Newbie questions..12 v 14 foot yaks, etc

I’m a long time canoer and a new-kayaker-to-be.

I’ve settled on getting a rec Kayak and have it narrowed down to a Old Town Dirigo and a WS Pamilco.

I won’t be able to demo until the ice here in Michigan goes away.

My questions are,

Is there a big difference in tracking between a 12 and 14 footer? Is it more dependent on hull design than length? I need a boat that will do both rivers (Class 1 sometimes 2 rapids) and lakes. I know this involves compromise, but is the 14 manageable on a river for a fit and strong individual, or should I go for the 12? I could fit all the gear I need into a 12, so storage is not an issue.

Also, what is oilcanning?

Thanks for any tips, bashing or whatever advice you can give!

where are you
You said SW MI, but what city are you near?

This link may not help but it’s still entertaining to read.

the Dirigo 140
will be my choice (and I was looking at the same boats you are) mainly because I would like a cockpit big enough to bring the dog along on camping trips. It seems like a well equiped boat for a rec kayak and those cam lock hatches are pretty nice. The beam is a little narrower than the WS Pungo and Pamlico so that “might” help performance a bit. If it weren’t for bringing the dog along I probably would have chosen a 12ft though. If it doesn’t work out it should be an easy boat to sell or trade.

12’ vs. 14’
I have a WS Pungo 100 (10 foot) and a Tsunami 140 (14 foot). Differences - tracking is no real difference, I wouldn’t worry so much about tracking unless the boat is made more for swift rivers and manuverability. As you learn to paddle more efficiently, you will reduce tracking worries. The 140 is at least 1 MPH (or a little more) faster - crusing, fast cruise, max speed. This next is a BIG DEAL - the 140 has sealed bulkheads fore and aft, both for flotation and storage. The Pungo 100 has a single aft bulkhead - insufficient flotation up front without bag or more foam (I tested it in a lake, you WILL NOT pump it out as it comes from the factory). I am comfortable using the Pungo anywhere I am comfortable swimming to get it all back to shore. Weight - not a whole lot of difference - 48 versus 52 pounds. But the shorter boat is easier to “grab and go.”

Oil canning is when the hull bends or “gives” on the water due to chop and waves - it makes the hull less efficient.

wow! I didn’t know that!
Oil canning is when the hull bends or “gives” on the water due to chop and waves - it makes the hull less efficient…


if it’s a large cockpit you want…
…take a look at the Perception Sundance 12. I’ve got one in Airalite. The cockpit is only a couple of inches smaller than that on the Pungo 14. You could probably fit two dogs in there.

It handles nicely on Class I and II, but I wouldn’t want to take it down anything above that (that’s more a comment on my ability than that of the boat).

Good size storage hatch in the rear and lots of space up in front of your feet on either side of the foam pillar. The Airalite glides beautifully. I don’t know how the poly boat feels.

Thanks for the feedback!

I live in Kalamazoo,MI

Look at the Heritage range

12-14 footer?
There are tons of great paddling kayaks in this range. Please add to your list the new Hurricane Santee OC if a large cockpit is what you want. What we liked about this boat was that the cockpit was large but the kayak hull was not overly wide and didn’t paddle like a sheet of plywood. This boat will weigh a legit 36 lbs and that will mean you will carry it easier and on/off load easier and that is a huge factor. I see you live in Kalamazoo and there is a shop there-Alfred E Bike that stocks a lot of Hurricanes. Also Lee’s has plenty of cool kayaks. My last advice is don’t be too quick to get a huge cockpit especially if you are petite or medium size. Paddling a kayak that is too roomy is every bit as horrible as wearing boots 2 sizes too big on a hike. Sure it can be done but you’re missing out on a lot of control and WIDE boats with big cockpits coupled with smaller paddlers equals more knuckle banging. Now if you are big or have mobility issues, that’s another story.