Submitted: 09-25-2007 by jamesdeanreeves
I've owned and paddled a glass 170 Pro now for a little over 3 years. It's regularly taken it into big currents, big waves, big surf, big winds, & following seas. It's been on several week-long expedition-style trips, as well as many numerous weekend and day trips. It's been rammed into barnacle-encrusted walls in sea-caves, run over reefs, and drug over rocky beaches. It's only needed repair once and that was because it dropped from the top of a truck. A boat is not a piece of furniture - they're a tool, and I play hard.
I've not had any trouble out of this boat, and do have an attachment to it. One reviewer below tagged it as a "tank" - they were right in the moniker, but wrong in the context. It is a tank in the fact that it will take you and your gear to hell & back, and survive beautifully. It is not a tank in the fact that it paddles like a world class kayak should. It's really not fair to post a review of a boat that is a "rental boat" as they're not well kept and tend to have problems, i.e. the skeg complaint. The review was also on a poly boat - if you paddle a glass boat, then hop in a polyboat, sure, it feels like a barge. And the reviewer did acknowledge that.
What I Like: pretty much everything! It has full perimeter deck lines, plenty of bungie, enclosed cable & rod skeg control that prevents any cable kinkage, foot pegs adjustable while sitting in cockpit, well padded thigh braces, recessed compass mount, carry handles that retract.
The construction is top notch: layup is stellar - no globs of resin, discolorations, rough spots, or stray glass fibers. The insides of the storage are smooth and virtually blemish-free. The skeg box is well constructed and smooth on the inside compartment - nothing for gear to hang on as it slides past.
It had a pretty nice seat system, but for some reason, no matter how I adjusted the thigh lifters, my legs still went to sleep. I ended up ripping it out and built a custom seat from foam: http://kayakfit.tripod.com/instructions.htm
I also ended up glassing in a small bulkhead and adding a foot pump, and also a keel strip. My hatch covers are of an older design, and after 2 years, I've started getting a little bit of water in the storage, but only when I roll. The amount is nothing to get excited about. Recent Tempest Pros I've seen have a different, beefier hatch cover.
What I don't like: weight - in this day & age, it's an overly heavy boat. But for it's size/weight, it handles as well or better as any other boat in that same class. This last weekend, I spent A LOT of time at a symposium paddling several new boats as I was in the market. I probably spent 30-45 minutes in each boat (I know, that's not long enough to REALLY know a boat, but it is long enough to get a good feel). I tried the P&H Cetus, and it came in a close second. It is a well crafted & designed boat. It handled beautifully, and I liked the forward "day hatch" feature they put in it. The only problem with the Cetus was that it wouldn't track true without the skeg down - it would wander one way or the other. My third choice would have been the the Impex Cat 3 or Outer Island - they were nicely built and handled very well, but I noticed rust on some metal parts. My final choice would have been the NDK Explorer. The boat is built big & solid, and is meant for big open water, expedition-style trips. There seemed to be some sloppiness in the layup on the ones I looked at. It handled ok - a little slow to start the turn - to be honest, I thought my Tempest handles a lot better, and seems to be of better construction quality than the Explorer (plus $400 cheaper), so I choose not to "down-grade".
What was my top pick? One that completely surprised me - the SEDA Ikkuma 17. It was a real dream to paddle that boat. I ordered a Carbon/kevlar layup - I'll post my impressions after I've paddled it for several months.