Canoe Help

Hi everyone I am new here and am looking for some advice on size brand etc of canoe that will work well for my needs. I need a canoe for two adults and our two dogs. They are medium sized dogs around 35pounds. We will be mainly sticking to lakes and slow rivers for fishing. Also will be going camping and into the BWCA but weight is really not an issue. Must fit on top of my Subaru Forester. Thanks!!

Weight is always an issue
If you need two people to put the canoe on the car, you can’t just meet some one at the put in…

A glass or kevlar sundowner might be what you need.

nice stability, handles well on lakes and light rivers. Also look at a Wenonah Spirit; The plaidpaddler has his second one,which replaced the one that was stolen. He loves it. If you have th emoney to go new then a Champlain, escape or escapade from wenonah. Alot of good hulls out there, paddle with teh dogs before you buy.


Second on the Spirit II. We have one and it will do all that you ask and then some.


How much gear? budget? experience?

– Last Updated: Mar-17-09 9:10 AM EST –

Almost any general-purpose tandem in the 17'-18' range should be able to handle 2 adults, 2 small dogs, and moderate gear on moderate water.

I'm partial to Bells -- a Northwind might work well for you -- but there are lots of canoes that would do what you describe.

Go to the …

– Last Updated: Mar-17-09 5:13 PM EST –

the Wenonah website and order a free catalog. They have lots of good info on choosing canoes in them. I also have a Spirit II. 70lbs isn't too bad but not sure I want to be portaging it in the BWCA. Of course I should add that it is made out of the Royalex material which accounts for it's weight. It is available in lighter materials. Lots of boats out there. Take your time and test paddle them if you can.

Question of Balance
In canoeing you end up balancing more than the canoe on the water. You balance your wallet against your back, speed vs stabiiity, tracking vs turning.

As canoes get lighter, they get more expensive. As they get wider and more stable, they get slower. As they get longer, they track better & go faster, but are harder to turn. As they get deeper, you can haul more and go out in rougher water; but they get blown around by the wind more if you are lightly loaded.

When you get asked for more information on this board, its because there is a need for that information to help you make a more informed decision. There are some canoes that can “do it all”, but they are not the best in any area, they are a good balance for “most” peoples needs. Most of us who have had the canoeing bug for years own a bunch of canoes. So for a special purpose; racing, taking grandad fishing, whitewater, etc. we have the “ideal” canoe for that purpose. But we all have our favorite all-around canoe that we use most, and trust to get us home safely.

Mine is the Wenonah Spirit, and it is available in many constructions, heavy to ultralight, modest cost to expensive. You balance what your back can carry against what your wallet can support. Others have their favorite canoe depending on their mix of usage and skills. Some value speed over stability, some light weight over cost. Brand loyalty is like cars, tractors, fishing reels, golf clubs.

Read the canoe information sections of the Wenonah catalog and website; it will help a lot. Then post again with your new questions. You will have more after you do your reading. You will get more answers.

And don’t buy without paddling. We can recommend several canoes that are great canoes for your usage, and all will be within several inches of each other in dimension, but will all paddle differently. You must pick which is the best feeling for you.


Fit your car
With respect to fitting on your car, any canoe you will consider will do that.

I drive a focus, and a 20’ canoe is OK on it. Anything 16-18’ will give you no trouble if you attach it properly.

I like all canoes, many would suit you. How do you feel about stability vs. speed?

I’ve got a 17’ Sundowner and it is a
freighter. Mine is an older version with the aluminum gunwales and weighs 58 lbs. The new ones with the vinyl gunwales weight 65 lbs. Still light enough that one person could top it.

Freighter Canoe
A 17 Sundowner in any construction falls far short of the Freighter classification.

If its lighter than a Coleman it isn’t a freighter.

If its shorter than a Tripper it isn’t a freighter.

If its narrower than a Grumman it isn’t a freighter.

There are actually very few 17’ tandem canoes that are slimmer than the Sundowner. There are hundreds that are wider, or fuller.

I can’t speak for what a Subaru Forester will support on its roof. But a properly set up Yakima Rack will hold 300# and most people will have trouble putting half of that on a rack.

A Saturn VUE with a Yakima Rack on Yakima Tracks mounted to the roof will support a 20 foot Grumman War Canoe at around 105#. That means it would also haul a Tripper XL or 15’Discovery Sport squarestern canoe. And those are the two heaviest production canoes i could think of.

The key is the rack mounting to the vehicle and the canoe being longer than the vehicle. Overhang on each end is good in this case; both sets of end ropes pull inward towards the vehicle. Starting or stopping pulls on one set of ropes and the canoe stays in place. When the canoe does not hang over the front of the vehicle and the bow ropes pull forward like the stern ropes, there is nothing to keep the canoe from going forward during a stop, except the friction on the bars and the tapered fit against gunwale brackets (when the rack has them).

Generally if two people can lift a canoe onto a rack, the car should be able to support it. If not its a poor choice of vehicle. And certainly not deserving of the U in SUV.