Newbie needs 1st yak recommendations

My wife and I are looking for our 1st Kayak(s). We’ve ruled out the tandem. We’ll be paddling on lakes, slow rivers, and maybe eventually class I-II. We’re looking at 10-12ft. boats right now. The priorities as of now are 1. Stability, 2. Comfort, 3. tracking, 4. Price (~$600-$900) 5. acceptable speed.

We’ve test paddled the Pungo 100, 120, Pamlico 120 and Acadia 116 but haven’t been able to find a good variety of kayaks to test paddle in this area. In my very novice opinion, the Acadia was faster, but didn’t track quite as well. I can’t find Old Town boats anywhere nearby, except to sit in one (Dirigo) at an L.L. Bean store.

All this said, we’re leaning towards the Pungo 120 (maybe duralite for my wife). We are both tall, so a larger cockpit is desireable.

Any words of wisdom on making that decision would be very welcome! Since we won’t be able to try some of the choices, we’ll be relying heavily on reviews and feedback. We’ve spent the last couple weeks pouring through the reviews on this site and others.

Thanks in advance.


Large cockpit

Started last year, ended up with a pungo140, the wife with a Dirgo 120. She is happy as a clam, like to just put put around, no interest in expanding from that at this time. On the other hand, I am already regretting my Pungo, “Its great for the put put” but when I started to play in bigger/ rougher waters the large cockpit was a hindrance, not a help.

If you are sure you will not want to expand then a large cockpit rec boat is a good choice, if you want to grow, go with a reasonably sized cockpit kayak.

One other comment on priorities, my suggestion: Comfort, Tracking, Stability, Price.

Others will correct me if I am wrong, but in test paddling this year I haven’t run across a boat that is so unstable I just roll over, some felt like they would tip, but never a splash, and I think that a boat that feels tippy at the start will feel fine after the first hour or so.

Test paddle, Test paddle, Test paddle,

Good luck!!!



Dirigo 120 console
Thanks for the reply Capt.

Stability was probably rated #1 for us due to a bad experience we had while white water rafting a while ago(someone in the group had a bad day). I’m sure this will change once we gain experience and confidence with the boat.

We like the Dirigo’s, but when I sat in one, my shin’s scraped the bottom of the console when I went from knees up to legs stretched out. We may try it again to see how much of a pain it would be. We can’t find anyplace local to test them on the water though.

new kayaks

– Last Updated: Jun-06-07 9:46 PM EST –

Have you looked at venture kayaks? Try the orca or easky boats. They are light touring boats, british designed and affordable. They are also fast, comfortable, and track well. For a bit less than $900 you could easily get a 14 foot boat. You wont grow out of it in one season. My husband has his pungo classic for just one season before getting an easky from venture kayaks. He couldnt keep up with me in my orca. Initial stability and secondary stability are great. I highly recommend either one of these boats. We are lake and river paddlers with some class 1 rapids.

Don’t be too conservative
My suggestion would be to try to predict what you’d be doing a year from now, not now. I bought my first yak, a “stable” rec boat, about 3 months ago and outgrew it within a month. I returned it and I’m now using a 22" wide 16’ long sea kayak that I love.

I you can’t find a local place to test paddle, where would you buy? Maybe a day trip to some good kayak shops offering demos (call first) would be worthwhile if you’re spending close to $2K.

Go longer

– Last Updated: Jun-07-07 11:01 AM EST –

There's a world of difference in the Pungo from the 12 to the 14 ft model. Spend a little more and get a lot more boat. Tracks better, more storage, probably a little faster too (or at least seems so). Good luck!

For Old Town: Do you have any Bass Pro Shops in your area? They stock many Old Town models...getting to demo them may be another story...