07-17-2012Submitted by: Andrea
Reviews for Pamlico 120 Kayak by Wilderness Systems
Based On: 20 Reviews
- Rating: 10 of 10 I have had a Wilderness Systems Pamlico 120 for three years now and it's by far the nicest most stable recreational kayak I've ever owned.
I started with the usual cheap 9.5 foot kayaks that everyone has started with (an Old Town Otter and a Perception), but they "waddle" and are slow. The Pamlico 120 is pretty fast for its size and tracks like a dream.
I bought a Pungo 120 this year, thinking it would be a nice second kayak. I assumed it was a better boat, since it retails over $200 more than the Pamlico. Not so! The Pamlico's flat channeled hull is better tracking into a current (I am usually heading up river on the Niagara so there's a constant current), better in chop, more fun for "surfing", better in shallow water. Meanwhile, the Pungo has a V-hull that gets caught by a current if you are paddling into it and wants to turn. It's also less maneuverable than the Pamlico, and it seems less stable too (tippy, while the Pamlico sits rock-steady).
For the money, the Pamlico 120 is just a superior boat. May not have all the bells and whistles, but it's safe, dependable and fast.
03-26-2012Submitted by: LaurieP
- Rating: 10 of 10 I'm a kayaking newbie, and just bought this as my first kayak. I took it out on Lake St. Clair (MI) for my first paddle (I have only been on kayaks a couple of times over the years). It was easy to get in/out of, and it handled very well. It tracked easily, and I had no trouble maneuvering it at all. It felt very stable, too. I'm not worried about speed, as I just want to take it out on flatwater and slow rivers for leisurely trips. Taking it on a river trip next week, and I can't wait! This is a great starter boat for someone like me just getting into the sport.
05-23-2011Submitted by: chri fi
- Rating: 10 of 10 I have used my Pamlico 120 for 3 years now, and I'm absolutely satisfied. In all aspects, I think its fantastic made and simply the best in its class. It's very stable and is very easy to maneuver and get around in the water even loaded with gear. I love it! 10 star product.
09-03-2010Submitted by: Jeff
- Rating: 10 of 10 I have had this boat for about a year and love it! I mostly take it on slower rivers. It has lots of storage for gear and the seat is comfortable enough for longer trips. The open cockpit gives plenty of room to move around. If I broke it I would probably get this model again.
03-17-2010Submitted by: LCHRIS
- Rating: 9 of 10 I took my 120 out for the first time. The kayak is very stable and tracks very well. Turning takes a little more effort but still ok. Over all I was very pleased with the boat and plan to put a bulkhead in it. The phase 3 seating is also very comfortable.
07-09-2009Submitted by: CC
- Rating: 8 of 10 I've had a Pamlico 120 with rudder for about 5 years. No problems with cracking. I'm short and it's easy to load onto a car.
Very, very stable in high waves and swells. In moderate water, it's kind of like paddling a brick. It isn't elegant but it gets me where I need to go. Holds a surprising amount of gear.
10-10-2008Submitted by: benzech
- Rating: 9 of 10 I have been paddling my Pamlico 120 for about a year and a half. It is a great all-around boat. I have not seen the cracks in the hull that another reviewer has seen. I think that can be caused by storing the boat in the sun all the time or maybe under the stress of a very heavy paddler.
The boat is a good combination of speed, comfort, stability and price. It is about as stable as one can get, yet it is surprisingly good on speed. The seat, a phase 3 lite is actually more comfortable than my other boat with a phase 3 because the open nature of the cockpit allows you to sit many different ways to combat stiffness and fatigue. You can sit with your feet on the pegs, sit indian style, bring your knees up or even put your feet up on the deck. I outfitted mine with plumbing pipe insulation over the coaming to pad the knees but I think the newer models come with padding on the coaming.
Wilderness systems rates the boat for class 2 rapids - it can be done but I would not recommend it. The boat can take a beating and be OK but it is not designed to do well in rapids because it is so long - you will likely end up broaching and water will pour into the cockpit. Likewise it is unwise to take it out on the big open water on windy days because the cockpit is so wide that even with a sprayskirt big enough, a big wave could easily come down and punch right through it. On the other hand, small riffles are no problem and the boat is ideal for slow rivers and lakes.
It's a great boat to fish from because you have room to maneuver with your gear. It has enough room to camp for one or two days out of it. I have had this boat ALL OVER the place and I trust it. The price was right for what I could afford and I would not want to go cheaper. I don't care how non-committal you are, don't buy a cheap inflatable kayak from Dicks unless you want to be disappointed. This is a good boat to start on and you won't outgrow it either.
08-13-2008Submitted by: krm
- Rating: 1 of 10 I have 4 Pamlicos 120
I have only one that does not have pressure cracks at the indentation on the hull exactly where they welded the seat to the bottom of the boat (one has 4; one has 2; and one has 2). Go ahead flip your kayak and look at the bottom of the boat and with a glare you will see the spot welds from the seat and eventually you will have cracks . Also all my seats are cracking at the bolt where the back support is connected. when there is pressure on the backrest you can see what another horrible design this boat has. The Pungo is by far better designed and reasonable
09-10-2007Submitted by: BC
- Rating: 7 of 10 Good boat for fishing
Very stable... but will not go in a straight line. Don't set out on a long trip, you will be very tired from over-correcting every other paddle stroke.
04-30-2007Submitted by: Paul
- Rating: 6 of 10 I wanted a kayak that would be a pleasure to operate on mainly flat water. I test drove the Pamlico 12 ft which felt way too big and cumbersome. The other one I tried was the Perception Prodigy 100. I was initially going to buy this one because its price was very attractive but when I tried it on the water I found that I felt like I was floating in a bubble on top of the water. I felt like I had to constantly move my hips back and forth to keep balance. I tried tipping it and of course it didn't tip but it felt like it was too high in the water. The one I went with was the Pungo 100 because it sat nicely in the water--felt very stable and just felt right. Even though I spent an extra $200 or so, it was worth it because it feels so good on the water.
03-23-2007Submitted by: Blackfeather
- Rating: 10 of 10 I bought myself a Pamlico 120 with rudder kit last summer after much research and trials. I was looking for the prefect fishing yak and I think I have found it. The Pamlico is very stable and turns great, tracks good, and was rudder compatible. (which was a big plus for me) I used it several times before putting on the rudder and was happy with how it handled ...however with the rudder is where it reallt shines for fishing. I am able to fish entire shorelines without using the paddle. Also the Pamlico I find it very modification friendly with lots of option. I have since made a tackle deck for the hatch for it, put in rod holder and an anchor system. This yak is truly a fishing machine..which is exactly what I was looking for..... and the wife and kids love it two.
06-13-2006Submitted by: Dean_Barker
- Rating: 10 of 10 What a fantastic boat! Bought mine with a rudder kit a couple of months ago and have not a single complaint with it. Tracks well without the rudder but the rudder kit really makes this boat shine all the more. Reasonablly light and easy to maneuver both in and out of the water. Love it!
03-13-2006Submitted by: Al
- Rating: 10 of 10 Bought a Pamlico 120 last year, first kayak ever, fell in love with it and the sport before I was 10 feet from shore. I never leave home without it, all summer it sits on the top of my van, ready at a moments notice. Now our weekends up north playing golf are split 50/50 between the 'greens' and the 'blues'.
I can spend 4 hours at a stretch lounging in the spacious cockpit with a flyrod in my hand. Takes me to incredibly shallow areas I could only see from a distance when in a boat. Big rivers or tiny streams are all accessable now - and I don't have to wait in line to launch or trailer. I sold my boat and motor...
Very stable. Plenty of storage space inside and out. Tracks straight, turns easy. You gotta try it to believe it. After trying others, I feel this is the best all-around kayak for someone seeking the freedom of a motorcycle on the water.
08-22-2005Submitted by: allbritj
- Rating: 9 of 10 After months of research, rentals, and asking everyone I know about kayaks, I finally decided to purchase the Pamlico 120 and have NO regrets. The reasons for picking this one; larger cockpit (got a four year old daughter), stability, speed, looks. If you are deciding between the Pungo 120 and the Pamlico 120, I would suggest you save the extra cash and purchase the Pam. It tracks nicely, has good speed and the same good looks as the Pungo, plus turns easier. It also goes in shallow areas that the Pungo could not. The only reason it's not a "10" is that the sides near the knees did not come with padding, but that is easily fixed. This has to be one of the best all around boats out there and I have tried many (recreational) kayaks. Have fun!
03-16-2005Submitted by: bowfin
- Rating: 10 of 10 Great kayak. I bought a 120 with the angler package from the classifieds on here. i took i took on a very windy day (it started off calm) paddling against 2 ft chop and it tracked straight and efficiently. Not as fast as my Necky Dolphin, but almost. Plenty of room for my fishing gear. The kayak is very stable and I am glad I have the phase 3 seat instead of the phase 3 light of the new Pamlicos. The Phase 3 has an adjustable back for height as well as forward and back. The kayak is easy to handle and load. It also balances very nicely on your shoulder for carry if you shoulder it by the seat coaming.
It does sit a bit low in the water from the seat on back, but I weigh 275 plus my fishing gear, so I'm not complaining. The only time I took on a little water was when I went sideways in to the trough of a wave and it broke over the top of the gunnels/coaming. When I am in the yak the water line is probably six inches below the cockpit coaming. I can still easily lean it over until the water is at the cockpit and hold it there, even thought he boat is designed for initial stability. It turns very well yet tracks straight, which is a hard balance to achieve.
I was going to purchase a rudder kit, but after paddling it, there is no need. About the only thing I will add is an additional rod holder behind the seat.
04-28-2004Submitted by: Pierre
- Rating: 9 of 10 I bought this kayak mostly for fishing but have also taken it duck hunting with great success. this kayak is fast, stable and roomy. 1 even accidently took it down a class II that was very rough. My Pamlico 120 has the Phase 3 seat that my wife envies (she has a Necky Sky)and a water tight bulkhead behind the seat. I paid about $570 but the new ones are selling for $300 without the Phase 3 seat and bulkhead. I'll be loading this kayak with our backpacking gear and heading out for overnight trips on lakes and rivers. I originaly thought I wanted the Pungo but when I tested it it would not turn very easily, I then tried the Pamlico and fell in love. I also love the beer I mean drink holder built in the seat. I base my rating of 9 on what I purchased this kayak for.
04-26-2004Submitted by: Bill
- Rating: 10 of 10 So far I am very happy with this boat. I have an OLD TOWN OTTER that my 13 year old uses. He cant keep up with me when im in the pamlico 100. I even put my 4 year old in front of me and the boat still paddles and balences great. We are very happy with this boat. Great boat for $299
09-03-2002Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 9 of 10 I have a Feathercraft K Light as my main boat, bought the Pamlico 120 for friends to use.
A crossrib broke in my K light, so spent a day on Lake Michigan in the Pamlico. Its stable, REALLY stable. A friend was in a Corona, and we headed out on open water, which was very choppy. The Corona rolled almost instantly, my friend had enough of the rough water, and headed in to the protected harbor, I stayed out and played in the swells. Great fun as the bow slammed down after a wave.
This boat is slow, but tracks pretty well. I jumped out of the boat and could reenter without the need of a paddle float. But the huge cockpit does let lots of water in. The Phase 3 seat is great, very comfortable.
Bottom line: Great boat for kids, newbies, or when you just want to feel stable and not deal with bracing in rough water. Also a great platform for photography and fishing, due to the stability. If you want speed, agility, look elsewhere. But for an inexpensive all purpose boat, the Pamlico 120 is a good choice.
07-24-2002Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 8 of 10 Update to my first review: I purchased a skirt with the decompression bar, and hit the White River in Vermont for a run of about 11 miles-class I and II. With the skirt, I didn't swamp once. Water tried to get it, but didn't. The skirt was an aftermarket-not a WS, so it kept popping off in one spot-I have to check and see if the cowling edge isn't rolled enough to hold it. Did bottom out a lot-I seemed to hit all the dry spots. Going over some good (to me) ripples, it didn't even bounce-seemed stable and a nice ride. Still not as 'nimble' for manouvering around rocks but I may have to accept that for the length of the boat. Definitely tracked straighter when floating in the current than my Walden Sunapee-must be the 'triple keel' that helps that. Storage stayed perfectly dry, and by tying a knot in the adjustment cord, the seat back stayed put. No chance to move the seat to change the center of gravity-it is molded in place. If I could move the seat, get adjustable footbraces, and make it a little for nimble, I'd go from a rating of 8 to a 10. Maybe by the end of this season I'll know enough to tackle a class III-we'll see.
06-26-2002Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 8 of 10 I tested my new Pamlico 120 in the same conditions I had just run in my Walden Sunapee. Even swamped it in the same spot on the river!
It appears a little more tippy than the Walden, I am 6'1 and 235# and top heavy. Seems to 'swamp' a lot faster, possible being a flatter profile. A lttle easier to manover and I think definitely faster on the water. But the triple V hull and more pronounced rear tail seemed to 'follow' any rock I ran into preventing it from being turned away. The rear hatch is not possible to open from the seat on the water, the Sunapee is. But having the stern (supposedly) watertight-(have to double check the caulking-think I popped some) nothing got wet and it was also 300% easier to dump out the water when it swamped. Had to do that several times-didn't take much of a wave to fill it, but a little easier once I got used to tipping away from incoming water. As soon as I can get a skirt, I'll use it!
The seat seems to be too far back-I'm going to try and move it forward if possible. Plenty of room for my long legs, but the fixed pegs can be inconvenient compared to adjustable. The 'pullcord' for adjusting the back of the seat continually loosened up-finally tied it in a knot and it stayed. If I could put the seat and the sealed compartment from the Pamlico in my Sunapee-I'd have I think the perfect boat for me.
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