Is the Tarpon 100 a good choice?

Hi, I’m a newbie to this message board but hope to become an active member soon as we are getting kayaks soon.

We are a couple that has kayaked previously, maybe 15-20 times, but not frequently. W’ere finally ready to purchase kayaks of our own. What we know we want is:

sit on top single person kayaks


versatile enough for lakes, bays, ocean coast with some waves, doesn’t need to work in bad weather or far out into the open ocean

should be able to launch off the beach in some surf

should be able to handle light kayak camping - we backpack, so we know our gear total weight is 30-35 pounds per person

Yesterday we did a kayak demo at a local shop and tried out quite a few kayaks, then spent 4 hours paddling around in the two we liked best, switching half way so we each spend about 2 hours in each of those two kayaks, which were the tarpon 100 and the tetra 12. The paddling was in a slough, with some very small waves, but not comparable to coastal paddling which we’ll also do a little of.

We both preferred the tarpon 100 due to it’s stability and less water coming into the seating area.

It’s fairly expensive ($699+tax+accessories) so I want to make sure this isn’t a huge mistake. We tried many kayaks, including the Venus 11, which we both really disliked (way too wobbly and low in the water), the tetra 12, which my boyfriend considered a close 2nd choice but it was less stable and he found it wind-tracked more. We also tried the tarpon 120, but I preferred the smaller feel of the 100 and boyfriend felt that the added speed wasn’t worth the extra $200 in cost.

ANy comments? Anyone know if this will work (doesn’t have to be fast) for coastal paddling (not too far from shore, I get nervous going very far out)? Boyfriend also wants to try freedive/spear fishing off the kayak.

Ages: mid-40’s

Height: me-5’8", boyfriend 6’

Weight: me-145, boyfriend 170

there are lots of reviews in the buyers guide you can check.

sit on tops are wet boats so I think of them as one season rather than 3 season boats, but that doesn’t mean you can’t gear up to extend the seasons. you’ll need dry bags for camping, it seems like a good fit. I like WS products.

thanks for the reply!
Thanks for the reply! I’m glad to hear WS is a good company.

I realize now I forgot to mention a couple things:

We’re located in Central California, it’s colder in winter and warmer in summer, but never below freezing and never hot. It’s typically in the 40’s-50’s in winter and 60’s-low 70’s in summer. We sometimes have a rainy season in winter, but don’t plan to paddle in the rain. We also don’t plan to paddle in the coastal ocean on days when the water is particularily rough.

I read the reviews of the tarpon 100 on this site, and people seem to really like it, the main negative I was hearing was that it was slow, which is acceptable to us.

t 100
It sounds like you have your answer…

Red flags
I’m drawn to your focus on bays, lakes, etc. While you acknowledge that it’s a slow boat, that equates (somewhat) to inefficient for getting from A to B. In other words, it’s a lot of work to move any distance without the aid of current. Slow is also a liability if you have to dash for cover from a storm, inattentive powerboater, etc. In general, longer boats are more efficient and faster than shorter ones.

This issue is exacerbated when you load camping gear, assuming you can fit it through the hatches and below deck. It appears that much of the cargo would be carried in the well, which would affect the trim (weight distribution fore-aft).

Just an opinion but I think you’d be much happier spending the same dollars on a used boat of 14’ or greater.

also, WRT speed

– Last Updated: Mar-25-13 7:27 PM EST –

If it's just the two OPs paddling, that's one thing. But, if they aspire to ever paddle with other people, maybe a local paddle club, they should be aware that it takes a lot of patience for people with faster boats, to paddle with slower boats. That doesn't usually last, over time.

Also, speed = range. It can be a lot more fulfilling to get out and see more, due to the ability to paddle further.

Tarpon 10 Fine for getting started .
It sounds like you are near the Elkhorn Slough and will be paddling Monterrey Bay and along the central coast. The Tarpon 10 is a bit wide and slow for coastal paddling but will work. I would suggest you also look at the Ocean Kayak Scrambler 11’. The extra distance and speed you pick up with a slightly longer boat actually does make a difference, especially if you are paddling out through surf. The tarpon I think is a bit over priced and over gimmicked. You likely can pick up a used scrambler for about $300, so you would be able to get 2 for the price of one if you look around a bit. The Kayak Connection used to have good deals on used and demo boats but they are under new management. Also check the shops in Santa Cruz.

thanks everyone for the help/advice!
I appreciate the time you’ve all taken to help me with advice. We’ve taken this into consideration and are going to do another demo day before we purchase. We’ll take out the Tarpon 100 again, and compare it alongside the Tarpon 120, and possibly the Scrambler 11. Boyfriend has his heart set on the seats and foot pegs offered on the Tarpons, but I’m not as fixed on them, although they were nice, especially the seat. He may also try the 14’ Tarpon if the shop has one. I dug up pictures of our prior kayak outing to see what we were in, since that was in as rough ocean as we’d ever venture out in, and we were both in 12’ Scrambler XTs.

Some Advice on Seats
Fancy seats may look very appealing. It reality for a sit on top kayak the best system is a foam pad glued down to the kayak, something called a “hot seat” and a small back band. You actually need to learn to sit up right to paddle most efficiently and it’s best for your back. The high back Barcalounger type seats sold on fishing boats are bad for your back and bad for paddling technique, and really bad for paddling in surf and rough water. If BF is really stuck on one, you can buy them separately and add them to any old used kayak you buy.

Look at seats and advice on

Not what you want
to hear but The Tarpon 100 is not a very good choice for a large man. Just my opinion but one size does not fit all. You may be happy with a 10 foot boat at your size but it’s wise to match the paddler to the boat and not buy two identical models for the two of you. I have a Tarpon 120 and find it to be a nice warm weather boat but it can feel sluggish on slow rivers or flat water.

Been doing more thinking about this
And now I’m completely undecided. I’ve thought about the advice here and from co-workers, and read a bunch of messages here and on another site from newbies with similar questions. I saw a lot of “you won’t keep your first kayak for more than a couple years”. Taking this into consideration, I’m really hesitant to drop $700-$900 on a Tarpon. As soon as we can get a Sat or Sun w/o rain, we’re going to do another demo day. We’ll try out the Tarpon 100, Tarpon 120, Scrambler 11 (didn’t try that one last time), and maybe the Tetra again. Boyfriend would also like to try the Tarpon 140, but we’ll have to call around and see if we can find one, it’s not listed on the shop’s site. Whichever 2 we like best, we’ll take those two out for several hours at least and swap half way through. And we’ll go to the shop’s other location this time so we can be in rougher ocean water. If I don’t have any major complaints about the scrambler (gonna take plugs this time, as my main complaint about the tetra was it had so much water in the seating area) I’m going to strongly consider looking for a used one, to use for a while until I really know what I want in a kayak.

The new Tarpons are ‘dry’ for SOT.
But no SOT is very dry in chop.I too would recommend the 140 for your boyfriend.They are great boats. Can’t speak to the 100, but be aware that it will be very slow compared to a 140 , esp. with a stronger paddler.

Also, Tarpons are HEAVY but that didn’t keep me from buying my 4th. They are great boats.