Kayak Choice Advice

Thinking of a new Kayak presently using a Future Beach sit on top. Looking for a little more ease of paddling and speed. Two choices that come to mind are Perception Sundance or an Old Town Loon 138. Also had considered a Perception Swifty but maybe that is too small, I am 220lbs and 5’ 10" and part of the over 50 crowd? Use is on a small smooth water lake. Any comments would be appreciated or other sugestions.

Thanks in advance


lots of choices

– Last Updated: Dec-21-04 1:23 PM EST –

There's really no way to pick a boat other than trying it on the water. WS Pungo 140 is surprisingly fast. You also might want to look at the Necky Manitou, CD Kestrel, or the new Eddyline Skylark.

Check Product Reviews
There are a lot of interesting reviews there.

Try before you buy is also great advice.

Regarding the Loon 138. I’ve rented one of these and was very pleased with it. It was VERY stable and fast enough for me. I am about your same age and weight.

Whatever you choose, save some money for a halfway decent paddle. Get ready for sticker shock if you haven’t looked yet. I bought a cheapie: $130 for an Aquabound Seaclude, which I’m happy with, and have used it on 3 and 4 day trips. However, you can easily double that amount.

Welcome to the paddling world.

Lots of choices
For your weight, height, experience, and application, you are blessed with abundant choices.

Nearly any recreational boat will do the job. I’m 6’3" and 220#, but was up to 260# at one point. I paddled a Swifty on a full day river trip quite comfortably in that bulkier condition.

Wilderness Systems Pungo and Pamlico are good choices. They each come in several sizes, and the Pamlico even has two tandem sizes.

Perception makes a gajillion models that’ll suit you well. I paddle a Perception America as my primary boat and love it, though I’m looking for a creek boat to be able to take on rougher water. The Perception America can’t be beat for moderate sized rivers and other flat-water, but can also handle up to Class II easily. It turns much better than seems natural considering its length, it’s fast in the water, attains upriver like a dream, and feels like paddling a Barcalounger while you’re doing it. I’ve taken it through Class III, but don’t recommend it primarily for that application. If you want to fish from it, you’d be hard pressed to do better. The only problem I have with the America is that it has ZERO secondary stability. With the paddling you described, that’s a “so what?” comment. Perception has a couple of similar boats sized between the Swifty and the America. All of them are suitable for your purposes.

If there is a better recreation boat for fishing than the America, it’s the Dagger Blackwater. The Dagger Blackwater series is extremely comfortable and handles very well. The skeg that can be raised and dropped from the cockpit is a feature that I don’t know of in any other recreational kayak. I paddled a 10.5, but was a little cramped. With a slightly shorter stature than me, you might be OK in that size. It is available in 11.5’ and 12.5’ lengths as well.

My best advice is to attend a paddle day and try some different models. Necky, Perception, Dagger, Old Town, Mainstream, etc., so forth. All good. Pick a boat that has a seat, width, cockpit opening that suits your comfort. If you’re already paddling some, then you know that the ‘tippy feeling’ goes away very quickly. As a relatively new paddler, I suggest that you don’t be overly consumed with concern over ‘tracking.’ Good stroke technique is far more important than a boat with ‘good tracking’. With good stroke technique, you can learn to make any boat go where you want it to go. Comfort should reign supreme in your choice of a recreation boat. There are performance differences, but they’re discriminations without a difference. It’s all a matter of what you like.

  • Big D

Loon 138
I came to the OT Loon 138 from a few years worth of sit on top paddling. I was pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy the Loon was and is to paddle. I’m 6’3", 225 lbs. and it’s a boat I’m comfortable paddling in all day long. I looked at a few other rec/tour type sit insides, but found the big cockpit and stability of the Loon to be just what the doctor ordered. I felt like Old Town gave me a lot of boat for the buck.

Perception Sundance
I have a Perception Sundance 9.5. I am a bit smaller than you and it is great for slow and flat water. I have friends a bit larger than you who have used them very comfortably. The seats are great, very comfortable with good back support, which seems to be lacking in some kayaks. They are lightweight and relatively inexpensive. They have bungies to hold stuff in front of and behind the cockpit. The cockpit is large and easy to get in/out of. The biggest downfall is needing to add flotation. If you get swamped they hold ALOT of water. Also with no bulkhead/ water tight compartment, storage can be a pain. Overall I recommend them for use in flat and slow water. I’ve used mine up to simple class II. (For that I suggest a sprayskirt because with the large cockpit opening, it lets lots of water get splashed in).

Instead of the Old Town Loon…
…Instead of the Old Town Loon, check out the Old Town “Adventure XL, 139”. I had one of them, and found it to be a great boat. (I weigh 270 Lb)

… It is 13’9" long, and 28" wide. The width gives it great stability. It also has a front and rear bulkhead and hatch covers for dry storage, and flotation… if you need it. Safety is important.

… The Adventure series from Old Town has a bit more style and performance than the Loon series. I think you would be happier in one of the Adventure series.

Happy Paddling!

Sundance 9.5
I do not like my Sundance and I am selling it. It is very slow, though easy to turn. Very difficult to re-enter. My 11 yr old son doesn’t like it. My boyfriend found it to be too tippy. I think it’s ok for a small person who wants to fish or birdwatch.


Look At the '05 OT’s & Liquidlogic

– Last Updated: Dec-22-04 10:03 AM EST –

I think the Loon 138 is a fine boat, the performance snobs may chuckle, but I believe it is a good paddling boat. the Adventure will be a bit faster, but smaller cockpit (Not small, smallER), but take a look at the newer Casco's too. My main complaint with OT is the uncomfortable seat, but the new '05 models are supposed to have a re-designed seat. You also might check out the Liquidlogic Tryon and Saluda. They are faster than the OT's, the Saluda about 12', the Tryon about 10.5' long. The plastic layup of the Liquidlogic's is second only to OT IMHO. And I LIKE THE SEATS IN THE LIQUIDLOGICS! Never paddled the Perception Sundance, but like the looks of the 12' model. The smaller looks similar to a Swifty. The Swifty is O.K., but I think you'd be happier with a bigger boat. We have one, the layup on Perceptions and Daggers that we've owned is just not quite as good as OT and Liquidlogic. As someone mentioned, the Pungo paddles fast for it's size, but I've heard Confluence (The parent company who bought Wilderness Systems Kayaks and Mad River Canoes) has some issues, and some of the dealers are even shying away from them. I'd suggest, paddle as many of these as you can. WW

Dagger Charlestons
The wife and I own a 14’ and 15’ Dagger Charleston. Easy entry cockpit, stable, skeged, and lots of fun. Bob

I second the Charleston. Very comfortable. Handles well in the wind, very stable, easy to re-enter.


Percepion Sundance
I go 6 foot and 230 pounds. Spent this summer paddling and fishing out of the Sundance 12. I really love that yak.

Pungo 120
Rented a Pungo 120 while on vacation this week. It is incredibly stable and somewhat faster than what I had expected. At your size, you may want to check out the 140.

I would strongly recommend that you get good lightweight paddles as a beginner. We bought lightweight Werners this year and the difference between them and the heavier awkward paddles at the rental places was astronomical.

Loon 138
A fine boat. We have had ours for 5 years now. Great to paddle. Excellent seat. Stores a ton of stuff for overnighters. Great stable fishing boat. Adjustable seat position for weather (slightly aft for normal and forward for cross winds). Easy to shoulder and carry at 57 pounds. We have the spray skirt for ours and it really extends the paddling season when it gets cold…

You get a lot from this boat.