Kayak Comparison

Purchasing 1st kayak and considering LLBean Manatee 120, Old Town Dirigo 120, Pungo 120 and Perception Conduit 13. Most use will be flat water and slow rivers (Schuykill and Delaware Rivers). Thoughts anyone?

What have you paddled in the past ?
Everything is relative to skill and experience

as the paddler is always the power plant.

The Conduit 13 is the only one of those that has both front and rear compartments for flotation. The others just have a rear compartment. That’s always better. It would help to know your size and weight. The best way of course is to try them out but iam guessing that’s not possible?

My opinion
All 3 of the 120’s are pretty similar. They are recreational kayaks. One of the biggest differences between them and a touring kayak is the rec boats do not have a fwd bulkhead. If the boat fills with water it is going to float standing up and down since there will only be an air pocket in the stern. If a boat has an air pocket fore and aft like a touring yak then it will float with the cockpit rim above water and it can be bailed out. A rec boat has to be drug ashore and dumped. This can be overcome or improved at least with float bags or extra foam flotation but that’s more money and effort. Also that huge open cockpit is not really meant to have a skirt over it. If you are able to find a skirt it will likely cave in with enough water over it. On the plus side it is easier to get in and out. The cockpit on the conduit is it a little smaller, more like a crossover between rec and touring kayak. The conduit also has the fwd bulkhead in addition to the rear one, more storage and sinks evenly.

None of the boats have perimeter lines, which you need if you want to do on water rescues. Perimeter lines are non-stretching cords that run around the edge of the boat in addition to the bungees cords. You can buy rope and the hardware and drill holes in your boat and install them if you want to modify your outfitting.

All 3 of the 120 are similar wide widths, stable and slow compared to other SINKs. The conduit being longer and slightly skinnier will go faster than the others with the same effort.

None of the above is necessarily a bad thing, I’m just telling you the difference between recreational kayaks and what you get if you spend a more money. These are not performance boats, you won’t be rolling them (there are people here who CAN do it, but that’s not what they are built for). No paddling great distances offshore, no whitewater. They are nice boats for paddling on calm warm water. I have three different models of rec boats in my fleet. Like you I agonized over the different models before buying the first one but now, in my opinion, there is not a lick of difference between any of them. They will all track and handle the same with identical capabilities. I would be skeptical of a review written by someone who has only had one a couple weeks and never paddled anything else. You need to at least sit in them at the store. They will all fit a little different and you might scratch one of the boats off your list within five seconds of sitting in it.

Of the four boats, the conduit is a step above the others but for slow warm waterways where reaching shore is not a problem the other three are adequate. You could take the price difference and go get a $150 -$200 paddle from a paddle shop instead of the $30-50 ones at Dick’s or academy sports. $100 difference on a boat is not going to mean much on the water, but the better paddle will and you will have it when you decide to upgrade boats.

Buy a kayak PFD and wear it. I find the bottom edge of regular boating PFD is going to hit the middle of the seat and run across your back about kidney high. Very uncomfortable after awhile.

Remember it’s your first boat, you can have more.

Enjoy it. And please post back with what you finally decide on. People that ask for advice and disappear bring me down.

What have you paddled in the past.
This is my 1st purchase. I have only paddled Zydeco 9 ft. In the past.

5’11". 215lbs

My Opinion
Thank you for all of the info. I will post after decision is made. I appreciate the effort put into your comments and will let you know.

The platform

– Last Updated: Feb-24-13 11:08 AM EST –

Width - is a dual sided sword.

Dagger Zydeco = 27 inches
LL Bean = 27 inches
Old Town Dirigo = 27 inches
Pungo = 29 inches
Perception Conduit = 26.5 inches at 13 feet

Skill "usually" goes up after paddling a while,
and you'll want to paddle farther, see more stuff, etc.
Going out in a group, involves keeping up with
the group paddling various kayaks.

The Perception is a bit narrower/longer allowing
for a slight bit of "performance" as your skills
progress -while- the Pungo will always be wide,
slow, and cumbersome to do much more than float.

I have done the Schuylkill many times – mostly starting at or near Fitzwater Station, taking the canal up then down the river to 422/Betzwood. Of course you have to go back to the Fitz for drinks…

Overall kayaking in this area is a lot of smaller creeks, a bunch of smallish lakes, the Schuylkill, Delaware, and Brandywine. Unless you are kayaking near the airport or in the Delaware bay there isn’t much reason to go for a large touring kayak and the smaller kayaks are a bit more versatile (10-14’ max).

Any of the kayaks you mention are fine, if they fit you well. Just throw in front float bags but the reality is the majority of the water around here you can stand up and empty the boat where you stand. I really only use mine when we have lots of rain or on a big lake like Nockamixon – when the creek is a total 4-5 feet wide not really worried about my boat swamping.

I like having a kayak with a cockpit on the larger size. As the water levels go down you may have to get out a bit on the Kill and walk. A bit easier to have a kayak you can drop into in the middle of a shallow river, then something you need to squeeze into.

I use a Dagger Axis 12 most of the time. I like it since the cockpit is a bit smaller than some of the ones you mentioned but still larger then normal. We do have limited basic whitewater on the rivers, just enough to get some water splash that a big cockpit (like a Pungo or old town) can take on water. My friends with Pungo we have to dump or pump a few gallons on most Kill trips where I will only have to sponge even without a skirt.

It is a really good idea to try to demo the kayak a bit before you buy. EMS does a demo day in May at Green Lane. You can also demo kayaks at Nature’s Way near Lake Nockamixon (not sure they have a store – I think it more a lot with kayaks on it), Wilderness Canoe trips (they rent for the Brandywine and sell, so should demo), and the EMS near me rents – they might let you rent and if you decide to buy give you discount. If you want to drive you also have the Jersey Paddler in Brick and Bel Haven in the Pine Barrens. There are other places as you get closer to the shore. These places should let you demo kayaks now if you have cold water clothing.

The Paddlesport expo is next month in Jersey – you can get some great deals on gear and kayaks if you are in rush – http://www.jerseypaddler.com/paddlesport-2013/ Good place to buy a nice paddle, PDF, and clothing at least. If you do want a Pungo they sell out fast every year.

We do both rivers
and use a Perception Swiftwater and Old town Dirigo’s, all our boats are in the 10’ range, makes it a little slower on the lakes, but the size is nice for portages along the Skook, on the bigger rivers a little longer boat would be nice, the sealed front compartment would be a bonus for floatation, but all in all it boils down to your individual needs/desires from your boat and your personal preference. If you contact me,( I am assuming we live close by your river choice) I can let you paddle the dirigos,(2 dif years, slight differences), and the perception and give you a feel for them.

If you paddle through Fairmont Park,
just don’t get run over by the shells from boathouse row!

One of our scullers decided to see how far upstream he could go, and damaged his boat on some rocks. We had to take a powerboat up to get him, but we sheared the pin when we got there. So we loaded him and the single on the powerboat, stood up, and used his sculls to slowly paddle the powerboat down to the Philadelphia Canoe Club. By this time it was after dark, and we were navigating by the light of passing traffic.

When we got to the Canoe Club (quite a place, as old as our boathouses), we called Vesper Boat Club, and fortunately someone was still there to come and retrieve us.

Because of a bend in the rowing course on the Schuylkill, boat traffic there is reversed. That is, boats proceed on the left side, not the right.

I wonder if the kids still throw RR spikes from the bridges…

I would also be willing to let you try out my Axis if you want. I also forgot that Marsh Creek both rents and sell Pungos.

The Swiftwater really looks like the last version of a Dagger Blackwater rebranded to me.

Does it have a skeg and if it doesn’t is the molded skeg box still in back hatch?

Funny Story
That is a good story.

I haven’t heard of people tossing stuff off the RR bridges down there in a long time… Guess kids don’t go out anymore.

Conduit 13
I have a Conduit 13, and compared to an OT Vapor, an OT Otter, a Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5, and other Future Beach and Pelican pool toys, it is very fast and maneuverable. I definitely recommend it if you do not intend to use it on big, open water.

Must’ve been a really long time ago

– Last Updated: Mar-02-13 4:38 PM EST –

Shear pins haven't been used in typical outboard motors in a few decades (I think some small, off-brand models still have them). Of course, that brings up a really obvious question, besides the question about why no spares were on board. A shear pin breaks into three pieces when it fails, with the center section being longer than the outer two. If the shear pin is entirely enclosed, as is often the case, you don't even need a spare. You can just rearrange the pieces and the motor is fully functional again. If the ends of the pin are not fully enclosed, you can install the center section on one side, and jam a twig or some such thing, trimmed to have the proper extra length, in from the other side of the shaft to keep it there (once the prop is installed, the twig, or whatever you use, will be prevented from flying out). Sure, the connection between the shaft and the propeller is only half as strong now that just one of the two failure planes is occupied by intact metal, but it'll be fine as long as the prop doesn't strike anything. Had you spent two minutes addressing this simple problem (a little longer for a non-fully-enclosed pin) there'd be no story to tell, and maybe it all would have been forgotten by now.