Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Ultralite Kayak Review

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Ultralite kayak is the most sought after of the Tarpon kayak line. The Tarpon 120 Ultralite is even lighter and more maneuverable than its sister kayak, the Tarpon 120. As the winner of the “2008 Sea Kayaker Magazine Reader’s Choice Award for Best Sit on Top Kayak”, the Tarpon 120 Ultralite kayak is rigged to be unparalleled in its class.


The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Ultralite kayak is well thought out from top to bottom. Generous seat room and plenty of storage space trim out the Tarpon 120 Ultralite kayak for a fun paddling experience. The optional rudder adds additional tracking and maneuvering capabilities to this otherwise fantastic sit on top (SOT) kayak.

I found the Tarpon 120 Ultralite kayak to be incredibly versatile when I was doing my review. The Tarpon 120 kayak was also far more stable than most sit on top kayaks, providing a perfect platform for photography or kayak fishing. The rudder allows you to navigate into the hidden areas for excellent fishing where the weeds are too thick to go with a motorized boat.


Although I enjoyed the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Ultralite kayak’s light weight and great maneuverability during my review, this boat seems to wander without it. I still think it’s a quality kayak without the rudder, but I would urge you to fork out the extra $50 to get it; especially if you plan to do any touring or sea kayaking. You simply can’t fully enjoy the Tarpon 120 Ultralite kayak without the optional rudder.

Overall Review

I would rate my review of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Ultralite kayak as 4.5 out of 5. Other than paddling without the rudder, every other feature of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Ultralite kayak is setup for a comfortable and enjoyable day of kayaking. Add its stability and ability to be used as a fishing kayak, Wilderness Systems has once again set the standard for sit on top (SOT) kayaks with the Tarpon 120 Ultralite kayak.

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Rating: 2.9/5 (46 votes cast)
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Ultralite Kayak Review, 2.9 out of 5 based on 46 ratings

Written by James Stalker

James Stalker is a licensed kayak teacher and field guide with over 20 years of experience. James fell in love with adventure sports after facing a bout of cancer at a young age. He can be found traveling in some of the corners of the continent almost untouched by nearly anyone else. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

This Review Has 6 Comments

  1. Redonda McCoy

    Never used Wilderness Systems but I think I’ll give them a shot now

  2. Tony

    Really great kayak. I bought 2 of them just to keep up at my cabin in northern Texas. Most kayak stores in Texas carry the Tarpon 120 ultralite kayak and plenty of accessories for them too. Great kayak + availability + lots of accessories = excellent value.

  3. Cynthia

    I bought this kayak, moving ‘up’ from a 9’10” Ocean Venus sit-on-top (made for women). I can’t tell you how disappointed I’ve been with it… its way too big to be easily maneuverable, turned over and flipped me out over 4 times while on the ocean yesterday at Sebastian Inlet in it, waves crashed over it and kept washing everything out of the boat, … then in water over my head with huge ocean swells I couldnt get back into it. V-e-r-y disappointed. The long size is also harder to maneuver quickly, etc. its like a ‘cadillac’, big and heavy, compared to my lil sports car I was used to. I am very sorry I made such an expensive purchase… it doesnt suit me for what I need/want it for (exploring estuarine areas, riding in the ocean, etc, surfing, etc.)

  4. Cynthia

    Anyone want to buy it? I’ve only used it like 4 times …. its the blue & white one, ultralite… 12′.

  5. earl

    am considering either a tarpon 120 or a tarpon ultralite. had a hobie revolution (just 2 heavy). tarp 120 not much ligther, but worried abd dings and holes that ultralite might get. kayak in florida bback waters and sunken tree branckes and stumps are frequent. NEED HELP

    thank you

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