16' Hornbeck?

Anybody have any experience with a 16’ Hornbeck canoe? Anybody try kneeling in it? Sounds like a poor mans Rapidfire.


I’m also curious about the 16’6" kayak.
The only specs that they list for it are the length and weight.

Best bet would be to call Hornbeck

– Last Updated: Feb-20-09 2:27 PM EST –

and find out if he does belly band reinforcing like Placid does for their kneeling versions of Spit and Rapid.

I am guessing not. But that is pure speculation.

I also would inquire about the width because Hornbecks boats are typically wider. That may make the boat too wide for you for single blading.

They list it at 27" wide.A pedistal maybe?


Just got off their website, with doubts.
1. Why do they offer all-Kevlar boats? Probably their best construction is their combo of carbon and Kevlar, IF they put the carbon on the outside…but it is vulnerable to abrasion there, while Kevlar outside is vulnerable to fuzzing.

2. For a builder striving to sound sophisticated, they fall into the trap of stating 6" freeboard weight capacities. So, their capacity claims are just ridiculous.

3. They seem to feel that a fine entry makes for speed, but then they bloat the center of the boat for stability and capacity. A fine entry contributes little to speed unless the entire hull is designed for speed.

Their boat weights are not all that astounding. Their 16.5 foot canoe is about the same weight as my tubby 13’, 30" waterline beam, S-glass/Kevlar Millbrook, and the Millbrook is also a tandem. Millbrook boats are very tough.

Hornbeck is making some nice boats for placid lakes and streams. But I think anyone looking for a cheaper equivalent to a Rapidfire should just save up and get a Rapidfire.

Bell & Placid have carbon outers -
at least that’s what I recall from my talks with them this week. Wenonahs also have carbon outers. Apparently it resists abrasion well enough.

Of course, the Placids have gel over the carbon outer.

No, it doesn’t, but people who want
carbon outside are apparently willing to give away the abrasion resistance they could have had with glass. I’m not sure what a “gel” layer does on boats built to be super light, except to add weight.

S-glass makes an excellent outer layer, very wear resistant, and S-glass outside with Kevlar inside makes for a tough boat.

Price and lightness
I dont care for the hull designs but that me… I have paddled Lost Pond and frankly found it slow.

Where there is hollow cheek in the Hornbecks is a design problem. Water only reads from cheek to cheek so those fine ends contrubute nothing.

I cant say that the entire inventory of their boats are hollow cheeked. I am not sure. I believe the Black Jack is too…tried to paddle with some folks with them last summer but Rapid wanted to get away. I also met someone with a 14 foot carbon solo Hornbeck. BJ is a carbon fiber Hornbeck…not all of their boats are all Kevlar.

Its not only about the material. Its about the way its used. I think the belly band that PBW uses for its kneeling Rapids and Spits is laid on the bias for more strength.

So the other question is not only what is in the boat but where is the fabric applied and how is it laid.

Lightness is not always good… and thats where Peter is stressing his marketing. It can be for casual paddlers to make cartopping easier in their older age.

But at some point too light is not right.

The 16’ doesn’t looked cheeked.
The 16’ has a 27" beam. The ends seem to be different than on the shorter boats.


I think that someone who lives in the neighborhood should try one out when the ice thaws so that we can have some first hand experience posted.

Laying some of the fabric on the bias
goes at least back into the early 70s. My 1973 18.5’ Moore Voyageur was marketed as having an “octometric” layup because the glass layers were partly laid on the bias. I lay up patches on the bias. But laying up cloth on the bias does not compensate for the mediocre strength-in-compression of Kevlar, or for the susceptibility to abrasion of carbon. If either carbon or Kevlar are used for the outside layer, one must be prepared to be a little more careful about running the boat onto gravel beaches, etc. A clear “gel” coat would help, but there goes part of the weight savings. It’s a choice.

Carbon outside of Kevlar is a good combination. S-glass over Kevlar will increase weight a bit, will be almost as stiff as carbon/Kevlar, will be a bit tougher than carbon/Kevlar, and will resist beach wear very well.

I contacted them
I contacted Hornbeck about my questions on this boat.I’ll let you know what they say. I used to own a 10’6" all kavlar Hornbeck, and if it paddled well kneeling with a single blade,I would still have it.Not a Placid,but a great boat for the price and a great company to deal with.


One Lost Pond
slow but steady.

I have to say that it kept a friend paddling till his 80s but it got some soft spots after a few years.

That was about 10-12 years ago. Bet Pete has learned something.

I think the 16 is cheeked too(the 14 is) but it show less well in the photos. I saw the 14 in person. Did not paddle it as the owner was stacking an insane amount of gear in it.

I got it
I got a reply from Darren at Hornbeck and to their credit he said they din’t recomend kneeling in their boats. He said the stability goes out the window.Like I said,solid people to deal with. Oh well,save more money for a rapidfire.


Probably an experienced ww open
boater or c-1 paddler could set a Hornbeck up for kneeling with good stability. I’ve had boats that were too roly-poly for sitting but were quite acceptable kneeling.

Some points about position and stability. One factor is that a canoe will be more stable (other things being equal) if paddler weight is as low as possible. The Hornbeck position, seated on a pad on the floor of the boat, is better for stability than kneeling, which is in turn better than sitting on a raised seat.

However, stability is also a dynamic issue, depending on what the paddler can do to right the boat if something tips it, or can do to resist a displacement force such as a boat wake. It is generally recognized that the kneeling position provides very good dynamic control. However, seated paddlers, whether seated down on the floor or on a raised seat, can increase dynamic control by the same means used in whitewater kayaks— foot braces, knee/thigh braces, hip locating pads, and perhaps a low back support. If I had a Hornbeck, especially one of the more desirable 16 footers, I would certainly either set it up for kneeling, or put in foot braces, thigh braces, and hip support.

A light, all Kevlar canoe is more likely
to develop soft spots. They’re real strong soft spots, and won’t tear open easily, but it could have been prevented by stiffening with carbon or glass for the outer two layers.

Construction constraints
When converting any pack canoe from low sitting to high seated or kneeling configuration, consider the original build schedule. Most pack canoe seats transfer the paddlers weight to the bottom of the hull, with enough “stuff” in the sidewalls to allow the paddler to press downwards on the rails when getting in oor out of the boat.

If one intends to hang a seat from the rails in standard kneeling/sitting fashion, the sidewalls may need re-enforcement.

When we are asked to build a hung seat/kneeling version of a pack cane we add a 12 oz carbon belly band rail to rail at the seat location and another 6 oz diamond, on bias, to further strengthen the cockpit area.