Wilderness Systems Targa 100 Kayak Review: Under $1000
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Wilderness Systems Targa 100 Kayak Review: An Affordable Adventure

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I recently had the opportunity to test out the Targa 100 kayak from Wilderness Systems during a thrilling adventure on the Current River in the Ozarks. In this article, I will provide an unbiased assessment of this kayak after spending a full day putting it through its paces. But before we dive into the review, let me give you some background information on the Targa 100 kayak.

Background of the Targa 100 Kayak

As a reputable manufacturer of high-quality kayaks, Wilderness Systems has garnered a solid reputation over the years. In fact, I previously awarded their Pungo 120 model with the prestigious Kayak of the Year accolade. Recently, Wilderness Systems released the Targa 100 kayak, their first recreational sit-on-top kayak in quite some time that is not specifically designed for fishing. What caught my attention was that this kayak came with a price tag of under $1000, a rare find in the market. As someone who appreciates innovative designs, I was eager to learn more about the Targa 100 kayak.

According to Wilderness Systems, the Targa 100 is the perfect companion for day trips, offering a delightful blend of comfort, stability, and a care-free spirit. Intrigued by their claim, I was excited to put this kayak to the test. While a sit-on-top kayak measuring 10 feet is not my typical choice, the Targa 100’s visual appeal convinced me to explore the value it offers at such an affordable price.

About the Targa 100 Kayak

  • Retail Price: $969 USD
  • Length: 10′
  • Width: 32″
  • Weight: 57 lbs (26 kg)
  • Capacity: 325 lbs (147 kg)

The Targa 100 kayak features four sturdy handles, one on each end and one on each side, making it convenient to carry. It boasts a sling seat, a removable bow-hood, spacious foot-braces, an integrated and removable cooler, comfortable deck padding, and stern bungees for storing extra gear. Take a look at the image below to get a visual sense of the kayak in action:

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Targa 100 Kayak Review in the Ozarks

Portability of the Targa 100 Kayak

Despite weighing 57 pounds, which may seem heavy, the Targa 100 kayak is remarkably portable for a sit-on-top model. Keep in mind that sit-inside kayaks tend to be lighter due to the use of less plastic in their construction. The Targa 100’s 10-foot length also contributes to its manageability. Wilderness Systems has further enhanced the kayak’s portability by incorporating four grab handles, making tandem transportation effortless. However, it is worth noting that carrying the Targa 100 kayak in a suitcase-style manner can be a bit challenging due to its weight.

One advantage of the Targa 100’s modest length is its compatibility with most roof racks, and it can even be placed in the bed of a pickup truck. As kayaks increase in length, transporting them becomes more cumbersome. While the Targa 100 kayak is not as exceptionally portable as inflatable or folding models, it remains relatively easy to handle.

Stability of the Wilderness Systems Targa 100 Kayak

Sit-on-top kayaks are renowned for their stability, and the Targa 100 lives up to this expectation. I had the pleasure of testing its stability firsthand by attempting some stand-up paddle boarding while navigating Class 1 rapids. Although I didn’t feel invincible, I was able to maintain my balance without any issues. While there are other kayaks in the same class that offer greater stability, they achieve this through wider designs. The Targa 100 strikes a balance by providing ample stability without compromising performance, thanks to its sleek build. For a visual representation, check out the image below featuring professional kayaker Ken Whiting:

Targa 100 kayak review by Ken Whiting

Performance of the Targa 100 Kayak

As with any 10-foot sit-on-top kayak, the Targa 100 has its strengths and limitations. This type of kayak may not break any records, but the Targa 100 pleasantly surprised me with its performance. It exhibited a respectable level of speed, which can be attributed to its slicey, V-shaped bow that enhances efficiency and helps maintain a consistent course while paddling. The design then transitions to a catamaran-style stern, which contributes to its stability. The hybrid hull design of the Targa 100 widens its scope of use, making it suitable for a variety of water conditions.

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During my testing, I took the Targa 100 through Class 1 rapids, and it performed satisfactorily. However, I would not recommend pushing it beyond its limits. The wide, flat hull prioritizes primary stability, but it compromises secondary stability required for navigating rougher waters. In essence, the Targa 100 is primarily designed for flatwater use.

Comfort of the Targa 100 Kayak

Finding a kayak that offers exceptional comfort can be tricky. While initial impressions are important, it is crucial to spend some quality time in the cockpit to truly assess comfort levels. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to test the Targa 100 over a six-hour period, navigating moving water, and I can confidently vouch for its comfort.

The standout feature contributing to the kayak’s comfort is the suspension seat. It conforms to your body as you shift, providing a tailored experience that surpasses basic padded seats. Wilderness Systems made an excellent choice by selecting a medium height for the fixed seat. The elevated position ensures that you stay dry while paddling, while the alignment of your heels lower than your butt offers a naturally comfortable position for extended trips. Additionally, the fixed seat eliminates concerns about losing it during transportation, sparing you unnecessary worries.

Other notable comfort features include the Targa 100’s spacious open deck, allowing you to sit cross-legged or even stand with relative ease. The solid foot braces provide excellent support and enhance your paddling experience. While I found the kayak comfortable at my height of 6’2″, those taller than 6’3″ may find themselves wanting more room. For optimal maneuverability, I recommend a paddle length between 230-240 centimeters (90-95 inches), considering the Targa 100’s moderate width.

Testing the Targa 100 kayak by Wilderness Systems

Features of the Targa 100 Kayak

While I initially touched upon the features, let’s delve deeper into what caught my attention during my day trip with the Targa 100 kayak. One standout feature is the integrated and removable cooler. I found this to be a fantastic addition, offering the option to remove it for extra storage space (complete with scuppers for drainage). Frankly, I couldn’t imagine a day on the water without a refreshing and substantial lunch. With a little meal preparation, you’re all set whenever the perfect picnic spot presents itself.

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I already mentioned the seat and foot braces when discussing comfort, but I also appreciated the padded deck, which added cushioning and improved traction. The only enigmatic feature, in my opinion, is the removable bow-hood. While it stands out, I wasn’t quite sure what purpose it served. Typically, this space on a sit-on-top kayak remains unused, so having it is beneficial, but it is out of reach from the seated position. Perhaps over time, owners will discover clever uses for it. If you’ve come up with any interesting ideas, I’d love to hear about them!

Is the Wilderness Systems Targa 100 Worth It?

If you’re primarily concerned about the price, you’ll find plenty of kayaks on the market for under $1000 USD. However, finding a kayak that offers quality and value narrows down the options significantly. In my opinion, the Wilderness Systems Targa 100 kayak packs a punch for your dollar. It has the potential to be a lifetime kayak that caters to a wide range of paddlers. While you may eventually yearn for a higher performance model as you advance in skill, the Targa 100 will always deliver a fun and comfortable ride, making it an excellent choice for you or your friends. Take a look at the image below to see the Targa 100 kayak in action with professional kayaker Ken Whiting:

Targa 100 kayak review in the Ozarks with Ken Whiting

Who is the Targa 100 Kayak For?

The Targa 100 kayak is an excellent option for those seeking a manageable-sized kayak suitable for day trips. However, it may not provide enough capacity for overnight adventures. This kayak performs exceptionally well in flatwater conditions and can handle Class 1 rapids competently. Regardless of age or experience level, both children and adults will find joy in this versatile kayak.

Kids can have a blast exploring close to shore, whether it’s kayaking or paddleboarding, while adults can fully enjoy a day on the river, complete with the convenience of the integrated cooler. With the Targa 100, you have the freedom to shape your own paddle tales. Before we conclude, I want to place an emphasis on safety.

Stay Safe on the Water

I highly recommend taking advantage of the American Canoe Association’s (ACA) free online paddling course. Although it can be easy to overlook such resources, investing time in this course is invaluable. Paddling is generally safe and enjoyable, but when unexpected situations arise, they can quickly escalate. Equipping yourself with key information can make all the difference between an inconvenience and a disaster. Best of all, this course is accessible online and free of charge. Don’t hesitate to click here to learn more.

I hope you found this review enjoyable and informative. For additional tips, shop-talk, and exciting Paddle Tales adventures, be sure to check out PaddleTV. Happy paddling!

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