Pungo 120 or 140

I am looking to upgrade to a Pungo 120 or 140 for camping. I am split between the storage of the 140 and maneuverability of the 120. I have very little experience camping and don’t even have basic gear yet but I hope to do 2-3 day trips with my 75 pound lab and possibly wife too in another boat. I plan on mostly doing rivers in northern Michigan (up to 3mph, some sections getting up to class 2, some described as “quick, tight and sharp bends”, some calmer rivers) and maybe some calm lakes as well. Which length do you recommend?

Thank you

not a great choice
The Pungos have vastly oversized cockpits which makes them unable to support a sprayskirt. This means they are unsuitable for whitewater. They are designed for “recreational” paddling which means flatwater ponds and low current rivers.

They are also relatively wide and flat bottomed which means they are not particularly nimble for the directional changes and lumpy water of rapids. Furthemore, the 120 doesn’t have dual buklheads and will sink if swamped unless you you use an inflatable flotation bag in the hull bow.

Honestly, Pungos don’t belong in class 2 waters and are certainly not an “upgrade” if that is your intention. There are better choices for what you are planning. If you are planning on hauling the dog you would be better off and safer in a canoe or a sit on top. There are also some hybrid kayaks that offer some safety features for mild to moderate whitewater, but these also sacrifice some performance on flat water.

First things first

– Last Updated: Sep-21-16 9:55 PM EST –

I started paddling & overnight camping last summer, and have done it a lot this summer. I'd start by getting your camping gear sorted out. Think like a backpacker and get gear that's compact & light weight. You can afford a few small luxuries in a boat instead of a backpack, but size and packability is very important. Once you have your camping gear figured out, set it in front of you and you will get a quick idea of the boat size you need. Looking at that pile of stuff on the floor is an eye opening experience.

My 2 cents would be two inflatable kayaks. I have friends who paddle the Sea Eagle Fast Track kayaks and love them. Your camping gear and dog will fit much better in an IK, and based on your desire to do some river paddling an IK will be much more stable & safe.

I'm coming to paddling after 20 years of whitewater rafting class 3-4 rivers. Class 2 rivers need to be taken seriously. Class 2 rivers can have definite safety consequences if you are not experienced. Class 2 if not for casual paddling. Have fun, but please stay safe.

Look at manufacturer filters!

– Last Updated: Sep-21-16 10:06 PM EST –

I just did what I am sure Wilderness Systems hopes everyone does. I clicked on recreational kayak type and water up to class 2.

Guess what - NO Pungos came up from those filters. Which means that Wilderness Systems does not think that Pungos should be there. They came up with Aspires, Tarpons and I think a Zephyr.

For all the reasons in the above post Pungos are flat out the wrong boat for your stated environment. Which is really two problems. One is that you could have an unsuccessful or even dangerous trip. The second is that you will likely regret the money you spent on the Pungo and wish to heck you you had used those bucks for a more apt choice.

As to the wife and dog, you could end up with a hurt dog and be blamed by your wife. Leave them home or have them meet you at the camp site. Or get boats to do this safely, bring your wife and board the dog.

Maybe I’m missing something.

Where do you expect the 75lb Lab to sit? A Pungo has a large cockpit but you and a dog that large won’t fit into it.

You might want to take Raftergirl’s suggestion and look at some inflatables, like the Sea Eagle Razorlite 393 inflatable kayak. It’s gotten some very good reviews, people report it being a great boat for hauling a dog, and you can get the boat plus paddle and pump for around $899, about what you would pay for a Pungo and paddle. I still don’t think it would be the best choice for class 2 but would handle open class 1 foamy water.

I had not noticed how big your dog was – not realistic to haul a large breed dog in the cockpit of a sit inside rec boat. Canoe is still your best option for the dog but you need to know how to paddle whitewater before venturing in such streams, especially loaded down with camping gear…

Sea kayak or tandem canoe
Most of the guys that I know that go tripping in kayaks use big boats – sea kayaks with hatches in the bow and stern. You’ll be surprised how much stuff you are going to have to fit in the boat for a multi-day trip, and carrying capacity usually trumps maneuverability even on river trips. For a trip with your wife and dog I’d suggest a tandem canoe – the bigger the better – 17’ or 18’.

or a pack boat
They paddle like a kayak and make it much easier to carry gear. With the 14 - 15 foot version you could probably fit your dog - too bad they are so expensive.

I have a 140 Pungo
which has little or no rocker and find it is more difficult to turn than my 15 and 17 ft. kayaks with moderate rocker.

echo the canoe recommendations
and the recommendations to work your way up to Cl II, with or without the dog.

I guess I should have been a little more clear on the dog, yes I was hoping he would fit in the boat with me, which is why I was leaning to the Pungo. No he is not doing class 2 with me, just the clamber rivers and lakes, I just want something that can do everything I expect to encounter. I have done these class 2s in my 12’ cheap pelican with no problem or skirt and got hardly any water, they’re just small stretches. I do like the advice of getting gear first to see how much space I’ll need. Thanks for help

Go with the

If you weigh over 180, go with the 140.

If you want whitewater capability, look at the Axis 12 from Dagger (same parent company as WS). Deeper hull, a design that’s better suited to moving water than the Pungo, which is designed to be a flatwater boat (when it first came out, it was marketed as a hunting/fishing boat, not a rec kayak).

If you want a longer cockpit opening, but still seaworthy in moving water, the Rip 12 from Necky is an option. Find a shop that has both, and try them on for size.

I think you will be much better off…

– Last Updated: Sep-24-16 11:31 AM EST –

Since your primary use will be camping, sometimes with the dog and woman, I think you would be far better off with a canoe.

Using a rec kayak for camping is stuffing a square peg in a round hole. If you went with a touring kayak, different story