Canoe-buying Advice

Hey Folks, I know this topic has been addressed many times over, and I did search through many of the email streams, but none quite fit my exact questions, so my apologies for asking again.

I’d like to buy a used canoe. It will be my first. The first priority is that it must be light enough for me to hoist into our truck bed. 80 lbs is way too much, but I suspect I can handle 50-60lbs (I throw around bales of hay, so I think that’s okay). That limits me right there.

After that, it needs to seat two people, and be fairly sturdy. I’ll only be paddling on flat water - lakes, an occasional small river. Mostly, to go birding, and a bit of fishing.

I had originally focused on an old Grumman - 15’ or 16’, but it’s still too heavy. Kevlar seems too fragile and expensive. Royalex?

Any advice is well appreciated. And if you live in Southern Maine, you will be rewarded with a beer. Thanks!

Take your 50-60lb parameter

– Last Updated: May-07-15 7:37 AM EST –

to canoe manufacturers websites and see what you get. What I mean is you'll find your best candidate for light weight will be a kevlar canoe if it's medium sized. Some dings and damage don't matter but if woodwork and gunnels need replacing it better be very cheap.

Manufacturer sites
Used to be good advice. But so many of the good tandems in the ~60 lb range that have been produced in the last few decades or more were royalex hulls, and many of those are no longer listed on the makers’ websites.

Not an all-inclusive list, starting with some no longer listed in rx…

Wenonah Aurora

Old Town Penobscot

Mohawk Nova 16

Nova Craft Pal and Bob Special

Bell Northstar

models available in fiberglass and/or kevlar …

Wenonah Aurora

Mad River Malicite

Nova Craft Pal and Bob Special

Bell Northstar

If you’re really lucky, a Millbrook Coho would be about perfect for the OP.

Kevlar and glass boats aren’t all as fragile as you might assume. The better ones hold up to scrapes and bumps real well. Just don’t wrap them around a rock.

The op wasn’t specific about weight of people so an old Wnonah Heron in Royalex could work but if he needs a bigger canoe his best bet is kevlar for lighter weight.

For flat water and light weight forget royalex. Focus on medium sized fiberglass, Kevlar, and combinations of materials. Finding a 60 pound canoe is easy. Learn how to handle a boat and it is not that hard to load one. Most people own lots of canoes over time. Congrats on your first one.

Forgot about the Heron.
IMO, a very under-rated canoe. Still available in Tuff-Weave too (50 lbs).

Kevlar layups vary…Wenonah’s "Flex-

– Last Updated: May-07-15 9:11 PM EST –

Core" and other maker's tougher layups are the ones you want to check out, when available as USED. It's a great material when reinforced and you'd be surprised at its strength. The ultralight layups are the ones that are stripped for their lightness. Wenonah's 17' Spirit II is one of more than a few...that've been around for awhile..and there are others. They ARE out there to be taken...Bells, Hemlocks, Swifts, Daggers, Clippers, Sawyers...gotta check as many sites as possible, including's....

Everyone for all your thoughtful feedback. I can see I’ll be spending the weekend doing due diligence online. The biggest problem is that very few ads for used canoes mention the model name, so it’s a mystery what you’re getting, aside from the make.

more mistery
The sellers often misrepresent what model or hull material anyway, likely out of ignorance.

Models confused with brands, thermoplastics confused with fiberglass, etc.

Without detailed photos you never know until you go look.

how to tell model and material?
Hey Steve in Idaho - so how would I be able to tell what model a canoe is? Do most have those plates on with that info? Is it to be found somewhere on a used canoe?

thanks - Hershey

HIN - hull identification number
If it has one. Should be located somewhere near the stern. There is a website (I’d have to Google it) that will tell you the manufacturer from that info, and if the builder is still in business a phone call should do it.

Or you might get the answer here. A photo, description, and especially HIN will often be enough for others here to make a positive ID.

Of course, some brands put the model name on the boat.