Tracking & Stability on Flat Water River

I am in the process of researching kayaks so when I’m able to, I make a good purchase. Where I live we have a lot of flat water lakes, rivers, creeks, streams, etc. All I want is to get out of the house, onto the water and enjoy some me time in nature. I’m curious what everyone has for suggestions regarding tracking especially. I was just at Scheels and a sales person told me a 10’ boat would be ideal because it would be an all purpose boat that would track good (one he showed and recommended- the Dagger Blackwater 10.0 had a drop down skeg) and get me into the nooks and crannies of the rivers. I’ve kind of been under the impression that I should be in the 12’ range for it to track real well. I just don’t want a boat that will go in circles or that I have to struggle with to make it go straight. Also, what do is a good recommendation in regards to stability? I don’t want an oil platform but I also don’t want something so tipsy I have to make sure the contents in my pants pockets is perfectly balanced (LOL). Any ideas or advice would be much appreciated.

Thank you,


Pungo 120

– Last Updated: Aug-16-07 2:51 AM EST –

My 2 cents worth:

Wilderness Systems Pungo 120

The boat in the picture from this link is one of their Duralite models. The regular poly Pungo's look just like it (although less shiny) but do not have the black ribs running along the floor under the seat.

12 footer (small but not TOO small)
Tracks well (point it where you want and go)
Extremely stable
Relatively fast (for it's class)
Comfortable seat (best I've tried in a rec boat)
Some dry storage (most small boats have none)
Attractive boat, nice lines
High "Hop in and go factor" (good for beginners)

Good luck!

First sea kayak
You can start with an excellent article on this subject at

Click on the “Tips” link, and then the Sea Kayak Buyer’s/Builders Guide.

I think that a few demos and a lesson would be better than all the advice you will get here. Every boat is right and wrong for somebody. IMO it would be a mistake to go for the straightest tracking kayak, which will be hard to turn in tight quarters.

You probably want an all rounder, probably plastic, and not too expensive for your first kayak - used could make sense. You height and weight would be valuable to narrow down the field, as well as your budget. For nature and photography in tight quarters, you probably want a bit wider beam and less hard tracking kayak. Everything is a trade off, and you will lose some speed with this bias. If you are debating about a SOT, make sure you demo both types, and understand what you are getting and giving up with a SOT.

There are a lot of good manufacturers out there, and everybody will chime in with their own favorites (my own are Eddyline and Valley, the Eddyline Equinox is a great but somewhat expensive all around starter boat at 14’). 10’ is pretty short if performance counts at all, you could well be wanting a longer one soon.

A trade-up policy, or a popular kayak that would be easy to sell is a plus. The kayak you want now is probably not the one you will want after some time on the water. If there is a local kayak club, you could find out what type of kayak is popular, and probably get some advice and maybe a few demos there- also probably some advice as to the best shops in the area for advice and purchase.


Go demo
Tracking and stability are very subjective – people will have widely varying opinions based on their experience, skill level, and personal preferences. The only person who knows what feels good to you is you.

Most people find that stability and tracking both improve with more butt-in-boat time.

Necky Manitou
Make sure you demo this boat. I’ve had mine for over 3 years. Do mainly lake paddling, but have also paddled in 2 ft chop on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s not a boat for long distance touring, but tracks very well and fits my needs.

I agree
My husband has a Pungo 120, and I’m planning on getting one next year (upgrade from my 10-footer). It’s stable, tracks well, is maneuverable, and seems to be a good all-purpose boat for our use, which is calm lakes & rivers.

There are many
right choices as to brand and model that will serve you well. Based on your post, I think the 12’ range is right on. Give extra thought to the comfort of the seat. If you are able to demo for a short test drive, good. If you can demo one for half a day or longer, even better. At the very least, sit in the seat and ask yourself if you think you will be comfy in it 2 or 3 hours later. The performance of the boat can be perfect but if you are uncomfortable, you will be miserable. I learned that lesson the hard way.

I have never paddled a Pungo before, but I recently purchased a Tsunami which I think has the same seat. It is the best one I have ever sat in. Good luck!!

no such thing as all-arounder
Saddly, the reasonably priced all around kayak or canoe doesn’t exist. If you go for a kayak as short as 10’ for use on flatwater (at least sometimes) you will have to add width for stability. Short+wide=slow. For me, paddling a very slow boat any distance over flat water is too much like work and if you are going for just one boat, I would err on the side of making it longer and faster and then seeing how it handles on what ever rivers you want to explore. I think a used “recreational” kayak makes sense. Get out on the water and see what you like the most without making a big investment. Most people I know who paddle flat water and moving water more than just occasionally wind up with more than one boat. In that sense, investing a lot of money in a brand new “do everything” boat can wind up being money wasted.

Have you checked out, the classifieds on this website, ebay? You should be able to find a good rec boat that will give you everything you are looking for. A few months later, when you know more about your preferences, you can always trade up… Good Luck.


Stingray 12
If you like the Pungo 12, you might also consider the Stingray 12 (formerly a LiquidLogic model, now sold under the Heritage label). I have the 14’ model and have been very pleased with it.

Comments on Hurricane Santee 116?
I am also looking for a new kayak - my second one - for similar all-purpose use: mainly woodland creeks, streams, and slow rivers, with occasional lakes and tidal streams. I have been using a starter kayak, a 9.5’ Mainstram Fiesta, but I want something faster.

I demo’d a Hurricane Santee 116 in a lake yesterday and I liked it. Haven’t made a firm decision yet though - I really can’t afford to make a mistake. It’s made of shiny Trylon material. (?) Does anyone have any experience or knowledge of this boat? I would appreciate your comments. Thanks.