Pungo Packing

It’s our 2nd year kayaking with our 120 Pungos (pungi ??) and I’m looking for input on potential overnight/weekend yakpacking. Nothing too aggressive, flat water and easy rivers. What’s your advice in packing gear into the Pungo? Can/should I stow in the bow? Pretty sure I’m going to need more space than the back hatch allows. Any tips from experienced paddlers? Thanks!

With any boat, it’s best to pack your gear so the boat has proper trim. Putting a disproportionate amount of weight in the rear will make the boat squat in back and handle like a pig. Too much weight in the front (though less commonly done) will still make the boat handle like a pig, but with the added problem of reduced directional stability. In general, the heavier the item, the closer to the boat’s midpoint you should store it, and that means the heaviest portion of the gear is best put very close behind the paddler. That’s because the farther from center the weight is placed, the greater the effect it has on trim, and the greater the “swing weight” that is created which makes it harder to change heading and reduces the boat’s ability to smoothly ride up and over waves. Remember the teeter-totter effect. A teeter-totter will balance with a heavy person on one side and a light person on the other, as long as the heavy person sits close to the pivot point and the lighter person is much farther from the pivot point. It works the same when keeping your boat in trim.

The other thing to keep in mind is that your gear-storage bags should be waterproof. The easiest method is to line your packs with heavy-duty poly bags. Staples Online is one source for poly bags in many different shapes, sizes and thicknesses. Otherwise you can use dedicated dry bags from various outdoor-equipment suppliers and paddling shops.

Thanks for the tips! After taking it out this weekend and getting used to it, the 120 seems like it has limited storage. Looks like I’m going to have to gear up like a backpacker!

Get a 140.

Here was an article I wrote for paddling.com abut 10 years ago: https://paddling.com/learn/kayak-camping-tips/ Was aimed at sea kayaks, but the basics hold true for recreational kayaks also.

Thanks Peter - I checked out your article earlier. Good tips!
String - yes clearly an upgrade to a larger boat would work. That’s too easy.

My wife and I used Pungo 120 ultralites for a couple of seasons. I think they’re great recreational boats but the design does have some serious trade-offs. The extra large cockpit is very comfortable but if the weather turns it does become a bit of a liability. I remember one day we went out on a large, flat calm lake and an hour later some 35mph winds came up. The insides of the Pungos did not stay very dry and we were very glad that we had a flotation bag in each bow. As you probably know, a swamped Pungo 120 without a flotation bag will need to be towed/dragged to shore as there is no way to right it. Still, within their design parameters I really like them. I just wouldn’t load one down too much, and like any seasoned backpacker, I’d be looking at smaller, lighter weight things to take with me.

@oldmrhare said:
…Looks like I’m going to have to gear up like a backpacker!

Look at it this way…By gearing up as a backpacker, you can now also be a backpacker. :wink: Two birds…one stone.

It may help to think of your Pungo as a decked canoe, and plan trips accordingly. Since the 12 has no bow bulkhead, you would benefit from some flotation there. Put your lighter/bulkier gear (such as sleeping bag and pad) in a drybag up there, and find or make an anchor point for it. Heavy stuff can go immediately in front or behind the seat. Smaller and lighter stuff in bags (dry or not) in the rear hatch.

It is not necessary in your case to spend large amounts of money on the best drybags, as long as you limit your trips to appropriate waters (as in, nowhere you might be far from shore or get trashed by big waves).