Canoe Recommendation

I’ve never owned a canoe before… and I’m not 100% sure I’m going to buy one… but it’s cold, rainy, and I am visiting some stores today.

If I do get one, I’d like one that tracks well, but is stable enough not to put my 5 and 7 year old in the water every time they get excited and stand up.

If I do get one, I’ll probably do plenty of fishing from it as well…

Overnighting isn’t really a priority, nor is anything > Class II water.

All recommendations appreciated… I know nothing about canoes, but my wife doesn’t want the kids sitting in the hatches of my kayak :-).


Archived threads
The Wenonah Spirit II gets a lot of votes as a family canoe. The Bell Northwind is also nice, but has a very different feel.

Get a Grumman

spend enough …
Plan on spending enough – but not too much – and you’ll be fine.

Interpretation: the really crappy canoes are the cheapest (Pelican, Coleman, Rogue River) while the most expensive tend to be the tippiest as experienced canoers tend to pay extra for speed.

I recommend buy used, if…
…possible. With the kids growing fast, and with more experience, you’ll be clearer on what you want in a season or two, and it will be easier to move up if you haven’t invested too much in canoe #1. I would teach the kids never to stand under any circumstances, and get them some little paddles-they’ll work like crazy for 10 minutes.

i disagree with you redneck…
I have a pelican canoe and its a great canoe. Not tippy, and very comfortable to paddle and fish out of. I would buy another anyday!


I agree with taplegan
Search for a used canoe as if you really get in to it (as I bet you do) you may want something else from your canoe or possibly a second one. Also, teach the children proper canoe safety from the start (including not to stand) and they to will enjoy the sport. If fishing is your primary purpose, there are several very stable canoes made for that purpose (Wenonah Fisherman for example). Read some of the reviews here and get a sense for what is available. Good luck with your quest!

Canoe Recommendation
The first boat I bought was a used square stern aluminum(tin banger). I had the same concerns as you about the kids, fishing, ect. My three year old daughter went with me to pick up the boat - $300.00, paddles and life jackets included. It measures 17’, and the stern seat is set close to the transom so there is a lot of room amidships. It has a very flat bottom, which provides excellent intial stability(it’s really almost a row boat shaped like a canoe). I made two wooden seats that hung from the center thwarts for the kids to sit on. It would hold two kids, my wife, an ice chest and two dogs - a real freighter! We did a lot of canoeing - each had their own paddle to keep them busy and interested. I even camoflaged the boat and used it for duck hunting. A great fishing boat as I could put a two horse motor on the back and scoot around quite quickly. I’ve since owned two Mad Rivers(kelvar Explorer & Teton rotomold), Two Bell solo boats(Wildfire & Magic), and a custom built cedar canvas Chestnut Cruiser - which is my favorite all around boat. My kids are grown and out of the house, but they’ll still jump at the chance to paddle with their dad when they’re home. In retrospect I wouldn’t do anything different - it was inexpensive and versatile, and later, when I could afford to, I was able to purchase better boats. It gave my family a great start to canoeing, and the old square stern still gets pulled out occassionally just for fun.

Yea Brian
isn’t the Pelican Explorer like $350 brand new at Dick’s? and they always have some sort of sale, I swear I saw it one time for $250. It is not going to win any races, but for family fun, I woudl bet it could be pretty good.

I am all for spending the least, and trying to get deals and used and all that, but sometimes I also like to buy something new. Shoes, PFDs, mattresses, my Seiko watch…all things I like to be new.

My first kayak wasn’t the greatest, but it was cheap, new and all mine. Now this year I am going to need to get a LOAN to get my new canoe. If I had a family I would get a canoe that floats, in two or three years decide what canoe we need. How many children stay with soccer, Baseball, karate, band, stamp collecting and the like. Canoeing is different, it has a strange draw that brings people instinctively to it, but still, alot of money may not be neccisary up front.

Now I am just rammbling on, so I will stop,


Pelican canoe
I believe i spent 400 on it and its the best canoe ive ever owned…worth every penny!


I’m with Tapelgan/Beavermaster…
We bought our Wenonah Spirit II used. Found it here on the PNet classifieds. My one daughter is definitely into canoeing as is my wife and my oldest does it too but not with as much gusto. It would be a bummer to put a lot of money into one and then realize no one but you likes to do it. I researched a lot before we bought and just waited for the right canoe. Our canoe is about 70lbs give or take and I can load it myself but takes some time. I wouldn’t want anything heavier than that unless I would have help putting it up on top of the van. The models like Coleman, Pelican etc ran heavier than that for shorter boats but a lot less money. Not sure if this helps. Good luck.

whatever floats your boat.

I would still be happy with my 386S computer w/64 megs of ram if I hadn’t discovered that there’s something a whole lot better for not very much more money.

A local livery may be a good place to start searching for a good used boat.

I agree with you Redneck…I used to think Coleman canoes were at thebottom of the pile…then i saw the Pelican canoes a few years back.

People are better off to find a used canoe and get something far better. There are lots of deals out there if you look. Plenty of Old Towns, Wenohnahs etc kicking around.

My canoe…
All i know is that with my pelican i’ll never have to worry about any seams needing repairs. As far as the weight goes…i can get it on top of my caravan with no problems, and ive had 2 major back surgeries! And lets not get me started on the noise those tin bangers make if you drop something in it. Width of the pelican is far better than those alum canoes which makes it far more stable. Ive had mine out with 2-3 foot waves and handled just great…and i saw the tin bangers tipping…and yes…my PELICAN floated over and rescued them. Upon arriving the soaked paddlers to shore they were VERY impressed with the way my canoe handled. So say what you want about the Pelicans / Colemans…all i know is that there are at least 2 more people that loved them because the next year guess what i saw…the same people i rescued paddling a Pelican, and they are extremely happy with that over the bangers. If anyone ever asks me about a canoe to buy…my answer will be BUY A PELICAN!


This has got to be one of the best all-time replies and well-worded stories I have seen here in a while. Thanks.

You should expand this and submit it to Readers Digest or something.

Well done.

i don’t know …
I don’t know if you sell Pelicans, are trying to stir things up, or if you seriously believe what you type.

However, I would question the judgment of anyone who admits to taking an open canoe out onto the water when the weather conditions are generating 2-3 foot waves.

I did notice your profile says “beginner” so I suppose you could be forgiven.

However, under the conditions you describe the fact you survived had nothing to do with your boat – it was just lady luck smiling on you.

inflatable canoe is stable
I am biased towards inflatables of all sorts.

They are very stable and usually lighter than hardshells. A 5 year old is going to fidget and jump. Inflatables:

THey are almost impossible to tip, and can do whitewater with ease.

I have paddled an aluminum big grumman, and a nice kevlar tripper. the alum was so so heavy. the kevlar was tipped over by my friend turning to look at a beaver, this was in flat water! I will never take anyone in a hard boat canoe again! :slight_smile:


Yes - a livery boat
Best time to do that shopping is at season’s end though… Every time I go south I’m a little tempted by the Buffalo canoes I see sitting around at the rental places. Some are pretty beat, but if the keel is straight and it doesn’t leak, who cares?

I sometimes still see livery Grummans that have suffered a bit and are in need of some “body & fender” work for ~$200. Be great for a family and there’s no need to wory about the first scratch and such. I’d beware of hogged-out (“reverse rocker”) Grummans/Alumacrafts. I see those sometimes and don’t think they would paddle well at all. I suspect that in making repairs to a badly bent keel there would be leaks. Maybe not…anyone here with experiance doing that?