Canoe for 1 adult & 2 kids?

I am a newbie, and have been trolling through newbie posts for canoes. It seems like most are for two adults and kids, but I’m in a different boat, no pun intended!

I’m looking for a canoe for me (200lb,athletic), an 8 year old boy and a 11 year old girl. Which means I’m the main paddler and carrier. Any suggestions?

I’ve looked at a Old Town GUIDE 169…not on their website but they made some for Dick’s. Also a Mad River Passenger 16’…I’m open to others and Craigs list…any suggestions?

I’ve got a Subaru Outback, I’m hoping to find something that’s manageable for the car.



Kind of depends on a number of things

– Last Updated: May-24-11 4:36 PM EST –

What kind of water do you want to paddle?

What is the weight of your kids?

Do you anticipate that either of your children will be able to effectively help you paddle?

If you mainly plan to paddle flat water and easy streams you should be able to trim the boat by putting both of your kids in front of the center yoke. The smaller could sit on a small, folding chair behind the bow seat (sold by Cabela's and others: and the larger could sit on the bow seat and paddle. Another option might be a tandem canoe with a center seat like the Mad River Malecite or the Wenonah Solo Plus. Or you might be able to replace the center thwart/yoke in another boat with a wide center seat mounted to the gunwales.

If you replace a center yoke with a center seat suspended from the gunwales it won't be as rigid as a yoke and you may need to install a new shorter thwart behind the center seat.

Paddling flat water or easy streams shouldn't be too bad once you learn to do a decent J-stroke (if you don't already know how) as long as the boat is trimmed, even if the bow paddler(s) are not doing much.

If you anticipate paddling streams that require any real maneuvering in current, it can be difficult to control a tandem from the stern without an effective bow paddler. In that scenario, you would be better off positioning yourself near center, where you can effect both bow and stern corrective strokes, and have one of your kids at each end.

It might be good to think ahead to the time when you might be paddling tandem with only one of your kids at a time. In that eventuality you would be well-served by a tandem that has a sliding bow seat to facilitate trimming the boat. You can retrofit a sliding bow seat to a tandem that doesn't have one, however.

Nothin’ too risky
thanks for your advice.My kids weigh around 50 lbs and 75lbs. The smaller one is pretty energetic and last time we rented a canoe, he helped paddle.

I would like to paddle some small lakes and hopefully some rivers (not whitewater). I like to fish but mostly for trout…not sure how canoe’s and trout fishing will work…

Trout make me very happy, but that’s another post :-

Canoes and trout go together like peas and carrots! (I’m a trout fisherman too). The only caution I would give regarding the OT Guide series is…the seats are quite limiting. They look great, and are comfy for a short while but grow uncomfortable as time passes and do add a lot of weight to the canoe. Depending on your budget, maybe look at the Penobscot? OT Blems are easy to come by so that might make price come together. If price isn’t an object maybe try to find a Bell Northwind, or a Mad River Explorer? So many great canoes are available for one adult with two kids on lakes, ponds, and slow gentle rivers.

kids weights
Since you outweigh the combined weight of your kids by a good margin, you would need to position them close together at the bow of a conventional tandem canoe to have it approach trim. Again, a little folding chair can be placed right behind the bow seat, if a thwart is not in the way. A child sitting in such a chair might be too low to effectively paddle, however, but they could take turns.

You might be better off paddling a tandem “backwards” by sitting on the bow seat facing the stern of the boat and paddling it stern first. One of your kids could sit on the stern seat in what is now effectively the bow and paddle and the other just behind. There wouldn’t be a lot of leg room there, but at their age and size they wouldn’t need it.

If you plan to paddle a tandem stern first, look for one that has seats that allow you to do that. Some boats have molded seats that don’t allow you to sit on them backwards with any comfort. Also, look for one that does not have a thwart immediately behind the bow seat, and a symmetrical canoe would be best. The Mad River Explorer is one such canoe.

If your kids are anything like mine were, you may find that they paddle enthusiastically for about 10 minutes and then stop, so I wouldn’t necessarily count on them for propulsion or control right at present.

I appreciate your advice…I am feeling a little more at ease. I think we are going with a Mad River Passenger 16 for a starter canoe. It’s an Adventurer without the square stern. The kids love it. I love the excitement on their little faces!

I don’t think it will be easy to sit backwards in the bow and paddle…maybe a big 5 liter water bag in the front?

Water bag for ballast

– Last Updated: May-25-11 11:15 AM EST –

Works good and is adjustable. Will increase the effort needed to turn a little(as opposed to all weight more centered or the weight of a paddler who will help up front), but that won't be much of a problem on a lake.

I have used a cheap dry bag filled with lake water in that way.

What I did …
I bought an ancient smokercraft aluminum canoe for $300, sat one kid in the bow, one kid in the stern and kneeled and paddled until the oldest got big enough to paddle in the bow. Goodtimes.