3 kayaks, which to keep?

-- Last Updated: May-14-16 1:08 PM EST --

Hello everyone. New here, and the paddling. We borrowed some kayaks, went out with friends and now we're hooked!

My wife and I recently picked up two kayaks, and today I grabbed another. It's just the two of us so we only need the two; trick now is deciding on the best match for us.

Originally we wanted two WS Pungo 120s but that deal fell through. We ended up with a Pungo 120 for her and a Tsunami 140 w/ rudder for me.

Today I picked up a Pungo 140.

While we fully intend to take them all out on the water to compare for ourselves, we won't have the opportunity until next weekend so I thought I would inquire here first.

I'm wondering if there's enough of a difference between the Pungo and Tsunami line that it would be awkward paddling together? Might the Tsunami be too unstable for a beginner?

A bit about me:
6', 180lbs, slim build.

Her: 5' 7", 130lbs, slim build.

The closest water to us is a large bay that opens up to one of Ontario's larger lakes. We will probably be on that a little more than random other lakes when we are camping throughout the summer. We tend to be on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, but this summer we're also headed for some smaller lakes.

99% of the time we will be doing day trips. At most, we might spend one night somewhere. We're also the type of people that would rather buy once (hah) and be satisfied rather than upgrade all the time.

We have no intention of getting into white water and would prefer flat water however the size of these bodies could mean we find ourselves in unexpected choppy situations.

Any input would be much appreciated!

Just to really confused things…

– Last Updated: May-13-16 11:50 PM EST –

Pungo and Tsunami are intended for quite different types of water. Pungo totally flat water because it has absolutely huge cockpit and lacks two sealed bulkheads, tsunami for more dimensional stuff because it has a smaller cockpit and two sealed bulkheads. If things get bumpy, the tsunami can stay out but the pungo should be on shore. The tsunamis are are not at all tender in their stability for the water in which they are designed to be used, they are commonly someone's starter boat.

Hinestly, if you plan to paddle Lake Huron or larger lakes that can get a good wind, my suggestion would be to lose both the Pungos and pick up another Tsunami of the right size for your wife. The 140 is likely too big. The Pungo series are great boats for their intended usr, you should be able to rehome them

If it were me
If it were me and I was taking you guys out for the day in those boats I’d put you in the Pungo 140. I’d put your wife in the Tsunami since both boats would be riding high at her weight and she might appreciate the rudder if its windy.

One boat per person?
That is not enough.


– Last Updated: May-14-16 12:47 AM EST –

listen to Celia

Decisions, decisions.
Thanks for all of the opinions! I’m kind of surprised at the variety. Not much wonder we’re having a hard time deciding :slight_smile:

@Celia, I realize they are intended for different types of water. Our goal is to NOT play in the super bumpy stuff but who knows, maybe someday I’ll enjoy the challenge. I’m not sure what you meant by “not at all tender in their stability”. I was also surprised to learn that it’s commonly someone’s starter boat. (Because I often see people just starting out with Pungos). From that, I infer that it should be pretty manageable. You’re saying then that it’s a starter boat just in another class from the Pungo.

Huron would be the biggest lake we go on, and only a handful of times a year. Lake Nipissing, and bays off it would be our primary waters. It is interesting that you mention that though. I’ve seen reviews of people my wife’s size just in love with their Tsunami 135s. Unfortunately, it’s not in the mix right now :slight_smile:

When we do get to test them out back-to-back, what would be the signs to look for to determine if it’s “too big” for her?

@BigandSmall. Interesting. I hadn’t thought of it that way. Interesting scenario. I could see if we went out and things got choppy, me giving her the Tsunami for the ride home for example. In which case I’d prefer the 140.

@Peter - lol, if we could afford to keep them all and a Tsunami 135, we wouldn’t be having this discussion :).

This is as much of a question of which boats will “fit” us (individually) well as it is how well they will do together. I saw one post comparing the Pungo classic to the 140 with the later hitting 4.0mph and the 140 doing 5.2 with the same effort. If I keep the Tsunami, for that reason alone it might be better to keep the Pungo 140 so she has less difficulty keeping up. Does that logic make sense? (I have no speed comparison for the Tsunami, but I assume it’ll be easier to go faster with it).

I think I’m happy I picked up the Pungo 140 yesterday. I believe the end decision will come down to either us keeping the Pungo 120 and 140, resolving to stay on flatter water and feel good about being evenly matched OR the Pungo 140 and Tsunami so I don’t lament getting rid of it in the future.

Keep the pungos
Best boat on the water

A couple of things

– Last Updated: May-14-16 11:12 AM EST –

Pungos are not supposed to be lumpy stuff of most any scale. You go past their limit long before super lumpy.

More later, have to go to a birthday party.

Pungo’s forever
Yes, please spare us pungo lovers the negative comments. You can have your small cockpits and all it’s cramped dementions.

Ok, a more serious response
American Canoe Association has a classification system for different levels of “flat” water, taking into account distance from shore, waves, winds, and currents. They then list what type of boat would be appropriate for that water. Here is a photo of a page from a book that shows it: https://www.dropbox.com/s/s4xbs6bb76dft6f/ACA-SkillLv%26SeaConditions.23.jpg?dl=0

The Pungo is a recreational kayak that for most can’t be re-entered into when in deep water, and as such is only considered safe in level 1 water. Tsunamis are light touring kayaks that can got to higher level waters. If you want something you can grow into, a pair of Tsunamis would be better as they will allow you to paddle in more places (with training and/or experience).

How far?
I think it all depends on how far you want to get into kayaking. And, unfortunately, you may not know the answer to that question until you’ve been doing it for a couple of years.

My wife and I -(she is 5’0" and 120 and I’m 6’0" and 190) started out in identical Pungo 120s and I still think they are terrific boats for their intended purpose. We certainly had a lot of fun in them. But, clearly there are design compromises. What makes them so good as recreational boats severely limits their ability in more challenging conditions. As we gained knowledge and ability we switched to narrower transitional boats in the 13’-14’ range with double bulkheads and smaller cockpits. We are now becoming more and more hooked on kayaking and are looking to add two longer, even narrower sea kayaks to the “fleet” with skegs and backbands that will let us progress further with skill development. (We still like a lazy Sunday afternoon paddle though, so we’re keeping the transitional kayaks as well).

So, it’s your choice, depending on how far you want to take this. If you do keep a Pungo 120 I’d advise you to spend $50 on an flotation bag for the bow - NRS has them - as a safety precaution “just in case”. One thing with the Pungos is that as they are less “capable”, and you won’t be using them in rougher conditions, fit is really not as important as long as you are both comfortable in them.

Pungo use
I have two friends an a sister to whom l gave recommended pungos or similar, for flater waterm oaddling. The manufacturer says they are not lumpy water boats. If you are going to get offended by a boat being designed for flat water usr, go yell at Wilderness Systems.

More from me

– Last Updated: May-14-16 11:53 AM EST –

Your hf is too light for all these boats and will have a hard time managing them in wind, but the rudder will help her. More than it will you.

Because she is so light and the boat is so wide, your wife will have a very difficult time going as fast as you with you in three tsunami and her in the pungo 140. You are not grasping how a kayak should fit and best work in the water. Either take the advice here or go get lessons unless you want to be a solo padfler. Really. I have seen this a lot, an uninformed guy goes out and chooses for his wife, she has a bad time and no longer has company.

Sell the pungos and get her a boat, used, comparable to the tsunami. Or figure on paddling soli because she will have a discouraging time.

Tons of opinions!

– Last Updated: May-14-16 1:37 PM EST –

Opinions from all angles no less!

The general answer is becoming very clear: it will ultimately depend on what we're comfortable with and what waters we end up on (and how serious we want to get).

Not having all those answers yet, I'm enjoying all the input from everyone. Thanks Peter for that picture and explanation, to kfbrady for the flotation bag suggestion and everyone else for their input.

@Celia, that is in fact my fear. We went out with friends last year with borrowed kayaks and the one I was in was struggling to keep up with another. It was little fun cutting back through the middle of the lake trying to keep up. Even less when we had to tow a third, submerged kayak to shore!

In my head I don't think we'll be on rough water but I know conditions can change quickly. I can also imagine us just wanting to "get out" if we hauled our kayaks with us on a weekend camping trip even if conditions aren't perfect.

I think if we had a house on or near a small like with predictable weather, I'd stick to both Pungos just for puttering around but because we camp a fair bit and will often be on unknown waters I might be disappointed to have gotten rid of the Tsunami.

I don't like the idea of feeling limited by our choice, but like most decisions, there are compromises.

I could see us eventually getting a 2nd Tsunami. Actually one popped up in my feed (125) but the guy was asking more than I paid for any of the three I have :/ Then again my wife likes to pull her legs up when taking a break and let them hang out the side. Much easier in a Pungo.

Since my last post, my mother, 5'3", not sure about weight but same or lighter than my wife expressed interest in trying kayaking. If she were to take one it makes the choice (of the available options) pretty straight forward. The 120 would be most suited to her with my wife in the 140 (assuming she's comfortable after trying it) and me in the Tsunami.

If we do that; keep the 140s, we could swap out more comfortably if we hit conditions where she would benefit from having a rudder.

I have a Pungo and a Tsunami
The Pungo and the Swifties in my fleet can’t go everywhere the Tsunami can but the Tsunami can go anywhere they can but even then the Pungo gets a fair bit of paddling every year because yes, sometimes it’s nice to put the toes in the water and not every trip needs two bulkheads and the re-entry skills

I got a lot of miles out of the Taunami and made several advances in my skills before dropping even more money on longer and lighter boats for more challenging conditions and I still think of the Tsunami as my daily driver type boat, unless I’m canoeing.

You will find the Tsunami is in another class from the Pungo so someone paddling a pungo would be working hard to keep up.

My advice to you, in paddling and in everything else, is make it as enjoyable for your wife as possible and you will do it a lot more. If the Tsunami does not work for her then keep it for yourself and spend some $$ on her boat, something comparable or better.

Something else to consider is good paddles. Consider about $140 for a good entry level paddle such as Aquabound. When you settle on boats invest in decent paddle, at least for her if money is tight. Boat width affects required paddle length.

I’m down to 12 kayaks and 7 canoes, 3 boats should not be considered excessive.


– Last Updated: May-14-16 7:30 PM EST –

You are still not getting it. Your wife will have a far more physically difficult time powering the pungo 140 than the tsunami. So you put her in the easiest boat for her to power, the tsunami, and you take the pungo 140. The tsunami is plenty well sized for her to pull her legs out, l am about 3 inches shorter but heaviet of the arse these days. I do it in much smaller scale boats every time I launch and land. And stay near shore anyway, and if wind comes up while you are on the water you can't change boats on the water too safely with a pungo anyway. It is quite doable with a sea kayak, l have done it.

Celia’s spot on
I have a keyhole cockpit 16.5" wide and it’s easy to pull out my legs and hang them off the side.

A good balance exercise while you’re sitting in your cockpit is to do a full 360-degree circle with your legs hanging off the side.

Keeping up
Hey TyanTa, I think it’s great that you’re getting out there. I also think the boats you have will suit you fine for starters following the restrictions pointed out above. Regarding sizing, your wife is fortunate to be tall so deck height and foot pegs shouldn’t be an issue for her. She is light though at 130lbs and would require a lower volume hull for her to engage it properly. You mentioned a Tsunami 125, I’d be looking to get your wife a faster boat than yours rather than a slower one to keep everybody happy. Maybe a Venture Islay 14 LV or if she wanted a long boat a Tempest 165.

If you want to do a little reading on fit on different models check out this web site. http://frontenac-outfitters.com/kayaks/ They are a kayak retailer but they list suggested weights in the description of all the kayaks they sell. I find it a good resource and their weights seem to allow for some room for gear too.

And on paddles…
Get the lower powered person a smaller size blade, not a bigger one. That is another common mistake - guys thinking that they need to get wife of girlfriend a huge blade size so they can keep up.

But it is too much resistance in the water, and it ends up being much slower. As well as doing a job of the smaller person’s joints. So go for a mid-sized blade for your wife, if anything smaller than yours. She can paddle with a faster cadence and be effectively as fast or faster as far as paddle power goes.

The boat is as above - the narrower the hull the easier it’ll be for her to power the boat.

Celia first post was dead on right
Pungos are not for Georgian Bay period!!

Another note on Tsunami kayaks. My friend who loans out boats to get NEW people into kayaking on a regular basis uses Tsunami’s to do exactly that. Puts people who have NEVER kayaked before into Tsunami’s all the time. No problem doing so. People from ages of 14 to 70.

Sell both pungos get another Tsunami for the wife, maybe a 120 or 135.