BWCA/renting a SOLO

I plan on doing a solo trip this Spring. Here is my problem. All of the oufitters that I have researched offer only two option. A Wenonah Prism(I think too small for me;6’5",230) or a Souris River Q16 tandem paddled from the bow seat(solos should be from the center,especially in wind…), I’m surprised that nobody offers more true wilderness solo option,i.e., Swift Shearwater. Given the limited options and my size what would you go for; the Prism or the Q16 tandem paddled from the bow.

They list six other solo canoes for rent along with the prism for a total of seven.

Now I’m sure you wouldn’t consider some of them, (as I wouldn’t either) but there is a selection.

though i’m too damn fat at 5ft 11in and 270 lbs, i have found my prism to be quite capable for the type of trip you’re planning. my last bwca trip was a 10 day solo covering a bit over 100 miles last september. the weather was iffy with lots of wind and rain, but the prism was quite seaworthy loaded with my gear and me. the boat is well suited to you at the weight you’re carrying. -harry

Prism/Bucket seat
Thanks for your input. Is it possible to kneel in the Prism with your legs on the sides of the bucket seat? Is paddling the 16’ tandem from the bow seat really an option or would I be setting my self up for trouble on a windy lake or other trying situation?


– Last Updated: Apr-04-08 10:39 PM EST –

the prism really isn't a kneeling boat. the tractor seat combined with the foot brace however gives you an almost kayak cockpit fit with your knees against the sides of the boat. there is plenty of adjustment in the footbrace. never have felt like i was top heavy even in 1-2ft waves. having paddled a tandem from the bow seat, i'd sure have to say that paddling from the center of the boat is a lot more efficient for me though paddling from the bow seat will work if the load is distributed to keep the bow/stern from being blown around by the wind.

on my trips, i pack light to allow for double portaging--one trip over with a daypack and boat, then a trip across with one large portage pack and the paddles.

for pics from my sept-oct 07 trip: a couple of pics of the boat with my gear inside. the prism at 16ft 6in isn't really that small of a boat. i'd for sure rather have a solo than a tandem for the trip you're talking about, especially in a storm.

good luck. -harry

BW solo
I think you will find sitting while paddling in a sliding bucket seat in a fast canoe as the best way to cover a 100 miles in the BWCA. You will find the slider invaluable in helping to trim the boat in windy conditions. The only time I kneel in this flatwater tripping country is when the waves get to be more than 20". And more likely than not it’s time to start thinking about getting off the water when conditions get to that. So I encourage you to try the prism over the tandem S.R.(better have a couple weeks to cover 100 miles in that). And if you don’t mind a slightly more tender canoe, you and your gear will fly the fastest in a Wenonah Voyager. That said if you must kneel, another fine solo for your size is the Bell Magic. This has a fixed bench seat that slants forward and the front of the seat is mounted just over 6" high. So this seat would be fine for kneeling provided you can comfortably get your feet clad with trail boots underneath a 6" high seat. Lets see 6’ 5" must mean about #13’s??

rethinking the Prism
I’m starting to rethink the Prism vs. the Q16 paddled from the bow. As long as I’m not too tall/heavy for the Prism it seem to be my best option.

No Problemo
I soloed my Bell Magic (shorter and narrower than a Prism) with my gear and I weigh 285#s. You should have no problem at your size and weight.


The Prism
The Prism would be by far the better choice of those two.

(from Wenonah’s models) the Encounter or Voyager might be better choices, but you will do great in the prism.

I am heavier than you and packing light, have done week long solo trips in a Sawyer Shockwave which is less suited to tripping than a Prism (which I have paddled a number of times and would feel good about tripping in).

I have a Voyager as well which is an excellent solo for the type of trip your planning, but is also requires a little more skill than a Prism.

SR Q16 solo

– Last Updated: Apr-09-08 8:40 AM EST –

First off one of my buddies is the same height as you and weighs a bit more. His canoe is a wenonah Prism and he loves it. The Prism is plenty of boat for you in the BWCA.

I wonder about the SR Q16 tandem you refer to. Did the outfitter tell you it was a tandem that you'd paddle reverse from the bow? I ask because there is a SR Q 16 solo, and most of the BWCA outfitters carry them. It is (until this past year) the Q16 tandem's hull, but is outfitted at the factory as a solo. I believe the most recently produced Q16 Solos have slight hull modifications to make them more solo-like.

Personally I find the Q16 Solo slow and inefficient. However, inexperienced soloists and those whose focus is fishing love them for their stability. Many will use a double blade paddle in them.

There may be one or two BWCA outfitters that carry another solo, primarily the Bell Magic, but not many. The standard solo canoes for BWCA outfitters are the SR Q16 Solo and the wenonah Prism. Either will work for you. You decide if you want extra stability (SR) or the true solo with better efficiency (wenonah).

Magic verse Prism

prism has a 6" length advantage and a 1" width advantage over magic, but it’s finer lines pretty much obviate the measurements.

Magic will float more weight than Prism.

If you’ve gotta kneel, [and I mostly do], maybe Piragis will rent a WildFire or Yellowstone.