Somebody here about a dozen years ago, had this as a bumper sticker on the back of their truck. It made me laugh hysterically at the time. For you “youngins” who may not get the joke, quite awhile back on the highways of America, one would occasionally see an old junk car coasting along with similar slogan. But substitute the word “Cadillac,” “Mercedes” or “Ferrari” for aforementioned kayak, and you get the status quo drift.
Went to an annual private group rec paddle last Saturday, with a good turnout of over twenty-five paddlers showing up. Most in rec kayaks of one kind or another, but at least a dozen of which were Pungos. A couple whitewater/crossover yaks, zero canoes…Myself and one other friend, decided to use our iSUPs. (I’ve taken a canoe/a touring kayak to this event in the past, but vessels 12 feet or under, really seem like the best ticket.) As is my usual way, I like to strike up conversation with people I hadn’t met there previously. Two first timers I chatted with, both in Pungos, made it a point to tell me they had far superior more expensive kayaks at home than the ones they were in. And that, their nice late model Pungos weren’t their usual ride. I didn’t get into specifics about my own boats at home, only to say the Pungo seemed to me a perfect choice for the paddle they were doing today(A dozen miles of mild and mellow Class 1 -2 wave trains, with long flat shallow sections broken up by twisty tight swift moving water. They looked surprised by my comments.
I paced a guy in a 120 Pungo for about 1/3 mile, and he maintained 4.5 mph the whole time.
My favorite boats are two 140 Pungo Duralite models I bought between 2000 and 2010. They just aren’t good out in open water. I installed neoprene bulkheads in the front of both and sealed them with Lexel.
My wife was nervous about feeling too enclosed so we bought a used Pungo 120 for her to try. While it is a bit heavy compared to my Necky, and is sooo wide, she has no issues moving right along with me. Granted we usually paddle a local lake with no large boats allowed and usually pretty calm water, but it seems to be a good boat that sometimes gets a bad rap.
When she is ready for something more like a touring boat I am sure we will keep it.
@jandrew for readers unfamiliar with the Pungo, the 140 was my first long kayak. The lightness of the duralite model was the greatest asset, but I believe WS discontinued the option due to quality control issues. WS offered another light version, possible thermofoil, but that apparently didn’t catch on.
I used the 140 for several 21.5 mile trips. The large cockpit and incredible stability makes it a great platform where ready access is desirable for activities like photography or fishing. Adding a sealed bulkhead to the forward section improved hull stiffness and buoyancy. The Pungo can be compared to an enclosed solo canoe. However, I believe even a novice paddler can quickly learn to handle a Pungo, when compared to the skill required to handle a canoe.
The add on console closes off some off the large cockpit, and helps deflect some water from washing into the cockpit, while it also offers close-at-hand storage for small items. WS unfortunatly discontinued the versatile 120 and 140 in favor of a slighy wider 125 model (one size fits all).
Although I wouldn’t rate the Tsunami line as performance kayaks, the 125 that’s 26 inches wide through the 175 at 24 inches wide, all have the same comparable stability while being able to handle far rougher coonditions. The narrower width of the Tsunami line facilitates edging for turning and maintain tracking; the Pungo is far too stable to edge, because the boat wants to return to center. Pungo lovers shouldn’t fear upgrading to the closed cockpit Tsunami. The transition is seamless, except for ease of entry/exit, but the advantages in seaworthiness makes it a better suited for open water.
All the WS kayaks use the same comfortable seat system. Even the Tempest with backband has the room and comfort similar to the recreation line (for paddlers who fit in a 22 inch kayak). While the Pungo and Tsunami may not offer the performance edge of sportier kayaks, they’re roomy, comfortable, stable and capable of carrying a lot of camping gear.
They are good boat that gets a bad rap(but usually from those who turn their noses up against rec yak use, after they themselves have advanced in skills or moved on). And they are popular for a reason: Stability, comfort and quality build. Much better than many other rec yaks.
The two fellows I cited seemed almost apologetic for using them/they were just trying to impress by crowing about their other boats. I found this disingenuous on their part, a little like bad mouthing a mistress in front of you, while praising the true beloved wife left waiting at home.
Fwiw, my wife was there with me, using a Necky Manitou.
@spiritboat agree. Every boat has a pro and con. Two years ago I started looking at the Delta 15.5 for a faster, lighter boat. I still value speed to cover more distance; however, I really appreciate the incredible stability and roominess of the WS. My focus on speed now depends on working harder and more efficiently. It has been pointed out that speed isn’t everything, but the ability to push a slow boat faster is rewarding.
A friend has a faster Necky Chatham that he loves, but it takes a few trips for him to regain that confidence. Another friend is looking for a faster boat, but I feel that what makes his performance significant is how fast he can move a slow boat. Anyone can buy a faster boat. Still another friend has a comfortable bost and a less comfortable boat. Rather than discard the less desireable boat, he decided to work on mastering both.
We should never feel ashamed of our boat. Truth is that I couldn’t imagine going anywhere without my “bullet-proof” beat up old blue boat.
Having said that, if I drop something and it rolls to the forward bulkhead, it stays there until the trip is over. So roominess isn’t always a concern about feeling trapped as much as a desire to access items in the cockpit. I started out in a Perception Swifty and four boats later, the first keeper was the Pungo. Most people love the boat they paddle, so experimentation is a good thing. I share all my boats and all my paddles. That’s how I came to fully appreciate the equipment I currently value. I freely allow a paddling partner to use my 145 Tsunami while I use the 125 or 175 Tsunami or the 140 Pungo. It’s the best way to appreciate the features and limitations.
Same as with paddles. I have paddles I initially thought were good paddles; now I won’t even give the same paddles away after using quality paddles. Yet I still consider some paddles of lesser quality to be a good value. We are all better served comparing rather than degrading, and sharingbis the best way to help each other. Dont “bogart” those tools. Make it a point to trade off with other paddlers where possible. You gain valuable insight that you never considered.
My first boat was an old, well-beaten Pungo 120 (rotomolded) from the local university’s rental fleet. They were selling them off after several years of abuse. I can’t remember what year it was made. It was a great starter boat, but kind of felt like a tank. Far (far far far) superior to the Sundolphin sit-on-top Hubby bought later, thinking it would be good for the dog (it was NOT good for the dog, and paddled like a potato). The Pungo was very stable, very durable (well, hubby did patch the bow and stern, where it had been dragged by all the students). It was flexy though, and the rear (only) bulkhead would leak a ton, because of that. We tried Lexall, but even that didn’t fix it long-term. It flexes a LOT. Ours didn’t have the cockpit console, which was likely lost before we got it, or wasn’t part of it back then. The seat was unbearable. Absolutely unbearable. I was really surprised when I started reading about the great seats in the Pungo - ours must pre-date that. Ultimately, I didn’t like the width, as it was too wide for me to easily get in and out of (short legs) and just too wide to have any connection at all. The lack of a front bulkhead and the seat were both negatives. But it was the perfect starter for me. If I had started with a brand-spankin’ new Pungo, that’s likely what I’d still be using. I think the newer ones are quite a bit nicer, and much nicer than a lot of what is out there.
We still have it, as a “just in case we have company who wants to try it” boat. We both got Eddylines a few years ago, and love them. My Skylark works much better for me than the Pungo did, and now I also have a Sitka LT and a solo canoe. I doubt I will ever paddle the Pungo again (and who knows - now that I have the solo canoe, maybe I’ll find that I don’t paddle the Skylark anymore, either). But the Pungo is a solid boat.
I am a long time Pungo 140 guy for all the stated reasons . Before that I was a Tarpon 160 lover; I’ve owned 4. Still have one but that 85 lbs is more than I care to deal with most days.
My goal this summer is to become intimate with my Stellar S14S.
Gotta love the Pungo, even if you don’t paddle one. Back when I was selling kayaks, there were a few boats that just sold themselves due to the combination of features, comfort and price. The Pungo was one of them. Sometimes I felt like we had some of the Pungo’s competitors just to make it even more obvious how good of a boat it was. It was a fun boat to sell since it was well made, did what it was supposed to do, and got people excited about paddling.
WS Tsunamis, Ocean Kayak Malibu II XL, Feel Free Lure 11.5 and Perception Prodigy 10 were similar. Just so easy to sell because they did everything better than the competition.
I am looking for a Tarpon 120 Ultralite which weighs in at 43 lbs. Not many made and therefore hard to find. A dealer down in Georgia has one but he is asking $699 for it. I haven’t seen many for sale and none of them close to me.
I also have an old Pungo 120 (from ‘2012) which I’ve used many times over the last decade. Most if my experience has been very good … except the seat. As you mentioned, I have found it to be unbearably uncomfortable.
I am confused by this - the 120 is still listed on the WS website, as well as on REI. Not the 140, which I haven’t seen in a few years (I think), but I believe the 120 is alive and well, along with the 125 and a 105.
I have a Pungo 120 that I have had since 2003. It was my second boat. My first was a Scupper Pro. I thought my dog would enjoy paddling flatwater with my on the Scupper, but he didn’t so I got the Pungo and we regularly paddled a lake that was near my home and we also used the Pungo (with extra flotation) to paddle Topock Gorge with some friends from here sometime around 2004 or 2005- back when this forum was called pnet and I used the handle santacruzmidwife.
I lived near the ocean at the time so ended up paddling a Valley Canoe Avocet most of the time. Other boats I’ve had but didn’t use much were a surfski for fitness paddling, a specialty lightweight SOT by current designs that I kept as spare for visiting friends and ocean paddles and taking to lakes with the Pungo, and a beater 2-person SOT that I rarely used and ended up giving to my son-in-law.
Fast forward to 2023. I am 65, retired and living in Arizona. I love the feeling of paddling a sea kayak, but due to arthritis in my wrists and declining strength with age, I am 5’5" and weigh about 135#, living where I do, don’t feel capable of self-rescue in more challenging water at this point in my life, I only paddle flatwater and usually paddle my Eddyline Rio. I use a Hullivator to rack my boat. But I still have the Pungo and yesterday I took the Pungo to Lake Patagonia. On the drive home I did the math and realized I’ve had the Pungo for 20 years! It’s still a great loaner boat and a great way to get out on the water. It’s not my favorite boat, but it is one of the best flatwater entry level boats out there and I plan to keep mine unless my partner decides to get serious about kayaking longer distances and wants to go with me more often.
My Pungo, along with plenty of other incarnations of this boat have stood the test of time, and I stopped being embarrassed about my Pungo a long time ago! I found a photo of that old pnet paddle in Topock!
I own two Pungos. My first one was a 140. When I wanted another boat so I could have friends paddle with me, I looked over lots of recreational kayaks, and found that I liked the Pungo better than the others, so I bought a 120. I was in a club that paddled together every Saturday (weather permitting). I paddled the 120 and loaned the 140 frequently. Eventually I wore a hole in the bottom of the 140. Now, in my late 70s, I paddle less frequently, and I don’t have much need for a second boat. I would be happy to give it to anyone willing to patch the hole.
@JCH_ski, that’s good to know. It was understanding that they killed two birds with one stone and consolidated their efforts by going to a higher capacity 125 model that is wider by 1.5" and 6" wider. My nephew bough the new version for his wife. I’ll check on it. I saw the 175 Tsunami listed as well, but was told it was discontinued. I wasn’t impressed by the PR rep that I contacted. Ill leave it at that.
@JCH_ski, it appears you are correct. WS still lists the 105, 120 and the 125. I’m an advocate for WS kayaks, but have been disappointed by some of the corporate decisions. When I contacted customer support, the representative was not interested in my input, but rather sounded like a PR speal. I realize sales dictate product offerings, so I can’t criticize their decisions to cancel a line. Maybe it’s due to the public’s lack of interest in certain models that confuses me, but Im easily confused. As an example, they now offer two very similar 105 models: Pungo and Aspire.
Comparing both models, they’re nearly identical, except for the Aspire being equipped with a skeg, and a 100 lb difference in load capacity (that increase is hard to understand when the main difference is one inch in width on a 10’6" boat; perhaps it has to do with freeboard from a higher deck, but the WS web page i viewed doesn’t show the deck height of the Pungo. Considering a recent in depth review of the 105 posted by a forum member, the Aprire 105 seems to be a better boat. Yet WS decided to discontinue the 140 (which was a great transition between the rec kayaks and the sea kayaks, while keeping two different 105 models, the 120, and introducing a 125 model of Pungo. The load capacity becomes more confusing when looking at the 125 Pungo, which is 1/2 inch wider but has a load capacity that’s 25 lb less than the Aspire 105, that’s 2 feet shorter. I do like the WS line, but I have no idea what they’re doing with listed specifications.
They made other odd changes with the 140 and 145 model Tsunamis. The 140 was 24" wide and the 145 was 24.5" wide. Now both models are 25.5" wide. Why offer two models in the same width with one being 6" shorter. Then I was told by someone who tried to buy a 175 Tsunami that the model was discontinued, but they still show it on their web page.
At this point, I’m not sure what to think and defer to anyone who has recently purchased any of those models to clarify any confusion I created. I hope to have a chance to compare the old 145 and the new wider 145 Tsunami in the near future.