Lake Superior is the world's largest lake, and its icy waters,
sea-worthy gales and rocky coast demand utmost attention from
kayakers. So on a recent trip to explore one of the lake's famous
archipelagos I chose two new expedition-strength boats for a friend
The Dagger Halifax 17 and Wilderness Systems
Tempest 170 both are 17-foot polyethylene touring kayaks made for
big waves, swells and marathon paddling days. Both have
multiple waterproof storage compartments and can hold enough
equipment for days on the water.
Photo courtesy of Dagger.
Dagger's Halifax 17 can carry up to 360 pounds of gear -- the
larger the load, the better the stability, says the company. The
70-pound boat has a retractable rudder with foot pedals for
steering, a comfortable seat, and double covers on the storage
compartments for extra security.
Wilderness Systems' 61-pound Tempest 170 offers similar storage
capacity, but is pared down and sleeker than the Halifax 17. It has
a retractable skeg for tracking straight but no foot pedals for
Over the four-day trip, we came to like both boats for different
reasons. The Tempest 170 was noticeably faster, while the Halifax
17 was more comfortable to sit in for hours on end. The Halifax 17
was so stable it felt nearly tip-proof, but the Tempest 170 turned
quicker and was more responsive to subtle leans and strokes.
Wilderness System Tempest.
For shorter trips and day use, I'd recommend the Wilderness
Systems model because of its speed. But if week-long sojourns on
Lake Tahoe or the coast are in your future, look at the Dagger for
its expedition-worthy traits.
Dagger, 1-800-433-1969, www.dagger.com.
Wilderness Systems, 1-800-311-7245, www.wildernesssystems.com.
Dagger Halifax 17, $1,450.
Wilderness Systems Tempest 170, $1,399.