advice on buying a kayak

I'm new to kayaking and looking to buy a stable recreational boat. My price range is $500 to $1,000. I need a boat that's easy to get into and out of -- I'm north of 50 yrs. and weigh in at 225 pounds, so ease of entry and exit is important. Also, I'd prefer a fairly lightweight boat since I'll have to car-top it and haul it back and forth from the water by myself.
I plan to stick to ponds, small lakes and flatwater creeks, though I may venture forth into a coastal bay.
Here's what I've looked at: the Pungo 120, Heritage Featherlite 12 ft. and the Hurricane Santee Sport (11 ft, 6 inches). The Santee really looks nifty but I'm worried about the durability of the Trylon plastic. The Heritage has a good price but may be kind of barge-like in the water. I'm curious about the new Perception Prodigy but I can find no info on it.
To sum up: I welcome all suggestions on finding the right kayak. I want to make this a great Christmas present to myself.

Rec Boats
The Pungo 120 is a good boat but for just a few dollars and a few pounds more the 140 is even better…a little faster and a better track and glide. The same comments for the Santee…at 225 you may be a bit heavy for the 11 footer…look at the new 14 ft Santee Expedition (available with a standard or an open rec style cockpit).

You have a few that you like now you
need to try them if possible. That will tell you more than any write up or word of mouth can.

I’ll second that
Yeah, people here will tell you to try out any boat you are interested in, and you know what - they are 100% right. Spec sheets and other people’s experiences just don’t tell you what you need to know. Seat time will.

Good For you!
up to $1,000 will allow you to get the other necessities like the PFD and paddle too.

The new thermo plastics like “trylon”, “airelite” etc, are definitely lighter if that’s an issue. They have been around enough that I would worry too much about problems with them. I believe a crack, if it happens, can also repair with superglue.

Happy Paddling.


Necky rec boats
Take a look at the Necky rec boats. But what every you do try before you buy. Sound advice .

I was going to buy a Pungo until I tried out the Necky Santa Cruz. I’m glad that I did. Got the Santa Cruz and it’s a wonderful boat. The Necky Mantiou is a similar boat.


if a Pungo get the 140
Nothing is wrong with the twelve foot one but I’m much happier with the fourteen foot Pungo.

When I’m paddling alone on a lake it seems to glide smoothly through the water. Highly stable and allows me to rest if I get winded or want to take pictures.

A guy I know bought a Santee, and had an issue with where the seat met the boat. It broke the plastic at the two points. Not sure if his is a defective boat, or if its a design flaw. The paddle shop he got it from contacted hurricane and they gave him credit for something new. He applied that to the difference for a Tampico 135 L i think.

LiquidLogic Stingray
If you’re considering a Pungo then you might also want to look at the LiquidLogic Stingray. They come in 12’ and 14’ (I have the 14’, it weighs about 52 pounds so I can carry it and put it up on the car without a problem, and I’m a little past 55).

Here’s a link to a video:

and some additional info:

My wife had a Santee and loved it
still misses it.It was her first yak now she has a CD but still misses her Santee XL. She had it for 2 seasons and did not have any problems with it.

Pungo all the way

– Last Updated: Dec-20-06 3:51 PM EST –

I am about the same weight as you 225 lbs and just south of 50. Bought a Pungo 120 this year and love it. I did demo many boats and decided the 120 suited me fine with no regrets. My wife has a Pungo 100, she is much smaller and lighter. Very stable for recreation and fishing and overall great for fitness and fun. Not to heavy to load and tracks well, glides thru the water.. Advice here always says DEMO, great advice.. What a great Christmas present to yourself, enjoy your kayak when you decide.. Pungo was not my first choice, but after demoing others, I kept going back to the Pungo and its large cockpit and awesome seat.. I hope the winter in Pa continues to stay warm so I can keep paddling... Chota Mukluks under my tree as my Christmas present..
Merry Christmas !

I got one of these when they first came out and they are surprising boats. Back then, the other wide boats tracked poorly, so this was an easier choice than it is today - now that other manufacturers have competing models. Its also a good choice if you will fish from it occasionally, or carry a dog. And if you decide some day to move up, there will be no shortage of buyers for a used Pungo, as I found. The fellow who bought mine about 10 years ago paddles it to his duck blind. Demo is excellent advice - not only for the boat but also for the paddle, as this boat may require a slightly longer paddle, maybe as much as a 240cm. The Hurricanes should be tempting as well, with their low weights. If you have a difficult time evaluating weight with a simple grab and lift - there’s nothing wrong with bringing your own bathroom scale (weigh yourself holding boat, then put boat down & subtract your weight). Merry Christmas !

3 men I know have Santees
Santee 116 - if you want light, they are right! 38 lbs very nice to lift and carry. The sealed rear bulkhead stays dry and has a generous (leashed) hatch.

Cockpit is comfy and large - in fact,they all fish from theirs, and one is a photog besides, meaning great primary stability. They love them.

Trylon is very durable and in water has a similiar flex and rigidity similiar in many respects to fiberglass. I now kayak in a TampicoS and a British fiberglass so I have a means to compare.

My TampicoS is four months old today and after about 300 miles looks beautiful. Also seen two which are 3-4 years old and excellent.

You can buff out scratches w. a green scrungee & dish soap in seconds. It’s like Corian - color is saturated all the way through. For repairs (e.g. cracks that go thru or punctures) see the Hurricane AquaSports website it just takes one type of sealant. You will have to work pretty hard to get it that whacked, though. I have seen a couple drop from cartops to asphalt (not mine, oh no) and nada happened.

There is also a new Santee Expedition just out that is designed to bridge the gap between rec and light touring kayaks. Check the website for details:

call Hurricane if no dealers in area
Some manufacturers are slow to update their dealer lists, so if there are no dealers shown for your area for a boat you’d like to see and try, you should call the company. Hurricane added the shop where my son works this fall, but its not on the Hurricane website dealer list yet.


Thanks to all for the helpful advice. I definitely will pick out 2 or 3 boats to demo. The input I’ve gotten here will help me narrow the list of choices. I can’t wait to get out on the water.