New Kayaker - Bought a Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135T - Have a few questions


I bought my first kayak and I have a few questions. I got a Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135T and we took it out the other day. Love it. I like that I can use it with the kids or wife or solo. Its very stable.

I checked the serial number and found out it is a 2007. I paid $350 for it, with 2 paddles and a tow hitch carrier. I think I got a good deal.

Being that it is older, it doesn’t have a couple things that the new ones do. There is no bulkhead and there is no knee padding around the cockpit. The padding did not bother me when I was on the lake, but if I decide I wanted to add it, I assume I can get some aftermarket padding?

What does the bulkhead do? Do I want it? I see there is a Pamlico 135T replacement part bulkhead online for $49. Is it worth it?

The hatch is just a hole in the top with a rubber cover on it. Is there supposed to be a bag or watertight compartment there? Is that an option or is mine missing?

I have seen waterproof hatch bags on Amazon. I wanted something for my keys, phone, etc. Should I get one of these hatch things or just get a waterproof bag and keep it in the boat? Is the hatch worth it?

What do people store usually on the deck bungees? Sounds stupid but other than a dry bag, I cant really think of anything I would use it for. I don’t fish so maybe something for fishing? Just curious what people use it for.

In the bow and the stern there are two foam pieces. They are loose. What are they? what do they do? Just glue them in?

I uploaded a photo.

What are the two things I circled for? The front screws look like they held something black on but it broke?

Sorry to bombard you all. Thanks in advance. Can’t wait to get out on the lake more as the weather gets better.


Welcome to the community. A bulkhead is compartment that acts as watertight section which adds buoyancy and helps keep the kayak afloat. If you capsize, a stern and bow bulkhead will keep the boat floating levelly, making it possible to re-enter from the water. With just one bulkhead, the cockpit will fill with water. An example of that is shown in the video link noted below.

Yes, you can add minicell foam knee padding. This site offers all types of minicell foam, neoprene, and outfitting kits:

Hatches are a good place to store lunch or things you don’t need to carry on you (like the required whistle on your PFD and signaling device) but won’t be completely watertight. Always protect important things like keys, phone, etc. by using a waterproof bag. They’re inexpensive and widely available by online ordering nowadays.

Deck bungees can be handy for storing a spare paddle. I personally prefer a clean deck so only carry a spare paddle under my bungees.

Those foam pieces are flotation. They should be secured, not loose.

You can add a rudder to your kayak - the fittings are the items you circled on the stern.

There may be others in the community who are familiar with your boat and can better answer your questions. Wishing you many happy and safe days of paddling.

Hey thank you for the answers!

How do those two little foam pieces inside act as flotation? Are they there in case of a capsize? I don’t see how they really do anything when its upright. They get secured how? Glue?

I’ll have to look into the bulkhead and see if I can add it retrospectively.

Thanks again.


That actually looks like a Pamlico 135 in that video, same as mine. lol


Can you take a photo of those little pieces you mention? The grey foam used for flotation is not small.

When contacting Wilderness about that aftermarket bulkhead, you should ask if it is for the stern or bow. Their website shows there is a stern bulkhead installed in that model.

There is a bulkhead installed in later models, but not mine (2007).

Here is the foam…


There is a foam piece at either end. They are about 10 inches in length and about 3 or 4 inches thick.


Having those foam bulkheads may or may not displace enough water to make it possible to handle a problem if you capsize on the water. FWIW we had some ad hoc rescue clinics running at one point, open to anyone. A couple came with one of these boats and after 40 minutes of trying we had to conclude that an on-water rescue was not possible for this boat because of the huge cockpit. No matter what it trapped a tremendous amount of water, the couple that had it could not physically overcome the problem.

So before you decide how far from shore you will go, take it out on a warm day and capsize it them try to get back in.

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OK thanks, sounds good.

On foam blocks and bulkheads / flotation and support

There is 2 levels of flotation which a boat could have that make a difference.

The first level is enough flotation to prevent your boat from sinking (as in when you capsize, the boat sinks). Pretty much all boats now come with this level of flotation, and one of the jobs of the gray foam pillars in your boat is this level of flotation. To do this, they do need to be attached somehow to the boat such that if the cockpit floods, they don’t float out. Jammed in, bolted in, glued in, etc. are all ways this has been done.

The second level of flotation is when there is enough that a flooded boat still rides high enough that one can get back in and drain the boat of water, what is needed to be able to rescue yourself in deep water. Basically the boat has to float high enough with cockpit flooded that the cockpit combing(the rim) is above the water level. This generally required bulkheads at each end. Without this ability, to stay safe requires only paddling the boat within swimming distance of shore, as that will be how you rescue yourself when (yes, it is when, not if) you flip over.

The grey pillars also provide a second job - supporting the deck to keep it from collapsing.

Rudders are expensive and add hardware for no good reason in that boat, IMO. Unless you will be using it where there are strong currents or wind and that isn’t a good boat for that purpose.
Also, there are inflatable bags made to fit under the decks for additional flotation .

Thanks for the info everyone. I dont plan to add a rudder. I was just curious what those attachments were for. I also dont plan to use this on really open water. Basically some medium sized lakes and a small river. Nothing I could not swim to shore with. And where I go there are always other boats if I needed help.

I am going to try and glue the foam in. Right now they are jammed in but come loose easily. I am also going to look into the flotation bags… that sounds like a simple and easy way to add flotation. I plan to go with my kids, so the less I have to worry about the boat in a capsize situation the better.


Gray things, I think I’m getting a flashback!


NRS sells several configurations of floats. I would wait until you have some to try before gluing those pillars in.
And you have PFD for everyone , right.

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Andy, we’ve been here a long time.

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Yup we do.

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Float bags have the darndest tendency to pop out when water gets in there, and the bigger the cockpit the easier they do that. Spend some time mulling over attachment points before you sink dollars for float bags.

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A couple of pool noodles are a cheap way to add a little extra flotation/displacement. Cut one in half and jam them in both sides of the bow foam pillar. Just be sure there’s enough room left for your feet to avoid any potential foot entrapment issues. Shove the other remaining noodle in that rear hatch, wrapped around your dry bag sealed lunch.:wink:

As to use of the deck bungees, you might want to invest in and carry a good hand pump for the cockpit.

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OK cool that’s a good idea, which is what I was looking for.



Hi. I have this boat in my fleet, and I think mine is actually a little older than yours and it does have a bulkhead in the rear, so I think your rear bulkhead is missing. This boat does require the flotation to be glued in to the bow. I use Lexel to re-glue bulkheads. This boat will not sink, but she can swamp since she has so much open cockpit space. I can probably answer other questions since I use this boat a lot in my tour business.

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