Pungo 140 vs Elie Strait 140

Hi! Just getting into this sport. I’ll mostly be paddling lake tributaries and calm rivers until the skill set improves, then maybe some class 1 and 2 rivers or maybe the ICW on a calm day.

Can anybody that has experience with both compare and contrast the Elie 140 and Pungo 140?

After a LOT of research, I was basically sold on the Pungo 140 for my needs. I went to REI to check out the 120 and get an idea of what it was all about. While there I saw the Elie Strait 140 XE (not sure I want the XE’s rudder). It seemed much better built, and other than (easily fixed) leaky hatches, cheap stickers, and foam that needs more glue, nobody has anything bad to say about it… or the Pungo.

I have been unable to find direct comparisons anyway. I’m looking for all the usual stuff: handling, speed, stability, fit, and overall impressions/comparison between the two.

Thank you.


Forget the Pungo if you want skills
It is a rec boat - easily spotted by the barge of a cockpit. Getting skills for moving water and the Pungo are incompatible ideas, and if you read WS’s own stuff they will agree.

For skills for moving water you need a non-Titanic sized cockpit, both to limit getting swamped and to be able to hold a sparyskirt worth a darn, and three points of contact indluding thigh braces. I don’t know if the Elie boat you mention has a good fit, but from the pics on their site it is a heck of a lot closer than the Pungo.

If you really want to do a bit of class 2, you should also get used to the idea of a swim. Even class 2 can throw you some nasty surprises when you are new. And helmets are good for that phase…

Paddle, Paddle, Paddle
The Pungo is kind of like the Lincoln Towncar of the rec kayak world. It is a nice big comfortable ride that is very popular but really is only meant for calm mellow lakes or streams.

Try to actually paddle kayaks more and research on the internet less. Stores like REI and EMS do carry good kayaks but my local REI does not rent kayaks while the local EMS does. While I like both stores and their staff sometimes the sales staff are not the most knowledgeable depending who helps you.

Try to get to real paddling store. Also, lots of people on here can give you some good ideas of kayaks based on your sex, height, weight, and feet size as well as the type of kayaking you want to do. The area you live and kayak in matters as well.

The types of water around you matter as well. Where I am rec kayaks, ww hybrids, and transitional touring kayaks are the most common, with white water kayaks showing up more as you move towards the mountains, and the best suited for the type of water we have.

You are looking to spend about the right amount of money to get a good kayak.

At REI or EMS, you might want to also consider the Carolina, Alchemy, and Tsunami lines. The Alchemy is probably the best regarded of the bunch if you want to do more moving water. Don’t know much about the Elie – not sure I have seen one around me.

where are you Rusty?
and which rivers do you want to paddle?

Most Class II rivers (easy, with a few riffles) are paddled up here in MI w. all sorts of rec boats, tubes, SUPs, as well as daytouring kayaks and even full on seakayaks.

Either of your choices will be fine on a Class I or II river (as a rule. Perhaps the Class IIs in your area have faster sections in spring moving them up to Class II+, or even III.) Classifications are murky, not ironclad. You either scout the river stretches you want to do, go w. experienced ppl, gather local beta. Preferably all three if it’s a totally new river to you.

Class III no go with either kayak, imo. They don’t have the stiffening in the bow to prevent collapse and pinning which oftentimes results in drowning. WW kayaks are built more ruggedly to withstand that.

If your desired rivers put you anywhere near rocky outcrops or shallow (boney) bottoms then wear a helmet. A broad, deep mellow Class I or II - not so much. But do learn your deep water rescues for those. Learn your swift water rescues for fast rivers. Learn boat control for all rivers.

I don’t think either of these boats will accelerate your skills in these areas, or make them easier. FWIW.

Elie Strait is better except for hatches
I haven’t paddled either kayak. The other day I looked the Elie Strait over pretty carefully, when I was looking for a new seat. The Elie seat is quite comfortable, one of the better ones. (But so is the Phase 3 seat in the Pungo).

I thought the hatch covers on the Elie were pretty sketchy. There’s no rubber gasket to keep the water out—just hard plastic against hard plastic. Several reviews at pnet complain about a lot of water in the hatches.

Here’s a nice comprehensive review of the Strait 140: http://playak.com/article.php?id=11627 It says about the hatches, “After a rolling session we noticed a serious amount of intruded water in the compartments.”

Here’s a good video review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4T8FGUG0Gm8 It too mentions “a significant amount of water infiltration” in the hatches. That’s really not acceptable. It makes you wonder about the manufacturer, why they would not correct such a serious problem. I wonder if there is any home remedy for this leaking.

The reviews are positive for the Elie’s handling and storage capacity.

The material seemed very stiff to me, a lot stiffer than rotomolded. Elie describes it as “thermoform” but the finish has nothing in common with the usual shiny polish on other thermoformed kayaks.

Should be a good kayak if you can do something about the hatch covers.

Pungo is great but limited
My wife has a Pungo. She loves it. It is wonderful for her because she has zero interest of paddling in moving water or in anything other than calm protected water. She has no interest in developing the skills needed to paddle in anything other than flat, calm, protected water. Frankly, I wish that were not the case because my interests are different. I have, very gently, encouraged her to raise her horizons but it is clear that will not happen. So, we enjoy the quiet water lily dipping in our area and in the areas that we travel to. I do my own thing without her now and again. Life is good. But, if you are interested in learning to kayak in anything other than very calm protected water the Pungo is not your boat. It actually prevents skill development because is is too wide and you can’t use a spray skirt. I can’t speak to the other boat you are considering.

quite different
The Elie has the form and features that would allow you to use it in large windy lakes or in coastal sea waters. The Pungo, with it’s wide beam, flattish hull and gaping cockpit, is really only suitable for calm protected waters. As others have pointed out, you will be greatly limited both in developing skills and in the environments you will be able to paddle if you choose the Pungo.

Have you looked at other models? There are several in the similar style and size range to the Elie that don’t share the hatch leakage issue.

Atkinsr, I think you should expand your search beyond the two models you’re looking at. Personally I would never consider a kayak with a known major hatch design problem, unless I knew there was a way to remedy it.

As a beginner with a plan of paddling both rivers and the ICW eventually, you should be looking at what is called a transitional kayak, meaning between a recreational and a sea kayak. This is about 13’ or 14’, with two really watertight hatches and a moderately large cockpit opening of about 17" x 33", depending on your size. You need to avoid an overly large cockpit opening to keep out rough water. Anything over 35" long is considered a recreational cockpit and not suitabled for large bodies of water.

Thank you everyone
After reading all of this and thinking it over, I’ve decided to heed the advice and go for a slightly more “serious” boat in the lines of a cross over or day touring model.

Ive done a lot of research and crossed quite a few off the list, and am ready to start testing. It’s quite the challenge trying to find more than one boat I like in any one place (or even two places close enough for a same day paddle) so I can compare them.

Warning: Long ramble follows.

I took a 6 hour class this past weekend and spent the day in a Current Designs ‘yak. Not sure of the model (decals gone). It was a 14 foot. Judging by pictures, I think it was a Kestrel 140, but could also have been a Whistler or Vision 135.

Impressions of that boat: Tracked good. Initial stability was fine once I got my “sea legs” on. Secondary stability was very good, though a bit too…smooth. There was no real break before rollover/capsize. I could swamp it on edge (no skirt). Mixed feelings on this. It felt slow at cruise, and carving a turn just doesn’t happen, period. The instructor laughed at me for trying with this boat and suggested a different boat if I wanted to practice carving and edging. Hatch lids pop off during capsize - on both mine and the one other that was there. The other one ended up vertical, so we got in a lot more rescue practice than we had planned.

So, what would I change on it? Better turning characteristics without significantly affecting tracking. Higher cruise speed. Slightly narrower cockpit- I felt a little too splayed out when properly braced and it was a constant challenge to not bang my hands on the outside (the way too short paddle didn’t help here), Hatch lids that don’t disappear when I need them.

In case anybody is interested:

I’m looking for:

23-25" wide, preference to narrower

14-16’ feet long, preference to shorter end of that range

Must have a day hatch or deck pod: It was a real hassle working with others every time we wanted to get something out/put something away. I can’t imagine doing this at all in rougher waters.

dual bulkheads

grab handles

adequate deck rigging

Perimeter/rescue lines

skeg or rudder

mounting plates for stuff like a compass, rods, etc. would be nice.

Probably some other stuff that I’m forgetting here.

The short list:

Elie Strait 140 XE: Still concerned about hatch leakage, but it’s worth a try. The leaking hatches seems to be a per-boat thing… Need to test the one I will buy if I settle on this model. Pretty boat (love the two tone).

Dagger Alchemy 14.0L: It’s hard to find a bad word said about this boat.

Venture Islay 14: Love the light weight (45 lbs) and slightly narrower width than the above two.

Venture Easky 15: This one is recommended a lot. 48lbs.

A few others I’d like to try, “just because”:

Venture Capella 160: Not really in the same class as the above and several inches narrower, but I’d love to try it. A 16’ boat is borderline unmanageable on some of the rivers/streams that I’ll be on.

Hurricane Tracer 165: Again, too long and narrow, no day hatch, but it sure is purdy. Mixed reviews on paddling.net mostly around stability. Probably not for me, but I’d like to give it a paddle.

Day hatch
I wouldn’t consider this a necessity as it will really cut down your options—not many transitional kayaks have them. I have a fishing-tackle bag in the cockpit in front of my feet and buckled to a deck bungie. I keep my wallet, camera, and any other valuables in a small waterproof box ($10 at Walmart) in the tackle bag. Everything I might need while underway goes in there: water, lunch, binoculars, personal items. Keys go in my PFD. Larger items like a folding seat go in the hatches.

A deck bag is another option, though less desirable in my opinion as it affects wind and balance and isn’t waterproof (at least mine isn’t). It’s convenient though.

I had a day hatch once and it wasn’t waterproof.

mid size kayaks
A lot depends on your size - for these kinds of kayaks fit starts to become much more important so you’ll need to get out and sit in a bunch of boats to find the one that is most comfortable for you. On water demo is great if you can, but if the boat isn’t comfortable on the shop floor it’s not worth demoing on the water.

Alchemy is a great boat - I have an Alchemy S that I really enjoy. Does have a day hatch and responds well to edging and is a blast to surf.

North Shore Aspect/Aspect LV. Similar to the Alchemy, tracks a little better, better hatches for keeping water out, no day hatch, though. 14’ version of a sea kayak, will do everything a 16’+ boat will do with just a little loss in cruising speed.

Also look at: Necky Manitou 14 (skeg) Necky Looksha 14 (rudder), Wildy Tsunami 140/145 (may be too sedate if you’re looking to advance skills).

Call me perverse, but…
I actually enjoy rolling/capsizing a boat. When I’m tired of paddling and getting bored with the scenery, it’s something interesting to do, and rescue practice is always a good thing. In addition to the practical aspect of being able to get your stuff yourself (even if the day hatch isn’t dry and you have to store things in a dry bag/ziplocks), it keeps things from floating away.

When I practiced a self-rescue this past weekend, I had nothing but an empty water bottle, secured the best I could - behind the seat, tucked into a strap with the top under the combing. The river had a 0.5-1mph current… not even noticible unless attempting to sit still for several minutes.

You know what comes next: By the time the self-rescue was completed, I was again set and ready to move out, that bottle was probably a 1/4 mile downstream and I had to go chasing after it. For some, a day hatch is a luxury, for me, it’s a must-have, and I have happily crossed-off otherwise very good boats because of it. If for no other reason than to avoid buyer’s remorse towards what will be my biggest purchase this year.


– Last Updated: Aug-13-13 12:05 AM EST –

I wouldn't reject a great boat due to lack of a day hatch --- why not just tether your water bottle with a thin line to avoid losing it? I use plastic clips that are kind of wimpy - they pull open and release if any significant force is put on them, so you don't have to worry about entanglement issues.

The more I paddle, the less I access while on the water - pretty much everything is in my PFD, except for a pump and paddle float inside the cockpit and a spare paddle and jacket under the deck rigging. The rest is in a hatch and can usually wait until pulling over somewhere.

PS From your list, I would go for the Elie 140, I really like the looks of that boat. Maybe the hatches could be retrofit with thin adhesive minicell foam on the mating surfaces to reduce leaking. There's also the Walrus Griffin, a nice-looking boat, but maybe too narrow at 21.75".

love my Easky 15! I’m 6-2/215 and this kayak can hold a lot more weight than me. Hatches are drum tight…not a drop on self rescues or rolls. The P&H/Venture line uses a stronger rotomold plastic…go see/feel a Capella and you will notice the difference. Can’t say enough good things about this well thought out kayak.

Here is a good video to see some of the features: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi-XS6afWpU

Mine is this same color…called Lava

Foam on hatch
I was wondering about this possibility as well. Has anyone ever done it?

It’s disappointing that Pelican hasn’t attended to this problem given the number of complaints. It makes me wonder about overall quality control.

They’re great used as designed
I own both,used as intended they’re great craft.I just did a 20 mi. day on the Suwannee River,in the Elie.No problems,I don’t think I could have done it in the Pungo.