Better solo canoe for a big guy than..

-- Last Updated: Jun-23-12 10:40 PM EST --

a Penobscot?

So the Wenonah Advantage vs Voyager thread got me thinking about this.

I’ve converted an OT Penobscot 16 into a solo and have really enjoyed it. As a larger paddler (6’4” – 300#), I appreciate the width and room it affords me as well as the general sense of stability. Plus it seems to track pretty straight with a J-stroke.

With it, I’ve learned how to heal it over and finally understand what people mean when they talked about secondary stability kicking in. I’ve even discovered that I can kneel on my somewhat bum knees without much pain now that I’ve got the seat height finally adjusted to bear some of my weight when I rest back one the forward edge of the seat. I've even discovered that I like to be able to kneel. I feel like I have better control and a more stable position when I do. And being able to switch from kneeling to sitting extends the amount of time I can stay out before my back forces me to call it a day.

My only real complaint about the Penobscot is that I’d like it to be a little lighter. As much as I like the durability of the royalex, I’d really appreciate it if they made it in a fiberglass or Kevlar layup and shave 15 - 20 pounds off of it. I suspect the older I get, the more I will wish for that. So I keep looking for something better. Hence the Voyager and Advantage thread.

My paddling is only simple same day excursions on lakes and flat rivers. No plans to pack a lot of gear for over night expeditions.

So I guess my question is this. Is there a lighter weight solo canoe with similar properties to the Penobscot? One that lets me kneel easily when I want to and is a good fit for a large paddler like myself. Or is the Penobscot my best bet?

Sure but your wallet may be lighter too
Swift Keewaydin 15 and the Colden/Placid/Bell StarFire are good for larger paddlers. Also the Swift Shearwater.

Once one gets away from the P16…

– Last Updated: Jun-24-12 1:25 PM EST –

one realizes how more efficient other canoes are, yet how less versatile others are in comparison.
Off the top of my Sat-night head:
Hemlock: Peregrine(upper end) or Eaglet_I.
Swift: Shearwater(very upper end), Prospectors(15 or 16), or maybe a Keewaydin_16.
Bell Rockstar(Royalex/BlackGold).

Wenonah: Encounter..NOT Endeavor
MadRiver: Malecite(older hull design)


Malecite’s a terrible choice.

– Last Updated: Jun-23-12 11:05 PM EST –

Especially Kevlar hulls from the early '90's. Any for sale in New England are junk. Particularly red or sand-colored ones that look hardly used are not even worth consideration.

In fact, if anyone knows of such a craft for sale, they should notify me immediately so that I can put an end to it before some poor sucker gets taken.

I’ve read about the Shearwater and like how it sounds. I do wonder how much clearance there is under that sliding seat to put your feet if you kneel.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a Swift dealer out here in the Pacific NW so I’ve never seen one in person. If I bought one new I’m sure I could have it shipped, but it sure would be nice to try one before making that large of purchase. I’ve never even seen one listed used on CL in this area. Not just the Shear, but any Swift boat.

I’m not familiar with Colden Canoes. They sure look like they make a quality product.

There should be room
a friend that has one has a fused ankle that does not bend. His size 12s fit even with that awkward angle of foot and leg.

Limited choices in my area.
Being located in Portland, OR, my local choices for new are somewhat limited to Wenonah and Old Town with a few models of Mad River and Esquif. But most opportunities to test paddle solo boats are pretty much limited to Wenonah. I envy you folks in the north central and north eastern part of the country with the multitude of options it seems you have.

The downside I find with Wenonah is their propensity for putting pedestals in most of their solo boats. I just can’t get my big size 13s along side and be comfortable kneeling. I need a bench that I can kneel with some of my weight resting against the leading edge of the seat and get my big feet tucked under.

At our local paddle fest a few months ago, I tried both the Encounter and the Prism. In as much as you can get a feel for a boat in the few minutes you can try one at an event like that, I liked the Prism the most. The Encounter was okay, but I felt a little…I don’t know how to describe it…too buoyant? Like maybe I needed more weight in the boat. It felt like it bobbed around a lot in comparison. I don’t know if that makes much sense. The Encounter was fine, but the Prism felt better. I think I might like a Prism with a web seat instead of the pedestal better than my P16, but I’m not so sure about the Encounter.

it’s a trade off for sure
I’m sure you are right about a dedicated solo being more efficient. It’s a matter of finding one that fits me and my needs I guess.

It’s hard to imagine me letting go of the Penobscot even if I do find the right solo for me because it is so versatile.

I’ve never heard of Hemlock before. I’ll check them out. The Shearwater sounds great and keeps getting mentioned. I’m not seeing Endeavor at Wenonah. Is it an out of production model?

Black Gold Rockstar
There is a Black Gold Rockstar on Craigslist up in Washington State. I don’t know how far that is from you.

A Malecite would probably work really well for you, be somewhat similar to the Oldtown and is available in lighter weight composites. The Swift Kewaydins look awesome.

Good luck!

Nothing for Clipper and Hellman?
Clipper has a 14 foot Prospector and the Solitude

If weight is your only concern…

– Last Updated: Jun-24-12 9:34 AM EST –

If you like the size, performance and handling of your Penobscot, you should be aware that most of the boats that have been mentioned are much narrower and more manuverable/less hard tracking than the Penobscot.
The Mad River Malecite is the exception to that and is nice and light in Kevlar. (sorry TKtoo I'm keeping mine.)
The Voyager might be compared to a Penobscot with regards to tracking but it's 5" narrower.
Other hulls that might be better compared to the Penobscot include the Wenonah Solo Plus and Escapade as well as the Clipper Tripper-S and 17' Jensen.
All of those can be had in lighter layups.

here I go again. If you don’t need class II+ performance,the Novacraft Pal(34" wide) is a sweet extrabig solo boat with a solo seat installed. Mine is royalite,but it is avalible in several much lighter layups.Big paddlers who have paddled it like it solo.

my 2cents,Turtle

Sorry, Encounter(too big I guess)…NOT

– Last Updated: Jun-24-12 1:47 PM EST –

Endeavor..;-) error. Guess it felt a little a Prism and Shearwater might be in your ballpark. Might wanna try including Bell's Magic in the mix. Think you might be pushing its upper limit but a great hull(BlackGold layup). If you get the chance to might wanna try paddling something...that at first seems a little big, judging its performance & efficiency for the type of water and conditions...not considering your initial impression of its dimensions...and then maybe not..LOL...have fun while doing it all.

The topic …
… seems to me to be a canoe with similar dimensions to the OT Penobscot but in a lighter weight composite layup. To me, this connotes another ~16’ tandem canoe that can be soloized. A few of those have been suggested.

I’d add the Swift Mattawa, which can be had as low as 32 lbs. in carbon, and the venerable Mad River Explorer in Kevlar. The Explorer is a little wider than the Penobscot but is commonly available on the used market.


– Last Updated: Jun-27-12 6:56 PM EST –

I maintain a specification list of available solos and compact tandem canoes that will allow these anecdotal responses to be placed in various spectra.

Of interest, there are a few compact tandems that would improve solo performance over that Penobscot. They might include tumblehome to narrow the paddling station. Curtis, now Hemlock make two, the Eagle and Eaglet, Bell made one, the NorthStar, and Swift makes another, the Keewaydin 16.

email for an electronic copy of the list.

The only one I’m seeing on any Washington CL ad is listed in Spokane, but the boat is actually in Idaho. It would be about an 8+ hour drive one way, which is a little outside of my shopping area I’m afraid. Thanks for spotting that though.

Just one more manufacturer I’m not too familiar with given their lack of west coast distribution. I’ll check them out. Thanks.

I’ve been trying
pretty much anything I can that looks like it will hold me (and even a few that didn’t). Believe it or not, at my size, this isn’t the first thing that I’ve had to work at to find one that fits. It’s been fun trying and learning though. A hobby should be fun.

you have the right attitude
BTW all women go through the same thing with pants :slight_smile:

Sooner or later you will find one or more that fit. Maybe more. Wildernesswebb is out now but he does like you do… See it , sit or kneel in it and play in it.

Its called messing around in canoes. Infinitely more fun than internet dissections.

Heck, 8+ hours is a medium length beer run here in Texas, Pardner. Just how committed to the sport are you? :slight_smile:

Yep, that is probably a little far to go without knowing its the boat for you.

Enjoy your search!