Pungo 120 or Prodigy 12.0?

Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 or Perception Prodigy 12.0, which is a better boat?


Is this still the goal?
From your other post - “I’m looking for a Wilderness Systems kayak that I can paddle in the ocean, in canals, in mangroves and possible class 1 whitewaters or slow moving river.”

Neither of the above… a true hybrid would be closer. Unless all your water is flat wherever you go, like no salt water with waves. These are both pure rec boats, as in flat quiet waters per the manufacturer’s own statements if you read them carefully.

Yes, same goal
Bummer. I just came from the kayak place and they said both are good for mangroves, canals and ocean.

However, I live on the gulf side, and it’s not rough like the Atlantic side at all. I’ve been out in the gulf and through passes in my canoe.

They did say I could take either boat on class I or II WW if I had the experience.


Better then

– Last Updated: Aug-09-11 1:27 PM EST –

It sounds like the ocean is indeed flat - as in no waves. So better as long as you stay near shore.

I'd advise against the Pungo on class 2 because it'll swamp more easily than you'd like from smaller waves sets due to the huge cockpit. The more closed cockpit of the Prodigy, with float bags, would be a little better. But then again, used WW boats are dirt cheap so you may as well just wait on that one and pick up something old and can-be-beat-up.

That said, my guess is that the Pungo will track better than the Prodigy.

If your goals include rolling, neither of these boats are even close. Aside from getting on some of these bodies of water to paddle, is there anything in particular you want to do once you are out there? Just getting on the water is a fairly broad goal. Also, are you looking at new? Also advise against it - used is a better deal for starting out.

Visiting islands and geocaching
I asked them about rolling and they said the same thing. They said it can be done with a spray skirt but is usually not needed. That I’d pretty much want to grab it and swim it to shore to dump out the water.

As for what I’ll be doing, it is kind of open. I generally like to just explore the canals and find quiet islands. Mostly bird watch and Mangrove tunnels. I have done a few kayak/canoe geocaches and I enjoy that very much.

I agree about the WW. I sure wouldn’t want to ruin my sea kayak if a WW is cheaper and much better in WW!

I know I will also want to take it across the state and try to surf it, but only if it’s not reckless to do so. I’m still too new to know what these boats can do.

I liked the Pungo much more than the Perception. My next visit to the kayak shop I will test them in The water.

Why can’t a roll be done in kayak like these?

New or Used
They did have a used Pungo 120 but as it was in their rental fleet, it looked really rough and the seat was broken. They asked $475 for that.

The other Perception and Pungo were new.


– Last Updated: Aug-09-11 2:10 PM EST –

Rec boats are too wide in proportion to length and have a flat bottom. Too much primary stability and virtually no secondary. Hard to flip either way. Also you need a snug skirt on a regular keyhole or ocean cockpit and full float bags or sealed bulkheads so the boat doesn't fill with water.

World class expert kayak rollers like Dubside can roll anything -- I've even seen a video of him "rolling" a wide inflatable raft. But for us mere humans, a touring, sea or ww kayak is needed to accomplish that.

I would be a little leery of the salespeople who recommended those boats. What kind of store was this? Based on what you told us you wanted to do before, if you explained that to them I have to wonder what they were thinking. Unless they are under pressure to "sell from stock" or don't think you are seriously going to use the boat that much. OR maybe don't even know that much about kayaking, often the case in multi-sport stores.

Where on the Gulf?
I’m on the Atlantic side of FL, but Sweetwater Kayaks in St. Petersburg has the reputation of being the best kayak shop in FL (I’m sure some disagree, bring on the backlash)…Anyway, if you’re anywhere near that shop I would look to them for good buying advice and top notch instruction.

My first boat was a Venture Flex 11, which is rather “rec-boatish” but at least has a rear bulkhead and thigh braces. I put a flotation bag in the bow. I learned to roll in the Flex, and would recommend it as a good first boat, or you could go a step up and start out in the Easky 15lv or brand new Islay 14 also by Venture (which Sweatwater deals)

Kayak Tours

– Last Updated: Aug-09-11 2:37 PM EST –

I went to the local Kayak tour rental place. I've rented there before and the guide was showing me the kayak. Since I live here I am sure thy know I'll mostly be in calm waters. Like I said, even our beaches here are waveless. I see kayak at the beach all the time.

I asked them about class I whitewaters as an afer thought wondering if it would be possible. I'm not surprised they recommended those kayak though, because I did go in asking about Wilderness Systems because that's mainly what their rental fleet is. I rented the Pungo my first time out and really liked it.

Since I've only really been iN canals in my canoe I am not too familiar with water conditions outside the canals. I've been in the intercoastal a few times and it is flat except for occasional boat wake.

They did say they can order whatever kayak I wanted so I don't think they were trying to sell in stock. The companies here do a lot of tours and fishing since it's a tourist destination.

They had a lot of sit on tops but I just don't like being exposed like that, not sure why. They felt heavier and seemed to have less storage space.

They had Emotion brand too but he didn't seem too thrilled with it. I live in Englewood FL if that helps any.

Also, thanks for the rolling insight. Makes sense. Realistically, I won't be taking this kayak on whitewaters since I live far away from any rivers. I was just wondering if it was possible in a sea kayak.

I would strongly recommend getting a lesson from http://www.sweetwaterkayaks.com/ before you start spending serious money on gear.

Neither of these is a sea kayak

– Last Updated: Aug-09-11 3:35 PM EST –

They are rec boats - there is a huge difference. Are you under the impression that either these has sealed bulkheads, perimeter rigging or a small cockpit? No. But you seem to be calling one of these, should you get it, a sea kayak.

I have great balance and can take a 1 by 6 board a bit offshore, assuming it'd hold my weight. It doesn't make the board a sea kayak.

You are confused about the purpose of the rolling discussion as well. Rolling is not just a cute thing to do - in deep water and waves it is the only self-rescue which might work. And you are talking about going to shore islands, which likely puts you beyond the distance from land that would allow you to swim to shore. Assuming you can't capsize is a good way to manage it.

It sounds like the folks in the shop are assuming that you understand the limitations of these boats and will use them suitably, for example assuming that you'll be within swimming distance of shore. What you are writing here does not sound quite like that.

Second suiram above. If you really think that a Pungo is a sea kayak, you need to get lesson before you spend money. Have them work you in on-water self-rescues, since you'd be alone, for a crash course in the boat features you'll need.

Sea v Rec

– Last Updated: Aug-09-11 4:25 PM EST –

Yes, I'm a little confused as to the difference between sea kayak, recreational, touring and expedition! I'm on the sales sites trying to compare what each category of kayak does.

I know a roll isn't just a trick. I assumed it was just a way to right yourself if you tip over. I'd like to know how to do it if needed here. If not, I wouldnt pursue it.

Thanks for the insight. I'll continue to research. I am not sure now there's a kayak that suits my needs. I may just stick to renting.

It seems one kayak is good for calm water, one for ocean, another for camping and longer trips. I guess what I wanted was a kayak for island touring and mangroves that I could occasionally take out and launch at the beach too.

I'll save my money. Thanks guys.

Skip the computer
Drive over to Sweetwater and get a real lesson. If you are still that confused, you are not going to get it by looking at more web sites. You need to get in a boat, capsize and try to get back in before any of this is going to be clear.


– Last Updated: Aug-09-11 4:35 PM EST –

I may do that if I can. It's 83 miles away, so I'd have to make a day of it. :) But, yeah, reading can only do so much. I'll have to experience .

Kayak types

It can be really hard if you are doing your research from manufacturers websites.

ANd then the advice you get from here is distorted by each posters perceptions based on their experience filtered by assumptions they make about your intents.

Rec Boats are wider and have larger cockpits and tend to not have bulkheads, or maybe only one. They may have bungee rigging on the deck but won’t have deck lines which are made from regular rope and are necessary for rescue techniques. They are meant for calm waters but there are half a dozen people here who will tell you about taking there rec boat to play in the surf. I have taken mine offshore, and remember one memorable swell that washed over my daughters deck leaving about half an inch of coaming being the only thing that kept her boat from swamping about a mile offshore. Within sight of land, but not close enough to swim towing a flooded yak.

Among the other types you mentioned, they are basically the same thing but the difference would be in how much cargo space they have which affects the dimension of the kayak. Sea kayak=skinny, fast, no cargo space, Touring kayak = wider than a sea kayak with more space. Of course that is a WAAAY simplified answer. To go offshore idealy your yak would have at least two bulkheads, deck lines aka perimeter lines (not bungee cording), and a cockpit small enough that the skirt can be effective. The larger the skirt the greater the possibility that it’s going to cave in (and come off the coaming) when underwater.

The intercoastal
Here’s an example of the “ocean” I’m talking about paddling. It’s technically the intercoastal I think. I took the canoe out here.

The wake was a little scary but it was a busy boating day.


The Basics

– Last Updated: Aug-09-11 4:57 PM EST –

Ok, that makes sense! Thanks for the reply! The Pungo had plenty of space, because when I rented it I took only my backpack, GPS and water.

Another consideration of course is price. I do love the specs and look of the bigger touring kayak, but out of my range at this beginners stage.

I just don't want to get a kayak and find I'm too limited. Thank you for your simplified reply. I realize now how much I don't know! And thats good.

Here's another example of the water I want to be able to do, in addition to carrying some gear. I rented this one and loved the boat.



– Last Updated: Aug-09-11 5:06 PM EST –

A full length sea kayak, 17 and 18 ft, can have a ton of storage. Our expedition length boats each have considerably more space than the mid-range 14-15 footers that are alternatively called transition boats or touring boats by the manufacturers.

All boats designed and featured to be used in dimensional water and open ocean conditions are sea kayaks. Some are bigger and can carry gear for a long trip, some are closer to 16 ft and/or more petite and have less space. But they are all sea kayaks.


– Last Updated: Aug-09-11 5:34 PM EST –

I forgot to mention that I did look at longer kayaks. I loved the look of those and it did seem to have storage space. The only problem was I couldn't life it alone. I have a Subaru Outback and will be going solo mostly.

Some of the longer ones were really heavy.

Edit to add: $800 is about my budget. Otherwise, I would get a top of the line expedition kayak. Ha. :)

I said I over simplified.