Help with older Wilderness Systems sea kayak

In the next day or two I will be looking at a 17 foot Wilderness System Epic kayak with an Old Town rudder. Hard to find much info. The seller will let me test paddle. Does anyone know anything about this model?

I am 6’0", 180 pounds with size 13 feet and reasonably fit. I currently paddle a Necky Manitou 14 which I like, but would like a bit more speed for longer paddles on flat water (there can be bay chop of 1’ or so). Also I am going to keep it at a different place, so will keep the Manitou. Just expanding…

Here is a link to the kayak for sale:

Here are reviews of the Epic:

Talk of it being a good large person boat, so hopefully that means it would fit you.

Never paddled an WS Epic (possibly never even seen one). Looking at pictures, it has very little rocker, so should be a fast, straight line boat. Looked at the Seals Spray skirt sizing chart, and it would take a 1.2 or 1.4, which means it has a small opening (your Necky would be a 1.7 or 2.2). This may take a bit or you to get used to.

Here is link to this site search.

17’2" with 22" beam and 13" depth. Only made for couple seasons back around 2002. Below image implies paddler weight up to 170 lbs.

The specs look similar to the Wilderness Systems Tempest 170, and the oldest reviews here for the Tempest are from 2003. Perhaps the Tempest 170 slotted into WS’s lineup as a skeg-based 17 footer, with them discontinuing the rudder-based Epic.


Sounds like I’d be bringing along 10 lb of “gear” ha ha. I would prefer a skeg but the used market around here is spotty at best. The idea of speed is what I am looking for and sounds like this would have it. The bay I paddle in is about 5 miles long and a mile wide with tidal currents but no surge and no wake problems. No real need for maneuverability. I’ll be trying it out in the next couple days.

Yeah, I would not worry about paddler weight with that high a capacity. Good graphic, Wolf.

Saw the boat today. Seems it had been stored improperly sitting flat, right side up, on cement. So where it looked like it should have had a very straight keel it had an inch of reverse rocker. Tired bungees and a blown out neoprene hatch seal (easily fixed). Took it out for a test paddle and was unimpressed. I expected more speed and less drag than my Manitou 14. Surprising primary stability for 22". It did edge easily to turn but had a persistent habit of wanting to veer to right in spite of strict attention to paddle technique. I had the rare experience of not wanting to paddle more even on a beautiful day. The owner was quite understanding as he admitted he wasn’t thrilled by the boat either. I also did not like the rudder setup. I’m clearly a skeg person. I’m glad i don’t NEED to buy another boat.

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Another testament to the “try before you buy” rule.
Thanks for sharing your experience.