Review: Wilderness Systems Ride 135 MAX

When it comes to pure fun, sit-on-tops are hard to beat. The Ride 135 MAX is the most stable boat in the fleet.

Rather than trust the manufacturer's claim that a hatch is waterproof, I wanted some sort of objective test. My technique was simple. I put one of those pistol grip nozzles on the hose, turned the pressure on full, and shot it at the hatch for 60 seconds.
Rather than trust the manufacturer's claim that a hatch is waterproof, I wanted some sort of objective test. My technique was simple. I put one of those pistol grip nozzles on the hose, turned the pressure on full, and shot it at the hatch for 60 seconds.

L: 13'6"; W: 31.5"; 85 LBS.; Rotomolded Polyethylene. $1,349, WILDERNESSSYSTEMS.COM

Usually seen in its Angler version, the Ride 135 is the most stable kayak in the fleet we tested. The Ride has been around for over a decade, and last year it bene ted from a complete redesign that is quite an improvement over the old hull design. The quality and attention to detail is typical of boats from Wilderness Systems; no loose screws or scraps of polyethylene in the hull. Water testing the hatch showed no leaks.

The big upgrade in the new Ride is the AirProMax seat. It is a veritable La-Z-Boy. It features an aluminum-framed seat with cool and comfortable mesh fabrics to virtually eliminate sweaty bum, and if it does get wet, the material dries quickly. I really like the high-low seat adjustment, which you can make quickly without undoing buckles or straps. Put it up for better visibility, pop it down for stability. The entire seat is also removable for transport, or to use as a chair when you arrive at your campsite.

All this luxury comes at a price. The Ride 135 weighs in at a hefty 83 pounds. I loaded it myself on top of my truck and it was not something I'd want to do regularly, or on a windy day. It is best loaded with a friend.
I took some of the pictures for this review from the Ride

135, and though the camera equipment I was using cost three times the price of the kayak, and I was not worried about tipping over one bit. The visibility from the high position on the AirProMax was great, and I imagine a lot of photographers would be delighted with the large amount of storage available. Of course, anglers can add their bits and bobs and sh, but this is a versatile kayak. Think Ford F-350 and you can imagine the capabilities of the Ride 135.

Is the Ride 135 a fast kayak? Of course it isn't, but it's no pig. It moves along at a nice easy walking pace, but if you push it, the Ride pushes back. Back off the power and enjoy.
All the folks who paddled the Ride liked it as well. Tom, one of the test paddlers, tipped the scales at 250 pounds, and was comfortable with the stability with the seat in both high and low positions. Even though it's a big boat, the Ride was popular with paddlers weighing 100 pounds less than Tom.

It's not inexpensive at $1,349, but it's a good value. The seat alone is worth a few hundred dollars, since your behind is going to be in it for a long time. Amortized over a few hundred hours of paddling comfort, the extra cost will seem well worth it.

 

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