Read reviews for the Dirigo 120 by Old Town Canoe and Kayak as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!
Paddled very well, had no struggle to go where I wanted, and the added length really helped with the tracking as I'm used to 10 ft boats.
I really enjoyed this boat and it may well be my next purchase.
Additional thoughts: I reviewed this boat a few years ago and have a few additional comments.
First of all, I STILL prefer this as my Default Kayak. It is small enough to get into places the larger boats cannot such as that maze to reach Island Lake on the Colorado River. I made it through while the longer boats waited in the current for me to explore and return. And it is large enough to carry whatever I need with a large stern hatch opening.
I have taken this down the Colorado River and Apache Lake and such on any number of trips from day-trips to week-long camping events and it hauls what I need easily and even with 172# of gear plus me, it performs well.
I have since purchased a Perception Carolina-145 and a Current Designs Whistler-145 for extended camping trips for only one reason, and this is the one failure of the Dirago... The Dirago is NOT made to paddle upriver against the current. Downriver, no problem at all. So I needed a longer & narrower boat to paddle up the Colorado.
Even when I take a group on a lake, I let my paddle-buddies use the Carolina and Whistler as I prefer the Dirago.
Frankly, I have treated this boat terribly and made many mods to the thing and STILL, it paddles well and remains my favorite Kayak.
note & disclaimer: tis review refers to the older Dirago-12 and not the newer ones.
The cockpit is large enough and didn’t feel confining. It was easy enough to get in and out of with no issues. We were on a flat lake and it tracked very well and was easy to paddle. Stability was great and the kayak moved well through the calm waters. Plenty of room for storage and seemed to be well built. My wife and I were both able to load this onto our vehicle without trouble. We were very impressed and are considering these for purchase.
It is a plastic boat but it is sturdy, with thicker material than the bargain boats I've seen at the box stores. At 50# its still manageable in loading onto my vehicle roof rack. The deck lashing and dry storage are put together well and secure. The hatch stays in place and keeps water out, even when I dump it intentionally to practice deep water re-entry. The deck cubby with screw-on lid is not really dry, I'm still working on placing a rubber o-ring to try to keep my phone and other small items dry there. The rod holder is your standard adjustable one like is available at Cabelas and such.
I was not impressed with the anchor trolley system because it only came with stern to cockpit trolley system. That was easy to modify by rearranging the installed eyelets to rig a full-length of boat system. That way I can anchor from either the bow or stern which suits my needs more readily.
As for stability, both initial and secondary are superb and much better than most rental recreation yaks I've used. And speed? Yes, it has some, effortless paddling and good tracking and I've learned to heel the hull over to each side with my strokes and it really flies. I didn't realize it until people, strangers really, have been at my take-out and commented on how fast I move across the water.
So I would definitely recommend this as a beginner to moderate paddler.
I should mention I guess that I am 5'9", 200# and it fits me great. Lots more room for a taller person.
Overall I like this rig because I can fish out of it for a long period of time or take it out for a paddle on the lake and be very comfortable the entire time. I put this in a race at Belle Isle and put up a respectable (but nowhere near winning) time, so if you want speed this is not your rig. However if you want a quality stable rig with some added bells and whistles this should be right for you.
This is not a fast boat, and it isn't the best at turning when going downstream. In non-moving water it is easier to turn. It does track fairly straight, but if you try to paddle much over 4 mph (which takes quite a bit of effort), it really is pushing a ton of water. You will want a big blade paddle if you will need to make quick turns going downriver.
It is very stable, and the huge cockpit makes entry/exit easy. I primarily use this on NJ pine barrens rivers and the easy entry/exit is useful for climbing over obstacles. The boat has a very flat bottom, but it is sufficiently stiff that it pops back into the correct shape after going over semi-submerged trees.
The back hatch is great, I can easily open/close it while sitting in the boat. I have never had a problem with the bulk head leaking, and the back hatch is reasonably dry. The primary cup holder is a weird size, it won't fit a nalgene bottle, but it is large for smaller bottles. A 1 liter steel bottle is what fits the best. The seat is comfortable, the back rest is as well. The deck rigging is basic, but sufficient.
Overall a nice boat for lazy rivers and strong enough to take the abuse of uncleared rivers, just don't expect to win any races or be able to maneuver like the cross-over boats.
+ they are sending out repair items free
- poor initial manufacturing
- repairs have to be performed by owner
I've had this kayak for 5+ years and it has served me very well. Just bought the angler version Dirigo 120. I paddle big slow rivers and small rivers like the Mississippi, Wisconsin and Kickapoo rivers.
I highly recommend this kayak for beginners or anyone who needs a tough all around kayak.
Now that I have had it for a while and continue to compare to other kayaks, I am convinced I made the "just-right" choice.
In parting, I would say for all around fun on the water the Dirigo is the complete package....easy to paddle and very responsive..light to carry with a lot of room for your day on the water!!!!
The Dirigo is way lighter than my fancy sit-on-top kayak, and I can carry it quite a ways if needed to. I need a cart for my sit-on-top kayak because it weighs a ton. You still have the option of attaching a skirt with the Dirigo and staying dry. That's something that the newer sit-on-tops lack. Although this kayak doesn't have all the bells and whistles that the newer sit-on-top fishing kayaks have, the Dirigo will still get the job done at half the price.
This boat is easy to steer and to cover distance without frequent correction strokes. I prefer an along boat paddle holder to the across-boat holder on this on. It is, however, easy to add.
Dirigo 120 is an easy boat to recommend.
Since my mom lives far away I thought I'd just have to try out the Dirigo for myself. I love it. It has the deluxe seat and it is so comfortable. I love the cockpit roominess. I usually just take a small lunch cooler and toss it between my feet and it is easy to get.
Lately I have been using the Dirigo on some local rivers. These rivers are not wide and before I was using the Cayuga 130. I now prefer the Dirigo 120 on these rivers. The Dirigo turns so quickly. I like the length and the turning aspect of the recreational kayak.
The only negative is that my husband decided to try out the Dirigo and now we have to flip a coin to see who gets to use it.
Basically, the Dirigo is a mid-sized rec-boat with excellent stability and decent cargo capacity. The soft seat (useful on long trips) adjusts in two directions allowing you to individualize your comfort. The cockpit is large enough to hold my small dog (the newer ones have that terrible over-sized cockpit opening).
Basically, I purchased the Dirigo because I like OT construction. Their multi-ply hull is incredibly strong and refuses to deform even in the Arizona heat. This also allows the boat to take incredible punishment like beaching or striking an underwater rock as the speedboat wakes lift and drop you.
The stern dry-hatch is large enough to hold almost anything, a good deal when most boats require you to unload your dry-bag to get the tent stuffed within.
The boat keeps up with 14-footers easily though a 16-foot will leave you behind. A multi-day trip down the Colorado River kept me in the middle of the fleet, slower than the Sea-kayaks, faster than the other 12-foot kayaks plus I could get into areas that the longer boats could not reach and it carried everything I needed and more.
So, why this one?
Because I wanted a boat that would do a multi-day trip and still do day-trips and the Dirigo 120 did both. I've done 5 days out of that boat (hauling 170# of gear with no problems) and I've taken it on a day trip with much smaller boats.
I HAVE made a few modifications that the Dirigo forgives easily. I shoved some closed-cell foam under the seat to prevent wear. Shoved the same under my heels for comfort. Added Pad-eyes and deck line all over the thing and even added a bow bulkhead and dry-hatch and the Dirigo took every one in stride. Even cutting a 9" hole in the fore-deck didn't harm the integrity or strength of the hull. My only problem is that after too many years of punishment, I finally broke the seat-back. But a phone call and $30 and I received the new unit a few days later which installed easily.
I do wish that they would put a bulkhead and hatch in the bow as most lunch breaks would allow my food to be on the beach instead of wading into the water to reach the stern hatch. But that is rare on a 12-foot boat so I added one myself. NOTE, do NOT try this unless you are very good at this sort of thing. I am, so could, and did but my warranty ran out long ago so no problem. Still, after what, a decade or more of punishment (I am very hard on my boats), my Dirigo is still as strong as ever, so why replace it?
My only complaint is the placement of the paddle keeper. It's fine when leisurely paddling, but in a sprint or draw the button seems to be where it doesn't belong.
Overall- 9.5 outta 10.
The kayak was very stable, handled well, and gave me peace of mind when I found myself in nasty, churning, wind and boat-wake conditions. At 12 feet, the kayak made navigating stumps and swampy areas easy. The seat was comfortable for hours of fishing or paddling and my model had knobs on the side for easy seat adjustment. The cockpit was bigger than some sit-inside kayaks, so I had some wiggle room! A small waterproof hatch with a screw-on lid was a really nice feature. The rear latching hatch provided a nice dry seal for storage.
My only complaint with the Dirigo 120 was that my "wingspread" forced me to make shorter paddling strokes due to the short length of the kayak. A Dirigo 140 might have fixed that for me...
I kitted mine out for fishing myself (quite a bit cheaper than buying the angler version) and it works great! It always feels stable and rides the chop pretty well if I'm paddling or at anchor. The weight isn't too bad for a 12' rec boat either. I can carry it on my shoulder for 50 yards if I need to without too much trouble.
All and all, a great boat at a good price for the beginning to intermediate paddler. It comes in a 10' version, but spend the few extra bucks and buy the 12'. You won't regret it.
It has many good features: Twist locks on rear hatch, front dash with cup holder and small storage compartment, paddle holder, good deck rigging,drain plug and best of all, a fantastic seat. It's two downsides are weight(55lbs), and tracking in the wind. A skeg would make this boat a 10! My boat in particular, tends to track off to the right when not paddling which is really annoying. Yet, reading other reviews, it may be unique to my boat. For its may good features I would recommend this kayak to friends.
The angler version comes with just about everything. No need to modify. The seat is very comfortable. The hatches can be accessed while on the water. The drain plug is very useful.
Seat set forward more so than the Pungo 120 I own, which was a bit odd. I felt like I had little forward room, but it is my perception only, there certainly is enough room. The boat I tried out did not track well, it drifted to the right which I found to be distracting enough that I would not want to use it. It is priced high enough that it should track straight, I was disappointed. The knee padding is cheaply constructed. The carrying handles are attached to the deck bungees which stretches out the deck bungee every time you carry it.
I would have given the angler version of this boat a 9 had it tracked straight, because of all the added features. Unfortunately, the poor tracking is something I cannot accept.
One drawback is weight. Old Town made an attempt to lighten in 2009 models by going to what they called a 'variable layer' design (as opposed to the traditional 3 layer). It does save maybe 6 or 7 pounds, but because it is thinner and uses less plastic, I can actually feel the hull flexing in the water at times. Much different from the 3 layer Old Town 'Loons' we used to rent that were very stiff. If weight is an issue, go with the 2009 variable layer. If you prefer better build quality, check for the tri-layer (easy to spot as it will have a beige-colored interior layer). Looks as if Old Town has gone back to the 3 layer design from the looks of their website.
I give this boat an 8 out of 10 due to its moderate speed and fair build quality. Perhaps a different model year and I would give it a 9. Does very well for its intended purpose (small to medium sized flatwater lakes, slow rivers; do not recommend Great Lakes). Very stable and virtually indestructible. Even with those good qualities, I feel the rear hatch is one of its best features...lots of storage space and cam lock system is super easy even from a seated position. Some earlier models did not come standard with a paddle holder, but this one did; it is well positioned (much more so than my touring boat that cost twice as much).
Even though there are less expensive rec boats out there, this one is a pretty good value for the price; 12 feet of boat is more than enough for anyone in the novice/intermediate stage and it's hard to damage the rotomolded plastic.
It has plenty of deck rigging for a rec boat and handy grab handles. It features a very rugged hull and the boat handles my 5'10" 220 LB frame easily and safely. The built in dashboard and cup holders are a great addition and it's easier to get in and out of than any kayak I've tried. It's the kind of boat you can relax in as opposed to a skinnier faster boat that is designed to cover more distance. You can also get a pretty good leg tan in this thing.
If you're looking for a true recreational kayak give this a test paddle-it will probably fit the bill! I'd give it a 10 except that it weighs 55 LBS. But at the price it is you're not going to find a new 40 LB boat.
Does take work to paddle through low-water rocks. Need a spray skirt for river work due to open cockpit. Would not take it on class IV EVER.
My 9 rating is due to the front water-proof compartment - LEAKS as mentioned. Back compartment is truly water tight.
I am fairly new to paddling (some canoeing and kayaking with my husband in a tandem)and after trying a shorter, wider kayak that I found too tippy - I bought the Dirigo and just love it.
I am a semi-professional landscape and wildlife photographer and I take my camera with me all the time. The Dirigo is very stable and I don't fear dumping and losing my camera. It has proved invaluable for sneaking up on wildlife in and near the water.
I've read comments about how difficult it is to turn but I don't find that to be a problem at all. For recreational purposes I would recommend this kayak to anyone.
I am just looking for something both easier to handle solo and more maneuverable on the water, so honestly I'll be putting this baby on Craig's List come spring. It was just not the right call for me (44 y/o active female, kayaking with a club but otherwise solo, and wanting more maneuverability for easy rivers than straight lines across the local lake).
I've used the kayak on lakes with winds from calm to 40+ miles an hour. Even with the larger waves from the strong winds, the kayak proved very stable. The small dry storage in the front could use a better seal: don't put electronics on the bottom. You will collect a little water in it. There is a lot of leg space. The foot pedals are great and very adjustable. They help a lot with stability in strong winds and waves. The wide body keeps your speed down, but is great for kicking your feet over the edge and pulling out a book on flat water and just relaxing. I couldn't be happier with my new kayak!
The Dirigo 120 is just great. I love the dry well in front for small items like keys, cellphone etc. as well as the adjustable seat and large waterproof hatch at the rear. I was out fifty some times last summer and even tried it out in whitecap conditions to test it's stability. Handled the waves perfectly. This boat tracks well, is comfortable and super stable. I would recommend it to anyone and the only reason I gave it a nine instead of a ten is I wish it was a little lighter for transporting.
I have been on two trips so far, one 12.6 mile and one 15.2 mile and the Dirigo performed just fine. I had a bit of trouble tracking at first due to my inexperience at paddling, but on the second trip I noticed a considerable difference for the better. The wind has a bit of effect on the kayak, and a rudder would be nice (why I gave a 9 instead of a 10) but all in all this has worked out perfectly for me.
The Dirigo is stable, responsive, and quite difficult to flip. I put it in the pool and practiced wet exits and entries. I realized how far I have to push to get this boat to flip....amazing.
I am completely satisfied with the purchase, other than the lack of a rudder.
It does feel SLIGHTLY big. It crashes a bit on waves (which I find fun, personally, but could imagine others not liking so much) and can feel a bit heavy. This does not, however, mean that it's slow. It take a bit to get going, and I'd hardly call it a sprinter, but one can get a really good pace up, and keep it up easily. The only minor problem I've found is that wind seems to act a bit more heavily on the back end, and this can sometimes affect turning.
All in all though, it's a great boat, and I expect to keep it for years and years.
Down side. It is heavy and slow, slow, slow. Wish I had known about how slow it was. The weight I can handle but my wife in her Zydeco and almost everyone leaves me behind. I have never been physically taxed paddling, but I really have to work hard to keep up.