Tempest VS Zephyr

For those of you who have experience with both, which one would you choose and why? KK

belts and suspenders
both hold your pant up…which would YOU choose?

Tempest- better tracking, faster, longer, more gear, better all-around

Zephyr- better maneuvering, shorter, more sporty (in a way)better second (or third) boat

that help?


Opinions on that seem irrelevant to me

– Last Updated: Mar-11-09 11:20 AM EST –

I think the choice between those two should be based on what you personally want to do with the kayak. Your own ability level (and/or what you want to learn beyond current level), where/how you like to (and want to) paddle, etc.

What Steve posted above should make the choice pretty obvious.

Did WS fix the leaky
hatch & skeg box problem on the tempest?

what problem? (NM)

Some Experience

– Last Updated: Mar-11-09 4:24 PM EST –

I own two Tempest 165s and I demoed the Zephyr. Unfortunately on demo day it was pretty calm out. If I lived at the coast I'd probably have a Zephyr by now. I think it would shine on windy, wavy days. Like Flatpick said, it's a turnier boat. More responsive. Likes to sit up on edge more than the Tempest. I didn't have my GPS with me but the Zephyr felt like it had significantly less glide.

Oh... neither of my Tempests have had leaky skegs. My Kajaksport covers keep the hatches bone dry. (The old poly boat gets wet in the day hatch).

Hi All,

I have owned a Tempest 170 and currently have the zeph. The Zeph is awesome and a great work boat. They have fixed up the rear hatch problem well. The Zeph is excellent if you are crusing, working, and going on a short expedition.

dont waist your money on a Tempest especially with the rear hatch. The zeph does every thing the tempest does plus more.

before you purchase a wilderness systems kayak make sure the skeg cable is mounted correctly and not half way down the bulk head. and dont forget to re silicon the bulk heads.


facebook Rob Cousins

I recently demo’d both the 165 and 170, the latest fiberglass models. Both felt great in the varied conditions I paddled in, but I was dissapointed in the restrictive, high cockpit coaming. Both boats rolled predictably well, but the high coaming didn’t allow for a full lay-back position that the low deck would have otherwise accomadated. Just an observation. Ken…

high rear deck?
really? i think the Tempest and Zephyr both have amongst the lowest back decks in production boats.

the whole layback roll thing is too overblown. for extreme layback rolls, which seem to me to be more for fun than a practical technique, you may want lower, but these are tripping boats that are as easy to roll in any fashion, as anything in production.

my 2 centavos…

That helped
If you read the reviews there is alot about leaky hatches & skeg boxes on the Tempest. But I do want a sporty better maneuverable boat. But it looks like its still going to be a couple of weeks before you run them again. KK

Deck height front and back on both boats is just fine. I thought of another compare and contrast: The Zephyr has significantly more shin room for entering and exiting the boat. Tempest will likely need the seat moved back to prevent scraped shins.

Zephyr: Slower, easier to turn, more comfortable, shines in wind and waves.

Tempest: Faster on flatter water. I don’t think you’d burn as much energy keeping up with the pack on a long, calm day.

new hatch
new Tempest (roto) are sporting our new, dry, bomber domed rear hatch.

and DO NOT (!!!) ever put silicone on a B/H. It don’t stick and is a MESS to clean up to properly apply a good marine sealant. ie- 3M 5200, Sikaflex, Lexel.


Yup - high.

– Last Updated: Mar-12-09 9:20 AM EST –

Not terribly high - I can touch my head on the rear deck. But I have to arch my back to do this. The rear deck on my plastic tempest does not allow me to lay back flat on it like I can on a Chatham 17 for instance, without resistance in the low back. There is a noticeable difference, especially with a PFD on. For what it's worth, my Perception Sonoma 13.5 is lower than the Tempest 170 in the rear cockpit rim as well - easier to lay back on, and just because of that I've been taking it to my last few rolling sessions instead of the Tempest.

As for skegs/hatches - my skeg has been bone dry. Both rear hatches too. Only my front one leaked before some warranty action was taken on it and now it should be dry too (have not tested it, but it feels like it will be).

QC can still be an issue out of the factory though - wavy bows, loose fasteners, missing parts, bent skegs (from my personal experience with my last '09 model boat)... Nothing that can't easily be fixed where it matters but still not where I think brand new boats should be quality-wise. The good news - once fixed (if needed) the plastic Tempest/Zefirs will hold-up very well over time.

As for the Zephyr - more playful than the Tempest. And slower, from a short test paddle I had in it. The 16 has mode leg room too. And I hear the two version of the Z. may have a different feel on the water so if you fit both, check them out to see if that matters to you or not to pick one over the other.

Tempest leaks are basically bull
I have a older Tempest (not sure what year since I bought it used from an outfitter/guide) so it was pretty beat up.

I’ve never had a drop leak from the skeg or hatches. Only “leak” is some seepage in the front bulkhead when I hose the inside down.

I think the rumors of leaky hatches are exaggerated. Only those with problems speak up. The other 99.9% without problems remain quiet (except me).

This is for a ‘poly’ Tempest. No claims for the glass/kevlar ones.


Mt. Pleasant, SC

“just wish the darn thing weighed 20 lbs less, maybe if I drill about 100 1/3” holes in it…"

I’m another Roto Tempest 170 owner that never had leaky hatch or skeg problems. I have a 2003 model and I am starting to get water in they day hatch area but that is because of the bulkhead behind the seat is loosing its grip and leaking a little when the cockpit gets water in it. One day I’ll get around to cleaning and resealing it.

My skeg has a curve to it and always has but it doesn’t seem to make any difference on the water.

I’ve loved that boat for a lot of miles!

Oh, and I like it A LOT more since I moved the seat back about 2.5 to 3 inches about a year and a half ago. Much better trim and comfort, I can get in but first!


Just because you don’t have a leak
Doesn’t mean other people do not have leaky boats when they say they do. FWIW, I am aware of one store that had several kevlar Tempests with leaks. Maybe they were just in the .1% nationwide, but for them it was a substantial percentage.

never had a leaky hatch when I made sure it was on properly in my 03 RM Tempest 170

leaky hatches
I had minor leakage in mine. the covers seemed to fit good and i decided that when the covers expanded and than contracted it was kind of like sucking in water with the contraction. i popped some small holes through the bulk heads to releive the pressure and have not had any water since. when the lids contract, instead of sucking air (and water) through the seal, it suckes it in through the holes in bulkheads. also, when they want to expand they blow the air through the bulkhead. the holes do not allow water in. It worked for me. I also located an older rear cover with the collar instead of the later collarless ones. I dont know if that did anything since I changed that and did the holes at the same time. But I have no water in any compartments ater having the boat upside down, etc.

I also do spend more time putting the covers on and maing sure they are seated right.

I am looking forward to hearing reports on the brand new covers

I love…
Lexel! I’ve even used it in the rain! Awesome product!