Musings about a long recreational kayak or short sea kayak

I ordered a Pungo 120 from REI. Won’t get it till the week after next.
But I’m already thinking about expanding my boat quiver to include a Pungo 140 or a short sea kayak.
The only thing I’d need it for that the 120 can’t do is multiday trips.
On a lot of western rivers a canoe is a much better choice because you need to carry a river toilette and/or water for the entire trip. I know people do use sea kayaks for the Green and Colorado Rivers, so it’s possible, but just don’t think a sea kayak is the best choice.
So, I’m trying to decide if I have a real need for a longer recreational kayak or small sea kayak.
Of course, need isn’t always a requirement for purchase. I’ve bought lots of stuff I don’t need.

Please clarify.
I thought you said in another post that you had ordered a solo canoe that paddles with a double blade. If that is so what function would a Pungo serve? A boat with Mohawk as part of the I’d if l recall correctly,
There is information on this site under Learn about the diff between sea kayak and rec boats, where each is a better choice. It ain’t about the length.

Your first post here was insisting that only a jury rigged SOT would work for you, that a sit inside kayak was absolutely out of the question. You subsequently turned around a paid attention to the idea of a canoe that paddles with a double blade. Now you came full circle and are doing a pretty good job of jumbling up aspects of sit inside kayaks again.

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Yes, I ordered a North Star, Northwind solo.
I do plan on paddling it, primarily, with a kayak paddle.
But it is 15"6" long boat and cost $3,5000,
I thought it might be nice to also have a shorter kayak that won’t make me cry if I hit a rock.
I like to have options.
I think next summer will be very interesting. I’ll have both boats then and I can see what the pros and cons of each boat are.

And, oh yeah, I won’t get the canoe till some time this winter.
I wanted something I can paddle this summer.
The longer kayak, well, that’s just any idea I’m toying with.

14’+,15-16 better.

I don’t know what is so hard to understand, but let me clarify it for you a bit.
There are aspects of SOTs that made me think I’d like one. I hated the one I bought. Maybe I’d like a better one, but it turned me off to them, for now.
That made me re-evaluate my feelings about sit-in kayaks. I decided that one with a really large cockpit opening, like the Pungo, might suit me.
I like canoes, but I decided it might be fun to have a kayak too. Not sure why this is so hard to understand?
As to not knowing the difference between a rec kayak and a seakayak, I don’t want to offend, so I won’t respond to that slam.

Ok, l was being cranky. What you have not explained well until maybe the last reply was a possible limitation ruling out smaller cockpits. That appears to be consistent between your very first post and this last one. And should knock sea kayaks out of the box if that is a criteria.

It was a criteria, but I’m feeling more confident now. I still don’t think I’d feel comfortable with a really small cockpit, but maybe a keyhole or a something a little bit bigger than normal.

Ok. I see two ways to get by the cockpit issue. If the issue is fear of entrapment easiest. Find a friend, a rental place or any other resource to get into a kayak with a fairly normally sized sea kayak opening, and capsize. Probably should have someone standing there. But you will immediately find out gravity works upside down. You will tend to fall out. Just make sure it is a boat designed for your size, not a smaller person like me.

I doubt a keyhole cockpit or not would make any difference if this is the issue. Even it is longer, a true keyhole cockpit puts a thigh brace over your legs. True ocean cockpits have not been put into boats for a lot of years. So if it is a garden variety transitional or sea kayak made in the last 15 year’s, if there are no thigh braces the cockpit will be rounded and more open.

If the issue is comfort sitting, you simply have to do your best to try out boats. It may be that a higher deck works, it may be you need a more ergonomic seat, or not at all like me. Or one with more adjustment options. Really us no solution but to sit in boats.


I am in the same place you are for the most part. I started in a nice little 10 rec boat…I was pretty much at the max in that setup but wanted to see how I liked it before going too far. Replaced that with a 13’ transitional boat, that I liked, but after awhile I choose something with more weight capacity. I have a 12’er now that has a 351lb weight capacity (I am the pack mule) but I am finding it too slow.
I was thinking about a smaller sea kayak myself. I do live in an area with lots of coastal areas to play in but I tend to stay in the lakes and rivers. The river water levels get low in summer which means you are in and out of the boat often enough that a bigger cockpit is nice.
This is the reason I am currently looking for a Dagger Stratos, good compromise of weight, capacity, size, speed and easy in and out. Not to mention little concern of bumping rocks.

There is really no comparison between rec boats and well-designed sea kayaks. High on my list of objections is lack of floatation and no deck lines. both of which make assisted rescues far more difficult. There’s also the spray skirt issue. You mentioned a canoe. I love canoes. They’re great freighters. But they’re also far more difficult to handle in wind, and the loss of freeboard when fully loaded means they aren’t nearly as good a choice for rough water as a decked boat. A canoe would be an odd choice for the Colorado. That said, your Northstar looks like a superb, well designed canoe. SOTs are a lot easier to self-rescue than decked boats, but most of the lower-end designs are clunky. Tsunami Rangers used sleek, seaworthy SOTs, and plenty of experienced paddlers prefer surfskis for downwind runs and SK races. For the most part, performance depends on boat design. As a general rule, shorter kayaks are slower than longer ones. The Pungo 120 hypes itself as delivering “a dynamic on-water performance with superior stability, unmatched speed, premium comfort and intelligent outfitting”. This for a decked boat that has a gigantic cockpit with a useless coaming for which there is no skirt. Ditto the useless “thigh pads”. You’re not rolling it, or edging it, so they’re just meaningless. It also has a “dashboard” with two beverage wells but no deck lines. I’m sure you can have fun paddling it, but it’s a short, beamy kayak that lacks fundamental safety features. To me, that means it’s not a well-designed, seaworthy boat.

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If possible, find a shop that carries a few good lines of boats Hopefully a Current Designs and P&H dealer. Try on the CD Sirocco and the equivalent in P&H poly boats. If you fit in either, then all you have to do is make up your mind which one you like. If you don’t fit in these boats, then you’ve got a problem.

Wilderness Systems’ hyperbole in describing the Pungo 120 as being capable of “unmatched speed” is laughable. Compared to what?


A lot to respond too.
I think you and a few others are totally missing the point. I mean completely. I live in Colorado. There aren’t any oceans here. I may call a boat a seakayak, but it is very unlikely I’d ever paddle it on the ocean. I’d be using it for the same things I’d use my canoe for, rivers and lakes.
I have a spray skirt for my Pungo and some rec boats do have bulkheads. There are boats that combine attributes of both. To say there is a distinct line between the two just isn’t true.
The Colorado above Cataract Canyon is a flatwater float. Canoes are the preferred vessel. For the record, lots of people do the Grand Canyon in canoes. You obviously know little about boating in the rocky mountain region.
The big advantage of canoes is load carrying. On the Green and Colorado, you need to carry a river toilette and all the water you are going to need for the trip. For a five day trip I usually take a seven gallon water jug. I have seen touring kayaks on these runs, but it really limits what you can take. I usually take along a lawn chair and cooler.

They are saying the Pungo is fast compared to other similar rec kayaks.
I don’t think they mean it’s as fast as a narrow, sixteen foot touring kayak. They make those too.
It is probably pretty fast compared to most solo canoes, which is good enough for now.
I consider the Pungo my starter kayak. I used to have a Swift touring kayak, but that was quite a few years ago. I’m starting over. I’m already looking at the next step.

Yes, entrapment is, mostly, the issue.
Right now, I just want a big, open cockpit that I can fall out of quite easily.
Way back when, I learned to do a wet exit from my Swift touring kayak.
Maybe I’ll get back to that point, but not this year.
I’m already shopping for the next step. Probably not what you’d call a seakayak, but more than I’d call a rec kayak.
The chance that I’ll capsize at all is pretty slim, unless I do it on purpose for practice.
I’ve only capsized once and I have never capsized when I was solo or at the stern position.

This link should take you to Pungo accessories.
If you scroll down, you will see that includes a spray skirt and sun shield, both of which I have already purchased.
I also have float bags for it.

I think you easterners need to watch this.
This is what I’m into.
Lots of other videos too.

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I agree that the nomenclature can get confusing, and that these kayaks exist on a spectrum with cheap rec boats on one end and well-designed sea kayaks on the other. In between, the distinctions can get blurry. My guess would be that most “sea kayaks” haven’t been to the ocean. I think that’s a small distinction most of the time because lakes can serve up some pretty rough water. You say “lots of people” do the Grand Canyon in canoes. I’d say that of the people who do the Grand, relatively few do it in canoes. Yes, they’re excellent freighters, but in big water, they’re configured more like decked boats and in my mind, they have a significant disadvantage - rolling them is going to be a huge challenge. On open water, I think canoes are more difficult to handle in wind, but that’s just my personal experience.

Like R. Crumb’s iconic character, Mr. Natural, used to say: “Get the right tool for the job”. That canyon? Sure, I think a canoe is the superior choice. Thing that caught my eye was that it looked pretty hot and everyone was wearing swimming suits. My choice would be long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a hat that soaked up water - a better combo for keeping cool: