Capella or Tempest

Ok…I have officially made all the newbie mistakes. I’ve been doing this on and off since ‘02 now and I have capsized (a lot) in a 17’ boat I wasn’t ready for, allowed a rental company to send me out sans bilge pump (guaranteed to flip), gone without a hat and scorched my ears, actually gone on the water without water, misjudged what weather conditions I could handle…you name it. Learned from all of it and gotten much more at home in the water. Now I have officially outgrown my boat. I am ready to pass my little 10 footer rec boat on to my mom who loves the stability and the “little foot thingies” as she says. I have been renting and testing friends touring boats and just about ready (ok, itching) to buy my own and get out there. I really want to do 2-5 day trips on rivers, the intracoastal and maybe a little seakayaking if I can find the right group to do that with. I need storage enough for gear but not enough so I can load myself down like a barge. I’m 5’3 w/a short torso so I don’t like to feel like the boat’s “above” me. I’ve tried a number of boats now. Almost went w/the Tsunami 120 but I think I’m going to stick to my guns and go longer. I am now stuck on the Tempest 165 and the Capella 166. I am only considering the poly models here. Too many oyster beds and I’m not ready for the care and feeding of a composite. I need a boat that can give more practice rolling (part of why I Xed the Tsunami from the list). Paddled enough now so that I can handle a narrower beam and the skeg on both the Tempest and the Capella offer a little extra stability. More impressed with the Capella’s Kajak hatches and RM material but honestly I’m really not sure where to go from here. I’ve read the reviews on Tempest’s GM (though I liked paddling it) reputation and seen the rebuttals and also read how some folks feel they can never sit still in their Capella. I often go out with family and friends who have never paddled and need to know that I am stable enough to help them. If any of you wiser and more tenured paddlers out there have 2 cents…

Love My Tempest

– Last Updated: Apr-08-06 5:51 AM EST –

Very comfortable. I have to admit I haven't paddled a Capella in several years. You really need to rent / borrow them both on a breezy day and try them side by side. That'll tell the story.

Uhhh... the skeg... do you know when and how far to drop it? how it helps in the wind? It's important that you know before you make a decision about how a boat handles. The skeg isn't for 'tippiness' stability. It's for directional stability in the wind.

Yes. Patience and Demo…
before committing. You may want to add the plastic Avocet into the mix. As a smaller paddler, I round that a better fit than the Capella.


avocet good choice too…
for your size. Now having said that, I went from an Old Town Rush at 9 ft 6 inches with the footie things to a Tempest 170 RM and have not regretted it for a second. Great stability, extremely well behaved boat. Since I lost 35 lbs since starting this sport, I wish I had the 165 for fit (but then again I like to squeeze into a boat…the 170 is still fine for me)

Just didn’t like the Capella. For some reason the cockpit seemed bigger and the outfitting not as good. (Not as much purchase in the boat but again this could be modified with outfitting/foam) the tempest has an edge here as the cockpit is very well designed and can be modified with minimal effort for different people.

This is why it is so important to demo side by side if at all possible and rent for a couple of times in different conditions. Also second what Kudzu said about the skeg…great tool to have but not the answer to all problems.

I would also look used. I got my tempest for 750 bucks as it had been a demo/rental for a year at the local paddleshop…scratched and beat up but still beautiful!


Tempest for me, but paddle both
I went from a NDK to the Tempest and love the boat.

Have you paddled both boats? I wouldn’t even think of buying a kayak without paddling it first. Find a local paddleshop with access to water, or better yet, find a syposium(sp) where you can try several boats all at the same time.

I love the Tempest. If you’re interested here’s a link to the review I did on the Tempest:

Good luck


Thanks for the help
Definitely looking at used, at least for the Tempest. Haven’t found a used Capella in my area yet. Yeah, I know the skeg is more for tracking (I started out in college as a bow seat in 4 and 8 man crew boats). I think it was 5 in the morning (couldn’t sleep) and mostly meant that it is one feature they both have. The Capella has an optional rudder (which the tempest 165 does not) but I’m doubtful I would be adding a rudder at any time in the near future. Seen too many people who just don’t use theirs. I would want to get to know the boat really well and then accessorize. And no, I am not that much of a newbie that I would buy a boat with out putting it in the water first. Have no fear. Not sure about the Avocet. I will look into that. I am a real fan of the Phase 3 seat in WS boats and particularly like the way some of their cockpits fit me. The 120 and I made fast friends because it was so cozy. So far I am edging towards the Tempest but honestly I was surprised to find that I could afford the Capella (RM) so I have only just started to consider it. Any notes about rolling the two? Do the hatches stay dry? I know several WS boats that let a little water in and several which stay dry. Really beginning to think it is a mix of how well you put the covers on, how long the covers have been used (they get a little more pliable and easier to deal with over time) and a bit of a function of poly vs duralite, at least with bulkheads. Found one store that was desperate to put me in duralite and another that said to do what I wanted but that duralites took as much babying as composite. Planning on going with standard poly because I really do go in shallow areas stuffed with oysters and though I try to avoid them stuff just happens.

I really do appreciate all the feed back you guys offer here. I really am loving being on the water and all the tips I’ve picked up here have made each trip out a little better. Starting to get the folks at work interested as well and got the biggest compliment the other day when someone actually asked MY advice. I answered best I could then sent them here.

if you are looking at the t165 look Aslo at the capella 163…little thinner boat and if youa re smaller than it might fit you better than the 166…

Both kayaks are nice designs.

Myself, I’d certainly lean towards the Capella though. I’ve owned them before and also used to sell them. I’ve had brand new paddlers buy them and they progressed very quickly in the Capella. Construction quality was very, very good. Bulkheads were exceptional…( yesterday I had to resela all three hatches in a brand new Tempest by the way) and the P&H hatches always work.

The Tempest is a nice design and would be a great kayak if Wilderness Systems ever starts using decent hatches and if they ever get there quality up to where it should be. For now though, I’d say that Capella is a wisee choice.

Also the Valley kayak mentioned in an earlier post. The Riot Brittany may also fit your needs.

Cheers…Joe O’

Capella RM 160

– Last Updated: Apr-08-06 12:52 PM EST –

Have you tried the Capella RM 160? It might be a better fit for you. The Capella 163 that was mentioned is a composite boat, the 160 is plastic.

The Tempest(s), Capella(s) and Avocet are all easy boats to roll.

I looked at
Tempest165, Capella 163 and Avocet, all plastic

T165 did not feel alive enough, excellent outfitting, good tracking.

C163 was too big, especially in the back, outfitting OK, tracking OK.

I chose Avocet, mostly for the handling. Hatches are dry (rolling in the surf/pool). Out-of-the-box outfitting is good enough, cockpit mods are on my to do list.

I am 5’9’’, 145lb.

The RM Capella’s are made of better material. Much stiffer and really not hard to sit still in as you were told.

I have several friends who love their Tempests too, but I would go for the Capella. I’m a real P&H fan though.

Outrageous- have you actually
paddled the Brittany? The reviews look fantastic but Riot has almost no distribution in the midwest. The nearest location to Chicago that carries Riot is in a small town 300 miles away.

Liratoad- I am looking at the same two boats. I have not demoed either but have sat in both for hours. I think the Tempest is a more snug fit than the Capella 160RM. I think the Capella has better plastic. I am leaning toward the Tempest because it feels as if the boat were molded exactly to my body size (5’9" 150 lbs.). The DOWNSIDE- two dealers have already told me that the lead time on a Tempest is reported as two months but hinted it could be longer.

One of those dealers will have a new plastic LV Aquanaut in a week or two. If it’s comfortable, I just may buy it rather than have the summer pass by without a sea yak.

My non-advanced sentiment- if a boat is very comfortable and fits well and has a good reputation and meets your specs, you will enjoy it. So much for brain wrenching dilemmas.

if you do find a used Tempest
look in the back hatch where the skeg hose goes into the skeg box,I saw a first year Tempest 170 with a rusted spring clip that allowed the hose to pop off and not work.

If the skegs are sticky you can flush a lot of water through them, dry it out then put some teflon lube in the line.

think that you are looking at the top of the line in plastic boats and the differences are so minimal that it really does come down to personal preference. I had more trouble rolling the capella than the tempest (couldn’t roll either one when I bought it) but that could have been just what I am used to.

I have heard great things about the avocet. looked at it in the shop but wasn’t in the market anymore so didn’t try it out.

The Wilderness systems people seem to be having trouble with quality control and this would be another reason for going used IMO until they get their act straightened out. Hatches: front dry as bone. day hatch dry as bone. rear hatch if skeg is deployed gets about a half a cup of water otherwise dry. (gotta go look at that)

However, when I bought it they told me they had resealed the front bulkhead.


I test paddled both
and liked the Capella better. And now I have heard you cannot trust the quality of the WS boats but I do not know if that is true.

before i say anything, i haven’t paddled either the capella or Tempest so my say isnt worth much.

But,given the choice i’d go Capella for build quality reasons. WS quality is very mediocre from what i can tell by my Capehorn and the tempests ive looked at aren’t any better, plastic actually looked and felt thinner/flexier than my CH. and theres the GOOD hatches on P&H vs the BAD hatches on the Tempest.

Have been hearing consistent horror stories about WS duralight products. stay away from them for now.

Otherwise, I would imagine that a used Tempest would be cheaper than a used Capella. Not saying Wildy has great customer service but the customer service (or singular lack thereof) from British manufacturers is legendary.

Definitely demo them

– Last Updated: Apr-10-06 12:38 AM EST –

You can see that the answers vary from person to person, among those who have actually paddled both. Sum total is that both are nice boats--which means you really HAVE to paddle them yourself. Especially since most of the posters are not sized similarly to you.

I am 5'2" and under 110 lbs. I paddled someone's composite Capella and found the cockpit huge, too huge. I also did not care for its manueverability:tracking balance (very quick-turning but a bit squirrely on the tracking...I am probably just too light for this boat, though).

I also rented an Avocet RM and liked it; it had a good mix of tracking and turniness. The fit was better than the Capella's. It felt slower than the kayak I owned at the time, a CD Squall.

Later on I bought a Tempest 165 RM, which I am very happy with. For me, it feels better than either of the above two kayaks. I also think its outfitting for a small person, stock, is superior to theirs. I still added 0.5" minicell foam pad under the seat cover to make it fit even better, a simple change that I wish I'd done on the Squall. Except that on that kayak I'd have had to add more like 1.5" inches.

You might want to try an Eddyline Nighthawk 16 also. The cockpit is too big and the backrest horrible, but perhaps you can work around those things if you really like the boat otherwise.

BTW, when I was first considering the T165, I intermittently looked at the Classifieds for used ones. Since it was intermittent, I can't say "never", but whenever I looked, there were no T165s for sale anywhere. I got the impression that those who had them were keeping them.

I'm keeping mine!

Hatches? No problems here…
I’m not sure what you mean about “good hatches on Capella and bad hatches on Tempest”…

I have valley hatches on a NDK and the oval hatch on a Tempest and I’ve never had any problems with either. All six of our boats are bone dry.



– Last Updated: Apr-12-06 1:52 AM EST –


A good many of the Wilderness Systems hatches do not seal well and some pop off very easily. Not ALL of them....but a significant number of them do. You're lucky enough to have a good one hopefully.
The Valley hatches on the other hand, as well as Kajaksport, tend to be much more reliable and better fitting. hey are the industry standard that "Others" are compared to.

Cheers...Joe O'