Choice between Carolina 120&Tsunami 125?

My wife and I have narrowed the field down to 2 for our first kayak(s). We test paddled different kayaks quite a bit. We were originally thinking the Pungo 120, but we both seemed to prefer the feel of the Carolina120 and Tsunami125. I felt a little more confined in the Tsunami, but the seat was great.

I wanted to do a final check of reviews on this site for both boats, but there are only 3 reviews for each. Now I’m a little nervous there is something wrong with our choices. There were tons of Pungo reviews (most all good).

We’ll be doing mostly all flat water rec paddling initially (lakes and small rivers), then maybe something a little more daring later. We wanted something we wouldn’t outgrow in a year. A local outfitter has both boats on sale this weekend for $720(Carolina120), and $760(Tsunami125). Seemed like good prices, so we’ll probably take the plunge tomorrow.

Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.



I am
the happy owner of Tsunami 120. I love the boat! It is very comfortable, great ability to adjust the seat just right, and comfortably padded without being bulky. Dry hatches are great, hatch covers fit tight and securely, but are still easy enough to get on and off. Also has 2 dry bulkheads, nice feature. What I really love about the boat is how it handles, great tracking with the keel down, but this boat has killer secondary stability, put it up on edge and you can maneuver it something awesome. This provides great tracking and great turning ability. My 120 is faster them my friend’s Dirigo’s but they are barges compared to it so I’d expect that. Not sure how its speed compares to anything else yet. At 53lbs it is a bit heavy, however I am able to get it up and down of my Yakima hullraisers on my Ford Explorer by myself, and am also able to get it up and down from the rafters of my garage on my own. For a fit/size reference I am 5’10" 165lbs with an average athletic build and find the boat very comfortable and not restrictive. I can stretch out in it for relaxation or lock myself in tight for better performance. I’m holding off on posting a review until I spend some more time in different water conditions and hone my own skills a bit to see what I can really do with the boat.

I just bought my boat a year ago. I can’t say much about the Carolina as I test paddled one once for a few minutes and just didn’t feel comfortable in the boat.

Likely you are seeing so many reviews for the Pungo over the Tsunami or Carolina because it is a more affordable and very popular rec boat.

Several people here have recently said some good things in a post about the Carolina’s called something like " The perfect newbie boat" or something along those lines.

Also I think the Tsunami is a much newer boat then the Carolina design, though I believe Flatpick said in a post that the Carolina was somewhat redsigned for this year.

At the prices you are getting both boats are a good deal. I paid $700 for my Tsunami durling the winter end of year sale at my local shop.

Good luck and enjoy!


New models

– Last Updated: Jun-10-07 5:57 AM EST –

The current Carolina models are only a year (or less) old. The Tsunami's have only been out for a couple of years (2 or 3). The Pungos have been around in one form or the other (either the current hull or the good 'ole Pungo "Classic" configuration)for several years...I can't say for sure how long....I'd guess at least 10 or more. Also, the Pungo's are a favorite of rental fleets ('cuz they're so darn easy for a newbie to handle) so there are tons of them out there for people to have had experience with. Don't let the lack of reviews sway you too much. Try them for your self...multiple times in multiple types of waters you'll likely paddle...and let that be your biggest influence. Just because 47 other people love something doesn't mean you'll automatically love it. Personally, I've tried the Tsunami 145 and really liked experience with the 125 though. Good luck!

Kid’s Boat?
This is from Perceptions website… Carolina 12.0

Don’t know if this is up to date.

This one is for the kiddos. It’s a junior touring boat for those younger water lovers that weigh up to 120 pounds. Integrated seat and foam flotation pillars help make it lightweight, so it’s easy to handle, while the Greenland style hull promises dead-on tracking and loads of family fun.

Carolina 120 website info
I noticed the Carolina 120 website data also. It’s definitely not what we paddled. The one we tried had front/read bulkheads and hatches. I think the website is showing the Carolina12 XS, which is for kids.

Thanks for the replies!

that’s what happens…

– Last Updated: Jun-10-07 9:58 AM EST –

...when a company's site is out of date.

The OLD "Carolina 12" (nee "The Umiak") is now "The Carolina XS". Further confusing the issue is that there's a NEW Carolina 12, which takes the place of the old Carolina 13 in the line.

As far as comparing those two boats, the new Carolinas are wider and a bit flatter in the bottom than the old design (though the old ones were pretty flat themselves). The hulls still require molding indents along the keel line to help stiffen up the plastic (though I can't even tell you how many people have come to us after visiting a Big Box convinced by the non-paddling teenager who worked with them that the channels were "to help the boat track better"...).

They've made some good outfitting changes to the new design Carolinas, upgrading the footpegs to Slideloks, which are easier to adjust than Keepers and adding some padding in the knee area. The cockpit opening is designed to be easy to get in and out of, while not being as big as a sport rec boat like a Pungo.

The Tsunami 125 has the same hull design as the other boats in the WS Tsunami line, with a deep vee, hard chines, and a high foredeck - probably TOO high for a person under six feet tall or without really long legs. It will track better for inexperienced paddlers, because of the deeper vee, though that will become less important as your skills increase. The seating system in the WS includes an adjustment for the seat pan that allows the paddler to get a little more under-leg support, where the Carolina's seat pan is NOT adjustable.

The thigh braces on the Tsunami make it easier to handle in rougher water, though a little tighter to get into. If you want to paddle bigger water, that'll be a key consideration.

Agree w/above

– Last Updated: Jun-10-07 10:23 AM EST –

Pungo's are popular because they are all about being baby-sitters. But they will not work nearly as well as boats like the Tsunami series or similar for getting your skills to where you can consider something more challenging, in fact they will hold you back.

Pungo's are great for their niche and hard to beat there. Similar to my feeling about Morgan horses - they weren't my ride when I was younger and falling off of horses on a regular basis, but they are admirable animals. For what you describe, the boats that you are considering will do you much better.

Tsunami 125 …hands down

– Last Updated: Jun-10-07 6:44 PM EST –

I have paddled the Tsunami 125 and it handles great. If and when my Kestrel 120HV dies that will be my choice. It handles and responds faster than mine and I was jealous of my friend who sold his Pungo 120 to purchase it. The Tsunami 125 has 2 dry storage compartment and a nice seat. The Tsunami 125 is a new kayak although now WS makes Tsunami is several lengths.
It's getting harder and harder to keep up with new boats. Which ever you pick you will be happy with.

two emphatic votes for the Tsunami :slight_smile:

Seriously though you may want to check out mobrien’s post here:

about the new Carolina’s. Gives some more insight into the new design.

Happy Paddling…

new Carolina and Tsunami is good choices. There are thigh braces available for Carolina making it a tighter foit but YES the Carolina leans a bit toward an open ‘rec’ style cockpit and the tsu lans towards a sea boat style.

The Carolina is a bit looser feel and the tsu tracks a bit better. both have great stability platforms. The Carolina seat isn’t quite as adjustable but still quite comfy and a decent ‘athletic’ fit.

Either boat can be easily up-graded to a backstrap for a higher performance fit.


Tsunami 125!
I currently own a Tsunami 125 after paddling an Old Town Rush, and canoing all my life. The Tsunami is an extremely fine boat for the price range. I’ve paddled the Gulf of Mexico and the Buffalo river in Arkansas with excellent results. The seat is extremely comfortable. I paddled a 22 mile race on the Mississipi river without a rudder and I couldn’t see any difference in tracking with the boats that had one. The glide between strokes is superb. While practicing rolling I noted that the front and rear hatches remained dry. Per my GPS, I can easily maintain a 3 mph speed with a moderate stroke. My wife who still paddles a Rush, loves the performance of the 125 but feels the Cockpit is a little too large for her. Perhaps the 120? I would recommend this boat to anyone!

Depending on her
size she may fit the 120 or the new SP(small person) version that is made specifically to fit much smaller paddlers. You can check out the specs at Wilderness Systems new website.