpon's overall design with a few of its newer, smaller kin's advances, plus light weight and bait well all to the point of sustaining the tarpons terrific handling and speed. So far, of all the fishing 'yaks, this one seems way out front.
I did however find that the Tarpon has a tendency to “pearl” into the chop somewhat, mainly with following seas, but not as bad as most boats with a knife like bow. When you open the hatches you will find that stowage capacity is almost limitless. There is room for a small cooler, a good-sized tackle bag under the rear hatch, all within easy reach from the seat, almost as convenient as a tank well. Under the front hatch I store my yak cart with much more room to spare.
This kayak will carry virtually all you need even for weekend camping trips. The recommended weight capacity is 325 lbs. A very good margin for most sit-on-tops. The multi-chine hull delivers good initial and secondary stability and the sharp bow make for an ultra quiet hull with no annoying “slap” in choppy conditions, while the 16 foot length delivers excellent speed through the water. Speed can make all the difference when trying to jump Tarpon (the fish, not the kayak) that are rolling in the distance. I have measured the speed of this kayak with time, distance measurements and GPS readings. Top speed was 6.8 mph with an average cruise between 4.9 to 5.2 mph. This boat is definitely FAST!
This yak will maneuver well if you put it on the edge in a leaned turn and rudder deflection will help a little. It does not turn as well as a shorter boat but not as bad as a barge. The cockpit is very roomy and comfortable. I let my rather tall and large English friend paddle it and he fit very well in the seat. A great kayak for larger paddlers. The cockpit and seat are also very, very dry for a sit-on-top. The water drains out the two efficient scupper holes in the foot well and never comes back in! You will not suffer from “swamp ass” and your feet stay mostly dry. I never use the scupper plugs that come with the boat. You should bring a sponge however, to remove any water that has washed over the side into the seat as there are no scupper holes there and the water will just stay there until you remove it.
Other creature comforts include: a molded seat back which I have found quite comfortable, cup holder for you favorite liquid refreshments, easily adjustable foot braces, an H20 bottle mounted on the console, compass mount and grab handles that are a god send after a long paddle, foe, aft and midship which make loading a lot easier. A rudder is also optional. I have outfitted mine with one and found that I only use it when drifting along a shoreline. The Tarpon tracks like it is on a plum line and does not need one if you feel you don’t want to spring for the rudder.
This kayak can be outfitted to the teeth! Plenty of room for flush mounts as well as deck mount rod holders, anchor and deck rigging, paddle holders. The limit is only in your imagination!
Now for the negatives- it is true that the hull on the Tarpon seems to be “soft”. It will dent if you leave it tied down on-top of your car in the sun only if it is “hull down” on narrow saddles. I car-top mine upside down and never had a problem. The dents, if you should ever find one could be easily taken out by heating it with a hair drier or simply just paddle it, the dent will pop out either way. Generally, the longer the boat for a given weight (65 lbs) the more surface area the plastic is spread out during the molding process to keep the overall weight down, a trade-off that you need to deal with any longer plastic kayak.
The Tarpon is a supreme fishing, touring, own-one-go anywhere and-have-it-all-kayak worthy to include in your "To test paddle list". Tight lines, wind at your back and all that crap.
Dirty Dave Loger - www.paddle-fishing.com
Summit seat, with small compass,water, raido, and lifejacket. I would say that all together 200 lb,
After a 30 min. driving into the wind and waves, I found that the 'Icelandic' bow was just the design I had been looking for. I was not covered with spray. I did find that laying the paddle across my lap would act as outriggers on the bigger waves. What realy surprized me was how far it traveled after a paddle stroke. I did use my weight shift to get the bow into the head sea. Leaning back to raise the bow and forward to slide down the back side.
I made my left turn and let the Tarpon take the Quatering sea. Still no Spray. After an hour I was still DRY My Butt was not even damp. This is the first SOT that kept me realy dry. Balances well when carried too.
Stable for Fly Fishing. Fast and Dry. Yep I like my Wilderness System Tarpon 160.
Having reasonable balance from sailing and windsurfer days,I just hopped on and took off. The stability seemed excellent,no doubt because of the hard chine design,even more so with the rudder down.In fact it felt as if it had a centreboard or skeg. The tracking seems very steady,even without the rudder. My paddling technique is still raw, but it did seem to move quite fast with a bit of a push.
Excellent, sturdy finish to a handsome kayak and even the much dreaded standard seat and back are comfortable for me. The weight seems reasonable for such a large sturdy boat. My only doubt is the width,it does seem very wide even for a big person. I realise this is a stability factor,but the space is like an aircraft carrier!
Either because of the width, faulty paddling technique or wrong size paddle, I keep on hitting the gunwhales at about the side carrying handle position. Yes, I keep the paddle as close to the side and as vertical as possible!
A very pleasant paddle today down Pittwater near Sydney Northern Beaches. The tailwind carried me along without paddling,but surprisingly the following upwind paddle wasnt difficult! Good one,WS.
Can recommend for absolute beginners ,as long as you have some general water experience.
Further to my previous post,the knocking problem of course was me!*+ Being a novice,I do not have a judging criteria,but am really impressed with the stability and smoothness.It does seem deceptively fast and a reasonable paddle style had me across the bay and upwind in no time.
Overall I am pleased. This is a fast boat and tracks very straight. It is also quiet and turns pretty well especially with a good head of steam. Its primary stability is excellent and its secondary is OK. I can scramble around in it and bunk myself forward to open the front hatch over deep water and stay fairly stable while I grab gear. After tipping myself out of the kayak it is easy to land on the gull, grab the far carrying handle and tip it back up then scramble in again, which is important to me as I fish on the open ocean.
I have an angler's seat which is wide backed and comfortable. The boat doesn't keep much water in it which is a real plus in colder water. Again, its fast. Overall I like to paddle this baby and also fish out of it. I'd give it a 10 IF it wasn't so heavy to shove onto my truck. If they came up with a Kevlar or lighter weight version of the TARPON I'd buy it in a flat second. It could use an empty well in the back too. But it launches into medium surf no sweat and although it broaches on the way in like ALL my previous kayaks, it is steadier. Wilderness Systems got this one right, its design, shape and performance is really great. Again though...I'm praying hard for one ten pounds or more lighter. Someone will get it right, as the other bathtubs I tried don't even come close to the ride this one delivers. Yesterday I was cruising with some foldable kayaks and it was a breeze.
When I got back home, I went to the local Wilderness System dealer and asked to make a side-by-side comparison of the Tarpon and the Freedom. We went out one afternoon when there were some small waves (just enuff to cause bumps, after all the is only Lake Norman, NC). I paddled both for about 25 minutes each, and used leg straps on both of them. For the first time, I did an extended try out of the two boats that I was really interested in. I took them out into Lake Norman on a slightly windy day when the lake itself was not flat (small 2-4" waves). I took along my Thigh straps and used them on each boat in succession. I used the Tarpon first for about 30 minutes as we paddled out into the lake and then to another beach, and then the Freedom on the trip back, basically doing the same route, in reverse. I had never tried either boat in a following wind, and I can finally appreciate what happens when the wave motion tries to corkscrew the boat off course. The Freedom was wetter, and the Tarpon shrugged off the smaller waves better. Speed wise, there was not a whole lot of difference. Comfort wise, again not a lot of difference, although, having the scupper holes at your feet rather than your knees meant that the standing water was further away from the bathing suit (grin). The biggest difference was that without a rudder (the Freedom had one, but I did not use it, since the Tarpon did not have one) the Tarpon tracked much better. The fact that the Freedom is a little more tippy did not make any difference, and both boats could make leaning turns fairly easily. So the end result is that I ordered an Ice Blue Tarpon (with rudder) from WS.
I have taken it out two times since I received it and it is everything that I wanted. It is relatively dry (it is a SOT, and I will get wet), I can stretch out my legs (under the rudder pedals) or prop my feet up against them and use the thigh straps. The only real problem that I am having with it is the seat back; I have not found a really comfortable position, but I have only been out twice. While heavy, I can carry it for the short distance to get it to the water, and I bought some wheels to help me during extended transport. It fits nicely on my truck roof rack, with a set of Mako saddles to keep it in place.
As you can see, I looked hard. If you are tall or big, I do not believe that you can do wrong with the Tarpon.
The only reason for the 9 instead of ten is the seating. After touring three times, I took the factory pad and cut it down the middle to create an area in the center where there's no pad. The shape is likenend to a Specialized male specific bike seat guys. It seems to help - will have it on the water this weekend again to confirm. The moulded in seat seems to cause you to sit on your tail bone etc.
WS has told me they have something coming for storage that will fit in the middle of the cockpit. In the mean time a couple of small Otter boxes ride under my legs. I also found it helpful to add padding at the near end of the rudder slide tracks. Theis keeps my legs from getting hit with them when turning motions are made.
WS has a definite winner here - exceptional value at tis price level.
This boat is so easy to paddle that I have more than doubled my normal range of fishing locations. These are sharp looking boats with that Greenlandish bow and they're pretty tough, too. In ref. to that post about dents..I bought mine from a rental place with a year of use on it and it has no dents, just a little normal wear that you really have to look for. And..the scupper holes are perfect for my weight (165 lbs); water flows out the holes but doesn't come in and keep my feet wet all day..I don't even use the scupper plugs (my girlfriend's Prism guarantees wet feet all day and the plugs don't really help). Waves from the "loud" boats do not wash into the cockpit when you turn into them; it's a really dry ride.
I rate this boat a 9 because it's a little heavy to load and the cockpit is wider and longer than I need. The only thing I would change would be to narrow it a bit to fit my behind better and maybe cut down on weight. I highly recommend the Tarpon and the folks at WS are very helpful, too. (And..it's pretty fast.)