Canoe Purchase Advice

Any advice for a beginner/intermediate canoeist? What type of canoe should I be looking for to take my 9 year old on calm bayous and rivers. Of course I need something that is stable, easy to paddle and lightweight.

If you have the bucks

– Last Updated: Nov-20-07 7:26 AM EST –

a kevlar Wenonah Jensen 17 would be my recommendation.
Hopefully mine will never wear out, but if it does I'll replace it with the same.
If you want it real light weight, get the ultralight with out gel-coat.

If you don't have the bucks and want to go up in weight a OT Penobscot Royalex would be a decent choice.

If you decide on the Jensen see if you can get them to put a sliding seat in the rear, (they normally come with one in the front), but if you get both seats sliding, then as the little guy grows, you can keep the boat trim.

Make sure you get a proper length light weight paddle for the little guy so paddling will be enjoyable for him rather than a chore.


The Wenonah Spirit II and Mad River Explorer 16 are good, versatile boats that would fit your needs.

Choosing a canoe
You mention that you are an intermediate paddler and that you will be using the canoe mostly on flat water. As such I’ll make a few suggestions.

If you can afford the price, buy a composite, wood strip or light weight cedar canvas type boat. The boat will be lighter and thus easier to handle, both on and off the water. The struggle of hefting a heavy rubber boat (royalex or similar) on and off the car is often enough to deter one from spending time on the water. A pretty, well finished boat also adds to the pleasure of the experience.

Any of the above suggestions will cost more initially, but if maintained will hold it’s value well. Rubber boats tend to depreciate rapidly.

Buy a boat that encourages you to use your skills and perhaps challenges you slightly to improve them. If you buy a wide, flat bottomed boat with high initial stability and low secondary or final stability it won’t be as much fun to paddle.

Fifteen to sixteen feet is probably as large as you’ll need for the type of paddling that you describe. If you are still considering a “rubber boat” the Old Town Penobscot 16 and the Bell Morningstar are a couple of good candidates. If you are looking at composite, check out the Placid Boat Works Starfire. Bell also makes some nice composite boats. For high end wood strip or Cedar Canvas check out Dogpaddle Canoe Works (cedar strip)or Loon Works (wood/dacron).

Marc O

The OT Stillwater canoes
in 14’ or 16’ will work fine for you.

We have the 14’, and an advantage of the shorter

length is that 2 passengers are closer to each

other for better communication and some comfort

for an unseasoned paddler.

Paddling it with light kayak paddles makes for a

very pleasant paddling experience.

mostly in agreeance
The Jensen would be a great choice in Kevlar. I have a VERY similar model (the Solo Plus is same proportions, just slightly smaller) Personally I have the Ultra light and I am not quite as happy with it. the regular light Kevlar would have been fine. I am not portaging 8 miles or anything.

There is also something (good) to be said about Royalex. I mean you say intermediate and young boy. I like to think that means use and abuse. I don’t drag my Ultra Light Kevlar canoe anywhere (a few feet in the GRASS sometimes) but I will slide my “Plastic” kayak down concrete stairs if I am the least bit tired. I have drug it over every surface imaginable and haven’t felt bad yet. Yes I baby my canoe a bit too much, but it is my perogative.

I agree the Jensen and the Penobscott would both be GREAT choices! Have fun in the search and let us all know what is going on!