Best Place to Demo a Variety of Solo Canoes

Hi there paddlers! I live in a great area for paddling (East TN) but there are not a lot of options when it comes to shopping for a solo canoe. I am tired of reading reviews and browsing websites and want to be able to try out a variety of higher end solo boats (Nothstar, We-No-Nah, Swift, Nova Craft, etc.). Covid aside, and with Canoecopiea going virtual, where is the best retailer or outfitter where I can actually try out a variety of boats? I am willing to travel for this (obviously) as these types of high end composite boats are not popular in this part of the country.

Thanks for anyone’s insight!

1 Like

I’d look at the dealer lists for your desired brands and try to find overlap. ultimately, there is very little Inventory right now. My two closest swift dealers didn’t have anything in stock and wouldn’t even take an order until winter.

midwest canoe symposium at Cooper’s Lake Pa. Lots of high end stuff…premier builders, designers…

1 Like

It’s Called Western Pa. Canoe Rondevous(?) at Cooper’s Lake. goggle it

In southern Wisconsin Carl’s Paddlin in Lone Rock has Northstars and Wenonahs and lots of used canoes and Rutabaga in Madison has Swifts and Northstars (and maybe Nova Craft…check their website). The two shops are about 30 minutes apart and both have convenient test paddling. You’d have to call to make sure both are doing test paddles since the Covid situation seems to change over time.

The Western Pennsylvania Solo Canoe Rendezvous (WPSCR) is certainly a possibility but there is no advance guarantee which canoe makers will actually be there. Dave Curtis of Hemlock Canoe has been a regular , as has Paul Meyer of Colden Canoe. But the event was cancelled this year because of the virus pandemic and who knows if it will happen next year. It has usually been scheduled for the first weekend in June and is tentatively scheduled for June 5-7 2021. Holding the event will also be contingent on whether the private Cooper’s Lake Campground will be open. Cooper’s Lake is located in Slippery Rock, PA north of Pittsburgh.

Even if a particular maker does not make an appearance there tends to be a wide variety of privately-owned solo canoes that are available for a trial paddle for the price of asking the owner.

There is a Facebook page for the Western PA solo canoe rendezvous and that would probably be the best source of up-to-date information as the time for the event draws nearer.

As Pblanc said, it’s not a place where you might see Canadien or far western builders but where can you sit around a campfire discussing canoes with Dave Yost( a designer of some of the best kayaks or canoes. Dave Curtis , of Hemlock Canoes( I play with a Kestral) Mark Ornstein the premeir freestyle paddler… and the who’s who keeps adding to it. If you even think you know about canoeing…go ther and feel like an idiot

Thank you very much. Great suggestion! It seems there will be a trip north in my future to a land where canoe shops and knowledgeable dealers are in every town! Hopefully this Spring, contingent on the virus, of course.

1 Like

Thank you, that’s a good possible trip for me. If I am going to drive 1000 miles I want to be sure I end up in an area with the most dealers. Appreciate the suggestion!

1 Like

@anon64780766 @coronaboy Thanks for the Western PA idea. That’s not a bad drive from my area and sounds like a great event. I’ll watch their FB page and hopefully it will happen this June. Really appreciate everyone’s help!

1 Like

WPA Solo Canoe is not usually a dealer event. It is a canoe maker event. Hemlock and Colden and some others do not have dealer networks. Their business model is direct to consumer. But there is always a wide variety of boats to paddle and solo canoes for sale by private owners who come. Newest is not a guarantee of the greatest

There are always Swift canoes. Usually DY brings some.

I feel your pain, I want to purchase another canoe but would like to do a hands on first!

Maybe we could start regional swap days or something?

Eastern NC