Boat on a Budget

-- Last Updated: Feb-04-16 3:11 PM EST --

I'm looking for 2 boats, my family and I want to do some river multiday trips, We are not planning on getting in anything class2 , mainly floats.
I'm am 6.1 200 wife is 5,4 130, and son is 140 lbs
was considering a tandem and a solo(or tandem I can solo) canoes
our budget is 2300 for both canoe's can we get decent boats for that, If so what would you suggest
we are talking about the buffalo or current river for one of the first trips

Or maybe a tandem canoe and a kayak

ps we haver very nice light backpacking gear

Easy peasy
If you shop used.

Lots of really good tandem canoes in excellent shape can be found for under $1k. Solos are a little harder to come by used, but they are out there. A kayak might be more appealing to your kid anyway - and those are very common. Quite a few cross-over designs out there right now that will work well for class 1 touring.

Suggest looking for a used tandem rec canoe like Old Town Tripper, Wenonah Spirit II, Mad River Explorer, or similar. If you can stand the weight, some of the three-layer poly designs are pretty cheap and work well - such as the Explorer TT.

Dagger, Jackson, and a couple others I think make crossover kayak models (not typical recreational kayak, but not really touring or whitewater design) that are easy to manage and have some room for storage. I see the Dagger version on Craigs list around here fairly often.

Tar n
newsprint floats

Agree with that

– Last Updated: Feb-07-16 10:01 AM EST –

Check Craigslist, lots of 16' & 17' tandem rec canoes are usually available for 500.00 or less. Old Town discovery & guides are quite common. Grumman and lowe aluminum in 17' are also easy to find. You'll see lots of Grummans, lowes and Old Towns on both Buffalo and Current rivers.

Solo Kayaks will be alot easier to find and cheaper than solo canoes. Kayaks will however haul less gear.

My recommendation is to look for Poly boats or aluminum to use on those rivers. You'll do alot of damage to kevlar or fiberglass boats.

Weight isn't a real big deal on these Ozark streams, there are no portages. Durability is more important, lots of hidden rocks just below the surface to hit in fast water and gravel shoals to drag over in low conditions.

I paddle those streams alot, they are some of the nicest trips around!


No Aluminum
I would not use an aluminum boat on our streams. They grab gravel, and do not slide over it. They would work in high water, but you will soon learn that most of the time in the Ozarks you are chasing just enough water to paddle and you will want the ability to slide over shallow shoals.

There are two royalex canoes for sale on Fayetteville, AR craigslist. You can get them both for 1k. I would personally rather paddle any tandem canoe solo vrs paddling a kayak.


Aluminum is fine, one of the most common canoes on any of the Ozark streams. Everyone has there own opinion but thousands of paddlers can’t be wrong.


now we know where all the Grummans got off to …

MR Exlploer
Your budget is a pretty high one compared to what we usually see here.

Most tandem canoes are easily paddled tandem and solo, if you flip them around and paddle solo from the front seat. Some tandems that paddle particularly well solo are most mfr’s version of the Prospector, the Nova Craft Bob Special and Pal and the Wenonah Solo Plus.

You say you have backpacking gear but one of the advantages of canoe camping is that you can afford to bring some luxuries (unless you need to deal with portages).

As a long time backpacker, once I purchased a canoe, my idea of camping changed somewhat. There is nothing like hitting the back country with certain luxuries such as a cooler full of steaks, burgers and beers, a portable grill and perhaps a few folding chairs.

One canoe that stands out as far as reasonable price, versatility, paddling OK solo and being a total load monster and general availability, is the Mad River Explorer. You should be able to find them used and save a lot.

For the second boat the Old Town Next is an inexpensive option. You can probably put a MR Explorer and an OT Next in your driveway for under what you are planning to spend. If you can buy either used, then well under. The Old Town Penobscot can also work nearly as well as the MR Explorer as a cost efficient and versatile canoe.

One huge consideration is availability. There are many great canoes that are hard to find in most areas. I had to drive 150 miles round trip to buy a Swift canoe and I live in a major northeast metro area. Old Town and Mad River canoes tend to be nationally available.

Is fine if you want an economical and practically indestructible canoe, but that’s about all it has going for it. All those aluminum canoes on Ozark streams were there because the canoe liveries liked economical and indestructible. And even so, a lot of the liveries have gone to plastic canoes these days.

Drawbacks to aluminum–NOISY. GRABS ROCKS, gravel, and even logs instead of sliding over them like plastic or even glass. Hot in the summer to the touch, cold in the winter. Most have keels, which don’t do much of anything good in a canoe except make the bottom less prone to oil-canning, while also making it a little more difficult to execute effective draw and pry strokes, and requiring an inch more water to float over cleanly.

I used a 15 foot Grumman for many years on Ozark streams. In fact, I put so many miles on it on shallow streams that I finally did the almost impossible and wore a hole in the bottom (a matter of 15 years or so and tens of thousands of miles). When I finally replaced it with a glass canoe, I was amazed at the differences. When I replaced that one with a Royalex boat after losing it off the car top and putting a huge hole in it (it was fixable but I sold it anyway after fixing it), I never looked back. I couldn’t imagine owning an aluminum canoe these days.

I stand by my recommendation of aluminum boats for one possible option. I’ve used aluminum on Ozark streams for years. Not livery boats, I have two Grumman’s sitting in my backyard right now. For Ozark streams they are great, durable, dependable, indestructible, easy to store, easy to paddle, load hauling work horses. Are they perfect for every purpose? No, at 75 pounds they are heavier than some boats but lighter than others so I wouldn’t want to portage through bwca with one but in the ozarks I have never had to portaged farther than over a low water bridge.

Durable? Yeah, my Grumman’s have taken some incredible wallops and kept on going. Ask the Texas water safari racers why Alumacraft’s and Grumman’s are so popular there.

Easy to paddle? I paddled my 18’ Grumman in a 340 mile race on the Missouri river last summer, could have used my glass Sawyer Cruiser but I used aluminum instead just because I wanted to complete with the many other aluminum canoers who enter the race for the same reason. Didn’t feel like I was handicapping myself excessively. Wouldn’t dream of taking that Sawyer to the Ozarks!

I also recommended Oldtown Discovery and Guide. Aluminum was just an affordable, east to find option but a good one at that.


Agree, nothing really wrong with aluminum canoes, they are very durable. They are heavy and tend to be noisy, but if you’re not fishing from them the noise doesn’t matter. If you’re not portaging then the weight doesn’t matter either. Used ones tend to be inexpensive and they last lots longer than most plastic canoes with very little maintenance.

That said, if I had a choice I’d find a used Royalex one.

Bill H.

Canoe Choice
That above mentioned Mad River Explorer seems like a great choice.

It is a good all around and stable canoe.

Canoe Choice
That above mentioned Mad River Explorer seems like a great choice.

It is a good all around and stable canoe.

Aluminum is fine
I have a 17 foot aluminum Osagian tandem canoe. Haven’t used it in over 15 years. It’s been sitting outside near the barn. The horses like it too; they like the sound it makes when they kick it.

I really have no problem with aluminum canoes. The thing is I’ve only paddled tandem once on the San Juan River since I bought my first solo canoe about 15 years ago.

I especially like aluminum canoes on shallow/rocky rivers as long as they are in front of me. The sound of their “aluminum thunder” warns me of where the shoals and rocks are.

thank guys
I’m having a hard time finding one that can be shipped at a fair price,

I started a new post on which of two boats .

thank u