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I use it for fishing and have added several creature features. The large hatch covers made the instillation easy. I am planning on a trip through the Everglades and finding I will have plenty of room for gear and provisions.
One purchases a long boat for speed and tracking and the Tarpon 160 has both. That being said turning a 16' boat around in a narrow channel with paddles is a chore for anyone; the rudder system is a big help. Nothing beats boat length at the end of the day and several miles to paddle back. The tracking and glide length of the Tarpon 160 makes you happy with your purchase. As with everyone else the weight going up and on a SUV is an issue. I just say it's keeping me fit.
Comparing this to other brands, there is not a better built or one with better features. Again, I don't see a reason to change make or model and would recommend this boat to anyone.
This is probably one of the most stable boats I have paddled. One thing that I don't like about the boat is that it is not as fast as my touring kayak. The boat is 28" wide and it is a lot slower that my sit in kayak. I really had to tug on the paddle to keep the boat moving in the rough conditions. The other thing I don't like about the boat is that it is really heavy and very difficult to put on top of the car by myself. I am 6'4" 220 lbs so typically it is not too tough to lift a kayak overhead to put on the car. But the Tarpon really gives you a workout probably because there is no good place to grab the boat to lift it overhead.
We have found that using a paddle a length longer than normal results in less paddle drip in the boat. In rough/windy conditions wearing rain pants serves the same purpose as a spray skirt. We carry both on a set of Thule Slide and Glide racks on top of a Toyota Highlander without any trouble. Due to the weight they would be extremely difficult for one person to load, although we have a friend who loads his alone all the time. We would never consider replacing these kayaks with a Sit inside.
I got to say these yaks are nice. No leaks, no shavings, no damage, no problem turning either and I am a beginner. I am 5'10" 170 and ran her without scuppers and didn't notice hardly any water at all. Track great and can't wait to put in again.
This is definitely not the yak a novice will feel right at home for the first time. Its turning characteristics are really poor, but I've found ways to improve them: first, leaning forward while making the turn (not only sideways). the other, using a longer than usual paddle. A low angle straight shaft of 240 cm works great for me.
This kayak works great for fishing it's faster than most out there it has more stability than the prowler 15. It's still a wet ride, not much more than the P15 but a lot more than the 'desert' Trident 15. The new '09 model is totally redone hope they only improved it not ruining whats already one of the greatest fast-fishing yaks on the planet.
First impressions are that the T160i is a tippy craft with poor secondary stability but that is not true, paddler needs to brain-body synch with the kayak and then she becomes a rock solid seaworthy kayak.
At 16 feet in length & advertised as 65 pounds she might sound on the heavy side for loading & carrying but her sleek lines with a 28 inches width makes her easy to car top.
The T160i comes with the layout ready to install a rudder but I havenít found enough grounds to do so; 20 mph winds & feisty seas are home for this excellent well thought out kayak.
Speed is a plus with an astounding capability; maneuverability is excellent despite her length. Take into account that I am talking about an used 4 years old kayak and yet finishing & craftsmanship still hold up to the rigors of saltwater kayak fishing.
I give her a 10 for layout, seaworthiness, maneuverability & speed. People with more knowledge than me on these matters have stated that everyone wants a light kayak on land & a large capable one on the water:
It is in fact a rule of the thumb, a minor hassle on land pays out big time while you are out there. If you are a sit on top kayaker looking for a trustworthy kayak for long trips with large capacity for loading/carrying stuff & covering long distances you might like to consider the T160i, there is nothing like it on the market.
I would have to say that the 160i was my favorite by far. The Trident was just a barge. It felt like I was riding a giant baked potato! The WS 140 was nice, but it didn't track as well as I would have liked and it lacked a little bit in the speed department. The 160i however was a dream!
I tried the 160i, both with a rudder, and without. While it still tracked well without, you can definitely notice the difference the rudder makes. There was a moderate wind and I was very close to shore and I noticed the difference so I can only imagine the difference it makes for those really windy days.
Besides for the handling, I also thought that all the WS yaks were superior in finish to all the other yaks that were there. The finish on these boats looks a lot more expensive than the boat actually is. Also, the attention to detail is just superb. I really liked the hatch lids "tupperware" style closure over other manufacturers complicated clips and straps.
It's also designed quite ergonomically. I'm not a tall guy by any stretch of the imagination and this is a long boat. However, I could easily reach everything on the boat from a seated position in the cockpit. I especially like the height adjustable seat which is new for 2008.
I also found that it felt quite stable when standing up for those that like to stand in their yaks. I'm not sure if I'd stand while fishing the gator and shark filled waters of Flamingo but that's just me ;-)
So all in all, I would have to say that I highly recommend the Tarpon 160i above the other WS Tarpons and definitely over anything produced by Ocean Kayaks.
Oh, and the only reason I didn't give it a 10 was because I wasn't crazy about how it turned. But I guess it didn't do too bad for being 16ft long.
Iíve paddled several trips of 6 miles in a flat spillway with ease, finishing in under two hours with energy to spare. On two of the trips, my friend in a Seda Impulse went along and I kept up with him easy enough at 3.5 mph average speed.
Just this weekend, I went to Horn Island off the Mississippi Coast with two friends in who had expensive sit in kayaks. I was worried that in the wind and chop I couldnít keep up, but really I had no problem paddling with them. I worked a little harder to maintain speed, but the head wind (heavy at 15 to 20 mph) and choppy seas (1.5 to 2.0 foot) were no problem. A few times tugs boats passed and increased the swells to 3.0 foot and the Tarpon crashed right through. We made the 6-mile paddle in a little over 3-hours but the head wind was murder.
Iím 6.0 foot, 245 lbs and my boat was loaded with about 100lbs of camping gear, food and water, so it sat low in the water. The scupper holes were under and the entire time I sat in water because of choppy waves crashing into the boat. No problem, it was a hot day.
Very stable boat - nearly impossible to tip over without actually trying. Speed is Good Ė but I had to work harder to keep up with my friends in their sit in kayaks. In choppy seas, plan to sit in water Ė the waves crash over the boat and work to drain towards the back under the seat scupper holes.
The center 6-inch dry storage is perfect for cell phone and camera (In water tight bags of course). The bungeed center drink holder is perfect to keep hydration quick at hand. The bungeed paddle holders on either side work great - quick and easy to secure the paddle.
Easy boat to sit on sideways, with legs dangling in the water, to access drinks or whatever from the rear storage. A little heavy at 68lbs, but since itís roto-molded plastic, no worries about damaging it while putting it on/off the vehicle.
Impressions? Wow, I LOVE this kayak!! I like the new deck design because it incorporates the features, like a small hatch between my legs for my wallet, cell phone, etc. The larger fore and aft hatches are excellent for storage. The large open well for dive fins and snorkel, dive tank, etc is simply perfect for my particular needs. This deck design suits my needs.
I am not a fisherman and do not really care for the deck design criteria built into the older 160 models. Others do, of course, and more power to them.
This kayak is EXTREMELY stable in both initial and secondary areas. It is very roomy and comfortable. I did remove the factory plastic backrest because I found it uncomfortable. A Wilderness Systems accessory low seat assembly with the stock plastic seat back removed has worked much better. Not really a criticism, just my particular body build worked better with the other seat arrangement.
Paddling effort efficient and comfortable. It is reasonably fast by SIT standards. This boat seems little effected by straight-on currents, although higher winds will cause it to 'cock'. As should be obvious by its length, it is not a quick turner, but very manageable, none-the-less.
All in all, I don't think I could have purchased a better kayak for my particular needs. Believe me, I looked at a lot.
I wish it were lighter, but after drilling a 3" hole in the upper deck to fit a compass, it's obvious the hull thickness is substantial. I guess all things considered, I can live with a bit of extra weight for the security of a thick, strong hull.
No complaints here. An excellent well-made product. My thanks to Wilderness Systems for a wildly enjoyable ride! Every paddle experience with my 160i is wonderful.
To sum up, I am very pleased with this kayak and recommend the 160i with no hesitation. It is well built, performs VERY well and is nothing but a Joy to spend time on.
Two things are observed which we've asked our dealer to check with Wilderness on. First, parting line cleanup/trim is terrible. Not flush with hull and top deck and irregular. Second, the tie down straps are causing the plastic to streak or smear, in some places making it look like the color is coming out.
Dealer says the Wilderness response was that the parting line was "the quality of the work we were doing on the day the boat was made" and the plastic is "what we are using these days".
We think that is just plain poor. Hopefully they never have a day when their parting line trim out is so bad they put slits in the hull.
Spent most of Friday night, Saturday and Sunday reading articles, and making runs to Academy, Wal Mart, Home Depot, Lowes and Bass Pro getting "stuff" to rig it for fishing. The bride allowed me to do this in the living room since it was about 100 degrees outside, day and night. And did it fill up the living room!
Loaded it on the truck Sunday night, got up at 0500 July 4 and headed for Lake Grapevine to find a launch site. What a beautiful morning! North wind 10 to 15, COOL, and cloudy. Clear water. Hardly any boats about. Could not have been better.
Unloaded it by myself, attached the essentials, and launched directly into the wind, northbound. Had to use my 230 four-piece back-up paddle because my 240 Werner Camano hasn't come in yet.
What wind? She tracked and handled beautifully in light-to-moderate chop. Very responsive to the rudder. Moved head-on into the wind and slightly quartering into it with the greatest of ease. A very stable and enjoyable ride.
Paddled a half mile or so, stopped to check for leaks. There were none. The hatches fit very snugly. And adjusted the Surf to Summit "GTX Elite" seat, which is another matter of joy and pure comfort. Paddled another mile to a beach with a picnic shelter above. Got out for a breakfast snack and delighted in the sight of the mango on the beach below. It started getting darker behind me.
Got back in, and heard several booms as skies to the north turned blue- black. Wasn't ready to quit, but turned around and headed back south where I had come from. Wind kicked up to at least 40 and waves started whitecapping and thunder increased. Discretion being the better part of valor, beached again and sought shelter behind a shrub thicket as it began to rain.
The lightening and rain blew over, but not the wind. By now the waves were about 3-4' and whitecapping as the wind increased and began to gust. Decided to run for it as the wind was behind my back, and it looked like more T-boomers might be coming.
It turned out to be a fun run all the way back to the truck, waves coming from the rear. Had to use more rudder than when going into the wind. I assume the rear end was getting tossed around a little. Otherwise, the T-160i rode very nicely through crest and trough. I was impressed.
Back at the truck I learned the hard way that it is not a good idea to solo- load a 16-foot yak on a roof rack while parked perpendicular to the wind. Could not believe how much wind it caught. My major mistake of the day. A gust blew her off the roof rack and gave my truck's deck lid a major rash. But the yak seems OK.
All in all, a good learning experience in varied wind and water conditions. Love the yak. I think it was a good choice. Can't wait to hit the salt and do some fishing!
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