Taking a ragged out Wilderness Systems Phase 3 seat to the next level with a Phase 3 Air Pro replacement and you can go From Rags to Racer.
From Rags to Racer
Back in February of this year I swapped out my 2015 Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 for a 2012 Tarpon 160. My reason was so I can cover more water on Florida’s Nature Coast. It had not been well taken care of but the hull was in great shape and it came with a rudder. Most of the issues it did have were related to sun damage. All the handles, both hatches, rudder cables, and bungee cords had to be replaced. The final piece of the resurrection was the seat an older Phase 3 model which was heavily worn and weathered. It looked very ratty and ragged out. I did however use it for the last seven months with a cushion laid on top of it. This worked okay and was a temporary fix until I could upgrade to the new version the Phase 3 Air Pro.
That took place recently and the first test drive was on 10/26/17. I felt like I did when I changed out the seats in my Baja Bug thirty plus years ago. It had the original seats in it with springs showing through and I used a pillow to cover the springs. I scored a pair of Recaro 5 point harness racing seats out of a wrecked 280Z in a junkyard find. They were soon holding me tight for the off-road abuse I put myself through and anyone crazy enough to ride with me. And yes the upgrade is that dramatic with the Wilderness seats.
The process for the conversion is very easy, all you need is a Phillips screw driver, a 3/8” wrench, and a 5/16 wrench. You will be removing six bolts in total four of which are through bolted and why you need the wrenches. The other two have the set nuts in the deck. The set nuts are at the back of the seat. The other two holding the seat in place are at the forward outside edges. The last two bolts are the rear bolts holding the side handles on. This is where the adjustment straps are anchored to the hull. For the through bolts you can reach them via the eight inch Orbix hatch just in front of the seat. It took me all of ten minutes to swap out the seat.
Now for the good stuff. I spent 7 hours in the Phase 3 Air Pro the first trip and another 9 hours this past trip. I had absolutely ZERO leg or back pain on either trip. The seat just wraps completely around you. With thicker padding that is completely ventilated the seat needs no other padding added. It’s ventilation keeps you dry all day and the scupper holes under the seat allow any water that may get in to drain.
My only complaint is the adjustment straps for the leg support always seem to slip needing constant adjustments. They are nylon straps with plastic pinch tabs. Not a combination that is going hold in place when you start putting pressure on them. I used this same seat in the Threshers a couple years ago and had the same issue. I did find a very simple solution I cut down a 3” pool noodle till it fit under the seat at the perfect angle for me, no more adjustment needed. Should you need to lower the leg support just slip the noodle out and make your adjustments. The seat back also had major renovations done. The new design allows the back to conform to your body providing far greater comfort. It has increased vertical range as well granting even more options to customize your personal luxury.
The Phase 3 Air Pro was introduced in 2013 to all of the Wilderness Systems line using the original Phase 3 and is a direct fit replacement. I have been through all the of Wilderness System seats going back to just a seat back and no padding on the deck. I spent two years in the Air Pro Max on the ATAK 140 and would have some leg pain at the end of a long day. For me this is hands down the most comfortable seat from Wilderness Systems to date. If you have the older Phase 3 seat then the 155.00 price to upgrade is worth every penny. Should you be like me and own a Tarpon 160 you to will have have a race seat to match the fastest fishing kayak on the water.