Review of the Tempest 165 Pro
By Curtis Gashlin
I’d like to start by saying that I have been paddling a Tempest 165 Pro and a Poly Tempest 165 for around 7 years. I have used them in all types of waters and many conditions. This may be the most under estimated kayak out there. I will try to not make comparisons to other kayaks because if you haven’t used the other kayaks the comparison doesn’t help. I am keeping this review towards the Pro models and will just touch on the poly here and there.
In earlier years of the Tempest there was much discussion on the build quality as well as hatch issues. The hatches were changed to use Kayak Sport lids around 2006 on the Pro model. The kayak was made in America until 2009 when they were made in China. I can tell you that my first Tempest Pro was a 2009 and I was not impressed with the build. In fact I went through 2 2009’s before finally getting a 2010 replacement. I found that there was a substantial improvement in just those models. Later I discovered that the consistency was not what it should be from boat to boat and some got very good ones and some did not. I have reinforced mine so that it is pretty on par with the best. From what I know right now, in 2013 the kayaks were made in Estonia at the same plant that makes the Tahe Marine kayaks. The kayaks were made top rate and very high tech. If I were to get another Tempest Pro I would only get a 2013 or later.
The seats are high tech but could be overkill for many. I have replaced my backband and made some other mods to my seat as well as to the foot braces. The deck rigging is fine and of course it can be changed to any arrangement you need. The adjustable thigh braces are a blessing.
Now, the most important part of this kayak is its hull. The reason I reinforced my kayak is because it is worth doing whatever I had to do to satisfy myself because of this hull. The hull on the 165 to me is a cruising hull with a playful streak in her. It will keep you up front on the paddles and keep you comfortable if things get rough but it also will allow you to play with carved turns and edges and just have general fun. There are kayaks that are easier to turn but will not provide the same cruising and speed ability. I find that if I want to turn it as sharp as I can in these other kayaks I need to simply give it a deeper edge. This would take more skill to do so beginners won’t realize the relationship between the Tempest and some of the other more turny boats, but getting over far enough will allow it to turn just as sharply as those kayaks.
In 2015 or 2016 Wilderness systems stopped making fiberglass kayaks. They claimed that they couldn’t get the quality they wanted. I believe that to be bunk.
The Estonia built kayaks were top rate in quality but they were at least as heavy as the plastic tempest. I believe they just decided there wasn’t enough profit and I have to add that I feel a little betrayed. The plastic version is still produced. I have both plastic and glass. I prefer the cockpit coaming of the plastic. The trouble with plastic is that they do not all share the exact specs as the design due to the roto molding process and shrinkage during drying, etc. I have had 2 different plastic tempests. One was as close to the design spec as is the glass and one is completely off. I can’t call it a tempest hull but it is similar. If you buy one, compare the hulls and stay away from the one that seems different than the others. I have actually put a contour measuring tool on the chines of my glass and plastic and could easily see the difference.
The 2009 ish? Plastic tempests have a new rear hatch cover design which is a million times better than their previous design. That previous design was worse than the actual original design. I would stay clear of the middle design. That may have been used between 2005-2009? Ish.
In short, tempest is a great kayak for anyone. You can only buy used or whatever may still be on the market if you want fiberglass. This is an outstanding do all kayak.
About The Author
ACA Instructor & BCU 3 Star Certified kayaker, Curt Gashlin is an enthusiastic member of the Mosquito Lagoon Paddlers based in East Central Florida as well as the Orlando chapter of the Tampa Bay Sea Kayakers . He's been kayaking since 2002.
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