Fish, hunt, or explore: The Wilderness Systems Radar 135 offers multipurpose usage to the everyday adventurer.
Whether fishing, hunting, or just exploring, I look for equipment that gives me the most versatility with optimum performance.
The Radar 135 offers a well-balanced combination of stability, maneuverability, and traction that I find valuable in a multitude of environments.
To test the Rader 135, I paddled and fished several stretches of the Chattahoochee River in Alabama and Georgia. The primary species I targeted were largemouth, spotted, and shoal bass. The hunt portion of the review took place in northeast Kansas during whitetail season.
Radar 135: Fishing Kayak
The Radar 135 comes with an excellent SlideTrax system. This track system comes installed on both sides of the kayak for custom outfitting. It allows for mounting multiple accessories, such as a rod holder, camera mount, and cupholder. And, if desired, additional SlideTrax systems can be mounted to the kayak for further customization.
A second important element of the Radar 135 is its AirPro Max seat. The seat can be placed in low, high, and recline settings. Each position can be adjusted while operating the boat and does not require any unfastening or loosening of straps. The seat also fits in the midship SlideTrax system and allows positioning to be adjusted forward and backward.
This boat also has a watertight storage area. There are two access points to the inside of the hull — one at the bow and one in the center. The bow hatch provides a watertight seal with a lever-locking hatch cover. The center hatch also has a watertight seal and remains flush with the deck when closed. This provides more standing room for the boater.
Functionality and Stability
The Radar 135 has tri-hull S.M.A.R.T. technology that focuses on getting the most out of stability, maneuverability, acceleration, responsiveness, and tracking. As already mentioned, I find this combination to be valuable in a multitude of fishing environments.
The Radar 135 combines traditional and modern functionality: Move it by paddle, pedal, or power. This boat comes standard as paddle-only but can be transformed into a pedal-driven or motor-powered boat.
Add-Ons and Specifications
The Radar 135 has a current listing price of $1,499. The Helix PD Pedal Drive add-on currently lists for $1,100 and requires an additional Solo Rudder System at $299.99. The Helix MD Motor Drive add-on currently lists for $1,999. Other Radar 135 specifications include:
- Length: 13 feet 6 inches
- Weight: 90 pounds
- Capacity: 475 pounds
- Width: 34 inches
- Height: 15.5 inches
- 4 available color schemes: desert camo, midnight blue, solar yellow, sonar green
My first run with the Radar 135 took place in Georgia at my favorite fishing spot on the Chattahoochee River. I was after shoal bass, which typically prefer areas of continuous current. Using this boat in such an area would be a true test of its performance.
I found that in current the Radar 135 performs pretty well overall. I had no problem maintaining balance or changing positions in the boat. Its stability offers peace of mind while standing, allowing me to make long casts or flip and pitch with accuracy.
While paddling through areas of slack water, I found the boat tracked pretty well with nice acceleration. I wish it would track a little better — but I’m just being picky. What the boat slightly lacks in tracking it makes up for with stability.
I was also impressed with the seat on the Radar 135. The easy-to-remove functionality allows me to simply remove and stow it out of the way. This provides more standing room, offering a nice casting platform.
I’ve found my new favorite way to hunt.
I spent the past whitetail season in Kansas. Months of preparation dialed my brother and me into thin slivers of riverside timber used as travel corridors. Walking in was not an option: We’d spook every animal and cover the area in our scent. The solution became apparent.
At 4 a.m., I eased the Radar 135 into the mellow currents of our local river. I strapped my Mathews Halon 32 onto my hunting pack and stashed it directly behind the kayak seat. With the help of onX Maps, I tracked my position on the river. It took 45 minutes to paddle in, the stars blazing in the sky above.
Approximately 60 steps stood between the muddy shoreline and my treestand, a new level of stealth acquired. I wish I had a success story to detail here, but my chance at a 170+ class buck was missed due to his lack of desire to stop moving in my shooting lanes. (You can read the full story here.)
For successful hunters, the Radar 135 has a weight capacity of 450 pounds for loading your deer and paddling out.
Not Without Faults
The Radar 135 is an all-around solid kayak. However, it’s not perfect. In fact, Wilderness Systems left a few key features off the boat.
Side handles, or the lack thereof, was the first noticeable aspect. Users need these handles to solo-lift and manage the kayak in a variety of circumstances, like lifting it onto a truck bed or trailer or just moving it around in a garage.
The foot peg durability was also lacking. On the very first day of usage, both pegs snapped while I attempted to adjust the length setting. This was either due to bad luck or a bad batch from the factory. I haven’t heard this from many others, so this could be an isolated incident.
The lack of an insert in the center hatch is also troublesome. Sold separately, the insert offers the angler a dry, easily accessible area for storing items such as cell phones, keys, and wallets. The center hatch is useless without the insert.
The Radar 135 also doesn’t come with rod holders, a stand assist strap, or rod stagers. Given the multipurpose, customizable design, I can somewhat understand the reason behind this. However, it can be frustrating to purchase these items separately if you’re a kayak angler.
Thoughts From the Take-Out
The lack of side handles, foot peg durability, and center hatch insert concern me. But I do think the Radar 135 performs well overall. It’s not the fastest or most stable kayak on the market, but it’s one of the most versatile I’ve tested. And versatility speaks volumes in an often niche market.
If you’re an everyday outdoors-lover looking for a multipurpose watercraft, the Radar 135 is an option to take notice of. Whether floating to hunt multiple species or chasing fish in fresh or coastal waterways, the Radar 135 will fit the occasion.
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