Looking for advise on rec kayaks.

I am pushing 74 and weigh in at 225. I am getting a little stiff to get I and out of my 18’4" North Star. Looking for some thought from others on 5 rec kayaks, Pungo 12, Tsunami 12.5, Tsunami 12, Dagger Axis 12, and the Delta 12AR. Looking for a daily use boat to use at home and at the cabin. Any suggestions from people with experience in one or more of these kayaks would be appreciated. Thanks.

Those boats are all about the same. All from decent brands with known decent reputations. The Delta will be a bit lighter than the others, so if transporting is a challenge, that one may be a little better (but also more expensive).

You should try at least one of these rec boats, if you haven’t already. If getting in and out is also a challenge with the rec kayaks, you may want to consider a sit on top instead of recreational kayak. SOTs can be a slightly wetter rid and you are more exposed to weather (where in a rec boat, part of you is protected inside the hull area).

I think a Pungo 12 ultralite would be a good choice with the large cockpit and light weight.

In general, for your size and use you might want to consider a move up to 14’ kayaks in some of those models since models that size will generally have stern AND bow bulkheads. Particularly for your size, capsize is more likely in a smaller boat and a single bulkhead boat is a sinking hazard. The Delta is the only one you listed that has both bulkheads and at 42 pounds that’s a plus as well.

The Axis 12 has a smaller cockpit and a large bow with no bulkhead, It would need a flotation bag in there to be safe. Also, at 55 pounds it’s going to be a bear to carry. It’s considered a “crossover” to be used in mild whitewater as well as flatwater. Unless you need that capability I wouldn’t think you need to consider that model.

You are too big for a Tsunami 120, that is for petite people. So cross that one off the list. The 125 has more volume, but at 51 pounds is kind of heavy for a day boat. Cockpit is even shorter than the Axis. I find Tsunamis boring to paddle, kind of slow and stodgy.

Pungo 120 has no bow bulkhead. Has the longest cockpit (57") so a sprayskirt would do little good and a bow flotation bag would be a wise addition. Weight is fair at 49 lbs but it is absurdly wide at 29" which will make it kind of a barge. Fine for birdwatching or fishing but kind of a drag to paddle from place to place.

Given your choices, if you can afford the Delta it looks like the best set of features.

BUT:: Another option you might want to take a look at is the Pakboat Puffin Saco folding kayak. For $1095 the boat only weighs 20 pounds and can be used either as an open boat (like a a pack canoe) or you can add the optional deck ($242) to make it a sit inside for cooler waters or to keep cargo dry, Flotation bags and their inflatable foot brace would add another $100, putting it around the cost range of the Delta but with more versatility. It can go anywhere those other boats can and then some. It does need flotation bags if used with the deck. I have had an older Puffin 12 for years and took it with me to England last year, checked as baggage packed in a rolling duffel. I can set it up in about 20 minutes and usually leave it set up all season, even carry it on the car roof that way. In 10 minutes I can deconstruct it and stash it in the trunk of the car or a closet. A 20 pound kayak is a real treat when you are older (I’ll be 68 in a few weeks). Nice to be able to carry it with one hand, even lift it onto the roof rack unaided. As to durability, my Puffin is 14 years old and in perfect shape, though I got a newer deck for it a few years ago (just because it was prettier). The adjustable inflatable seat is super comfortable. Pakboat folding kayaks perform just as well on the water as equivalent model hard shells and are actually better in rough water since they absorb some of the force of the waves rather than being buffeted by them. You can order them directly from the manufacturer, who is located in New Hampshire. I’ve owned 4 of their models so far – could answer any questions if that is a type of boat you might consider. Pic below is my Puffin set up on the patio of my rental cottage in England after flying over with me on Icelandair. The link directly below this text shows the boat set up without the deck and has some added information. The paddle in the photo is a 4 piece Cannon carbon model that breaks down to fit in the duffel bag with the kayak when I travel with them.

Also have a Flickr photo album showing how it packs down and how I transport it on a car.


Thanks for the knowledge info. I am checking out the folding kayak. I am still doing three wilderness canoe trips a summer, up to seven days in length. The rec kayak would be used for local enjoyment. So a foldable kayak would suit those needs. I already have flotation bags.

You could even take the folder along on the canoe trips!

I’ve recommended these boats to a number of folks for their cottages and rentals. You can fold them up and lock them in a storage closet instead of worrying about theft or vandalism when you are not around.

If you decide to buy one, call Alv at Pakboats (he’s the owner and very easy to talk to, provided he is not out of town or back in Norway leading paddling trips.) He has said on their website that they are going to be having on-the-water demos of their boats in June sometime but I don’t know how handy New Hampshire might be for you. There are a few videos on Youtube of people using Puffins around the world including one of a Frenchwoman who hauls hers on a foldable bicycle, which she then lashes to the kayak so she can solo paddle down rivers without needing a car shuttle between put in and take out.

A fishing guide that I bought one of my Pakboats from uses both their XT model kayaks and their folding PakCanoes for his Alaskan and Patagonian angling trips with clients. He can transport them in their duffel bags in a float plane.

And I use to know a woman who regularly did research in Antarctica during the Austral Summer and used a larger folder (a Feathercraft Klondike tandem with a vast open cockpit) as not only her vessel for exploring the coastal waters, but she made a tent-like canopy for it and slept inside the boat when she was ashore.