Advice on buying a canoe..

-- Last Updated: Aug-08-06 12:11 PM EST --

Hello fellow paddlers,

I am ready to buy a canoe. So, I have narrowed my choice down to these two. To anyone out there whom owns one of these great looking Canadian canoes. I'd like to know what you think of the performance of the Swift Matawa canoe and also the Esquif Champlain canoe. What is special about it? Tell me why you'd recommend that particular one?

Thank you and happy paddling!


I don’t own either…
…and have paddled neither…

But I do own several different canoes, including a Swift (a Shearwater) & have been canoeing for many years and am fairly obsessive about it. But please feel free to take what I have to say with a grain of salt – it’s just one guy’s opinion.

The two canoes in question represent a modern design (Mattawa) and an older design with a long history (Champlain).

The Mattawa has differential rocker – as do many John Winter (and David Yost) designs. This theory behind “DF” is that the relatively large amount of bow rocker (2.5”) allows for bringing the bow around in wind & big seas, etc while the lesser amount of stern rocker (1.75”) aids with straight tracking. Some also say that the straighter keeled stern aids with catching current during back ferries. I’ve come to view differential rocker as a gimmick that just irritates me – it’s like training wheels… I have a preference for equal amounts of rocker. …but maybe that’s just me…

Rocker aside the Mattawa is a bit short (15’8”) for a tandem and a wee bit on the wide side (36”) for its length. Every Winter designed boat I’ve ever paddled has very solid secondary stability.

The Champlain on the other hand is based on an older Peterborough Canoe Company pattern from the early part of the twentieth century. FWIW, Peterborough Canoes were exquisitely built cedar strip (or “board”) canoes requiring a great amount of skill to produce versus Maine style cedar/canvas factory jobs like Old Towns – and later Chestnut, etc.

As did the original the Esquif Champlain has equal amounts of rocker at both stems (2.5”) is a bit longer (16’2”) and narrower (33”). I would expect it to be a bit faster than the Mattawa and more fun to solo.

Beyond the design differences one should of course also consider the reputation for quality control of the two canoe builders in question. Swift makes some great boats – but they also churn out more than their fair share of stinkers - it’s hit or miss with that outfit. On the other hand I’ve never heard a disparaging word about the quality of Esquif Canoes. All I’ve heard are favorable comments.

All of the above is just my two cents worth. I imagine others will pipe in as well. Hope that helped – good luck with you decision.



In reading some of the specs from Randall’s reply…they are pretty wide boats for the length of their waterlines. From my interest in ww_canoeing, Esquif’s ww_canoes are pretty nice…hence, from experience(which you can take with a grain of salt), I might want to demo their flatwater boats.

The Mattawa is a magical boat that I can recommend with no reservations; I don’t own one but I’d like to and I’ve paddle them several times. They are lots of fun solo on calm water and they are efficient and maneuverable tandem. Sweet boat. I’d avoid the skid plates if possible to keep it quieter and I’d go for the Expedition Kevlar lay-up to make sure it’s strong and tough. Get cherry trim if you can!

don’t know why
but I love my swift dumoine and it’s differential rocker and asymetrical hull design. Paddle moving/whitewater primarily but just soloed it on flatwater and I just love this canoe. Of course I love about anything that floats…but 3 paddles into the demo 3 years ago my son turned and said"this is the one".

Not much help, because I haven’t paddled either, but, for what it’s worth… when I saw the Esquif Champlain, and when I lifted it, I said: “one day I’ll own a nice canoe like this one.”

For now I just need a variety of Royalex beaters for the rivers.