Best Solo Canoe for the money?

Lighten Up and Read Carefully

– Last Updated: Mar-23-11 9:46 AM EST –

I did not say one derogatory thing about the Pack, but I think you were referring to my post when complaining about the rowboat comment, so let's talk about people who "know" about boats they haven't used, shall we?. Do you think that a "sweet, spunky little rowboat" that's the same length as the Old Town Pack and a few inches wider weighs 170 pounds? Well perhaps that would be the case on the planet Jupiter, but I'm talking about this world, so let me provide a few details which in my other post I had hoped would be roughly implied by that brief character description. I played around with my GPS one day and discovered that with no camping gear on board it is pretty easy to make that boat accelerate from a dead stop to 5 miles per hour with just one stroke of the oars (take your GPS and see what it takes to simply maintain 5 mph in a Pack, much less what it would take to reach that speed in one stroke, and you will see this can't be the 170-pound clunker that you need it to be just to make your point become valid), and I've taken it out in wind and waves that can't be touched with most other open boats (it's easy to go 3 mph straight into a 30-mph wind and it feels perfectly comfortable and in-control in shoulder-high waves). It really is a "sweet and spunky" boat, but go ahead and spout off about how much you "know". I had hoped that a brief description of the boat, followed by an illustration of how easy it is to push it outside of it's design parameters when carrying gear would make my point, but you didn't understand that part so I'll make it even more clear for you this time.

My whole reason for talking about that little rowboat was to show what happens when you take a boat of such dimensions and put a big load in it. What matters here is not direct observation of boat-handling, but physics, and nothing you recommend about the Pack will change the fact that displacement is displacement and volume is volume, and that two boats so very similar in shape/size will respond to increases in load in a very similar way. The O.P. made it very clear what he needs the boat for, and the Pack is at a far wrong end of the spectrum for that type of use, which means there's no need to "defend" the Pack in this case. To "defend" it in this case is quite silly. In fact, you mentioned in some detail what the Pack is really good for, and if you read my post again, you'll see that I said nothing at all to disagree with that. No matter what, I have to consider it bad advice to recommend "trying out" a boat that's clearly the wrong choice in this particular case. No test paddling of THIS particular boat can be justified in THIS particular instance.

Fer it’s poypose, de OT Pack
wuz a decent boat - dun’t git me wrong! But fer me it wuzen’t good fer de type o’ paddlin’ ah’ mostly do - tight, twisty, mostly rocky rivers. Ah’ really tried ta like it, ah’s really did (spent $400 in it)… but alas, de rest be history.


Yikes…run to the medicine cabinet and take one of your pills…like right now.

If you dont have any experience with a certain boat…it’s perfectly ok to not comment you know. Infact, it would do everyone a favor. The poor guy asked about 2 boats, one being one I own and paddle A LOT. I gave him solid advice from experience. Now go play in your row boat.

I owned and paddled a Pack for one year
My first canoe was an OT Penobscot Royalex (“RX”) 16. A few years later, I got the OT Pack, took it to the Adirondacks for a week, and paddled it all over my home range for a year. I am 6’, and at the time, I was 200 lbs. I bought it at the REI in College Park and traded it in a year later to the Jersey Paddler for a Bell Wildfire RX. I since have owned or own Bell Magic, Wenonah Spirit II, Wenonah Vagabond, and Wenonah Prism. The Pack was OK but I outgrew it quickly. It did not behave well with cargo. It was slow. It didn’t do anything particularly well. It is only suitable, in my opinion, as a starter solo canoe for a smaller person who wants a lightweight yet RX-durable, relatively inexpensive canoe for the occasional day trip on small and quiet waters. I would definitely not recommend it to the OP. Guideboatguy does not need me to defend him, and his post speaks for itself. I will say that I have found his posts consistently excellent, thoughtful and knowledgeable. I have learned much from him, although I know him only from reading his posts.

Thanks for the advice everyone. I think I will continue to look for a used MD Guide closer to me. If I can’t scatch the itch fast enough I may go for the Mohawk Odyssey 14. Chattanooga is only an hour away so I could save on the shipping costs.

u know what’s funny about this?
In between all the spite, you agreed with their opinions. This sounds like a boat not best suited for class II and III whitewater. And you admit that while you’ve used the boat, you don’t know what those even mean.

P Net is full of glowing reviews from people who want to feel good about what they’ve bought.

The Odyssey may be fuller in the bow
than the Guide, though it has less rocker. I’m sure I could get through both rapids without necessarily swamping, but paddling my MR Synergy and my Millbrook has raised my expectations. I try to get through with zero water intake. Now, I don’t ever go straight through Pattons. I hook left into the high eddy below the ledge. If I hook very accurately, I take no water, but it depends greatly on that left-going swirl where the eddy turn has to start. As for Lesser Wesser, taking water on the usual cross-right route is hard to avoid, but I boof off that lump of water on the left, at the top edge of the ledge. Sometimes if I’m accurate, I have no water and am in the left eddy to aggravate the kayakers.

Esquif Echo
Whether it’s being used as a solo tripped for poking around backwaters or as a freestyle playboat it was quite lovely to paddle. The wood gunwales really add a great look to it.

See you on the water,


The River Connecton, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

used boats
Find a used boat then see if it will work. Looking for one boat can become awful. Or just by the new boat. Worst case…you have a new boat.

Keep us updated on what you get and if you like it. Im about your size and live in the same general area. I could always use another boat.

Ryan L.

You know what else is funny?
He’s attempting to make jokes about the rowboat-canoe comparison on another thread now, but I’d confidently bet this month’s paycheck that if he saw the rowboat I’m talking about, he would swear that it was a canoe. Almost everyone else thinks it’s a canoe when they see it, and I bet if I’d have called it that before mentioning that it had nearly identical dimensions to a Pack, he wouldn’t have gone off the deep end. I don’t believe anyone on this board is actually so dimwitted to as to think if you have two boats that are practically the same dimensions and one is known to be incapable of handling a certain size load that somehow the other could do it. Besides, seriously, who would EVER recommend a 12-foot boat to carry a big guy and a very big load of gear unless they just wanted to raise a fuss? That’s why I’ve decided he’s a troll.

Mattawa Canoe by Swift
Don’t forget about the Mattawa Canoe by Swift.

Have one love it, and also have a dog that loves to go.

Class III
I agree. Do not take class III lightly. We are talking about serious water that needs better than intermediate skills to safely negotiate. Similarly with the canoe. Get out there in an inadequate hull with inadequate outfitting and it will not be fun. Certainly our best paddlers can take on more with less but be cautious if you are not one of them. Saddles, thigh straps, foot pegs, spray decks and floatation, and rescue equipment (and training). Class II - the survival for mishap is better odds. Check the latest definition of the classes and understand what you really want to get into before you buy.