Wilderness Systems vs. Current Designs


I posted here a while back about my trip I’d been planning down the Ohio and Mississippi River this summer starting in Ohio. It is going to be me and my wife. The first kayak I got was a Current Designs Sirocco. The 2nd was a Wildernes Systems Tsunami 175 I believe (it might be another model, I don’t remember at the moment.

They both paddle well, but the Sirocco is faster and more nimble as suspected. Anyway, I also noticed the build quality is quite different…the Sirocco has smooth flowing contours, whereas the Wilderness systems has sort of visible sections where the profile and curvature of the hull changes.

Is this normal construction difference for the 2 companies, or just kayak model specific? It just seems like the Sirocco is much more sturdy, while the Wilderness Systems has more room for storage.

Second thing is paddle selection…I got a free Adventure Technology Carbon Fiber T4 Bent shaft paddle witht he Sirocco, and it just sucks to use the fiberglass Aquabound Sunrise now…and considering the distance we’re going to be covering, I want something better (similar to the AT carbon fiber, but I can’t find them anywhere right now for sale). I’d prefer to keep the paddle between $100-200. Any suggestions would be great, or if anyone has one they’re willing to sell.



Hull shape?

– Last Updated: Jan-30-14 11:57 AM EST –

It is very hard for me to discern what your concern is, and maybe I am not alone.

It sounds to me like you are talking about a simple difference in hull shape and how each boat handles its chines (none, soft, hard, diamond-chined etc). If you are confusing hull design with build quality, it gives me pause about your readiness for a major expedition.

Or am I missing something in your question?

Also - what kind of work have you and your wife done, or plan to do, on things like on-water rescues, capturing loose gear etc. I have seen couples need to spend extra time on this to make sure that each has techniques appropriate to their strength and size. The standard advice usually needs some tweaking to work really effectively.

Lastly on the paddles - you are talking many, many strokes per mile. You need to be willing to spend money to get not two, but four lightweight paddles or you will never finish this trip due to damaging your joints. And both your primary and the spare should be light. It is one thing to have to tolerate an afternoon of using a heavy backup paddle, it really is not an option if you have to use it day after day.

One way to get to a lighter weight paddle is buy a lightweight 230 length - they are usually considered too long these days so are easy to get used - and send it to the manufacturer to be shortened. You will still come in higher than your desired price, but it'll be less than buying the same thing new.

boat designb is boat specific

– Last Updated: Jan-30-14 11:55 AM EST –

Boat design is boat specific. The "visible sections where the profile and curvature of the hull changes" sounds like what is called hard chines. WS also has boats with soft chines.

There are some differences that go across the whole line. For example, WS uses the same plastic for all of its boats, and this is likely a slightly different type of polyethylene than what Current Designs uses.

Finding a carbon fiber (or even fiber glass) paddle for under $200 is going to be hard. Most of the fiber glass ones I see run from $250-300, and carbon fiber run for closer to $400 new.

No, I totally understand the difference is actual hull configuration such as hard vs soft chines. What I’m talking about is lines visible longitudinally across the kayak that just look like a lower quality manufacturing process as opposed to the Sirocco with smooth changes in geometry throughout the hull.

I just wanted to check on opinions as to whether or not one was truly a better quality boat builder or if it is just something model specific. I’ll add a picture later if I get a chance.

We’ve been planning the trip for about 9 months now, and we’re both strong swimmers and athletic. That being said, we’ve been practicing (during the warm months) rolling with this style kayak as well as assisting each other without paddles in the event that would happen. As far as loose gear recovery, I’m more concerned with taking care of securing everything before leaving, other than what we need access to without stopping.

We have May-August to do this, which I understand isn’t ideal for conditions, but there’s no other way to work around the timing. I also understand these aren’t top of the line quality touring kayaks, but that’s not going to happen no matter how you cut it. Paddles I’m willing to spend a little more on, but I do really like the one I have even against some Werner paddles I’ve tried (they’re really nice too, I just didn’t have much of a preference either way). We’re planning on it taking about 100 days, and our current paddling exercises seem to suggest that’s reasonable, and we’ll have at least a minimal amount of current going with us depending on conditions.

OK then…
It might be worth looking at a few examples of the same boat, in case the bothersome variations are something that showed up in a single boat. As above, there are variations between manufacturers in the details of their materials and process. But there aren’t indications of catastrophic failure being an issue with either of these lines.

Congrats on the pool work. As to the paddles… it might be worth spending time with a Greenland paddle. They come in cheaper than the fancy lightweight Euro paddles and are easier on the joints.

I speak from experience about being stuck using a log for a paddle if you lose the better one. I had to do it for a full day at a training and I was sore for a good while after.

The right paddle and boat
My advice to you is to find a store that sells Carlisle paddles and see if they have an Expedition. If you’re about my size 6’-2", a 230 should work great for your Sirocco. The Carlisle Expedition retails for about $159, but if you like it, maybe you can get them to discount it a bit. I think I paid $140 for mine and don’t let the price fool you; the Expedition is a great all fiberglass paddle. It’s tough as nails and is so smooth, quiet, and easy to use. If there is a better paddle out there in that price range–I haven’t seen it.

Anyway, I also have a Sirocco and I think it is a superb sea kayak, but if you have the standard seat and backband, the backband can stand a little tweaking. To make it work much, much better, change out the tiny bungee cord that comes with it, to a larger size. That means you will have to drill the holes in the coaming a bit larger, etc.

While you’re at it, you might want to go to the next size up on the deck bungees too.

If you haven’t discovered yet, you will that the Sirocco likes to have you use the skeg. Don’t try to be a purest and only use it when you have to. It’s there for a reason–use it.

Also, in case you haven’t tried it yet, the Sirocco will right itself from a capsize if you just stay seated and lean back a little over the back deck. I don’t even have to keep my head in the water, nor help it by bracing with the paddle.

Unless CD has started using a better sticking tape at the faux deck/hull seam, don’t be surprised if yours starts coming loose. Stick it back on with some 5200 3M and you’ll be back in bidness. Here’s a hint–go to a Home Depot to get your tube of 5200–it’s about half the price of other stores. Come to think of it, I just used silicone adhesive, which is even cheaper and it has never come loose again.

Good luck with your trip.

take a rescue class
or learn on your own how to rescue self and your partner.

And, have a spare paddle.

p.s. Your lingo implies you are quite new at paddling.


– Last Updated: Jan-30-14 8:34 PM EST –

Aquabound seem to be one of the most affordable brands out there for carbon paddles. Very light. I myself own the carlisle expedition fiberglass paddle. Check on amazon.com and the paddle is 100$ for the 230cm. It is a great paddle, my hands never get sore or tired with it. The carbon paddles though are night and day compared to fiberglass!

are you goin to take the atchafaliya river or brave the “cancer alley”. I did the ohio and the Mississippi starting from central Illinois last year. Check out the maps from riverlorian they are great and give info on water and food. Good luck.

spent as much as you can on those,

The rest is not have as important (pfd spryadeck tent whatever).

have a look at :

2 of the top brands have some good helping hands.



get a paddle with some flex to keep your joints happy.

get a coach to look at your technique. getting it right gets you to the end.

We’re definitely doiung the Atchafalaya to avoid increased traffic in that section of the Mississippi. Plus, Iwe’d rather be in a littloe bit more wilderness as opposed to a more industrialized area.

230cm may or may not be too long
It depends on the boat and the paddler’s height and preference. A low-angle 230 would be good for me in my Coho.

But anyhow, FYI, I asked Werner if they would shorten one of their paddles for me and they said they don’t do it, unless it’s one of their old metal button clip ferrule paddles. If it has the newer ferrules that are adjustable by degrees, they won’t.

I’ll look into those paddles and try to find someone to help with technique.

You can count on water in memphis,and in greenville. There is also a nice campground in greenville right after the the entrance to the port, you can get showers and a resupply if you can bum a ride. Contrary to rumors you cannot camp at natchez but you can get a room at natchez under the hill bar for sixty bucks. You can see it from the boat ramp. I just hid the canoe in the weeds. You can also take a taxi to get food. Be careful going through cairo I would not recommend stopping there. The barge traffic was the worst I saw on the whole trip. There is a campground on the atchafaliya. I did not stop there as I hit it midmorning on the second day. I was getting sixty miles a day on the mississippi, on the atchafaliya I was only getting around a HARD thirty five. There is a goat farm on your right around thirty mile mark on the atchafaliya if you see somebody in the yard stop and talk to them. They will let you camp take showers and all around treat you like family. Be careful of wing dams. Stay out of the way of the army core they do not appreciate you being on the river and can be downright hostile at times. You will have the time of your life.

Maximizing enjoyment.
You want to see a lot of river, even to go from near your home to the sea. But it may turn out that the more you set out to do, the less you will enjoy it. The more you “push on”, the less you get out of what you accomplish.

In '73, our first year of paddling, we did 13 days in Quetico. Our first smart move was to cut way down on our route so we could enjoy the environment more and struggle less with portages. Even so, my wife commented that she would have preferred to stop after a week.

I’m sitting within a 5 minute walk of the Mississippi below New Orleans. I’d like to paddle up to the city sometime, but otherwise the Big Muddy holds no attraction for me below St. Louis. Oh, maybe I’d paddle around below Vicksburg and Natchez, but the rest, no.

The best rivers are the smaller ones. The best pieces of river environment come in short segments. It’s HARD to plan a quality river trip in the middle of summer that’s weeks and weeks long. And it’s hardest to plan a quality trip on a huge, half spoiled river like the Mississippi.

Also a concern…
That was one thing we considered that we really didn’t like…the general surroundings of a lot of the Mississippi. It doesn’t seem like you’re actually in cities too much, so that’s not too big of a deal. But when you’re talking about getting supplies, that is kind of necessary. I’d prefer to only have stopping locations every week or so for the sake of resupplying in exchange for more seclusion, but you have to compromise somewhat everywhere. Hey, we’ll see how it goes…if it gets too bad for any number of reasons, we won’t be pushing through miserably.

Look up River Gator
John Ruskey’s site covers a good chunk of what you plan to do on the Mississippi. http://www.rivergator.org/