Canoe Stabilizers/ Outriggers

Does anyone have experience with putting stabilizers or outriggers on their canoe for added safety and stability. We have a new Mad River Adventure 16 which is a little tippy to explore the large cold canadian lake where we canoe and are thinking of adding the canoe outriggers from RM Specialties so that we will feel more comfortable venturing into the open water of the lake. We’ve been told by the company that they will fit, but I just hope that too many alterations are not needed. Just adding additional weight to the bottom of the boat may not be enough if we encounter wind gusts or large boat wakes. Any experience/suggestions with these or other canoe outriggers would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Oh oh, you asked for it. Get ready


I’m ready

– Last Updated: Jun-13-06 1:06 AM EST –

I know it sounds like putting training wheels on a bike, but I'd also like the added stability for fishing and for bringing our dog canoeing with us. Don't want to sound like a sissy of course, but I did tip in April about 3 days after the ice melted and we had to swim the canoe about 40 yards to shore. I'd rather not ever have that experience again if I can help it.

Can you kneel with those seats in the
Adventure? If you can kneel, that should provide all the stability you should need. If you can’t kneel, maybe you should plan on later getting a canoe where kneeling is possible.

Use of sponsons or outrigger floats just has never been necessary for those who learn to paddle the boat kneeling.

Nothing Wrong With It…
…if some sort of stabilizer is what it takes to make you comfortable on the water, go for it. We met a couple a few years ago at a local put-in who’d fabricated outriggers (trimariners would call 'em amas) for thier Coleman 15 - the guy was sort of apologetic, kind of “…the wife won’t get in the canoe without it…” - but they were at least out on the water together doing a little fishing, and the woman obviously felt quite safe and comfortable instead of terrified of a capsize every minute she was afloat.

For me, that’s all that matters…to get out there, in a boat that you trust, and enjoy the water. The comfort zone will probably grow over time - we now routinely do things we’d never have dreamed of doing five years ago - but if we had done them then, we could well have been turned off sea kayaking by the stress and fear we would have undergone by overreaching our skill and confidence levels at that time.

Bloody well enjoyed ourselves, too, every bit as much as those who seem to think you’ve got to be awash in adrenalin to be having fun.

Other sources
Spring creek outfitters sells some nice ones and the best ones I’ve ever seen are the inflatable ones made by balog sail designs

I have some of the early outriggers…
…from Spring Creek, and they are mechanicallly cumbersome and I seldom use them. Of course, I don’t go out on big cold lakes, either. If you find a setup that’s easy to mount, locks on tightly, go for it. Too many purists feel it’s a sin to use them. That’s their problem, not mine. I suppose a Real Paddler would straddle a log and paddle with his/her hands?

Yep! Been there and done that many times
Logs are great when you are young and have nothing else. A log makes a wonderful Mississippi Paddle Wheeler, a Captain Hook Frigate, battle cruiser, or even a submarine!

What is that liv2padl says? “You are never too old to have a happy childhood.” ?



The canoe I grew up with was outfitted with stabelizers. We used 'em sometimes and sometimes not. They did work to provide nearly bomb proof stability. I say nearly, because my dad did manage to break a foam stabelizer float on a stump while standing up bass fishing and the boat capsized scaring the hell out of his fishing buddy who had some disabilities. So I think they do work for stability in some cases. If they work for you and you like 'em great. But you might try to spend some more time in the boat in various conditions and with the dog to see if you don’t all get more comfortable pretty quickly.

Personally I thought the stabelizers were mostly in the way and a bother to put on and take off. They got in the way of paddling sometimes and got hung up on rocks, brush and stumps. My bigger concern though is that they could be a liability in rough water (just an assumption on my part) because they could limit how the canoe can ride over waves and how easily it might turn when needed. Also they may limit your learning about and adjusting to the inherent stability of your boat.

All that said, I agree with those who say use them if you need and want them.

Whatever you do have fun!

Spring Creek makes a good one and is

– Last Updated: Jun-08-06 9:45 AM EST –

apparently about $50 less

Spring Creek's is a very good outrigger canoe and kayak stabilizer. I have tested them harshly and they performed very well. I sailed a narrow 28" canoe with 80' sq of sail in moderate winds. I was having a ball going too fast and heeled over too far for such a rig when I remembered the outriggers. Visions of bent and vibrating outriggers flashed through my mind. I turned and watched in amazement as the downwind outrigger stayed two to three feet underwater as I streaked, skipped, and crashed through the waves. The outrigger was steady and strong. Not only was there no damaged, there was no vibrations, wiggling or anything else I expected to see from pushing the rig so far. They are a very good product. And will serve you well!

You do not need the fancy pointy ones. The others work very well and offer little drag. The extra cost only gets you looks, not more speed or better function.

When I added too much sail I needed the outriggers and they performed much better than expected! I have never paddled any outriggers as I think learning your abilities, working with your partners (dog too), and your equipment makes the whole experience more rewarding and safe for everyone. "It is hard to skip and run when you are on crutches!"

Hope this is helpful.



You tipped in water that was 3 days past the ice melt and swam 40 yds to shore? That is an interesting story in itself. How were you dressed? What did you do when you reached shore? How did you hold on to the Explorer while you were swimming?

So … just how did you tip the canoe?

Sell the canoe and buy a rowboat.

You may as well.
At least around here you can dig up a used decent usable car topper boat for a couple hundred bucks. outriggers sound like a pretty clumsy setup. though ‘car topper’ boats are a drag to row.

Back in the 70s, a FL designer had
a kit for hydrofoil outriggers. Much less drag than floats, and pushed back harder as boat speed increased. I wish I had some idea where that designer went, as he had some real good ideas.

This guy has some that he sells,
he even has a lot of information to go with them in regard to safety…


Andrew, who could not resist

Wow! The Sponson Guy. You are mean!
I had actually forgotten about that old blowhard! Well, the new guy did ask, didn’t he.

Hee, hee, hee …