Flotation needed?

I have a Pungo 120 and have been doing flatwater paddling for the last year. I am planning a trip to Arkansas and to do some Class I -II rivers.

I’m getting mixed opinions on whether it is important to have Flotation, a Helmet and /or a Paddle Leash.

So I’m soliciting more thoughts-especially on flotation not only if you think it’s necessary for Class I-II but if so what type of flotation would work with the Pungo and how to install/tie it down.

Thanks for your suggestions!

I think one of the major failings of the people that sell rec boats is that they don’t sell float bags with them. Even on most big lakes a storm could blow up that you couldn’t handle. On my old original Pungo I used a 5 gallon pail with a gama lid infront of the foot pegs. Once it was placed in front of the foot pegs it was held in place by the pegs and provided over 40 #'s of bouyancy which is more than twice what is provided by a life preserver. In the back I tied in a float bag of a big drybag.

While it is still warm go swimming with you punge and try to flood it and unflood it in warm shallow still water. You see very quickly that it is nearly inmpossible to recover from a deep water flooding unless much more floatation is added to the boat.

I wear a helmet in class 3 white water and in most breaking surf.

Yes yes
IMO you should have front floatation and a leash wherever and whenever you paddle.

My first kayak was an 11.8" kayak with a sealed rear bulkhead. Dealer never mentioned front floatation. I got on pnet and right away got the message - you need it, it’s not a nice option.

It’s a big safety issue that is communicated very poorly, if at all, by the big box and online retailers selling rec kayaks.

If you only have one paddle a leash can be a very good thing vs. paddling bent over w. your hands. It’s best I think to lash on a spare. A leash also is nice for light tie-ups like when you all get together for a snack on the water.

As to a helmet, I’d ask someone who knows that water and what it’s like this time of year. Err on the side of caution.

You do not use a paddle leash if you
paddle in whitewater, even easy whitewater, and if I see you doing so, I will cut your leash. You do not transfer flatwater paddling practices to whitewater.

Personally, when I am paddling my little sea kayak, I do not use a paddle leash. That is because, after paddling 30+ years on whitewater, I have lost my grip on my paddle only ONCE. And by not using a paddle leash, I have avoided being strangled by my equipment.

Show me some people who can roll their sea kayaks who use paddle leashes. A small, small minority.

Have you ever heard the term entrapment?
Fast moving water is no place to use a paddle leash. In fact, I can’t really think of any time to use a paddle leash except for taking a break and needing two hands to do something and your deck rigging won’t hold your paddle.

I paddle in the ocean, and you won’t launch with me or play in the surf with me if you have a leash.

The same thing should go for whitewater.

Class I and II rivers
are not whitewater. At least that is how the DNR in Michigan classifies them. I know you gentlemen will be only too keen to correct this if wrong.

No Leash In WW…
but yes, I do use a leash in surf. No obstacles to catch the paddle or leash. The leash saved me several times from getting stripped and swimming in big surf.


Another float question
So, my OtterXT came with big styrofoam cones set in the bow and stern should I assume these are adequate? Any reason to take them air and replace with inflatable floatation?

I guess I don’t understand yet (newbie here) how to judge floatation.

I’m just doing flat lake and slow river paddling.


Go cheap, stuff that Pungo with pool
noodles or empty capped plastic bottles, preferably in a tied off garbage bag.

Dry Bags Sucka
What about dry bags with you gear or beach balls, baloos, etc packed in them. Dislacement is the key here.

Will a 5 Gal bucket even fit in a pungo or is it non standard bucket?

I have some Sealine tapers that are a great fit for my Pungo 140’s. I anchor and sandwich them in behind the foot pegs.

Off hand, I am not sure of the size of them.

Sorry about the irreverance, but I have been listening to gangsta rap all day long. My neighbors are bi@ches fo sure


float bags
bow float bags from NRS cost 16.95. Too cheap not to get them. Why mess with pool noodles and garbage bags?


Garbage bags and used plastic bottles
are free, or nearly so.

Ditto what friendlyfire said
2002 I took my perception america down the cattaragus (southwestern NY)on a dice run.

The water was classI and in some places easily classII.

Without floatation that pungo is gonna sink like a rock if your spray skirt comes off.I’d definitely go with floatbags or as many foam blocks as you can jam in next to the vertical float bar…Anything to displace water and add floatation.

And…don’t do this alone…bring along folks who know what they’re doing (maby clarion is for hire?!!)and take the time to learn from them.

If there’s classII odds are there are LARGE bolders just under the surface and you do NOT want to interact with one using your head.

Don’t use a leash, and
there is no need for a helmut in class I-II, unless the river is running fast in which case you might want a helmut.

I don’t use one unless I am in II-III

A leash is just another thing to get tangled up in, and I would never want one.

If you go over, enjoy the swim and pick up the paddle in the next eddy.

If you need some flotation, on a boat like that just duct tape some noodles in where they won’t interfer with you.