Best Decked Canoes

I just looked at the Bell “Rob Roy”. It looks like a cross between a canoe and a kayak.

Who else makes high quality, lightweight, decked canoes?

Western Canoeing (Clipper) makes the sea-1. I have had only a brief paddle in one but it is fast (17’8"). Very nice canoe.


Kruger canoes are also not so bad …
… in this category :slight_smile:

You can check my recent video clips to see Kruger Sea Wind in Colorado winter paddling and then in WaterTribe Everglades Challenge in Florida together with other Kruger canoes:

decked canoes
you’ve really only got a handful of choices: kruger, clipper and bell are the only ones that seem readily available. i researched decked canoes for a year before i bought my bell rob roy. it’s no kruger, nor does it cost anywhere near as much. as a canoe goes, though, it’s a sweet boat. i recently added a sliding bucket wenonah seat in the boat. with the standard seat it’s bombproof, but paddling with a single blade at that height is difficult. any other builder would probably be custom.

if you’re concerned about weight, forget a kruger. those boats weigh like 60-plus pounds. they appear to be EXTREMELY tough, but 60 pounds is a lot of weight to throw around if you’ve got back problems. rob roy is offered in kevlar at about 35 pounds and with the whitegold lay-up at 45 pounds, i think. my boat is a fiberglass/kevlar, and it weighs 50 pounds. bell doesn’t use that lay-up anymore. i don’t know what the clippers weigh, but i’m sure you can find out.

Kruger Sea Wind vs Bell Rob Roy
I have been researching deck canoes. I have found what seem to be the 2 best for me:

  1. The best but heavy. Sounds like it has the best seat ever. Has a sail. Uses a rudder (will this require my legs be straight out again?).

    Kruger Sea Wind Standard

    (They also have an undescribed Sea Breese)

  2. Less of a boat, does not use a rudder, and is much less expensive.

    Bell Rob Roy

    I did not like the Clipper Sea-1.

    The weight is the biggest factor to me but I am not even sure if I could lift a Rob Roy onto my car. I may have to have pulleys installed above my car for either one and then depend on the kindness of others to get it off onto a cart.

    Any thoughts?

    Thank you very much, neo

to chad 19
I would really like to discuss your Rob Roy with you. Would it be possible to exchange emails or phone numbers?

neo from SC

just a thought
With weight being a major concern, you could always go with an open canoe, then add a spray cover. The covers are fabric and are very light weight, so you’d save a few pounds over a boat with a deck.

Soft Deck
This is an intersting idea. Would it be watertight? It would need a framework for proper drainage. How would this be done?

I know you DON’T mean c-1s
but decked slalom and wildwater racing canoes are both the lightest and the highest in construction quality. Bluewater/Upstream Edge still makes, them, and Galasport, Double Dutch, and Vajda overseas. A slalom c-1 weighs about 22 pounds and will take a lot of abuse in stride.

The wildwater boats are quite fast in a straight line, and some of them will work as lake cruisers, though they are not designed for flatwater and crosswinds. The slalom c-1s actually outhandle slalom kayaks.

C-1 paddlers often convert kayaks for whitewater, and many composite sea kayaks might be converted to c-1. HOWEVER you have to decide whether you want to sit or kneel, and kneeling for long periods restricted by a sprayskirt can get uncomfortable. None of us decked c-1 paddlers have figured out how to get long term comfort in a kneeling position. That’s why I paddle kayak, sometimes.

yup, that’s right
I was assuming that he was not asking about whitewater boats. I didn’t see any point in talking about whitewater c-1s when it looks like he is interested in something else.

soft decks
Here are photos of a couple of boats with fabric decks:

They are watertight. You don’t need a framework for drainage if the cover is snug.

You can make one yourself or you can get one from one of the outfits that sells them. The cover on the green boat in the one photo is homemade and worked quite well.

The professionally made ones are very nicely done, but do cost a bit more than doing one yourself. Two of the better known manufacturers are:

The cover on the red Voyager in the earlier photo is from Cooke’s.

C1- Sea1, Seen one?

Do you know anybody who paddles a converted SK?

I put a gyromax saddle in my Solstice for a little while. It was much less comfortable than any of my C1s and pretty tender to boot.

I’d love to find a good canidate for conversion.

The Rob Roys and Krugers lack the bulkheads and water tight cockpits that make an SK so seaworthy.

Hmm maybe I’ll try the Caribou…

Kruger Dreamcatcher has Bulkhead

– Last Updated: Jun-05-04 11:25 PM EST –

is water tight and sea worthy. That is exactly what it is made for, rough seas, the ocean!

Happy Paddl'n!



i don’t see how water-tight hatches make a boat more seaworthy. maybe they make boats easier to rescue and right, but they have nothing to do with ability while upright. also, float bags can easily be added to either boat. and, one of krugers boats has a hatch and bulkhead in the rear.

as for the whitewater boats, i didn’t realize he was asking questions about a whitewater boat for class III or above.

Best Decked Canoe. Best for what? Part 1

– Last Updated: Jun-05-04 11:44 PM EST –

Best Decked Canoe. Best for what? Part #1.

Alright everyone, brace yourselves!!! The Sea Wind's number one fan just checked in! Not to worry you old timers, I have mellowed greatly, (did? can?), if I want to, maybe. He, he, he, ...

There is a lot more than you might think to write in answer to the question that you have asked. I will only skim the surface. If after you read this you still have questions you can call me. We can also try to dive deeply via fon (too much typing for me) into design and function; theory and practice so you might understand more clearly the real capabilities of these hulls if you think you have a need to go that far.

So you know where I am coming from here is a brief back ground since I have not posted much in some time, especially the technical stuff I used to write: Canoeing: over 45 years. Kayaking: over four years. Look for the tougher, more challenging way most of the time. Water: flat (yuck), moving with structure (yeah) up thru class 3 (class 4 in raft). Power boats including hydro design, building and racing. Sail boats from 8' thru 28' with highest winds over 72 mph. Canoes tandem and solo 10' thru 18'. Most fun and most dangerous trip an afternoon of white water up to thru class 3 in a 13' long 12" deep Bell Flashfire which I tore up pretty bad. Longest rapids trip two weeks on Canadian Spanish River. Building and design: Started repairing and modifying canoes at 14. About two years building Kruger hulls in Verlen's shop two days a week 2000-2001. About three years discussions of hull theory with Verlen Kruger, Buckley, Bradford and other builders, expeditionests, and racers. Studied almost every hull of interest I ever got my hands on. I kinda like boats!

I will just follow along with the order of comments already made and questions asked. Hope it is not too confusing.

The Rob Roy and other decked canoes are not normally a cross between a canoe and a kayak. They are normally a true canoe that has been cut down and decked. Actually a kayak is a subclass of the broader term of canoe, reference BCU info. The main difference, if one must be made is in the shape and volume and shape of the hull. Canoes are fuller and ride higher in the water which provides less resistance and is the reason canoes carry heavier loads or normally travel longer and faster than kayaks can and do.

"Lightweight" is a relative term and can be confusing and very misleading. I own have owned four Sea Winds. Still have three. None of my Sea Winds were/are over 52 pounds (lightest is 47#) even though the official weight have been 59 thru 62 pounds. At over 17' long 52 pounds is not heavy for most any guy I know of. Especially for a true expedition quality, ELEVEN layered, almost bulletproof hull! Kruger canoes will no longer lay up a hull that light, but there are hulls out there from the past when different specs were used that are lighter if you can find them used. On the ones I helped lay up I left out one belly band layer, but more importantly stayed with the hull immediately after it was layed up, gently squeezing out the excess resin from the final layer and dipping out the pooling resin in the bow and stern. On two of the hulls I also had no gel coat above the waterline, using pigmented resin instead. Do not ask for this procedure as Kruger will no longer lay one up this way. The process damages the mold which must be repaired before it can be used again. Mine two were experiments that proved it could be done, but is not economical at all due to the extra work and damage.

TexasLady bought a Kevlar Rob Roy because 52 pounds was too heavy for her to throw around, AND because of her smaller size the Sea Wind felt and very probably was just too big for her. The Rob Roy's 30 some pounds and 15 something foot length fit her much better! Also she did not need the Sea Wind's extra strength. As we are comparing the two weight and size wise this is a good place to mention something about handling. I would say that the Sea Wind handles like a well balanced large sports sedan while the Rob Roy handles more like a small two seater sportster. The one exception is in the turning. A Sea Wind can easily out turn a Rob Roy not due just to it's rudder, but more so to it's unique hull design.

The Clipper Sea-1 I have never tried. Never had one around to try. Like most copies that are changed 10% or more to be legally not a copyright infringement I have been told by people that have paddles it that it just does not handle like the original expedition canoe it was copied from.

The best known decked canoes are probably Kruger, Bell, and Clipper, but there are more around as well. Two I know of are made in very small numbers in Michigan from Bell hulls. One maker uses a Morningstar hull, cuts it down and beautifully decks it mainly for sailing. The other maker will reshape and deck just about any Bell hull you wish. The first is VERY expensive and the second quite so. If you are interested in one of these very unique, expensive, and beautiful hulls I would have to do a search for the info as I have lost track of them.

More to come later ... Mick

decked bells
i’d love to have a decked magic with whitegold hull and maybe carbon/kevlar deck. i’ve tried for years to get bell to do a 16 foot rob roy, maybe offer a rudder option. that really would put the rob roy down as the kruger junior.

to Mick
I hate to be taking up so much board space but I really have a problem. Really want to get back on the water but really bad back. 35# is heavy for me. I am 6’ 160-70#.

I tried a yak for the first time last week. Putting my legs under the cockpit arched my lower back = pain.

When I put my knees up I had to take them into the coclpit and despite the relatively long length for a yak (35"), my knees were too high and I had to paddle over them.

The reason I am looking at the Rob Roy at 35# is because of the bigger cockpit. I think I will be able to raise my knees to an intermediate height, relieve the back strain, and have them low enough that I do not have to paddle over them.

neo from SC

Hey Chad! Going to get to Flordia yet

– Last Updated: Jun-06-04 6:19 AM EST –

far enough south with my Sea Winds to do that paddle we have always talked about. I am sure you will paddle my arms off as my paddling has really fallen off these last few years. What paddling I do is lazy paddling.

You would have a Sea Wind Jr IF, repeat IF they would do the rocker the same. The big secret of the Sea Wind is the rather unique rocker. It is one of the key elements that makes it so STABLE, so responsive, just hands and fist above most all other hulls. Of course it is also why it requires a rubber in most cases too, but the rudder is also a big part of Verlen's prime directive of efficiency. His goal was always extreme efficiency and safety (stability).

It would be rather easy to cut down or have the Magic hull cut down and deck it. A rudder would be easy. It would be extremely difficult to rerocker a Magic hull!

You would be further ahead to copy the lines you need and lay up a completely new hull. It would be fantastic to have a 15.5' "Sea Wind" with a weight around 35 or 40 pounds, proper rocker for response and stability, and rudder for extreme efficiency in tracking and control!!! Very doable in a light, non-expedition layed up hull!

Happy Paddl'n!



Hi Neo. That certainly cuts to the chase
Hi Neo. That certainly cuts to the chase.

What I have found is kayak = pain, numbness, stiffness, and so on. Canoe = comfort and a whole lot more versatility. Sea Wind = all a canoe offers plus a whole lot more efficiency in every way, with just a few minor problems of a kayak, but never as severe. I do not experience the back pain, numbness, or stiffness in a Sea Wind, even after 50 miles at a sitting or an extra long day (max 15 hours for me so far).

Call me now if you are up and near a fon. Check your e-mail for number.

Happy Paddl’n!