Bell Rob Roy

This boat has really piqued my interest. It looks similar to the Loon 138 I’ve been paddling. But in kevlar at 35lbs. it should make a fine solo tripping boat. The most recent reviews I’ve read are a couple of years old. Bell says this boat has a cult following. I could see why.

Any owners here that can provide some info on the boats handling characteristics? Single blade use or double bladed paddle? Worthiness as a solo tripper? At a tad under 2K I’ll have to start saving my pennies, but it looks like a can-yak or kay-noe that would be worth it.

Rob Roy
I’ve put a little over 2,000 miles on mine over the last three years. I use it mostly for day trips and coastal touring along the coastal Everglades. It’s been a very dependable boat for me. I’ve never capsized unintentionally. The worst conditions I’ll paddle in are 25 knots or so with 3-foot rollers on open water.

The hull behaves like a canoe. It’s quite full for boat with the seat on the floor. Since I paddle mine with a single-blade, I installed a Wenonah sliding bucket seat. So far it’s great, although I haven’t had a chance to paddle in any nasty weather. I’ll have to wait 'til winter for that.

It’s fast for a 15-foot canoe. I’ve read on this board that people have posted faster times in the Rob Roy than the Bell Magic. I’m sure the deck and lower freeboard contributes a little to speed.

My boat is the fiberlar version, a mostly fiberglass lay-up that’s no longer available. They sold new for $1200 when I bought the boat. It’s tough as hell, and now I’d consider that a bargain.

I also fish from the boat, paddle tight creeks and rivers, and have recently thought about putting a sail rig of some type of the boat. I added D-rings, float bags, deck lines, and the new seat. I plan to get the spray cover this fall.

I love my Rob Roy
I bought mine (in kevlar) used for $650, which was a real bargain because it included a Cooke Custom Spray cover, 3 paddles, a backband, and a tractor seat installed instead of the original pad on the floor. My only wish is that it was more suitable for the rocky rivers I like to paddle, but I have to confine my use of it to the less rocky rivers, flat rivers and lakes.

It handles nicely in the wind, and as Chad said, it’s fast. I don’t have quite the quick-turn ability I have with the Sandpiper, but the Rob Roy is 1-1/2 feet longer than the Sandpiper. I paddle almost exclusively with a single blade, a Zaveral 48" carbon fiber bent shaft. Rarely do I break out the double blade, which I use mostly as my spare. I didn’t realize how fast it was until I had several friends tell me to slow down…that they couldn’t keep up. And I wasn’t even trying…I was just paddling with my “normal” effort and stroke I usually used with the Sandpiper.

I don’t think you’ll find ANY similarities to the Loon 138 kayak.

It’s great for tripping, but I haven’t had it on any long trips…only 2-3 nights out at a time so far. Of course, my Sandpiper solo canoe is easier to load, but even with the deck on the Rob Roy, it’s easy to pack with my gear, but I travel semi-light.

I have to redo my seat, as the tractor seat came unglued on the last trip, and I’m interested in what Chad19 did with his.

I’m in Texas, too, so if you’re ever in the Dallas area, I’d be happy to let you take a test drive.


sweet deal
i’ll give you $650 today for what you got, unseen. i’m sure you’ll deny that offer though.

you’re right about the loon boats. the rob roy is a totally different beast. it’s a great design.

What’s the bottom shape like on that Rob Roy? Semi Rounded? Flat? Chined?

it’s arched/semi-round

Not only a sweet deal, but
I got it delivered from Indiana for the cost of a bottle of Crown Royal and a tee shirt. One of our other p.netters, Sloopsailer, lives in the same town where the seller works, and generously offered to transport it to the next trip. He and the seller worked out the transfer and Sloop brought it to me at the Buffalo River get-together in April. Isn’t great???


for the info guys. Jill, thanks for the offer. I rarely make it north of Austin, but have been thinking of paddling Caddo Lake this fall/winter. I’ll give you a holler if I go. The Rob Roy might be just what I need. I rarely do rocky rivers, mostly lakes and slow rivers that run deep. I’m hoping to do a Boundary Waters trip in the next couple of years and that’s what I had this boat in mind for. The Sandpiper was another one I was considering but I think it might be a tad on the small side for me and tripping. But, it sure is a nice canoe.

How is the Rob Roy’s original seat for comfort? I have used boats in the past with just a backband and a Thermarest type butt cushion and found them exceedlingly comfortable.


Rob Roy Seat…
The most comfortable seat I’ve ever had was the seat in the Swifty. The small size tractor seat that was installed on the pad in the Rob Roy is a tad small for my tractor, but now that it has come loose, I’m looking at other options, like what Chad did. I don’t know how comfortable the original pad was as the tractor was already installed on top of it. The backband that was intalled wasn’t the most comfortable, but I’m still trying out things.

I really, really like the Sandpiper, and it carries more than you might think. Because it’s a shorter boat than the Rob Roy, it’s easier to load/unload/portage than the Rob Roy, even though the weight is nearly the same.

If you have never paddled Caddo Lake, you are in for a treat…if you don’t go in the summer time. Late fall, winter, and early spring are the best times, when mosquitoes and temperatures are reduced. Good places to camp…either at Caddo Lake State Park, or on Goat Island for a nearly primitive experience. Be prepared to trust your compass in the cypress swamp.


Something important not mentioned.

Sloopsailor had first shot at this boat and passed on it due to his size. We all kicked it around and the general feeling was the boat would not handle as intended and might be damaged as Sloopsailor is a big active boy!

I paddled the Rob Roy and thought it handled like a sports car! I liked it. I probably would not get one though as it is a bit small for me in a decked canoe configuration. I am average heigth and range from 195 to 220 pounds. When camping I carry an aditional 100 to 200 pounds depending on the trip. Also I am very tough on my hulls and know it’s light construction would not hold up long to my use.

Not trying to be negative about the Rob Roy as I think they are great. Just wanted to present more of a clear picture to help you decide.

Happy Paddl’n!



PS: I do paddle decked canoes more often than not. If you find that you are bigger or rougher than you think a Rob Roy can handle there are other, larger decked canoes out there. I paddle Kruger Sea Winds.

The Krugers are a great looking boat!!! Unfortunately they are way out of my price range. I too run the scale from 195 to 220 depending on whether I’m eating fish and veggies alot or pigging out on burgers and cheesecake!!!

I currently paddle an Old Town Loon 138 and find it is a pretty comfortable boat for me with enough storage for weekend camping trips. Of course I can’t take my favorite BIG Igloo cooler full of ice and cold beverages, but most everything else I need fits pretty good. I would think that the Rob Roy with an extra foot and a half of length would be spacious enough to haul the stuff I normally take.

Do you guys think the Rob Roy can comfortably handle a weeks worth of gear for a Boundary Waters trip? My load would consist of a backpackers tent and stove, tarp, sleeping bag and thermarest, dehydrated food, personal items, folding saw, knife…etc. Pretty much the same stuff I carry in my Loon for weekend trips only more food.


i don’t think you’d have a problem…
…paddling the boat in the bwcaw, but… i test paddled a friends rob roy and i weigh 260. at the time, i was looking for a boat similar to the seawind, which i cannot afford either. it’s a different beast than the seawind, mick’s analogy of a sportscar is pretty accurate. the friend who owns the one i paddled uses his for duck hunting and his lab (who goes with him in this boat) is probably 10-15lbs heavier than my 100lb lab. no problem with this size load, and this guy is probably 230lbs+. the reason i didn’t like the rob roy was mostly because the seat. if it had a decent seat with back band, like the kruger, i would buy one. this will be my first year i’ve missed in 20 years tripping the bwcaw, so i have plenty experience there. the problem with the rob roy is the landings. sitting so low will make many of the steep, rocky landings difficult. so, it could be a good bwcaw boat, on some routes; especially those routes with easy landings, and lots of paddling. hope that helped. ww

Thanks alot!! Never been to the BW so I’m looking forward to my first trip there.

bottom line
If you want a boat that is capable of a week-long trip on moderate waters, the rob roy is a good choice from a canoe perspective. I’ve found the boat tough, seaworthy and roomy. I would feel extremely safe on any lake in the country, maybe not offshore on the Great Lakes during rolling waves and overall nasty conditions. $1400

BUT, if you need a canoe that will carry you and all needed gear for 1,000 miles or plan to sail the Southern tropical islands, get a Sea Wind: $3500

As for seat, you can make any kind of seat you want. The factory backband sucks. If you want to paddle with a doubleblade, upgrade the backband and maybe add a siting pad to get a little extra height. If you’re going for a singleblade, put in some type of higher seat. I’m beginning to love the Wenonah tractor I put in my Rob Roy.

Rob Roy
I have ordered a light weight rob roy . Saw one once down at Jersey Paddler and liked the looks of it . It should go well with my Mini Cooper , a small car that seems troubled by the larger sea kayaks.

Bell is shiping it to a store near me .John

good luck

– Last Updated: Aug-04-04 9:34 PM EST –

I've been more than impressed with my boat.

One thing I can't understand, though, is why the boat automatically draws comparisons to the sea wind. yes, they're both decked canoes; but other than that, there really aren't a lot of similarities.

For a 15-foot canoe, rob roys are fairly serious cruising boats, IMO. They don't have rudders, they're not 60-some-odd pounds of kevlar, they're not 17 feet long and they weren't designed and tested by Verlen Kruger.

Rob Roys are nothing more than canoes with a deck. They're not some magical or mystical boat that can see a paddler through hurricanes and other acts of God.

As for comparisons to a traditional canoe, I'd take the Rob Roy places I'd never think of taking a Bell Magic, Wenonah Prism, etc.

Different perspective

– Last Updated: Aug-04-04 10:10 PM EST –

I bought and sold my kevlar rob roy within two months. I feel in many respects it is a failed concept. Don't get me wrong, there is no accounting for individual taste, so to those who found a use for it OK. For me, it is neither fish nor fowl, not being as good as the Magic and or Merlin II as a canoe, and not being able to handle rough open lakes, resevoirs, etc, any better than a protected canoe (cover, floats). I felt that the width requires one to have a longish kayak paddle that puts strain on the paddler, not present in an actual narrow kayak, or in a solo canoe. It can be dangerous to equate stability coming from sitting on the bottom with actual performance in steep wind and current driven waves. The width will add to the instability. I also found that it has considerable above water wind resistance, not much better than being in a solo canoe.

If one simply wants permanent cover for the boat, is light, i.e., less than 160 lbs. and does not want to go as fast as in a narrow and longer solo canoe, so be it , love the position, etc. For me I am now much happier with a Magic for speed, playfulness, getting over beaver dams, portages, etc, and a long narrow kayak that handles rough water with bulkheads, spray cover, rolling, etc.

Just my point of view and experience.

i’ll race you and the magic on coastal waters in tripping conditions anyday.

Used options
In the $1000+/- price range you can find a used Mad River Monarch or Sawyer Loon, which is an earlier version of the Kruger hull. Not as nice as a Kruger, but a fine boat.

I just bought a nearly new Monarch for $1100 with shipping from Boston to Atlanta and could not be more pleased with it, particularly how fast it is for how comfortable and stable the boat is.

There are a couple of Loon’s advertised right now at

I have not paddled a Rob Roy before - they do appear to be fine boats also.

I did an archive search and found that this is the only post with the “beherenow” name. If you have a valid opinion, why not sign up and give a profile. I tend to discredit posts when people use an alias type name to hide their identity. If you’re a totally new poster and will hang around this board, my apologies in advance.