Tsunami 125 or Pungo 140?

Hi. I’m new to kayaking (~20 hours on the water) but have fallen in love. I didn’t pay much attention the first few times out, but I think I have mostly been in Perception boats, 10-12’ long (I think they were all 10-footers, but I can’t be sure). I mostly kayaked on Port Royal Sound, SC (and connected rivers) and had a couple of outings on the Cuyahoga River.

I live in northeast Ohio and expect to do most of my kayaking on local, decent sized lakes (>1,000 acres), but the most local lake with boating is only 50 acres. I would like to be able to go out on Lake Erie (from Cleveland/Bradstreet) on calm days (< 2’ waves?). I don’t expect to ever do any whitewater in this boat.

I’m 5’8" and weight ~ 200 lbs.

I mostly want to row for exercise, solitude, and enjoying the scenery – i.e., to paddle and glide. I would like to be able to fish from the boat, but could live without it if that isn’t a realistic expectation.

I’m currently considering the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125 and the Pungo 140. I’ve seen the Tsunami 125 recommended over the Pungo 120, but not to the 140.

My concern(s) with the Pungo is that the cockpit feels really big, and I don’t know how well it will glide and track.

My concern with the Tsunami (125) is that it won’t handle as well on “big water” (Lake Erie) as the Pungo 140.

Unfortunately my local dealer doesn’t have a Pungo 140 (and showed no interest in ordering one for me) so I’ve no real way to compare. And LL Bean has both models on sale through August so I thought I might buy online.

Thanks in advance!

too small
Both of the 12’ boats are too short for someone your size for use on Lake Erie. The Pungo’s big cockpit is not a good idea for inland sea use either. They are wide, slow boats. For the price you are likely to pay for these new you could get something much more versatile used. Also, you should not venture out in the big lake without some instruction and practice in safety practices, especially capsize re-entry.

I think you need to get to a dealer that has demos. What are you doing next weekend? Take a drive to Lake Arthur in Moraine State Park, just off I-79 north of Pittsburgh on August 4 and 5 for the annual Regatta. Wind and Water Sports of Franklin PA is a big kayak dealer and they will have dozens of demos of various models that you can take out on the lake and get a feel for.

Meanwhile, look at this used kayaks in your area for a suggestion of a more seaworthy boat you could get for the budget you are considering for those too small new ones.


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Agree. Too small
I have a Tsunami 140 and I love it. I use it on a fairly large lake in the Adirondacks (41 square miles) and it works well even in tough water. It tracks pretty well. This is my first real kayak so I don’t have anything to compare it with, but it has worked well for me. Might want to test drive some boats. Good luck.

WS Tsunami 140 w/ paddle

– Last Updated: Jul-29-12 8:52 AM EST –

WS Tsunami 140 with rudder and paddle - Here is another craigslist ad in your area. A bit more pricey than the other boat, but there may be haggle room. The paddle is an adequate. You would need one any way.


Thanks! I actually checked Craig’s List to get an idea of what was out there – and saw the listing for the Tsunami 140 (which I can buy new for $1,000 so not sure why I would pay $1,200 used).

I think the Tsunami 145 is probably the best boat for me broadly speaking, but it is in a bit of a different price range than the 125 ($800 compared to $1,200).

I think I’ll have to take all your advice and get out to a larger retailer and try some different boats. But I think I’m leaning toward a Tsunami-type boat as opposed to a Pungo.


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Look at Perception
Take a look at the Perception Expression series. They are as good or better than the Wilderness System Tsunami line and cost $200 less. They are really good boats for under $1,000.

Expand your search.
There are a lot of really good boats out there that you need to look at. Be sure to see what Current Designs, Necky and a few others have to offer.

If you’re looking at used boats and new ones for that matter, be sure to check them for straightness. Polyethylene boats are notorious for getting bent if they are stored wrong and sometimes they come out of the mold crooked. Sight down the keel line with the boat upside down. Do not accept a boat that is bent, or dented–period.

LLBean.com is having a sale 20% off all wilderness systems kayaks. The Tsunami 140 is at $983.00.

Just a thought.

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My 1 Cent
Not sure how it compares to everything else, but a Conduit 13 from Perception Sport is a renamed Dagger Catalyst 13 touring kayak, and is rudder-ready. Not sure how it compares to WS kayaks, but it handles very, very well, and is only $550 at Dick’s.

The Pungo 140 is a Great boat
The folks I know who paddle the Pungo 140 have no trouble keeping up with us in our sea kayaks. They have bulkheads and hatches and are unlikely to sink, But they have big wide open hatches that will not keep out big waves even if you use a skirt. So they are more like white water canoes as far as rescues go. If you get one, I would recommend installing an electric pump.

For about the same price you could get a Dagger Alchemy L. It would only be a tad slower than the Pungo in my experience, but it operates like a normal sea kayak, so you could take it into any conditions your skills could handle.

I know – and I’m leaning that way
I was really trying to stay under $800 for my first purchase, but the Tsunami 140 is very tempting at this point. I was worried that the cockpit would be too tight for me, but I sat in one today and it was perfect.

I see some folks recommending Dagger and Perception boats. I know those are the same parent company as Wilderness Systems (WS) – can anyone corroborate my understanding, which is WS are generally better made (thicker plastic, better trim, more comfortable seating)?

I am tempted to go to Dicks and buy a Conduit 13 as one poster recommended, with the thinking being that I’ll get 1.5+ seasons out of it before wanting to upgrade, and at which time I’ll know more about what I really want.

Get the Tsunami and you may not want
to upgrade.

And get a good paddle and PFD.

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They’re all made …

– Last Updated: Jul-29-12 10:40 PM EST –

in the same factory using the same materials. The Tsunami is a fine boat and very popular. IMO the Perception Expression has equivalent or better features (i.e. comes with a skeg) for less money - possibly because they are a new design this year and are not yet in high demand liek the Tsunami. The Tsunami comes rudder ready (optional) while the Expression is also rudder ready, but comes standard with a skeg.

P.S. the Pungo is also a fine boat and quite fast, but because it was designed with a large open cockpit it was not intended for ocean or large lakes use where the water is consistently rough.

The price point may have you looking at just Wilderness Systems but if $ isn’t the solely limiting factor there are other options for you like the new Islay by Venture Kayaks. Other manufacturers such as Current Designs and Hurricane have models that’s be appropriate for the waters you plan on paddling.

Best of wishes in your new paddling pursuits.

See you on the Water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

www. the-river-connection.com

Handling on big water
Just to agree with some above - if handling on big water includes waves and managing a capsize well away from shore, the Pungo isn’t remotely it. And I’d say no go for Lake Erie anyway - even near shore I’ve seen those lake waves be steep and short period, stuff that is only reliably handled by a full out sea kayak.

If you look at manufacturer’s statements, they say the same. Rec boats are for flat water and quiet lakes - not inland seas that can suddenly ramp up with 3 ft plus steep waves in the space of 10 minu8tes that send motor boats screaming in for port.

At the least for Lake Erie you need two bulkheaded areas, perimeter lines and a small enough cockpit to take a skirt that will hold against dumping waves or surf. And some practice for yourself to be able to handle an on-water re-entry. The least you need is what used to be called a transition boat, one intended to have some of the features of a sea kayak with somewhat higher primary stability closer to a rec boat.

There are lots of them around - best way to try them out is to go out with someone who can run you thru an on-water self-rescue in one or a few of them. It’s tone of the fastest way to find out what features you’ll want in a boat for a long hold.

Lots of choices

– Last Updated: Jul-30-12 11:40 AM EST –

I also live in NE Ohio, but on the east side and I too frequent Lake Erie and many of the local lakes and rivers.

My wife and I own a pair of Tsunamis, the 140 for her and the 145 for me. At 5'7" and 210, the 140 is a better "fit" for me but we do several camping trips each year and I like the 145 for the extra cargo and weight capacity. We can carry enough supplies for 5 - 7 days with these touring yaks! I bought the Harmony hip pad kit to pad out the hip area on our boats and I replaced the high-back seat with the Harmony backband on my yak. These changes make a big difference re. re-entry and overall boat control.

I would agree that a 14' touring kayak (with two bulkheads) is the minimum you should consider for venturing out in Lake Erie. The 14/14.5" Tsunamis are good "do-it-all" kayaks that also lend themselves to lakes and rivers. My wife loves her rudder but I now actually prefer a skeg due to it's simplicity and ease of re-entry. While my wife is satisfied with her boat and does not seek to advance her skills, I have since purchased a Nordkapp RM and admit this is now my favorite boat for Lake Erie.

While the Tsunami is a good choice (with very comfortable seating), unless you also plan on camping excursions I would also consider some of the other plastic alternatives such as the new Perception Expression, Dagger Alchemy 14L, North Shore Aspect RM (if you can find one), Venture Islay or Easky, etc. The only shorter boat I would consider is the thermoformed Delta 12.10 which is rigged like a sea kayak but without a skeg or rudder option.

A touring boat with a higher degree of primary stability like the Tsunami would also lend itself to fishing as well. (I like my Nordkapp but it demands greater attention out on the water.)

While a few hours away, Riverside Kayak in Wyandotte, MI has a large selection of boats and you can demo them there as well:


Dagger, WIlderness, and Perception
Dagger is their white water and rough water brand. Most of their designs are for moving water. But their Dagger Alchemy is also a competent touring boat that is the choice of many Kayak surfers and rock garden players.

Wilderness Systems is their touring and fishing line. Even their surf boat the Kaos got re-names as the Dagger Kaos. They will have the latest in fishing and touring designs and the most up to date seating and outfitting gadgets in the boats.

Perception seems to be the discount line with older designs or more simple designs and more basic outfitting and hatches. In at least one case these older more proven styles are better than the current offerings of the other lines, especially when it comes to outfitting and hatches. I think their are some really good deals and my perception of the quality of all three lines is that they all are the same very good level of work.

very well said

Thank you!
Thank you! Lots to think about!

Combined with all your comments – and my wife’s desire that I not spend $1,000+ on a new hobby out of the gate – I think I’m going to focus on the Perception line of boats.

Considering that everyone is advising me to stay of Lake Erie in a 14’, I’m going to focus my needs on nearby large inland lakes (Mogadore, West Branch, Portage, all at least 1,000 acres).

I think I will primarily use the boat for exercise, developing kayaking skills, nature observation, and occassionally fishing. Right now I’m leaning toward the Carolina – having spoken with a dealer who suggested the Expression would be difficult for a beginner to fish from but at the same time not be noticeably faster than a Carolina in the long-term.

My main concern, now, with the Carolina is that I won’t really be able to use it to learn how to / practice rolling.

Perception discount line

– Last Updated: Jul-31-12 9:24 AM EST –

Also Perception has a "house brand" line called Perception Sport that has 31 models they evidently produce only for Dick's Sporting Goods chain -- these are stripped down versions of some of their better boats made to be mass marketed. It includes rec boats, sit on tops and "angler" kayaks intended for fishing. You have already looked at their Conduit 13 in that line.

Though some have safety and performance features you usually would not find in discount store kayaks (like bukheads and optional rudders), they do have cheaper seats, flimsier hardware, less rigging, finished not quite as well, compared to the Wilderness Systems models or similar competitors. They do this so they can be sold at around 15% cheaper than equivalent sized and styled boats. But they are careful in their product specs to avoid suggesting that even the largest of them (the 14' Rhythm) could be used anywhere but "slow rivers and calm lakes."

On one hand they may just be trying to maintain the distinction between the "full price" line boats and the cheapies, but it could also be that they are unwilling to stand behind the integrity of the boat hulls and fittings of these discount boats in rough or threatening conditions. A seriously leaking hatch or seat that breaks loose from the hull would be a real issue out on some big water.