I am between a Old Town Dirigo 120 and a Pungo 120. Does the Old Town Polylink 3 really offer any advantage to Buoyancy (floatation) and possibly dismiss the need for a front float bag ? Also wonder if it lends to cold water paddling as a better insulation ? I have tested both , Pungo appears that it may take on more water due to less height, and reviews say the front foam block is insufficient as floatation, that creates curiousity about the Old Town Polylink 3 as increased floatation. Overall I felt the Pungo 120 tracked better and was more responsive and faster then the Dirigo 120 and offered a better seat, but the Dirgo offer some nice features and maybe the seat is just as nice ?? Any return thoughts are appreaciated…
Don’t Buy That “Floatation” Line!
yeah, the boat will stay afloat but you'll never be able to get back in after a capsize because the coaming may be only a couple of inches above water. You'll still need floatation bags to displace water in a capsize.
Polylink is stiffer than most plastic though. Insulation? Never noticed feeling cold in any other boat that's not polylink.
(Former loon 138 owner)
Get the flotation bags
I have filled my OT kayak with water to test the claim of added flotation in Polylink 3 and it sits with the cockpit coaming just above water level. For me that wasn’t good enough and I now have bow and stern float bags. As for the Pungo, the foam pillar will keep it on the surface but the real benefit of floatation bags is to limit the amount of water in the cockpit should you capsize. Both models will hold a huge amount of water in the cockpit that must be removed before you can re-enter. I would recommend flotation bags in any kayak without bow and stern bulkheads.
If you're talking about a brand-new Dirigo 120, it may not be made from Polylink 3. Old Town now says it's made from "Variable Layer Polyethylene", which basically means that some hull (and presumably deck) areas will be thinner than others.
The so-called "built in flotation" of Polylink 3 is so minimal that it's useless, as the other posters pointed out. Worse, that marketing hype leads some people to believe they don't need flotation bags in Polylink 3 boats. They do, unless the boat has bow AND stern bulkheads.
I own a Loon 111 in polylink 3 and can definitely confirm that it provides insufficient flotation. It floats alright … about like a submarine with only the top of the conning tower above water. My wife owns a pungo 120. Both yaks need additional floation added. My loon does not have the new style OT seat so I can’t speak to that, but I can say the Pungo Phase 3 seat is excellent, imho. I wish I could find a used Phase 3 seat to install in my Loon 111. As for the insulation value of Polylink 3 … it’s minimal, but I really like the added stiffness of the Polylink 3 compared to the more flexible plastic of the Pungo.
No to flotation, yes to insulation
My first yak was an OT Castine.
Don’t forego the float bags if you lack bulkheads front and rear. The boat will fill with too much water in a capsize. Even if it does not sink to the bottom, it will be impossible to empty unless you drag it to shore first. My husband and I found this out the hard way with his OT Loon 138, which has no bulkheads.
I do think the Polylink structure provides a little more insulation than regular poly. When I paddled the Castine in late fall, I was amazed to find that my bare legs stayed comfortable even though the water was cold. (Yes, paddling in shorts at that time of year was a bad idea but that’s a topic for another thread.)
I have a Dirigo 140
and just thinking about the physics of dealing with a boat with a rear compartment and an open bow was enough to convince me I needed a bow floatation bag - the flotation of polylink aside. If I had to try to get back in after being swamped with a paddle float I wanted the boat level - not assuming the position of a crash diving submarine.
Put a float bag in the bow.
Polylink is heavy in comparison to
regular rotomold plastic. But, I like my Loon 138 for fishing and paddling flatwater and slow moving rivers. It tracks true, but can be a mutha to turn in a tight spot, you learn to work with it. While the kayak may fill to the top of the coaming, it still floats with you in it if you can get back iside, but would be a bitch to paddle with several hundred pounds of water in it. I do like the hull stiffness, no oil canning to speak of with this kayak. No speed demon, but good staight tracking a nice glide for such a wide kayak. Great stability. But, the Pungo is nice too and would have been my second choice had I not gotten the Loon so cheaply.
I have seen other posts about paddling a kayak with water in the cockpit so I gave it a try. With the cockpit about half full it is not difficult to re-enter but as soon as I tried to paddle it became clear that is wasn't going to work. The boat was uncontrolable and rolled back over spilling me back in the water where I started. In short paddling a swamped kayak back to shore is not an option. You have to get the water out first.
Unless you can get more than half the
water out, its still going to be almost impossibel to paddle, even then, it would be difficult. I haven’t flipped my Loon 138, but did my Necky Sky. It filled with water, the bilge pump was next to useless, so, with my pfd cinched tight, I swam and towed the thing to where I could dump it, about 500 yards. No fun, especially with alligators around.