I’ll admit it – I have a yard full of kayaks. I’ve got three Perception Torrent sit-on-top whitewater boats that I’ve had for over ten years now. In the past year I’ve bought two decked recreational kayaks, and have been storing my nephew, Chip’s boats, as well. I’ve been paddling the Old Town Dirigo 120 and the Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 for about a year now, and have come to some conclusions about them. Ultimately, I think I like the Dirigo better, and here’s why…
The Dirigo has one of the most comfortable seats I’ve ever sat in. It’s great for all-day paddling. That being said, if I had never sat in a Dirigo seat I probably would have said that the Pungo’s seat was the best I’ve ever sat in. They are both comfortable, but the Dirigo wins out slightly.
The Pungo has more storage options. With the addition of a deck console and plenty of storage behind the seat, I’ve got lots of places to tuck water bottles, cameras and GPS units. However, adding the console adds to the weight of the boat. The Dirigo also has excellent storage. It’s just not as convenient to reach as the Pungo. It has a built-in deck console, so weight isn’t an issue, but the console doesn’t hold as much as the Pungo.
The Dirigo is overall lighter, faster, and seems to cut through rough water better than the Pungo. On the Tugaloo River when we hit some rough open water, I was worried that the Pungo would swamp. This past weekend I was in the Dirigo taking on1 – 2 ft. seas with no problem. Something about the elevated bow lines let it cut through the water just a bit better. You can see the difference in hull design in the first image above and in the two images below. The Dirigo is the blue boat on top:
The Dirigo does much better in open water than the Pungo. However, the Pungo does fine on rivers.
I like both boats. They are both fine craft. It seems I’ve been paddling the Pungo more than the Dirigo. Since it’s stable and forgiving, I let friends paddle the Dirigo when we head out. On those rare times when I have taken the Dirigo for myself, the thought runs through my head, “Ah, yes! This is why I bought this boat!” I may have to start being a bit more selfish when we paddle.