what kayak for river camping


I am relatively new to kayaking and looking to upgrade from my very basic 12’ Pelican to something I can mainly use for rivers and camping (storage and maneuverability). However, as I live in norther MI, I would like this kayak to do fairly well in all water types but that is secondary to river and camping. After doing some looking around online I have narrowed my options to the Evoke Navato 120 and the Wilderness Pungo 140. What is everyones opinions on these two kayaks, or any others, for what I am looking for?

Thanks for your advice,


Go with the

please describe better

– Last Updated: May-19-16 3:21 PM EST –

What do you mean by "all rivers" and "all water types"? If you are talking white water (rapids, etc.), then you will need a white water capable boat. But if the rivers are slow moving, then the Pungo (which is classified as a recreational kayak, so recommended only for calm, flat water within swimming distance of shore) could work.

Rivers vary everywhere from large slow lazy rivers to fairly quick sharp rivers with occasional class 2 rapids. Lakes are everything from little ponds to Lake Michigan. My main concern with the Pungo is maneuverability on the sharp bends.

Thank you

Broadening your horizons
If you are going to do Class II and above and Great Lakes you need better choices.

Jackson Karma is great, but all of these boats have limited capacity so you need to pack light.


14’ with two bulkheads
Tent, sleep bag, mat, food, stove, dry clothes, water gonna fill every bit of that up for 1-3 days camping.

Unless you’re into minimalist camping. Some could make an argument it’s possible to go smaller but when our group goes that’s what everyone takes.


– Last Updated: May-19-16 6:15 PM EST –


river canoe here is a Solo Plus hold 3 Bills Bags plus 2 air bags, 2-3 immediate use small bags. The Solo is a crooked river canoe, a stream canoe.

also in the garage is a Solstice Titan


paddlers in this forum describe the Titan as a 'pig'

including the cockpit, a Titan holds over 60 gallons of storage space.

If air bags are used, not enough room for a polyester sleeping bag.

With a canoe....everything goes in and the trip is deluxe.

with a kayak everything may go in or maybe not. At over 60 gallons.

I would somehow yield on the choice if the river were wide and windy: BIG WATER ! AS the Missouri or Mississippi....

we use freeze dried food packets. only cans are chicken parts,,,feet toes small parts...

BTW, a Titan turns on flowing water.

question about the Karma
Looks like a neat boat. They mention “big ocean play” but I wonder how much fun you can have in it in those conditions.

Sean Morely and Jeff Laxier in KarmaRG


I totally agree with the Canoe recommendation for this purpose. I have kayaks and canoes and my choice for your type of needs would be a nice solo canoe.

With only a stern bulkhead,
and 53" x 17" cockpit, you really don’t want to take the Evoke Navato 120 on Lake Michigan or any of the Great Lakes. While you could always add float bags in the bow, that’s a huge cockpit.

I watched a group of kayakers trying to fit all of their camping gear in their kayaks at an Adirondack put in and wind up leaving a lot behind. Camping in a kayak takes a backpacker ethic. Small and light. If you are able to do that then the kayak can work, but if camping is your chief use, then a canoe may be a better choice.

I’m a long time backpacker and know the virtues of going small and light, but there is nothing like going into the wilderness with a cooler full of steaks, burgers, chicken, eggs and a few ice cold brews to enjoy around the campfire. Add folding chairs, fishing gear, a portable grill and a roomy tent and you are in heaven. You can’t do that with a kayak.

Maybe I’m getting old, but I’m really enjoying going into the back-country with a few luxuries. A canoe allows that. With a kayak, you are back to freeze dried meals and a tiny tent. Not that it’s a bad thing. But consider your priorities. You aren’t going to get much into a Pungo.

I wouldn’t worry too much
about maneuverability. To a great extent, it is more about the paddler than about the boat. I’m familiar with Michigan rivers and traveled them in 18’ tandem canoes, 15’ 9" solo canoes and a 17’ kayak. Watch for sweepers & strainers - most Michigan rivers have a fine selection. Learn positive steering strokes and how to paddle backwards and how to ‘read’ the river.

Kayak camp (3 nights) often with my Malibu X13 sot and have plenty of room for gear. I can carry way more gear with it vs my P&H Capella. With its front gator hatch with below deck storage and rear well, it’s a freight hauler. View a few videos on YouTube to see what I mean.

If your primary purpose is camping
My first consideration would be a boat that is comfortable, but not a slow scow.

My second would be one that is 14 feet or longer, ( I do lots of camping out of my kayak and it is 18’ long), and yes, I paddle it in rivers and streams that are only a few feet wide.

My third consideration would be a boat with the largest compartment hatches that I could find, (the boat that I camp out of now has the largest on the market)

Jack L

I’d say that’s a “yes”!

short hull
paddlers are claiming the unusual beyond long hull norms.

Where are these short hull videos of loin clothed paddlers eating acorns n beetles ?

We do it…the stuff doesn’t fit. There is a dodge in buying that ugh down bag n a super waterproof dry bag. Then maybe the stuff fits. Maybe I’ll chill out. Bah.

Current Designs has a poly hull maybe for river camping. Boreal has long poly hulls with rocker ?

Try it as a dry run. Tape the floor for the yak storage then pile up the gear into cardboard walls masking taped to stimulate the yak storage.

a 2nd exception
hmm take a 2-3-4-5th look at down bags compressed cu’

are the Yellowstone lakes

stores before muh feet !