My Wilderness Systems Tempest Review After Heavy Winter Use

I work as a professional Kayak Guide in Finland and the Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 was one of the boats I used the most, especially during very windy days and days that I was not working, when I had the time to do multi day trips out to the islands and go camping. It is an awesome choice.

Wilderness Systems is a US based Kayak Company based in South Carolina. They have made quality, thermoplastic kayaks since 1985 and are widely considered among the best Kayaks you can spend your money on. They have terrific customer service and a wide range of models to choose from, so that you get the best boat for you. The Wilderness Systems Tempest is an excellent boat, best suited for those who want to increase their skills and develop as paddlers.

Tempest 170

tempest 170

17 feet

  • Strong tracking in wind and current
  • Weight capacity: 325lbs
  • Retractable Skeg

Should You Get The Tempest Size 165 or 170?

The Tempest is available in a 165 (16’6”) and a 170 (17’) variant, both of them are solid, the 170 is just 4” longer and .5” wider. The right boat for you would come down to your size. Small paddlers would probably prefer the 165 and medium paddlers would probably prefer the 170. Larger paddlers may find this particular boat a little narrow. As they are both under 60 lbs, they are not too bad to carry from your car to the water either.

The Tempests are rigid, solo kayaks made from thermoplastic, the primary advantage of this build being that they are insanely durable. Damage to these boats doesn’t have to be a concern and you can be rest assured to own this for a very, very long time. It could easily be the last boat you need to buy.

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Wilderness Systems Tempest: A Really Comfortable Kayak

Like other Wilderness Systems models, the Tempest has the same Phase 3 AirPro seating system and padded thigh braces. I have said it before and I will say it again, you would be hard pressed to find a more comfortable and adjustable seat. You can spend all day in one of these and you won’t suffer the same lower back pain that can be common in kayaks with hard plastic seats. The Tempest also has Wilderness System’s TruTrak adjustable skeg system, which is super easy to adjust and is very easy to fix. The Tempest’s ability to track in high wind is one of the first things you will notice, if you drop the skeg down in high winds, you will carry on as straight as can be. However your maneuverability will be greatly hampered. As far as foot pedals go, the Tempest uses the same sliding lock system as other Wilderness Systems Kayaks, super easy to adjust on shore and on the water.

The Tempest models have three bulkheads; on the bow, stern and midship. The midship bulkhead is easily reached just over your right shoulder and is a great place to stow some of the things you may need to grab as you paddle, like snacks or a hat or whatever.  The bow and stern domed bulkheads are very spacious, as you would expect from an expedition kayak, more so than the Wilderness Systems Zephyr. In fact, the Tempest has been the choice of many long expeditions and the design remains pretty much unchanged since it debuted. The Tempest has hard chines and a great V shape, giving you ample stability and a pretty easy time rolling it, though not as stable as the Zephyr. It is a phenomenal choice for a touring Kayak in that it has great storage, tracks like a dream and has great speed. However the length could make it problematic for something like rock hopping.

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A Great Kayak For Intermediate and Advanced Paddlers

There aren’t too many cons with this boat, although some may find that it is tougher to turn at 17 feet. However if you are in the market for an expedition kayak, I would suggest giving this one a look. At its price, it represents a lot of bang for your buck and it would give a kayaker a lot of area to develop in. I would recommend this for intermediate to advanced paddlers, if you were after something more stable for newer paddlers, perhaps the Zephyr or the Tsunami would be better choices. If you were a bigger person, then you may find this particular model a bit too narrow. All in all, it is a fantastic kayak that is an absolute blast to paddle around in.

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