buying advice please: wenonah v clipper

After having read through many posts on this site, and having looked at manufacturers sites, I decided that I want a solo canoe NOT made of royalex. It will be for use in ponds up to light salt water. It will be a fishing/camping/messing around platform. The clipper packer seemed like a great choice, but now I’m presented with a used kevlar wenonah vagabond.

Clipper Packer Specs: L = 14, B = 24 (27.5" @ 4" waterline), about 29.5" at widest (according to a review), Bow = 16", Center = 13", Stern = 13, rocker = 1.25 (I think), 42 lbs, shallow arch

Wenonah Vagabond Specs: L = 14.5’, B = 28" (29.75 @ widest), Bow = 16", Center = 12.5", Stern = 14.5", Rocker = 1.25, 30 lbs, shallow arch

It was with this canoe in mind that I started the “is it possible for a canoe to be too light” thread. I feel the mass will be fine on either, though lifting twelve pounds less sounds nice. It seems that they, in general terms, are similar canoes. The Wenonah is longer with straighter sides and wider at the gunwales. Maybe the Wenonah will track better, I’m sure it doesn’t matter that much either way. What would matter to me is ease of paddling. I can’t try either, and it seems that at 5’6", a 24" beam would be much easier to single-blade paddle than a 28" hull. Any ideas? Thanks.

Do you want to kneel, sit or both?
I’ve never paddled or seen a Clipper Packer in person. I’ve paddled the Wenonah Vagabond briefly.

I would choose the Vagabond because I am 90% a kneeling paddler, and you can both kneel and sit in a Vagabond.

The Packer looks as if it has a sitting bucket seat positioned above the bottom – where “pack canoes” typically have their seats – but below the height of a normal sit & switch canoe seat height. I doubt if anyone other than a Menehune could kneel in a Packer. So I wouldn’t want it as my primary canoe at all.

Just looking at the hulls, I’d say the Vagabond appears to be a better moving water design. Not sure what kind of water you want to paddle.

That said, the Packer is also available in a 34 pound version, and there is a 2011 article online showing a 25 pound version.

As to ease of paddling single bladed, are you planning to paddle Minnesota switch or single-sided correction stroke? Having a narrower beam and waterline, the Packer should be the more efficient canoe to switch paddle. The Vagabond, being wider and hence more stable, and being susceptible to kneel paddling, should be quite easy to paddle with single-sided correction strokes, especially when you get used to paddling that way with a slight heel.

I had a Vagabond

– Last Updated: Oct-15-15 9:46 AM EST –

I think it would be a pretty good fishing canoe, especially if you can kneel, but it has plenty of stability for a person who sits too. You'll hear people say that it's not "inspiring" to paddle, but it moves along quite well. In spite of the fact that it is very stable and does not have a "sporting" feel, the ease with which it cruises at a good clip would surprise a lot of people.

You've had some posts in the past that included questions about rough-water handling, and if the Vagabond has one major weakness, it's its inability to ride up and over waves. Like most solo Wenonahs, it has almost no flare, and it has a straight-line taper between the widest point at center and each end (note the "stretched-diamond" shape of the Vagabond, and most other solo Wenonahs, when seen from above). This results in there being less fullness in the ends than boats with more a more traditional kind of taper (usually accompanied by some flare), and the result is that the boat has a greater tendency to poke right through oncoming waves and less tendency to rise over them than is the case for most other canoes of similar design. The question will be, does that matter? It was rarely an issue for me. It would be more common for that to matter in choosing a boat for whitewater than for flatwater, but I found that taking boat wakes in the Vagabond required more caution than what's been the case for any other boat I've had (which isn't that many).

Overall, though, I'd give the Vagabond very high marks as a fishing canoe.

I think Clipper’s layups are better for
occasional rocky encounters. Wenonah’s best layup is their Tufweave, which is pretty durable.

the biggest problems
I started another thread on the clippers, and the following link was provided:

From what has been said, it seems that the biggest problem with the wenonah is the profile that cuts waves, rather than rides them. For the clipper, it seems that the biggest problem is single-blade “hit and switch” paddling while kneeling. In the link provided, it seems that seated single-blade paddling is being done. I wonder how well it’s working. Do you think that the flare is decent on the packer? Here’s an overhead shot:

Leaving aside the possible differences in cutting through waves as others have mentioned, in practical terms there shouldn’t be any problem with the greater width of the Vagabond. I’ve paddled the Royalex Vagabond about every which way you can paddle it, every style, double and single blades, sitting and kneeling. I’m a bit shy of 5’ 8", and do not feel like I’ve ever had any kind of trouble with the width of the canoe.

Cutting waves may not be a problem
Yes, I had problems with the Vagabond’s lack of ability to ride up and over waves as compared to canoes with more traditional curves, but most people won’t actually be fishing from a canoe in a situation where that’s a concern. Knowing that no one boat does everything well, you really do have to weigh the positives and negatives in the best context for your situation.

More info
I spoke w/ reps from Wenonah and Clipper. The Wenonah Vagabond is available with two stock seat configurations: a pedestal tractor seat, and a web seat mounted to the hull. The height of the tractor (from the bilge to the underside of the seat) is 4.5 in. The height of the web (from the bilge to the underside of the seat) is 6.5 in.

The clipper is available with either a tractor or web, both of which are attached to the hull. Again, from the bilge to the underside of the seat, the tractor and web measurements are 5 in. and 7 in. respectably.

As for rough conditions, I’ve decided that I don’t need a canoe that can handle them. I recall hearing a wise piece of advice awhile ago: Don’t make the mistake of assuming the boat that you’ll get will be with you for the rest of your life. At this point, I have my tandem. There are light SOT recreation kayaks that go for about $300.

At some point, I plan to get myself a solo canoe (possibly even this wenonah) for the small lakes and ponds, and then a snazzy SOT for rougher stuff.

New vs Used
I assume from what you wrote the Clipper would be new and the Wenonah used. Seems like a no-brainer to me assuming the used Wenonah is attractively priced. And if you should find in a year or two that you want something different you can probably sell it for the same price.


good call
A used canoe would probably be the way to go, then I could flip it if I wan to. The ad is still up. So, assuming it’s still for sale, do you think $1300 is good? It’s a 2012 boat, that is claimed to be in excellent condition. They go for $2200 + tax new. Seems good to me, but I don’t know.

I think that’s a good price for …
… a three year old, 30 lb. Wenonah canoe in excellent condition, but that wouldn’t stop me from offering $1,100 after an inspection and test paddle.

Wenonahs have been very popular in the U.S. for decades. Clippers are less well known in the U.S. Just in general, a Wenonah should therefore have bigger resale market if you ever want to part with it.

Smart shopping in the used market is the way to get a lightweight composite boat without breaking the bank.

Packer’s shoulders could be higher…so

– Last Updated: Oct-23-15 11:44 PM EST –

I think if I were to decide on the Packer I'd rather you to be on the light side, but I've never paddled a Vagabond. Those conditions in the images are pretty tame/lame(lol). Almost anything can cruise fairly well. Think a Vagabond might do better in the wind/chop...definitely want a little rocker in hulls of those lengths...