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Stable on flat water and can handle up to Class II+ water just fine. Heck, it will probably handle Class III just fine if you can find a skirt large enough for the cockpit and don't expect to maneuver much or grab any eddies.
I'd say this is a great, all-around boat for the vast majority of recreational kayakers. You can fish out of it, use it for photography, or just take it out for a casual day of paddling with stops for lunch and snacks along the way. An excellent balance of stability, comfort, and speed.
The PIG is heavy, 65lbs. Not something most people want to toss on top of their SUV. I drive a Dodge pickup and it fits well in back. We did put it on top of the wife's Xterra once, PITA.
What makes the PIG great, it's indestructible. No bulkheads so when you need to limbo under that log ahead a 6'1" 200lb guy can lay flat in it and look at the spiders under the log. It has a huge cockpit so you can put your legs up and relax while floating down the river, Barcalounger for the water. It comes with a beer holder built into the seat.
By the way the seat sucks, get a Yak Pads gel seat cushion. Your bottom will thank you. This boat was made for floating. It is not the one for open water crossings unless you add some flotation bags in each end and have a spray skirt. The boat tracks well but has serious drag, that's why it is so stable. I also wish I had bought the hatch kit when Old Town still sold it. Watch garage sales and the classifieds, if you see one for sale snatch it up, you can't go wrong.
This is not my only boat, as kayakers know you kind of get a collection for different moods but the PIG is my "go to" boat.
I mainly use this for long river trips or fishing trips. Bass fishing out of this boat is so much fun as the wide cockpit makes it easy to wrangle lures and fish. I am 6'5" and 225 lbs and for a large paddler like myself, this boat is highly recommended!
The lakes are still frozen here, but as soon as I can get on the water, I'll be out there paddling. During summers in high school and college (MANY years ago!), I taught flat water and white water canoeing at a Girl Scout camp, but I have limited kayaking experience (some in Oregon and Washington State). Given what I've read on this site, I think the transition to a stable kayak like the Loon 138 should go well for me.
My only concern about the Loon is the weight and trying to load it on top of my Volvo wagon. I have the full car-top rack setup, but this boat is a bit heavier than my old Grumman aluminum canoe :) I'll figure something out and in the process build up some upper body strength no doubt.
Thanks to all who have reviewed the Loon 138 on this site as I've learned a great deal about the boat and its handling properties. Happy kayaking to all!
The Loon tracks well in calm wind. The Loon does tend to turn into the wind, at least with a 140 pound paddler. There is almost too much initial stability, this causes the kayak to ride up waves taken from the side. There is a lot of volume inside so flotation bags are a must. After 8 years and 300+ miles I still really liked the Loon in the water, but it was a bit heavy for me to lift.
Six years later I can say without reservation that it's been great! I wish the rear seat of the tandem Loon wasn't necessary for hull rigidity so I could remove it instead of the front seat and have Katy ride behind, but other than that and the substantial weight I've no complaints.
I've paddled in small streams, class II whitewater, swamps and marshes, beaver ponds, sloughs and flooded timber in Arkansas, Lake Ontario, and lord knows where all else, always with the dog and most times with decoys or fishing rods and coolers or camping gear (and coolers) and it's been a marvel. I've done lots of over-nighters with the dog along and there's plenty of room for whatever.
It paddles fairly well for a large, wide boat and it one of the best kayaks for sliding over submerged logs and vegetation is where you're paddling is more swamp or marsh than open water. And the relatively flat bottom (and no keel to speak of) lets you slip over a lot without sticking or tipping, which is not true with a lot of other rec kayaks.
I want a light, sleek, sexy kayak to paddle fast and effortlessly in open water, and one of these days will pony up for something narrow, slippery and expensive, and made of the most modern materials just because. But it won't be hauling the dog and decoys and shotgun, or tent and cooler, and it won't be pushing through cattail or sliding over beaver dams like the Loon.
In the meantime, I've got a new Lab pup, Patch (one of Katy's sons, and he got his first kayak lesson this past Thursday in the 138). And I think I'm about to buy another 138, a used solo, just because the original tandem's worked so well for me. And for the money I can afford to have a spare boat available for friends or relative who want to tag along.
I don't know how the non-polylink boats are, but I've got nothing but the fondest regard for the older style, single or tandem.
I looked at the new Vapor 12XT but was very unimpressed with the softness of the plastic used. The biggest complaint with the Vapor for me was the seat. Very poor padding. The Xtra-comfort seat in the Loon is outstanding for all day paddling. The 138 is stable, roomy and fast compared to other recreational kayaks. Can't understand why Old Town stopped making the Loon. They're still out there if you can find them. Good luck.
One of the main things I was concerned about is the weight limit. I weight about 235, 6 feet tall. The perception had a 350 weight capacity so I bought it. It was a nice boat but I looked like a fat man in a little boat and it was not really very comfortable, so I returned it. I went directly to a Old Town dealer and got the Loon 138 since I knew how it would handle already. It cost a little more($500 on sale) but it is so worth it.
I take it to local lakes every couple days and I already feel very comfortable in it. It is very roomy, even for me. I feel stable and it and I can relax and enjoy paddling and checking out the wildlife instead of trying to keep my balance. This probably is not for the advanced kayaker, but for me or anyone starting out I would recommend this kayak as a great boat.
The Loon, of course is the quintessential recreational kayak; it doesn’t pretend to be anything else — like some boats that are called transitional. At first, I thought that as a recreation kayak and with Old Town’s description of the boat in their brochure that the boat would have limited capabilities. I have to admit that it took a while before I realized the true potential of the boat, but as my experience progressed, my confidence in the Loon increased exponentially.
Stability is the Loon’s strongest suit, but seaworthiness, versatility and fun are all part of the package. I think the Loon is the all-time easiest kayak to get in and out of and with the adjustable seat it should fit just about everyone.
When I want to go exploring where I might be in and out of the boat a lot and don’t want to be concerned with balance, my sea kayak stays home and the Loon gets the job. The 138 Loon isn’t going to break any speed records, but with the right paddle/paddler it moves right along. I have no qualms about taking the Loon just about anywhere I take the sea kayak.
Along with its other assets, the Loon passes muster on specific features that I think are a must. The Loon’s hull and deck are solid and rigid; its coaming is sturdy and the boat’s ends are fine (as opposed to blunt, or rounded). And the whole thing looks right.
The 138 Loon for me is indispensable and as an all around recreation kayak, I give it a 10.
The tour leader had a Swifty, and the third craft was an OT 160T. The weight of the 138 affects its acceleration, but not the top speed. I was paddling very easily while the Swifty paddler was pushing to the limit of his hull speed. The few times I did a sprint, I easily left the others.
The seat was very comfortable. The tracking/turning continuum greatly favors tracking. If you took this in class 2 water, you will be ferry gliding all the time to maneuver. I'd give it the highest rating except for its weight, as long as you paddle within its intended purpose.
If you are big and don't mind lifting 60 pounds, this would be a good kayak for you. I'm old enough I set myself a sub 50 pound limit on any solo I purchase. I have a Victory Blast (old WS Critter mold), Dimension Solo, Hornbeck Lost Pond 10, Phoenix Vagabond, and an Innova Sunny, and have paddled and owned many other kayaks and canoes.
First off, its huge... don't even see why one needs a hatch when any amount of cargo can be loaded via the cockpit. Have easily fit a rider or a dog... both loved it. You could fish comfortably from this kayak. Because of its size it doesn't displace much.
Primary stability is just average, it's a little tricky to get seated and out. Secondary stability- due to its size- is exceptional, no waves will upset this kayak.
As for tracking, this boat is average at best. Would say that it's a pretty slow boat too, although the 138 will outrace its 120 and 100 cousins. Sliding the seat forward helps speed a little. Am a little disappointed in the pace, even though I use it for recreation.
When hunting for paddles, many will advise you need a very long paddle for this wide hull. I have a 230cm and paddle high angle aggressive... I do not see why I would need more than 230cm (long armed at 5'11"). I would stick with down-the-middle paddle recommendations, 220-230cm.
Am not entirely impressed by the PolyLink, it scratches really easy. Lighter colors probably fare better than my dark green. The three layer sandwich has a lot of ways of letting water in between at the seams and screws, which is no big deal except it adds water weight to an already heavy boat. I have to carry the boat solo- by the cockpit- not the best way to carry a kayak, and it feels on the edge carried this way... consider it a 2-person or over-the-head haul.
The cup holder works well. The dead pedals are easily adjustable from your seat, and you can adjust the seat to further place your feet at the width you want down the front taper. The seat is very comfortable and relaxed in position. Lastly, you can count on staying pretty dry in this boat.
CONCLUSION: quintessential large recreational kayak, capable of carrying a passenger, comfortable and stable, great value
here is my 1-5 scale, for recreational criteria first, and for general criteria second:
The 13.8 is the better boat and was the original designed kayak, I believe, and you can tell that the hull and cockpit design lost something when the boat design was shrunk down by four feet to create the smaller version. The shape of the hull is less comfortable on your legs in the smaller version. The big boat fits like a pair of nicely broken in running shoes. Just great.
Both boats are tough, stable utilitarian kayaks with a nice simple design. Both track well in the water, but are a bit on the slow side. They are very dry because of the hull shape and cruise through all sorts of water without any problem at all.
They are both really cheap as well, for what you get. I paid $550 for the ten footer and $700 for the 13.8 (Canadian dollars), which I thought was better value than some of the fancier boats.
The poly link plastic Old Town uses is stiffer than the typical polyethylene of most plastic boats, which I like, but its also heavier. The poly link does tend to scratch easily, but superficially. This probably slows you down some, but not hugely.
The amount of cargo you can put into both boats is impressive, particularly for the 13.8. I fit the largest float bag that MEC sold into the nose of the 13.8 and there was room to spare. The rear hatch will hold a ton of stuff and then there is space directly behind the seat as well. I was able to strap in a spare paddle on both sides of the seat inside the hull and it fits easily and is not in the way.
I also like the user friendly hatch cover. More rigging would be nice (both boats come with a minimal arrangement of bungie cords front and back) but is not essential. I have the multi adjusting grey foam seat in the 10 footer and a rigid black folding seat in the 13.8 and I prefer the simple black folding seat for riding and use. The foam seat becomes uncomfortable over long paddles.
The downside to the 13.8 is its weight and bulk. Loading it on my minivan by myself is a job. Once its in the water, I love it. You know it will bring you home safe.
I primarily fish freshwater lakes for catfish, bass, bluegill, crappie,and white bass. The Loon is an excellent fishing platform. I've been able to handle up to 20 lb fish from the kayak with no problem.
Tracking...it tracks true, whether into or against the wind.
Ease of paddling...it is a wide craft, so its a bit slow, but not too bad. I usually put in about 6-8 hours when I fish and paddle/fish 3-4 miles, it does fine. Just wish for more speed when I'm ready to go back the the launch site.
Stability...very stable kayak, the width and length help.
Turning...not the smallest turning radius, it is a wide and fairly long boat.
Comfort...lots of room, but mine has the hard plastic sliding seat, it could be softer, but after a few times out, your but gets used to it.
Staying dry...the only water that gets into the Loon is what I put there fishing and with paddle drips...sloppy paddler.
Ease of loading...not great in the loading department. Also, have to check my straps and tie downs often as the kayak seems to have a tendency to slide a forward a bit. The narrow bow and stern contribute to the difficulty in loading the kayak, it tends to want to turn on you.
Hull slap, other sounds...its very quiet on the water, lets me get close to birds I scared away in my old kayak.
Storage capacity...good, adequete for overnighters. Mine doesn't have hatches, so need to use dry bags for gear and clothes.
Fun...great fun, good cruising kayak, if a bit slow.
Buy another...probably not, nothing against the Loon, but would probably look at other options, maybe the new WS Ride or Liquid Logic Manta Ray. If I should decide to get another kayak, the Loon will remain in the fleet.
Recommendation...all kayaks have strong points and limitations. Consider you use and needs when buying, paddle the kayak if you can. The Loon, if it meets your needs and expectations, is a great kayak.
I got my Loon 138 a little over a year ago and have put a lot of time in it so far. It was my first kayak and I wanted something I could fish out of and also cover some water if I wanted and to take on smaller rivers and lakes. It's fit the bill very nicely and then some. The large cockpit makes it VERY easy to get in and out of and it's very stable. I can easily reach behind the seat to get things out while out on the water without feeling tippy at all. I've even stood up in it in calm water, and although it was tippy it was definitely doable. I've even taken people (and my big fat toad of a springer spaniel) along with me and it still performs well on short trips.
The boat tracks well and turns decent. It's no speed demon but it's no slouch either. Last night I went out with someone in a Prijon Capri, which isn't known for speed either, but it is quite a bit narrower and lighter. We switched back and forth a couple times and I wasn't able to paddle the Prijon any faster then my loon. When trying for absolute top speed the Loon does kind of feel like a toad but I couldn't keep up paddling like that for more then 100 yards anyway. I have no problem moving it at a decent clip for long periods of time.
In the time I've had it the Loon has seen a little of everything. It spends some time on local lakes (all smaller) and a lot of time on our local river, which is usually on the smaller side and slow. My normal routine is to paddle upstream a few miles before turning around and coming back down. Even this spring when the river was well over flood stage I was able to do this; though it was quite workout.
Last fall I drove from Iowa out to Maine on a 2 week camping trip and strapped the Loon to the top of my car. It saw everything from deep clear rocky rivers to the ocean and handled them all with out problem. Since I was alone I had no one to drop a vehicle on the rivers so I was forced to paddle upstream and many times had to paddle up rapids (smaller ones); which the Loon was able to handle.
I can't really think of any downsides for the kayak, taking into consideration what it's designed to be. I think it does a great job filling double duty between a little puddle jumper and something that can handle bigger water. I've never been in any really rough water with it so I don't know how it would handle it for sure.
Today I entered my first kayak race on our local river and won the whole thing with the Loon. It was a fairly short run and many people weren't that serious about it. But there were a few other people in Prijons and Daggers that were going for the gold as well and the big fat heavy Loon beat the closest one by 3 1/2 minutes. Not that the kayak is what makes all the difference of course. Much of it was knowing the river better then anyone else there.
All that being said I'm thinking of getting rid of the Loon next season. I want something a little lighter for car topping it on trips and fishing gravel pits and what not. But I also want something a little faster and sleeker for when I just want to get out and cover a lot of water. The Loon does them both decent but I think I'll be replacing it with 2 more specialized kayaks. But who knows, maybe I'll end up keeping it and using it for double duty afterall.
I couldn't have asked for a better first kayak for me. I really didn't know what I wanted when I bought it but it hasn't disappointed. It's given me a lot of pleasure and helped me see what I want and don't want in a kayak.
Definitely a kayak worth considering and not to be sneezed at. I'm giving it a 10 rating but that's taking into consideration where it fits into the grand scheme of things. There are faster, smaller, lighter, and more manueverable kayaks; but I can't imagine one filling the middle of the road any better.
My wife and I are both 50-something and she has a Current Designs Kestral and we do a lot of local stuff (Utah Lake, Deer Creek Reservoir, Silver Lake Flat, Huntington Reservoir, etc.). We also took them to the Tetons this summer where we kayaked Jackson Lake (had a great time in the rain) and Jenny Lake where we barely beat a microburst off of the lake. We then spent a few days at Green River Lakes down near Pinedale, Wyoming. One of our favorite evening activites is to run down to Utah Lake in evenings when there is a 10-15 mph breeze. This creates a 1-2 foot swell which is great fun to play in.
The 138 is great. It is very stable in the breezy conditions we have experienced and I have never felt even close to going over. It glides well, tracks well, and with a little practice I have found it very easy to turn. It is very stable for fishing and photography. We have practiced wet entries in a pool both with assistance from another boat and with a paddle float. The deck is a bit high and the high-back seat is a bit awkward to get over but it can be done fairly easily with a bit of practice. I needed a rope loop with the paddle float to keep the paddle in place but the foot loop made it easier to hoist myself onto the high deck.
It has been great fun customizing the boat over the past several years. I started by adding bungee cord triangles to both the bow and the stern. They are anchored on the very ends by looping them through the carrying handles. This gets the carrying handles on top top of the deck so they don't drag in the water but they still easily pull over the ends so they would be easy to hold onto if you were in the water. I can also slip the blade of my paddle under the bow bungee and it holds the paddle in place so I can land a fish. OT's paddle holder works fine but it takes two hands to operate which is a luxury that you don't have when a fish hits your line. Slipping the paddle under the bungee is very fast and simple and can be done with one hand.
I also added a bungee between the back of the cockpit and the hatch cover. I used a simple X pattern so it wouldn't conflict with the hatch cover. My hope was that it would work to facilitate a paddle float but there was too much flex in the bungee. However, it is great for holding small things like gloves and a rolled up paddle float.
I have added OT's clothesline anchor, hatch cover, and sprayskirt. The anchor is easy to deploy and works great for keeping me in place while fishing. The hatch cover is a bit on the expensive side but it was one of the better things that I added to the boat. I had to make my own bulkhead to go behind the seat but the hardest part was getting the shape right. It took several tries with cardboard but I finally got a template that fit and then cutting and installing was easy. I added foam moulding to the hatch cover to make it a bit more waterproof. It will not seal water out as delivered in the kit but the foam made it better. I am still experimenting trying to get a better seal on the hatch. I have mixed feelings about the sprayskirt. First, I love having a spray skirt, especially in the rain, and on cooler days. The problem is with the zipper that is necessary because of the large cockpit. The easiest approach is to put the cover on before you get in and then step through the zippered opening. OT has backed up the zipper with velcro but the zipper still leaks a bit of water and it all ends up in my lap. I am experimenting with an aluminum arch that goes across the cockpit to keep the water from pooling around the zipper. My first attempt worked great at keeping the water at bay but was high enough that I kept hitting my knuckles on it. Version 1.2 will not be as tall and is ready for the next outing. I have also finally figured out how to contort myself enough to get the spray skirt attached while I am wearing it. My boat trims best with the seat close to the most forward position so it is a bit of a reach behind me to hook the sprayskirt around the back, but once I have hooked the back curve, I can just reach the front and then it is easy to drop the sides in place. Being able to put the skirt on while I am wearing it negates the need for a zipper so I might consider sewing something waterproof over the zipper, although I do like being able to unzip the sprayskirt to get at things in the boat.
I am also experimenting with a small arrowhead shaped deck that fits into the front of the cockpit. 1/4 inch material (plywood, hardboard, etc.) fits neatly into the groove just below the top of the cockpit and the deck gives me a great place to put a small tackle box when I fish. OT makes a nylon work deck that accomplishes the same thing but it can't be used in conjunction with a sprayskirt. The sprayskirt won't go over the top of the nylon work deck and it would be dangerous to put the sprayskirt under the nylon work deck because you would not be able to get out of the boat in the event of a rollover. My goal is to be able to pop the sprayskirt off when I get to my fishing spot and have easy access to a spot for my tackle box. It is also easily removable for when I take one of the grandkids with me.
The 138 is heavy to load and carry but is great once you get it in the water. I am looking for a cart that will fit inside the back compartment so we can do the portage between String Lake and Leigh Lake when we go back to the Tetons. The ones I have tried so far will fit through the hatch without problems but won't fit in tapered end of the kayak behind the bulkhead. I could strap it on top behind the seat but that would make reentry after a spill very difficult so I am not willing to do that.
Sorry for the long review, but I thought it might be useful to share more than just my initial reaction to the boat. It has become a bit of an obsession, both to paddle (2-3 times a week in the summer) and to customize. I'm sure it is not as fast or as light as a touring kayak but I would wager that it is faster than any sit-on-top. It has been perfect for the kind of water (lakes of all sizes) that we paddle and the daytrips that we do so often.
I live in Southeast Texas, so most kayak fishermen here prefer sit-on-tops. But, i couldn't be happier with my Loon. The price was right, the boat was clean with one a few use scratches, and it was easy dealing with the seller.
My Loon tracks very true. Like some say, it doean't turn on a dime, but you learn to make allowances for that. Its not the speediest craft on the water, especially with that wide 29.5" beam, but it moves ok. Speed isn't my need, stability is, especially when fishing
The Loon is easy to get in and out of. Its quiet on the water, no hull slap or any sound other then that of the paddle or me grunting when tired. Its a smooth paddling craft and takes little effort to do so. For fishing, it can't be beat by any sit-inside, though don't know about sit on tops as I haven't paddled one.
To me, the Loon is more like a decked canoe, though with a bit lower profile. It offers me what I need in a fishing craft for now. I would rate the Loon higher, except that its a bit too heavy, manageable, but heavy, the speed is less than some would like, and, in my Loon's case, the seat is a bit hard after a few hours fishing. Still, I would recommend the Loon to anyone who fishes lakes, river, or bays. Its also a great boat for kayakers new to the sport and those who just want to cruise and to whom speed isn't importang.
The Loon 138 seemed like it would do all of these well. I liked the looks of the Loon 138 right from the start. It has a very large cockpit opening. It is pretty wide and looks stable. The built in seat is as comfortable as it looks. The construction is first rate. The plastic feels very solid and it doesn't "oil can" like some kayaks do. I was planning on doing some fishing in the loon today. I put my tackle box inside the hull in front of the seat and my 7 ft spinning rod along side of the seat. The cockpit was very roomy. I'm 6' 1" 250 lbs and was very comfortable all day long. I launched and the Loon felt very stable right away. I felt like I had been paddling it for years. It was pretty fast too. I think it would beat my Tarpon 140 in a drag race.
The hull was silent, with no "slap" at all. It has lots of "glide" after you stop paddling. It tracks like it is on rails. The turning was just fine for my needs. I paddled out to the main channel, about 3/4 of a mile, in no time! I was fishing with some plastics along the way and picked up a short halibut that I let go. The Loon 138 was very comfortable to fish from. I just wish the rental had a rod holder. I paddled about a mile and a half out to the mouth of the harbor. There was a considerable amount of boat traffic there. It was fairly choppy with a lot of boat wakes. The Loon 138 handled everything just fine. I fished for about 3 hours and decided to head back in. I stowed my gear and paddled hard and fast to see what the Loon 138 would do. I got back to Sunset Rentals in no time!
I was very impressed with the Loon 138! I think it would do everything that I would want it to do, and do it well. It looks like it will be my second kayak. Give the Loon 138 a try. You will like it.
Stability: I was a bit nervous about using a sit inside for the first time, but found the boat as stable as any of the sit on tops I have used. I was soon cavorting in boats wakes, chop and had no problems. I think you would have to work to dump this boat.
Speed: At least as fast as my 15' Scupper Pro and close to my 16'Tarpon. It covers alot of water surprisingly quick. I would look at a point down the shore and just paddle along and the next thing I knew I was there. I doesn't require much effort to move this boat after you get to cruising speed.
Tracking: Tracks like it's on rails. Very few corrective strokes needed. Seemingly unaffected by winds or following seas. Glides quite well.
Manuevering: Turns easily with just a sweep stroke or two. Will do a 180 in tight creeks in a few strokes.
Fit and Finish: Comes rigged with a forward deck bungee. A rear deck bungee would be nice, but it doesn't have one, thoug one could certainly be added. There is a provision for a rear hatch if you want one. Seat is very comfortable. I've had problems with my right leg going numb without additional padding in my other boats not so with this seat. Just make sure you get your seat adjusted before you get on the water as you won't be adjusting it again until you hit dry land. Footpegs are super easy to adjust on the water. The Polylink 3 makes a nice finish on the boat. The skid plate on the stern is a nice touch!
Cargo Capacity: You can get alot of stuff under the forward and rear decks. I typically take a small cooler, dry bags, extra paddle, flyrod and tackle, picnic lunch, a hammock or small folding chair. There's plenty of room left over. I believe you could easily do an overnight with this boat.
Overall I'm very pleased with this kayak. I have been using it almost exclusively and am now considering selling my sit on tops because this kayak is such a pleasure to paddle. You get a lot of boat for the money.
A few same details. The rubber lining around the edge of the cockpit slides off easily. I don't know if its supposed do that. I plan to glue it on with scotchkote adhesive. Its no trouble to replace the liner strip, I just can't see any reason to have it slipping off whenever I rub against it getting in/out of the kayak. Secondly, I took off the nuts on the bolts securing the seat frame, used low-strength locktite and resecured them. OT places small protective rubber caps over the end of these bolts. They fall off easily. I removed them and coated the bolt ending in plastidip/plastisol. It will serve the same purpose and not fall off.
In summary, this is my first personal kayak after years in canoes. I think it is an excellent craft for beginners and people wanting a stable craft with the ability to carry a fair amount of gear. The construction is solid and well thought out. I wouldn't hesitate to by another, as it suits my needs. It is not a serious whitewater craft, not or a long distance touring vessel. But for what it is designed for, it does handily. Solid durable construction at a reasonable price (mine cost $589.00).
When paddling against a current, in the N. Carolina intracoastal, I ended up standing still, or so it seemed. The extreme width comes at a price, in terms of speed and being able to push it through the water. Although I'm still a beginner, I suspect I'd outgrow this very quickly, especially if I used it in anything but very placid waters.
Also purchased 2 Otters and a Stoker (OT Sport's model of the Otter) for the wife and 2 daughters (separate reviews). I'm only 5'7", have a 42" waist and weigh 255 and the 138 fits me great. I love the adjustable seat and can ride for hours without taking a break. Any extra gear we take along goes with me, so I like the weight cap of 380 also.
Overall its a perfect recreational/camping kayak for me. And since I live less than an hours drive from the factory store, I can help the local economy!!
If you looking for a calm water boat, flat/class I, then it's a great boat. My friends have one and they sit their 4 yeard old boy in the cockpit in front of them. He loves it.
I also modified my Loon by adding a removable decking in the front part of the cockpit that contains a depth finder, transducer, and battery. I made another removable deck that covers the two foot area in front of me, giving me a place to keep fishing equipment and a scale. The two pieces can be used indpendently of each other. They work great!
I like the Old Town product so much that I intend to "step up" to the new Adventure XL model (a new product for 2002) because of the latter's two installed bulkheads. Also, I don't use the space behind the seat in my 138 for much except storing clothing, and I would prefer to put clothes in dry storage.However, if I can't sell the Loon 138, I expect to get many years of fun out of it!
I would recommend it highly to anyone who wants a stable fun boat that offers a good fishing platform and a safe river kayak.
I own three Old Towns...the Loon 138, 111, and 100. The price difference bewteen the 111 and the 138 is virtually nil, and both have the same oversized cockpit. Both make good, stable poke boats, are well made and easily repaired, take a beating with a smile, handle up to class 3 rapids easily, and offer the best value on the market.
The good points about the 138 are the stability, the ability to take my children, the amount of storage room for all the stuff they want to bring along and the quality construction by Old Town. The bad points are what you would expect; it's a little heavy and too stable for advanced moves. For what I'm using it for; paddling around the local lake and exploring nature with my children this boat can't be beat. And for me, spending some quality time with my kids is priceless.
All plastic boats will dent, warp, or oil can if improperly stored on the keel or tightened too tightly in the car especially on the foam blocks. Using saddles that only contact the hull at the chines allow stability on the rack and virtually eliminate the possibility of oil canning. Had my Loon 138 and Dagger Zydeco on top of my van for three weeks this winter during a Florida trip this year, without the evidence of any denting even though one boat or the other was often on the rack for several days at a time. Without having to over tighten the tie downs the boats were extremely stable even at 75MPH. The Loon is actually less prone to denting than other boats I have owned by Perception, Walden, Hydra, and Dagger. Always store the boats on their side or end and never on the keel. Check the keel line when accepting the boat from a dealer, get it out of the shipping bag. If they've stored the boats in a pile with the keel across another boat(I've seen this)a new boat may be warped or dented as you take it out the door. Over tightening on v foam blocks can cause dents before you even get home.
Now the reason for this review, if your boat is dented there are several possible cures, best results as soon as dent is found. Turn boat upside down on a warm sunny day, often minor dents that haven't been left to set will often cure them self. Stubborn dents can often be urged along with a hairdryer in cool weather. For real stubborn dents in the cockpit area you can use a firing strip (1X3) whose length is several inches wider than the cockpit rim. Measure the distance to the center of the keel, estimate the depth of the dent+1/2 inch and cut another piece to the total of the two measurements and wedge into the center of the dent at the keel line. This should cause the dent to bulge slightly and follow directions above for minor dents. Sorry for the long winded post, but this problem has been brought up several times. BYW the Loon is my favorite of the 4 boats I currently own, used for wildlife photography, camping, fishing, and just to get on the water to paddle. If they come out with a 138 Elite, like they have with the 111, at about 40 pounds I'll probably sell of a couple of my boats. At nearly 60#s with rudder and other rigging I've added, the weight of the 138 is my only real complaint that wouldn't allow a 10 rating.
Would I buy the boat again ? - it depends - after I returned it I bought Perception Carolina. Here is why - being a beginner I was looking for a boat that would allow me to graduate slowly from lake paddling to easier coastal touring (on the Gulf). Initially I wanted to do it in two steps - buy Loon - keep it until next Spring then get more advanced boat. Well soon I realized that Loon (being perfectly nice recreational kayak) will not allow me to learn quickly enough.
All that said I think that I would still recommend the boat for sbdy that does fishing, birding or wildlife photography. It is rock solid stable, very stiff (Polylink 3) and with roomy cockpit so it is easy to take a dog or a kid or fishing gears onboard. If you want to do a 2day trip then I guess it will still be alright - although you will need to add some floatation bags and some deck rigging (it does not have much of it).
I bought a half-sprayskirt for it and it was OK for keeping things but was not much of protection from waves. Seat is OK for fishing etc - rather high - I considered it pretty comfy altho after 7hrs my legs were going to sleep so I would probably have to invest in some seat padding.
If you are a beginner like me and want to eventually go to sea kayaking then I would advise you to look at Carolina. If you want a safe and stable boat for weekend cruising then Loon 138 maybe for you (but make sure you check the hull when you buy it).
One major factor in favor of the Loon 138 was it's value. I bought it at Cabela's, and it was considerably less expensive per foot of length than anything else I saw or read about. I originally had a smaller boat in mind; but decided 13'-8" was a good compromise length for the multiple uses I had in store. I took it out on the reservoir as soon as I brought it home. Within just a few minutes, I was confident enough about paddling it (the first time I'd paddled a kayak) to invite my 12-year-old daughter. The large cockpit made things comfortable for both of us. I liked how well it tracked in some wind, and how easily I covered considerable distance.
Then, I read about the advantages of bulkheads for floatation, etc. So, I started to second-guess my purchase. Some more reading and shopping made it obvious that I would need to spend considerably more for any boat of comparable size with bulkheads and hatches. Still, I was most interested in getting the RIGHT kayak for me. Reading reviews of such kayaks, however, indicated that leaking is common with both bulkheads and hatches.
Ultimately, after more researching and MANY more paddles, I've come to appreciate my purchase more than ever. I think the Loon 138 is uniquely versatile, with virtues well beyond its entry-level price and catalog description. I'm completely sold on its laminated hull material for durability, rigidity, buoyancy, and insulation (water gets very cold here in Minnesota). The 138's design and dimensions render it roomy, comfortable, maneuverable, and easy paddling; and that's a good combination for the videography I like to do when paddling. I wish it weighed 20 lbs less; but it's no more than average compared to poly kayaks of similar dimensions. Tracking across water, the 138 seems to completely ignore the almost constantly windy conditions in this part of the Country. When I add the Loon 138's value, stability, comfort, capacity, tracking, and on-the-water confidence building, I come up with a 10.
The generous size of the cockpit makes it easy to enter and exit, and leaves plenty of room for grabbing photo equipment and spreading out lunch on your lap. As is so often the case in life, when something is good at everything it may not be great at anything, but there are many specialist-type kayaks out there for those with narrowly-focused needs. The Loon 138 is a keeper!
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