Big Guy + Medium Girl wants to Canoe

Test paddles vs renting vs buying&trying
Good point, g2d. Test paddles at a dealer are often recommended here. If that’s available, it’s worth doing, but it won’t tell you much that’s useful if you aren’t somewhat familiar with canoes, IMO. What you think you are looking for won’t likely be the same as what you look for with some experience.

Renting will give you more of a feel for what you’re dealing with - but at considerable expense if you do it often enough and long enough to really get to know a canoe and what you expect out of it. Still worth doing if it’s convenient for you.

Buying used canoes and living with them a bit is a little more of a hassle, but IMO the best way to really get to know a canoe and what you want out of one. If you do it carefully, there can be little or no cost beyond the canoe you eventually keep.

No reason why one couldn’t do some combination of the above if it helps the process. It can be a real money saver over simply buying new - and those new boats will likely still be there (if they’re good) when you’re ready to commit.

g2d , see the ps., link I added to …

– Last Updated: Jul-20-10 3:20 PM EST –

...... my previous response ... seriously man , where in the world do you get your info. , you said "the OT Tripper 172 would not have done the job" ,

The Tripper was designed specifically to do the job of Expedition class touring . That means anything less is a given no brainer .

Well, you nailed it
"…Have you never had your S/O turn around and face you from the bow seat while you paddle her around the lake and entertain her with small-talk?"

Haha! Well, of course I have. That’s the point.

After a while this goes from cutesy-poo to intolerable. Finally, you scream: “START PADDLING YOU LAZY B*&%$#8@.” And then it goes downhill from there.

Whitewater severely aggravates and accelerates this process of dialog because your incompatibilities quickly pin you repeatedly on rocks and dump you in the drink … and very soon it always becomes: “YOUR FAULT!”

Bye, bye, tandem canoe.

The Tripper isn’t that big a boat.
If the paddlers are the McGuffins, it can carry what is needed. Good expedition boat if there aren’t a lot of portages. Weight is why I sold our Tripper.

LMAO x 2 nm

No easy answers…
I’m thinking that for novice paddlers of substantial proportions, tandems will be anything BUT sociable… and FWIW, I’d suggest that regular tandem paddling is best reserved for accomplished solo paddlers - for folk who can achive more by paddling together than they can apart.

Tandem works for me (6’, 140 lbs, have paddled a lot, and since the 1970s) with my daughter (5 years old, 41 lbs, completely nuts)… but we can relax afloat, and pretty much do anything (including moving around, and paddling side by side) without concerns about stability!

The moment I have to take out anyone else… I start looking to an additional hull. It’s not that I’m averse to partnering others: I just find that paddling alongside someone else (and being able to communicate easily, with eye contact and so on) is more sociable than paddling in the same canoe as someone else!

Trouble with two solo canoes is… 5’6" tall suggests a small (narrow) hull, whereas 230 lbs does not (you’re looking at the 3" waterline of a Merlin II before adding kit: 50+ lbs of kit would push you out of the optimum load range)… and whilst 6’2 allows more scope, a 330 lbs paddler + kit is a huge load for any craft (you’re plugging a Rockstar to 4" before adding kit). Realistically, you’re in the ball-park of a 17’ canoe (I’m thinking Wenonah Encounter) for a solo canoe!!!

Fundamentally, two hulls will generally be safer than one (prospect of at least one paddler being the right way up in any given situation)… and would be more sociable: the trick would be finding two solo hulls capable of performing reasonably with the load in question at an appropriate price point.

I’d suggest that the obvious alternative is something rather bigger than a typical 17’ tandem. The Swift Winisk is 17’ 6" long and has an optimum load rating that barely allows for the two paddlers, let alone kit! To stay nearer the (vaguely responsive) 4" waterline than the (rule of thumb limit of responsiveness) 5" waterline… you are either looking seriously long (Minnesota II at 18’6", Itasca at 19’) or at something seriously barge-like.

Tripper is nice size canoe …

– Last Updated: Jul-20-10 5:48 PM EST –

....... I think it's large , especially large compared to a Guide 147 . No it's not a gigantic canoe , but it is big and high volumn . We currently have two Old Town canoes that are 16'-10" and 16'-9" , the Tripper is comparable to them in size and volumn but a little bigger , and much more capable .

I would not want to have to portage it over any long distance , but these folks aren't going to have to be portaging at all I doubt (that's WW remote and remote stuff) ... they most likely will just be needing to take to the water , put it in and paddle , very doubtful any real portaging around WW rapids or major obsticals .

And if they don't feel like carrying the canoe at all , there's always a wheely cart ...

Tripper is 17'-2" , 37" at gunnels , 15" depth at center , 25" height at ends , mfg. capacity states 1497 lbs. (although I agree with you about such stated capacities) , I believe would handle a 750-800 lb. load very well , and safely with plenty of freeboard (my belief) . I've had a 740 lb. load before , and there was plenty of canoe left for more weight , not much space left though (mountain down river/camp/fish) .

Maybe they need a "bigger" canoe as you say (although I doubt it) ... which way would you suggest , longer , wider , deeper ??

My nephew is a big guy (310 or more) , and with a 250 lb. paddler in the bow , a load of gear ... either of my canoes would handle it perfectly ... the Tripper 172 would be better yet . Even though these are heavier people , they aren't like giants or anything , they fit in high volumn canoes perfectly well and comfortable .

I've seen a couple 400 pounders and a smaller person in a smaller volumn tandem , that canoe was looking over loaded even on still water , but they paddled along without a problem ??

Well, from the point of view of someone
who owned both a Tripper and an 18.5’ Moore Voyageur, the Tripper is not that big.

Our Tripper replacement is a 17’, 16" deep Bluewater Chippewa, and the manufacturer puts the recommended top load at about 600. So I can’t see putting folks who weigh near that much by themselves in a boat that size while expecting the boat to carry a bunch of gear as well. Loads like that mean problems with whitecaps and haystacks. Sure, you can proceed cautiously around your route, sitting out heavy water. But we didn’t have to. We did 12 nights in Quetico and the boat actually worked much better with all that load than it did empty.

paddler weight differential
I faced this problem with a wife who was on steroids for brain swelling and blossomed to 350# before the medical people thought to control her weight. I was about 180# at the time and we paddled a 17’ Wenonah Spirit. She stopped paddling at 300#, she just didn’t fit the seat, and her knees could not support her weight on one leg.

But we did paddle at 300 vs 180 and accomodated by using the bow and stern sliding seats, both all the way back on their rails. The boat was slightly bow down, but for short paddles; and that was all she could do, it was fine.

For the Corona Love couple, the best boat i can think of for your situation would be a Wenonah Champlain in Tuff Weave with two sliding seats. The Old Town Tripper would handle your weight, but has two handicaps.

First it is heavy, you did not like the Grumman and a Tripper is as heavy as any 17 Grumman (outside of an old .080 Whitewater hull). Second it is really hard to put adjustable seats in a royalex Old Town. Not impossible, but darn hard. The standard bow seat location in the Old Town is very far back from the bow and you need to be as far front as comfortable to balance the heavier stern paddler. You could buy a new seat and mount it as the stern seat farther front, then trim the bow seat and move it forward. You would have fixed locations, but if you two are the only ones to paddle the canoe you could alter the trim enough to be level and give the big guy in the stern some room.

The Champlain was designed for big paddlers, beyond what the Spirit II could handle. It is a very full hull for a Wenonah, but still not a tank. The Tuff Weave hull is heavier than the Kevlar, but very strong and still in the 60# range, about 20# lighter than the Tripper.

hope this helps,


Second the Wenonah Champlain

– Last Updated: Jul-20-10 11:46 PM EST –

I own and paddle my share of large tandems. And I'm occasionally tripping with more than a 600 lb load, usually when it involves carrying 10 to 15 gallons of drinking water plus luxury camping gear when there are no portages. I think a good canoe for your stated uses would be a Wenonah Champlain. It would be very comfortable and roomy, plenty of capacity for you two and your camping gear, a user friendly canoe that beginners should be able to handle, relatively straight tracking, capable of good speed with good paddling, certainly maneuverable enough for class 1 stuff, and with enough volume that you won't be continually scraping bottom in the riffles where other boats have no problem floating over. Put it on your short list of canoes to try out before you buy. I'd also recommend you get some instruction on tandem canoeing, both for flatwater and moving water paddling; maybe even before buying your boat.

please buy a nice one
after you hate each other and he get a solo canoe you can sell that nice boat cheap on craigslist to me. i got my 17’tripper,16’appalachian,16’mad river express all from couple that “used to paddle tandem”. what ever you do have fun.

Big Boat Options

– Last Updated: Jul-21-10 12:35 AM EST –

IMHO I'd stay away from the OT or anything less than 16'. As a big guy myself, the shorter waterline will ensure the boat is sunk deeper and paddling it will be more of a chore than a longer boat. As a big guy myself, and with the difference between your weights, you may benefit by having the stern seat re-located 8-12" further forward (depending upon the boat). I've done that to a few boats in the past, works well when there's such a weight disparity, plus it puts him at an area where the canoe is wider, making the boat more stable.

Smallest tandem I would recommend would be a Mad River Explorer 16. Had one for years, and it will handle a load. Better would probably be the Mad River Reflection 17. I paddled that boat when made by Dagger and very comfortable boat that paddles nicely for a royalex boat. We have a Bell Northwind, but I believe it may be a bit small for your husband's weight. I've never paddled the Bell Eveningstar, but I believe it may warrant a test paddle. 16'6" and about 37" beam should give you the stability you need. The Wenonah Champlain is a good boat, but it would be a bit long for river paddling. The 16' Wenonah Kingfisher may work a little better for you. A friend of mine who was 320-330 used to paddle a Grumman 18, though, and did fine on rivers with it.

That said, you don't have to tandem to be "Together." I remember an old Mohawk canoe add that showed a couple in their solo canoes paddling side by side. Like someone said, if you have any relationship "Flaws" the tandem boat will accentuate them. We joke about the time I purposely broke-up my nephew with an "Undesireable" girlfriend by putting them in a canoe together. Worked in less than 24 hours (LOL)! My wife and I occasionally paddle tandem, but we both probably enjoy paddling solo "Together" more than separated by the length of the boat! WW

Long for river paddling? We used our
18.5’ Moore on whitewater rivers quite a bit, including a run on Chattooga 3. Unless one is maneuvering just for the sake of maneuvering, a long canoe handles rivers just fine. Especially when loaded.

I agree.
I easily soloed my Pat Moore 17’ on the current river. Too bad they don’t make that one anymore. What a great boat!!!

don’t limit your options
I’m a kayaker and take out 2-3x’s a week, but when my wife or dad wants to go out we use my old 17’ Coleman. Before I get ridiculed once again, yes the thing is a tank but it will also hold a tank and I have little problems controling it by myself (my wife seldom paddles and my 72 yr. old dad just doesn’t have the strength). Plus you can find them cheap used all over the place. You DO NOT ave to spend a gazzilion bucks to get started as some on this forum continually spew out. By the way, I never have to shout to the person in front because I don’t take it out on whitewater. On lakes, creeks and rivers… you’ll have no problems. Bottom line, get started w/something, you’ll probably upgrade later on.

Well, You’all Are More Skilled…
…than I. My 17’ Mad River Revelation was about as long a boat as I personally could handle on twisty rivers. WW

But you mean tandem, not solo, don’t
you? Sure, big tandems are a handful for one person, but with two it’s another matter. Just gotta watch the wind if the boat isn’t carrying a load.


– Last Updated: Jul-21-10 7:28 PM EST –

Actually, I am a big boy too and I have no trouble paddling whatever I want, as long as I can squeeze into it. Ocean cockpits are out.

It ain’t necessarily so
I’ve been paddling with my favorite canoe partner for 32 years and we still enjoy tandem paddling much of the time. I especially like it when I can just lollygag/watch the scenery while my sternman does the work. lol

Solo canoeing is great.
We started out with an Old Town Penebscot 16, with a center seated added for solo paddling. We soon added a Mohawk Solo 13. We enjoy tandem paddling, but paddle solo most of the time. It is nice to paddle side by side. Also, if one of you wants to paddle and the other one can’t, you are still able to go. I do a lot of trips with friends in our canoe club when my husband is not available to go.

We have a Wenonah Spirit II that works great for larger people. My husband, who did weigh around 280, now down to 225, would paddle it with another paddler that weighed 200 + lbs.

We now have several canoes to choose from. The Bell Wildfire is my favorite.