HELP! Beginner looking for 1st kayak


I really like the Pungo. Hopefully I can find a kayak store near me that has it in stock and that offers test paddles.

If you like the Pungo, you might also consider the Heritage Stingray, which is very similar:

Even a new one wouldn’t be out of your budget.

In the past, the Stingray was made by LiquidLogic. I have the 14’ model and I think it’s a fine rec boat, and was a good choice as a first kayak for me. The 14’ model only weighs 52 pounds, and I have no trouble putting it up on either of our vehicles (one of which is a Dodge Caravan). If you can find a good deal on a used Stingray, you might want to take a close look.

Have you ever paddled a kayak? Not being snotty, just if you haven’t, reading descriptions is not going to tell you anything about what you will/won’t like. If you have, what did you paddle, and how did you like it? Suggestion about going to the “try kayaking” event as Jersey Paddler is excellent. You’ll get a decent amount of time in a boat, and can ask questions for only a few bucks. While some salespeople are jerks, many are paddlers who love the sport. They want you to be happy so you keep coming back (this is probably not true at big sporting good chains that sell kayaks in the corner).

From your list, you are probably too big for the Carolina 12. Maybe look at the larger Carolinas. From your list, the Carolina is the only one with front and rear bulkheads which keep the boat from swamping if you capsize. None of the other boats on your list have this, so you should consider buying float bags if that is what you choose. Consider also a line like the Tsunamis. A bit longer, but still stable and will give you can go a bit further afield than your local flat lake. Really just getting in a few different types of kayaks may make you realize a certain type (short and fat or long and skinny)is or isn’t exactly right for you. EMS currently has 20% off your first item sale. Outdoorplay has 15% off accesories and some sort of price match policy on boats. Also remember that not everyone online is who you might guess they are, so suggestions could be coming from a sweet 14 year old who paddles a rec boat with his dad once in a while. Not that those opinions aren’t valid too, just may not be the level of experience you were probably seeking here.

Getting Together Forum on Pnet
Post a nice subject line and ask someone near you to go out paddling with you and ask to use their boat–buy them lunch or something–and ta daa, you have your test paddle, damnu.

Looks like a nice kayak. I will put it on the list when I go test paddling…Thanks!

Thanks. No I have never paddled a kayak. Never been in a kayak. My unpowered boating experience has been in row-boats and canoes.

I get your point about not knowing who is giving advice.

Thanks for your thoughts about the Carolina 12. I will try to keep all these thoughts in mind when I go test paddle some kayaks.

That is a good idea. Hopefully someone who cares about helping a new kayaker might actually respond! yahoooooooooooooo! Maybe not…

Hey Dave…

– Last Updated: Jun-30-08 2:09 AM EST –

Welcome to P-Net and kayaking.

I understand that "just want to get out and paddle" thing. Good for you. It is a great pastime.

For whatever reason, the following (earlier) post got more useful advice. You may want to read the thread:

Best of Luck,

P.S.: Check with local paddle shops for Clearance and Demo priced boats - you might find a great deal that way.

Thanks Rob!
Thanks for the link Rob!

I have made up my mind, I am picking it up today…

Pungo 120

I will post some messages about my experiences…

Thanks to everyone who helped me out!

You’ll be happy with the Pungo. My wife and I just got into paddling this spring, and she got a Pungo 120 first. It is very stable, yet reasonably fast and not too heavy. I ended up buying a Necky Manitou 13, which is about 6 lbs. lighter than the Pungo but not quite as roomy or stable as the Pungo.

My wife and I both tested a bunch of a kayaks at a demo day put on by a local outfitter before buying our boats. Testing the different models, styles and sizes really helped. The Pungo and the Manitou were two models that stood out, for us. I might have gotten a Pungo myself but the shop only had them in one color that I didn’t like, but they had a wide selection of Manitous. Also, I liked the lighter weight of the Manitou, which makes a big difference when loading a kayak by yourself on a rack.

Congratulations on the purchase…
Be sure to post a Trip Report


Maiden voyage…pics

– Last Updated: Jun-30-08 5:51 PM EST –

Picked up the Pungo 120 today.

The only real problem I had was trying to get it to
stay on top of my Forester! I think I am going to
just bite the bullet and get the rack and kayak

I was so excited to get the kayak on the lake
that I left without my lifevest! I turned right
around and came back for it, promise. Paddling
without it though was much easier! I have to
get used to that feeling!

Here are some pics:

Looks good, hope you like the sport as much as the rest of us sickos.

You have one other problem - your paddle is backwards in the third pic. Concave side should face back, or ridged side forward. Make sure you can read the words on the blades (or else it will be upside-down (if it’s asymmetrical)).


glad you liked it

– Last Updated: Jun-30-08 9:23 PM EST –

and glad I didnt steer you into the wrong direction when I recomended it in the above post. Some tips though- in the last picture, your arms are over to the right side of the paddle- have your arms centered. Lastly, the paddle is in the wrong direction in pic 3. good luck and looks like your hooked now!! Your kayaks alot like mine- same manufacture, same color, same exacty material, same width, but mines a 14 footer. Its now out of production. I am a proud owner of a Wilderness Systems Pamlico 140.


– Last Updated: Jun-30-08 11:43 PM EST –

Yeah that pic was just after I got into the kayak
for the first time and almost went into the lake!

I was trying to put the paddle together (it is a
two piece paddle) and start paddling...this was
right before I also realized I wasn't wearing the
PFD!!! I pulled a "u-turn" and got back to shore
and got the PFD.

My paddling technique needs improvement! I am going
to try and sign up for the course that was cancelled
on me once before. Hopefully I can get some pointers
from a pro who see's my mistakes in person!

Thanks again to all who really did help and gave
advice! I appreciate the help!

I wasn’t trying to
get under your thin skin. I was giving you my thoughts on what might be reasonable for what you want to do. I have seen folks car-top boats from 30 to 70+ lbs and I have helped car-top a Forester, so I have an idea that it isn’t near as bad as many larger vehicles. Most folks can easily load 30-40 lbs, 50 takes some effort and anything over 65 is a pain in the rear from what I’ve seen.

The Pungo should be a great boat for you out on the lake and even in class I or II whitewater if you want to do that kind of thing. If you like to fish, that large cockpit will also come in handy for your gear. Likewise, a good boat for photography.

Looks like you had a good first paddle. Enjoy the Pungo!


Getting advice…
If you recall the prior warning about taking advice from a 14 or 15 yr old with at best questionable time in a red Pamlico 140, and/or an adult pretending to be one…

Thanks Jim

– Last Updated: Jun-30-08 11:44 PM EST –

Thanks Jim!

I really loved the kayak. My only real complaint
is keeping it on top of the Forester! I bought the
foam blocks and straps kit, and well, the instructions
were not very good. I had to improvise and did a
bad job of it.

I am looking at racks and kayak holders for my car.
I will probably just keep the kayak on top of it so
I can use it every day for the exercise. Rather then
taking it off every night, that really was one of the
main reasons I bought the foam block kit, and then
having to put it back on to use it everyday.

The only thing I am a little worried about with
having the kayak up there most of the time is someone
walking away with it. I have seen locking kits for
kayaks. I might look into one of them too.

I am just so excited about this! I used to love
boating as a kid and am quickly falling in love
with it again!

Watch out for the summer sun.
If you keep your boat strapped on your car rack all summer it will deform.

Best to keep a plastic boat in the shade when not in use. And yes people will steal it if they see it often and no it is not locked down.

I’m no good with straps either
but you definitely want to secure it to the car as best you can as plastic and asphault are a terrible combination. :wink:

If you decide to leave the kayak up top, you’ll want to store it upside down so the cockpit can’t fill with water when you get a rain. Even an inch or so sloshing around can cause problems.

Second, in the hot sun, plastic will soften and the boat can deform where it has pressure on it. If there is shade to park in, that will help some. Just watch for signes that things are changing…

Unless you live/work in a rough area, I wouldn’t worry too much about theft. I wouldn’t want mine on the trailer at work after sundown, but the rest of the time I often leave it and the trailer unlocked. Speaking of trailers, that might be an option for you. I got a cheapo 4x8 utility trailer from Harbor Freight (about $240) and added a few 2x4s and some cheap padding for my 68 lb SOT. Downside is that you assemble the trailer and it takes the good part of a day to put all the nuts and bolts together. It’s plenty long for hauling your Pungo and with a wheel stand, you can unhitch it and stow it without unloading the boat…

If you can run a bike/cable lock through the carry handles or somewhere that discourages theft, that would keep most folks from eyeing it too closely. Some people use a Club for cars and a cable, but the large cockpit will likely make that impractical.

A lot of things marketed for kayakers are marked up like crazy, so looking for alternatives can save you lots of dough.

After you’ve been out a couple of times and want to improve your paddling, check youtube for “forward stroke” and “paddling technique” to see what good form looks like. If your arms are killing you after a couple of hours, you probably aren’t using your legs and torso enough.

Lots of fun stuff to learn and experience. Lots of places to explore. Lots of water to put behind you…

And don’t worry about beating up the boat a little. I drag mine over everything and just get minor scratches. Poly boats are pretty darned tough.

Hope you have another good paddle tomorrow!