Most Recent Reviews
After 3 years of research and evaluation of multiple kayaks, and after a lot of deliberation I purchased this Wilderness Systems Pungo (as well s 3 other Kayaks for my family and will review those as well). I am very happy with this kayak! I have now used this boat in the Great Lakes, 30 mile passages, Kokosing River Water Trail, Mohican River Water Trail, many many local rivers, including Class I-III rapids. I've paddled approximately, 800 miles with this boat (tracked with a GPS and log).
I've waited to write an evaluation until I could give a real testament after I used it well. I had many questions when I began looking and searching for a kayak. Money does not grow on trees, so I had to make every penny count. I hope this helps whomever is looking at the Pungo series.
Tracking: Tracks like an arrow. The displacement hull and design lend to a very well behaved and predictable tracking boat. Even with poor paddling technique the boat will go where you tell it to go. The hull shape provide incredible efficiency.
Stability: Stable. Very stable. Again, the hull design of this boat is all about stability and efficiency. Even while edging the platform is solid and stable. Being touted as one of the "most stable kayaks" in the industry, I was reluctant to buy into the hype, until I tried it. The well managed and relatively soft primary chines give this boat excellent handling characteristics that beginner and novice paddlers will like and stability that is exceptional! The low gunwale and steep angling to the deck offer a rather wide boat, but the step angle does not effect a low-angle paddling technique or a high-angle paddling.
Cockpit and keyhole: As a reference; I am 6'4 and weigh 256 lbs. The seat on this kayak is the best I've sat on in any recreational kayak. It;s adjustability is nice and the material that it is made of allows water to quickly drain so you are not sitting in water constantly (like on my Dagger Zydeco). The seat is far better than that on my $1,200 kayak! Adjusting the seat can be done very easily while you are sitting in the boat, which is great! However, if you have the seat-back in its highest position, it can make self-rescues (ladder rescues) from the rear a bit difficult. I would recommend lowering the seat back (which is very easy) prior to beginning your climbing.
The keyhole is enormous and makes get in and out a breeze. With the Cockpit Console it feels much smaller. The watertight compartments are well within reach and easy accessible while sitting in the cockpit. A GPS, 32 oz Nalgene water bottle, or a smaller water bottle fit perfectly. Footpegs / braces are easily adjustable and offer many positions and are sized well. Not too big to get in the way if you want to stretch out. Because the cockpit keyhole is so large you can take on a lot of water if you are in a heavy sea (such as in the Great Lakes, where I paddle frequently. But this can be overcome with good technique).
Rear "watertight" compartment. This is where I had to decrease my overall evaluation number from a 10 to a 9. The material of the bulkhead and / or the sealing adhesive separated at the hull and permits water to enter this stowable area. Not that big of a deal really, but, defeats the purpose of having a watertight area. I have noticed that on my boat I have less sealant applied than on my other Wilderness Systems boats. Just an observation.
Deck rigging is nice. Typical of most recreational kayaks. Not a lot. Not too little. No paddle park or paddle holder. I have only added a Navisafe 3-color Navigation light for nighttime excursions (which I HIGHLY recommend!). It fit perfectly onto the forward area of the deck where the WS logo sticker is. I simply removed it and attached it with the hardware. It was money well spent for Nav Lights that are simple, work well and ease to use.
If I had it to do all over again... I would totally do it again! I love this kayak. It is well behaved, stable, comfortable and efficient. bIt would be VERY difficult to find a boat like this at its price point of $875.
Other gear: NRS Clearwater PFD, Navisafe tri-color navigation Light, Bending Branches Whisper 240 Paddle.
Shout Out to The Outdoor Source in Upper Arlington, Ohio. The staff (and owner) were extremely knowledgable, helpful, and friendly with superior service. If you are in Central Ohio or North Central Ohio... do yourself a favor and go there!