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Reviews for Kaos Kayak by Wilderness Systems


Rated: 8.76/10 Based On: 17 Reviews

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10-18-2012
Submitted by: TLPSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I've had my KAOS for 15 years. Regarding the commentary about the seat position etc, at 200 lbs, in medium to large surf in FL (6') when trying to catch the wave, I put my feet as far forward as possible, bending my legs to get the nose down and the tail up. This allows maximum speed to catch the swell. Once the wave picks me up and I'm moving, I straighten my legs and get my weight all the way back, leaning back as far as possible to keep the nose up at the bottom of the wave, avoiding stuffing the bow. With this maneuver, I can move the pitch of the boat by over a foot. I find this to be an essential survival move as if I was in a fixed position, I'd surely eat the beach. (Which I've done). After that, I drag right or left, executing a series of cutbacks to stay close to the pocket or get launched off the lip. Regarding bruises or lost skin, if you don't like pain, don't try surfing.
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08-10-2009
Submitted by: Friar ChuckSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I've had my Kaos only about 2 months and love it, but I was bugged by the fountain of water that came gushing up from the drain hole while sliding left or right on a wave. So, I've been working on something to counteract the problem. I cut a half round, plastic plate (using the blade of a large plastic putty knife, though maybe a round cut out from a plastic 5 gal. bucket may work just as well), allowing about 1/2" of spacing to overlap the oblong hole in the bottom; drilled 2 holes (center like) about 1.5 inches apart. I also drilled 2 holes in a 5" piece of 1 x 2 about the same width apart and ran a 1/8" piece of nylon cord (about 10 inches long w/ a knot at the trailing end), through one of the holes in the wood, down one of the holes in the plating, then round and back up the other hole, then back through the second hole in the 1 x 2, then knotted that end as well. I insert the wooden piece from the bottom through the drain hole and simply twist the wood to wind up the cord, thereby tightening the plating to the bottom of the kayak, thus preventing the 'fountain' while at the same time allowing the boat to drain due to the oblong hole at the bottom. There's enough ridging in the boat to stop the 1 x 2 from unwinding. And... I solved most of the problem of water seeping into the kayak while I'm in the surf by using Vaseline petroleum jelly on the threads of the drain plug and the threads of the cap for the storage unit. It also aids in the extraction of the plug as well. At least all this works for me; ...good luck!
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06-30-2009
Submitted by: PappySend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Quite by accident I just read my review of the KAOS that I submitted in 2004. I am still riding the same KAOS almost every day. It is still giving me smooth fast and controlled rides every time I take it out. I have to paddle from public parking one mile to the point and although I have trouble keeping up with the "standup" surfers it still gets me there in good shape all warmed up and raring to go.

I can surf 1 foot to 8 foot waves in almost any condition although a recent face-plant off an 8 foot lip slowed me down a bit. I have leg straps and a good seat which adjusts my seat to perfect leg comfort. The foot-holds do hit the side of my ankles but I guess I've built in a mental resistance to feeling it anymore. (surf bumps on my ankles?) From the words surf bumps, old farts can tell I have been at this surfing business for over 50 years, I am almost 70. My health forced me to buy a CHAOS.. I have never been unhappy with that decision.

I can run rings around long boarders....they are usually surprised at its ease to drop into waves late as well as its speed across the face. LOVE MY CHAOS. I almost forgot that it does do an "oilcan" suck in right in front of the center fin under your seat...causes it to become concave and to tell you the truth I am still not sure whether that is a help or hindrance to the ride or cut...???

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04-17-2009
Submitted by: SterlingSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have owned my Kaos for about 2 years now and I have absolutely no complaints about it. I am 6 foot 180lbs and I have no problems with the boat.

The molded in foot braces are a godsend over the Islander Lipstick’s slide paddles because the slide paddles are force all the way to the longest position if you are struck by any waves over about 2 foot. Also compared to the Prijion Twisters tiny foot braces they offer unsurpassed grip and control. Also the boat has three skeg boxes and there are two size fins available from Harmony, a small 3in fin and a large 9in fin. I use three large fins. The benefits of the triple large fins are extra holding of the tail end in the wave which allows for larger waves and longer runs. I have also used a configuration of two small fins on the outsides with a large in the center. This configuration definitely turns quicker and allows for easier carving but does not hold the tail into waves over about 3-4 ft. I used the 3 large fin configuration when I surfed the 10-12 ft swells of Hurricane Fay at Cocoa Beach, FL and had the time of my life. The only obstacle I faced with such large surf, if I relaxed at all while paddling out pass the break, I would completely cart-wheel bow over stern, but that would happen to any boat in those conditions, as it did with my Prijion Twister and my Islander Lipstik in those same conditions. Compared to the Islander Lipstik and the Prijon Twister in the surf, the Kaos is in a league of its own.

And as for its versatility, I have paddled the Kaos in flat water (lakes and rivers) and it performs decent. The water-line is noticeably higher in flat water than it is in the surf because you are not moving as fast. The boat is stable enough in the water for a first time kayaker to have no problems with it. I have also fished from the Kaos. It was not designed as a fishing boat by any means, and I don’t encourage it, but it is possible. I placed the tackle box under my thighs and I took a 5ft 6in Ugly stick with a small reel and I had no problems.

If you want an awesome surf kayak that you plan to surf with a lot, but want a boat that can do a little of many things, the Kaos is for you. Just keep in mind the Kaos was designed TO SURF!! And it performs its function brilliantly. And just to let everyone know the Kaos is now a Dagger boat, not a Wilderness Systems boat, but the two boats are exactly the same boat.

Out of my 6 kayaks this is the most fun boat to throw up on the roof rack and spend a day with. It has never let me down!

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12-01-2007
Submitted by: CySend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I have been kayak surfing with the OK's Big Yak for 3 years and went with the WS’s Kaos last month. It's built and looks great, but I think they need redesign their foot rests. They extend too much and hurt your feet. Also, it would be better if they went with standard fin boxes so you could pick your own type and size fins. Finally, I’m 250 lbs. and 6’2” and think the board works best for someone from 170 –220 lbs. So, it would be great if they had a “Big-Boy” model like Ocean Kayak did with the Scrambler XT.
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11-27-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Absolutely love this surf kayak. Its a surfing machine. Been surf kayaking for about 6 years now and can't say enough about this kayak. Easy to paddle, turns fast, stays in the wave. I added 3 fins and thigh straps to mine so its easy to carve in the waves. Only complaint is the spot you put your feet. Ankles always hurt by the end of the day but its tolerable. If you're a Frenzy or Yak board person, move up to this kayak for big surf. You won't be sorry.
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02-05-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I have owned this boat for 3 years. It is the second kayak I have purchased to surf waves at the Outer Banks in NC up to 6 feet. My first was the Dagger Frolic.

The boat is well put together with quality brass fittings and other components. Highly recommend a back band and thigh braces for maximum manuverability. I found it easy to use but beware of leaning too far forward just after you "catch the wave" as it will dig in and you will flip head over heels rather quickly. It has nice edges that allow for carving manuvers. The skegs are useful for big water only.

The molded footbraces should be replaced with a movable footpeg system found on the WS Tarpon when they update the design. They hurt your ankles when you attempt to brace.

It is a dedicated surf riding vehicle not really suitable for other activities like fishing or flat water paddling. Overall, it is a nice improvement over the standard sit on top and I recommend it for those ready to take the next step in surfing.

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09-25-2006
Submitted by: TonySend Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     I just purchased the Kaos, last years demo model. It leaked terribly and returned it for a recent model built 7/2006. This boat is fine in small surf, haven't yet tried it in anything big in So Cal. I have used a rrapido and a perception surf kayak and the Kaos outperforms. I noticed immediately that its sluggish getting around in it, the seat position seam a bit too far back. The real annoyance though came when I realized my replacement boat is much heavier than the demo I bought previously. Specs call it a 41 lb boat which I think is pretty heavy, the 2006 model I have is close to 48 lbs!
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08-10-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Have just moved up from my old reliabe Torrent SOT to a Kaos. Like going from a pick up truck to a sports car. The Kaos is well made as the other posts attest, and handles great. I did have to add a minicell foam stringer support under the seat to stop the hull from oilcanning. ( 2" x 3.75" x 2' pressed in place. make a cardboard template first to check the fit.)
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06-29-2005
Submitted by: JOHN
Rating: 10 of 10

     Best plastic wave ski on the market, triple skeg offers mean cut backs and off the lip tricks. As a owner of two Island wave skis, this boat can surf with the best fiberglass boats everyone should try the waveski - just awesome.
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01-30-2005
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     The Kaos is an excellent boat. Easy to handle and maneuverable on the wave. It sweeps and arcs beautifully on spilling breakers and can handle late take off’s on the face due to its curled rocker. You will not get the snapping turns of a Wave Ski but what you will get is a feeling of fluid control and security. It grips the wave comfortably with its Tri-Fins and builds to a speed to out run the shoulder of a 4ft spilling breaker with ease. The Kaos is robust with strong water tight fittings. It’s great fun and manageable in many conditions. Look forward to trying it in bigger swell.
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11-17-2004
Submitted by: SteveSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     The Kaos is an excellent surf kayak. It's long enough to give decent speed when paddling out and coming down the line, yet short enough to be highly maneuverable, and carves nicely. The ability to attach fins on the bottom really helps keep it from getting sideways on a wave and doing the 'bongo bounce' in to shore. With this boat's hard edges you can really carve up and down the wave face. With thigh straps you can really brace into a wave when that whitewater comes smashing into you, and if your straps are snug enough you can even roll the Kaos. I've had this boat in conditions ranging from clean 2 foot waves to 5 foot east coast mush, and it handles it all really well.
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01-07-2004
Submitted by: PappySend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I started out surfing a costco boat so the change to the Kaos was definitely a good move. It is a great surfing boat on smaller waves. I had some problems with the hatch screw door leaking at the seam but easily fixed it with some plumbers silicon gel. The rest of the boat is watertight with good fittings secured well. I have heard complaints about the foot holds but mine seem to fit me fine...guess its my short legs? The Kaos has been nothing but fun. I have never had it in waves more than 5 or 6 feet. I changed the fins to all large ones and get better hold on larger waves. I Highly recommend the KAOS...
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11-27-2001
Submitted by: MarkSend Email
Rating: 6 of 10

     Synopsis: Fun in small waves, get a waveski for larger surf.
Pros: 1) Turns nicely at low to med speeds. 2) Generally fun in small surf. You can actually work the face of the wave. 3) A+ on the fittings. 4) Easy to ride.

Cons:
1)The foot wells are very uncomfortable and the last one is unusable. Bruises and loss of skin! Needs a movable footblock with a track. 2) Side slips during takeoffs on overhead waves even with all 3 fins installed. It may not be designed for >6 foot waves but the ads do not specify either way. 3) Scupper hole shoots water directly into riders face. Foam plug that comes with it will blow out instantly in larger surf. 4) Slow. The dimple around the scupper doesn't help either. 5) The bottom sometimes caves in and becomes concave temporarily. A wave or two later, it pops back to normal. Scary.

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03-26-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     I tried four sit-on-top surf boats before settling on the Kaos. I use it in up to 4' surf, mush, and days that aren't worth taking a board out. Excellent little boat. On the good side, this catches waves with the best of them. Rides the face, turns nicely, gets lots of praise for its performance. On the downside, the center of gravity is a little too far aft, but not so far you can't compensate; and the foot holds can be tough on the sides of your legs after a while. For plenty of fun and performance at a reasonable price, this is your boat.
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08-08-2000
Submitted by: WGSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I have no interest in paddling on flat water but i love riding the surf. The Kaos is a natural choice for like- minded individuals. The boat is essentially a hollowed out surf board that you sit on. You can even add fins if you want, although i haven't done that yet. When in the boat the center of gravity is towards the rear, exactly where it should be for a surf boat. There is nothing worse than seeing the front of your boat dissapearing beneath the water as a 6 ft wave barrels over you. Doing an "endo" with a Kaos is very difficult. The boat is well built and water tight. Overall, a very good value.
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08-30-1999
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     This is the third in a series of kayaks I have purchased in the last two years for wave riding in southern California. My first was the Riot by Wilderness Systems and most recently, the Strike by Cobra. The reviews for these craft are included in this site.

First, the Kaos is a true surf kayak featuring a relatively flat, wide planing bottom much like a surf board. The on-water profile is low and sleek, giving it the look of a surf ski. The nose is fairly pointed and turned up to handle fairly steep drops and aggressive bottom turns. Three fin boxes allow the kayak to be set up in a tri-fin configuration, which quite honestly, isn't necessary except on larger swells.

The craftsmanship is excellent with all of the mounting hardware in brass and molded in place from the inside. This vitally eliminates leakage... something the Cobra Strike did to access with its through and through pop rivet anchored hardware.

That's the good news. Now...the not-so-good. The seating seems to have been placed too far back resulting in a tendency to cause the kayak to sit aft down and out of balance on the water. If sitting back in the "designated" area, catching waves and generating clean, quick moves, is almost impossible. To achieve maximum performance, your butt must be so far forward that you are at the absolute forward edge of the seating area. This can only be maintained by installing a back band and pulling it to its most forward position.

The next apparent design flaw is the foot rests. They have molded the indentations so deep that once you have firmly anchored yourself in with the thigh braces, the last flanges press so hard against the outside of my calves, that they are actually bruised from the contact! This has necessitated my wearing knee pads moved down to my lower legs. A very attractive look!!

Having said all that, with a few adjustments, the Kaos is a fine sit-on-top surf kayak. In fact I do not believe there is currently a better on the market. While I have yet to test it in bigger surf (7'+), so far it is a very maneuverable yet stable surf kayak. It is forgiving enough to accommodate my wife's early ventures into the surf yet quick enough to satisfy my needs for more demanding, aggressive moves.

I fear that like sail boats and motorcycles, the more performance you get, the more you want. As proficiency grows, expectations increase. I have had this kayak a month and already I am thinking about faster and quicker. I guess that's what makes surf kayaking so addictive!

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