Tempest 145 vs Zephyr 160, beginner adv?

Hi all! I spent my first day on the water ever yesterday and I am instantly hooked. I had an absolute blast, learned self rescue, assisted rescue, all the basic strokes and maneuvers. Felt very natural by the end of the day.

My instructor had me in two boats throughout the day. Both Wildnerness Systems. I think the local marina only rents two: Tempest 145 and Zephyr 160. They may have a few Tempest 170-somethings but I’m not sure if those were rentals or private boats.

The Tempest was very stable for a beginner, but I found the boat too wide for me. I had a giant gap between the sides of the boat and my knees in the knee/thigh braces. This made for some tiring paddling because I had to essentially hold my knees up against the thigh rests or they wanted to naturally spread out and lie against the inner hull instead.

I had some other issues with the Tempest but they were likely due to the fact that it was a beat up rental boat so I won’t actually bring them up here right now cough awful foot pegs cough.

After the initial lesson I mentioned the fit problem to my instructor and he put me in a Zephyr 160. This boat fit me like a glove. I felt so comfortable in it that I didn’t want to get out. It was amazing when it came time to practice self rescue as it rolls over with hardly any effort.

Now my problem with the Zephyr was that after hours with the Tempest I felt like I had very little initial stability. It felt like I had to constantly micro-adjust to keep from tipping.

I’m 5’10 and ~175 lbs give or take. I had no real problem controlling the Zephyr but I was startled at how much effort I had to put in to keep adjusting with my hips when the Tempest needed literally almost no work to paddle.

So keeping in mind that I’m essentially a beginner with one day under their belt: Is the tippyness of the Zephyr something that I am likely to become accustomed to with time? I’m trying to decide which boat to book for my next outing and I don’t want to use the Tempest as a crutch in the sense that I hardly have to work to keep it stable. I’m much happier with the fit of the Zephyr, but I don’t know if its’ tippyness is something I’ll get used to or if it’s something that’ll hinder me.


I’m definitely going to rent a while longer before I make any decisions on buying my own boat, but I think the rental options in my area are somewhat limited. Hopefully these boats can sort of help give me an idea of what sort of paddler I am.

My paddling goals are pretty much learning for the next year. I’d like to plan a kayak camping trip up in Georgian Bay once I’m ready. Definitely more of a sea/touring kayak person. Sit-ons don’t appeal to me, and I’m not sure a day kayak will be what I’m looking for. This is all way ahead of me though. Going to be a lot of fun finding out what I like :slight_smile:


You will get used to Zephyr

– Last Updated: Aug-22-16 8:01 AM EST –

And very quickly if you liked getting wet this early in your exposure. From your response, I suspect that it would take you very little time to regret the Tempest 145. (oops, you mean and I heard Tsunami)

And Zephyr won't fight back about turning, a nice feature for someone who might be an aggressive learner.

(Whoops!! I just realized I automatically substituted Tsunami for Tempest in my head.... of course same answer.)

First day!
If you managed to do all that on your very first day in a kayak then you’ve done remarkably well. Congratulations!

And as Celia says, you’ll very soon get used to the Zephyr. After a few more outings you’ll welcome how easy it is to edge and maneuver.

But, although Wilderness makes a good kayak, there are other boats you should look into. Current Designs, Lincoln, Eddyline, the Brit manufacturers like North Shore, Valley and P&H, and Canadian Boreal Design all make great kayaks you should probably check out.

No Tempest 145
There is no Tempest 145. I suspect perhaps you mean a Tsunami? Might be helpful for those helping you compare.

1 Like

Tsunami 140

– Last Updated: Aug-22-16 7:21 AM EST –

I also think you were comparing the Zephyr with a Tsunami. Now I'm going to really mess you up. I don't think either of those boats are what you want. Here's what you do... test drive the SMALLER model of Zephyr. The Zephyr 155 won't be as tippy as the larger model that you paddled. However it might be fairly miserable getting in and out of until you move the seat back. You can move it yourself or have the dealer do it for you. Much better. The next boat you want to test drive is the Tempest 165. Same deal. The seat may need to go back. Those are the two WS boats that fit you IMHO. You should have no problem getting used to them.

Then... get yourself a Greenland paddle.


– Last Updated: Aug-22-16 7:34 AM EST –

Thanks for all the advice, everyone! I did indeed mean a Tsunami, I even have it written down in front of me. This is what I get for kayak browsing before posting a question :)

I feel like I made good progress on my first day so thanks for the congrats. I had a lot less fear of the water than I thought I would, by which I mean no serious fear of harm in calm water which probably helped. Once I encountered some wake or chop I felt a little less in my element but really only because I wasn't comfortable with the handling of the boats yet. Really my biggest problem was snorting water when practicing wet exits, and if that's the biggest problem I have then I'm probably in good shape to continue on :D

I did have my feet on the pegs of the Tsunami, however I still found there was a wide-ish gap between my knees and the bracing. I gather you can move the bracing in and out but I'm not sure I liked the fit of the Tsunami to begin with. Like I said, the Zephyr felt like it fit me like a glove :)

Being cognizant of the fact that I'm very much a beginner, I'm trying to get into this with a boat I can bang up while I learn. I felt very natural on the water at the end of day one but I'm not under any delusion that I'll be bumping into rocks and moorings and docks and things until I learn to handle my boat properly.

I'm hoping to get into a used boat for under a thousand (Canadian dollars) so that also restricts my buying options. I'll put down considerably more money once I feel I'm ready to move on. I'm hoping the end of season here brings with it some good options for buying, until then I'm happy to keep renting every weekend. That said, I'd like to pick up a boat I know I'll be fairly comfortable with, that's the only reason I'm bringing up the Zephyr and Tsunami -- the only two I've tried now. As a beginner I'm not sure I'll be able to identify the difference between a "good" boat and something that's over my skillset to the point of detrement. I'm not married to WS by any means and more than happy to consider other boats that might fit the generic style of the Zephyr tried.

The fit of the Tsunami really did put me off, and the short consensus here seems to be to try something else so I'm probably going to keep renting the Zephyr while I investigate :)

Trying to understand why the 155 would be less tippy – would it be me weighing the relatively smaller boat down and sitting lower?

Great advice though. If I can find any of these to test drive I certainly will!

I jumped ahead I guess…

– Last Updated: Aug-22-16 8:16 AM EST –

as above, I had Tsunami in my head and did not even realize I had done that until reading this morning. As above, my answer was right for the Tsunami.

As to the volume and fit issue - you actually are a midsized paddler, very close to ther traditional norm. Which was designed first around guys. As a result you will find a number of boats for small paddlers into which you can likely fit, just matters how much you like the fit. Or you can be at the lower end of a boat designed for average to larger paddlers. About the only thing you are not is a larger paddler.

I am a small paddler and have had lots of time in boats with a design volume bigger than me. I disagree on the stability part above here. Considering stability to be the likelihood of capsizing, any time you are in a boat with more design volume than you as the paddler it is going to be less likely to capsize eg more stable that way. However, it will also be sitting above its design waterline, which means it will have less than its optimum wetted surface in the water and and it will wiggle more. But wiggle to a "stop" point, often called secondary stability, and capsize wiggle are two different things. Unless you are in certain known challenging boats, like the Valley Nordkapp LV, the latter does not reliably cause the first.

I have not paddled the Zephyr, either one. So I don't have any personal sense of how large a paddler the 155 works for or how small a paddler will find the 160 unwieldy. WS says 155 is for a smaller paddler but there are not hard lines on this. Best advice is to try and get into both, while getting more on-water time to get comfortable with the basic skills and the feeling of a hard log (the boat) on a surface that is always moving (the water).

Keep paddling
The Tsunamis have a rec kayak seat back and no bulkhead between two aft hatches. It’s marketed to look like a sea kayak but with features to make it attractive for non paddlers. The Tsunami 145 is a good rental boat because it’s so huge and stable… The Zepher could be a fine choice but I’d suggest learning how to put a little brace in your stroke & sculling brace to get a sense of stability outside the cockpit. If you do get a WS kayak check the bulkheads

If you’re cash strapped check out Dagger Alchemy L


– Last Updated: Aug-22-16 11:24 AM EST –

A boat that's designed for a heftier person will bob and respond to every little wave. You'll interpret this as 'tippy' when actually you're very stable. What I found is that if I paddle a Tempest 170 I'm paddling a boat. If I'm in a Tempest 165 it's more like I'm wearing the boat; the boat is a part of me. Think difference between a sports car and a big truck.

Agree - Alchemy
But since I’m a ‘sports car’ feel kinda person I’d suggest getting the smaller one and moving the seat if necessary.

Camping vs Day Trips
If you think you’ll be doing mostly day trips go for the lower volume models. No sense in driving a motor home around when you really want to go fast and zip around.

The reason I’m responding so much to your post is that I’m about your size and paddle a Tempest 165 and the smaller Alchemy. Very few overnighters. I test drove the Zephyr in my search for a ‘turnier’ boat than my Tempest and found that the smaller Alchemy was more of what I was looking for.

I’ll say it again. You have to move the seat back in these lower volume boats. It’s well worth it.

Definitely appreciate everyone’s replies, they’re helping me get a good idea for what’s what. You can’t reply enough :wink:

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been reading about the Alchemy for the past four hours and it’s really starting to appeal to me. There’s apparently a good paddling shop near me, going to see what they recommend.

Found My Alchemy Used

– Last Updated: Aug-22-16 6:14 PM EST –

The price was so right that I had no qualms about pulling out all the stiffening hardware and moving the seat back. Have yet to regret it. Beware of the rear hatch. If you put something in the rear hatch that needs to stay dry, put it in a dry bag. The cover leaks badly. Day hatch and front hatch do fine. Round covers good. Oval cover bad.

Tsunami 145

– Last Updated: Aug-22-16 8:15 PM EST –

The Tsu 145 is a higher volume boat designed for bigger people.

I paddled with a group on a local lake last week and there was a paddler among us about your height and weight who had a Tsunami 145. He was having a lot of trouble keeping up with us -- I paddled alongside him for a while and he confessed that he felt the boat was too big for him -- he did seem to have way too much space in the cockpit and it was clearly a lot of work for him to propel it.

A Tsunami 140, if you wanted a Tsunami, would be more appropriate for your size (and his). I would suggest trying to find one of those to test if you can. It's a fairly common model.

Go with Zephyr
Both boats are good, just different. There is a saying. “Sit in a canoe, wear a kayak”. If you are loose in a kayak it’s like sitting in a canoe. You need to become one with the boat if you are going out in conditions that are not flat, or If you are going to keep improving your skills including rolling, that tighter fit will make a world of difference.

White Squall
If you don’t find what you want/like locally take a run up to Parry sound to visit White Squall Paddling Centre. They have a huge inventory on their sale page and do classes & guided trips as well as rentals. It’s getting late in the summer so call them first.


Zeph 155
Well it looks like Harbourfront Toronto will rent Zephyr 155s too, so I’m going to start trying those out. Went down to Complete Paddler today and took a good hard look at a lime Zephyr 155. I have to admit, I was pretty tempted, even at 1799 new. I’ll hold off making any purchase decisions for now, at least until the end of season sales all get underway in the area. The Parry Sound shop looks amazing but realistically I’ll probably keep trying the Zephyr 155 and if it goes well I’ll pick one up.

But we’ll see what happens in a month or so.

Sat in a Zephyr 155
Sat in a Zephyr 155 on the water today. This boat fit me like a glove. I’ve only been on the water a handful of times but I think I found my boat.

No real problems controlling it. Took two minutes to get comfortable in the cockpit and after that it was smooth sailing.

Thanks for all your advice guys. I haven’t tested out many other boats but I think I’ll be happy if I find a Zeph 155 on sale at the end of the season.

Also I can’t stress how much more I enjoyed life once I bought my own neoprene spray skirt and stopped using the awful nylon rental ones. Literally five minutes to get the terrible ones on because they’d constantly snap off, versus ten seconds snapping this one in place.