‘It’s Tactical’ – Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 Kayak

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160.


Wilderness Systems’ Tarpon 160, a 16-foot sit-on-top, is the Range Rover of angling kayaks – and can also handle multi-day touring, keeping pace with sea kayaks. It is very stable in serious chop, too. When we demoed it recently on Georgian Bay, the boat drew lots of positive reactions. A few of the comments: “It looks so … tactical.” “Those hatches are dope!”


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The boat’s storage capacity is fit for a king (the stern tankwell can hold a canoe pack–size drybag, while the Orbix bow hatch will easily swallow two 30L bags). I ended up carrying a lot of extra gear because my paddle mates realized that the Tarpon could hold a ton, with no diminution in performance.

The midship Orbix hatch is conveniently at your fingertips. (You’ll want to keep everything below in bags, since the hold is so big that objects will slide out of arm-reach.) The waterproof, easy-sealing Orbix hatch is one of Wilderness Systems’ finest innovations. And you’ll never miss struggling with tight, slippery hatch covers.

The adjustable Airpro seat is an all-day dream – you sit a bit higher than in a sea kayak but still don’t feel top-heavy. If you’ve paddled in sea kayaks for years, sitting on top feels like freedom; you just have to remind yourself to apply sunscreen to your legs. And the geometry of the boat is close enough to a typical light-touring sea kayak that your paddle-stroke will feel the same. (Ie, you won’t have to overreach to paddle deep.)




Other standard goodies include SlideTrax accessory system, scupper holes, gear storage pockets, cupholder, comfort carry handles, and paddle holder. Rudder-ready. All details here.


We demoed the Tarpon 160 with Adventure Technology's paddle.
We demoed the Tarpon 160 with Adventure Technology’s Odyssey Angler paddle.

Canadian dealers of Wilderness Systems include, in Ontario: Swift Canoe & Kayak, Thorncrest Outfitters, Trailhead Paddleshack, White Squall. BC: Alberni OutpostAlpha Adventures, Ocean River SportsRed Shreds.