Hi everyone - newbie here. I’m looking for a canoe recommendation. We have young kids - 3 of them, ages 2, 4, and 6. Including me and my wife, that would be 5 people in a canoe. So we’re definitely looking for a large canoe, and one that’s going to be stable. We’ll mostly be paddling on quiet lakes, but we might occasionally take it for a spin on some of the tidal inlets on Cape Cod. Looking for something that is decent quality, reasonably comfortable, and affordable. With so many canoes on the market, I can’t figure out which one to pick. I was looking at the Pelicans, but read that there are some concerns with quality. Does anybody have a recommendation? Thanks in advance!
Can’t help you with the …
tidal inlets but for quiet lakes and rivers, we have a Wenonah Spirit II. 17’ Big enough for our kids (2) and our black lab. (you can substitute a kid for the dog)
the 17’ grumman is stable, predictable, lasts forever and can be had cheap used.
Another good choice would be an Old Town Tripper.
Get something at least 17’, and avoid anything that claims to be “fast” or “efficient” as they usually have more rounded bottoms and less beam.
I agree up to a point, but our first
canoe was 18.5’ and had a definite shallow arch. The kids were young, but adapted to the lack of initial stability quite well.
I’d suggest an 18’ Grumman, if they chanced to find one!
be wary of a large canoe
that floats high. As of now there isnt alot of load in it…your kids are small.
I found out with my own Wenonah Minnesota II that in Long Island Soud it floats too high and sitting in it with our high centers of gravity rogue waves would flip it.
Find a paddle shop near you that talks optimum load range and secondary stability. And fer petes sake test paddle before you buy…you cant be sure about a car by kicking the tires.
You and your family have to feel comfortable in it… Old Towns are generally affordable and well designed…Penobscot 17 is a good boat. They tend to be on the heavy side but not too much for family use.
Thanks for the advice everyone. It’s time to start shopping in earnest. I can’t wait to get a decent canoe and get out there. The water calls!
Only one I know will meet your needs
If you want to be a one canoe family and take everyone along then you’ll need and Old Town Tripper XL. At 20 feet long and 105 pounds if is LARGE. It will hold five people and will need at least two to paddle it. Another way to go is to buy one canoe and just take everyone out together a few times until you decide to get a second canoe. If you get an OT Penobscot 16 as your first canoe you’ll be a little cramped, but you’ll be able to lift it and load it and paddle it yourself.
Kids grow fast . . .
A lot faster than canoes wear out. I would think for the next two or three years that you could all could go on day trips in one canoe, but by the time the kids are 6, 8 & 10 that will get difficult in anything but a ridiculously large canoe.
Of course, life being what it is, by then one or more of the kids or your wife will likely have decided they don’t like canoeing–or if not you’ll have to get a second (or more) boat.
I’d look for a used Grumman 17’ canoe. You should be able to find a used one in decent condition for $300-400. Or a used 17’ Royalex Old Town Tripper or something similar for about 100 bucks or so more. Not more than $600. A 17’ canoe is about the smallest I’d want to go with five people, even if three are fairly small children, and about the heaviest I’d want to carry on my own. Something stable. The Old Town would be a little nicer, but should be stored inside. A Grumman is noisy, the aluminum gets cold and hot, but you can leave it laying around in the yard and it isn’t effected by the elements. Later, if you’re really into canoeing and have some fine boats, then you won’t worry about lending it out.
A canoe is a pretty simple machine. If there aren’t any holes or dents or missing seats (or missing rivets on a Grumman), then it’s probably OK. Royalex will start to lose strength, especially if stored outside, in 8 to 10 years. Aluminum lasts forever. A visual inspection, even by a rank beginner, should spot almost any problem.
I own seven boats–aluminum, royalex, fiberglass, kevlar, etc.–and I don’t think any of them are less than a decade old. I also don’t think any of them won’t last at least another ten years.
Think about the weight. A Pelican or other polyethylene boat often weighs near to 90 lbs. Even if you’re a pretty strong guy, canoes are long, the leverage works against you, and they get difficult to handle as they get heavier. I don’t know how strong or large your wife is (and your kids are too small yet to help), or if she’ll always if going with you, but I’d hesitate to buy a boat that I couldn’t load by myself without it being a real pain–otherwise you’ll find that you avoid going on the water because it’s too unpleasant to load up your boat.
For me (I’m a big guy but over 50 now) anything much over 70 lbs makes me hesitate. But lots of smaller and older people (who are much tougher than I am) can carry more without thinking about it. On the other hand my wife, who’s only 5’, struggles with her 38 lb solo. But get a boat you can load yourself without too much difficulty, whatever that is.
Finally, after spending $300 to $600 on a boat, don’t skimp on paddles, pfds and seats. You only carry the boat once to the water–you lift the paddle thousands of times in a canoe trip. You, your wife and your kids need good quality pfds. Ones that fit, that keep your kids heads out of the water, and that you should wear, always, even on a glass-like lake just yards from shore. Set a good example. Even if both your wife and you are excellent swimmers, saving 3 kids in the event of a upset is going to be stressful. Make sure they, and you, will be safely afloat. And, of course, make sure your kids know how to swim as soon as possible so they don’t panic in the water.
You will also need to think about paddles and seats for your children. As soon as they understand what’s going on, your children will want to help paddle. Find (or make) a size appropriate paddle for them to use–they’ll get less bored and be happier (even if they are a few years away from being useful paddlers). Also, make or find an appropriate seat for them in the boat. A sit on life preserver (not to substitue for the one they are wearing) or a milk crate are good. But the bare bottom of the boat is uncomfortable, and doesn’t let them see what’s around them.
You should have fun–any seaworthy canoe that you can lift will work for what you want to do.
another recommendation for OT Tripper
Especially if you can find a used one in reasonable condition, an Old Town Tripper would be a good choice - good initial and secondary stability, roomy, more comfortable than aluminum (not too hot in the sun).
…18’6" kevlar/carbon tripper canoe…
Bell Northwoods…in their “BlackGold” layup. Not cheap, but great.
*a question though…is kevlar/carbon layup OK in saltwater??? (I THINK so, but am not sure)
A 2nd for Wenonah
I own a Wenonah Spirit II, and I think it is a great canoe. My wife and I love it, and we have a middle seat for a third passenger, as well. But for your needs, I'd seriously consider the Wenonah Champlain. Essentially, it is a larger version of the Spirit II. It's 18-feet instead of 17-feet. I think you'd really like it. I test-paddled one when I bought my Spirit II, and would have bought it if it had been available in Royalex then. It is now! I wanted Royalex because we run some whitewater.
When my three kids were younger (my baby is now 20), I bought a used 19-foot Grumman and it worked wonderfully, but it was/is quite heavy (over 115 lbs.) That's a lot to manage for one person, cartopping, etc. I still have the Grumman. It just turned 30 years old. Anyway, the Champlain is about 40lbs. lighter @ 73 lbs. The Spirit II is about 5 lbs. lighter than the Champlain.
If you want an aluminum canoe, look at the Grumman 18-footer. It doesn't weigh anymore than the Champlain, but has a thinner skin than most of the used 17-foot Grummans you'll find, so weighs about the same.