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New Kayak for Allagash River

Hey all. New to this forum looking to gather any advice i can get.

I am in search of a new kayak, I have been paddling a Pungo 120 the past 2 years and need an upgrade. I took the Pungo on a 93 mile trip on Allagash river last year and the Pungo did OK but was very slow. My friend in an Old Town Nantucket 15' blew me away the whole time.(5day trip)

I am in search of something faster,good storage space and comfortable seat. keep in mind the Allagash has 5 miles of I-II class rapids, The wide open lakes have strong winds and the water becomes very choppy.....This was not fun in my little pungo.

I am going to try and find a used boat and here is my line up of what is available at this point in time. let my know what you guys think or if you have any kayak reccomendations. Thanks, Mike.

1.)Wilderness Systems Cape Lookout 155
2.)Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145
3.)P&H Capella 166


  • I guess I would urge you
    -- Last Updated: Mar-24-14 7:01 PM EST --

    to consider a canoe and to embrace the history of the Allagash country. I have to be honest and say that seeing a kayak on the Allagash is very jarring for me.

  • Options
    Not a very big fan of canoes.....kayaking is much more pleasurable to me. More of a "one with the water" feeling rather than being in a boat. Im sure the Allagash can be enjoyed from either aspect though.
  • Yes I do understand -
    -- Last Updated: Mar-24-14 8:02 PM EST --

    I paddle a kayak quite a bit. Its just that the Allagash is such a special place with a long history. I agree that you have the right to enjoy it in a Kayak. I guess if you are planning to run down Chase you might want a hyprid type kayak - or maybe something like a WS Zephyr. Something with some rocker. The Tsunami is pretty hard to turn in moving water. I owned one for a while and quickly realized that for moving and rough water the Zephyr is vastly superior.

    Welcome to the forum by the way. Sorry if I put you off - that was not my intent.

  • based on that list
    I would personally choose the Capella (but only if it's a later model with the round & oval hatches) because it opens up additional sea-kayaking opportunities and you get more boat for about the same weight -- however, I would not hesitate to take the Tsunami on that trip. I own both (as well as a Zephyr) and the Tsunami has the more comfortable outfitting of the two. It's like an SUV, not great at maneuvering but it's versatile and comfortable with tons of room for camping gear. I can show you a multitude of pictures where we have taken Tsunamis down twisty rivers and creeks, through rapids and across large open lakes. It does have a little rocker but it also has a grabby stern keel; if you can find one with a rudder that will help a lot with maneuverability, especially when loaded.

    In fact we're contemplating a trip on the Allagash later this year and some of us will be in Tsunamis. I will take my Zephyr, if I can fit everything I want to take; for a week-long 130-mile trip last October with nights down to freezing, the Zephyr stayed home because it didn't have enough cargo room, but the Tsunami was up to the task.

    The Capella would be more of a learning curve coming from a Pungo. It won't feel as stable initially and the closer-fitting cockpit will take getting used to, but it will be much faster, and has good maneuverability for its length. Stepping up to a sea kayak may appeal to you or it may not; a test paddle is in order.
  • How big are you?
    A used Tsunami 145 may be available to you, but it is huge, which may or may not be a good thing for you. I tried one out a few years ago and thought it was too cavernous. For reference, I'm 6'2" and was about 175lbs -- at the time!
  • You do need to provide height and weight
    You are looking now at boats where having a proper fit and hitting the design weight can make it much easier to mange the boat in class 2. Pungos just are not about responsive maneuvering, unless you are big and like paddling with knee protectors.

    So it'd help if you gave those.
  • Kayaks
    There was a time not very long ago when kayaks (depending on the length to width) were not allowed on the Allagash. There are quite a number of rules to be followed on the Allagash Waterway (no sails/sailing canoes etc.). A woman who had done all of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail to that point in a kayak was told she needed a different boat to finish.

    This may have been revised since then, but it is worth a check of the current regs.
  • Options
    I'm 5'9" 170lbs. we were stopped once by the game warden on like day 3 and he said nothing about kayaks not being allowed, just checked our fishing license. we also saw 2 other kayaker out there.... so I'm sure they are allowed.
  • Thousands of kayaks...
    -- Last Updated: Mar-25-14 4:03 PM EST --

    along with thousands of canoes, have paddled the Allagash for many a season, and for some time now--It's rafts and other craft that are a no-go.

    I say, choose any kayak you're comfortable with, that allows you to adequately pack enough stuff, as well as make up the length and beam difference between you and your friend's boat.

    Maybe you'll even be fortunate enough to leave some canoeing "traditionalists" behind in your wake, so they can go on contemplating their naval with the antiquated belief that only their type hull can "violate" the sanctity of supposed untrammeled wilderness;-

  • You would be OK in many boats
    You are close into "average paddler" boat. The sizing is still based on male forms, hence heavier and taller than average female. You don't need a big person's boat.
  • the 145 is too big for you
    I'm a similar size to you plus a few more lbs and have a Tsunami 140, with hip pads added. Too bad you're not closer, I would let you try it since I have it up for sale. A Tsunami or similar kayak might be a good transitional step for you coming from a Pungo.
  • Options
    I just stopped by my local eastern mountain sports and they have tsunami 145, 160 and 165 on clearence brand new 750$....would the 160 be any faster?
  • Yes
    -- Last Updated: Mar-25-14 6:28 PM EST --

    being both longer and narrower it should glide more easily and cruise faster than the 145, but also may be a bit harder to turn. interestingly the weight is about the same for a 160 vs 145. that is a fantastic price, and you can add a rudder kit if desired for about $200.

    Do they have any Tempests?

  • Remember folks
    -- Last Updated: Mar-25-14 8:10 PM EST --

    the OP will be running down a few miles of strong class 2 whitewater. Also, that particular set can be really boney at times.

  • Kayaks and canoes are both allowed
    but length to width restrictions apply to both craft.

    The person in question had a rec kayak and it was too tubby. That it was a kayak was not the issue.
  • not seeing that as a deciding factor
    for the OP's desire overall for "something faster, good storage space and comfortable seat", even if he takes the same trip. various other 15-16' kayaks and canoes (including his friend's Old Town Nantucket) have made it down those rapids just fine; I don't recall them being terribly difficult. He'll have to assess what types of paddling he intends to undertake in general, and pick a suitable craft.
  • Okay, I am curious
    Do you know the reason for this requirement regarding the ratio of length/width? I wonder if it's the result of someone's good intentions run amok, or if it's totally nonsensical (and oh, maybe there could even be a legitimate reason that I can't seem to think of).
  • Options
    so I purchased my new kayak tonight. I decided to go with the tsunami 140.

    After sitting in them all. I really did not like the seating of the 160 and thought it was a very shallow cockpit. The backband seemed extremely low for my liking. we will be doing a lot of fishing too so some extra space is nice to have which the 140 offers, plus a much more comfortable seat for my lower back.

    I talked to a woman who worked there that said she ran Alot of their kayak day trips that EMS offers and she claims the 160 tsunamis additional length only offered minimal speed gains and the storage hatches were much more shallow.

    anyways I'm sure this kayak will by far out perform my Pungo 120 lol
  • congrats
    and enjoy the new boat! sounds like it's a great choice for what you want to do with it; a mix of river and lake touring, camping and fishing. you could probably add a flush-mount rod holder behind the cockpit if you wanted to. you can get a whole lot of mileage out of a Tsunami, I know I have! add hip pads and learn to edge it some and the turning will become easier.

  • yes. Tradition
    But makes no sense to me. Kayaks on the Allagash are not traditional either


    I don't see any different impact whether you run the route with a raft or any other hand powered craft.
  • Options
    thank you. this thread has turned into what's the traditional way to paddle the allagash....

    I appreciate everyone's inputs on what my actual question here was. sorry to everyone on canoes that will now have trouble sleeping at night knowing there's a kayak on the allagash.
  • "Wilderness waterway" ??
    -- Last Updated: Mar-26-14 8:32 AM EST --

    any place that has any restrictions other than the usual no glass and carry everything out that you bring in is not "wilderness to me"
    I think after reading this I'll take the Allagash off my bucket list

    jack L

  • lol.
    Well done. Pack light and enjoy your Tsunami.
  • Don't shoot the Messenger.
  • Have a great trip!
    If you can get the time - try poling up Allagash Stream to Allagash Lake and check out the ice caves.
  • To each his own.
    The Allagash will manage without you. But, you don't know what you are missing. It is a special and beautiful place.
  • totally agree
    -- Last Updated: Mar-26-14 8:57 PM EST --

    if you can make a short pole. Its not expected you can stand in your kayak and use an 11 or 12 foot pole.

    I plan to do Allagash Lake from Johnson Pond in a pack canoe. Its like a kayak as you sit on the bottom and paddle with a double or a single.

    As far as tradition goes its as about you can get for an Adirondack boat ( not an Allagash boat). It'll be a breeze without a cart on the Tramway portage.

    JsckL. I don't know if you consider the Everglades a wilderness. The Allagash is wilder. Visitation is a tenth of what it was when it was designated a wilderness waterway. Its got a ton of history too.

  • Kayaks on the Allagash
    It is true that only "canoes" are allowed on the Allagash. They go by an old definition for a canoe which states that the width of the vessel must not be greater than 25% of the length. A Pungo 120 does fails with this criteria. I remember warning a kayaker of this when we saw her on Eagle Lake with a wide, short kayak. Her kayak remained in the storage rack at Churchill dam where the ranger would not let her proceed down the river with it. While this rule may be antiquated and originally designed to keep rafters destined for day trips down Chase Rapids away it was still in effect just a few years ago when I was there last.
  • Allagash Lake
    Best to avoid the weeks immediately after ice out if your are seeking solitude. It is very popular with the fishing crowd. I went in from Johnson Pond once and that is an easy way to get there. But the "best" way might be to pole up from Chamberlain and spend a night at the falls on Allagash Stream. Just a thought.
  • As I live in the woods
    at the end of a camp road, solitude is everyday. I don't mind company.

    And I plan to go in June...I will have plenty of six legged company.

    Why June? Moose.
  • Bring your ear plugs.
    -- Last Updated: Mar-28-14 7:15 AM EST --

    If you are there during the height of fishing season you may encounter drunk middle aged men up all night pretending that they are fishing. Its an awful long drive in there to find yourself next to that.

  • its not a long drive for me
    3 hours. If I don't like what I find its easy enough to go to another lake.
  • Actually -
    Johnson Pond is very pretty - and quiet. Everyone heads down the stream to the lake and you can have the spot all to yourself at night.
  • Allagash
    The first time we paddled the Allagash I was the odd man out and paddled a 145 OT Loon, Since then I've bought 2 160 Cayuga that my SD uses in both high and low water trips.

    The Allagash has no more claim to being a 'Canoe' river then any other. It's a recreation area and as long as your craft meets the length/width guidelines its good to go. Having said that I would not paddle it again in a kayak, I prefer a canoe, even when solo. It's a load thing.
  • What just occurred to me
    now (duh) is the words New and Allagash

    Hmmm. At levels below 1000 CFS your new will look USED within two miles.

    Below 800, very used..

    You might want to think about buying used and not letting the rocks depreciate a new boat value.
  • would a nice kayak get beat up bad?
    I see... beat up, huh? Where can I find current CFS? Sorry to further diverge from the original question, which I assume is long resolved by now.

    I just learned of the Allagash and made emergency paddling plans for the first 12 days of August!

    I have two boats: a Current Designs Caribou S (kevlar, 17'6") and a Nova Craft Prospector 16. I was thinking to take the kayak, since I will be paddling solo, but not if it's going to get beat up.

    Are there unavoidable rocky shallows or rapids that must be run (even class II).

    From a practical standpoint, is my canoe (which can take some abuse without me cringing), the way to go???
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