OT Loon 138 vs WS Pamlico 120

Hi, I’m new to posting on this site but have been reading/researching for a couple of years, ever since I began paddling a canoe frequently. Now I am looking for a kayak to use for fishing local lakes, small creeks/rivers with no rapids beyond easy Class II. I would also like to be able to paddle a few mid-length runs on the Mississippi or Missouri rivers.

Is there a kayak that would handle all of these pursuits? As in most things, being able to handle numerous conditions would mean that it was mediocre at all, as well. Thats ok, I’d would just like something that is lighter, more maneuverable than the 60# Bell Northwind canoe that I paddle solo when I just want to do a day on my own instead of with a partner.

I have found these two kayaks on Craigslist, the 2004 Loon 138 for 250, the 2012 Pamlico 120 for 350. The Pamlico is at the upper end of my budget as this is only going to be my entry-level yak and I’m sure I will upgrade when I have more of an idea of what suits me and my style personally.

My body size/shape is older/athletic with my 55yo chest falling into my drawers. 5’9", 200#.

Can anyone help me out here or am I not making enough sense?

Thanks in advance.


Loon 138
We have had a Loom 138 at our family cottage for nearly 20 years. The kayak get lots of abuse and very little care. It has held up very well and seems to work well for a lot of different folks. It is not a terribly fast boat but no slower than most recreational kayaks. The one issue you might have is that this is a heavy boat. I estimate it is well over 50 pounds.


Loon no longer available
Hi, thanks for your response. I just found out that the Loon was sold this afternoon while I’m stuck at work and was not able to go see it until tomorrow. The woman selling it had told me that she had another person looking.

I was concerned about the weight as well. After all I have a Bell Northwind in Royalex that weighs in at 60# that I frequently load up and paddle solo. I am really looking for something that will give me an advantage in weight and ease of paddling for my solo days.

Now to see if I can talk the guy selling the Pamlico down a bit from his $480 asking price. Thats way too high for a used boat that sold for probably less than $650, I would think.

At your size,
you’d probably be happier in a longer boat than that Pamlico 120. Too bad that Loon 138 was gone.

If you are seeing Wilderness brand kayaks in your local used market, I would suggest skipping over the Pamlico models and watching for a Pungo - preferably a 140, but definitely not shorter than the 120. They should also be pretty common, but are a better hull.

I agree that $480 is too high for a used Pamlico 120.

Pamlico 120
It’ll do just fine. The Loon 138 has the turning radius of an aircraft carrier. I wouldn’t want to take one through class 2 rapids.

I weigh substantially more than you and use a smaller boat than the Pam 120. It will handle your weight fine.

  • Big D

“easy class 2”, he said.
I guess we need to define that. My local easy c2 rivers are easily do - able in 14’ touring kayaks and rocker-less solo canoes. Other c2 within a day’s drive of here, I wouldn’t try in any touring or rec kayak. I read “easy c2” as essentially point-and-shoot.

Fair point.
Easy class 2’s in my region go from ledges where all you need is enough speed, to long shoals where it’s a straight line but you better have a skirt to keep the water out or be in an SOT, to long shallow stairsteps with no clear path through - but little penalty for getting hung up on a ledge. In fact, I frequently intentionally ground out in them to fish other chutes. I guess I was thinking about the latter type, where you have to pick your way through a series of little chutes, but either of the former two would be fine in a 138 (with a skirt).

rec boats - be aware of intended use
Both of the boats you are looking at are recreational class boats. Nothing wrong with them, so long as you stick to their intended use (and sometimes the marketing folks at the manufacturers aren’t as clear about intended use as they could be).

Recreational boats are made to be used on flat water. They are wide and stable, so hard to flip. But should you flip them, they are also hard (if not impossible) to re-enter while on the water. So the expectation is you would use them on flat water not far from shore. The mention of Class II is a concern, as that water isn’t so flat. The talk of being on the big rivers (mighty Ms) caught my attention also.

I wrote an article for California Kayaker Magazine a while back on the different types of boats. Can be read online for free at http://calkayakermag.com/magazine.html - issue #10, article starts on page 6. Might be worth a read to help understand the different types of boats out there.

Nice article
Hey Peter-CA, thanks for the tip. I read your article. Very nicely written and informative. My original post was kind of dated and I’ve done lots of research since then. After looking at several used yaks and refining my purposes, I went with an Old Town Dirigo 120 last week. Unfortunately with our winter weather there was only been one day I was able to get it out on the water before everything refroze. It paddled great, already realized my need for a spray skirt to help make the cockpit a bit drier. Can’t wait for another thaw to get back on the water.

Take care y’all!

Good choice.