Best Solo/Tandem Kayak or Canoe

I know “best” is subjective but I’m in the process of deciding which boat to buy for the coming spring and only one boat this year. Solo probably 75% of the time but need the capability to carry a 2nd adult paddler. No open coastline or difficult whitewater, mainly flatwater. I’m considering the new Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5 and would like to hear people’s votes on everything from a Wenonah Solo Plus to a Loon 160. I guess my main concern is not to have a barge while I’m solo. For canoes being able to row while solo would be a plus. Many thanks.

Combi Boats
Sorry, combi boats mostly do not work for individuals, although they are just fine for dealers.

Imagine a hull 15ft by 33 inches. Too wide for anyone seated amidships unless they are big, both wide and tall, so as to get a vertical paddleshaft placement for forward motion.

The same boat will do fine for a compact tandem pair; seasted stenward, they can get the paddleshaft vertical, because the hull is narrower at their paddling stations. It is generally too narrow for two big paddlers to be comfortable.

Classic case, you need to be able to tote an ocassional passenger to be able to justify the purchase at all. Unfortunately it’s like both having and eating ones cake.

Best bet in a canoe may be Bell’s NorthStar with a kneeling thwart replacing the third thwart for solo, but it’s not something many can dominate as solo pasddlers. While workable, the solo guy is too far aft to effect bow draws, cross draws, etc, and hence leads a diminished life as a paddler.

tandem kayaks
for recreatonal use I have the Wilderness Systems Pamlico 145T. It can go either solo or tandem and will carry a heck of a load for week long trips. Heavy though, so not a user friendly portage craft. Lighter than the Native Craft 14 but just barely. The 145T has a skirt that can go solo or tandem so it’s more of big water boat than the Native Craft which has low sides, and the cockpit is hard to bail. The 145T is way faster than the NC 14, and quite a bit less expensive. I bought mine to use as a guest boat for my photographer buddy so he has a steady platform for shooting and can still keep up with me.

The Wenonah Solo Plus is an excellent canoe for what you have in mind, IMHO. It’s less stable and more windbound than the tandem kayak. With a double blade it will get up and git, but is also useful for hauling the kids, or letting them paddle on their own. Weight is good, price is good.

Are you a member of the Chesapeake Paddlers Associaton? Great group, have a lot of trips every year.



The wenonah Solo Plus might work for you. Mostly ir is a solo canoe and doesn’t paddle bad. It is not so great as a tandem unless tha paddlers are small with good balance. But since 75% of the time you’ll be solo, it might be good for you.

I own the Nova Craft Bob Special. It is good as a solo for recreational paddling (like fishing) or for tripping (camping). Not a lot of speed but stable and a traditional look. A nice day trip tandem.

I think you have to consider the Old Town Penobscot 16. If someone were to tell me that I could have only one canoe for the rest of my life and I had to use it for rivers and lakes, paddle tandem and solo, day-trips and week long trips, the P16 would be on my short list. It excells at nothing but does it all.

In general, I prefer the Wilderness
Systems tandems to the Old Town tandems. They are faster and more maneuverable. I have a Pamlico 135T which I paddle with my wife and I enjoy it; but in hindsight, I should have purchased a longer tandem.

Paddling this tandem solo was OK when I first started paddling but still a bit cumbersome.

Canoe is my choice…
I am not a kayaker. I guess I would second what others have said. A solo plus is pretty fast, and sea worthy. As a solo it carries a lot of stuff, as a tandem, it does not. If you are big, you will likely not enjoy it with two.

The Bob Special is awesome. I love this boat. it is a great solo, good for fishing camping etc. A good tandem as well, but would get destroyed against a solo-plus in a race. It is just not fast, but a great boat. Just my 2 cents.


Seda Amigo

I don’t know what “best” means, but this one “sort of” works.

Loon 160T less of a solo barge than
Wenonah Solo Plus. I’ve owned both and still own the Solo Plus.

I’m only 5’6" and 150 lbs and the Solo Plus is no fun for me to paddle solo, whereas the Loon 160T was fun for me to paddle solo.

But, the Solo Plus weighs about 58 lbs and the Loon 160T weighs about 74 lbs, so I sold the Loon 160T.

…try demoing first…my $.01
…You seem to be hedging around the decision of just what constitutes “Good Choice”. What are your skills that will bring out the performance in a great craft? Go with what you can do best…and you won’t be disappointed.

Try a
folding kayak. There are several models that convert between single and double.

Check out for more info.

I have the Solo Plus
I like it. I purchased it to be a compromise, and it is. I paddle MOSTLY solo. it isn’t too much of a barge. then when tandem, it isn’t too cramped.

What I found is that I should have bought a Jensen 17. The Solo Plus is almost EXactly 95% or 98% the same. if you take just percent or two off each measurement off the Jensen you have the Solo Plus. The S/P has it’s bow seat too far forward. it feels cramped and confining. I think the center seat feels about 4 or 5 inches to far forward. If you get a Jensen you have a moving front seat and you can put your center seat anywhere (when you install it).

Anything specific you want to know, I will gladly answer. Oh, I lOVE my S/P on the river and just enjoy it on the lake. I think this year I will get all the little modifications done that I want, and then I will think up more things to change ha ha.


Gunwales 3.5" wider on Jensen 17 than
on the Solo Plus.

Max gunwale widths:

Jensen 17: 32.5"

Solo Plus: 29"

That’s something to consider if planning to paddle from the center position.


Lots of good choices…to at least demo!, and if you find a Wenonah Voyager, put the Voyager to the test…sit the passenger just in front of you, back the seat up…and see what happens!(wear the PFDs!;-). Honestly, they push that boat as being able to haul a load…eh’!?? Give it a shot.

tandem kayak

– Last Updated: Feb-25-07 3:45 PM EST –

I love my Prijon Excursion, but it weighs 87 lb. Now I own a Chesapeake Tred Avon, 65 lb. Isn't she a beauty? I can't find any lighter sea kayak tandem out there. Since you live in the Chesapeake Bay area, consider a CLC double. If you don't want to build, there is a ready-made for sale for $1500. I would bargain down to $1200.

– Last Updated: Feb-25-07 6:18 PM EST –

Try Wenonah's Encounter, it's a large volume 17' boat, although imho...a solo/tandem is simply too much of a compromise for any degree of performance.
If you truely want performance in such a canoe...better be willing to sacrifice comfort/heavy-duty-stability.

Canoe for sure
Something like the Esquif Champlain, or a similar classic canoe in the 16’ range.

Learn how to paddle this in the Canadian style, healed over on it’s side, and you will find it really nice. The only problem with this is that paddling into a stiff breeze while lightly loaded is dificult. On those days, stay on shore and fish.