The Wilderness System 160i became our kayak of choice by accident and we wouldn’t trade them. At 65 pounds and 16 feet long their weight is a concern if you kayak alone. We have a friend who can load his 160i on his car by himself, but my spouse and I have developed an efficient team approach. Using the Thule Slide and Glide system and a little practice we can load two kayaks and be on the road in less than 15 minutes.
Wilderness Systems redesigned their Tarpon 160 since we purchased ours in 2007. The most notable redesign a new seating system raised off the kayak and highly adjustable. Our boats still feature the older style seats which I suspect are not as comfortable. We pad them with the Grande Hot Seat from Tom’s TopKayaker Shop.
We chose not to install rudders on our boats due to the quirkiness of rudders. We’ve never regretted this decision. These kayaks track true no matter the weather or conditions. We demoed the 14 foot Tarpon and didn’t feel they tracked nearly as well as the 160i.
The first year after our purchase we exercised a great deal of caution while paddling. Not too rough, not too far from shore. Now we trust our kayaks anywhere. These kayaks feature stability, and for a sit on top a very dry ride. Paddle drip is more of an issue than water splashing into the boat.
Being five foot three my short arms meant I preferred a narrow kayak. The Tarpon’s width resulted in several years of banged knuckles until I switched to a longer paddle. This improved my reach and saved my knuckles.
We discovered thigh straps at Toms TopKayaker Shop and installed them on both kayaks. With a properly adjusted thigh strap this boat edges close to a sit in side. Between the thigh straps, adjustable seat backs and foot pegs these kayaks customize to many size kayakers.
I read an article once on the visibility of a green kayak versus a yellow kayak. The difference was amazing. Our chosen colors are yellow and mango and we’re assured we’re noticeable even though we’re low in the water.