I am a long-time canoeist, looking to add a kayak to my fleet, so I have been researching kayaks to make myself familiar. I have no experience with kayaks, but am a healthy male in my 50’s with no fear of learning. My use will be recreational, on inland lakes and streams in Michigan, where we do half-day paddles and casual family floats. I am not trying out for the X Games, and do not intend to cross big lakes or battle big waves with this boat. At 6’4" and about 270 pounds, the used kayak market is not proving to be a reliable source of kayaks with the necessary weight capacity. Conversations with salespeople in kayak stores have pointed me toward the Wilderness System Pungo 120 or 140 as a good alternative for my intended use. The Pungo 120 (325# capacity) is recommended by some as the perfect boat for my intended use, yet there are online reviews suggesting the boat rides too low with even a 235# paddler. Therefore, the Pungo 140 (350# capacity) is suggested by others, while online reviews warn it is hard to turn in rivers. While the majority of streams and rivers we paddle are not fast movers, some of our local rivers are small and do require the ability to turn in corners, which makes me wonder if the Pungo 140 would be a decent boat for those streams. I have never had trouble on a 16’ or 17’ canoe on these streams. My budget is limited, and I’d like to make a decent choice that will not involve immediate regret regarding either the boat’s capacity or capabilities. Just want to have some fun, and am beginning to sense I am over-thinking this choice. Time to make a decision. Any thoughts or suggestions?
As another larger guy, you are going to end up looking at more sea kayak types just to get any performance along with the weight capacity.
The Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 is a possibility for you. It’s a boat designed for a larger person and will be more maneuverable than the Pungo 140. Worth a look if it’s within your budget.
Pungos are designed to be very straight tracking, which could be a hassle on twisty creeks.
Swift current and tight turns can be
as much an issue of technique as of boat design. Even in a whitewater boat, it is easy to get rammed into the outside of a tight bend if you don’t understand what the current is doing and what you have to do to compensate.
I wouldn’t think a Pungo would be any special problem on tight bends, but I suppose a Tsunami might be a little better. But you have to read the current and work with it.
Here’s your boat.
Current Designs Sirocco. The Sirocco can handle your weight and the cockpit should handle your size. There is one little “maybe” and that is the seat. If you are kind of wide in the stern… Sit in one and see how it feels; if the seat is too tight, see what the factory has to offer for an optional seat.
The Sirocco can do it all, but you will have to get used to its stability, which is true of almost any sea kayak.