canoe hull comparisons

There’s been a lot of discussion over time comparing the Merlin 2, Magic, and Hemlock Peregrine. Since I’m too lazy to try to search for all these posts maybe someone would be kind enough to answer the following-

of the 3 mentioned hulls, (or maybe some not mentioned) all variables being equal of course, which is:

  1. the faster
  2. the more seaworthy (wind and waves)?
  3. capable of handling the heavier payload?
  4. the better course keeper?
  5. designed for sitting rather than kneeling

    Also, when the DWL is similar in different hulls, what do you feel is the advantages and disadvantages of laid out stems vs plumb?


Boat Comparisons
Hi John, trying to get a nice little discussion going eh!

They’re all great boats…just depends on what color s they come in :slight_smile: which one is preferable…well okay, maybe there are other factors too.

You aren’t looking at adding to the fleet are you?

Mikey B

I have a Bell Magic. It is very sea worthy and fast. Tracks straight. You can even double blade if you want. ( I do this when I am out for a quick ride) The chines are smooth so you have to sit on the floor to edge a turn.

mikey !
Hey Mikey, you ole rascal, long time no see. Glad to see that you are still paddling. I figured some of my old buds would know who it was even though I use a P-Net name. It’s good to be anonymous. Hope you are doing well.

Yep, I’m looking to add to the fleet. I’ve done some wilderness tripping but always tandem (it was in the wedding vows) but my wife has finally had enough and granted special dispensation to allow solo. I had assumed for a long time that I’d get a Magic but discussions in this forum have made me reconsider. There was some good discussion in the past and I hope to get it all in one place through this post. I should have picked CEW’s brain more when we were truckin together. That boy knows some stuff about canoes!

See you on the water.

I think, like most …a few things on

– Last Updated: Jul-08-07 12:01 PM EST –

...on the list Have to come from the paddler, cuz if you want them all in a "smooth, comfortable" design, IMHO...there's compromise somewhere in that design.
Just pick out your priorities...what YOU like a boat to give you.


Consider a Wenonah Voyager
I own a Merlin II and have paddled a Magic. My assessment of these two is as follows:

  1. the faster = Merlin II (practical speed, more efficient); the Magic may have higher top-end speed if you really whip it hard with a bent-shaft paddle, but I am guessing that you’re not looking for this racing style of paddling.

  2. the more seaworthy (wind and waves)? Similar, but slight edge to Magic due to more freeboard (half inch) and length (1 ft).

  3. capable of handling the heavier payload? Similar, but again a slight edge to Magic.

  4. the better course keeper? Definitely the Magic (less rocker).

  5. designed for sitting rather than kneeling Magic, but Merlin also paddles well from seated position (plus from kneeled position).

    I like the Merlin II over the Magic by a mile (it’s more efficient, turns much better, responds equally to kneelng or sitting, much more versatile), but based on your criteria, it seems that the Magic is a better fit.

    That being said, based on these criteria, it seems that you’re looking for an efficient/fast go-straight boat to handle a load. If this is accurate, you must look at a Wenonah Voyager.

    The Voyager is superior to the Magic. I am a big fan of Bells (I own two), but the Voyager is in a different league. The only relative downside to the Voyager is its higher shear, which can make it tougher to control in the wind, and its narrower gunwales (21.5" vs. 23"), which are challenge to packing gear, but these are also advantages. The higher shear is an advantage for more carrying capacity and seaworthiness, and the narrower gunwales make paddling easier.

    The Voyager is EFFICIENT and FAST! It also tracks well and handles a large load (provided you can fit your gear between the very narrow gunwales). It is an extreme design, however, so be sure to paddle it before buying. It will not be a fit for most people.

Thanks a bunch Gopher1. Good comparison of the Magic and Merlin. This answeres some basic questions for me. Are you unfamiliar with the Hemlock Peregrine or was it left out intentionally? I was wondering about the Voyager and will probably wait to test one before making a decision. Thanks again.


Cannot speak to the Peregrine
Sorry, Pagayeur, I have no experience with the Peregrine. Based on what I have heard and its specs, though, it is probably somewhere between the Merlin II and Magic.

I love my Merlin II and thought it was all I would ever need, but then made the mistake of trying a Voyager and, well, then I had to buy one. The glide was that compelling (my Merlin is fast, but this had another two gears). The Magic did not give me this feeling.

I have even paddled the Voyager and Magic back to back and there was no comparison at any paddling cadence.

My experience is that the Merlin II is faster than its specs and the Magic is slower than its specs. Others have written of the same. The Voyager is what you expect (a rocket).

Have fun!

…If I had to drop down to only one solo, it would still be the Merlin II for its unbeatable versatility.

Paga, you descibed a Voyager
to start this thread. It can be a little unsettling at first and a cover is a necessity but it is a very fast canoe.

A cover is not a necessity
I agree that a cover improves the Voyager’s handling in the wind, but I have managed mine in high winds and rough water without a cover (but this does require proper trim). In my experience, this “issue” is overblown.

We went around about this a couple weeks ago; Magic and rob Roy equivalent hull shapes, Periogrine and merlin 2 also about the same.

Voyageur is a longer, go more straight, bent paddle boat for entry lebel paddlers.

If you have the arrive at destination part down part solidly, refer to previous discussions on the other hulls which have multi dimensional performance attributes.

my two cents
I’ve got a Merlin II and Peregrine and used to have a Magic.

Speed - all very close. Peregrine and Magic have slight edge over Merlin for ultimate speed but unless you’re racing (100% effort) they are all about the same. In my opinion the Magic takes too much muscle for the speed it gives.

Seaworthy - again they are close to identical; not sure which one I’d rather be in if the waves are big. Peregrine has small edge over Merlin and probably over Magic too.

Payload - again they are more alike than different. Merlin is super happy even with 275 pounds (me plus dog plus gear) but Peregrine feels even more lightly loaded than Merlin with 275…Peregrine could take 300 quite easily.

I never had my dog in the Magic so not sure how it responds to a load; I’ll bet it likes a load.

Tracking - Magic first, then Peregrine, then Merlin. They are all easy to control…the Magic is hardest to turn…and therefore tracks on it’s own best.

Sitting - Magic, then Peregrine, then Merlin.

layed out stems
CEWilson, thanks for the reply, I reckon you’re getting tired of responding to the same question more than once.

I’d really like to get your opinion on the last part of my post, to wit :

“when the LWL is similar in different hulls, as with the Peregrine and Merlin, what do you feel is the advantages and disadvantages of laid out stems vs plumb?”

A reply would be greatly appreciated.