16'-17' How to choose Canoe

Looking to get Royalex tandem, budget a factor. I am 6’1" 210 wife 6’0" 130. Will have 50 lb dog along. Main use will be flatwater lakes, Chesapeake Bay, flatwater rivers, occasional class 1 or easy class 2 rivers. Occasional weekend camping, and rare 4-5 day. We pack light when camping.

In my mind have it narrowed to :


Old Town Penobscot RX 16

Wenonah Aurora


Old Town Penobscot RX 17

Wenonah Spirit II

Have read the archives, tried out and like how all four handle on the water.

I am leaning towards the 16’ models for maneuverability ease of cartopping and storage, BUT will the 16 footers be large enough with the dog and camping supplies.

Any and all comments and/or suggestions appreciated.

Don’t really know anything in particular about your specific boats, but with both of you being tall, and gear, and a dog, I’d sure be going for a 17, or even longer.

I’m usually out on fairly small (though slow moving) bodies of water and haven’t found maneuverability to be an issue my 17+’ canoes and kayaks.


I have a OT 16 Penobscot.
I am 160 pounds and “the bride” is 121 pounds, and we have no dog.

Get a 17 footer as a minimum.



A 17 foot canoe is no more difficult to
car-top than a 16. From the load you describe, I would go for a 17.

Me, too…
I also have a Penobscot 16…great for you and the wife, okay for you, the wife, and camping gear, doable but not great with you, wife, and dog, not enough canoe with you, wife, dog, and camping gear.

longer is better
you want your boat long enough so when your wife gets mad at you, she can’t reach you with her paddle.

my thoughts

– Last Updated: Sep-27-09 10:29 AM EST –

for what their worth ?
You mention a # of different paddling venues & no one craft will suit them all perfectly. Also, I have no experience paddling w/ a dog (although my 1st canoe was a pig) If he/she sits still their added wt might be only factor to consider but an ansty, constantly jumping around 50lb pooch would complicate things
If your primary concerned is capacity/volume, depth "can" have an even larger effect than length & needs to be considered. I, too have a 16 Penobscot & a wife. (We chose the 16 over the 17 due to it's greater maneuverability & didn't require the extra capacity) We've loaded it w/ camping gear & food for week+ inc 160lbs of fluids (mostly, but not all, water) & enjoyed many trips in the coastal Everglades. I also have Jensen 18 but wouldn't even consider such a trip in it. Despite it's extra length the Jensen doesn't have the volume or freeboard for such a trip. That's not to say it can't be done, just that it's wouldn't be the craft I'd chose from my fleet. I also own a 16 Dagger Reflection which will out carry either of those others.
I'm not familiar w/ Aurora but have paddled a Spirit II & feel Wenonah makes great canoes, either would work for you.
I'd base my decision on which felt best to you, or price if that's a concern. Good luck & happy paddling
BTW, Tompkins Co is not "very" upstate NY. It looks pretty downstate from up here in St Law :>)

You will be happier with a 17’
While we can happily pack for a week in a 16 foot canoe… adding the dog takes an extra two feet.

You will have to train the dog too perhaps. Not all like canoes initially. Get a non skid mat for the dog. It makes the dog feel more secure and will encourage it to stay put.

Spirit II
We have the Spirit II and love it. We regularly use it on smaller twisty rivers, some that need some quick manuevering at times, and it has never not been up to the task. Quite stable & seaworthy, able to safely carry a 650lb load and then some. Runs great both loaded and empty. Rutabaga paddle shop in Madison WI has their rentals on sale now at $650 to give an idea of what to expect to pay for a decent used model.


Thank you all
Thanks to all who gave me advice.

Just got back from picking up a demo 17’ Wenonah Spirit II in Royalex. It had solid initial stability so anyone would feel comfortable, solid secondary, and seemed to cruise and maneuver very adequately. Much more responsive and maneuverable that the other “recreational/touring” boats I tried out.

Thanks again

Good choice
Our first canoe was a Penebscot 16, which we used for many trips and still have it. We bought a Spirit II four or five years ago for a tripping canoe. It works great. Most of our day trips are in a Bell Wildfire and Bell Starfire.

16 v 17

– Last Updated: Sep-30-09 9:00 AM EST –

For day paddling, you, the wife, and the dog, the 16 is fine. Take out the dog and put the camping gear in, and the 16 will feel like the back seat of a Mini Cooper.

The one additional foot of length in the 17 makes a world of difference in a packed canoe. That being the case, I'd go with a Penob 17 or the Spirit (or a Wenonah Sundowner 17 in Rlx, which dealers can still order, even though it doesn't show up in the catalog anymore). There's not enough difference in cost, portability, or weight to give a 16 any real advantage.


Edit: - saw that you got the Spirit - good choice.