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Wilderness Systems Tsunami Review: The Swiss Army Knife of Touring Kayaks

I work as a professional Kayak Guide in Finland and the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 was a kayak I would use myself if I was doing longer trips with bulky items for camping and I would usually suggest this kayak to beginner paddlers who just wanted to try something a little faster. It was also a great choice for bigger customers who were maybe nervous about being in a more “tippy” boat.

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 are a terrific company with excellent B2B service and with so many different models of kayaks, you are sure to find the one that is perfect for you. As a company, I really cannot recommend them enough.

Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145: A very Versatile Kayak

Wilderness Systems describes the Tsunami 145 as “The Swiss Army Knife of Touring Kayaks“, I actually find this to be a perfect description of this boat. It is really like the Swiss Army Knife, it does many things pretty well but not amazingly well, and it is a boat that is a “jack of all trades but a master of none” so to speak. There is nothing wrong with that at all, providing that is what you are looking for in a kayak.

The Tsunami 145 is a rigid, thermoplastic kayak that measures 14’6” long, is 25.5” wide and is only 56 lbs.  Like all of Wilderness Systems’ boats, it is super durable and super comfortable. The Tsunami uses the same Phase 3 AirPro seating system and padded thigh braces that make Wilderness Systems Kayaks just so freaking comfortable to sit in. It also has Wilderness Systems’ TruTrak adjustable skeg system, which is super easy to adjust, even while paddling. All of these features combine to make a great all around kayak, for just about any new paddler.

Tsunami 145 vs 165 vs 175

While most people probably will find the kayak comfortable, Wilderness Systems also makes a Tsunami 165 and Tsunami 175 model for bigger paddlers, or those who want even more storage space.

The Wilderness Systems Tsunami is available is 6 colors and 3 sizes: 145, 165 and 175

What Are The Best Things About The Tsunami kayak?

Well, this is an exceptionally durable and stable kayak, it would be a great boat for a beginner to intermediate paddler who just wants an easy kayak to learn and paddle with. The fantastic primary stability allows you to relax and really enjoy being out on the water without any wobbling as you adjust your weight and look around. It is also surprisingly fast in calm water. With domed, spacious stern and bow bulkheads, it has an enormous amount of storage space you would honestly be hard pressed to fill it. However if you really needed even more space, there is a 165 and a 170 model available as well. I would sometimes take a Tsunami if I just could not be hassled about trying to pack things into another, quicker kayak and was headed camping for a few days with my dog.

The Disadvantages Of The Tsunami 145

I would argue that this kayak really does not offer you much in the way to develop as a paddler. It does not turn very well and although it tracks straight, it does not have a drop down skeg to make adjustments with the wind. I would say this is a great boat for sheltered water, rivers and bays, but not for more demanding weather or playing in the rocks and surf. It is easy enough to roll, but there are better options available for a paddler who wants a more playful kayak. At $1300, it is not overly priced…but if you spend a little more money you could get a kayak that you could really develop and improve as a paddler with.

If you are a newer paddler, or just want a VERY stable kayak, I would suggest this kayak for you. If you are an intermediate to advanced kayaker, I would say that this boat will probably bore you after a while. I think larger paddlers would definitely appreciate the legroom and wide cockpit as well. It is definitely a great kayak, but not right for everyone. I would advise someone to maybe try it out in person if it was at all possible.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wilderness Systems Zephyr Review: A Great kayak For Expert And Novice Paddlers

I work as a professional Kayak Guide in Finland, I used a Zephyr 160 or 155 almost exclusively all last summer in the Helsinki Archipelago. I used it in winds ranging from 2 mps to 12 mps, in both flat and pretty rough seas and from trips ranging of a few hours to a few days. I am a qualified Sea Kayak Instructor and an EPP3 in Sea Kayak.

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 highest quality 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 Zephyr is among their best models.

Wilderness System Zephyr Size: 155 vs 160

The Zephyr is available in two sizes. The Zephyr 155 and the Zephyr 160, the only real differences between the models are in weight, width and length, with the 160 being bigger at 16”. Both are fantastic boats, the boat that is right for you would be the one that you are most comfortable in. Smaller framed paddlers will love the 155’s more compact build and bigger paddlers will most likely prefer the 160’s more spacious capacity and cockpit. Either way, you really cannot go wrong.

The Zephyr is a rigid, solo kayak, made from ABS plastic. This thing is absolutely bomb proof, where you would have to be careful with a wooden or Kevlar Kayak, you can sleep easy knowing that you could drag this boat across the beach and it would not suffer any damage.

Enjoying the sunset after a day out on my Zephyr…

The Zephyr: A Comfortable And Maneuverable Kayak

Sitting inside, you will immediately notice how comfortable the seat is. Easily adjustable and well contoured to your lower back; this is one of the most comfortable seats available in a Sea Kayak. There are adjustable padded thigh braces that are very comfortable to press on. The slidelock pedals are easily adjusted with a sliding bar system that is accessible from your seated position, which means no more reaching way down the boat to mess with peddles! The trutrak skeg is adjusted from a simple lever on the right hand side of the boat and uses a string and spring so as not to kink or tangle and there is a compass recess if you feel so included.

Both models are under 60 lbs, making this a fairly easy boat to move from your car to the water as well as a VERY maneuverable boat in the hands of both novices and experienced paddlers. At 22.5” of width on the 155 and 23” of width on the 160, both boats are very stable. They accelerate very quickly, turn very tight and are very easy to roll, making them wonderfully fun models for rock hopping and playing in the surf. This has been the reason that I tend to use this Kayak more than others, if a customer or client is having a problem, I can turn and race to them very quickly. In addition, the skeg is excellent and in high winds, it makes a very real difference in being able to track straight. If you are struggling to turn with the skeg down, simply adjust it to a point that allows you to track straight while still being able to turn.

How’s The Storage On The Zephyr?

As far as storage goes; there are bow, midship and stern bulkheads, which are all domed. This provides you with ample storage space to hold gear for trips easily lasting a few days as well as quick day paddles. Place your most used gear and snacks in the midship bulkhead and divide the bow and stern with the rest of your kit. The 155 has a max capacity of 275 lbs and the 160 has a max capacity of 300 lbs, making them appropriate for trips of up to five days in my opinion.

These are excellent touring/sea kayaks for just about any level of skill and are great boats to develop with, considering their tough build and stability. Their price makes them on the higher end of the cost spectrum, but still a tremendous value for the money. They could easily be considered the perfect kayak by many.

Conclusion And The Only Negative…

As far as cons go, you would be hard pressed to find any. The really only negative characteristic, could be the plastic foot pegs. They can sometimes feel flimsy when really pushing on them, but I have never had one break on me. If you wanted to do even longer trips, or maybe bring more luxury items, then perhaps you would find the storage space to be underwhelming, but I have never had an issue in this respect.

I would primarily compare it to the Wilderness Systems Tempest, an excellent boat in its own right. The Tempest has more storage space, tracks better and is probably a little bit faster. However it is less maneuverable and harder to roll. Which boat is better for you would probably just come down to personal preference.