First Kayak Advice

Hi all,

I’m currently in the market to purchase my first sit-in kayak, and have finally narrowed it down to three. I’m hoping some of you can help me narrow those options down to one.

What I want to do - I’m a casual kayaker, with three specific areas of interest:

  1. Wildlife photography
  2. Enjoying the quiet of nature
  3. A little fishing

    For these reasons, I need a stable and relatively dry kayak. I’m 6’1" and 225lbs, so a larger cockpit would be nice (and obviously a nice seat).

    My budget is up to $800, and I’ve narrowed it down to the following kayaks:
  4. Old Town Vapor 10 Angler
  5. Old Town Dirigo 106 Angler
  6. Ascend FS10 Angler

    Can anyone provide me with some real world advice on these choices to help me narrow it down? Thanks much for your advice…

where are you paddling
Kayak choice has as much or more to do with the paddling conditions than the activity.

10’ long recreational sit inside boats like the ones listed have a very limited range of safe conditions. They are OK for small very protected bodies of water or VERY slow moving small rivers.

Are you willing to go used?
At your size I think any 10 footer is going to feel cramped after a while, even if it officially can carry the weight. Especially if you want to carry camera and fishing gear.

If you could give your general area, someone may be able to point you towards an outfitter that may be selling off some of their rental fleet before very long. That would get you more boat.

Great point…sorry I left it out. I’m generally kayaking in a small pond/lake in southern Indiana that does not allow motorized boats of any kind, so the conditions are as pristine as you could ask for. I would consider taking it out on a larger lake and/or smaller, slow moving streams, too.

I’ve considered the 12’ of each of these models as well, and it sounds like you’re recommending that…?

Wanderlust Will Set In…

– Last Updated: Aug-14-15 6:36 PM EST –

If you think, you are going to move up to a bigger lake. I think 12-14' would be useful to cover bigger water faster.

In terms of comparing those specific models, likely hard to find someone who has paddled all three, especially with the same physical attributes as you. More productive approach, may be to search for on each model and to pay especial attention to someone who is similar to you in size and seem to have paddling time under his/her seat to give a more in depth assessment.


I use my 14.5' SOT in ocean paddling and can easily paddle 3.5-4 MPH in fairly mild conditions (winds up to about 10 mph). In windier conditions, more effort to maintain that speed.

Options within likely driving range
I just knocked around, granted some of what I am hitting could be a bit of a drive for you. But for the right boat, I consider it a worthwhile expenditure of time. You may disagree.

There is a place called Most High Adventures in Bloomington lists a used Vapor 12 for significantly cheaper than you are considering right now.

There is a place called Fat Jimmy’s Outfitters in Bedford that sells new and does rentals. Might be worth seeing how much of the rental fleet they sell of each year, and what boats are usually included.

There may be more places, the heartland is not an area I know. But at a price like the first one, there would be room to stay in your boat budget and get relatively light weight paddle and a PFD that was really comfortable. Trust me, these two are priceless once you start spending real time in a boat.

Pungo 120
Check out a WS Pungo 120. There’s a reason that it’s such a big seller.

Put an inflation bag in the bow if using it on anything but flat water.

Strongly 2nd the Pungo, and get the
longest one you can handle. I use my 140 for a guest boat and my short and tall grandsons love it, as does my large 60 yo friend.

crowded ?

Sting said! A 12’ is much, much better than a 10’ yak and a 14’ (especially your size) will make you want to kayak more often.

My choices:

Dirego 12 or 14

Pungo 12 or 14

Perception Carolina 14 (seen them on sale at $700)

FYI, I shoot for a camera mfg company and 90% of the time, I use my 13’ OK Prowler Trident as it’s very stable and has the rod pod storage between my legs, making gear very accessible. Have fun, make sure your IS is on, try shooting at 800ISO to help eliminate focus blur due to movement.

Thank you!!
Awesome feedback, everyone! Thank you all so much!!

Aspire vs Pungo?

Quick question for you: as a photographer, do you find the v hull on the Pungo is less stable than the flat hull on the Aspire 105? I’m also intrigued about whether the skeg on the Aspire compensates for the 1.5ft of length lost vs the Pungo 120? I’m getting ready to order, but thought I’d get one more round of feedback before I did…


Pungo is a very stable kayak and will give you a much better, all around paddling experience. Also see if there are any new/used Dirego’s around. I like the thicker roto mold material that Old Town uses on these kayaks…very comfortable and very good performance for a recreational kayak.

Good luck and hope you find one to fit your $$ and needs.

Pungo 120
It is possible to capsize a Pungo 120. I know someone who did. But they were extremely tense in the boat, and just two weeks earlier I had warned them that they were going to take the boat over if they didn’t loosen up. In sum, it required paddler participation to capsize the thing on flat water.

Neither of my friends can paddle worth a damn, both have Pungos and so far they have made it back to the intended launch point every time. Which is more than I can say for myself…

Neither my wife nor I ever managed to tip our Pungos. We did get a bit wet one day when a 30mph wind was blowing some waves up and I was very glad we had the flotation bags in the bow.

We’re taking a self rescue class in our CD Visions next weekend. I hope we don’t join your “never made it back to the intended launch point” club. ;->

Just avoid 34 mph wind gusts
And blowing steady at 29 mph. And big steep waves.

It was one of those learned a lesson days. My husband and I bent to the wishes of two other paddlers we felt were more highly skilled and had equivalent judgement. They did have more paddling skills. But their judgement in an offshore environment was not nearly up to ours. We eventually made it back to our cars but it involved getting a lift from a couple of kindly drivers to get to them from where we found a safe landing.

Should have just said no.

Vapor 10
Don’t feel that you need to go up to a 12 unless you want the bigger size and weight. I have the Vapor 10 and hae had no problem with its size, stability, or abilty to carry gear. I am 6 ft 220 lbs and have not problem with the size of the 10. It has a very roomy cockpit and I can fit a backpack of camera gear in the cockpit between my legs or I can place it in the back well. If you have the money and want to step up, go for it, but if not the Vapor 10 is great. If you can find a Vapor 10 rather than the Angler, even better, you can save $100 and outfit it yourself to be the Angler for $20-$40 and save the rest of the money.