Which Tsunami for me?

Situation: I am getting a kayak of my choice for my birthday. I have kayaked a few times (no surf ocean and lake) and loved it…I am a beginner +. This will be my first boat. I think I have decided on a Tsunami but which one is the best fit. I have read boat descriptions that say the 120 and 125 are for ‘the smaller paddler." What does that mean? I do not consider myself a small person (see stats below) but then I have read reviews from 200+ lb people saying they love their 125. Confusing.

I am:


5’ 10"

155 lbs


  • Tsunami 120 duralite (Being a woman (athletic and somewhat strong), would this be best for lifting or is the 53lb ones doable for a woman)
  • Tsunami 120
  • Tsunami 125 (leaning towards this one but afraid to lift it - tricks to lifting?)



3 great choices
…but the duralite will be the easiest to lift but even it will be a handful.

don’t even think about a 125. It IS NOT for smaller paddlers and you ARE a smaller sized paddler (in the BIG picture)

I weigh 180 (prolly 200+ with gear)and fit OK in a 120 (snug) the 125 is a BIG boat.

take a look at the TS-135. it’s the cool, new model that is actually quite narrow and sweet.

there are tricks to solo load/carry, wheeels, etc. and you’ll prolly find paddling partners as you get to becoming a true ‘paddler’.

Happy B-day!

steve (WS Tsunami design team)

How does the new 135 compare to the Tsunami 140?

Any differences other than length?

TS 120 Duralite @ 43 lbs
I know you mentioned having help lifting at outings - but I will be rigging my car at home alone.

Do you recommend this over the regular TS 120 @ 54 lbs?

I checked on these at REI:

120 Duralite = 1099.00

Regular 120 = 799.00 (normally $950.00)

Where is the best place to buy? I am not paying - but do not want my parents paying any more than they have to.



If no on the 125, why not no on 135?
Thinking that 135 is as big if not bigger than that 125.

There is a duralite in the TS 135 @ 43lbs.

(about $200 more than the Reg 135; that I could find on the web)

Not too many places seemed to carry that one.

Remember…the RED ones are faster

…and feel lighter.

and Happy Birthday!!!

try out a Tempest 165

– Last Updated: Dec-11-07 8:05 PM EST –

I have a hunch from our description you might get bored by a Tsunami pretty quickly.

The Tempest, made by the same company, is a great all around yak, and the 165 is the smaller persons version. But at 5 foot 10, the full size tempest 170 might feel right.

Check out the differences between the tempests and tsunamis on the Wilderness Systems web site (weight, width, etc.) and try out a tempest if you haven't done so yet...

just a thought, from a person who tried both models a lot, and is very glad, a year and half later after starting out from zero knowledge, he got the tempest...

Not sure how much demo time you have
done, but I agree you may get bored with a Tsunami. Take a trip to Aqua Adventures in San Diego and demo lots of kayaks. If that is not doable, consider a Tempest 165 over a Tsunami.

get the 140
My wife and I have the 140’s and love them but if I had to do it over again, I would pay the extra money and get the duralite model.

lifting and tsunamis
I think you’ll be just fine in the 120. I think the sizing of a lot of rec/entry level touring boats is pretty skewed(like having a plus size clothing store where everething is actually 4 sizes bigger than the tag sais),plus they’re meant to fit “loose” as to not make a newbie feel claustrophobic. a 120 will be just fine. I’d go for the 120 in normal plastic, i think with duralite you’re trading off too much in stiffness and durability for weight savings,may as well get a thermoformed kayak instead(and it’ll look better).

Learn to lift. After pulling my back a few times lifting my 65 lb Elaho like a macho goof i learned that it’s much easier to lift one end of the boat at a time. I got no problems carrying the weight on the shoulder,it’s the lifting it those last 6 inches on the car roof part that does me in. One end at a time and the weight becomes nearly irrelevant. and for moving it around on land,carts are the way to go.

The 125 does have a…

– Last Updated: Dec-11-07 9:34 PM EST –

...a LARGE cockpit. It is a great boat but I just sold mine because I decided I wanted a longer boat. I am 6'0 220lbs and I felt small in the cockpit. It seemed really deep. I can't speak on behalf of the 120 or any other Tsunami for that matter, but in my opinion the 125 is too large for you. I would check out the 120 or 140. As for the Duralite, I have only heard negative things about it. Roto boats are flexible anyway and the Duralite material is even thinner.

Also, in the short time I have been on this board I have seen that Steve (flatpick) knows his stuff. Any advice he gives is useful. Good luck and Happy Birthday!


tempest 165
I agree with suggestions that you look at the tempest 165. Nothing wrong with the tsunamis, but the tempest is narrower, but stable enough for a newer paddler. You won’t outgrow it either. You mention sea kayaking in your profile, this would be better suited. If you are looking to stay around $1000, consider looking at used. you can often resell for about what you paid, if you should want to change down the line. In terms of loading by yourself…no worries… lots of techniques from bath mats to roller systems to fancy lift systems to ease loading by yourself. Test paddle different boats if you can so you have something to compare with.

Tempest over Tsunami

I have a tsunami 140 and was bored with it within 4 months, but I never had any problems loading or unloading by my self. I usually shoulder it and I’m 5’3" 145lbs… Wish I had a tempest. KK

can’t argue
with most of what’s being said.

Ts-135 is narrower, smaller cockpit, lower deck, etc. than 140 and narrower and smaller cockpit than 120. you REALLY don’t want a 125 (it is size XL or XXL) and the 140 is good tho is size L. the 135 is size M. if this makes sense.

a archive search will get you a TON of info on Tsunami sizing and discussion.

if you jump up to a Tempest it’s 16.5 feet long and $1500 +/-. BIG difference. people who get ‘bored’ with a Tsunami 'prolly wanted a true sea boat to begin with. Many could be pretty happy paddling one exclusively.BTW- 20 minutes after you buy your first boat, you are thinking about your 2nd. (unless you get a Pamlico 140{inside joke)

Duralite does trade off a few things for a few pounds. IMO spend more $$$$ on your paddle. an Adventure Technology (AT)Exception in 220cm…

yeah baby.




From another female

– Last Updated: Dec-12-07 7:36 PM EST –

I have been busy and not scrolled down to see your post. Would have been in here sooner if I realized that it was all guys replying to you.

First, listen to Steve and forget the darned numbers of the boat models. You ARE a small paddler in sea kayaks - an average paddler is a guy who is at least a smidge taller and definately heavier than you. That's longer legs, and proportionately longer torso and arm reach. At 5'4" and 135 pounds on a less lean morning, I am a very small paddler. In fact most "small paddler" sea/touring kayaks are too big for me in volume and/or fit.

As Steve says, you need a narrower boat and a shorter deck height to be able to paddle with the same comfort as a bigger guy. And don't worry about the stability. You will find that between having your center of gravity in your posterior in the seat, and fitting a boat properly even if it is narrower than the guys' boats, you'll be as or more stable than they are in their wider boats.

As to the boat - your profile says you live in Santa Cruz. While you may not be interested in anything bumpy today, or even during most of the coming season, it's a very small chance that you won't want to go further within a year or so. I also suspect you'll find that there are paddling groups around which you'll want to join, most of whom will probably have already made the jump to a full sea kayak like the Tempests.

If that's where you live and where you may likely end up, you might as well go to a Tempest from the start and save yourself having to sell the Tsunami. Most here went thru that, which is why you are getting advice to skip the hassle.

The balance point is mentioned above by rider604, that a bigger looser boat may feel more comfortable at first. And that is correct - but for a birthday present that you probably need to keep for a while to not feel guilty I'd be concerned about the at first part. I assume that you like the person giving you this gift and would also like to love the boat for more than 12 weeks. Also, a big loose boat will not help you learn the skills that will make you safe should you want to go offshore as well as a better fitting boat that was designed with that in mind.

You may have a problem where the person giving you the kayak is not ready to move to more boat. If that's the case, you should take both of you down to Aquaterra and talk with Jen. At the worst he/she is not convinced, you would have a better undersatnding of what people here are saying and maybe you could could cover the diff yourself. At the best both of you are conviced and you get more boat. Being within driving reach of Aquaterra is a rare opportunity.

As to cartopping it, you don't have to lift the boat. In fact you almost never should unless you really want to help your local osteopath into a new Lexus. As Steve mentions you can use a small wheeled cart (there are plenty of varieties around) to get it between car and launch and prop it on end then slide it up. In fact, the longer boats with more rigging are much easier to handle this way that the shorter ones. If you want to see some pics of how I have done this, email me. My husband has them out on his webshots folder somewhere, I'll find them.

Steve -
Y’all might want to put some info about the 135 up on the WS website.

The most recent news item on the site – “Wilderness Systems Expands Tsunami Line” – is from 2006.

AquaAdventures in San Diego

– Last Updated: Dec-13-07 12:23 AM EST –

that is what Celia meant to say :D and what another poster said above.

rather than AquaTerra which is a discontinued kayak model.

Jen Kleck - wow, she's all around excellent! Had the great joy of taking instruction from her in August at a Michigan symposium. Very approachable and also very precise and clear in explaining the technical side of kayaks and skills. Value her advice - highly. Let her know what's important to you in your first kayak and see what she might recommend.

It may not necessarily be a WS Tsunami OR a Tempest. Flatpick (Steve) is indeed on staff of Wilderness Systems (of Confluence Inc) as he noted. As a matter of fact, he was principal designer for the Tempest series, the other kayak mentioned.

I am not for or against the Tsunamis or Tempests as regards your pick because I am not you and I don't know how the Tsunamis feel to you or how the Tempest would feel.

I just think from there are other worlds to explore before YOU decide.

So my bits are:

1. Don't narrow it down too soon. Get some good advice on knowing basic criteria. Don't paddle the ones that don't qualify. Paddle and pick from those that do. There is no magic number.

Don't feel pressured to choose one by Christmas or your birthday ;-) This is a really nice gift from really cool parents. Make it memorable and lasting. Props to you that you know the value of money... and for not acting like a little bro who is gonna want the latest Xbox release every nine months or so.

2. Go narrower. The majority of women come naturally equipped with a lower center of gravity, which enhances stability. Women often like narrower kayaks than our paddling brothers.
It's all about matching boat fit to body type.

Great fit yields huge fun of really being in contact with the kayak and feeling it respond to very subtle movements. And very nice control when the day comes that you need it most.

3. Go for a kayak that's a little more than you think you can handle initially. It's like riding a bike when the training wheels come off - most people adjust rapidly & wonder why they ever worried about it. Especially since you are athletic, avoid a kayak with permanent training wheels.

4. Weight: I think for the decided majority of female paddlers this feature is MUCH more important than it is for men. Even if we are strong we generally cannot lift as much over our heads as men can. Even with textbook lower body use, we do not have proportional upper body strength. And where vehicles are concerned, unless we invest in a trailer, we are lifting over our heads.

The true (or water ready) weight of any kayak very nearly always exceeds the advertised weight. Kayak makers base their weights on the weight of the shell before seat, backrest, foot braces, footpegs, hatch covers, skeg or rudder (if applicable) etc. This will add up to some real poundage. It's an accepted practice in the industry. Just something you need to factor into your choice.

Part of your demo should include lifting the whole boat to waist height and walking with it, lifting one end up over your head and holding it, and, if the dealer is agreeable, learning how to properly lift and rack that specific boat.

If we can't handle our own boats, chances are either we will a) paddle less b) be dependent on others when and where we paddle and c)risk an injury to various parts (finger, thumb, wrist, shoulder, back, neck)which again means we paddle less or paddle with a nagging injury which we aggravate by paddling. None of which is fun.

I am 5'3", 115 lbs, and easily load/unload two kayaks of 41 and 44 lbs, thermoformed plastic and fiberglass respectively. The 41#er is 13.5", 23.5" wide and the 44#er is 15'11", 20" wide.

Between the two of them any kind of flatwater touring I want to do with any of the skills I've learned so far is fun and doable.

So far all my body parts have stayed functional.I am still intrigued by my kayaks. We get together regularly. They fit me, they behave in the water and we learn together. Oh and they are quite pretty to my eye.

My boats are paid for. Instead of always rotating to the next, maybe best, shiny thing, I have bought quality four season paddlewear and different high end paddles, safety gear, a complete Yakima rack, lessons, pool sessions, camping trips with paddlers, symposia and assorted other things that, for me, go along with my love of the sport. Because that is my road.

Geez, I am a happy kayaker ;-)

OK, that is me. But do parts of this sound good to you?

Then you'll need a kayak you can paddle when and where you want to, and you'll really enjoy using and learning with for a long time. It will then truly become a much treasured gift.

Please let us know how it works out. And feel free to email me if you want to ask questions outside of the boards.

Thanks for the correction
Yup - meant AquaAdventures

only real way
to decide which kayak to buy is to actually test one—recommend you rent it for a day and actually paddle it where you normally would go–might cost a few dollars(less then 100 I’m sure) but may save you some money down the road.