Canoe Advice

-- Last Updated: Jun-28-11 8:38 AM EST --

Well, I'm back with more stupid questions.
I have been on a canoe search for a while and seem to have narrowed the options that fit my budget down to three choices.

1. Old Town Camper 15' new
2. Winonah Adirondack 16'
3. Winonah Kingfisher 16'

All are royalex, and are in great shape, and priced right. The confusing part is which one will fill my needs best.
I am 6'1" 225 lbs and will use the canoe solo and tandem at about a 50/50 rate on lakes and medium current rivers with class 1 or 2 water at most.
The canoe will rarely be loaded heavily. (450 lbs max).
I have read all the reviews and the more I read the more confused I become. I'm not a very experienced paddler and am not able to demo any of the boats.
I will use the canoe mostly to haul dog and decoys on short trips and will not be shooting from the boat. On occasion the canoe will be used tandem for day trips on a class 1-2 river. Of course I want initial stability, but how important is secondary stability to the uses decribed above?
Will the relatively skinny hull of the Adirondack be a disadvantage? Will the Kingfisher be okay to solo? Will the weight of the Kingfisher be to much to load on top of an SUV alone? Will the lack of secondary stability of the Camper be a major drawback?
Any advice to the above would be appreciated by anyone with more experience than me.

P.S. Any dog in the boat will be properly behaved and accustomed to riding in the boat. Retriever training is my vocation and avocation, so all dogs will have been properly trained and conditioned to the boat in warm shallow water prior to any river trips.

1 vote for the Adirondack

It’s a nice all around boat for what you are doing. And 36" is not narrow. You’ll be more than fine. Lots of margin for error with 36" wide tandem. You don’t need to go wider ala Kingfisher. The Adirondack will paddle nicer and be more efficient moving through the water.

Scratch the Camper in favor of the Adirondack too.

A few $.01 opinions…

– Last Updated: Jun-28-11 9:29 AM EST –

I think you might find the Camper lacking in efficiency(oilcanning) and final stability.
With added weight the Kingfisher's width might, imho, hinder its efficiency in comparison to a more narrow hull. Might wanna try demoing the Adirondack if additional 400+lbs is a lot of weight for a 15-16' boat, but then the cargo isn't going to be moving around is it... Some of the shorter more used condition, can work just as you want too... $.01

Everything is a compromise.
But I would begin by passing on the Camper. Yes, the lack of secondary stability will be a major drawback, especially once you start down class 2 rivers. You can make the Camper work for all of your stated uses, if you know what you are doing - but it isn’t well suited to much of it. I found it to be best suited to shallow and twisty class 1 rivers. It was okay on lakes too, but just.

I didn’t catch your age, but you’re a pretty big guy. I’m a bit smaller and into my 50’s, but I don’t have any problem putting a 75lb 16’ Prospector on the roof of my SUV. Getting it on my shoulders to get to the SUV is getting a little difficult at times. The added width of the Kingfisher (4" more than most 16-footers) is more of an issue when lifting than it’s weight - but you may not find that a problem if you have strong arms and a longer reach than the average guy. I don’t have experience with the Kingfisher though. As I mentioned in another thread, my closest experience is with the Fisherman - which is an inch narrower and about ten pounds lighter. Nevertheless, I think the difference in size between you and me would translate to the Kingfisher being workable for you, based on the ease I had with the Fisherman.

The Adirondak isn’t really “skinny” by usual standards. 36" is pretty much the norm for general-use tandems. I haven’t paddled the Adirondak, but I think you would probably notice more initial stability in the Kingfisher, but maybe not so much difference in secondary stability. But the ‘dak has no rocker, and that may be a disadvantage on your class 2 rivers. It will be easier paddling on lakes than the Kingfisher or the Camper though.

Soloing the Kingfisher will not be as easy as the Adirondak. I found the Camper to be a real pain to solo with a paddle - not so much with a pole. You can do a lot to aid in soloing a tandem by reversing your seating position and/or adding ballast to trim the boat. No one will be keeping score if you “cheat” with a double-blade paddle.

I don’t think any of these three will be your ideal boat for your stated needs, but I think the Kingfisher may come closest, unless you have some physical issue that rules it out.

A lot of canoes will handle your needs well. What you should be looking for is something with about 1.5" to 2.5" of rocker(for moderate maneuverability), ~16’ in length (stability, capacity, and speed), ~36" in width (reasonable efficiency), and a shallow arch or shallow vee bottom (secondary stability). The Kingfisher isn’t too far off that mark for what you are wanting to do, and will have some added primary stability over that standard because of the extra width. Be aware though that, because of it’s higher volume, the Kingfisher will be more susceptible to being pushed around by the wind when lightly-loaded than most narrower tandems.

Well, A Few More “Cents” From Me
Never paddled the Kingfisher. It would PROBABLY work well. The Camper 15, well, I was told years ago that it is the same hull as the old “Pathfinder.” It was one of the worst boat’s I’ve paddled. Bottom flexed up and down and fell like I was paddling a bathtub.

Adirondack’s well, here’s my history. 'Ol Blue, my first Wenonah Adirondack, was purchased in around '89 or '90. Bought the tuffweave model. I paddled it for several years and decided I would buy a 2nd tuffweave one for use in the BWCAW and use my older one as the guest boat and my day-to-day river boat. After a few years, Wenonah came out with a royalex model and I sold 'Ol Blue to a friend and kept the newer tuffweave for BWCAW and the royalex for rivers. Was never crazy about that royalex model. Like that OT Pathfinder, the royalex flexed too much and the olive coloration inside the hull “Cooked” us during the summer in the Ozarks. But, it made a great duck hunting craft at the local wildlife area where I hunted. Eventually, I did sell both, moving on to lighter boats.

The Adirondack did everything from day trips on the river to week long wilderness trips with two people (me, 6’2" 210-230 in those years). Had I bought one of them in a lighter (but more expensive) kevlar layup I would still have one of those Adirondacks in the barn today. It’s a REALLY good dual use hull. Paddling with it backwards from the bow seat and a couple bags of dekes and your shotgun and accessories in front of you, it will paddle trimmed perfectly. The stability is good enough, you COULD shoot from it with good balance. Not ME, I’m too clumsy, though (LOL)! Well, maybe if I had it tied to a pole in the shallows, I would. But you said you won’t be shooting from it, anyway.

Here’s the gist of my review from 7 years ago: " I have owned 3 Adirondacks, two 'glass, and one royalex, with the ‘glass being the better layup, in my opinion. I used the Adirondack for both day trips on Ozark streams and wilderness trips in the BWCAW, both solo and tandem and it performed admirably for those applications. The initial stability was very good, in my opinion, but a few novice paddlers I’ve had in the boats thought it a might “Wiggly” at first. Secondary stability EXCELLENT! Once had my 100+ lb Labrador Retriever unexpectedly vacate the canoe to greet another dog he noticed on a Current River gravel bar. Took the boat to the gunnels and past, spilling a few gallons into the boat, but the Adirondack returned to an upright position readily. Tracking was fair, but this is a 16’ boat designed primarily for streams. Turning and responsiveness is very good. Boat can be soloed with the canoe turned arround and sitting in the bow seat faving the stern. Works well, since the stern depth is a few inches less than the bow depth. I have on occasion paddled this boat in extreme conditions. One time on Gunflint Lake (in the BWCAW) it was loaded with a weeks worth of gear and two paddlers and there were 3+ foot rollers following and quartering from the left and except for an occasional splash over the stern, the boat performed like a champ. Bear in mind, I DO NOT encourage one to use this canoe in that scenario, but on this occasion the wind and waves were such that we were able to ride approximately 10-20 offshore, and if swamped would have been pushed towards a gentle shoreline. We were in no danger, but the experience gave us the oppurtunity to see just what this canoe could handle. Needless to say, we were very impressed! As for durability, the 'glass version held up well on boney, rocky Ozark streams, even surviving a nasty broaching on a strainer once. The royalex did oilcan and flex a bit (nowhere near as stiff as Mad Rivers royalex layup) but it also survived a broach on a rock. I would have no qualms, due to the quality and durability of Wenonah’s 'glass layup, choosing the 'glass over the royalex. The royalex is noticably slower and less responsive."

I would add these points. If you can, get the tuffweave, it does paddle better. Of course, the royalex is quieter for hunting. And I do believe, having a Wenonah royalex boat in my barn righ now, that Wenonah’s layup of royalex they’re using is better than it used to be. I’ll put up a few old pics for you to check out of my Adirondack’s in use. I think it would be a very good choice for you. WW

Canoe suggestions please
I guess my main concern with the Adirondack or with any baot is that getting dumped in duck hunting weather is dangerous as well as very uncomfortable, thus my concern with the hullwidth of the boat.

Actually, the 'dack is the least expensive of the three. At $650.00 if the Adirondack is found lacking, I should be able to recoup most if not all on resale.

I know that where any watercraft is concerned, there is always a trade-off, and nothing perfect exists.But weight and maximum safety are things I feel must be condidered.

Thanks for the great info.

Did Dump One Once

– Last Updated: Jun-28-11 4:00 PM EST –

Wish I had it on video. Going under a strainer on the Jack's Fork River I did a "No-no;" I leaned BACK and a limb went under my PFD, lifting me up over the gunnels dumping the canoe. If you paddle with me, you'll note I never lean back underneath anything and I always fasten my PFD belt to my pants so nothing gets underneath it.

That doesn't mean you can't dump one. But, I paddled an Adirondack probably 30-50 days a year from about '90-2001. Then probably a half dozen times a year for a few more years. I've surfed 3' rollers on Gunflint Lake in MN, had my 110lb Chocolate Lab, Zach, jump out unexpectedly, broached a few logs and an old wood pier on the Current, and a rock or two. Had a few other close calls, but that was it.

Not having tried the Kingfisher, I can't tell you for certain it would be better or worse. It's a hull I've considered for duck hunting and fishing myself. But, IMHO the Adirondack does a nice job for what you're wanting it for. WW

Once you get used to a canoe, you will
find that it isn’t an issue of canoe width. We have a tandem 34.5" wide. It is stable as a tank.

Skip the Adirondack and get an Aurora.

By the way, people keep saying that the Adirondack is 36" wide. The specs say it is 35.

Canoe Advice
The winonanh website says 36".

Now why an Aurora. I’m not paying twice as much for 1 or 2 inches of depth, which is all the difference I see between that and the Adirondack.

I would say that you would be better off with the adirondack when you solo. If you planned on shooting out of the canoe I would advise the kingfisher.

Did you get my email about the rouges? I paddle a rogue from time to time with my lab and wife down the Dan. A well trained Duck hunting dog should not be much of a liability in the canoe. I have run some squirly rapids with no problem when the dog chills out.

Shoot me a message if you want a bow paddler come duck season.

It Will Be a Bit More Maneuverable
Never paddled it, but looks like a nice hull. Probably a little more updated design and more maneuverable hull. But the Adirondack maneuvered well enough for me. WW

KEBS I did not get the e-mail. But email me if you want to hunt this season. I’ve got a few places. A float trip doesn’t sound bad, but would rather get some dog work.

dress for the swim
Seems to me that prudence dictates that you should be prepared for a swim, regardless of how stable your canoe is (or you think it is). That is, after all, why you wear a PFD, right? I don’t duck hunt, so I can’t say what smart and experienced duck hunters pack in case of emergency. Do duck hunters ever wear neoprene or goretex drysuits like the kayakers do in cold water? But I would think you would at the very least want some spare clothes in a waterproof bag and an emergency space blanket or two in a pocket somewhere. Maybe some chemical warmers too. Wool garments are also a good idea, since wool retains heat even when wet.

As far as the Adirondack…if you’re getting a good deal, sounds like you can’t miss. Like you said, if the boat isn’t meeting your needs, you could sell it for little or no loss. I know its something of a heresy, but you could always get a set of those floater things if you need added stablity every once in a while.


– Last Updated: Jun-29-11 12:54 AM EST –

A 15' tandem like the Camper will be too small for someone your size when paddling tandem with a lot of gear. A 16' canoe will perform better.

The Kingfisher is too wide at 40" to paddle efficiently when solo. It will also probably be the hardest to resell if you don't like it because the market for such a wide canoe is probably narrow.

That leaves the Adirondack, a classically shaped 16' canoe. You will get used to a 36" wide canoe and begin to feel quite stable in it after a while, especially if you paddle kneeling. You may want to install a third solo seat close to the center. They make wide ones for that purpose.

Camper 15
I purchased an Old Town Pathfinder about 25 years ago and I have been very happy with it. It was dicontinued many years ago but has come back as the Camper 15, which has identical specs to the old Pathfinder. I liked the 57 lbs and royalex much better than the 72 lb fiberglass Old Town canoe I traded for it. I use it primarily solo for fishing or when I have a second passenger for short canoe rides, but I have used it for up to 3 day camping canoe trips with a partner. Although I am a fairly big guy like yourself - 6’2", and have weighed mainly between 220 and 240 for the 25 years I have owned the Pathfinder, I have always found the canoe to be very stable for fishing or with two people in the canoe. I also have a solo Bell Wildfire (royalex) which I really like but I do not feel comfortable fishing out of it even though they say it has great secondary stability. Since I am not a white water guy and am usually on lakes or gentle rivers I guess I appreciate primary stability. Also the Camper 15 is not as much of a tank to paddle as many say. No it is not fast, but I find it very manueverable and can be paddled at a moderate pace.


canoe widths
In 16’ canoes there are a lot that are 36" wide. some are very full and fat hulls and others are more tapered and skinny. A 16’ jonboat can be 36" wide and will not paddle anywhere like a 40" wide Kingfisher. Not just the overall width, but how the canoe tapers from the ends to the middle determines paddling efficiency and stability and capacity. On paper the Adirondack and Aurora look similar except for the depth, but the Aurora is fuller than the Adirondack. It widens much quicker behind the bow and holds its maximum width farther from the center than the Adirondack. Compare the widths at the bow paddlers station and how far from the bow that seat is located. Measuring the width a foot back from the bow will give you an idea of how full the canoe is in the bow, and measuring 3 feet front and back from the center will give an idea of how far the canoe carries its full width.

My vote for you would be for the Adirondack just because the Kingfisher is too wide at the center solo position.