Pungo 120 vs. Pamlico 120?

I’m looking to get my first boat, and I am leaning towards a wilderness systems pungo 120 (pond/lake, and maybe the Hudson River – downstate not white water!).

Looking over the WS site though, it looks like the Pungo and Pamlico are VERY similar boats – does anyone have experience with both that could point out the differences?


bottom shape primarily

– Last Updated: Sep-18-09 11:54 PM EST –

The Pamlico bottom is more or less flat - it has the molded-in stiffening channels to try and make the hull a little stiffer, but even it it's stiffer, it's still a flat bottom.

The Pungo has a dry storage compartment, rather than just a storage hatch, and the bottom shape is a deep vee, which helps the tracking (on a short boat, particularly, they need all the help they can get). The price difference between the two models isn't nearly as large as the performance and features difference between them; unless you have a compelling reason otherwise, go for the Pungo and don't look back.

what he said…
“v” bottom for tracking and big chine flare for secondary stability in the pungo. wide flat bottom for stability in the Pam.

if you were in small creeks and shallow water the pam is better.

pungo is good all-round, efficient rec-boat.


Love the Pungo
I have a Pungo Classic 120, it was my first kayak. It is very stable, and I was always faster than my friends who’d go with me and rent Old Towns or other cheaper boats.

I haven’t paddled a Pamilco, but the Pungo Ive used on large inland lakes and rivers and I was never dissapointed. Its easy to get in and out of, very large cockpit opening.

Just my .02 cents

Pungo 120
Is a better choice especially since you are paddling the Hudson River. V bottom will help with tracking and speed in the wind. Also will handle a little more weight. Pamlico sits very low in the water with any sort of load, and on the Hudson, any slight chop will end up coming in at your hips. Also recommend the skirt for the Pungo. FYI, dashboard “dry” storage is not leak proof. Whatever you put in there, especially camera, keep in plastic bag for safety.

I bought a Pungo120 for my wife and she paddles with me on the CT River, salt marshes, etc. Even minor whitewater will not spoil your day. It works great as a rec boat, but will allow you to keep up with others in touring or other faster boats if necessary. Pamlico is more “rec”, and better suited to ponds, lakes and other protected flatwater.

Think it was
I tried one of these two at a demo day and didn’t like how far down I sat in it = i.e. it had really tall “sides” that made it hard to get in an out of and made me feel a little claustrophobic. I think it was the Pungo. Before I left I saw someone in a Pamlico and noted that the sides are lower.

But if you are large, or a little stiff or not flexible/agile I might go with the Pamlico, especially if you are doing streams/rivers. Pungo for for ponds and lakes if the bathtub sides don’t bother you.

Noticed that for 2010 the Pamlicos come fitted with a bulkhead, which is nice. So if you’re leaning Pam i’d wait till spring.

If you weigh over 200 lbs, I think a
120 isn’t enough boat.I weigh 230 and bog a Pungo down if I paddle hard.

Hate the Pungo
The deep v is very good on lake or bay chop and for boat wakes but it is awful in a shallow rocky river. Since I think that’s what rec boats are for I sold mine after tandem canoes did paddled right by my as I walked dragging my Pungo! Even when empty is had a deeper draft than some canoes.

deeper and drier, especially for bigger folks. a seat pad (1" or so) is great for smaller folks.


good observation.
the hull is narrow low in the boat and widens as the flare moves up. when you sink the sides below a certain point you do create some friction. The 140 is sweeeet for bigger folks!


she ain’t made for shallow waters! a canoe has much more footprint to spread the load!


choice you might consider is the Old Town Dirego in 12 or 14’. I paddled the 12’ on a 6 mile river trip and it handled my weight/size (6-2/210) very well. It’s not a speed demon, but stable,decent speed, bulkheads, excellent hatch (2) and a darn comfortable seat. I have seen the 12’ model discounted recently at some big box stores at $600. Good all around kayak with a big payload.

Pungo 120, etc…
Thanks folks for all the advice – I have looked at a good number of boats in the 12’ range including the Old Town.

I’m hoping to find an early season paddlefest in the Spring so I can try out a number of these boats to see what I like.