Boat for a single dude and his dog on swift Montana Rivers?


I have been a canoer all my life, but I am sick of relying on one of my friends to be up for a trip as you need 2 people to load my boat on the car. I am looking for a smaller boat for just me and the dog, that I can load and portage myself.

We live in Montana and are usually out on pretty quick rivers (Yellowstone, Gallatin, Madison) Dumping in the rapids is half the fun, so I would like something with some internal storage. I was thinking something in the 8-10ft range for manuverability. Most smaller white-water boats won’t accommodate my 45 lb pitbull who likes to navigate from the bow.

So far in my search, there are some sit on top fishing kayaks that look like they could work. Many of the cheaper ones have bad reviews for water in the hull and on deck, and I have never seen someone take one down rapids.

Ultimately, I want to get into something I can use for extended multi day trips in the Boundary Waters, but that might be a different boat.

Any advice is appreciated!


Why so short unless you are running technical creeks? If I’m not mistaken, I seem to think that the rivers you mention are big water. Especially with the dog you might be looking for something like an old-school whitewater canoe with a good set of air bags. See if you can find a Dagger Caption (or an Encore). Also maybe something like a Mad River Outrage X. If you are looking for something new a Northstar Phoenix or a Hemlock SRT might do. Lots of other options though.

I would do a Kevlar solo if you really want something you can use in the BW. Mad River Guide, Freedom, Courier, Wenonah Wilderness, etc. Royalex would do, but be extra piggy in the BW’s… easier to find.

What is your car top setup now? I wonder if the bucks for a new boat might otherwise be spent on a rooftop system that would have something to make the canoe loadable by just you. Since the current boat appears to work for you and your dog on the water.

Honestly, a SOT can be the hardest of all to load. because they are heavy and can lack some of the places to grab that any sit inside boat has.

A friend of mine loads his 100 year old, 100# wood canvas canoe on his suv by himself. Maybe it is technique you need to explore.

My plan was (if short enough) to load it inside my Toyota Highlander. It can take something about 10 feet long with the seats all down. Trying to avoid spending hundreds on a roof rack system if possible. Rather put that money into the right boat.

Better just get a solo inflatable kayak, and if you go to BW’s rent a nice fast canoe.

What does your dog do when you dump in rapids? If I understand your post right you now have a 45 pound fairly hefty dog loose in the current.

If I have that right the whole thing is something I have a hard time getting on board with. Let alone figuring out a right boat to do it with.

Maybe clarify and I am wrong?

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Frankly I agree with you. This thread reminds me of the other recent one around “what’s a good kayak for a newbie that plans to take a toddler?”.

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I might be understanding this wrong. For the sake of the dog l hope l am.

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If “dog” is slang for “airbag”, the dumps will be much more enjoyable if the water is indeed rapid.

It’s not unusual… at least in MT… to take dogs along. Most people have dog pfd’s which also feature a nice beefy handle on the top. We have one for our dog… she’s like a cork as is, but the handle makes it a no brainer. As of yet haven’t braved the canoe, but the inflatable kayaks work with her.

I am not saying it is unusual. Just that it requires some precautions and I am having a hard time figuring that part out.

Careful that makes you sound like one of those I got to put the boat inside the car people. More interested in transporting than paddling. So here is the boat for you… it is a category III inflatable with thick skin and drop stitch.

category III ?..