Whats the best boat for a beginner, recreational kayaker?
I’m a beginner kayaker and want to buy a boat for recreational purposes such as fishing and camping local lakes, rivers, and creeks. A Wilderness Systems kayak dealer recommended the Pungo 120 or the Tarpon 120. Which would you recommend? Jason Marion, Kentucky
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I think youre off to a good start with those two Wilderness Systems boats. The Pungo 120 ($700; www.wildernesssystems.com) is a rotomolded recreational” kayak designed for most of the things you intend to dopaddle on lakes and calm rivers, do some fishing, enjoy yourself. Its 12 feet long and weighs 49 pounds, manageable for one person. However, it doesnt have a lot of storage space, so taking camping gear might be problematic. The Tarpon 120 ($700) is the same length but a little heavier. While the Pungo has a shallow cockpit, the Tarpon is a sit-on-top design, which some people find more comfortable and easier to manage. The Tarpon has adequate storage for overnight gear and fishing rods. Look into the Tarpon 140 ($775) for a slightly larger boat that tracks better, has better speed, and can easily handle gear for three or four days out on the water.
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120
Id also encourage you to look at two other boats. One is the Perception Carolina 13.5 ($800; www.kayaker.com). Its sort of a miniature touring boata very appealing little craft thats versatile, comfortable, and easy to paddle. It has two hatches for gear and will take an optional Yakima rudder for better directional control. Finally, Daggers Blackwater 12 ($700; www.dagger.com) has attributes similar to the Wilderness Systems boats; its comfortable and can handle a wide variety of tasks from fishing to photography to camping. Kayaks are kind of like shoesone size doesnt fit allso try several to see whats best for you.
The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside‘s 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year’s hottest kayak.