Canoe suggestions please

I just sold an Old Town Allagash 164. I liked the canoe except for the weight. I’m now looking for something lighter (60 lbs or less with the emphasis on less). I want excellent initial stability in something in the 15’6" to 16’ range. The canoe will be used both tandem and solo on slow to moderate current rivers for fishing and duck hunting. It will seldom be loaded heavy, at 450 lbs max.

Any suggestions will be appreciated.

Wasn’t the Allagash the old name for the poly version of the Penobscot? So if the only thing you want to change is the weight, than maybe the Penobscot in RX is just the thing. The weight is listed at 58 lbs, I believe. They are widely available new and used.

On the other hand, the OT Camper, also an RX boat, has a lot more initial stability. Just about all of the major OEMs have flat bottom canoes in the 15-16 ft range optimized for fishing. If you’re not picky about performance, I’d bet any of them would meet your needs.

One to look at
Novacraft Prospector in Blue Steel, 16’. Weighs 45lbs or so… their boats are great.

If you want to spend the cash and are not paddling relly rocky stuff get a boat in a kevlar ultralight layup and you will be looking at 40ish pounds.

Look into the wenonah fisherman models in 14 and 16 feet or the aurora at 16. If you want or need royalex, you are going to have to deal with 60 to 65 pound boats.

I think Mad River is offering the
Explorer in a special light construction. Being V-bottomed, it will feel slightly uncertain when sitting dead center, but it has lots of secondary stability.

OT Penobscot and Camper
I’d second the earlier post about the OT Penobscot and Camper. I have both and they are both great boats, and in royalex are each under 60 pounds. The Penobscot is okay for initial stability, but not nearly as good as the Camper. The Penobscot has much better secondary stability and on the whole is a more well rounded boat than the Camper. But if initial stability is your main concern (aside from weight), then the Camper is the way to go.


– Last Updated: Jun-23-11 9:05 AM EST –

To minimize weight, Swift combined Carbon with infusion and foam bottom patch and rails to bring their 15 ft Prospector in at 31 lbs. It is pricey for a fish and hunt platform though; more appropriate for those engaged in the sport of paddling.

If moderate weight and dry feet are all one cares about, the Meyers SportsPal comes in at 50 lbs for under a $K note, although you wouldn't want to paddle anywhere distant in it.

And that's the range available; rugged and light for ~ $3500, not so rugged and not so light for ~ $800

Esquif Avalon
With the wood trim it’s snazzy looking to boot.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

That’s my boat!
I have an Avalon and love it. (so far, anyway - its pretty new still) It would definitely meet the OP’s need for a good tandem and solo river cruiser. Pretty light weight too, for plastic. Do you really think the Avalon’s initial stability is better than the Penobscot/Alagash? I find that while the Avalon is wonderfully stable on heel, if I was mainly fishing and hunting in my canoe, I’d probably want it a little less wiggly on center. But maybe I’m a wimp that way.

Meyers Sportspal
The OP’s usage of Fishing and Duck Hunting is probably best suited for the Meyers Sportspal.

The foam lined interior is quieter than any aluminum canoe, it is light (relatively against the poly canoes and other sport canoes), and the sponson sides give it great stablility. Great canoe for duck hunting, comfortable for the dog and easy to get back into. The sponsons give the dog somewhere to put its feet as it clambers back in. (Note: this is the Meyers Sportspal, not the Raddison Sportspal. Totally different aluminum construction and seats.)

For the lightest weight for a good fishing/hunting canoe, the Wenonah Kingfisher at 16’ and 39# in Kevlar Ultralight is the ticket. Lots of volume and stability for a 16’.



– Last Updated: Jun-23-11 2:17 PM EST –

I have not really looked at the myers canoe.But I have found a new Old Town camper 15ft for a great price, ($869.00). Would a 15' do the job? I am 6'1" and 225 lbs. Would use the boat tandem and solo at about a 50/50 rate.

Edit: Just checked on the Myers Sportspal... heavier than the camper and the nearest dealer is in Pa. and I'm in NC.

I hunt and fish…

– Last Updated: Jun-23-11 3:12 PM EST – a Nova Craft Prospector. Had a Camper, and wouldn't consider going back to it for hunting or fishing (although maybe for other things, at times). On the river we jump-shoot ducks from the canoe in, the Camper would be an unacceptable risk due to it's lack of secondary stability. It's a wide, flat stretch of river - but has strong current with lots of powerful eddies and boils that can easily upset a flat-bottomed canoe.

A lot of people seem to think that primary stability is more important than secondary stability when hunting and/or fishing from a canoe. Having tried it both ways, I disagree. It's better to have that strong secondary stability at the sacrifice of a little primary - and spend enough time in the boat to get comfortable with it.

I wouldn't consider it important to have easy entry from the water for a dog. If you are hunting from the canoe on the water, as we do, you can retrieve the birds yourself easier than a dog can. If you are paddling to a spot to set out decoys and hunt over them from cover, this probably isn't an issue at all. Of course - your dog should be trained well enough that it won't leave the boat without you sending it. Personally, I don't like hunting with or around a poorly trained dog.

Having said all that, I think the Wenonah Kingfisher that was mentioned already is a very good choice for the use stated by the OP, if you can live with the compromises associated with a couple inches of extra width. Spend the extra money (~$150) for the Tuff-weave version at least.

For primary stability, the OT Camper with it’s flat bottom would be a good fit and it’ll make a great duck boat and fishing canoe. The OT Penob will be a faster boat but you lose that primary stability you’re looking for. Both at 16 foot weight in at 60 lbs. I think either would be fine. I see people are mentioning Sportspal, but I would not. Aluminum and quiet for hunting dont go in the same scenario…and the barrel on your shotgun will age 10 years in one season after rubbing and banging around an aluminum boat.

Different Strokes

– Last Updated: Jun-24-11 12:14 PM EST –

IMHO the Penobscot would be out of the question. Most likely, those who find the Penobscot stable are under 200lbs. Setting a hook or paddling with decoys and shotgun you need more initial stability than this hull provides. The Camper has excellent initial stability. But Steve_in_idaho brings up some good points about lack of SECONDARY stability, and that when you reach it it can go over quickly. I've paddled the Old Town Pathfinder, which is now the Camper 15. I believe it would be hard to reach that tipping point, but it was not a very good paddling boat. The combination of width and flatness makes it feel like paddling a bathtub; I've paddled a 42" beamed 14' boat that paddled better.

I used to use a 16' Wenonah Adirondack and it did a good job. But that was before the Kingfisher and Fisherman were made. I'd probably lean toward them as MY first choices.

Another boat I've owned that makes a great solo for fishing, hunting, photography is the Mad River Explorer 15. I've owned the 15 and 16, but think the 15 a little better unless you're loading it down with 2 people and a lot of gear. Then the 16 would be preferable. That shallow-V feels a bit unsteady at first, until you find that it will essentially "Park" itself on either side of that "V." Explorers are VERY good hulls for hunting. The 16 footer even makes an olive drab "Duck Hunter" version.

I have an Esquif Mistral and think that Avalon might also be a good fit as another poster said. Not having paddled one, I can't say, but I CAN reiterate the quality of craftsmanship in that companies hulls.

Another to look at would be a Bell Morningstar or a Bell Northwind. Either with center seat installed just aft of center are good paddling boats that will have plenty of stability.

Hopefully this will give you a good starting point. Take this bit of advice; don't let a price point be a determining factor in your decision. In the long run, you'll be happier and spend less money if you paddle some boats and make your determination on what suits you! WW

I’m going to look at a Winonah Fisherman 14’ tomorrow.

From the reviews on this site, the fisherman will probably be a better choice than the Camper 15. The Kingfisher seems like it might be more boat than I want for solo use. I just hope the fisherman at 14’ will be suitable for short tandem trips.

Tandem in the Fisherman
Don’t see that you posted what you weigh or how much you will carry. The Fisherman was a decent tandem with me and the wife, a small dog, and some day gear (total load ~350lbs). Come to think of it, I also did at least one duck-hunting trip with a buddy who outweighs me and a big bag of decoys plus shotguns & ammo (maybe ~460lbs?) and it handled okay though it required more attention. Much over that and I think you would be better off with the Kingfisher. The Fisherman soloed pretty well for me paddling backwards from the bow seat with a bag of water for ballast in the other end. Our Fisherman was royalex, but given the choice, I would go with the Tuff-weave.