Canoe for a big guy

I’m looking for a canoe for a big guy, I’m around 300 lbs and I’m tired of lugging around the 3 man canoe I hav now. I’d like either a solo canoe or a two man canoe that would hold me and my camping gear, and perhaps a 75 pound dog. I’d use it in mostly flat water, maybe an ocassional class 2. Certainly nothing over class 3. Can anyone recommend a boat?


Canoe for a big guy
A Bob Special from Nova Craft can be had for around 2-grand. About 50 pounds, 15 feet long, good solo or tandem boat, with weight and proper trim ok in waves and wind. 800 plus pound capacity, pretty stable. It is an awesome boat, just not real fast. For a big guy solo with a big dog this is the first boat to jump into my head. A royalex boat would be cheaper and a little heavier.

The new Pal from Nova Craft may also fit the bill.

What’s available in your area?
If you only have Old Town and Mad River to choose from I’d suggest the Old Town Camper 15 or the Mad River Explorer 15 or Mad River Horizon 15. These all weigh mid-50’s and will carry you & dog & camping gear just fine. In used Old Town’s I suggest the Pathfinder 14.

If you have access to Nova Craft the Bob Special is an excellent canoe and weighs mid-50’s in royalex and less in royalite. Their Supernova solo would also work, about 60 pounds heavy.

All of these are available new for around $1000. Quite a bit less if you can find a good used one. The Mohawk canoes are back on the market and the Odyssey 14 is a good canoe, not sure if it will haul your kit though. they also have 15’s that would work.

What’s available in your area?

Bob Special
I owned a Bob Special from Nova Craft in Royalex. 58 pounds. Since it is a symmetrical hull it paddled well solo when sitting facing reverse in the front seat. Handled a load well, in fact was actually better with a load. I wanted a dedicated solo which I got in a Wenonah Vagabond and a bit larger tandem which I got in an OT Penobscot so I sold my Bob Special. There are times I wish I still had that boat! it was not a fast boat but very stable and great to fish from.

Wenonah Encounter…

– Last Updated: Feb-13-07 5:12 PM EST –

How bout' Wenonah's Encounter(kevlar flex-core, 48lb)
length: 17'
minimal rocker
bow 19"..........gunwale 25"
center 14".......max 31.5"
stern 16"........waterline 29"


– Last Updated: Feb-14-07 12:44 AM EST –

I think anyone who weighs 300 pounds, and wants to carry camping gear, and a 75 pound dog, would be making a costly mistake in purchasing a Wenonah Vagabond. Better have fire starting material, and a change of clothes handy if you go out on a cool day.

I own a Vagabond, weigh 200 pounds, and I carry lots of gear.A Vagabond can easily handle that.

300 pounds of paddler, plus 75 pounds of dog, plus 45 pounds of gear, equals 420 pounds total.


Many of my larger friends really like the NovaCraft SuperNova solo canoe. It’s a better “big boy” boat than the Mad River Freedom Solo that I have (five foot eleven, and about 190 pounds). Just ask Sloopsailor. He swears by, not at, his SuperNova.

Some found it a little “tippy” at first, but got adjusted to it very quickly. It has rock solid secondary stability which I think is a plus if your dog likes to jump in and out of the canoe.

I’m in the Bob Special camp
The main reason is the dog. I just can’t see using a true solo if there is a dog along. I know guys do it but I don’t know how. I figure they must have pretty small dogs or awfully well behaved ones. Since you have a 75# dog, that like having a kid on board. I think you need a tandem.

I own a Bob Special. Mine has the “center” seat for paddling solo. It is not close to being centered but it is close than paddling from the bow seat backward. When I use mine solo, I actually remove the bow and stern seats. That would be a good set up for you and your dog.

I also own a wenonah Encouter. It is really a “two-moose” canoe. It will haul a big load. I don’t like it, but it might work for you. But, again, I wouldn’t recommend taking the dog along in it.

If you only can get an Old Town I highly recommend the Penobscot 16 over the Camper. I owned a Camper and found it a fine recreational tandem. I paddled it solo once … notice I said ONCE. Not good soloing. I also owned a Penobscott 16 (and a 15). Nice all round canoe - good tandem, good solo. The P16 will serve you well, too.

So my recommendations: #1 Nova Craft Bob Special; #2 Old Town Penobscott 16.

Thanks for the advice everyone. Any suggestions on something in the 600-800 dollar range? I can’t blow a huge wad on a canoe right now. This is waht I’m using now:

Great boat for hauling the kitchen sink, but kind of a beast to paddle. Very stable, almost like a flat bottom boat. It digs a bit deep, too, but I kind of expect that with my weight and all.

Yeah, many would find the on-center tenderness of this boat really unsettling, and a dog moving around inside will really make it “rock and roll”, but if you don’t mind kneeling it won’t actually tip over. You might fall out if you do something really “wrong”, but the boat will still be upright and waiting for you afterward.

The downside of this boat, and whether one can call it that or not depends on one’s point of view, is that it is a “turner”, not a “tracker”. It takes constant attention on the part of the paddler to make it go where you want it to and to do so in “pretty” fashion. The upside is that this boat WILL help you become a good paddler if you make up your mind not to develop any bad habits (such as falling back on that old standby, the “goon stroke”).

Good Lord, no wonder!
That thing weighs 95 POUNDS. Dude, you need a new boat for sure.

Where are you located? Maybe some of us can help you locate a good used canoe.

Used Wenonah Adirondack in Forida
in classifieds, in Florida, $900 or best offer. Weighs 62#

and a Mad River Explorer 14 tt in Tennessee for $500 it weighs 69#.

Price Range
Toward the lower end of your price range you are definitely looking at a used boat. Toward the upper end, I’d say if you are willing to go $100 to $200 higher you can get a really good boat brand new, if the hull is Royalex. Used boats can be fantastic deals, but the hard part is finding the one you like that’s not too far away or that can be shipped to you.

As you’ve already found out, the “problem” with coming to a place like P-net for advice on buying a boat is that the kindest thing you’ll hear anyone say about a $600 boat is that “it’s a good choice if it gets you on the water”. Once you more clearly define your needs, you are asking for a “real” canoe, and the starting price for a “real” canoe will likely be somewhere around $1,000.

69# is no good for solo
Mad River Explorer 14TT at 69# is not a solo boat. It’s solo length, sure. But I’m 6’2" about 315# and getting that boat onto the roof of my lowered VW was something I never want to do again.

I’m in the same boat as the original poster (no pun intended) and right now I’m narrowing down between the OT Penobscot and the Nova Craft Bob Special.