Wilderness Systems Kayaks Review | Epic Kayaks or Flop?

Wilderness Systems kayaks’ have been and are currently being celebrated by the industry. However, you may be overwhelmed by the number of features listed by various products in their market.

Dive into the list below and know more about the best Wilderness Systems kayaks that are on the market today. Read the series of reviews and consider what these kayaks have to offer. 

Top 7 Best Wilderness Systems Kayaks Reviewed

  1. Wilderness Systems Radar 115 Fishing Kayak – Best Overall
  2. Wilderness Systems Pungo 125 Recreational Kayak – Best Value
  3. Wilderness Systems Ripper Recreational Kayak – Editor’s Choice
  4. Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 Sit-Inside Kayak
  5. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105
  6. Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135 Recreational Kayak
  7. Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 Touring Kayak

1. Wilderness Systems Radar 115 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak – Best Overall

Wilderness Systems Kayaks Radar 115 | Sit on Top Fishing Kayak

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  • Size: 356cm x 88cm
  • Weight: 38.5kg
  • Deck height: 38cm
  • Load capacity: 204kg

Introducing the first tri-powered kayak in the market, Wilderness Systems’ Radar 115. It is compatible with the Helix HD Pedal Drive and the Helix MD Motor Drive. You can paddle, pedal, or summon this kayak’s inner motor power. 

This kayak is flexible as it offers a flat platform for standing and more freedom for movement and is finished with smart outfitting. This SMART hull technology of Wilderness Systems’ kayaks combines stability, maneuverability, acceleration, responsiveness, and tracking into its overall design, giving a great performance that anyone will love in various water environments.

This kayak has generous storage and options for deploying MD™ Motor Drive and the Helix PD™ Pedal Drive. The Helix HD Pedal Drive works with a built-in steering system for easy navigation, which can be used for hands-free steering. Like most Wilderness Systems kayaks, this model also has AirPro MAX technology that offers easily adjustable and comfortable seats that complements this kayak’s other advanced technology.

If you are looking for the most versatile kayak that is high-powered and has advanced technology giving you an enhanced kayaking experience, this will be worth your purchase. It would give you a comfortable ride on your long and exciting excursions while giving unparalleled power performance. 

Has advanced technologies, giving a comfortable rideSome noticed how it lacks side handles
Versatile, balancing SMART technology Not cheap
Powerful, three-sourced propulsion
Hassle-free control

2. Wilderness Systems Pungo 125 | Sit Inside Recreational Kayak – Best Value

Wilderness Systems Kayaks Pungo 125 | Sit Inside Recreational Kayak

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  • Size: 381cm x 75cm
  • Weight: 24kg
  • Cockpit size: 147cm x 57cm
  • Load capacity: 193kg

Outside Magazine has awarded this kayak as the “Best Boat of 2019” making it one of the most proven and tested kayaks in performance and design. This kayak is one of the best sellers of Wilderness Systems under their recreational sit-inside kayaks category. It is praised for its unmatched speed and stability without sacrificing premium comfort and intelligent outfitting.

Smart engineering designed this kayak to accommodate a wide range of paddlers. It can fit small to large-sized paddlers. Its speed is ranked best among its class. You will find it easy to paddle with efficiency. All its notable features earned its place as one of the best kayaks in the market. 

Phase 3 Air Pro is Wilderness Systems’ innovative technology that makes their kayak seats fully adjustable for your comfort. The lower back part of the seat can also be adjusted for more back support. The seat is also made of honeycomb mesh that facilitates airflow to keep you feeling cool, especially on warm sunny days. This kayak is equipped with this advanced technology to make your experience more comfortable.

Its dashboard has lots of accessories and convenient storage for a handy ride. Its hull is designed to offer stability without sacrificing performance. If you want a trusted recreational kayak that will guarantee comfort and give a perfect blend of stability and performance, this is for you. 

Lightweight and fits for a wide range of paddlersSome have complaints about the packaging
Proven performance and best known for speed
Perfect balance in stability and performance
Generous dashboard and storage
Fully adjustable seats

3. Wilderness Systems Ripper | Sit on Top Recreational Kayak – Editor’s Choice

Wilderness Systems Kayaks Ripper | Sit on Top Recreational Kayak

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  • Size: 244cm x 76cm
  • Weight: 18kg
  • Deck height: 38cm
  • Load capacity: 102kg

Ripper 80 kayak is a simple and affordable kayak Wilderness Systems has to offer. Don’t underestimate this sit-on-top recreational kayak as it gives an ultra-stable, quick, and playful performance.

You can glide through the calm lakes, coastal waters, and ocean surf with this kayak. It will be easy to carry it around and mount on and off your vehicle due to its short body and lightweight feel. However, this kind of kayak will be most suitable for small to medium-bodied paddlers who only want to have a good time in mellow waters.

Adjustable back seats and molded-in footrests will give you a comfortable and secure ride. Despite its small body, it offers a midship hatch that gives dry storage and a rear storage tank well for coolers and your other gear. Multiple scuppers are also built into the kayak to give you a drier ride.

If you are looking for the cheapest Wilderness Systems kayak that will give you a comfortable and fun ride for recreational purposes, this is for you. 

Cheapest recreational kayak in Wilderness Systems’ line without compromising performanceNot as durable and heavy-duty relative to the other kayak models of Wilderness Systems
Lightweight and small-bodiedIncompatible for large framed bodied and aggressive paddlers
Comfortable seat

4. Wilderness Systems Aspire 100 Sit-Inside Kayak

Wilderness Systems Kayaks Aspire 100 Sit-Inside Kayak

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  • Size: 244cm x 76cm
  • Weight: 18kg
  • Deck height: 38cm
  • Load capacity: 102kg

Aspire 100 kayaks have been branded as the “best for beginners” kayak in the men’s journal in the year 2013. This kayak is considered one of the best because of its smooth glide feel and great tracking even without a skew. This kayak would be great if you prefer agility over power.

This kayak is designed to fit small to medium-framed paddlers comfortably. It has innovative technology of an easily adjustable, well-engineered Phase 3 AirPro seat dubbed to be the most comfortable kayak seat on the market. The seats are covered with honeycombed mesh to keep a good airflow for a cooling effect.

It’s great tracking with easy maneuverability has everyone wondering how this small kayak could offer that performance. Its incredible stability features the TruTrak Adjustable Skeg System that gives its straight tracking ability for longer pursuits.

If you are a beginner to an intermediate paddler and would like a perfect balance for tracking and maneuverability, this recreational sit-inside kayak is worth the look. 

Great for entry-level paddlers who want to try and explore kayakingIncompatible for large-frame bodied paddlers
Perfect balance for tracking and stability
Comfortable, easily adjustable seats

5. Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105

Wilderness Systems Kayaks Tarpon 105

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  • Size: 320cm x 81cm
  • Weight: 25kg
  • Deck height: 39cm
  • Load capacity: 147kg

This premiere sit-on-top kayak offers fast, efficient, and straight tracking. It is also known for having the most comfortable seats among the Wilderness Systems kayak line, which also has the Phase 3 air Pro that keeps the seat its cooling properties.

You can also engage in fishing activities due to the large rear storage that will fit your rods, gear, coolers, and other fishing equipment. It also has a front storage hatch that offers great sealed storage keeping its contents dry.

It has large footrests to accommodate different sizes of paddlers. It also has a convenient magnetic water bottle water strap and some sidetrack accessory rails to easily customize the kayak for fishing, filming, photography, or other accessories for your other activities.

If you’re looking for a sit-on-top type of kayak that can be customized for casual fishing and built for stability, you may want to get this kayak for its reasonable price among all other fishing kayaks. 

Reasonable price for a fishing kayak and other activities that require stabilityIncompatible for those who prefer whitewater and aggressive kayaking
Versatile for many water conditions
Generous and convenient storage

6. Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135 | Sit Inside Recreational Kayak

Wilderness Systems Kayaks Pamlico 135 | Sit Inside Recreational Kayak

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  • Size: 411cm x 79cm
  • Weight: 33kg
  • Deck height: 36cm
  • Load capacity: 227kg

Check out this best-selling tandem kayak if you want some company in your kayaking activities. This tandem kayak is popular as it can easily be converted into a solo kayak if you can’t find someone to row with or maybe want some time by yourself in the water. You won’t be disappointed with its performance and features, as it will be powerful, having two paddlers or just solo.

Pamlico 135 features a rounded hull that gives easy build-up of acceleration, making it capable of traveling long distances at a faster rate without much effort than you’d expect. Its well-designed stern bulkhead gives extra buoyancy in water, enhancing your safety. This safety feature is not found in less expensive kayaks. However, this kayak model offers this feature in this reasonably priced kayak, making it budget-friendly.

Wilderness Systems Phase 3 AirPro seat technology is also featured in this kayak model, giving comfort to its easily adjustable seats and ventilated mesh ventilation. Thigh and knee paddings are added for support and optimal control. It also has large, padded footrests with an adjustable lever to accommodate various paddlers’ different heights.

If you’re looking for a great tandem kayak, this would be great as it can easily be converted to a solo. It gives great maneuverability and would be powerful enough, even for a solo paddler. This kayak is also affordable for its great features and customizable tandem design.

Powerful enough to cover long distances at fast speedsCup holders are small, may not hold something larger than can-sized cups or bottles
Features high-end technology to increase buoyancy
Compatible for tandem and solo paddlers
Great stability and maneuverability

7. Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 | Sit Inside Touring Kayak

Wilderness Systems Kayaks Tempest 165 | Sit Inside Touring Kayak


  • Size: 503cm x 55cm
  • Weight: 25kg
  • Deck height: 32cm
  • Load capacity: 136kg

The Tempest series is an award-winning kayak for its advanced technology touring ability. Tempest 165 is internationally designed to fit paddlers of all sizes who want to go for tougher water conditions and would like to go touring and exploring for a thrilling venture. 

This kayak is built for paddlers who want a small-framed kayak for their touring activities. It is regarded as a classic kayak for wild-hearted paddlers and aggressive paddlers who want to go on exciting adventures.

Its features focus on handling water by being stable and responsive which would work well on rough water. It also has an adjustable skeg system that works well on a course that has backing wind and wavy seas. You only must make sure to keep the skeg slot away from rocks and shells to increase its longevity and great performance. 

Intermediate and advanced paddlers would enjoy this kayak as you can fit comfortably in it and glide smoothly on the water. Overall, this kayak would be a great touring boat, offering a docile yet daring experience for those who dare to ride it. 

Responsiveness would conquer tough water conditionsIncompatible for beginners
Increased control with the adjustable skegHard to drain
Great stability and maneuverability 
Comfortable fit for all sizes

A Brief History of Systems Wilderness: Kayaks

Wilderness Systems has been working since 1986, chasing perfection. Their innovative designs for delivering great performance, premium outfitting, and top-of-the-line quality have garnered them numerous awards for their various kayaks. 

Wilderness Systems kayaks are known for their award-winning kayaks that cater to people’s specific needs. They have kayaks to offer, from a quiet ride or recreational day tour to conquering a tough river and everything in between. They promote their innovative technologies like their Phase 3 AirPro seat technology and well-engineered stern design, making their kayaks comfortable and safe.

They launch different technologies every year to improve the quality of their kayaks. They continuously improve their kayaks’ technologies to offer their market the best kayaking experience with the safety and comfort everyone would appreciate. Their continuous awards reflect the great performance their kayaks give to the market, making them one of the most proven and trusted brands for kayaks.

Types of Wilderness Systems Kayaks 


These types of kayaks have a closed cockpit that lets your legs be hidden under the covers of your kayak. A spray skirt is usually worn to keep the water out from your waist down. These kayaks may limit the size of paddlers that could fit inside them and decrease flexibility. However, these types of kayaks would be great for different weather conditions as your body is sheltered inside the kayak. This kayak type is paired with the other kayak types mentioned below, besides the sit-on-top, which is its opposite variant.


These kayaks are easy to get in and out of due to the absence of closed cockpits. It offers more freedom for your movements and flexibility in positioning. However, rides on these kayaks would make you prone to getting wet because of your whole body’s exposure. It can also be a hassle in hot and sunny conditions, but it would be great if you’d like to get some tan while on the water. This type of kayak is paired with the other kayak types mentioned below. 

Recreational Kayaks

These kayaks are shorter, more lightweight, and easier to maneuver. However, it is more unforgiving and has poor tracking relative to the other types of kayaks. It has a large cockpit that would fit any body type and can even accommodate an additional child if you wanted to.

Touring Kayaks

These kayaks have longer and narrower bodies that make them accumulate more speed and are better at tracking.  They have smaller cockpits that have thigh braces so you can balance yourself upright. These kayaks are relatively more expensive than the other types.

Fishing Kayaks

These kayaks are designed to have generous storage for fishing gear and other objects you will need for a long stay on the lake. It is mostly built for stability. However, most kayaks still balance stability with performance, so fishing kayaks can still give great kayaking performance for long distances. However, expect them to have difficulties in speeding up relative to the other types of kayaks. 

Expedition Kayaks

These kayaks have long bodies that can accumulate speed yet are balanced with some stability, making it an in-between kayak for recreational and day touring. Most aggressive paddlers prefer this type as it has a perfect blend of stability and speed in it. Beginners may take some time to get used to it but can be doable with practice. These kayaks have generous storage as well as excellent sealant properties.

Pedal Kayaks

These kayaks are impulse propelled and mostly powered by your legs and have a pilot rudder system for hand steering. Wilderness Systems’ pedal kayaks are also designed and well-engineered for fishing and other activities that may require stability. This design may be convenient for moving while holding your rod or any item other on hand. It also has generous storage for your important gear. 


Modern whitewater kayaks are designed to have smaller bodies to allow sensitive maneuverability and response. They are built to withstand tough rivers or waves on open water. You can also use them for flatwater but expect poor tracking and a relatively unforgiving kayak. However, old-school kayaks would be a little longer and more forgiving but have smaller cockpits than modern ones.


Wilderness Systems is a proven and trusted kayak brand that has been in the market since 1986. It is one of the brands that offer great performance kayaks celebrated by the industry by featuring them in magazines and awarding them for their elegant designs. They are commended for the variety of choices they offer for the specific needs of kayaking.

Wilderness Systems can also be commended for the innovative technology in their kayaks, like the Phase 3 AirPro technology that enhances comfort for your kayaking activities. They release new products or add new technology in their kayak line to cater to your kayaking activities’ needs.

Ensure that you get the full experience of kayaking you’d want by knowing the different types of kayaks that Wilderness Systems has categorized separately. Once you match your needs with the type of kayak they offer, you may browse through the list of the best Wilderness Systems kayaks where one product for each type was chosen, based on the good ratings of consumers and the various awards they’ve claimed from the media and other reputable brands.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How do I easily get in and out of a kayak coming from the dock?

If your kayak is parked near the dock, the first step is to sit on the edge of the dock. You may lower the lower half of your body using your hands and arms for support at the edge of the dock. Insert one leg on the farther side of the dock, based on the direction you’re facing. Once your bottom is settled on the seat, you can now rest your second leg inside the cockpit.

What is the warranty claim for Wilderness Systems kayaks?

Their kayaks’ have a limited lifetime warranty upon purchase for hull and deck defects. Parts, outfitting, and other accessories have a one-year warranty period for material or manufacturing defects from your date of purchase. Ensure that you fill out their warranty registration form within 30 days of purchase to activate your kayak’s warranty. You must keep the valid sales receipt of purchase to make the warranty valid if required in the future.

How do I transport my kayak?

Kayaks are usually put on top of a vehicle with a good racking system that ensures the kayak’s secure and stable placement. You can also put paddings on your roof rack or invest in a padded kayak cradle to ensure the safety of your kayak while traveling with it.
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