Kayaking Chris (Chris Moore) is an experienced paddler who has been a supporter of Sitons for a while now. He recently got the chance to try Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 and sent us his thoughts. Read on to see what Chris thought:

Maximum bang for your buck – Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 reader review 1

‘I have just had a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 on trial from Desperate Measures in Nottingham and thought I would share my view on it. I have wanted to try this boat for a while so when Mark from Desperate Measures contacted me saying he had a demo one in I was down there straight away.

Knowing this isn’t a light boat (28kg) I opted to take my trailer to get it to my planned put in for the day – the River Trent. Given its length of 16 feet and weight I am glad I did.

Initial impressions are this is a big boat well put together. I had a good look around before launching and couldn’t see anything that let it down in terms of build quality. I particularly like the seat in this boat as it comes with a mesh base and backrest offering a fair degree of ventilation to stop you getting too warm. Also the addition of leg lifters was a nice touch, adding to the comfort when spending a lot of time on the water.

The back rest had a nice positive height adjustment which I was pleased to find went down quite low. I don’t like high backrests as they interfere (I feel) with my paddling. On its high setting it was like an armchair and ideal for time spent fishing.

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Wilderness Systems have opted to fit hinged, lever locking hard hatches instead of the usual rubber type making them much easier to open and close – the front one is quite large. There is no shortage of storage; the front hatch is accompanied by another mid vessel compartment and an enormous rear well with bungee elastics. There are a couple of small web covered pockets within easy reach (although these lacked any visible drainage once filled with water) and a handy key pouch under the seat.

There was also a drinks bottle holder but you need long arms to reach as it sat between the soles of my boots. I felt this could have been a little nearer.

It didn’t take me long to get the seat adjusted before an uneventful launch onto the river. This boat is hard chined which can be apparent when at rest or slow speed. The boat has a minimal rock from side to side until the chine touches the water level, from there it feels very stable – enough that I could swing my legs over one side and not feel unstable.

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Once paddling the secondary stability is very good, no dramas there. The hull has good forward speed, probably due to its 16ft length, and great tracking. It gets up to speed quickly and the glide on this boat is impressive, maintaining momentum for a good distance. Across small chop it was as expected: a dry ride with no noticeable water entry through the open scuppers. A dry backside is always welcome, especially when the weather isn’t particularly warm!

The stiff breeze blowing on the back of the boat did have an effect. Some weather cocking and yaw was noticeable but nothing the odd steering stroke couldn’t correct. The Tarpon 160 is comes with an optional rudder and in my opinion it would be worth the extra cost.

The afore mentioned hard chine made the boat turn very nicely when edged, despite its length, and once the wind was away from the stern it behaved very nicely. If you want to cover the miles this is definitely worth considering.

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Construction is pretty bomb proof and it’s a nicely put together kayak. The drinks bottle could do with being a little closer to the paddler and I wasn’t sure how long the front foam hatch seal would remain water tight but no big deal to replace if it did eventually start to leak.

Lifting the Tarpon 160 onto a roof rack with tired arms would be best accomplished with a second person if possible. It isn’t the cheapest sit on top kayak either but I believe you get what you pay for and you get a great deal with the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160!

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