Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Review

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 is an intelligent redesign of the incredibly popular original Wilderness Systems Tarpon. The 2020 update keeps the speed, handling, and versatility that paddlers love about this kayak, and provides improved comfort and stability, along with the ability to customize and optimize it for fishing, filming, or recreation. 

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 is a kayak that is equally at home on rivers, lakes, or oceans, with enhanced agility and excellent speed and tracking. 

The Phase 3 AirPro seating system combines plush comfort with cooling ventilation, the integrated DryTec Case keeps your valuables and devices safe, and it even has a magnetic water bottle holder for convenience. It’s a kayak that proves why people love Wilderness Systems.

Overview of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120


  • Type: 1-person sit-on-top kayak
  • Size: 12’3” x 31”
  • Weight: 63 pounds
  • Deck height: 13.75”
  • Weight capacity: 350 pounds
  • Materials: High density rotomolded polyethylene
  • Seat: Phase 3 AirPro mesh suspension seat
  • Color: Mango

Construction and build

The distinctive hull design of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 offers incredible stability on the water, but also has practical secondary stability when the kayak is resting on its edge. This kayak is fast and efficient, with straight tracking and excellent performance in a wide range of water conditions, and carrying handles on the bow, stern, and both sides make it easy to transport anywhere you go. A scupper hole in the stern helps drain water out of the kayak. 

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 has a highly versatile deck. The open design leaves plenty of room for a dog to ride along. A large rear storage well has plenty of space for a cooler, fishing equipment, scuba gear, or to set up camp, and the removable mesh cover keeps everything securely in place. In the center console, the DryTec removable dry box stores your wallet, phone, keys, and other valuables with no risk of water damage. 

Additional sectioned storage compartments are designed to keep small items like sunblock, fishing lures, or snacks close at hand. The MagnaTec cup holder has a magnetic strap that keeps your water bottle conveniently located and secured in place. In the bow, the oval Orbix Hatch provides even more dry storage, or upgrade it with the optional Wilderness Systems Orbix Hatch cooler or other accessories. The deck also has a quick park paddle holder, so you can quickly store your paddle when not in use.  

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 is designed for comfort, with the Phase 3 AirPro seating system that has 3-point adjustability, ergonomic comfort and support, and CoolTouch fabric for ventilation. The large, padded footrests are easy to adjust, with a locking lever that accommodates paddlers of different heights.  

Upgrading the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 couldn’t be easier. Three built-in SlideTrax rails make it incredibly fast and simple to add a rod holder, camera mount, or other accessories. It is also compatible with the Wilderness Systems Rudder Kit if you choose to add a rudder. 

Note: This version of the Tarpon is designed for recreation, but, with some additional accessories, can easily be optimized for fishing. Some dealers carry a Tarpon 120 Angler version, which is already set up and accessorized for fishing. 

For those who want a fishing kayak right out of the box, the Tarpon 120 Angler may be a good choice, but most people prefer to save some money and accessorize themselves, adding only the gear they need. 

About the brand

Wilderness Systems has been building innovative, exceptional kayaks from their South Carolina factory since 1986. Along the way, they have become one of the most recognized and most awarded companies in the industry. Wilderness Systems was chosen by retailers as Canoe and Kayak’s Boat Manufacturer of the year in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Canoe and Kayak awarded them Brand of the Year in 2011. 

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon is a kayak that has been winning awards since it was introduced, being chosen as Sea Kayaker’s Reader’s Choice Best Sit-on-Top Kayak in 2008, and winning Kayak Angler’s Flat Master of the Year Award in 2012. It’s a legendary kayak, with an updated design to create a whole new legacy. 


  • Fast, efficient, maneuverable kayak performs well on rivers, lakes, and oceans
  • Extremely stable 
  • Dog-friendly
  • Multiple storage options for everything you need, large and small
  • Accessory-ready
  • Seating is breathable, adjustable, and comfortable, even over long days on the water
  • Foot pedals are adjustable
  • Quick-Park paddle holder lets you take a break
  • Made in the USA


  • Out of the water, the Tarpon 120 is a bit heavy, and may get heavier depending on your accessories. A cart is a great way to transport this kayak. 


Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 - Sit on Top Fishing Kayak - Premium Angler Kayak...
60 Reviews
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 - Sit on Top Fishing Kayak - Premium Angler Kayak...
  • The Premiere sit-on-top kayak is now even better and more comfortable
  • Fast, efficient and straight tracking
  • The most comfortable and adjustable Phase 3 air Pro seating system features cool touch so your seat stays cool

The incredible performance of the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 has made it a favorite since it was launched. People love the speed, agility, and efficiency of this kayak, making it a pleasure in all kinds of water conditions. 

The versatile design of the Tarpon 120 allows you to easily accessorize it for fishing, use it for casual recreation, or take all your gear and the dog on your favorite outdoor adventures. 

It’s comfortable enough for long days on the water and has thoughtful storage for everything you need. This is a great kayak at a surprisingly reasonable price and will bring you years of enjoyment.