Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Review: Versatility and Customization

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100

If you are looking for a great all-in-one kayak, then the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 is one of your best options. From short paddling sessions to long fishing trips, this sit-on-top yak with its exceptional quality will give lots of fun and entertainment for a lifetime.

Although not fit for everybody, this is an excellent choice for many paddlers and yak anglers alike. The aim of our product review is to tell you everything you need to know about this boat, so you can decide if this is a good fit for your or your loved one.

We are going to go over the most important features of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100. If you have a specific question about this kayak, most likely we covered it in this article. Please check the table of contents below to jump directly to any section, or just continue reading through the article to know more about this great yak.

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The Phase 3 AirPro Seat

Let’s start from one of the best features of this kayak. It has its own registered name, and totally deserves it. The Phase 3 AirPro Seat is a really comfortable and fully adjustable seat that will allow you to stay comfortable for hours.

It’s made ergonomically with a 3D foam, with a honeycombed ventilation and water filtration design and covered with mesh fabric. The air will flow easily, keeping you cool and with a nice resting position. This design ensures that you won’t get that awkward sensation of being stick to the back or bottom of the seat. It will also allow any water to flow too, and eventually drained through the scupper holes beneath the seat and into the water again.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Phase 3 AirPro Seat

A lot of detail has been put into the design of this seat, that has soft edges all around to give you an even more comfortable experience.

It has several adjusting options. The backrest can be moved up or down, brought into a more straight position or just put back for a more relaxed seating while resting.

Long paddling sessions demand a good seat, and moreover if you plan on fishing from this yak. The Tarpon 100 has you covered and will match most people expectations regarding seating comfort.

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Storage Space

The Tarpon 100 has plenty of storage to carry a lot of gear, that ca be easyly converted to a total dry storage. Its weight capacity is 325 lbs, which leaves ample room for gear.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100

Starting from the rear, the kayak has a big tank-well behind the seat. This space has bungee cord to secure the cargo placed in it, and also has scupper holes to drain any water that might come in.

To the sides of the tank-well, there are two accessories rails. These are used by the bungee cord securing system, allowing you to customize how the bungee is attached and strapping your cargo.

This type of strapping is more flexible than other models where the attachment points are completely fixed.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100

Moving forward from the rear, and now into the cockpit we have the first hatchet storage space. Right in front of the seat, and in the center of the kayak itself, a 6” hatchet gives access to the inside hull of the boat. The hatchet lid size is not very big, but can fit an ample range of gear. Is important to note that this storage space is not waterproof. Although the lid has a securing latch, water might come in. You should be very aware of this and protect any gear that requires it with dry bags.

To both sides of the center hatch, there are small molded in rectangle holders. These have a mesh cover, that allows to keep smaller gear inside and secure in place. These are nice places to put your sunglasses, and small devices that you might need to access quickly, like a cellphone (provided you protect it from water 😉 ).

The Tarpon 100 has another 6” hatch in the front and center of hull. In the same way as the one closer to the seat, gives access to the inside of the boat’s hull, and you can use dry bags to protect any fragile device you carry there and convert this space into a total dry storage.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100

Last but not least, there is cup holder to keep your favorite drink bottle or cup safe from spills. It wouldn’t be an awesome sit-on-top kayak without a cup holder!

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Mounting all types of accessories: The Tarpon 100 SlideTrax

Although this sit-on-top kayak has no specific fishing features, like rod holders or special tackle box inlets, it totally compensates this by providing one of the most flexible and customizable accessory rail systems ever.

The SlideTrax is a set of four rails that will allow you to attach almost any gear and accessory you can think of to the kayak. There two rails in the front sides of the boat, next to the foot rests. These two are the longest ones. And there are two more to the rear, and on each side of the tank-well. We mentioned these briefly in a previous section, as these are used by the bungee attachments to allow flexible positioning of the cord.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100

It might not seem a big deal for many paddlers, but once you have a bit of experience with accessories, you will come to love these type of railing systems. There will be always a moment where you will want to have some type of additional gear or accessory that doesn’t fit anything your kayak provides out of the box. No matter how expensive, or how many options any brand or model provides, at some point you will have an accessory that just doesn’t fit anything you have.

When this happens you have some options, like drilling and fastening an accessory mount in the hull, or gluing. We urge you NOT to go the drilling path, as this will void any respectable manufacturer warranty. And although the glue option is still a valid one that won’t harm your yak’s warranty requirements, it is not that simple and practical to get a firm attachment that is durable enough.

And here is when the SlideTrax comes to save the day. Rail systems already mounted from the factory are awesome. You avoid any hassles on attaching accessories, you just need to play around with a few screws and you are done.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100

One of my favorites accessory sets is the RailBlaza kit. There are endless possibilities, and the Wilderness Systems SlideTrax is compatible with it. Have a look at how easy it is to attach this awesome mounting kit:

If you want to browse the great options you have with the RailBlaza Gear Mounting System, check out these accessories:

RAILBLAZA Starport Kit
RAILBLAZA Starport Kit

Tracking, speed and maneuverability of the Tarpon 100

The Wilderness Tarpon 100 is a very maneuverable kayak. It is a short kayak, what makes it great for going in those constricted shores or narrow creeks without any problem.

The hull of the kayak is mostly flat, which makes it very stable. The hull has a flare at the bow, to allow the yak to cut through waves, and a pointy stern to help tracking. The hull bottom design follows a dual inverted keel, that helps its mostly flat bottom to track and move more efficiently.

This design makes the kayak not so fast or extremely better at tracking than others (although it tracks very well), but what it lacks in these areas it completely gaining in stability and maneuverability.

If you are interested in other Wilderness Systems sit-on-top yaks that offer the same quality with a bit more speed, you can check the bigger options of this same brand, like the Tarpon 120, the Tsunami 140 or the Tarpon 160.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100

More features about the Wilderness Tarpon 100

We already discussed and mentioned the most important features of this sit-on-top yak in its own section above. But there are a few other points worth mentioning.

When the time comes of transporting this kayak, from storage to your truck and to the water, you will be able to do so by using the rubber hand grips. This boat comes equipped with two rubber grips in the sides and center, and two more firm rubber grips at each end (bow and stern). This is a short kayak and pretty manageable for most people alone. It weighs 55 lbs / 25 Kg, and is easy enough to handle by one adult. Although there are lighter kayaks about the same size, this is not that heavy for most people to handle on their own. Some people like to use a carrying cart to ease themselves the load, when carrying the boat to and from water.

Talking about comfort, when you are seated in the cockpit you will be able to place your feet in the foot brace system. These are large, padded foot rests that provide support and comfort to your feet while paddling. They are very easy to adjust, using a locking lever to accommodate different heights and leg lengths.

Another point worth mentioning is that the Tarpon 100 comes with scupper holes distributed along the hull. Scupper holes are molded holes in the hull of the kayak, that allow the water to go back out. This mechanism is called self bailing, and allows the water to drain out of the kayak on its own. When the recommended load weight is passed, sometimes the scupper holes will let water in, too. If you start noticing that the scupper holes let more water in that out, watch out for your load, as you may be overloading your boat.

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Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Specifications

Length:10′ / 305 cm.
Width:30.5′ / 77 cm.
Deck Height:15.25′ / 39 cm.
Boat Weight:55 Lbs. / 25 Kg.
Max. Capacity:325 Lbs. / 147 Kg.

What’s in the box and about warranty

When you purchase the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 you will get, of course, the kayak itself and the Phase 3 AirPro Seat. As with most other kayak manufacturers, there is no paddle nor PFD included in the purchase package, so you will need to get these accessories if you haven’t already purchased them.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100

Wilderness Systems offers a Lifetime Warranty for all of their kayaks. This warranty applies to the hull and deck. For any accessory or loose part, the manufacturer offers a 1 year warranty. In order to obtain the warranty service, you must register your newly purchased Wilderness Systems kayak within the first 30 days after the purchase. Also keep in mind that you will need to keep and safely store the purchase receipt, as this will be required if you request the warranty service.

Click here if you want to download the official Wilderness Systems Kayak Owners Manual.

What owners say about the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100?

At the moment of this writing, the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 had 19 reviews in Amazon.com with an overall 3.7 stars out of 5. From those ratings, 79% where in the upper range of 4-5 stars, and only 10% on the lower range of 1-2 stars.

After taking the time to read through the reviews, we found out that some of the bad reviews complain about the scupper holes letting water in. We touched this topic in a previous section, but suffice to say here that the scuppers holes will work against you if you go over the recommended weight limit. It’s not a failure of the kayak design, but more likely a not properly planned paddling trip.

Almost all of the reviewers found the Tarpon 100 to be very good, awesome in terms of accessory options and very stable and maneuverable. Also several owners focused on the good quality and long lasting aspect of the kayak, being owners for more than 10 years with great performance.

The low total number of ratings and reviews is a factor to keep in mind, as there are not that many opinions yet. We went an extra mile and researched some more websites and reviews. This video review of an experienced paddler will give you a good idea of what this kayak can do for you:

After going over multiple reviews and owner’s opinions, we think that the Wilderness Tarpon 100 won’t let you down if you decide to purchase it. If you find the features it offers fit your needs, we think you have high chances of counting yourself among the very satisfied owners of the Tarpon 100.

The Verdict

If you are looking for an outstanding sit-on-top kayak for multiple entertainment options, from leisure paddling to angling, the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 is one of the best options.

Outshines most of its competitors in maneuverability and stability, and has a well balanced set of features. With only a few cost effective accessories you could be fishing from this yak even better than in any other kayak specially designed for angling. As one of the best 10 feet kayaks in the market, Wilderness Systems is a well known brand for their excellent quality products. This kayak is even great for bigger paddlers, as there are lots of happy owners that are 250 and above 6” very satisfied with this compact model.

But if you are looking for a great kayak specifically fitted with some angling accessories, you can check out the Ocean Prowler 13 Angling kayak, another great overall option, just a little bit higher in price.

For those looking for the absolute best fishing experience, and can afford an even higher investment, the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 is a great kayak, with a pedal propelling system for hours on end fishing sessions.

But if you are a bit tight on budget, there are excellent choices too, like the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS or the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100.

We hoped this product review of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 has served you well in understanding its features, and helped you decide if this is the right kayak for you.

About the author

    Martin Tripodi

    Software Engineer, husband, father, and avid enthusiast of outdoor activities! Total fan of great quality and functional gear, spends part of his free time researching and compiling loads of information in the form of guides, product recommendations and reviews.