Bell Rob Roy ?

I’m in the market for a kayak, and have come across the Bell Rob Roy. I’d like to hear from anybody with experience with it. Mostly, how does it differ from a kayak. (I realize a very general statement)

I’m looking to paddle on rivers, lakes, doing some weekend camping trips.

Thanks in advance for replies.

my experience is bigger cockpits
they are wetter. especially in a wider boat. water that would be falling off the kayak paddle onto the foredeck ends up on your legs and in your lap. UNLESS you are going to use a canoe paddle. then, no prob. the rob roy is after all a decked canoe.

It should do well for your intended
purposes, though I wouldn’t use it in white water. Great for slower rivers and lakes. It’ll not paddle as fast as some kayaks, but probably won’t be a complete dog either. Looks like a great fishing canoe…it is a canoe, Bell calls it that.

Bell Rob Roy
The Bell Rob Roy has a much larger cockpit than sea kayaks, which brings benefits and problems, depending on use.

(+) It’s easier to get in and out of than a sea kayak. Easier to load and unload gear. Don’t have to use spray skirts. works well with portage yoke

(-) lagre waves can splash in- rain will come in unless you get a deck cover- harder to keep gear dry- paddle drip will wet your legs if you use a double blade (can use single blade)

I really like my Rob Roy. It has good speed for 15’, comfortable, well made. I use a double blade because of past shoulder injuries and wear water proof pants to avoid paddle drip. Single blades work fine with this boat and some prefer them. While considerable more expensive, it is much faster and lighter than the plastic decked canoes now called “rec kayaks” Should you decide to buy a Rob Roy, explore the material choices with Bell. I paid extra four years ago for the black gold lay up. I just saw a Rob Roy in a store with a lay up that was called Fiberlar and it was about the weight of mine, had carbon kevlar on inside layer and was much cheaper than mine.

As with any canoe or kayak choise, try a number of models and paddle the one you think you are going to buy for hours in the conditions you expect to use it, before buying.

for me not a great design
In my experience with it it was neither fish nor fowl, and the juncture of intended uses lacked either the best attributes of either kayak or canoe.

In my experience, it was fine if you like paddling at the bottom of the cockpit and using a canoe paddle, or with a kayak paddle, but the lack of contact with the boat and the width makes for a long paddle and thus less efficient.

It really is not a kayak in any sense as one cannot reliably capsize it and dump the water and re enter easily not without allot of floatation and the risk in the light lay up at least of hurting the decks.

It does not do well on fast running river, as lenght makes it unwieldy in currents and rocks.

Yes a small group of folks love them for some better gear protection and don’t mind the position, and they understand its limits.

Some ignore the liabilities and take them out in big lakes and even the ocean. I say fine, to your own peril, just know not a kayak.

I feel it is more useful to learn how to enjoy a fast and efficent solo canoe, like the Bell Magic or Merlin, or investigate very light weight but efficient rec kayaks, epic kayak has one for example and there are others.

Just my experience of course!


being neither fish nor fowl
it lacks the real benefits of either craft, canoe or kayak. me thinks this is why it remains a very unique and seldom chosen boat.

i have found that most Rob Roy owners i’ve met (met a lot at the eccentric wooden boat symposium on Georgian Bay one year) tend to like them for their quirkiness as well as their easy to get in, solid stability, kayakability. none that i spoke to were persnickity paddlers looking to challenge the hulls performance envelope in big or moving water. they liked the funk factor and the low ridin’ factor.

Paddler Magazine
Paddler magazine has a review on the Bell Rob Roy and some other decked canoes (Including the Clipper Sea 1 that I have). It is in the November/ December issue if you can find a copy.

Cheers…Joe O’

rob roy
i’ve put over 5k miles on mine. it’s a great touring boat, quite fast for a 15-foot canoe. i put a sliding wenonah seat in mine and use a single blade. it’s dry, fast, seaworthy and predictable. i’ve taken it on big-water trips in the gulf with conditions of 25 knots and 4-foot rollers for days on end with a full load. boat performed lovely. it’s also great for fishing, sailing, work-outs, etc. have only capsized once unintentionally, even then a manatee rolled me in three feet of water. it weighed 1200 pounds. what could i do? :slight_smile:

I’m with Evan
I took a Rob Roy out for a spin at Raystown, with a single blade paddle. My impression was that its okay, but why would anybody want this boat. If you are going to sit on the floor with your legs straight out in a closed hull, just get a kayak. If, OTOH, you want a canoe, look at those Evan mentions.


Rob Roy
Having kayaked since around 1990 and often being uncomftorable , I find the Bell Rob Roy

a real delight .It is not as fast as a kayak and has no rudder ,yet if you have some paddling

experience , it can be a great boat .It is not that easy to get in and out off. It takes some

trying and then you have to slide it between your legs , balance yourself and plop in.

Getting out of the boat is easier , yet a kayak is simpler on entry and exit .For me , I have

a leg that cramps up , the Rob Roy is a joy compared to most kayaks . I have ordered a

Kruger Sea Wind , a much heavier lay up , yet a similar design and hope to try it out in

the spring . The Rob Roy in kevlar is a bit delicate and tough in high winds . John