Wilderness Systems Tempest 165/170

Me and my boyfriend are both considering buying Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 and/or 170.

We are both beginners and quite fit, and have both tried the Tempest 170, though very short and in sheltered waters with no wind/waves (me for 15 minutes in a sheltered bay, him just sitting in it in the shop). We both immidiately got a very good first impression. Though we have quite little to compare with.

I’ve used a Romany Surf on a weekend beginners course, which I think was quite bad - big and difficult to maneuver. The instructor later said it was too big for me.

My boyfriend had a P&H Capella on the course, he thought it was very big and bad angle for the knee supports.

He tried P&H Scorpio LV and MV later, LV he liked, it reacted well, but feet didn’t fit inside. MV he liked also, but could feel the wind well on the boat, compared to the LV at least.

Because of big difficulties of trying them further, we need to seek advices other ways, also because a shop another place in the country has big discounts at the moment - and we are keen on just give it a go.

At the moment we are mostly concerned about the sizes of the two kayaks - but of course alsp other things as behaviour, general use and so on.

I am 176 cm tall, about 75 kg and shoe size 40/41, normal build. My boyfriend is 183 cm, ca. 75 kg, shoe size 44 (could it be difficult for him to fit his feet in the Tempest 165 for example), quite thin in bodyshape.

How do the two kayaks behave, is the 165 just a smaller 170 for example, or is it behaving differently?

Pro’s and con’s?

Very thankful for all help!

Check the review section here…
There are lots of reviews on both boats as they have been around awhile…

If the Romany Surf is too big…
so is the Tempest 170. A lot of people get into the 165 even if it is a little small for them because they feel it is the more responsive of the two. For the most part you really have to need the size of the 170 - based on what you wrote I doubt you do. They are both all around boats.

My experience
We rented both one day shopping for a fit 5’9 180lb paddler. The 170 she found a little tippy since she was riding higher (she’s a beginner). The 165 she engaged the hull better and found it much more stable. If you email me I’ll send you the reference pictures I took of the waterline for her. Her waterline in the 165 didn’t leave much room for gear but made a great day boat.

Another friend has the 165 at 165lbs and 6’. He moved the seat back one bolt hole. He said the boat is a bit tight on the thigh braces and the feet but he likes the way it paddles.


– Last Updated: Jun-29-15 12:37 AM EST –

I paddle a 170. I'm a female 5'7, 170 pounds with size 11 shoes (just a bit bigger than yours.)

Many people prefer the 165 but I find that with my long legs and big feet, the 165 isn't a good fit. I like having more room.

I love my boat. It maneuvers well, edges, can roll - all skills you can grow into.

Move the seat back.

Ahhh. Perfect.

Between two sizes…

– Last Updated: Jun-29-15 6:13 AM EST –

Aaah, seem more and more like I'm exactly between two sizes, and that it will be pro's and con's with both... :/

When it comes to moving the seat back - is this easy to do, like a build-in option on the kayak, or do I have to start alter to kayak/seat myself?

And I'm also a bit concerned about the knee supports - will they be lower/much lower on the 165? As far as I remember from the trying of the 170, I'm not sure how much less space I can have for my thighs..

Seats and Such
Moving the seat isn’t very difficult. I did have to saw off some excess base material. If you aren’t comfortable doing that maybe you could get a dealer to do it for you. Personally, I don’t think you’re between sizes. I think the 165 is the right size and the folks at Wilderness Systems just have the seat placed too far forward.

The 165 behaves much better than the 170 in wind and waves at our size.

P&H Scorpios - two thumbs up

– Last Updated: Jul-01-15 9:53 AM EST –

I have owned both a Tempest and a Scorpio.

I've had a P&H Scorpio LV for over 4 years now. Prior to that I owned a Tempest 165 and my brother currently owns the Tempest 170.

I much prefer the Scorpio line-up to the Tempest. The Tempest does have a nice hull design, but from my experience the Scorpios are better 'all-rounders'. They have good forward efficiency, but will turn very easily for a 17' boats when set on edge. I find them a very well balanced sea kayak.

The plastic in the Tempest is single ply were the Scorpios are constructed of a very durable tri-laminate plastic. Yes, that is a major difference and the cost of the Scorpio reflects that.

I also find the Scorpio's outfitting to be superior. On every Tempest RM I have paddled all three hatches have leaked. With the exception of the 4th foredeck hatch of the Scorpio, which cannot be made watertight because it is riveted to the deck, the three main Kajaksport hatches have remained bone dry. If find the 4th hatch convenient and I just dry bag any important items I place in it. I also prefer the footpegs, deck rigging and skeg slider (version 2) on the Scorpio. The Scorpio also has more aggressive thigh/knee braces, very similar to the waterwater outfitting on Pyranha boats

Lastly I have found customer service from both my dealer (The River Connection) and P&H/Pyranha to be far exceed that of Confluence/Wilderness Systems. Ask P&H a question and you will get an answer.

And as always, YMMV.

i know where there’s a glass 165 for cheap, PM me, hopefully it’s close to you.

moving the seat
I have moved the seat back in an older plastic Tempest 170 and in a new (2013) composite Tempest 170. It is not too difficult to do, and does not require drilling new holes in the deck.

It does require removing the seat from the boat and drilling new holes 1 1/2" forward of the existing holes in the seat side frame, which is fairly thin molded plastic. It is my understanding that fairly new composite boats require trimming some of the back of the seat skirt at the bottom. This is not a big deal, and this whole process is supported by WS and the boat’s designer.

The tricky bit requires some good finger skills getting the nuts started again up inside the seat frame when reinstalling. I used a small piece of tape on my finger to hold it. Having done this twice now, I think I could do it again in less than two hours. It is mostly patience.

There is a video on the WS website on seat removal. Moving the seat made a big difference in ease of entering and exiting. I am 6’, 210.


I am about the size of your boyfriend
and the Tempest 170 fits me perfectly. I tried them both and found the 165 too small.

I Gotta Ask
Was the 165 seat in its original position? Not moved back?

Bigger, leggier people do well in the 165 with the seat moved back.

Seat back
I tried the 165 at least a dozen times with different seat, thigh brace, and foot peg configurations from my local rental place. I WANTED to love the 165 because I found a great deal on a glass version only used once for a photo shoot. I took that one out for a demo, made adjustments, but just couldn’t get anything to feel right. The 170 is a full inch taller than the 165 (13.5" vs. 12.5") and I really noticed that inch. My feet touched the top of the 165 no matter how I had the seat or pegs and I don’t find that comfortable.

I think people really need to paddle in a boat at least once if not multiple times before deciding. I know that’s not always possible, but it’s not as easy as just sitting in one and thinking it will work. I tried more than 10 different boats from our rental place and kept pros/cons lists before deciding on the Tempest 170.

I Agree. Try Before You Buy.

– Last Updated: Jul-03-15 4:58 AM EST –

I had a different experience. I bought and enjoyed a 170. I don't think the 165 existed when I bought it. A while later I paddled a rented 165 and knew immediately that I had bought the wrong boat. In the 170 I was paddling a boat. In the 165 the boat felt like an extension of my body. Getting in and out was rough and the shins kept getting scraped but moving the seat fixed those issues.

Now also considering other kayaks…

– Last Updated: Jul-06-15 6:50 AM EST –

Have gotten so much input now on Tempest 170 will be just too big for me, so I much more lean towards the T165. Though I'm concerned about the cockpit will be too small for me (the thigh braces too low, for example), so I also consider other kayaks, so I have options. I will try them anyway, but have to know which ones I should go and try, since there's quite a lot of driving to "nearby" shops.

Have read a lot about different kayaks that at first glance looks like they could fit me, but after further reading, I find things that I'm not really willing to compromise on, as low quality or slow boat.

For example Boreal Baffin P2 and Necky Chatham 17 looked like good alternatives for a while, but I read quite a lot of negative things about them too... So they're sort of out.

At the moment Valley Etain 17.5 is the strongest competitor to Tempest 165.
Anyone having any experience with this one?
What about the size? I'm having polyethylen-boat, so the smallest composite size of 17.3 is out of the question. Could the 17.5 fit a quite fit woman, 5.9", about 170 lb?
From the measurements it looks quite big?

thigh braces
If you are worried about the thigh braces being too low, I would try a wet exit when you test the kayak. It is good to know whether you are going to find it tight to get out of, when you can test it in a controlled situation. Personally I don’t think you will have a problem as long as you know how to wet exit properly. But it is best to get the feel for it yourself and then you can have confidence that it isn’t too tight/low.

+1 Scorpio
I have to agree with tvcrider here. The Scorpio is a great all around boat. Although I haven’t had much seat time in my new Scorpio MV MKII I’m truly amazed by this boat. Coming from a dagger alchemy, made by confluence I feel P&H far surpasses Confluence. The outfitting/fit and finish of this kayak is far superior! Additionally +2 for The River Connection, not sure where your located but if you can give Marshall a call, I know right now he has a Scorpio LV on consignment in the shop that’s in perfect shape. Maybe a MV for the male part of this scenario and a LV for yourself?

PS, TVCRIDER, how do you and I spend so much time at Marshalls shop and on this forum but have yet to bump into each other?

The Chatham 17 is actually a great and fun boat but cockpit is even tinier and deck even lower than the T165, so if you were already on the fence about size, you are right to decide against the Chatham.

Slow kayak?

– Last Updated: Jul-06-15 1:08 PM EST –

With the Chatham 17 it was mostly that I've read some places that it's a quite slow boat. And as I know myself, I would like to have a kayak that I'm able to to speed up a bit without too big effort. I know sea kayaks have their limitations, but I think I will be frustrated in the long run if I have a kayak I always think it's an effort to put at least some speed on.

Thank you for your input on the deck, also compared to T165 :)