what's wrong with a rec boat?

-- Last Updated: Mar-23-06 1:15 AM EST --

I'm a newbie here and a newbie to kayaking in general. My wife and I have been looking for an activity that we could get out of the house and enjoy together and we have been on many guided kayak/canoe trips that we really enjoyed. So, we did our research and found 2 boats that seemed to fit the bill, WS Pungo 120's. Seemed like a well built, comfortable boat that could handle most situations reasonably well. We just wanted good all-around boats for some weekend fun, but it seems like most posters here look down upon the rec boat. Are they so bad that we should consider different boats because we will get laughed off the river? Do they scream "beginner"? Will we find ourselves dissapointed with our decision in a short amount of time? Should I stop asking questions and just get on the water?

Rec Kayaks…

– Last Updated: Mar-23-06 2:11 AM EST –

You mentioned having gone on "Guided Trips" in the past? What types of kayaks did you paddle on these outings that have led you towards wanting to get a couple of kayaks?
One thing I have seen many, many times over the years is for new people to buy a "Rec kayak" that they quickly "Outgrow".
They start out with a basic rec boat but soon wish they had smething a little bit better.
If you scroll down a bit on the message board here, you'll see some threads pertaining to Wilderness Systems (makers of the Pungo's)...look for Wilderness Systems Dualite thread and the Tsunami day hatch threads...

The Pungos are nice little designs for paddling along shore close to the cottage and tghat sort of thing. Some quality issues this year though so watch out for that....like I said though...alot of people outgrow these kayaks quickly and wish they had gone ahead and got something a little nicer to begin with. Soem nice day touring kayaks include Riot Stealth, Riot Voyageur, Necky Manitou series and many more....

Good luck and happy paddling.


There’s nothing wrong with any…
…boat, as long as it’s safe, durable, and fun for the paddler(s). My wife has an Old Town Otter (9’6"), whcih she enjoys a few times a year. If you continue to enjoy paddling on a day use, noncompetitive, nonwhitewater basis, I would think rec kayaks would be fine. (I’m a canoer/ist, since I can’t sit in a kayak anymore). If you get really turned on to paddling, and perhaps want to get into WW or surf or camping/expeditions, etc., you’ll have to move up, but my experience is I need a different boat periodically anyway for mental heatlh reasons. Enjoy!

“…for mental heatlh reasons.” :slight_smile:
Hey, that’s as good an excuse as any (and there are many!) for expanding the fleet! :slight_smile:

About the rec boats, I agree with what you’ve said. As long as a paddler is happy with their boat, and stays on the types of water and conditions they’re intended for, there’s nothing wrong with such a boat.

To jonbfox: Don’t worry about anyone laughing at you in your rec boats (if that’s the type of boat you decide to paddle). If they’re laughing, they’re either silly “kayak snobs”, or silly landlubbers who aren’t fortunate enough to have discovered the joy of paddling that you already have. Who cares what the silly people think as long as you’re enjoying your time on the water? :slight_smile:

Now, Jpaddler mentioned the idea of “outgrowing” a rec boat, and while many people will be very happy with their rec boats for a long time, others will indeed feel the itch to explore new and bigger waters, and to dance on livelier seas. If that happens to you, a different type of boat - a full grown sea kayak - will be in order.

Just one more thing to consider for the moment. If you already think that you may be succumbing to the paddling addiction (if you must be addicted to something, this is a good one!), and you think that you may be wanting to paddle beyond calm, protected waters, and perhaps not feel that you have to stay off the water if the wind picks up a bit, then a sea kayak can offer greater versatility. A full grown sea kayak will still be wonderful on quiet waters, but it can also take you safely into more lively conditions as well.

In any event, if the rec boats you’re thinking of will take you where you want to go with safety and comfort, there’s certainly nothing wrong with the boats! :slight_smile:


There’s 4 types of rec kayak owners :

1-Those getting into kayaking-if the person actually enjoys the sport they’ll upgrade, very roon.

2. Casual people- its nice to have a kayak to putter around lakes but no real need or desire to go out and buy fancy nice boats because they wouldnt get enough use to justify.

3. kayak fishing,birdwatching,etc-need an easy to handle boat with lots of primary stability.

4.people that actually kayak and own a rec boat to loan their friends.

5. people that do lakes and mild-ish whitewater and only have space for one boat so they own something like a Dagger crossover/perception enduro or dagger blackwater, river runner/rec crossover boats.

That’s my take on it.in middle of last summer i started kayaking with a rec boat and never planned to go out in ocean, now i own a 17 ft ocean kayak and a river runner and just learned to roll.

Nothing wrong with a Rec boat…
We have a big old OT Loon 160T, and the wife loves the quite together on the water.

Rec boats are easy to paddle, but they don’t go fast. They’re big and wide for tonnes of stability.

Sea Kayaks are fast but tend to be tippy, at least for me. So when you go to buy a Sea kayak, try before you buy and take leasons. Getting out of an inverted Sea kayak, and then getting back in to it on the water are something you must practice. Also an efficient stroke is not naturally mastered by everyone, especially me.

Also, nothing wrong with buying a used kayak in good shape. Just get out there and have some fun.


It’s all so relative
In this part of the world K1-trainers and ICF-style boats have been the traditional boats. When seakayaks arrived the old crowd in the clubs viewed them as barges for the hopeless balance challenged few.

Now go to a flatwater race and the same view applies for the K1-Trainers.

It’s far better to be paddling any kind of boat, than not to paddle at all.


My two cents
Rec boats are stable, fun boats that allow you to start and continue in the sport with less apparent investment and commitment. However there are the down sides, some of which have been discussed in the previous threads, and the big one that I am very surprised no one has even mentioned:

Most rec boats have no sealed flotation, or have woefully inadequate flotation with either foam blocks or only one hatch making them very difficult to dump the water out of if you do capsize. Some but not all rec boats will ride with the cockpit coaming at the waterline when full of water making it impossible to get back into the boat without completely submerging it.

I doubt if it is a question of looking down at a rec boat and saying that is screams beginner so much as the fact that for many, a rec boat is simply not an option so it is automatically discounted. (Of course there are those, as in any sport or business, that simply must have the best for it being the bests sake and hopefully you can see that and ignore it) Also, I think I can safely say that a lot of rec boat owners do not adequately prepare for immersion and I can’t tell you how many times I cringe when I see kids and adults out on the lake with cotton t shirts and jeans, no life jackets, no way of signalling for help and completely clueless about any kind of safety preventitive maneuvers.

Just about every one of us started with rec boats and loved them. Mine was an Old Town Rush at 9.6 feet that I took out every day on the lake. The bug hit early with me and I upgraded to a 17 foot sea kayak very very quickly.

when my wife started coming out with me she would take the Rush but she never felt comfortable in an enclosed cockpit, did not want a sprayskirt, and had no intention of learning to roll or do paddle float reentries.

So I lent the boat (semi permanently) to my brother and got her an Ocean kayak Scupper Pro sit on top. Now if she falls out, she just climbs back on and keeps going. No water to bail out, no fancy rolling or paddlefloat rescues or anything. And she loves it!

I will never forget some advice that was given to me when I was shopping for my first boat (which I didn’t listen to initially) and that was that it didn’t matter what kind of boat you get but make sure that it had hatches (watertight compartments) or the means to put in sealed flotation. Two weeks after getting the Rush, I bought a float bag for the back behind the seat and added more styrofoam blocks to the front in an effort to displace water in the boat in the event of a capsize. this brought the coaming up above the water when full and allowed me to get back in the boat.

Ok more than two cents worth,but I got on a rant…sorry


Rec boats may be the most popular style of kayak on the market. The key is to match the boat to where and how you use it. A rec boat may not be the best choice in some places, like offshore, but would be a better than a sea kayak in other places like a small backwater creek.

I have thought more than once about getting a Pungo or similar boat for some of the areas I have paddled.

Happy Paddling,


bbrasil makes a fine point.

– Last Updated: Mar-23-06 7:05 AM EST –

Another point about rec boats is the weight... they are heavy. Made of heavy poly plastic (some sea kayaks made of same, but lighter weight plastic), rec boats tend to be on the bottom of the "paddle chain" in terms of efficiency through the water due to high weight and wide beam (width). This, of course, makes them inexpensive too, an advantage there. Although fine for relatively short paddles to, say, get from one camp on a lake to another camp, or for kayak fishing, most intermediate or advanced kayakers would only hope that the inefficiencies of rec kayaks do not dissuade a kayaker from advancing in the sport. How? If you paddle the Pungo with a group using faster boats, or if you are trying to achieve a distance paddle, or lack an easy way to load and unload a heavy boat, or trying to kayak in surf, and on and on, you could (not saying you will, but could) get frustrated and paddle less often than you might otherwise, and then ditch the sport... buy a mountain bike, that sort of thing. The pnetters on here did not do that, we all recall our first kayak with mixed smiles and disdain, but I suspect there are many others who simply felt like it was not for them and moved on after a few sore shoulders from paddling a heavier/wider boat.

Keep paddling. Welcome to a great life sport. noone is laughing on pnet... we want you to succeed.

rec boats
We have been canoers for 10 years and own a 16’ Wenonah Prospector in Kevlar. Great boat. Tried Kayaking in Door County, WI last year and bought a kayak two months later. We decided to go with the WS 145T tandem so my wife and I could be together. She sometimes rides along without paddling and enjoys the ride while I paddle. This yak glides very well and is stable enough for me to fly fish out of. We enjoy slow rivers and quite lakes. We are not interested in rolling or tipping over. The yak is very stable and can be leaned all the way over to the coaming without flipping over. At 65 lbs. I can lift it to the roof of the Trailblazer by myself. Having a great canoe and a kayak lets us decide which boat we want to take. If we go camping we always tkae the canoe so we can bring more stuff. If we are out for the day, we take the kayak. Best of both worlds.

Watch out for the Pungo!
The Pungo is an excellent bay and lake boat, because of its V shaped hull.

However, this very feature makes the hull sit lower in the water and it will hang up in shallower water than many other canoes and kayaks.

Because I do a lot of my rec paddling in shallow rocky rivers I sold my Pungo and bought another more flat/rounded bottom rec boat.

Rec boats are the most popular for a reason and many who buy them as a first boat do upgrade to a more specialized boat for some paddling. Most often these paddlers keep the rec boat for lending to friends or easy day trips or workouts.

Rec boats are the most popular kind of boat for a reason. They give a lot of pleasure for the investment!

I would take your own advice
"Just get on the water" and determine your next step, if any, when you are ready.

I tried a Rec Kayak
but found that I like an open canoe much better. I like to practice the 24 canoe strokes and maneuvers that you just can’t (maybe) do with a rec yak.

Its interesting, the more I attempt with the rec yak, the more I find can be done with it. For example, last week I was in the Delaware River doing figure 8s around some rocks, upstream and downstream ferries and back paddling. I’ve practiced wet exits and recoveries but don’t think I’ll ever try a roll. I’ll be running class I and II next week. Some say, It’s not the boat, it’s the paddler

Yeah - start paddling
At least as soon as the air and water temps have hit a level for which your clothing is adequate to avoid hypothermia should you take a swim.

Rec boats have their place, and cover it very well. The problem is just that kayaking is so much fun! What often happens is that people love paddling so much that they find themselves wanting to do “big water” - places like the ocean or the Great Lakes (or larger lakes like Champlain) where conditions in terms of waves and wind can get very serious. Once the water starts getting real lumpy, rec boats lack the design features, like rigging, floatation and a hull design that is intended to waves, that would make them handle well and stay safe. In those conditions, either a sea kayak or something like a shorter (and usually more expert) surf boat will be a safer and more reliable.

So you’ll want to keep the Pungos for lakes and floating around. But if you love kayaking, there is a pretty chance that next spring you’ll be back on this board asking about advice for a boat that’ll handle more gear for camping, or be longer and faster, or take you out to a coastal area.

My husband and I started in Swifties, now have four sea kayaks in the basement.

From someone who began
with a rec boat (Perception America 13.5…2001)and still has it (along with a pygmy artic tern)

For backwater investigations, running class I/II creeks, of just calm water lillydipping you can’t go wrong.

Where the problem came in for me was when the folks I met in my 2nd and 3rd year of paddling either already were paddling a touring boat or graduated up to the touring boat.

Simply put; even on a smaller lake,you can’t keep up.

Because the boats are usually wide and inherently stable you tend to master ‘all the wrong moves’ (instead of working with the body to punch/pull on strokes, you simply pull and that can often lead to shoulder problems)

That said: I truly believe folks should ask themselves ‘how far’ they intend on pursuing kayaking…If it’s maby once a weekend or up at the cabin during the summer,etc. then the recreational boat IS the way to go…It’s stable,easy to get in and out of, easy to fish out of or bring the dog along in.

If the intent is to get into kayaking seriously…even in using the boat several times a week or going on flatwater paddles with a group, then looking at something more along the lines of a touring kayak (and you can find touring boats in lengths ranging from 14’5" all the way up so this doesn’t have to be 18’ and 21" wide)

Several folks I paddle with started out with Perception Arcadias…Used em the first year.

One now has a Neckey eskia and the other an elaho…They’re going all the places they went with the arcadias…just quicker and with less effort.

I still have my america and for twisties and nature preserve paddles and places where the putin/takeout is ‘rough’ it’s the boat to have along.

If we’re going to do all three of Cassadagas lakes before noon…I’ll bring the artic tern.

I love my Pungo…
It is a superb boat for what I do…

Lazy river kayaking! Stable, easy to get

in and out of, will carry a LOT of camping

gear. (I weigh 235, and can put 100 more

pounds in her without getting near swamping.)

It is stable, tracks well (goes in the

direction pointed), and can take a licking

and keep on ticking.

No ill intent meant, but on these boards, you

will find more sea kayakers and white water

enthusiasts than “rec” kayakers. Do not

feel bad if all you want is some lazy or

slightly white water kayaking!

But… be aware that there is the real danger

of lusting after whiter water! The Pungo is not

rated for anything above Class II rapids.

She is a whale when full of water, and will not

be easy to empty. But… in 3 years, I have not

capsized. Very stable boat.

Best advice is to know what you want to do, do some research, and get the boat appropriate for your intentions.

Now, go have safe fun! :slight_smile:

Think of kayaks in terms of golf clubs
There are clubs for every situation., not that you couldn’t play a round with one club but having many makes it easier. From the putter with finesse and control but not much distance to the driver with the most distance but less control, then the sand iron with no distance but the ability to get you out of the worst wild situations.

However in golf you are only allowed 14 clubs.

And therin lies …
the beauty of paddling. No artificial restrictions on the size of the fleet!

1 duck boat

1 row boat

3 canoes

3 kayaks

… so far.

A few simple ideas
This is a controversial topic as you see! That said, as a 25 year boater, ALL kinds, family person, instructor, guide, a few ideas to consider.

In calm water, a wide flat boat with big cockpit is wonderful! Very stable, easy in and out, and efficient enough to have fun on short trips of less than 5 miles.

Beware though! In winds 20 mph and higher and waves more than 2 feet it is VERY unstable, difficult if not impossible to empty and reenter. Why? Wave energy is circular. It picks up the wide flat hull and tosses you over! That is why less stable narrower kayaks do better in rough stuff, they are more stable and have small cockpits that can be emptied of water if someone goes over.

So, if you guys don’t go out in big conditions and stay close enough to shore to swim back get a rec boat!

If you have bigger dreams either get one to start and sell it or skip it and go to a semi-rec/touring boat that is mid way, still pretty stable but one you can get back in out in a big lake, bay, etc.

Of course, good sense, skills, and knowledge of how to handle conditons are most important over equipment and type of boat.