Wilderness Systems Tempest 165/170

I am considering purchasing a used Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 or 170. The kayaks I am looking at were made in 2006 & 2007. My question is, are these older models significantly different than current versions? In particular, is the Phase 3XP outfitting included, were there any quality issues, design changes, etc.? Also what are people’s thoughts on the 165 vs. 170. I am a 5’8" & 175lbs active male. Thank you in advance for any feedback!

How much gear do you plan to carry?
Are we talking a day boat or a touring boat?

I’m about 180 pounds. The 165 is a very nice day boat for me but too small for trips. I paddle a 170 and it works really well but every boat is a compromise. Choose the boat that serves your needs best.


"a day boat or a touring boat?"
I’m 180+ and 6’. I’ve paddled both 165 and 170. Both are good boats. I like the 165 as a very enjoyable and fun boat. The 170 feels more of a gear hauler to me. A bit stodgy compared to the 165. YMMV.

The only problem I’ve heard with certain Tempests were the hatches. It seems some leaked badly and were prone to dislodging in rescues etc…

re: Tempest Hatches a little history…

– Last Updated: Aug-27-09 9:55 AM EST –

Wildy/Confluence used a proprietary hatch system on both the poly and composite Tempest from the inception of the boat until the beginning of August 2006. As Jim states above, this hatch system had its problems. I owned a 2004 Tempest 165 Pro and had a number of issues with the hatches leaking and becoming easily dislodge. You can read my review of this boat under p.net review section. I would probably only give my original Tempest a '7' today. I loved the hull design and handling, but just hated the hatch system.

In August of 2006 Wildy/Confluence switched to Kajaksport hatches on their composite or Pro boats. This hatch system is quite superior to Wildy's original proprietary hatches.

In summary if you purchase a Tempest Pro fabricated in late 2006 or 2007 you it should be sporting Kajaksport lids. There have been a few reports of lay-up issues in 2006-2008 Tempest Pro models (i.e. inadequate resin and/or gelcoat). In fairness if one looks long and hard enough you probably can find a bum lay-up in any composite boat manufacturer's line. Can anyone say NDK? ;-) I suggested that you closely inspect any used/new composite boat that you propose to buy.

170 vs 165
I have owned both. I’m 5’9" and about 165 pounds. I never carry more than an overnight’s worth of gear. I much, much prefer the 165 over the 170. And get this… a buddy of mine at 200 pounds also prefers the 165 over the 170.

Here’s the trick: Move the 165 seat back 2 inches. It makes a tremendous difference in the ease of getting in and out of the boat. No problems regarding the balance of the boat.

At your weight, the real benefit of the lower volume shows up when the wind picks up. The lightly loaded 170 can be a handful when the wind picks up and is blowing from about your 5 or 7 o’clock… regardless of what you do with the skeg. The 165 is much better behaved in those conditions.

If you can rent or demo the boats, do it on a windy day.

another vote
I’m 175# and 6’. I’ve paddled the 165 quite a bit, and in a range of conditions, including biggish tide races and moderate swells. I love the 165. Really fun responsive boat, and an excellent roller for someone my size. Never had any problems with it weather-cocking. I love the deck layout on this boat. If I were trying to haul a few days of gear I expect it would be overloaded though.

I’ve demo’d the 170, but only on flat water. I found it pretty nice. Definitely felt the higher volume, but it was still easy to lean, and carved nice turns. Rolls well, although not as glove-like as the 165.

The 165 pro I’ve used is a 2004 or 2005, and has the proprietary Wildy hatches. I’ve had the rear hatch get dislodged when I was transporting a swimmer out of a tide-race on my back deck. My bow was 2 feet in the air by the time I reached the shore! :open_mouth: No problems with the bow or day hatches.

I have a poly T-170 (2005 I think)
The hatches are fine and keep the compartments bone dry…IF…you make sure they are seated and sealed. It is very easy to snap them on and not have them seated all the way on to the deck. You have to work your hand carefully around the edges of the cover and push down firmly to seal them.

I will trade my 170 straight up for a 165.

Anyone…? Anyone…?



– Last Updated: Aug-26-09 10:17 AM EST –

At 5'9", 160lbs, the 165 feels MUCH better than the 170 for day paddling. Haven't tried either with a ton of gear.

Choose the size for what you do most often, not the once-a-year trip.

I glad to hear your hatches work, but
many have reported leaking hatches both here on p.net and other on-line venues in regard to Wildy’s Tempest poly models.

I have yet to try a poly Tempest were the bow and stern hatch didn’t take on substantial water. Yes, I know how to mount and seal the hatch just fine and I have no such trouble with Kajaksport or Valley hatches. Wildy’s original propriety hatches just have not proven to be terribly water tight. I see that Tempest poly models will be sporting a new ‘Domed’ hatch this year (2009). These may very well be better, but I haven’t used them or heard any feedback from others


seal to deck
only problem with seating the rear hatch cover to the deck is that somewhere along the way they cut off the “collar” part of the rear lid. I have a 08 rm and had to find an old style lid for the rear to get rid of problems. I currently dont have any more problems than anyone else who puts their boats upside down…some people have bad leaks some people have none to little.

what they said
you are a ‘tweener’. a 165 for lite tripping and a 170 for the long haul. your call. I have both (all 3 actually) and can choose the flavor of the day. :slight_smile: I generally take the 170 most of the time. 5’10 175/ It’s roomy and comfortable for this ol’ salt.

Hatches are hatches. New 09’s are sporting a new proprietary hatch that rocks…finally!


do the 09’ rm have a rm hatch rim still or is it changed.

go for the 165
you don’t specify whether you’re looking at glass or plastic. Either way I’d check to see if the hatches stay on or whether you can lift it off easily with your pinky.

thanks for the feedback everyone!
I really appreciate all your responses. In response to questions, I am mainly looking for a day-to-day boat for use in tidal estuaries, Long Island Sound, and the Connecticut River. Would like to expand to overnight trips in future. Looking at plastic not fiberglass.

To confirm - and Flatpick, I’ll go with your guidance on this point since you are the source of knowledge for all things WS - pre 06 hatches will work well if properly sealed? I want to make sure that reported problems are due to user error & are not an actual design defect.

WS or Kajaksport hatches
From looking at a photograph, how can you tell if the boat has these or the original WS hatches? The boats I’m looking at are 06 so could go either way. Thanks again everyone

stirring the pot…

– Last Updated: Aug-26-09 11:55 PM EST –

NOTE: I have also posted this question under "Fun, fast ocean kayak?" to broaden the discussion.

Just had to ask - are there other kayaks anyone would suggest instead of the WS 16.5/17? Again, I live in CT so no big waves more cruising in estuaries, Long Island Sound, CT River. Working up to bigger trips eventually. But right now just looking for a fun fast boat to work up my skills. Thanks again!

Hatch Covers
I think the kajaksport covers are all solid black and the WS covers are two-toned; grey circle/oval surrounded by black.


– Last Updated: Aug-27-09 12:42 PM EST –

How fast? How fun? ;-)

A few of the many...

VSK Avocet, RM or compsite
VSK Aquanaut, probably the LV in RM, standard in composite
P&H Capella, RM or composite (look up appropriate size)
NDK Explorer
CD Sirrocco, Gulfstream
Impex Diamante, Force 4
Necky Chatham 17, Manitou 14
Prijon Seayak or Touryak
QCC 700

There's no substitute for paddling as many as you can. Demo days, club outings, symposiums -- just start trying them.

September 11-14 Downeast Sea Kayaking Symposium
Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor, ME

but he’s looking @ roto so they’re going to be grey/black.

other boats to looks at?

why??? :wink:


You Got DAT Right

– Last Updated: Aug-27-09 10:07 AM EST –

I've done a bunch of the research for him. There ought to be some kind of fee I should collect. You know. Like Consumer Reports.

Hey, I rented the smaller Zephyr and took it to the wind and waves last week. Felt like a very, very stable T165.