Tempest vs. Tsunami

-- Last Updated: Nov-08-08 11:51 PM EST --

I am considering buying a Tempest 165 or Tsunami 160 in the near future and wanted to ask for advice.

Wilderness Systems gets great ratings and both boats are on sale for approx. the same price at my local store, North Cove Outfitters in Old Saybrook, CT. Today I talked with one of the guys at North Cove for a while to compare the two boats, both of which are sized for small/mid size frames (I am 5'8" 170lb)

As more background, recently I moved into a house which is fortunate to have a tidal river running behind it emptying into Long Island Sound. This is one of the reasons we bought the house: though located on a busy road, out back is a whole other story with hawks, cranes, blue crab, etc. It is beautiful and I am planning to be spending a lot of time out there and exploring the Sound.

My neighbor has an open offer for me to borrow his (hardly ever used) 9.5 Heritage Featherlite, which I take out whenever possible. But for my own boat I want to be able to grow. & in case you're wondering, this is not wishful thinking - in the past I have been serious about skiing > mountain biking > swimming > hiking etc. and have developed my technical skills in each sport.

On to the boats. From reading paddling.net message boards, I understand that the Tsunami offers more stability (think multi chine) but can be more sluggish to respond. On the plus side, the Phase3 seat is supposed to be super comfortable. Also I wonder about a rudder, ie will this be a crutch to developing strong paddling technique or actually useful.

The Tempest, in contrast, seems to be the more "performance"-focused boat. Downside is maybe less initial stability - though I have good balance so hopefully this wouldn't be too much of a problem! Furthermore I like the idea of a skeg vs. rudder and would probably get more use from a tracking rather than turning device. But how is the seat? Any feedback from someone who's tried it?

Lastly I know people will tell me to try out both before buying. Unfortunately, no one locally is doing demo days until May. The other option is to wait until spring and in the meantime continue tooling around in my neighbors yak. This is a possibility, though a boring one. Guess I'm looking for more excitement in my life :)

Thank you in advance to anyone who has experience with either kayak - or suggests another model altogether :)

Yes, your perceptions are correct. I bought a tsunami 175 because I am big guy and I wanted to kayak camp in upstate NY with an additional 50 lbs of gear.

The tempests, I believe have a smaller cockpit (good if flooded) and a skeg option instead of a rudder option (at least on the boats EMS uses for lessons).

When Im not camping and just going out with friends I find I really have to put alot of effort to keep up with everyone.

The advice to try before you buy (if
possible) is sound. If you are serious about doing a demo with these boats prior to spring time and don’t mind a drive from Old Saybrook, CT to Wickford, RI (a little over 60 miles), you can call the Kayak Centre 401-295-2240 and arrange an appointment for a demo. They will fix you up with a dry suit and all. You would need to call aheaad and there would be a small fee for the demo which could be applied to a purchase if you are so inclined. Just presenting an option.

agree with the Demo and IMHO

– Last Updated: Nov-09-08 7:11 AM EST –

If you are the type that has developed technical skills in the sports you are in I think that the touring versus transitional touring label should give you your answer. Either boat is very capable but in the snot I want to be in the Tempest. (I have two, both the 165 and 170 in plastic) I have paddled the Tsunami 140 and 145 and after the Tempest, with all due respect to a good design, I prefer the tempest hands down.
stability, shnability..after a couple of hours that doesn't even apply when considering those boats. It is butt time you need.
Drive the 60 miles. get into a dry suit, paddle the tempest for an entire afternoon. fifteen minutes will not do it! jumping back and forth will not do it neither will sitting on a showroom floor.

Other thought. Think of yourself a couple of seasons from now. what do you see yourself doing? ocean expeditions? big water? full blown touring? pond and small lake paddling? marshes and estuaries without big waves? Big tidal runs?
That in itself will tell you which boat you will want to buy. The tempest can do all of the above.


I went from a Old Town Rush directly to the Tempest 170 and have never regretted it.

I believe the seat is the same with the exception of the backband versus the seat back. for any kind of technical paddling, you will be utilizing a lot of torso rotation and that back band does not interfere with that. Also for rolling, the Tempest is one of the easiest boats to roll when you get to that point.

Invest in a couple of good lessons with qualified instructors. I am not a big fan of introductory kayaking lessons with a bunch of people but that is just me. I prefer a one on one quality time instruction where my limits are pushed so I can go back and practice.

You are a lucky guy haveing that kind of a back yard!

Of course, demoing is always your best answer.

That said, of the two, I personally would much prefer the Tempest. Nothing wrong with the Tsunami, but having paddled both, for me, there would be no question. Tempest is narrower, (but still a relatively stable craft.) Since you already have a little experience in a kayak, and an athletic background, stability will likely not be an issue in the Tempest. Sounds like bigger water is calling you, and while the Tsunami can handle it, the tempest is likely better suited. Tempests are a dream to brace and roll. Personally, I prefer a skeg, and would never want the higher seat back. They have a “real” day hatch which may or may not matter to you. If you are really itching to buy without the test paddle, sit in both in the store, and make sure you are comfortable in the Tempest. Finally, I think the Tempest retails for close to 50% more than the tsunami. If you can get them for the same price, the Tempest is a very good deal.

If LI Sound
and you are someone who likes to rachet up your skills, Tempest.

You’ll also find that there are a lot of paddlers in your area, paddling clubs you may wish to go out with. The Tsunami is a nice and hugely capable boat and would be a little easier to paddle around in salt marshes, but for what you seem to be thinking the Tempest is likely a better all around boat.

The Tempests have plenty of stability for bigger water. If it feels too shaky at first, it’s just a hint that you aren’t ready to go out into the Sound yet.

I have a tsunami 125 that I like a lot. Mostly because it is more comfortable than my dagger magellan which is definately faster. But with the magellan I can’t move my feet around and feel cramped. We want smaller yaks so that we can put them on our sailboat. But a demo should help you decide. But performance is not as important as comfort if you are going to fish or watch wildlife for hours at a time. My wife and I often spend a whole day out paddling and comfort becomes very important after sitting a couple of hours.

Better to grow with…
It is always best to demo before buying.

That being said, you will not outgrow a Tempest as your skills deepen.

The Tempest 165 is a great boat which is confidence inspiring and supportive of advancing skills.

what they said
all good advice. the seats are the same except for the backstrap which you NOW (09 models) get in a Tsunami 160-165-175. finally!

go tempest and grow with the boat.


Only thing left
what color tempest?





“in the past I have been serious about skiing > mountain biking > swimming > hiking etc. and have developed my technical skills in each sport.”

You sound like a good candidate for the Tempest. I doubt you will have any problems with stability, given your mtn biking and skiing experience (which test your seated balance and your standing balance). Also, the Tempest seat is comfortable and the outfitting adjustable.

Sit in the Tempest 165 and 170 to see which you prefer. Then demo to make sure it feels good on the water. Don’t worry about not having a rudder–the skeg plus your skills will serve you well.

If you are interested in a boat
that will let you progress as your skills develope=the tempest line would be my choice–I’ve had a Tempest 170 for 5 years now and have never regreted the purchase

sounds like you know what you want
Get it and have a great time!

(the Tempest’s the better boat)

WOOHOO! I hated that…
… darned seat back on the Tsunami’s. They made reentries a bear.

Tried both
liked the tempest better. You’ll probably grow out of the tsunami after one season.

Is there a middle ground?
Between the Tsunami and the Tempest is the Zephyr. Faster than the Tsuanmi, wider than the Tempest. Lighter than the Tempest. Has the adjustable seat back and the bigger cockpit. The higher seat back in the Zephyr migh interfere with what folks call a lay back roll or a back deck roll, which many of us don’t do, anyway. In it’s lowest position it only sticks above the coaming by less than an inch so doesn’t interfere with getting in and out and re-entries. Big cockpit has plenty of room for wet foot entires, just straddle the boat and plop your butt in the seat and bring one leg at a time in while you’re holding a low brace against the shore. Many paddlers can do the same in a Tempest, so that might not be a big selling point. You would fit either the 15.5 or the 16. Just a thought, I’m not making a recommendation either way, but I personally prefer the Tempest and Zephyr hands down.

Here are some numbers to consider

– Last Updated: Nov-21-08 12:04 PM EST –

I edited this post to add capacities and hatch volume:
Tsunami 160 62# w/rudder, 23.5 wide max 325, 49 gal in 3 hatches
Tsunami 165 62# w/rudder, 23 wide, mas 350, 55 gal in 3 hatches

Tempest 165 54# w/skeg, 21.5 wide, max 225, 52 gallons, 3 hatches
Tempest 170 56# w/skeg, 22 wide, max 300, 62.6 gallons (I'm looking for a verification, 62.6 seems high)

Zephyr 15.5 52# w/skeg, 22.5 wide, max 275, 36 gallons
Zephyr 16 54# w/skeg, 23 wide, max 300, 42.3 gallons

with your athletic abilities any of these will feel stable after about a couple hours in moving water IMHO.

Yes. The Zephyr.
I haven’t tried one in wind and waves but I understand that’s where they shine. If I lived at the coast I’d want a boat like that. I demoed one on calm water and liked it. It’s a bit slower than the Tempest. Turnier. Rolls nicely and yes, has lots of shin room. I would guess it would surf better than the Tempest.