I’m an intermediate canoe paddler, never touched a kayak. I’m going to buy a kayak at the end of this month.
After quite a lot of research I’ve narrowed my choices down mostly to 14 foot recreational boats because I feel they will (1) fit within my budget, (2) allow me to frequently enjoy the local paddling opportunities around Raleigh, NC, and (3) occasionally slip out into protected coastal waters at the Carolina coast.
So I’m looking for a sort of “do it all” boat so I can figure out what I like to do most before buying a boat that is better for creeks or lakes or oceans.
Caveat: I’m built like Shrek. 6’2", between 300-320 lbs or so. I carry most of it in the form of a spare tire (i.e. no big fat blubbery arms & legs, but concentrated right around the middle)
The forum cut off a good bit of my post! The question was missing!
Anyway, I’ve had a few people steer me towards the Old Town Loon 138 (which isn’t available locally for me to try) and one of the biggest local dealers is almost 100% Wilderness Systems so the Pungo 140 is up there on the short list, too.
Both of these boats are very popular and review really well.
But what things might a n00b like me be missing while comparing/contrasting the two?
I’ve a Loon 138, use it for fishing as
well as general paddling. Its very stable, tracks well, and the cocpit is easy to get in and out of, though mine is a 4-5 year old model and has the bigger cockpit. Old Town downsized the cockpit, I think, in 06. The two negatives about the Loon are weight and its not easy to turn tightly. But, its good points make up for both of those. The weight becomes an issue if you, like me, load it on truck racks that are almost 7 ft off the ground.
The Pungo, according to those I know who own one, is a great boat. I’ve yet to meet a Pungo owner who didn’t like the kayak.
Unless you are dead set on a new kayak, I’d suggest looking around for a used one. craigslist is a good place to find a used Loon or Pungo.
If you are in luck, there may be several craigslist cities near you. Other resources include kayak fishing websites. The fad today is sit on tops for fishing and some who have sit insides want to sell theirs.
In my area, a Loon 138 goes for $300 to $400 used, a Pungo for a bit higher. That’s more a reflection of the popularity of the Pungo than it being a better kayak than the Loon.
Either boat will be a good one. At 230 to 240, the Loon has more than enough capacity for me, even loaded with 100 lbs of camping and fishing gear. I noticed very little difference in handling in flat water or the river I paddled. It didn’t have any rapids, but did have some areas of fast water.
Does “do it all” mean skills?
That is, are you thinking about trying to learn skills in this boat as part of deciding where to go next? If you are thinking about using this boat to learn things like rolling and/or similar skills, I would advise that you look for a used boat that is more apt for these purposes than either of the new ones you are considering. These two are good boats for fishing and getting around on flat water on a nice day, but neither will be a happy choice if the first thing you decide to do with them is take them to a rolling class.
love my Pungo but its not for big water
My weight and location of weight compares with yours for the most part. A pumpkin on toothpick legs with pipe cleaner size arms perhaps.
When I am by myself I love the Pungo. It is stable in most speed boat wakes including deliberate ones aimed to topple, it is forgiving, it is possible for me to load it on my van myself in my own way, there is plenty of room for gear, and it handles well in rivers and lakes.
However it is not speedy or naturally fast - I have to work to keep up with folks in longer sleeker kayaks. This can be stressful for me when I’m in a group.
You probably will not want to take a Pungo or a canoe out on the oceans or the Great Lakes without a lot of caution and luck. Just too risky.
You may want to look at the Pamlico
tandems. May be a better fit for your weight. As the others have said, neither of the boats you mention are going to work in the ocean easily. Both will do well in the bays.