14' canoe recommendations

I am looking for recommendations; I want to buy a canoe. Requirements are:

No longer than 14’ (I live in a townhome and need to be able to hang it from my garage ceiling- the way my garage is configured 14’ is a hard limit)

can carry 2 adults and 1 child

Can be car-topped by one person

I was thinking something like this:

Sun Dolphin Scout Elite 14’ Square Stern Canoe


Is this a good solution? Is there something better? I might want to use a trolling motor later, but I would primarily be paddling it; this one seems like it would handle ok either way.

As far as skill level I don’t have a lot of experience; I am taking a kayaking class and can scull, brace and roll, but I know canoeing is not the same and I’ve never had instruction on canoeing. The purpose of this canoe is to have a boat I can take my wife and son out in. It would be used in lakes/reservoirs and relatively slow rivers.

That one is heavy
Unless you are stronger than most around here you will find it difficult to car top that by yourself.

Here is a link to one that would work. They are expensive, but you can sometimes find them used. In fact, there is one for sale near me in Rhode Island.



a bit pricey…
That looks like a nice boat, but it’s considerably out of my price range. I need to spend no more than 600-700 dollars, and less than that would be better.

We-no-nah 14 ft Fisherman
It will be hard to find a tandem + at 14 ft. however in the classifieds just now there is:

(NY) Like New, 2014 We-no-nah 14 ft Fisherman Royalex canoe, green, used 3 times on lake. Dealer Installed a 3rd center seat for solo paddling. bought kayak, must sell $900 – Submitted by: timmy15

It’s short & wide but it may be a decent solution.

MR Adventure 14 and others

– Last Updated: Jun-20-15 8:57 PM EST –

Sun Dolphin is similar to Pelican, you are getting junk. Stay away from both. Also, unless you are planning on primarily using an outboard, avoid square sterns. There are many trolling motor mounts that work for a regular canoe if you eventually want to use one.

14' is on the small side for a family, but if you are just playing around on flat water it can work.

Though I'm not a fan of aluminum boats, you can likely find a used 14' Grumman that will do the job at a reasonable price. The Wenonah Angler that was mentioned here would be perfect, but could be out of your price wheelhouse new. If you can find one used, jump on it because it may be the best boat in the category you are looking at.

The Old Town Guide is 14" 7". If you can figure a way to hang the canoe slightly crosswise, perhaps you can accommodate the extra 7", or an even larger canoe. The OT Discovery 133 fits your needs, but is on the heavy side at 78 lb. I find I'm able to handle a boat that weight alone, with slight difficulty. I regularly load my MR Explorer 16, which is over 70 lbs, by myself. If you have a partner it makes handling it a breeze. They don't have to do anything beyond holding the stern on their shoulders for a few seconds, while you adjust your position to maneuver the boat onto the roof.

The Mad River Adventure 14 is not the greatest canoe, and also a little on the heavy side, but will fit in your garage and can be found at a pretty good price if you shop around. The built in center seat is great for the kids. This may be your best option for what you are looking for.

By limiting your boat to 14 ft for tandem use you are generally going to suffer performance wise, as most are slow as heck, akin to paddling bathtubs, but I don't get the sense that speed and maneuverability are important criteria for you. You just want to get the family on the water and these canoes will do the job.

Storage Question
How short is your garage? I can’t imagine a garage in which a stored canoe would need to be that short in order to be hung from the ceiling. I wonder if you are thinking that you need the hanger connections between the boat and the ceiling to be positioned at the ends of the canoe, making it impossible for the boat to occupy any of the space used by the open garage door, but there are other ways to do this. If you position the hangers several feet toward center from each end of the boat, the open door can overlap several feet into the same space that’s occupied by the canoe. With that arrangement, even the shortest garage should have at least enough room for a 16-foot canoe, and probably a 17-footer.

it won’t fit
My garage is a rather long 1-car garage (I think something like 22-24 feet). The problem is that there is a cross beam supporting the floor above it, and there isn’t enough clearance between the cross beam and the open garage door to extend the boat past the cross beam. Hence the 14 foot restriction.I might be able to fit a 14’6".

I actually had bought a used 17.5’ fiberglass canoe, but it was too long to mount on the ceiling and it took up too much space hanging on the wall. My garage is fairly narrow and I need to be able to walk on either side of my SUV, and the only way I see that working out is with a ceiling mounted storage solution. I ended up selling it partly because I couldn’t fit it on the ceiling, and partly because it was so heavy and I decided I wanted a lighter boat. It paddled really well, but I need something smaller.

What about this one? http://www.rei.com/product/887526/old-town-saranac-146-canoe#tab-reviews

This has three seats and I think I could fit this one. What makes this better or worse than the guide?

You mention an “open door”

– Last Updated: Jun-21-15 12:39 AM EST –

Specifying the "open" door as part of the space limitation still makes me wonder if you can solve the problem with the proper hanging mechanism. Just to make sure we are talking about having enough space for appropriately spaced hangers and not for the whole boat, can you tell us the actual distance between the top edge of the open door and the cross beam? To illustrate what I am getting at here, consider that if you use a pair of hangers to support the boat which are are just three feet apart (and that's okay - some roof racks have cross bars with that spacing), you would only need 8.5 feet between the edge of the open door and the beam, and perhaps as little as 5 feet if you orient the boat slightly on a diagonal.

I realize that you may understand what I'm saying perfectly well, and there may indeed not be enough room for a longer boat. It all depends on what part of the setup you assume needs to be clear of the open door, and that's something you did not specify.

a different option
For $500 you can get a 12’ 10", 38’ inflatable kayak suitable for two adults and a child. Light enough for one person to load and you can either keep it inflated and hang from the ceiling, or deflate and store it anywhere.


14 feet is too short for a tandem canoe

– Last Updated: Jun-21-15 7:15 AM EST –

At least in my opinion. Unless the bow paddler is considerably heavier than the stern paddler they tend to be way out of trim. It will look like you are doing a wheelie with the bow way out of the water. Even a short wide boat will not be particularly stable that way. If the child is up towards that front that might help a little, but that could also be a heavy load for a 14 foot boat.

A 14 foot boat may solve your storage problem, but it's not the best paddling solution. Try before you buy.

The long and short of it

– Last Updated: Jun-21-15 8:31 AM EST –

14-foot is awfully short for a boat that you expect to carry 2 & 1/2 people in. It will have to be wide to have the capacity (as in, not a canoe), and likely pretty heavy.

Can you keep the boat in the side or back yard?

I would agree
If 14 feet is an absolute limit, and canoe you get will be beamy (read “slow”) to provide enough buoyancy and stability for 2 adults and a child.

If your budget limit is absolute, you are probably looking at a polyethylene or aluminum canoe. There have been a few decent Royalex and composite tandems in the 14 foot length range. Mad River Canoe made a 14’ Tahoe in Royalex and a composite 14’ Winooski for example. But you will be lucky to find any of these used in your price range anytime soon.

The Mad River Adventure 14 is a solid polyethylene canoe. It is still heavy, but not as heavy as what you are looking at. Single-layer polyethylene is a problematical material for canoes longer than about 10.5’ or so because it flexes a lot. It works better for kayaks because the deck adds rigidity.

Canoe makers get around this for boats like the Adventure 14 by molding gunwales that wrap around into the interior and integral seats that contact the bottom. These add rigidity but the seats cannot be modified to lower their height and can’t be removed.

The MRC Adventure 14 is not a canoe I would care to have because of its construction and its dimensions which physics dictates will make it relatively inefficient. But I do know of a number of people who own this boat and like it for the type of usage you have planned.

Weight vs Dollars
Taking your 14’ length limit and working with canoes that fit it, there are choices between light (under 40#) and inexpensive. The Mad River Adventurer 14 is a nice paddling canoe for a short tandem. But it has a big weight drawback at 80+ pounds. The fixed center seat makes it a pain in the neck to carry solo since the seat resting on your head is the best way to balance it. The others mentioned, the Old Town Saranac and Guide are also right around the 89# mark. Old town made several royalex canoes in the short range,the 14’Hunter was a nice short tandem and was under 60#. Look at the used market were the Wenonah Fisherman and the Old Town Stillwater can be found.


I would not
get in a 14 ft. canoe with two adults and a child. Not only is it inherently unstable but just too crowded to be enjoyed. I don’t know a solution to your problem but IMO it shouldn’t be a 14 ft. canoe. Can you get two 14 footers in the space? Of course that gets pricey.

For two to three…go 17’+ composite

– Last Updated: Jun-21-15 2:56 PM EST –

tandem. Look for used, they're out there..they just don't pop up forsale everyday, but you'll enjoy something of those dimensions, even if you have to be creative in finding storage.

the storage issue
The issue is that there isn’t enough room between that crossbeam and the open garage door for the boat itself- I only have about 12 inches of clearance there; I was planning on suspending it using a single 4x4 metal platform.


I could fit two 14’ boats in my garage, but I live in a townhome and have no yard whatsoever. I know 14’ isn’t ideal, but I would rather have a less than ideal boat that I can paddle now than wait five years to move to a larger house.

Can’t picture the problem

– Last Updated: Jun-22-15 1:23 AM EST –

What's that 12 inches of clearance you are talking about? If that's how much additional space you have when putting a 14' boat between the cross beam and the edge of the open garage door, you haven't been paying attention.

Here's a re-try of what I wanted to explain before. Unless you have an unusually tall car, like a full-size van, 4x4 pickup or a Suburban, or unless your ceiling is unusually low, you can just hang the boat about a foot lower, and let the garage door go between the boat and the ceiling as it slides into its open position. I'm not seeing anything in your explanation that says you don't have room to hang the canoe a little bit lower so it misses the door. All you mention is the distance between the beam and the edge of the open door, and that misses the point.

I built a canoe hoist for my girlfriend which allows the overhead door to move a full four feet past the end of the boat when it opens. With that boat (16 feet long), I could have even made the overlap quite a bit greater if there had been less space to work with. If you were willing or able to do that same thing, you wouldn't be wanting to limit yourself to a boat that's way too short for your needs (and as mentioned already, the only thing that would make you not *able* to, is a car that's very tall or a ceiling that's extremely low, or some combination of the two).

Without an actual description, I have no idea what your 4x4 metal frame entails. I only know that with forethought, the rack need not contribute to the lack of space you speak of.

Maybe if I get a chance to take a picture of the hoist I built for my girlfriend and how it lets the garage door roll right on past the end of the boat, it will be clear what I'm trying to say. I am only harping on this in this way because I hate to see you so intent on going shopping for the wrong boat for the wrong reason. A boat that's not suitable for its intended purpose is a boat that, after being used a couple of times, just sits in storage.

I hate to say this…

– Last Updated: Jun-22-15 7:08 AM EST –

being a die-hard open boater, but you might do better with two boats - a tandem and a single kayak. It solves your storage problem (at least as far a length goes), and a tandem kayak puts both paddlers closer to the middle, so it trims better and will be more stable at that shorter length.

you don’t need that
You can buy a hoist system better suited for storing a canoe or make your own along the same lines:


This video shows how this type of hoist works:


In many cases the garage door frame height is sufficient that you can suspend a canoe or kayak high so that one end is beneath the open door and still have sufficient room for a vehicle roof to clear. This will obviously depend on the depth of your canoe at the stems, the height of your garage door frame, and the height of your vehicle roof.