WS Tempest 170 or Perception Essence 17

I have been racking my brain trying to decide on a kayak that will be the “best” kayak for multi-day camping trips in small rivers AND the ocean(tall order I know). (I’m 6’ 180lbs)

I live on the coast, so we take tree choked creeks all the way to the ocean and out to an island. So I have narrowed it down the well known Tempest and the lesser known (but liked by its owners) Perception Essence 17. (sorry for the long post, but want to provide a little background.)

I need speed and storage for my trips, but I want a fun boat in the ocean when not camping.

Here’s what I know: Tempest is loved, has a great seat, is slightly faster than Essence, and is a SKEG only boat. The Essence has skeg AND a rudder which would be great with a long boat amoungst trees.

Both are roto.

Here’s the tale of the tape:

Tempest - Essence

LENGTH - 17’ / 17’

WIDTH - 22" / 23"

WEIGHT - 57 lbs / 65 lbs

VOLUME - 223 ltr / 250 ltr

CAPACITY - 325 lbs / 350 lbs

COCKPIT L - 34" / 35"

COCKPIT W - 18" / 19.5"

HEIGHT - 13.5" / 15"

Narrower is faster; lower deck equals less wind. –

-Essence has a bigger cockpit, is more stable, has a rudder & skeg, has more gear storage and can carry more weight.(Essence has been discontinued as of 2014 so I can get it for a great price)

-Tempest is slightly faster, skeg only, weighs less, more “playful”, and has a great rep.

They are both pretty close and made by the same folks. What decision would you guys go with? Which would fit the bill as they say?

There are others.
Why limit your choices to just two boats? There are so many others in the same price range and even some composite boats that can be had for about the same price as poly–when they’re on sale.

There ARE Others
If it was me I’d compare the Tempest 165 and the smaller Dagger Alchemy and I’d move the seat back in both of them. Be sure and put stuff in drybags in the rear hatch of the Alchemy. Mine leaks badly.

Seriously, less volume feels really good. Better handling; especially in the wind.

I don’t understand one line…
“The Essence has skeg AND a rudder which would be great with a long boat amoungst trees.”

My long boats both have rudders and they are not the most tree friendly things. The rudders often catch on low branches of mangroves or deadfalls. It can be a pain in the butt. Both boats turn very well by edging, the rudders really only come into play with unfavorable winds on open water.

Someday I’ll own a boat with a skeg. The wife loves hers.

My .02 would be the Tempest 170. I love the seat. I like narrow boats. The Essence I’ve never tried.

Have fun out there,


The Tempest 170 most definitely
Mainly because I have one for sale.

At your size
At your size between the two I’d be looking at the Tempest. You have room for 100lbs of gear in the 170 and still a decent waterline. For a day boat the T165 would have a better waterline but not much room for gear.

Alternately the Essence has a much larger cockpit which might be nice for a long relaxing day on the river. I’ve not paddled the Essence but would have bought the T170 had I fit in the cockpit better, very nice boat.

Tempest 165
In man respects the tempest line and the essence line are similar. I sold both in my store and spent plenty of time looking at them and paddling them. The tempest is simply a higher quality boat, thus the additional $400 price tag.

Get smaller camping gear and get the tempest 165. I have seen grown men in the tempest 170 and it was too big of a boat for them.

I took a 180lb’r out and demoed the 165 and 170. Empty the 180lb’r found the T170 rode too high and felt “twitchy” (her words) because of it. She loved the 165 since she engaged the hull properly.

Jason29407, if you email me I’ll send you the reference pics I took of the two waterlines.

I have a shot at an unused “used” Tempest 170 or a brand new off the floor Essence 17 for $800. My choice.

I’ll check out…
those Thanks for the heads up!

This is my dilema! LOL. I want to have my cake and eat it too. I want the best handling I can get without having to strap the world onto my deck when we camp.

Just shot you an email…
Just shot you an email…let me know if it doesn’t come through. Thanks, Jason.

Trees & the Rudder…
Hey T, I know I need to continue to improve my paddle stoke to eliminate the need for a rudder (still not there yet), but when the river hits choke points the current picks up and I often utilize the rudder to shoot gaps in strainers (downed trees). I bend over to lower my profile and lay the paddle on the deck then guide the boat through the opening with the rudder.

I agree it can get old dropping the rudder back down, but it’s almost second nature now. I shoot the gaps and tug the rudder line!

Best Use of Space
If you camp like a backpacker you’ll be OK. You said “we”. You can also make the best use of your camping partner’s storage space. ie “I can fit more food in this hatch if you have space for the tent.”