Advice on a Solo Canoe

Greetings all,

I would like to get some recommendations on what type of solo canoe I should buy so that I can take my dog along on trips. I am a large person and would need advice as to what boat would carry me well.

My specs are 6’8" tall at 280 pounds. I paddle racing kayaks, so I am in pretty decent shape and have a good knowledge of paddling.

Walter, my dog specs out at about 12 inches tall at 20 pounds. He is in excellent shape as he chases rabbits and frisbees.

I would be paddling some small streams and the mighty Susquehanna river. Nothing bigger than class II. I like to surf the occasional small wave.

Let me know your thoughts and any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.


three to consider to get started

– Last Updated: May-11-06 11:36 AM EST –

for more efficiency:
Swift Shearwater
Wenonah Solo Plus

for more surfing:
Nova Craft Supernova

They are all different and all very good "big guy" solos. Just depends on what compromises you choose to make. I'd read the reviews and look at the manufacturers sites to get started with your very fun and exciting quest.

I agree with the above post, all are nice canoes. The Supernova is the only one of three that I’ve paddled in the past. It is a very nice canoe and I believe it would serve you well.

Test paddle as many as you can before buying. Good luck.

cheers…Joe O’

Hemlock SRT?

– Last Updated: May-11-06 12:37 PM EST –

Haven't paddled one -- too big for me -- but if it's like his other boats it's worth looking at. The builder is happy to talk to you if you have questions.

some more

– Last Updated: May-11-06 2:49 PM EST –

wenonah encounter
bluwater freedom 16 splitrock

a classic peterborough design would work

Heck even a wenonah jensen 17 (outfitted solo)would do the trick in not so windy conditions.

*None would work the best for surfing small waves. Nova is your best bet there.

** - forgot - the wenonah rendevous might be the boat your looking for

Yes the SRT fits the bill
Super nice river boat for a big person with his dog. Top of the line boat.

on the other hand
I have only paddled the Solo Plus out of those two. I like mine alot. I would like it more if I was your size (I am 5’9"ish at 150#). and if you want a dog with you it would give you the room.


Well, I’m in love with my Voyager. On one hand you might like it a lot cause it’s fast (seeing as how you’re into racing yaks). On the other hand, it might be a little tricky to turn in the mild whitewater you mention. It is certainly capable of handling a substantial load.

The other one you might want to consider is a Wenonah Rendezvous. I’m not sure if they still offer them or not, but you could probably dig around and find out. It would be better suited for the whitewater for sure. I had one years ago and really liked it.

3 suggestions
I’m pretty new to solo canoes but based on what your requirements are, I’d look at:

Hemlock SRT

Mohawk Odyssey 14

Wenonah Solo Plus

I’ve got a Hemlock Peregrine and really think the quality of it is fantastic. A used Mohawk would be the least expensive choice of the three, however, if that’s a consideration. Have fun looking!

solo boat for big guy
I’m about 185-ish and my dog is 65-70, so our load is a bit lighter than yours and you may need more room than me.

I think the Swift Shearwater is the ticket for you; sweet boat…turns great, cruises effortlessly, and has lots of room and capacity. Get Expediton Kevlar since it’s tough. Avoid the skid plates if you have a choice; they make a little noise. I had a Shearwater and loved it.

I think the SRT is an OK choice but not a top choice. I think it may be a bit skinny (not roomy enough) for you. I got rid of mine for several reasons, one of which was that it was so deep my dog could not lay down and look out. Perhaps you could add a little platform for your puppy. Shearwater is the sweeter boat.

I’d tend to lean towards a small combi (solo/tandem) for you since your load is big. My Bluewater Freedom Tripper 17 was an amazing solo as well as an amazing tandem; this boat will carry your load effortlessly and still perform like a true solo. Get one if you can find one!

Another super boat for you would be a Bell Starfire, now made by Placid Boatworks. Boat has always been offered as solo only for big guys like you. It’s not as fast and efficient as a true solo but it gets around quite well and you’d love it downstream more than any boat I can imagine and it would also be great on lakes and relatively slow upstream paddles. I see that there’s one for sale in the classified ads if you’re near Florida.

Bell Yellowstone Solo
The Bell Yellowstone Solo was practically made for you. 14’ and only 44lbs in Royalex, but also available in kevlar and 2 other laminate options.

A Little Small

– Last Updated: May-18-06 8:58 AM EST –

In my experience the Yellowstone Solo is best suited for paddler/loads around 200#. A 280# paddler with a 20# dog might be a bit much for river running, especially big river water like the Susquehanna.

Rumor has it that Bell is working on development of a larger volume solo. The early Beta is that it will be something similar to a Hemlock SRT, but with slightly sharper stems. No word on when this hull may be out, but it should be worth the wait.

I sit corrected
Thanks for the correction, Topher. At 220#, I thought it was a neat little boat, but I only very briefly demoed it on a lake.