At The Time Of Writing This Review I Have Owned The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Kayak For Around Two Years.
Why I Bought The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100
When it comes to boats, I do a lot of looking and researching before I do a lot of buying (unless, that is, I have just had two pints of Guiness and I am at the London Boat Show (remember that) and I make an impulsive F Rib 360 Foldable Rib purchase, but that is another story).
I was looking for a sea going sit on top kayak, mainly to keep on the beach at Hope Cove, Devon, so I could jump in the car, drive down and get on the water in no time at all.
I wanted some stability (I would prefer to spend more time on it than in the water) and I wanted it to paddle smoothly (not plod like some sit on top kayaks I have paddled).
Most importantly, with a lower back problem which if anything pushes into my lower back at the base of the spine causes numbness and pain in the legs, the seat back needed to be good.
I narrowed my search down to two kayaks:
- Feel Free Nomad Sport
- Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100
They both seemed pretty similar.
I liked the wheel in keel of the Feel Free Nomad Sport, and if I bought the Deluxe Package, there was an adjustable seat. However, crucially for me that couldn’t be adjusted to leave a gap at the base of my spine, so it looked like it would hurt me after a while.
Also, I just was not a fan of the bright colours of the Feel Free Nomad Sport, despite it being around £100 cheaper than the Wilderness Tarpon 100 Sit On Top Kayak.
I liked the simple one colour scheme of the Widerness Tarpon 100, and the adjustable back rest meant that hopefully I could paddle for a few hours without too much discomfort. The adjustable feet positions also looked like they would be more comfortable than the usual pre-welded into hull foot positions you get with most sit on top kayaks.
I decided to go for the Wilderness Tarpon 100, now all I needed to do was to buy one!
New or used, that was the quetion.
Should You Buy A New Or Used Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100
The good news for you if you are thinking of buying one of these kayaks is that they hold their price incredibly well, almost ridiculously so.
As someone who still watches them come and go on ebay, you will be very lucky to pick one up for less than £500, when a new one is around £700, so this is one boat you can buy that will not depreciate too much (which is a pleasant change).
I spent weeks on ebay, then found one that was for sale that the owner had made no effort to clean before throwing it up for sale. It was covered in mould, the hull was half full of water and it had been left outside for a year or two.
Knowing that ultimately it was made from linear polyethylene, so as long as the hull was in tact (it was) it would clean up fine, I went ahead and bought it.
I paid Shiply.com to pick it up for me as it was a few hours away, but it was still comfortably cheaper than buying a new one, so I was away!
I spent a good few hours cleaning the kayak when it arrived and it cleaned up reasonably well, so I was ready for launch day!
Transporting The Wilderness Tarpon 100
I whacked the kayak on top of my Audi TT (fitted perfectly – and was doable single handedly) and headed off from Bristol to Devon.
In no time at all I had the kayak on the beach and was ready to go.
Launch And Review Of The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100
With no wheel in keel, you can either drag it along the beach or do as I did, and just carry it one handed, which at around 25kg was fine.
I did have launch wheels included which fit over the back of the kayak, but I couldn’t really see the point (or be bothered) to attach them for a 150 metre trip down the beach (low tide).
Launching was a breeze.
Drop onto watner, plop onto seat (back raised high leaving that all important gap at thge bottom for my back comfort), then off I went.
Paddling was a complete breeze, manoeuvrability was simple, she paddled like a dream.
I had not concerns going up close to rocks as I knew I could reverse out easily, I went through the Polo rock at Thurlestone Sands without a problem (shut my eyes as the young kids were climbing and jumping off it (oh, to be young again) and went onto beaches and off them again without any problems at all.
She really did meet and exceed my expectations in every way, so I was very pleased I plumped for the Wilderness 100 kayak.
Summary Of My Review Of The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Sit On Top Kayak
The Wilderness Tarpon 100 really is as good as they say it is.
Easy to launch, manoeuvre, recover, put on car, take off car, pull up on beach, reverse out of tight spots, what more can I say?
If you are into fishing, you can attach rod holders (mine came with one but I haven’t used it).
There are scupper plugs, two storage hatches which are easily accessible, and a lovely big rear storage area for your dry bag – I use the Overboard Premium Waterproof/Floating Rucksack below and it fits nicely and has plenty of storage space:
I really cannot fault the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100, and with the excellent price retention, you can safely buy new or used knowing that it won’t cost you an arm and a leg, so if you do that usual boat thing, and don’t use it as much as you hoped you would, you will not lose much on it.
But I bet you hold onto it. I know from my purchasing experience you can safely throw it down the side of the house and she will still be ready and willing to go after a quick polish up.