Wilderness systems plastic

I’m in the market for a new boat. I stuck with it for a year and I’m still hooked. I’ve been looking at the Tempest 165, but recently read something about the Valley Avocet rm. I live in southern Indiana and do most of my kayaking on the Ohio and local creeks. Lots of rocks, some log hopping, so I want a plastic boat. I also like waves and barge wake. I’d really like an Avocet, but I can’t find any reasonably close. I can get my hands on a Tempest in Cinci and I was wondering, how much better is the Valley plastic than a WS? Or is Valley plastic alot of hype?

my take
Go with the one you can get more locally.

Yes, there are minor differences in plastic. But any of the major bands on the market will last just fine for the bashing into rocks and wakes you are talking about.

More important is that each has a different design, feel, way it reacts, etc. Most important that you get butt time in a boat and decide which one feels good to you. For that, you should find a dealer reasonably close to you and work with them to demo boats and such.

I agree with Pete
Go with what you like, go with what you can get. I prefer the WS, but wish you could get it in a Valley lay-up, the plastic is nicer, you’re right.

How is the plastic different?
Just curious. It the Valley made out of some of the newer high-tech plastic processes? Still made from oil though right?

Still waiting for someone to come up with a magic aftermarket refinisher for roto-plastic hulls. I look at the bottom of mine and just see friction. In fact, I’m surpised I’m not leaving a vapor trail from all the heat I must be generating.

(My WS Tempest was a former outfitter/rental boat. I’m sure I’ve lost close to a pound of plastic from rental folks dragging it.) It makes the Grand Canyon look like East Texas.

Bill G.

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Based on the Valley brochure, they have some sort of layering system of different plastics. Visibly, this shows up as having different colors for the inside and outside of the boat. Functionally - not sure how it is that different (guess I should read the marketing materials).

Most use the same plastic throughout. Check out a Youtube video from a manufacturer and see how they put the plastic pellets in the mold and the into the kiln - this is how most are done.


There is a part 2 also

You can give plastic different characteristics depending on what you add to it. You can make it more UV resistant, more flexible, harder, etc. Seems like nowadays most manufacturers have their own recipe. Some also do layers with each layer having different additives.

By “plastic” I assume we’re talking
about polyethelene, or poly. One really different poly currently in production is the HTP used by Prijon and Eskimo. It is stiffer, harder, and more resistant to being punctured or torn, for an equivalent boat weight. Jackson Kayaks has gone back to the crosslinked poly formerly offered by Dagger. Opinions differ as to whether crosslinked is better than linear. But you may not find the kayak you want from those manufacturers.

Current linear poly boats are durable enough, IF they are made with sufficient thickness and stiffness. And linear poly can be welded if it is torn or punctured. HTP and crosslinked are much less susceptible to repair.

Local is more convenient…
I’ve been bashing my WS Tsunami around for two years and it’s holding up like a champ. When tying down for travel, try to support under the bulkheads, especially on sunny days, and don’t overtighten the straps or deformation will occur. I actually wrinkled the side seat support just below the attachment point under the cockpit rim.

If it’s not too late,
how about your notions on the capella 166 RM. Anyone have real world experience abusing one? Also, part of my thinking on the plastic was thoughts on rigidity and efficiency.

And thanks to all so far for your input. It’s really helping me narrow in on a decision.

Capella 166 is bigger fit than T 165.
At least that’s my recollection. It’s been three years since I’ve paddled a Capella 166, but I paddled a Tempest 165 today for 7 hours while receiving excellent instrcuction and my impression is that the the Tempest 165 fits smaller paddlers like me, 5’6" and 152 lbs better than the Capella 166.

Today was the first time I’d paddled a Tempest 165, it was poly rental form the outfitter that was having the training. I picked it from the other boats because of the cockpit fit and didn’t really examine the plastic of the boat for durability or deformation.

My only gripe was that the skeg slider is recessed into the side of the boat and can’t be seen by the paddler and was difficult for me to locate by feel with my hand when I wanted to try out the skeg to see how it reduced weathercocking.

Surprisingly, the poly Tempest had more foot room than my composite Sea Lion or QCC 400X.

Do test paddle it before paddling it, if possible.

I’ve paddled both …
the WS Tempests and P&H Capellas a few times, and I own an Avocet RM which I have a lot of hours in. I don’t plan on abusing boats, so can’t help you with that aspect. They are all fine boats - and different in their handling. They are also all poly boats, so they will have more flex than a similar boat in composite construction. For what you describe as your intended use, a poly boats won’t hold you back at all and would be the best choice for boney rivers. You have to try each boat, they have different design goals. The Avocet is an ocean (surf, rock garden) play boat and has quite a bit of rocker and less speed. The Tempest and the Capella are more touring boats, will have more speed and not be quite so quick to turn. Whichever fits your best and puts the biggest smile on your face is the best choice, but if you fit comfortably in all three any one of them would be a good choice.

The Capella and the Avocet are now triple layer construction and, IMO, the triple layer plastics are a little stiffer. That really doesn’t matter - if you want a stiff hull get a composite. These are all polyetheylene plastic and will wear about the same.

Personally, if I could only have one boat the Tempest would rank very high, but again, that is a personal choice. As I said, I do like all three and have recommended to others that all of these models are worth considering.



Capella 166 RM
I have owned the boat for one season. I run it up on the beach hard and often hit Zebra Muscle shells routinely that put big ruts in a fiberglass boats. The boat bounces off rocks and I have hit a few hard on the bottom. The boat is solid and my big frame has spent many days doing self rescues and climbing all over the boat on the back deck. The boat is not build for speed. It is very stable and can be playful when edged.

Welded-in bulkheads
One thing I always admired about Valley is that used to plastic weld in their bulkheads. Do they still do that? You have to see how the “feel” is for you as far as seat, thigh braces and stability. See if someone has one of each in your area that you can try. There may be a paddling club in your area. I don’t think you’ll go one choosing one over the other.

welded b/h are a PITA.



Posted by: flatpick on Oct-19-09 11:20 AM (EST)

welded b/h are a PITA.


Why are they a pita?

PITA to install? to fix? to reseal?

Welded bulkheads give more storage space than foam ones. P&H used welded bulkheads in the past, not sure if they still are. Valley uses welded on most plastic kayaks.

Avocet RM vs Tempest RM…

– Last Updated: Oct-25-09 7:25 PM EST –

I own an Avocet RM. I have paddled the Tempest 165 RM and Capella 166 RM quite a bit. I previously owned a Tempest 165 Pro (composite). As a sizing yard stick I go 5'9" and about 155 pounds.

Here are my random comments and observations:
- I found the cockpit on the Capella 166 RM to be huge on me. I would have needed beau coup minicell foam to outfit the Capella 166 and get a decent fit. I actually slid around considerably in the cockpit.
- I can't necessarily disagree with the above comments about the Tempest being a good all-rounder if you can only have one boat, but I had tremendous hatch leakage problems on my personal Tempest and the Tempest RMs that I have used in class/demos/rentals. In short, they leaked like sieves. Of course YMMV, but others have reported similar problems.
- I would also suggest you look at the 'new' P&H Scorpio (regular or LV). The hull is a nice relatively stiff tri-lam poly, and it sports KS hatch covers. I've padded the Scorpio LV for a number of days in flat to lumpy conditions. I would easily pick in over the Tempest as an all-rounder. Note: the Scorpio costs a bit more at full retail.
- Lastly, I really like my Avocet RM. It is constructed of Valley's tri-lam poly, which I believe they started using in 2005. The hatches on my Avocet are water tight. It has also proven to be at home on the ocean as well as my local river, the Susquehanna, which is flat and often shallow in the summer (i.e. Rocks!). It may not be the fastest boat out there, but I often find I chose it over my Valley P&H Aquanaut LV (composite) if I know I will be beating the snot out of the hull. The Avocet RM is just a blast to paddle.

Safe paddling to you.

for the manufacturer
install is a ton of work AND it creates a rigid, stress riser or ‘hard spot’ that after a while makes for a big lump in the hull.

steve (who has experimented with 'em)

concave welded bulkheads
We have a plastic Valley with welded bulkheads, and can’t see any sign of deformation on the outside at all. The bulkheads are domed, and I wonder if that helps prevent the hard spots you refer to.

how much hard wear, if any, is on the boat?