Review Detail

 
Wilderness Systems Ride 115 Advanced Angler
 
Wilderness Systems Ride 115 Advanced Angler 2012-11-29 02:19:43 EmaG
Overall Rating of this Kayak For Fishing. 
 
5.0
EmaG Reviewed by EmaG    November 28, 2012 View all my reviews

Wilderness Systems Ride 115

To simply describe, and subsequently categorically rate, Wilderness System's updated Ride 115 is to ignore the omnipresent notion of niche-specific kayak design, itself an emerging and overdue trend in the paddlesports industry. This review shall, therefore, focus mainly upon the manufacturer's stated goals, and attempt to eschew misguided comparisons to the global network of fishing-specific kayaks and small boats. The company touts the Ride 115 as possessing a combination of "stability, capacity, versatility and rigability," and it is upon these virtues that this review shall first touch.

STABILITY

The kayak in question is a wide vessel - that much is certain, and with width comes an inherent amount of stable real estate. Sitting upon the newly released Phase 3 Air Pro seating system (more on that later, and yet more expounded upon in a separate, seat-specific review), one is unfazed by waves, boat wakes, or sudden movements. The true test of stability, however, comes by unlatching the sliding seat, sending it aft, and taking to one's feet for a round of sight casting. To borrow from the aeronautical vernacular of axial-based movement, specifically pitch, yaw, and roll, the Ride 115 gives no quarter with regard to the later. With the stability of the largest of rental fleet-derived SUPs, the wee Ride holds strong under the most unbalanced of feet. Easy is the walking motion required to access the front hatch, and even simpler is the shifting of weight necessary to effortlessly direct the boat's yaw during a swift down-current drift of a tidal river. I never once felt as though my placement or dryness were compromised, and somewhat preferred the standing position over the seated counterpart.

CAPACITY

As a paddler of 180 pounds, and one with an eye for minimalistic gear, the generous weight rating was never an issue. The heaviest paddlers, and even those packing heavily or for overnight forays, will have no encounters with weight-based limitations. Add a cooler of food and drink, a chocolate Labrador, and the heaviest tackle box; you'll sit well above the designated waterline. Of course, to truly maximize a boat's capacity, one must be presented with places in which to store the bulkiest of gear. Hatch space is more than ample, and the flattened rear well is large enough to accommodate a weekend's worth of supplies. For a boat nearing a mere twelve feet in length, the Ride 115 lacks not in storage space. It can be reasonably stated that, with the proper use of dry bags and boxes, the vessel is comparable, with regard to storage capacity, most mid-sized touring kayaks.

VERSATILITY/RIGABILITY

Of the four aforementioned variables, versatility and rigability are the two that ring most true of the builder's claims. To best describe the traits in question, it may, in fact, be necessary to turn thoughts toward analogous representatives from vehicular genres more versed in concepts exuding all things versatile. The Ride 115 is, at once, a steel touring bicycle, a mid-80s German van with 4x4 capability, and what surfers have charmingly dubbed, a fun board. With numerous flat surfaces glowing with expansiveness, the boat begs for accessories, yet remains functional and sleek right out of the box. The options, with regard to customization, are infinite; one could literally put the vessel through all phases of creative development as they pertain to rigging. Shipped in its stock format, the Ride comes equipped with what many will view as more than ample. SlideTrax gear mounts line the front rails, and deep ports sit just aft of the seat - ports more than capable of handling the beefiest of rods or other linear pieces of gear. Given the average kayak angler's propensity for endless rigging, the Ride 115 is a mural-sized canvas begging for creative expression. If an angler were to choose hardware that exemplifies the modern movements of portability and ease-of-removal, the boat could easily serve many duties ranging from pond fisher, overnight tourer, crab catcher, big game hunter, or home base for summer. Switching amongst the roles would take but mere minutes, and, given the price point, anglers would shop long and hard before arriving at a similarly aimed boat.

FURTHER THOUGHTS

It is clear that Wilderness Systems has followed through on their stated goals. Like any quality investment, however, there exists within the Ride a subset of traits that extend beyond the commercialism and slowly develop over repeated usage. What follows next are my own further notes and observations stemming from the test paddles.

In a nod to the previously discussed versatility, the boat is rife with flat surfaces, so many, in fact, that my first foray was met with constant distraction. This is not a bad thing, however, as my mind was simply drifting to places where the deepest rigging-themed desires dwell. Square footage is the measurement of choice here; the Ride features real estate ample enough for a catalog-emptying shopping spree. Paddlers of all sizes will be able to place upon the boat after-market attachment points (Yak Attack's Mighty Mount comes to mind) in configurations unique to their own body type and angling style. If there was ever a place deemed necessary as a repository for gear/rod/tackle/camera storage, the Ride offers a solution. From the sides of the Air Pro seat to the acreage immediately fore of the cockpit, there is simply no shortage of available mounting surfaces. It should again be noted, as well, that the Ride 115 ships in a fashion that is already above par in terms of mounting and storage ability. A particularly useful feature is the tackle tray built into the bottom of the seating system. Big enough (and seemingly designed with this specific purpose in mind) for a Plano box, this cavernous slot is accessible, perfectly positioned, and unobtrusive in all regards.

The Phase 3 Air Pro seating system is more than a tackle receptacle. Though the item in question is reviewed - in detail - elsewhere, it is worth noting that the throne is indeed a game changer with regard to comfort and ease of use. Though the later portion of that statement alludes to a simple design, nothing could be further from reality. The seating system is complex, yet rife with simple pull tabs that move the seat in all possible directions.

Ruggedness seems to be part of Wilderness System's mission statement, and the Ride boasts many thoughtful details that play testament to this notion. The handles - fore, aft, and mid-ship, are stout and firmly affixed to the hull. The stern terminus of the keel features a hearty skid plate, an item sometimes necessary in cart-less, single person transport scenarios. Provided that parts are available when it eventually tires, replacement should be quite easy.

No ship is built to utter perfection, and my test paddles did bring about a few minor gripes. It should be stated that all perceived flaws have their work-arounds, and that most stemmed from me straying from the idea that this is a niche-specific boat designed not to compete with seventeen foot performance kayaks. First, there is a weight issue, but one that is simply a byproduct of the boat's ruggedness. Tipping the scales in the neighborhood of seventy-some pounds, the seat-equipped Ride is a brute in the genre of portable short boats. For those lacking arm length, upper body strength, and a cart, the vessel's heft will likely be an issue. The boat is easily lifted by the mid-ship handles, though the lengthy appendages of a 6'2" reviewer were necessary in order to compensate for the involved width. Again, there are work-arounds; get a cheap cart or devise a way - it's worth the extra effort. Second, and this is a problem associated with all vessels belonging to the newly-christened high seat class, is the need for modified paddling technique and gear. The user's feet are well below the point in which they would be most useful to the traditional foot and leg driven paddle stroke. The flow of energy from toe to torso feels stifled, and it is likely that folks will need to adjust previously honed techniques. Taller kayakers will also find it necessary to purchase a longer paddle. My height and boat preference normally dictate the use of a 230 cm model, and I will soon be upgrading to a 240. Whilst testing the boat, I often felt as though my current paddle was situated at too high an angle, albeit one necessary for proper purchase of the water. Third, when employing the rail-mounted SlideTrax system, anglers should use caution when affixing taller pieces of gear such as pole mounted cameras or high angled rod holders. A far reaching, and dare I say proper, paddle stroke can utilize the very airspace in which the mounted gear stands, and collision would be likely. There really is no shortage of places on which to mount one's gear, so simply place the taller pieces out of harm's way.

In summation, the cons are minimal and easily negated with a small expenditure of time and money. Wilderness Systems has offered to the kayak angling world a vessel that is truly unique and fulfilling of its purpose. The ratio of potential usage to expended dollars is easily tilted toward the former, and the Ride should be considered a true and lasting value.









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