The importance of comfort?

I have been doing a ton of research, sat in (or at least tried to) around 50 different kayaks and have test paddled a dozen.

I get that a snug fit is good and appreciate the control that comes from being connected with the boat, but I have sat in and tested a number of kayaks that I could not reasonably paddle for any length of time without being incredibly uncomfortable.

I am certainly willing to trade luxury for performance, but want to be careful that I actually want to get into and paddle the kayak I am getting.

After all the work I have done, I keep coming back to the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145. It was relatively quick to paddle (much more so than a number of much longer boats I tried), tracked great…but because it was not as maneuverable I wanted went on this journey for something better. The reason I keep coming back to it is that the “FIT” is perfect for me.

I certainly want and need the boat to do certain things for me but I am wondering how high a priority I should give this fit factor…

hard to argue
you make the Tsunami turn by edging her. the killer 2ndary stability offered up by the multi-chined hull allows you to really put ‘er on edge.

comfort IS important…so IS performance. it’s ‘feel’ that gets us to likin’ our chosen vessel.

steve (who helped design the Tsunami)

Edging Tsunami
If you have not tried edging the Tsunami 145 to make it turn, then I suggest you get someone to show you the technique and then go back and retry the Tsunami 145. I paddled a friend’s several times when I was without a kayak for a while (stolen boat). Even though it had a rudder I never used it. I thought it was one of the most responsive to edging (relative to turning) kayaks that I had paddled. I have demoed a lot of kayaks and turn response to edging is one of the things I test thoroughly. As Steve said, the great secondary stability makes edging while paddling very easy.

The ability to track straight when paddled level, but turn quickly when put on edge is the feature I value most in kayaks and the Tsunami series really does it well.

If you tried edge turns and still felt it not manuverable enough please post and let me know. If you go back and try edge turns (assuming you did not the first time) please post and let us know if you can tell a difference. I always like to hear feedback to see if my impression of a kayak is the same as others.


most imp
I would argue that, except perhaps for a few highly trained athletes competing at the top of their field, comfort is FAR more important than performance. You’ll spend more time in the boat, be more able to push yourself to the limit more often and possibly avoid injury (discomfort may be sign that body in danger of injury if kept in that position too long).

Very Important to Me

– Last Updated: Jul-26-09 6:48 PM EST –

The longer you're in the boat (or on a bike) the more important comfort is. There are some things you can do to get more comfortable. I moved the seat back a couple inches in my Tempest 165. Vast improvement. I put an old compressed foam block under my ankles / calves to keep my heels from sitting on the hull. Much better. I really appreciate the thigh support that WS boats provide. Maybe you should try a Tempest?

number one
on the list is always comfort. Thats why I paddle canoes.

Have You Tried the Zephyr?

Comfort is THE most important thing
Most of the time I want to spend ALL day in the boat with as few short breaks as possible. Often I’m paddling in a place where there are no safe places to get out of the boat for many miles. Because of this Comfort is the most important thing.

White water paddlers and surfers want more control than comfort. They usually paddle an hour or two and then take a break.

Flat water racers need comfort and a lot of room to move so than can get complete rotation, so their boats are often very comfy and very tippy.

I would choose the comfortable boat over the supposedly faster/better boat any day.

My most comfortable boat is my sit on top and if I had measured it in miles per day it might be my fastest boat, because I can stay in it for 3 or more hours without breaks and be very comfortable. That lets me keep moving and adding on the miles.

that’s what I was going to say
that maybe, if the original poster likes the Tsunami 145, maybe what he really likes is the Gen3 seat and WS outfitting, which means he might like any of the closely related WS boats (the Tempest, the Zephyr) which are more nimble. On the other hand, he says he’s sat in around 50 different kayaks. Presumably that includes those.

What I really liked…

– Last Updated: Jul-26-09 10:47 PM EST –

about the fit is the height of the deck and the length of the foot braces (I actually think the seat, while comfortable) has a back that is too high). Many of the boats that I have sat in I did not provide me with enough leg room and many that had just barely enough it was difficult for me to get my legs under the thigh braces without an ordeal. I feel connected to the 145 not broken by it.

A buddy has a tempest (though it has been 7-8 years since I have been in it) and I have not tested a Zephyr.

For some of us outsized people,
it has often been the case that NONE of the kayaks we have tried was comfortable. I have to do much outfitting, sometimes major interior surgery, to make kayaks comfortable. Part of what I try to answer when I try one on is, can this boat be MADE comfortable, or should I keep looking?

This is part of the reason that I am not a fan of demo-demo-demo. Good philosophy for those who can walk up to a boat, make a few minor adjustments, and paddle it away. None of my kayaks has been like that.

Older I get
the more emphasis on comfort. I wish all boats could fit the Old Town seats into them. Only time I would sacrifice comfort would be for a dedicated racing craft of proven performance. Then I would take it home and figure out how to make it comfy.

Comfort #1
I went through a couple kayaks before I found one that was comfortable enough to be in for a few hours at a time. The others I acquired without testing, either free or dirt cheap. I spent 1.5 hours test paddling, then a 7 hour day in a class, in the Zephyr 16.0 before I bought it.

I recently took a class in the Tsunami 145, and although it’s deck is lower than the Zephyr, I fit fine and comfortably in it. It turned nearly comparably to the Zephyr. It has the same seat as the Zephyr, but the Zephyr replaces the seatback with a back band.

If I were to own a 145 myself, I would likely remove the seatback and replace it with the backband of the Zephyr. That might eliminate the ‘too tall seatback’ issue that the OP had.

Tempest and Zephyr
You can make a Tempest much more shin-friendly by moving the seat back a couple of inches. The Zephyr comes out of the factory shin-friendly. Neither have a seatback. Nice, low backbands.

EZ swap
takes 2o minutes to swap out the backREST for a Tempest/Zephyr backSTRAP.

makes a huge difference in performance and comfort.



– Last Updated: Jul-27-09 12:46 PM EST –

comfort is for sure important. Can you imagine an amateur paddler (like us) shopping for an uncomfortable kayak? this is not to belittle your question.


Learn to fine tune the OEM outfitting. Most avid kayakers expect to do this, as a perfect fit out of the box is rare. That is what minicell and Dap Red Label Weldwood Contact Cement gel is for. I wish I owned stock in Dap :D

If it can't be finetuned, take it out & replace (e.g. seats and/or backbands). I'm not a fan of Phase3 outfitting so it would go. Someone else might love it and rate it high on the reasons to buy Wilderness Systems models. It's all personal preference, no one is right or wrong.

That goes for gel pads for the feet, rubber or gel seats, removing the footpegs entirely for a foam footrest, etc. For some people it's very necessary, others not.

"Comfort" is of course a personal definition, but it can also related to our own body posture & mechanics/technique.

For example if a kayaker is not using correct torso rotation and a good athletic posture, he/she tends to slump back against the backband seeking "comfort". This paradoxically rewards lazy abs and core muscles and prevents the kayaker from paddling correctly. When these muscles round into shape, is really very comfortable while also being rewarding and efficient.

If you like the Tsunami 145 well enough for fit and comfort, you could try a few lessons on boat control, incl. edging, to get the most out of it.

If you like the performance of other models more, but the fit needs finetuning, go with something else and welcome to the world of personalized outfitting!

Good luck and enjoy your boat!

personalized outiftting = great
but for me, some boats will never be comfortable no matter what I do. I tried for years to fit into a nordkapp before giving up and selling the boat (diff seats, thigh braces, back bands etc), likewise for a feathercraft kahuna.

The day I sat in my nigel foster legend it was like pulling on an old pair of jeans. When I look at a boat now, its gotta be pretty darn close for me to consider buying. I expect to add some foam and replace a back band, but beyond that…

well, Chris Duff
gave up his Nordkapp cuz it caused the sciatica in his leg to rear up on occasion, so sometimes ya gotta throw in the towel!

It is prolly even more “painful” when you love the boat otherwise…