bad backs


I am looking for a good tandem canoe for someone with a bad back. Ideally, light weight, good tracking, good secondary stability…

Any suggestions?

Stable hull designs with bucket seats.
You probably don’t want too much arch in the hull design of a canoe for a person who’s leary of tweaking their back. You mentioned Clipper canoes … and they come with very large comfortable bucket seats in many of their models. The Rangers (16 & 17’) are a bit twitchy, but their Cascade would be ideal (in a Kevlar lay-up) … it’s claimed to be a very solid and seaworthy design … and it’s probably efficient enough for decent paddling. Turn the front bucket around and row it if you want solo speed and ease.

I have a Dagger Legend (16) that has served me well - it is just a bit heavy for me to put on the car or to portage.

As for Clippers - I’ve never really heard of them before really - someone in my area happens to be selling a used one and I was curious if it was a tub or not! It doesn’t really solve my need for a lighter boat in any case.


If you
post your profile we may be able to steer you to a local source, new or used . Or at least some one who has one you can try. Other wise we could be recommending a Candienne boat to Austrailian…

You may be better off kneeling.
Sitting tends to cause forward spine flexion. Success with kneeling depends on not kneeling too low, to avoid lower leg circulation problems from knee flexion; and either using ankle blocks, if you prefer your feet to be somewhat dorsiflexed; or getting accustomed to kneeling with the tops of your feet flat on the hull, like I do.

With kneeling, you have better stability, so you can use more arched, faster hulls, and maybe have more rocker as well.

A custom builder who provides very light, fast, good handling boats is “Kaz” of Millbrook boats. The models you would want to scope out are the AC/DC and the Souhegan. Savage makes one superlight general purpose canoe.

thanks so much
Now there is one silver bullet of a suggestion!

Thanks - I will check the company out.

These look great!

I am familiar with the ME, and also Bob Foote’s Rival (I have it’s grandmother 0 the Genesis), but the AC/DC looks wonderful and very reasonably priced. Cool.

several choices around 42 lbs
Quetico 16. I haven’t paddled one but I have one of their solo boats and it’s super light and plenty tough. I recently injured my back too and I’m considering this boat for my tandem. It should have the stability and tracking you want…I’ll bet this boat would be great for you. 42 pounds I think.

Or wait for Dave Curtis at Hemlock Canoe to get his new “Eaglet” ready…a smaller version of his tandem Eagle. It’ll be on the small side for a tandem but wonderfully well made and light (low 40’s) and tough.

And if you want a hot all around boat that has fine secondary stability but gives up a little primary…the Bluewater Freetom Tripper 17 is a really cool boat…a bit narrower than most so faster. Handles great. Solos great too. 42 pounds in carbon fiber. Bluewater boats are some of the best quality I’ve ever seen.

Another wild card pocket tandem
is the fairly narrow Bluewater Peterborough. I have a Bluewater Chippewa, 48 pounds, and the nylon/Kevlar/s-glass vacuum bagged heat-cured epoxy is state of the art. But I think the Chippewa is more hull and more width than you may need. Other Bluewaters to consider are the Scout and the 17 foot Tripper. Bluewaters tend to turn better than one would expect for their speed. They are now a subsidiary of Scott/Mid-Canada Fiberglass, but still using all their previous methods, the same ones used to build Olympic slalom boats for many past events.

I know you’ve evaluated…
…your need for a tandem, but just in case-my wife and I are much happier with two solos than we were with a tandem. I can go out by myself, or we have greater flexibility/independence when together. And, of course, my solo is lighter than any tandem. I started with an Old Town Pack, which I could carry on one shoulder. I’m up to a WNN Vagabond, which is 42-44 lb I think, and more of a chore.

I also have a bad back – 2 microdiscektomies in the past year and constant chiropractic treatment.

The MAIN thing I think about it deadlifting the boat out of the water. It’s not the weight so much as it is technique; like those weightlifters who throw half a ton over their heads. Small, quick and precise movements are the trick, with each movement designed to allow you to stop and still retain good balance.

On the water, I find that a canoe with a bit of rocker is best, especially for turning the hull from a dead stop (which requires the most twist from the spine).

I paddle an Old Town Penobscot and a Mad River Freedom, at 65 and 78 pounds, respectively. I have my eye on the Wenonah Encounter as a solo for next year’s season, just to get the weight dropped under 50 pounds.

Good luck!


Boise, Idaho

body mechanics
Yep - you are right about the precision of movement in and out of the water! Stroke technique has become more important than ever.

I’m shooting for a tandem around 40 pounds (my current boat is over 70lbs) - and thanks to some of the advice from these messages I am considering one of the Bluewater boats or the AC/DC.

If you are looking for a solo, you could certainly get well below the 50 pounds you are looking for.

go for 2 solos…

– Last Updated: Jun-02-04 12:10 PM EST –

You can get many solo canoes under 35 lbs between 14'/15'...the Clipper Prospector 14..Wenonah Vagabond....Mohawk makes 3 models 15' and under...
Buy a high back seat that will attach to the factory seat and check it out with a double paddle and a single and see what feels best to your back.. and away we go...

Seats or Saddles…

– Last Updated: Jun-02-04 11:18 PM EST –

Not trying to start anything here folks...:)...HONEST!!!... I too have lower back problems and I find that a saddle is much more comfortable on my back than the seats (not to mention the stability issue.) Just another thing to consider.

You might want to check out the Nova Craft site, they have a new carbon fiber composite they call "Blue Steel" and some great hulls to choose from.

Paddle On

I totally agree about saddles being easier on the lower back!!!

I’m in the process of trying to switch out the seats and install saddles in our tandem boat - I’m assuming that I’ll need to move both bow & stern a little closer to the center to accomodate the saddle for the stern paddler - I’ve just been a bit leary about opening that can of worms.