Chatham 17 vs Tempest 165

Does anyone have any thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses of these two boats? In the next 2 days I have the chance to upgrade my old Perception Shadow / sealion to a more modern boat with a hull that doesn’t weathercock as bad or need a rudder to turn.

I’m still a novice who hasn’t learned to roll yet at 5’10" and 185 lbs. I’m looking for a fast cruising boat with decent (fun) handling and can carry a few days worth of camping gear. I once had a Pamlico and a Manitou, so I know both companies make quality plastic boats for the price. I do have lower back problems and would like the best lumbar support that is possible with a back band. I kinda wish they had the seat back of the Manitou…

I know the T165 has more rocker, so would it be overall slower? Is the Chatham so low volume that it’s too tight? Why is it so heavy compared to the tempest? I know the Chatham 16 would be a more direct comparison, but my budget is limited and I happened to come across both of these poly boats for roughly the same price used. Any advice would help. Thanks.

don’t focus too much on speed. at the pace most of us paddle it is difficult to tell the difference between a 14 feet kayak and a 17 feet kayak.

this is a good place to start if you want a high level overview of speed and drag theory:

Both good boats
Both the Chatham 17 and the Tempest 165 are good boats. I am 6’ and 180+ and fit comfortably in either boat.

The Tempest 165 feels more playful to me than the Chatham 17, though the Chatham is no log.

Unless you paddle with a group that maintains a pace greater than 4 knots or races, the drag differences are negligible.

Try paddling each and buy the one which makes you smile more.

This is something you have
to find out for yourself by paddling both boats. Don’t get caught up on which is the best deal. We each have our own impressions and I’m happy to share mine, but for every vote one hull gets there is a corresponding champion for the other.

Personally, I like the Tempest better. It is a more comfortable fit for me.

I think the Necky is of better construction overall, but only because they use Valley hatch covers, which are watertight. The later model Tempests with the Kajaksport hatches are also very good, but I’m not a fan of the original Wilderness Systems hatches.

IMO, there is less seperation of the two models in composite than there is in rotomolded plastic (as long as the Tempest has the Kajaksport hatches).

At your height and weight you might be pushing the capacity of the Tempest 165. You might do better in a 170. I don’t think you would have a chance of fitting comfortably in a Chatham 16.

If you are interested in rotomolded plastic models you might also look for a used Valley Aquanaut or P&H Capella 166.

All of these are very good boats, but some will likely fit you better than others.

Take you time and paddle each boat you can find - don’t rush the decision because of a bargin or buying opportunity.


chatham 16 fit

– Last Updated: Oct-18-08 9:54 AM EST –

i think what defines comfortable is relative. i am 190 lbs and 5'11'' and have no problems with the chatham 16. yes, it is somewhat tighter than most other kayaks i've tried, but i tend to like the added control it provides

I paddled an Avocet while at 205 and while I fit fine, the boat handles much differently (and better IMO) now that I’m 165-170.

When I demoed boats one of my
requirements was that the boat would glide when you stopped paddling - in a straight line and not be what I called “skeg dependent” to go straight. The Tempest did this, the Chatham did not-so as a previous poster said-best thing is to paddle both boats and make your own decision on what each feels like to you.


nice boats
you will be pleased with either.

i would stick with a back band and as time goes on your back will likely strengthen and the lumbar issues will vanish. a good friend of mine had chronic lower back pain when he took up paddling that vanished. he is a serious paddler.

he does not use any back support at all.

the seat back slows down a re entry and can retard a lay back roll. ( the common roll for sea kayakers in loaded boats.

both these boats compare to the capella. as you become a more accomplished paddler you will find the tempest and the chatham roll easily and turn very nicely. they are not fast boats but good for tearing up the water, rock hopping or guiding. they turn quickly and are tough.



– Last Updated: Oct-18-08 1:32 PM EST –

I'm 5'10" 185lbs also, I had no issue with volume, I also found that I had no issues setting the pace during 25+ miles paddles over multiple weeks with groups of fiberglass boats. I think it's a nice ride...


– Last Updated: Oct-19-08 12:16 PM EST –

the Chatham17 will feel more stable,it has a larger "footprint" on the water, it'll feel more secure surfing down wave and pound a bit more going into waves. While it has a low freeboard it's a bigger kayak than the 165, apples and oranges, personal preference territory


– Last Updated: Oct-19-08 4:13 AM EST –

Thanks for all the advise everybody. Logically I know that I shouldn't limit my choices to just these two boats without paddling them, but my economic reality says otherwise. From my frantic online research and the comments today, it sounds like either one will be a nice ride.

I saw the Tempest today and it was very nice. I didn't like the seat as much as I hoped and the hatches were WS ones, so probably leaky. It's a demo boat and a little scratched up, but fine looking otherwise. The dealer showed me a poly Valley Aquanaut and explained it's similar design and far superior materials and construction. It's got that icky lime yellow and used too, but barely a scratch on it and only $150 more than the tempest. Very tempting, but already past my budget.

I'm gonna meet up with a guy tomorrow to see the Chatham 17. Hopefully it's not too tight and hopefully the flat hull is still as fast as the tempest. Unfortunately it's heavier, but my Shadow weighs the same, so I should be used to it. It's too bad that thing doesn't perform the way I wanted it too, it's a really nice looking boat. Thanks again for all the advise. I'll post an update shortly.

if possible
you’ll get the best test in high winds/waves. You’ll sink the 165 down well to resist wind effects and your size will make tossing it around easier. The Chatham17 will be roomier and less susceptible to weathercocking right off, it’s down wave performance won’t be evident unless you’ve got a 1’ wave to go down. My $.02 is the Chatham17 because the hatches will be better(if you got ones that are installed correctly, easily fixed if not) and it’s down wave performance is confidence inspiring,much, much better than the Shadow. The 165 will feel tippier going down waves than the 17.

You won’t be gaining anything regarding speed/efficiency switching from the Shadow, in fact the Chatham17 is probably a smidge more effort to maintain a cruising speed.

The Chatham won’t be any faster than the shadow? I’m sure it won’t weathercock and it can turn when edged - my biggest issues with the shadow… Do you think the T-165 would be better at straight line cruising while being just as maneuverable? The surfing qualities of the Chatham sounds really great, but I don’t know how much of that I’ll need. Thanks.

tempest 165
I agreed that the tempest 165 is small and tight …I have a 170 and it fits like a glvoe…I am 5"10 so can’t imagine you can get in the 165 unless you have small feet. and slim hips.

speed revisited
Why do you think there would be a difference?

If you really care that much about speed, get a kayak with a rudder so you don’t waste any energy on corrective strokes. All Olympic sprint kayaks use rudders for a reason.

I don’t use a rudder or skeg on my boat and it’s only 14 feet - I never have problems keeping up.

I gotta say something here
the issue with the W/S hatches? I have owned a T-170 for 5 years now—the first two years the hatches leaked particularly after rolling practice—then I disovered the secret of pounding the perimeter of the hatches with the palm of my hand—I haven’t had a problem since—Not to insult anybody’s inteligence but if you take care to make sure the perimeters are properly seated you won’t have a problem—rather you want to buy a Chatam or a W/S is up to you but don’t let this nonsence about W/S hatches stop you from getting the 165 if you like it.

Hatches & speed
The folks who do not have leaky hatches sometimes really think those who have leaky hatches are dumb or something worse. My front one leaks just because it simply can’t seal the hatch opening - it is loose, simple as that. The rear two are water tight - not a drop. The problem is the plastic hatch rim is a smidgen smaller relative to the hatch cover plus a bit lower whan it needs to be, so no amount of pounding helps - the bottom lip of the cover lays flat on the deck, the top hovers above the covered edge of the rim inside just enough to let water in.

Either the hatch cover is bigger or the rim is smaller but they don’t match as good as the two rear ones…

'nuf said on this.

As for speed, I paddled my Tempest 170 alongside a pair of Chathams and I seem to had easier time than them. But I do not remember if they were 16 or 17… Neither is a speed machine though - the Tempest creates quite a wave behind it at rather slow speeds. Seems adequate for cruising along (and more than adequate in play in conditions) but not if you are in a hurry -:wink:

if you like how it paddles that’s what matters. Just out of curiosity if you do rescues that involve climbing on the aft deck will the hatch maintain it’s seal?

Well that depends…
Witnessed a hatch implosion of the rear hatch cover on an RM Tempest during a rescue at Downeast Symposium. Luckily we were fairly close to end of the day and landing so there was no need to be real picky about getting the rear bulkhead emptied. I think it was one of the older WS hatch covers.

Granted that’s the first I’ve ever seen, and the only one that weekend with a lot of those boats on the water. But it can happen.

Chatham 17 vs Tempest 165
The first time I tried a paddle float rescue in my T17 in the pool the hatch cover came off when I was up on the back deck. I carry a spare paddle on the rear deck to help ensure the rear hatch stays on.