My wife has been paddling this boat for over a year now, so I feel qualified to write this Old Town Loon 126 review.
I’ll tell you what we like about this high-end recreational kayak, and what could be improved.
[Spoiler Alert: The Loon 126 is hands-down the best recreational kayak out there. You simply can’t beat the speed, tracking, comfort, and weight capacity of this baby. If you don’t plan on paddling class 3+ rivers, and you don’t need to stand in the kayak… then the Loon is everything you could hope for. Unfortunately, it does tend to sell out very quickly]
Things to Consider Before Buying a High-End Recreational Kayak
The Old Town Loon 126 is a premium recreational kayak, and it comes with a certain price tag.
As such, it’s good to think about your priorities.
You’ll have to consider whether you need a fast boat with great tracking, or rather a super maneuverable kayak for class 3+ rapids.
Also, if you want to stand and cast, then you’ll need a more stable kayak than the Loon.
Overall, the Loon 126 has excellent tracking, comfort, and speed. But you can’t stand in it.
The sit-in design makes it great for bad weather because you can use a spray skirt. However, during the summer some people might prefer an open sit-on-top instead.
Also, the huge weight capacity makes it particularly appealing for big guys, or for multi-day camping trips.
Finally, please take care of your kayak by keeping it out of the sun when not in use. Over time, UV rays can warp the plastic hull, and there’s no warranty against that kind of negligence.
Old Town Loon 126 Specifications
- Length: 12 ft 6 in
- Width: 31 in
- Cockpit dimensions: 56 in x 23 in
- Weight: 59 lb
- Load Capacity: 450 lb
Old Town Loon 126 Design
This boat is made of three-layer polyethylene.
This makes it virtually indestructible. It will withstand on-water collisions, rocks, submerged tree branches, and anything you throw at it.
However, since it doesn’t have a skid plate I would avoid dragging it. Dragging it will damage the hull over time and reduce performance.
This is a very light boat, so carry it over your shoulder instead.
The Old Town Loon 126 is the fastest recreational kayak ever.
Since this isn’t a touring kayak, I honestly didn’t expect it to perform that well.
I often go fishing in my Hobie Outback, with my wife in her Loon 126.
While I have a relaxed cruising speed of 3.5 mph in my Hobie, I can reach up to 5 mph if I pedal like crazy. Meanwhile, my wife just stays ahead of me the whole time.
I find this very impressive for a paddle kayak − being able to keep up with a fast pedal kayak such as the Hobie Outback.
The Loon 126 is one of the longest recreational kayaks out there.
As you know, this makes it less maneuverable in and of itself.
However, I’ve found it to actually turn pretty well.
On slow-moving rivers and lakes, you won’t have any problems avoiding obstacles.
That said, I wouldn’t take it on class 3 rivers or fast waters. I know some people do, but unless you’re an experienced whitewater kayaker that’s not advisable.
At this price range, you can expect your kayak to be comfortable.
And that’s definitely the case here.
The Loon seat is pretty comfortable and wide for big guys.
It has three adjustment positions. You can raise it or lower it to be comfortable at the knees.
You can also recline the back of the seat using the little wheel at the back.
And you can set it forward or backward while seating on it thanks to the handy button on the left side.
Of course, it comes with adjustable footpegs. These are pretty easy to adjust by pushing or pulling the orange straps on the sides.
Stability and Tracking
Now that’s where the Loon 126 really shines.
From all the recreational kayaks I’ve had the pleasure of testing, the Loon definitely has the best tracking. You’ll find it easy to maintain your course, or at least much better than with a WS Pungo, for instance.
Even in wind, the Loon doesn’t get blown away easily.
That said, remember that it has no rudder, and this is not a touring kayak.
As such, it won’t track as well as longer boats with a rudder.
This will be especially true if you’re a beginner, as you’ll have to learn to paddle efficiently to avoid turning from poor technique.
Regarding stability, I’ve never felt unstable with the Loon. However, you can’t stand and cast.
If you want a kayak to stand in, you can read my review of the most stable fishing kayaks.
As mentioned above, the Old Town Loon 126 is an extremely durable boat.
I’d be amazed if you managed to punch a hole through the hull.
And even if you did, the hull is covered by a lifetime warranty.
Regarding other components of the boat such as the hatches, I’ve never heard any complaints − so I assume they don’t break easily.
At only 59 pounds, the Loon 126 is quite manageable on your own.
Most people won’t have any problems loading it on top of an SUV.
Carrying it to the water is also easy, and you won’t need a kayak cart.
It has comfortable, sturdy handles at the bow and stern for easy carrying, loading, and unloading.
Remember to avoid dragging it as this will damage the hull over time.
By the way, even the Loon Angler weighs 59 pounds, which is ridiculously light for a fishing kayak. So if you have a hard time carrying other, bigger kayaks, the Loon Angler might be worth looking into.
Fishing Ease (Old Town Loon 126 Angler Review)
This section will cover the differences between the Loon 126 and the Loon 126 Angler.
The hull, the seat, speed, stability, comfort, tracking, and storage spaces are mostly the same.
The main change is the Old Town Angler has a paddle clip on the right side to store your paddle when you’re fishing.
Also, it has two flush-mounted rod holders behind the seat.
Finally, it has an anchor trolley on the left side that runs all the way to the cockpit. This will be particularly useful on windy days or on slow-moving rivers.
Apart from that, some features that both the regular and Angler version have, but that are very important for fishing:
- Big rear dry hatch to store a lot of gear, and even to go camping
- Some storage right behind the seat for a tackle box or baits
- Another dry hatch on the center console where you can place a battery to charge a camera, fish finder, or your phone with the included USB plug.
Overall, the Old Town Loon 126 Angler is a great fishing kayak if you need to cover more ground than with a more stable, but slower sit-on-top boat.
Old Town Loon 126 Features and Accessories
As mentioned in the Fishing Ease section, the Loon 126 comes with a handy center console.
This center console has a cup holder, as well as dry storage where you can put a battery to charge your phone or camera via USB.
Besides, this center console is easily removable if you want a more open cockpit.
The seat folds down nicely for access to the storage space behind. I like to put a bottle of water and a sponge back there.
The boat does come with an anchor for kayak fishing, a drain plug, and a paddle clip.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a free paddle, unlike many recreational boats. Of course, if you’re willing to pay $1000+ for a kayak then you probably have no use for a cheap plastic paddle anyway.
The storage capacity on the Loon 126 is pretty good, with a watertight hatch at the back, small dry storage at the front, as well as bungee cords on the bow. You won’t have any problems taking this boat camping.
Finally, as said above, it doesn’t have a rudder. This means that you shouldn’t take it out when it’s really windy as you’ll have a hard time keeping course.
Who is the Old Town Loon 126 for?
The Old Town Loon 126 is simply the best recreational kayak out there.
If you need speed, stability, and tracking, then the Loon is perfect for that.
However, if you’re thinking to stand in the Loon Angler, then this won’t happen, so you should consider other boats.
Also, despite the high price tag it still is a recreational kayak. If you plan on doing multi-day trips most of the time, consider a touring kayak instead.
All in all, I’ve never found a recreational kayak I like more than the Loon. It just strikes the perfect balance between speed, tracking, maneuverability, and light weight.
Old Town Loon Kayak Alternatives
Old Town Loon 126 Angler
We’ve talked about the Loon Angler above, but I think it’s important to understand that these are not the same boats.
The Loon 126 is available in a “regular” version as well as an Angler version.
So if you want the fishing-specific features, then be sure to get the right one.
Or else, you won’t get the flush-mounted rod holders.
Apart from that, it’s pretty much the same boat. With its huge weight capacity, tons of storage, speed, and tracking, I’d say it’s a good boat for long fishing trips.
If you plan on fishing close to your launching point and you want to stand and cast − then consider a more stable kayak.
Wilderness Systems Pungo 125
The WS Pungo 125 is one of the best recreational kayaks as well.
However, it’s not nearly as fast as the Loon 126.
It gets blown away by the wind quite easily as well with its subpar tracking.
Regarding comfort and all the extra features, again it’s no match for the Loon. The Loon has hands-down the best seat in the market.
Also, the Loon is so much better for big and tall guys. The hull is deeper and longer, which will make you more comfortable. The weight capacity of the Loon is also superior.
However, the Pungo is also cheaper than the Loon, which explains why people might prefer to go with this more “bare-bones” recreational kayak.
- Subpar tracking
- Slower, less comfortable
Old Town Loon 106
The Loon 106 is very similar to its longer brother.
While 2 feet shorter, the cockpit size is about the same on both boats.
Most of the size difference comes from the bow, which means you’ll have less storage in front. However, I like that the rear dry hatch is just as big.
It has good tracking for a short boat, but not as good as the Loon 126.
Of course, this means it turns better and this makes it better suited for narrow rivers.
It has the same center console, bungee cords on the bow, comfortable seat… basically everything but in a shorter format.
The total weight capacity is significantly lower at 325 lb, while the actual weight of the boat is slightly less at 53 lb.
Overall, if you want a shorter, lighter boat that’s easier to carry, the Old Town Loon 106 might be worth considering.
- Very similar, shorter boat
- Turns better
- Tracks well enough
- Lower load capacity (125 lb less!)
Old Town Loon 126 – Final Thoughts
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again − the Loon 126 is the best recreational kayak, ever.
It’s fast, tracks great even in the wind, and has tons of handy features.
For the price, I think you can’t beat the Loon 126.
That said, it does tend to get out of stock pretty quickly.
So by the time you read this review, it might not be available until next year.