Pungo UL120 vs Hurricane Santee126 Sport

I am trying to decide which kayak would be the best to buy. I will be mostly on lakes - smaller and larger. I am looking for the best maneuverability, tracking, and speed. I would like one that handles waves well. I am a smaller woman so I need the lighter weight to load and unload the kayak myself. In addition, I will be bringing along my dog so I need the larger opening.


– Last Updated: Apr-19-16 8:06 AM EST –

Any boat with a large cockpit, especially with a dog in it as well, can be an issue with waves because the water can come in and swamp the boat. That is why sea kayaks have small cockpit openings and are usually used with skirts to keep water out.

The use you describe for the boat is fine for a recreational boat - ie large cockpit and not intended to be in real waves.

What kind of waves are you talking about? Frankly, there is no boat intended for recreational use (like the Pungo) in which you can share the cockpit with a dog and will handle waves in a way a sea kayaker would call well. Or even adequately.

Is there a reason you have not looked at pack canoes, which tend to be quite light, and are more dog-friendly than kayaks. You would want to be nearer the shore rather than out in the middle of the lake, but they solve some of the issues of person plus dog better than a sit inside kayak.

Try Both
You should try both before purchasing.

When we first started paddling my wife and I were very interested in the Santee Sport. We went to a local, large specialist paddling shop to try one out on their local pond and the shop suggested we also bring along a Pungo UL for comparison. We were novice paddlers at the time but to our surprise we both much preferred the Pungo and we came home with two of them.

They are both very nice boats though with good quality fittings and comfortable seats.

Of course these boats are not meant for rough water and big waves but the Pungo is highly maneuverable, tracks well and is as quick as you’d expect a 12’ boat to be. We’ve been out in them in less than ideal conditions and gotten a little wet but still felt confident in the boats; adding a flotation bag in the bow is a good idea if you want a little more peace of mind.

Since then we have both moved on to longer, narrower boats which we feel help us improve our paddling skills but for easy conditions with a nice open cockpit I think the Pungo is hard to beat.

In that style of boat you should probably also throw the Current Designs Kestrel 120 into the mix. It’s a little more expensive and although I’ve never paddled one it’s probably a better boat than either the Pungo or the Santee.

Conflicted criteria
"Best" maneuverability and tracking. Opposite characteristics.

Small person and dog of unspecified weight .

Large opening and waves.

My $.02 is to make a realistic assessment of your use. If 80% of your use is with dog get a kayak for that. If 80% of your use is solo with light weight a priority look at the Hurricane Santee 100.

I’m guessing you’ll like the handling of the Pungo 120 but make sure the one you’re looking at was built correctly. I’ve seen two brand new ultra lite Pungo 120 with 1/3 of the coaming totally unglued and another with a partially glued hull/deck seam. WS tends to send out too many kayaks built at beer thirty.

There’s a big difference between a kayak for a 20# dog and a 50# dog.

Learning the difference between a forward stroke and a turning stroke can’t make a big difference in your choice of kayaks.

Well, there is that too…
The best boat for maneuverability is usually slow and tracks not so great. The best boat for tracking is faster but is will be poorer on maneuverability.

You have to decide on maneuverability or tracking/speed. No hull will do all three the best.

But the waves and the dog are a whole further complication - agree with the above. Determine you majority use and get a boat for that.

You make…
…several good points.

About the only kayak I’d want to put a 50lb dog in would be a tandem. I’m not sure I could train one to paddle though!

As to WS ultralite boat quality issues, I have personal experience of this with the hull coming unglued from the deck and the hard chine developing splits. My understanding - from my dealer who sorted this out for me - was that WS produced no thermoformed boats in 2014 while they addressed these issues. So buying a WS UL from 2015-16 might be fine, but I don’t think I’d want one from 2013 or earlier.

Perception Cove
I’m a newbie but I think the Perception Cove 14.5T is a tandem Kayak but I think it was designed to take things like kids and possibly small dogs.

I have boxers and they throw their mass around quite easily so take that into account that anything larger than 45lbs can affect the stability of any boat. Especially if they panic or see something they want to get at…say a squirrel on shore.

and sit on tops (SOT) go very well together. My 44lb Border Collie and my 11lb mini-weenie love to ride. Little guy on the lap and the Border rides in back on my Malibu X-13 (13’-10") SOT.

Have you considered a Sea Eagle 393RL Razor Lite? It’s a high pressure, drop stitch inflatable and holy cow, it paddles like a hard shell, kid you not. The have a hit on their hands with this one as it’s light at 28lbs, easy and fast to inflate the three Halkey valves, excellent tracking and glide. Specs are 13’10" long x 28" wide. Has two scupper holes to drain off any water over the bow/sides. Stoked on this one!


My beef

– Last Updated: Apr-21-16 12:13 PM EST –

Is that the defects are so obvious that anyone picking the kayak up would notice it let alone someone actually inspecting it before being wrapped up for shipping. For a small fraction of their advertising budget they could ensure adequate QC.

Btw there was a run of defective Slide-lock XL footbraces installed in 2015 Pungos and other WS kayaks that broke easily in regular use. Only way to tell is get a 200 lb person sit on the forward edge of the seat and push to the back of the seat and the footbrace will warp at its base then tear off leaving a sharp jagged edge. It was a bad batch of footbraces.

It's kind of funny how Necky and Widerness Systems design for showroom performance replaced standardized cheap and easy to fix adjustable footbraces with fancy, more expensive ones that break more easily or require a proprietary replacement.