Big Guy which solo canoe?

I’m trying to decide wether to buy a solo canoe or a kayak, I have a canoe now but it’s a 17ft grumman which is a hassle to take off the car myself and use solo. I would prefer to get a canoe, but it seems there is more choices with solo kayaks that will take a big person, I plan to use it mostly for fishing and birdwatching, and maybe camp from it some day. I weigh about 280, any advice on a solo canoe that would work well for me?

Maybe an OT Pack…
…would work for you. It’s small, light, stable, and has a 400 lb capacity. It seems to suit the intended uses you described. The price is reasonable too. Here’s a link:


Solo canoes
You might want to consider some of the mixed use canoes. I know there are some Wenonah “Solo Plus” canoes out there on sale that might meet your needs. I’ve used a Mad River Malecite with a middle seat and it worked prety well also. (But then, the Malecite is pretty near The Perfect Canoe, IMHO.)

My $0.02.

Steve Baker

New Lenox IL

Re big solo
hi, im about the same weight as you and have lower back problems… I paddle a we-no-nah solo prism…its 16 1/2 foot and around 35 lbs… works well for me with 50lb dog and full expedition gear, food, and 5gal water tho fully loaded with above it rides a tad low.

nice fast canoe… if paddling it without gear i would suggest adding sandbags fore and aft to give a bit of keel weight

with that , IMO there are many many boaTS that will fill the bill

how heavy a boat will depend on how much ya wanna spend

Test paddle
I have been between 230-250 a lot of my adult life. And I have paddled a lot of skinny boats: J180, Meadows Special, Merlin, Wildfire, etc. And have had no problems. So, test paddle as many as you can and then make up your mind. Just keep your mind open.

are you talking about paddling lakes, rivers or both? i would also suggest the wenonah prism as well as their voyager and encounter. also, swift shearwater which is a “big” solo canoe.

Hemlock SRT?

Swift Shearwater or Bell Magic

I am big guy
I tried a Bell Merlin II. It is a great boat, but not for me. It’s fine while kneeling, but setting in the seat, the gunnels hit the legs at a very uncomfortable spot. I have a feeling the Merlin wil be similar.

For flat water–class I about any canoe will do you fine. I paddle a Supernova and it fits big people quite well. I am not sure if it would work for you, it has poor initial stability and strong secondary–the opposite of what the Grumman has.

re which big canoe
I think I’ve narrowed my search down to the old town pack, it’s a solo and in my price range, does anyone have any experince with this boat


The reviews – for any boat – tend to be very positive or very negative. Fols who don’t have strong feeling one way or the other don’t tend to bother writing.

I had one
Sold it in less than a year. I’ll try to keep this simple. It’s a great boat for small ponds, or easy streams. But it is very, very limited. Good for fishing in that it feels pretty stable at rest for such a short boat with a high seat. But it does not perform well in any significant waves or current. It is sluggish. It does not track (stay on course) all that well (general characteristic of a short boat) even with the unusual, raised keel line. Hence, it lends itself to a double blade paddle. Someone once commented as I went by: “Big guy in a small canoe.” The Pack looks very small compared to what people are used to seeing.

Most of the other boats mentioned above are performance oriented, not beginner/casual. I’m guessing you would be much happier in a 15’, recreational (fairly wide), tandem/solo, royalex boat like the Bell Morningstar, Old Town Osprey or Wenonah Heron, but weight is about 58 lbs, and cost around $1000. You should be able to find a used a used of this type without too much sweat.

I agree about the Pack. My first solo
was a 13’ Mad River Compatriot, similar in carrying capacity to the Pack, though narrower and faster. For my 200 plus pounds, it was too little boat. I am much happier in my similar but longer (14’6") MR Freedom Solo (Guide). At your weight, I think you should strongly consider a 15 foot boat. It will actually handle better than a shorter boat which is overloaded.