New to Kayaking, Need Purchasing Advice

Greetings all. First time poster. Hoping to gain some advice and wisdom from seasoned and more experienced kayakers.

My wife and I are in the St. Louis area, this means we have access to a lot of rivers and lakes to explore and we’re looking to get into kayaking. However, we have no experience in purchasing a kayak and no one local to really turn to for advice.

My main stumbling point appears to be, quite frank, my size. I’m a bigger guy at 260lbs and most recreational kayaks don’t appear to have the capacity to support me, and those that do don’t often leave a lot of extra displacement for things like a soft side cooler with drinks/lunch and eventually our child to ride on my lap.

Here is what I’m looking for:

  • Sit In Kayaks.
  • Weight allowance of approx 300lbs after factoring weight of the kayak.
  • Decent to Good stability in flat, slightly wavy conditions and moderate speed creeks and rivers.
  • A storage compartment.
  • Comfortable seating.
  • Durable

Neither my wife or I are fishers so any of the big fishing accessories like rod holders and tackle boxes are not a factor for us.

After a couple days searching my wife and I are gravitating towards the Old Town Loon 120’s. They get excellent reviews, seem to have enough displacement for me and some gear, sound extremely durable, and we did have a chance to test drive one of the older versions of this model at our local lake and it seemed to handle very well.

I will be transporting these on top of a 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited if that’s a factor.

I appreciate any and all help you can provide. We are completely in over our heads but are hooked on the fun and want to start preparing for next season.

Just my opinion… if you want to carry a lot of stuff (and a child) I’d suggest a canoe. Paddle it with a double blade if you like.

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Thanks for the reply. When I say “some gear” I mean a small soft side cooler with a few drinks and lunch and a first aid kit. Since my wife and I will each have our own kayak we can split that load between the two of us. I don’t THINK that’s to much stuff, but I am new to this so I might be wrong.

I think the key words were “child to ride on my lap”. Maybe some folks can do this. I’m pretty sure I’d be whacking their poor head and I’d have to talk to Social Services about it. The Loon 120 may be perfect for your first boat if you can paddle it without losing custody of your child.

If your wife is a smaller person she would probably be happier in a boat with less volume than yours.

Just clarifying, this reads as though you’re subtracting the weight of the vessel from the stated carrying capacity?

According to what I’ve read that was how you determined capacity. You are supposed to subtract the boats weight itself from the total capacity of the kayak to get it’s available load capacity.

So for the Loon 120 that would be: 375lbs capacity - 54lbs kayak weight = 321lbs available capacity.

Am I doing this wrong?

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Your math is perfect, but I’m questioning the equation itself. Perhaps I’m being naive but I would be surprised that the regulations for stated boat capacity would require extra calculations for boaters based on boat weight. If you read this online could you provide a link to the source? I mean, if you modified the kayak, adding a 200 lb cabin, then definitely subtract that from capacity, but otherwise I assume the stated vessel capacity is for the bare hull in relatively neutral conditions.

If I am right then the capacity of the boats you’re exploring is higher than you think, which would be good news.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?

If you really must go for an Old Town Loon, make it the 138 Loon–if you can find one. I don’t think they still build them. Anyway, the 138 is much more appropriate for the weight you specified.

Too bad you don’t live near me, my sister has a like new Old Town (can’t remember the model, but I think it is 13’-6" and is more like a touring kayak with a rudder) that would be perfect for your wife and my brother in law has a 14 foot Dirigo that is in perfect condition. I also have a 138 Loon in better than new condition, but it’s not for sale. I still use it once in awhile in the winter for a quick workout at the town lake.

I actually called Old Town today and they confirmed that for some of their kayaks you must subtract the weight of the kayak itself from the total capacity listed on their site. HOWEVER the Loon series is exempt from that for some reason and the weight capacities listed already factor in the weight of the kayak.

As for having to have an Old Town, I’m not hung up on any particular brand. If there is a comparable alternative please let me know as I’m open to all possibilities. The Old Town ones are just the first I’ve found that can support my weight, are sit in, and sound to be built fairly stoutly built.

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This is facinating to me, thank you for confirming it, from the manufacturer even! You may be “new to kayaking”, but you’re doing your homework very well!

I’m now also considering the Wilderness Systems Pungo 125. It has many of the same specs as the Loon and seems to get excellent reviews.

At your size, you should be looking at the Pungo 140, not the 125.

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