Can you belong here and not actually paddle?

Dear Board,

On it’s face I realize that it’s a stupid question. But allow me a moment to backtrack.

Many years ago when I first joined the board I did so because my wife and I just became the proud new owners of a well used but totally solid Novacraft SP3 17 foot Prospector. We took it out a a couple two-tree times, no one died and we kept it upright and thought, Whoo-hooo!

After it sat for a couple two-tree years in the backyard on sawhorses we sold it.

Then, two years ago we vacationed at a cottage in New Hampshire that included the use of a couple of kayaks and canoes. So my wife and I made a couple of trips around the lake in Old Town sit in kayaks. I actually enjoyed it but my dismounts of 1/2 an Eskimo roll and wet walk back with the kayak were not pretty.

But I had a good year at work and we bought two fishing kayaks when we returned. They were great on the water because we both love to fish. But they were torture on the mount and dismount on my truck, just like my previous dismounts with the free Old Town at the cabin.

So they sat mostly, until the next year. I had another good year at work and bought a trailer and thought, now we are in business! But I’m 60 and my wife is a few years older, and it still wasn’t fun on the launch and recovery by anyone’s defination.

So we sold the whole package.

Paddling around a lake or stream is fun, but the rest of the process isn’t to me or my wife. I want to get back to fun, while my wife just sulks and wishes I were dead for selling her kayak.

I thought long and hard about inflatable kayaks. On the day I closed the deal on the kayaks and trailer we sold there were actually two available that I would have bought before I left to deliver our old ones but I just couldn’t pull the trigger without the cash in hand.

When I returned home with the cash those kayaks were long gone. So here I sit.

I want to stick a stick in the water and move around, and so does my wife. I’ve searched for used canoes and found plenty of what I would consider to be great deals, only to see them sell within a day of two.

With all that said, and knowing our budget of +/- $ 1500.00 I’d like to hear about canoes that can be used to recreationally paddle with the odd cast or two spent fishing included. I will gladly buy a used canoe, if that matters.


Tim Murphy

Harrisburg, PA

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You can buy just about any canoe out there, used, for that price. I like my WeNoNah Fisherman 14, but it’s a little lacking in secondary stability for tight, fast streams. My just-purchased Dagger Reflection 16 has been a revelation in stability and being a foot longer and 5 inches narrower makes it a little faster for the fun paddles, too. There’s a lot between those two that will suit both of your needs. I think I’d buy yourself a StealthCraft drift boat and some rowing gloves for the Mrs…

So why did you give up on inflatables? As we get older (I’m 70) having a lighter boat is really quite liberating. I too, was frustrated by having the effort of hauling and launching and rehauling heavy boats wring out the energy I would have preferred to expend on the water. For your budget you could get one of the newer drop stitch tandem kayaks, including the canoe-like Sea Eagle 473rl. At 45 pounds nearly half the weight of most tandem canoes.

There are also folding canoes and kayaks that are quite light, like the Pakboat Saranac tandem, $1285 and only 29 pounds.

Besides lightness, inflatables and folders are nice options for retired paddlers who like to travel. Being able to carry my knock-down boats (I have 4) in a duffel bag inside the car means I don’t have to reduce my gas mileage by hauling boats long distance on the roof rack or worry about their security when stopped overnight on the road. Also, with my lighter boats, I have been able to take them as checked airline luggage for overseas and distant trips.

I joined but the last time I paddled our 17 foot kayak was maybe 15 years ago. I lowered that kayak from the garage ceiling, cleaned it of accumulated dust and hope to paddle it very soon. A very portable alternative to a canoe or kayak is the Porta-Bote, a folding dinghy which is stable enough to stand in. Although a new one is beyond your price range, there are older more affordable models for sale by owners.

Thank you. I had never heard of PakBoats. Klepper folding kayaks now run $5K for the basic boat, How easy is the assembly of the PakBoat? I just viewed a couple of PakBoat assembly videos. Lots of pieces and steps to assemble. More than I would care to deal with.

Hi Goobs,
If I were you, and living in PA, I’d be on the lookout for a couple of used Hornbeck canoes. Mine weighs just 13 lbs.
Hemlock and Placid Boat Works also make ultralight canoes, a little pricier than the Hornbeck.

You live in a great area for used canoes, I see many on Craigslist that I’d be happy to own although the asking price in a few of them is high.

Seems like you need you need to decide whether you want a tandem canoe or two separate boats. Then a key point seems to be what weight you are comfortable loading. If you have a pick-up with an open bed that can be one of the easiest options…to just drag a boat into and out of the bed.

There’s a Bell Morningstar tandem listed for $2100. That’s more than it cost new. It says 41 pounds. It’s a great boat, stable and efficient. You might offer $1600…maybe $1700 tops. There’s a Kevlar Sawyer X17 for $900. That’s a fine boat if you can load it…probably around 50 pounds. I see a 22 pound pack boat for $1100. Maybe you could get it for $900 and then look for a second boat.

Not sure what to say about your tendency to get wet. A little practice goes a long way.

I know the videos of Pakboat assembly can be daunting, but they really are not that difficult. I can set up my smaller Puffin in a leisurely 30 minutes or around 20 in a rush, and that includes installing the optional deck. With the more complicated Quest 135 (an earlier version of the their current Quest 150) ithe process is 30 to 40 minutes from bag to boat. With each subsequent assembly over the season it gets faster. One reason the videos are long is that the steps are a little unusual and not obvious, but once you figure them out and are familiar with the sequence it goes smoothly.

My understanding is that they have streamlined some of the assembly steps since my “beta” model came out so that should be simpler and quicker. I generally leave my folders set up in the garage or basement during regular local seasonal use and only dismantle them for long distance car or plane trips or to store over the winter. In fact my Quest has been on my car roofrack for 3 days now since my last outing since I am planning to paddle again today.

The fact that the models are assembled as an open hull, rather than having to semi-crawl into a one piece skin to position a pre-assembled frame, makes them easier to work on physically than the Feathercraft kayaks I have owned (I still have one, a Wisper). This feature alone sets them apart from the other folder brands. The price point is an obvious advantage too as they are not to much more than an equivalent model of quality hardshell kayak. The same can be said of their folding canoe line, boats that have proven themselves for decades as the choice of guides and field research teams for use in remote wilderness waters.

They have also offered helpful and very personal customer service during the 10 years since I purchased my first Pakboat, one of their early XT models (more similar to Kleppers). If you are interested in feedback other than mine, there is a specific Pakboat category on the forum

One thing to mention, like most skin on frame folders, the boats have inflatable sponson tubes inside for buoyancy and to tighten the skin so you do have to inflate them when you get to the launch. This is easy with the high volume hand pump they include and since the decks (if you are using the deck) perel back by separating the velcro seal, the sturdy Boston valves are readily accessible. The seats are also inflatable but that takes a few puffs by mouth, same with the flotation bags that I add in the bow and stern to add buoyancy and fill out those chambers in the rare event of a capsize. It is important to open the valves after you are back on shore as hot weather can expand the air pressure when you are out of the water and can posdibly rupture a tube. They can be easily patched with the kit that is included but it is a nuisance better avoided. I have only had to patch once in 10 years of owning Pakboats and that was due to a puncture caused by a mistake in assembly, though I did rupture a Feathercraft sponson (which was far more difficult to repair).

The Pakboat seat design is very comfortable, by the way, and include a lumbar backband that does not restrict paddling form. I mostly use a Greenland style paddle with mine. The boats are durable — my smaller Puffin is 16 years old and other than an updated deck I added 5 years ago, is all original parts.

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By the way, Goobs, I live in Pittsburgh. Maybe we could meet at a lake in the middle sometime and I could show you my Puffin and Quest and you could try them out. I have been thinking about selling the little Puffin since I have pretty much neglected her since acquiring the more nimble Quest. Maybe you could mollify your wife with a nice little 24 pound kayak that she can load solo with one hand. Though my older version is not designed to be paddled as an open boat, the cockpit is large enough for comfortable entry. The current version (Puffin Saco) is convertible.

Dear Willowleaf,

I haven’t given up on inflatable kayaks, it’s just that there simply aren’t any in stock anywhere right now that I am interested in buying. I would like to get an Aquaglide HB125 Angler model and maybe the same for my wife or possibly the smaller HB110 version for her? I’m a big dude and need a pretty substantial boat.

With a canoe we will pretty much have to stick with a tandem canoe. The Esquif Adirondack interests me but we would need to get a second boat then for my wife. Or maybe a second boat for when we want to go together? I have a truck with a Thule rack and 78" crossbars on it so I know that a 65 to 75 pound canoe can be loaded and unloaded on it. I also have an Outback and the rack on it would safely handle a canoe or even both inflatable kayaks aired up for a 20 mile run to a local paddling spot. My kayak was simply too heavy to easily handle on my own. I’m 6’5" and my wife is about 5’6", so lifting for loading and unloading is a bit of an issue due to the height discrepancy.

I guess I will just have to patiently watch Craigslist for a while, and it may even be next Spring before we can get back on the water, but we’ll figure out a way eventually.


Goobs :grinning:

@Goobs, have you considered something like this?

Don’t know if a new one would fit in your budget, but it’s another direction to think in. I have an inflatable, but I quit using it because pumping it up was too much hassle. If that happens to you, you’ll quit using the boat; likewise if assembling and taking down a folder becomes too much of a chore. SOTs are always ready; you just need to work out how to transport it.

Entry and exit is a breeze, btw, they’re unsinkable, and self-rescue is easy, too.

I got the chance to paddle an Oru boat and it wasn’t a bad paddle. Taking it down or setting it up only took a few minutes and you can store two of them in the trunk of a car.

Wet entrance or exit are just things that need some practice. No one looked good the first time they tried to get out of a kayak.

Dear Craig,

They look kind of interesting, especially for my wife. I’m a little too big for those kayaks though if the weight capacities are honest.

About the wet exit, I was trying to make a joke. I am certain there are skilled paddlers who are 6’5" that can manage to extricate their legs from under the decking on a sit inside kayak, but I’m not one of them. It was easier to roll over and just fall out for me!

Thanks everyone for your suggestions though!


Tim Murphy :grinning:

Something like this?