chatham vs. tempest

I think I put this in the wrong forum initially…

Hi All,

I currently own a WS Tsunami 140, and I am looking to move up into the 17 foot realm of kayaks. I have it narrowed down to the Chatham 17 and the Tempest 170. I know you will never be able to pick a boat without paddling it, but I was wondering what people who have paddled one or both like and dislike about each.

I just recently tried out a Tempest 170 while on a group outing. I own and paddle a Necky Manitou 14 and a Wilderness Tsunami 165. The narrower width of the boat takes a little getting used to (2 inches less than my boats) and it didn’t track quite as well as I would have expected for a long boat (I was using a paddle a bit longer than typical for that sized boat…may have contributed to the drifting). A slight adjustment of the skeg corrected that however. It maneuvered well for a long boat and moved along quite nicely once I got used to it and settled into a rhythm. I encountered some good sized waves from nearby boat traffic and it handled them all quite well. The back band was more comfortable than I expected and I could easily get used to it.

Seen both, tried neither
but the Chatham has a pretty short waterline length for a 17 footer and seems to be designed for really big waves with it’s big upswept bow. I would prefer it on the ocean or in very large lakes, but the Tempest looks more suited for flatwater and anywhere with more normal waves.


tempest vs chatham

Thanks for that piece of info. Am I to assume that the Tempest will have a faster cruising speed then the Chatham?

Tempest is a serious rough water sea boat. It is completely different boat in the bumpy stuff vs on flat water. Hull has enough rocker so it will turn on a dime yet will still track well enough for the long haul. Cockpit fit for the 5-10 to 6-2, 180 - 220 lb paddler is dialed in so you have really good contact with the boat. Forward part of the boat seems to have enough volume so the bow doesn’t bury into the wave. Edges and rolls like a dream. Weather cocks a bit but the skeg works better than most. As you can tell, I paddle Tempests, both roto and Pro.

Chatham is also a well respected and highly recommended boat. They changed the seat adjustment system recently which had been problematic. Haven’t paddled it but would base my choice on the fit.

paper or plastic?
Both share a lot in common–fast and sleek, good touring boats, good rollers. Slightly different hull volume: the Tempest has more of a diamond shape; the Chatham, more of a lentil. Slightly different outfitting: the Tempest has a love-'em-or-hate-'em bungee layout; the Chatham, VCP oval hatch covers. High tech vs. low tech seat. Both made in China. Other than that, I like both.

It sounds like you guys think that fit is the most important aspect in selecting between these two. I am 6’2" 210, so it sounds like I fit right in with the Tempest. I really like the outfitting on my Tsunami, so maybe that would be the way to go.

more of a lentil???

I didn’t mention fit, but fit was one of the main reasons I chose the Chatham (6’00", 230#, paddled both a Chatham 17 and 18). Very comfortable, with WW thigh hooks a good positive grip. Some will complain there’s even too much room. Just right for me.

love my chatham but never paddled the tempest. chathams look cooler.

Paddled Chatham, not Tempest
I paddled a Chatham (poorly, but that was me- not the boat). At 5’ 11" & 250lbs, I fit a comfortably, if not a little tight.

I tried sitting in a Tempest 170 (Saturday, actually). With the hip braces where/how they were, I couldn’t get down into the seat. I could probably fit it if I removed the hip braces.

I want to try a Tempest 180.

Tempest will be more comfortable with heavier loads, paddling against waves it’ll have less of a pounding manner than the Chatham17,it’ll weathercock more and be more skeg dependant. Hatches may or may not seal well, present Tempest owners should be able to provide update on that.

The Chatham will be more neutral to wind, down wave performance is very nice, hatches are more reliable, in composite the pounding is bothersome, less so in plastic. Front hatch is low to keel making acess limited forward of the hatch.

Both good designs, you’re into personal preference territory.

you don’t have to remove the

– Last Updated: Jul-07-08 12:42 PM EST –

hip braces entirely in a Tempest---they are adjustable--just take each side out, unzip the hip pad and you will see shims inside--to make the hip area bigger just remove the shims, to make it smaller just add shims(a new Tempest comes with additional spare shims.)

Hmm… I’ll take a look!
Thanks for the input, I’ll take a closer look the next time that I can.

Not really,
The pads on Tempests are not made to be adjustable to be thinner. You can only add foam to make them thicker (various sizes shims are supplied with a new boat).

To make them thinner however, you have to separate the outer fabric which is glued to the foam inside and cut out some foam. Not a good way to design them IMO.

I just paddle without them for now, even though I fit with them just as well but a little too snug to be perfect.

seems like
the 170 volume is designed for big folks but the hip pads are for very skinny folks, the range of adjustment is kinda useless for the size of person who fits the boat well.

Steve paddles w/o them…
…He just pulls the Mothers out. Says he likes the looser fit.

As LeeG says…
…personal preference territory. Reasons to choose or not choose either one abound. I chose the Tempest over the Chatham because it takes a little less effort to move it through the water with me and two weeks worth of gear on board.


Tempest 180
is what I decided on after paddling both the 170 and the Chatham 17. At 6’ 3" and 270, the Chatham felt as if it would sink. In fact, the outfitter who had me demo it was nervous that it was going under. On a positive note, the rear hatch seemed to stay on well. The rear deck (I’m told) is designed to be very low. Just a bit too low for someone my size. My wife has a 170 which I like, but it felt a bit on the small side, especially cockpit-wise. I finally went with the Tempest 180 PRO and love it! Stable at all levels and I just took a rolling class with it and did very well.

Hope my opinions help. Good luck in choosing.

You did well… good job!