Poor product support - Wilderness System

I have two Wilderness Systems Rippers; had them for years. Love em. The straps to the fold down seat finally gave way. They are stitched at the deck loops. Tried to have them sewn by a tailor and they lasted about ten minutes. Contacted Wilderness Systems and they offer no support for replacements other than to refer you to Topkayaker for a generic set of straps (no stitched ends). Apparently Topkayaker is about as interested as Wilderness as they don’t even bother to respond to an email. I love my Rippers but my next won’t be from a company that has no concern for it’s customers. Any other suggestions for mounting please feel free. ( I use these in the surf and I kick back hard on the seat in surf conditions).

not surprised
I think you will find that none of the manufacturers keep inventory of parts for what is probably a 10+ year old kayak. So switching to another manufacturer when you replace won’t be a viable solution. Instead, I would switch to a kayak that uses a more standard (so not built in) seat. This way when it dies, you can replace with off the shelf product from any one of many manufacturers.

On your current boat, if it is just the strap that is broken and the strap can be unthreaded from the seat back, the solution may be to buy another cheap seat back which has the straps threaded through the seat (so not sewn into it - something like http://amzn.to/2a6JvNc) and unthread the strap from there (so you won’t be using the back) and then thread the strap into the seat on your current boat.

Or you could just thread in a few runs of paracord through seat back and pad eyes on deck and tie off.

If the straps on your current boat are physically sewn into seat (so not threaded through seat back), then a solution may be to buy something like thigh straps (such as http://amzn.to/29N769F) and clip one end to seat (not sure how you’d do that) and other to boat to hold seat up.

wilderness systems poor product support
The seat in this kayak is a plastic fold up/down back I(really nice feature) with the straps threaded through the back and the ends mounted on the side at the deck loops. Thanks for the interest!

Could a grommet be used instead of

I’m not familiar with your set up, but a good grommet might hold well enough, if it could be mounted.

wilderness systems poor product support
The strap holds up the plastic fold up/down seat once again, a really nice feature). The ends are secured at the deck loops/nylon eyelets on the side in front of the seat. From the factory the stitched straps were wrapped around the eyelets and stitched (like a loop). Over time and normal wear they have crapped out. You would think Wilderness Systems would provide (or through a dealer) replacements. ??? Instead they offer nothing and you have to secure the ends to your own device. Why they don’t offer the original straps, which would make life much easier, is beyond me. Tells me they ‘don’t care.’

Here’s why it’s beyond you:

– Last Updated: Jul-12-16 11:13 PM EST –

You don't realize that this isn't something like the automotive industry. Parts are likely gotten from outside suppliers who might only manufacture them in response to demand. Maybe parts are available somewhere, but they might not be, and you shouldn't expect that it's normal for the seller of the finished product, a product which is now long out of date, to have them. Lots of businesses are run like that, and it's not for a lack of caring, but because it's a necessity these days when profit margins as slim (and profit margins are slim in this case).

A few years ago I ordered parts for an old pair of snowshoes. They didn't have the part I wanted because my snowshoes were out of production, but it looked like I could make the equivalent part from a current snowshoe model work, and that turned out to be the case. I never had the slightest hope that the maker would carry an exact replacement for the part I needed, and I knew it had nothing whatsoever to do with whether the company "cared".

Poor product support - Wilderness System
I understand what you’re saying but if you’re a company that wants to have a good customer following and return sales you will have available the needed part ‘support.’ There has to be market for what I’m after as there were many of these models (and related products) made needing what I’m looking for. How hard can it be to link with a supplier who would also be happy to supply these needed parts (I think they were made originally in China - they’ll make anything)? Sorry, but it is a lack of caring. They could make the customer happy and also provide a needed product without extending themselves. Everyone would be happy. They are just to lazy. I love my ‘rippers’ and have been basically a ‘salesperson’ on the beach for these;probably sold many for them. Little ‘thanks’ and loyalty from Wilderness Systems.

No sew possible fix

– Last Updated: Jul-13-16 11:34 AM EST –

Is the that is broken the one that goes from the deck loop to the adjustible plastic "ladder lock" buckle?

If so you could make from webbing, I believe it is 1", a strap with both ends having loops using 2 "tri glides" and one loop has the "ladder lock". This would not require any sewing and the parts required should be available from Walmart in the camping section or from Joan Fabrics, or some of the larger camping/outdoor chains.

Below is the picture I used for my suggestion

below is a sketch of the setup.


Yes I am horrible at sketches.


– Last Updated: Jul-13-16 1:22 PM EST –

I repair things like that all the time -- I have a 90 year old treadle sewing machine and use heavy duty needles and special UV resistant dacron poly thread that is made for outdoor upholstery cushions and tarps (you can buy this at Joanns Fabric stores).


If the webbing has to be sewn directly to a component that cannot be removed from the boat, you can use a Speedy stitcher awl type sewing kit -- these are also often to be found at sewing supply stores as well as marine supply places since they are used to mend sails. An inexpensive and simple tool that has been around for hundreds of years.


Regular tailors can rarely perform these repairs but shoe repair cobblers and companies that mend luggage can stitch heavy webbing with heavyweight thread. They have the right machines and materials. Check your local Yellow Pages (Or Yelp) for such businesses in your area.

And having worked for some years in the wilderness sports biz I agree with the prior comments. Kayak companies make dozens if not hundreds of models over the decades. On the whole, they actually do a better job than many other types of manufacturers in supporting warranty issues and old replacement parts, but I think it is irrational to expect them to have parts for a 10 year old boat. There just is not the market for that as there is for things like car and appliance parts. As has been pointed out, the parts and sometimes the entire boat assembly, are sourced from overseas or from assorted subcontractors, usually on a seasonal basis. Margins are so small and inventory costs so high for kayak sales that it would be incredibly difficult, costly and probably counter-productive to have to source such small parts as you are seeking.

The fact that you would condemn the makers of boats that you have had and enjoyed for so long over something this minor is kind of petty, IMHO. Things wear out and we have to accept that and be resourceful about fixing them ourselves.

But if you really are one of those people who expects ultra long term support for the model of boat you buy, you might want to consider buying from a company that is not such a huge industry mass producer as WS, which pretty much dominates the market for mid-price plastic kayaks. Smaller companies usually have fewer models and annual changes in models and are more likely to build the boats in house and have stock of components over the long term. They also may be more motivated to support their smaller customer base. For instance, Feathercraft (who makes all their boats at their small factory in Vancouver) can provide parts for 20 year old models. But you also risk small companies going out of business due to market fluctuations and challenges.

Oh god
This again?

From the pics of the boat I could find online it looks like with some webbing some ladder locks and a little time it’s all fixable and would be what I would do instead of moan and groan about a 10 year old hull that parts aren’t available for it anymore. It really is a simple fix, maybe a few hours if that of work. Sometimes you have look beyond the “quick” fix(company fix it)and do it yourself as others have suggested.

Posting about how you fixed it for others to learn from is a much more valuable use of your time then sitting here bashing companies one of which is a standup company. I’m sure if you asked for advice on HOW to fix it plenty of folks would chime in with their experiences, I for one would do so. Just saying and time to stop beating a dead horse.


don’t stock what they can’t sell. Hey I bought a $50,000 dollar plus Ford Excursion. Some parts are not available. They make so many parts extra and when there are gone it’s over. Suppliers come and go and so do manufactures. After market or design things yourself there is usually always a way to keep things going. It’s how much time and money will you invest or do you update to new.

Not a tailor …
Take your problem to a sailmaker or a marine canvas shop.

Whatever man made man can repair.

Just have to find the right man.


fix it yourself
why would you take a strap from a kayak to a taylor? Like said above, either get some ladder clips or a speedy stitch. I would go with the speedy stich myself. You could spend an hour and have that sewn up strong enough for another 10 years!

I also use a hand stitcher
for many repairs in leather, and strapping, and heavy material.

There are so many other things
one can rake WS over the coals for but not stocking a specific strap for a ten yr old kayak isn’t it. That it lasted ten years is amazing. I’m seeing Slidelock XL footbraces not lasting two weeks of use before breaking off exposing a sharp shard of plastic.

Get some webbing and relevant hardware to fix it yourself. Ss triglides can replace sewn fittings.

Plastic footbraces

– Last Updated: Aug-13-16 2:29 PM EST –

are junk. I took them out of all of my kayaks and replaced them with Yakima footbraces which is what I put in the wooden kayaks I build.

At $39 for a set they only cost three dollars more than the slidelock XL footbraces.

All about personal preferences
Not all plastic braces are junk. Sea-Lect (f/k/a SeaDog) braces are strong, sturdy, and you can easily adjust them on the water.

I abhor the Yakima metal braces. They are a PITA to adjust and hurt my hands while trying.