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Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 Kayak Review

Mark Armstrong
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​The Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 is a 17 foot touring kayak that’s designed to handle coastlines and rougher open water. It comes with plenty of storage for long trips and features adjustable foot braces, thigh braces and a retractable skeg for improved tracking.

  • ​Length: 17 foot
  • ​Width: 22 inches
  • ​Weight: 57 pounds
  • ​Weight Capacity: 325 pounds

The Tempest 170 can be a good choice for medium sized paddlers, especially if you’re looking for a high performance vessel for open water adventures. This craft also comes in a smaller 16 foot 6 inch model, the Tempest 165, which is aimed at women and smaller framed paddlers.

​Before You Buy A Tempest 170

The Tempest 170 is a long, narrow sit-inside kayak that’s built for touring around coastlines. This can make it a great choice for extended paddling trips where you want to be able to cover water quickly and efficiently. It can handle waves and rougher waters.

​Video: Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 ​On ​The Tidal Race

There is also plenty of space to store gear for up to two weeks on the water, if you take lightweight gear.

This can be a good choice of kayak for intermediate to experienced paddlers and could be ideal for all seasons. With its increased primary stability for its size, it could also be suitable for beginners but rolling skills are generally recommended before attempting to paddle in rough seas.

However, it may not be the best choice if you have limited storage at home. Being 17 foot long, it may also be more difficult to transport.

The Tempest 165 is the slightly smaller model, offering a more suitable length and cockpit size for smaller framed paddlers, which could make it a better option if you’re a woman. The shorter hull could be easier for smaller paddlers to maneuver.

It’s 16 foot 6 inches long by 21.5 inches wide, with similar features to the Tempest 170, including great storage and a skeg.

​Best Features Of The Wilderness Systems Tempest Kayak

​Comfortable Cockpit

The spacious cockpit is designed to offer comfort during long paddling sessions. It features a fully adjustable Phase3 AirPro XP seating system. The seat benefits from having breathable mesh fabric and ergonomic 3D foam for increased support and comfort.

The seat also has a leg lifter and the back can be adjusted for height as well as angle.

The SlideLock XL foot braces can be easily adjusted to support paddling comfort and posture. The padded thigh braces can be adjusted to help support your legs and give you better boat control.

​Gear Storage

One of the main features of the Tempest 170 is its storage. There is plenty of space to bring along all the gear you might need for a week away.

There are three storage hatches: one at the bow, one at the stern and a mid-ship one just behind the cockpit.

The hatches can be ideal for storing camping equipment and food for your travels, with the bow hatch having a 91 liter capacity and the stern hatch having a 90 liter capacity. The mid-ship hatch is smaller, with a 41 liter capacity.

As well as the covered hatches, you’ll find additional space on the deck. There is bungee rigging throughout the deck so that you can store extra gear, secure dry bags and balance your load.


A great feature of this boat is the retractable skeg. This can be particularly useful for coastline paddling when you’re battling against wind and current. The skeg can be controlled via the cockpit and can help improve your tracking in open water.

The boat’s length can also contribute to the overall tracking performance and speed. The Tempest 170 is also a pretty low profile vessel, giving you added protection against wind and helping to minimize the risk of being blown off course.

To help you stay on track there is a recessed compass mount at the bow for you to attach your own compass (sold separately).


This kayak is designed for optimum performance on open water and ocean coastlines. It’s built so that you can turn and edge easily, improving maneuverability for experienced paddlers. It can also be easy to roll on calm waters but may take some getting used to when rolling on rougher waters due to its size, so it may not be the best option for learning to roll.

This could be a great boat for beach launches and this user seems to agree with us.

​Tempest 170 Alternatives

​Eddyline Fathom

The Eddyline Fathom is a similar style of kayak to the Tempest 170 but is 6 inches shorter. It also weighs less, at just 50 pounds. It has a high level of storage, including three hatches, and a capacity of 340 pounds. It can be ideal if you have longer legs.  

​Delta 17

The Delta 17 can be a great choice for extended trips. It’s ideal for sea kayaking and features three dry storage hatches to hold your gear. This yak is built for speed and improved tracking in open water, and benefits from having a rudder.

The boat also has a high weight capacity of 410 pounds.

​Dagger Stratos 14.5 S

The Dagger Stratos 14.5 S is aimed at smaller paddlers and could be a great choice if you’re looking for a shorter touring kayak that’s easier to maneuver but can still handle waves and open water.

Designed for sea kayaking, it has a 275 pound capacity and lots of space to store your gear, including dry hatches and deck bungee rigging. It also has a retractable skeg.

​In Conclusion


  • ​Good storage
  • ​Ideal for oceans
  • ​Efficient
  • ​Skeg


  • ​Not ideal for small bodies of water
  • ​No rudder

The Tempest 170 can be a great boat for exploring coastlines. Its long length can make it quick over the water, meaning more efficient paddling. It also has great tracking and storage space, so you can load it up with gear for several days away.

If you’re looking for a high performance touring kayak for ocean adventures and think this boat could work for you, check it out here. Let us know what you think of it and give it a share if you think it could help out your buddies.

​Common Questions

Is It Possible To Add A Rudder To The Tempest?

The Tempest is generally not cut out for adding a rudder. It might be able to be done but generally isn’t recommended. The Tempest has a built-in skeg that can help with tracking.

Are There Good Storage Options?

Yes, the Tempest has lots of places to store gear, including three hatches and deck bungee rigging.

Is This Kayak Only Good For Sea Touring?

It’s best at sea touring but could also be good on larger lakes and other areas of open water. It might not be great in smaller rivers because of its size.

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