Canoe material and design

I am considering a canoe for the wife and I that can be handled solo. I’m considering several brands/models and am a fair bit confuzzled by everything.

Intended paddling will include all sorts of inland waters that will probably range from some fairly shallow stuff to deep rivers (I live in Pittsburgh and will likely paddle the Big 3 at least some) on to calm ponds and small/medium lakes (no Great Lakes, though).

My first dilemma is layup/materials. Royalex would probably be the best option for me, but I keep reading occasional blurbs from folks who use kevlar boats on some shallow stuff without too much trouble. Kevlar is definitely attractive because of the weight and ease of portage.

Finally, some of the boats I like best are Wenonahs (the Escapade, in particular) and are not available in royalex. If royalex really is the best option if I know I’ll be scraping bottom on gravel bars, then I need to find a model that will match what I’m looking to do.

kevlar and gravel
don’t mix well. If you bottom out enough the clear coat will scratch through and the boat will start to fuzz. Exposed Kevlar doesn’t resist abrasion well.

The occasional miscalculation and bang isnt going to harm the boat but the constant abrading will send you to the epoxy can :slight_smile:

Yes I have run the Buffalo and the Allagash in a Kevlar boat but water levels were high and we didn’t have to drag. We have hit a few rocks over the years including one set of rapids in Wabakimi that tore apart some one elses aluminum canoe.

I think you really want to stick with royalex. I haven’t paddled it yet, but I like the look of the Escapade, too. Too bad it doesn’t come in royalex for you. If you want to stay with wenonah, the Spirit II is never a bad choice, though it is not a good solo.

You might be happy with a plain, ol’ Old Town Penobscot 16. It’s a good tandem and a good solo. Not too heavy. Royalex. Good all round canoe.

I own a Nova Craft Bob Special for my cross-over (solo/tandem) canoe. It’s a nice canoe though its paddling characteristics are not like (what is generally thought of as) a wenonah’s. Wenonah would probably consider it too short at 15’. But it is a good solo and tandem. It has enough capacity for weekend trips.

Don’t forget
The Wenonah Solo plus. Don’t be affraid of a glass boat. They are tough and easy to repair if the scratches are deeper than you like. Its pretty simple to add a layer of epoxy to the bottom to fill scratches. You can even add carbon powder to make it tougher and slicker.

Based on yout name, I am assuming that you are young and you like to mountain bike. IF you like the outdoors and action, it’s a very good bet that in less than one season, the big rivers and the local flat water lakes are going to lose their appeal.

Someone is going to take you down on the middle Yough or one of the lesser known fast streams; and you’re going to say “This is what I really want to do!!!” It’s also possible that you could get in with the more grizzled canoe and camp and eat and whatever crowd. These really are two different canoes!

People generally don’t like this piece of advice, but I give it regularly. For your first canoe buy a used, well designed, fiberglass canoe ($400-$600). With this canoe find out whether you like really like tripping or really like fast water. Also, more importantly, learn how to read water and how to steer AROUND rocks.

At the end of the season, you’ll know whether you want a quick little manueverable boat or a manueverable, solid tracking, touring boat. Also, you’ll know whether your skills are good enough to get the kevlar. And, you can sell the canoe for close to what you paid for it!

Also, you will find out whether you can just buy the solo!!!

my interests

– Last Updated: Nov-03-06 1:27 PM EST –

Yes, I do like to mountain bike, but I'm not one of the folks who gets out and rips it up and can't have fun without a major adrenaline rush. The mountain bike is where I get my go-fast fix. I also enjoy hiking and backpacking. Lately, I've done more hiking than mountain biking.

I have absolutely no interest in running whitewater, to tell you the truth. I prefer paddling calmer water, but I do end up on some shallower streams occasionally. I want the canoe so I can expand my recreation options. I like day trips and I want to do some tripping. The trip I have in mind right now is the middle Allegheny, which I hope to be able to do next spring.

Furthermore, I work at an outdoor retailer that has access to certain brands of canoes (on a special order basis...we don't stock them). I can get a brand new boat for a very good price, so buying a $500 used boat is not as practical for me as buying new.

Paul Mason in the revised
edition of his father’s “Path of the Paddle” describes a trip in which he took a kevlar canoe while the other paddlers had a Royalex canoe. The high water levels he expected didn’t exist so he spent a lot of the trip lining his canoe while the paddlers in the Royalex canoe paddled happily through the rock gardens.

I paddled the upper Buffalo in low water conditions and was glad that I brought my Royalex canoe and not the kevlar. The Royalex just slides over rocks while the kevlar scrapes over them.

A kevlar canoe can handle a lot of abuse and a reasonable amount of rock gardens. Also it can be easily repaired. After a trip I fix the scratches with epoxy. However, I’d much rather use my Royalex canoe when the water levels are low. A Royalex canoe would be a better choice if you expected to paddle a lot in rock gardens; otherwise, get the Kevlar canoe and expect to do more lining in low water conditions than if you bought a Royalex canoe.

Clipper Tripper S 16’6"
The smaller Tripper S has relatively more rocker (a smidgeon) for it’s length than than their 17’6" Tripper, but with a narrower beam at the waterline.

Typical Clipper look of being all business … no tradition except adhering to a strict code of what works. This small Tripper can do it all with up to about 500 lbs of total load. Fast for a medium length boat.

They offer it with S-glass outside of kevlar for extra abrasion resistance. If you have them install their vinyl gunwale covers, it will be a tough boat that loves to travel. See it at their website … they offer great views of their boats!

I have read through
and I am not much help, but I have the Solo Plus. I love it. I should have gotten the flex-core instead of the Ultra Light. it is a pretty good all around boat. the flat bottom may not be as nice in the rivers. Yunz two could be swimmin’ ta sauht side.


give it time
you’ll be a river trippin junky.

what is ‘lining’ the canoe?

for the recommendation on the Clipper, but there’s pretty much no chance that I’ll even be able to look at one of those. I’d have to drive to Ontario to find the nearest dealer. Not gonna happen.

That said, would you prefer a glass boat over kevlar (for example, the Wenonah ‘tuf weave’ layup, which is a fiberglass/polyester woven fabric) for abrasion resistance?

Although I hate Kevlar felt skid plates,
I must point out that, as they fuzz, they wear very well. It’s not the wear issue that should deter buyers from boats with Kevlar on the outside. It’s the fact that Kevlar is NOT structurally suited to be the outside layer of a boat. It is mediocre in compression strength and not particularly stiff. S-glass or carbon are the preferred materials for the outside layers. S-glass is rather hard, resists abrasion, and wears smooth. Carbon slides real nice, but wears away too easily.

Distinguish between boats with
Kevlar inside and S-glass, E-glass, or carbon outside (Bell for example) and boats made with Kevlar for both inside and outside layers.

Builders of composite whitewater canoes, and many if not most builders of composite river and lake canoes, use glass or carbon on the outside for stiffness and wear resistance, while using Kevlar inside for it’s extreme resistance to splitting and tearing. While I admire Wenonah designs, I would not buy a canoe that had either Kevlar or polyester as the outside layer. I have an old Noah kayak that is made without glass, entirely of Kevlar and polyester. It is too flexible, and it fuzzes badly. I have a Millbrook c-1 with S-glass outside and Kevlar inside. It is pounds lighter than the Noah, and MUCH stiffer. The exterior S-glass does not fuzz, and strongly resists scratching.

the difference between s-glass and e-glass? I haven’t been able to find any description. Is that why carbon is used as an outer layer in some layups? Abrasion resistance and stiffness? I never thought of carbon fiber as terribly resistant to abrasion (I am familiar with its application in bicycles mostly). Stiffness I understand, though.

At this point, I am pretty much limited to Wenonah and Mad River canoes because of pricing through the store I work at. If I buy anything else, I have to pay full retail, and am not likely to be able to afford anything other than royalex, which renders a significant part of this thread moot.

is like walking the dog. You get out and walk your canoe, hanging on to the line. One step before poling. Drag…line…pole…paddle…swim.

"Lining a Canoe"
Lining a canoe is guiding it through tough spots or shallow places with rope. Let’s say an obstacle appears too risky to try paddling through, where a screw-up might result in a serious mishap, like pinning the boat or worse. Or, maybe a riffle is just to shallow to get through while paddling, but the boat will float through when empty. Using ropes (lines) attached to the bow and stern, you maneuver the unoccupied boat through the obstacle.

Lining the boat can be a very complex and valuable skill in serious whitewater (as described in Bill Mason’s books), but rest assured that the vast majority of the time when someone on these boards refers to “lining their canoe” through a tough spot or a shallow riffle, all they do is float the boat through while holding a single rope tied to the bow or stern (hardly a process complicated enough to warrant such a fancy name!).

well, I’ve always just called it ‘walking’ the boat through a shallow spot. I’ve done it plenty in plastic boats, anyway.

Ha! Me too.

– Last Updated: Nov-05-06 1:47 PM EST –

Yep, that's exactly what I call it. When the day comes where I try to use the current to steer the boat this way and that between obstacles by manipulating bow and stern lines, with the boat far out of reach from where I stand on the shore, I WILL call it "lining". Until then, like you, I call it "walking the boat" because that's all it is!!

Go with Old Town
Take a look at this boat. It has the versatility that you seek, the durability of Royalex (I was on a trip where an Old Town Tripper got wrapped, bent in half, popped off the rock and, amazingly, popped right back into shape - a crease in the tumblehome and a popped thwart, but still a fully functional vessel), and asking to be portaged. The osprey 140 might just be what you are looking for.