Canoe thats good solo and in tandem...

I need your guys sugestion…

I usually go solo camping as I dont have ppl to travel with all the time. But on ocasion there is someone with me. What boat would you guys sugest for something like this?

  • light
  • able to go solo and tandem
  • suitable for lakes (no rapid running here).
  • available in Ontario

Some suggestions
There are lots of samll tandems that would work for you. I do the same type of paddling, and have added a seat just aft of the portage yoke for my solo trips. A kneeling thwart in the same place does the same trick - trims the boat very nicely.

The problem is that the beam is fairly wide, and you might find your paddle stroke compromised. Look for a boat with at least a little tumblehome and the narrowest gunwale widths that you are comfortable with.

My personal choice was A bell Northstar in kevlight construction. It weighs less than 35 lbs, is nicel balanced, will carry a load and is a reasonable compromise solo/tandem boat. It is usually me and my 90 lb lab, but it works fine when a second paddler wants to go too.

PS I bought the third seat from Piragis. They offer a nice countered ash/cane seat in a 41" width that you can cut to fit wherever you choose to locate it.

Quite a few
Look for something smaller in length 15’-16’ narrower is easier to paddle solo. Kneeling thwarts are nice for paddling a tandem solo especially if its an asymmetric hull.

Both Brands are made not too far from you and are available.

Novacraft Bob Special or Pal

Swift Kipawa or Mattawa

A few excellent choices
would definitely include a Nova Craft Bob Special…I love them!!, or the Nova Craft Pal. The Pal is a bit narrower and is faster, likely easier to paddle solo, especially if you are not a real large person. Also Souris River Quitico 16 paddles well solo. I guess the Wenonah solo plus is a good choice as well, but I would prefer a Nova Craft boat.

Good Luck!

combi canoes
You are trying to combine a sports car and a station wagon. No such thing exists. Consider a good and then a second rotomolded canoe/kayak/pack canoe. use the good one yourself unless a good friend is along.

I kinda agree…
If you are mostly going to be paddling solo, you really oughta have a good solo canoe. Yep, there are a number of tandem canoes that CAN be paddled solo, but none of them paddle like a good solo. I like the idea of getting two solo boats, one of them a cheap one. But your partner might not be comfortable paddling solo, so your other choice would be to make your second boat a cheap, used tandem.

Esquif Champlain
I think that’s the one for you. Check it out.

Wenonah Escapade
Add the Escapade to your list to check out.

At 16.5’, it’s designed to move, and it has great

paddling efficiency. That’s for both solo and tandem.

I put a drop-in box type seat behind the center thwart to solo it.

For tandem use, the bow slider seat comes in very handy to keep the trim level.

Research and read the reviews. Demo if you can.

Another vote for the Bell Northstar, but
I agree that there is nothing like a dedicated solo boat. I have a WildFire for solo fun and light short (read:weekend) trips and use the NorthStar as my tandem and as a solo tripper for longer jaunts. This strategy works great for me and covers all the bases I play.


go solo
Listen to Charlie Wilson (hopefully you know who he is) and the other folks who are telling you to buy a solo boat. I’ve never known anyone who paddled a solo that willingly went back to soloing a tandem. I tried doing it. What a horrible experience. I almost gave up paddling. A dedicated solo is so much more enjoyable that you have to try it to believe it. Like the other folks have said, either get an inexpensive boat (either tandem or solo) for when someone else will be along or just rent something on those occasions.

depends upon your partner …
When you do use the boat as a tandem, do you foresee your potential paddling partner to be an experienced paddler or someone you’d like to introduce to paddling?

If the person is experienced, go for a speed machine like the Bell Northstar if you’re in a hurry;

Otherwise, I’d opt for the Bell Morningstar which is a bit slower, a tad lighter, and has some initial stability.

Bell also offers a third seat option for solo paddling.


NorthStar verse MorningStar solo
Can’t agree.

Morning Star is the NorthWoods sections collapsed three feet, which leaves a damn wide hull to reach over solo for average sized folks.

The NorthStar sections are 1.5 " narrower, and a kneeling thwart replacing the third thwart works better because the paddler is aft of the widest spot.

Rule of thumb, recreational solo canoes pretty much max out at 30 " in width, so few are going to have atability issues in a 34.5" wide NorthStar.

The problem, as in paddling any tandem solo, is getting a vertical paddle shaft to minimize correction, getting the bow to respond to the paddle - bow draws, duffeks, etc, and driving all that skin through the water.

Fusion was a Bob Brown design like the WeNoNah Solo Plus. Both lack rocker and are too long to resppond to solo strokes; both are pretty tender tandem.

Solo canoes are designed to be paddled by a single paddler and not by two paddlers. Whereas tandems are designed to be paddled by more than one paddler.

That may seem to be stating the obvious, but most the folks who are giving you advice are soft pedalling the fact that no tandem, however all purpose, is going to paddle anything like a solo canoe (which is mostly what you do and really want).

The question is, how much enjoyment are you willing to give up most times you paddle in order to occasionaly take a companion with you?

Or,conversely, how much safety and comfort are you willing to sacrifice by cramming another paddler into the narrow confines of an overloaded solo canoe?

My suggestion is to settle for the tandem that is easiest to paddle solo. I suggest Wenonah’s Solo Plus, which is specifically designed to handle your situation. I don’t know of any other canoe that is, and I have paddled several of the others that have been suggested.

CAVEAT EMPTOR: Try before you Buy!

Buy solo and rent the tandem
What you add to your solo tripping enjoyment by getting a good solo boat, will more than pay the rental cost when you have company.

Always buy the canoe for what you do most and rent or borrow for the other trips.

What do you use now?

Right now I use a sea kayak…
… and only thought about buying a canoe if someone wants to come along and for the ease of portaging and packing. I never felt very “safe” in any canoe I have been in… I dont know why… I always feel like I am going to tip (mind you I have been in a canoe 3 times maybe) and was never introduced to proper paddling etc. In a kayak I feel safe and confident and felt like this even bofore I took proper lessons and learned to roll, brace, exit/enter etc.

Two things
I will first acknowledge that Charlie Wilson knows more than me. I am not meaning to dispute his claims.

However, I am the elusive “had solo, went back to a tandem”. I prefer a solo playboat in whitewater, and if I ever had to make serious mileage (for some sort of canoeing job), I would use one of those cruise-missle type solos. However, for pure joy of paddling, I prefer a tandem, about 16 feet, with some rocker.

I’ve owned about 10 canoes, and paddled dozens more. I had a Mad River Guide, and a Bell Wildfire (RX), and sold both within a year or two. If I was going on a solo trip, I would prefer a Bluewater Prospector, or similar light tandem boat.

I understand that many prefer solo boats. I have come to realize, though, that they hold no practical advantage for my uses.

Learn to paddle in the classic Canadian style, and then outfit your canoe to your liking, and you will have a very versatile craft.

Sounds like you’ve been in mainly
tandem canoes, maybe with others who didn’t know much about a canoe.

It takes practice
That “tippy” and “unsafe” feeling will pass. In time, once you have enough experience to really appreciate the nuances of your boat, it’s likely you will actually prefer a boat which at the moment feels tippy.

Rest assured that any solo canoe with any speed or sportyness will feel a lot more tippy than a tandem, until you get accostumed to how the boat feels and handles. That’s true UNLESS you’ve been soloing a tandem canoe while seated in the rear seat. Don’t sit there when alone! It causes the canoe to float mostly within the narrow pointy end of the boat, so yes, it WILL feel (and be) very tippy in that case.

We’re heading out to the river today, but as I await the family’s arising I’m perusing this thread…

I agree completely with Plaid Bill – own a solo, rent a tandem as needed. That being said: Most Canadians that I know who trip alone use tandem canoes heeled over paddled solo in the classic Canadian style that Mr. Canoehead referred to. This approach is elegant and more versatile than a dedicated solo canoe, but some would argue (including me) that it’s not as efficient or as much fun as a solo canoe.

Many U.S. canoe builders have been listed on this thread and due to the exchange rate of the last year or so US canoes have been available again in Ontario at reasonable prices. It’s a complete mystery to me why any Canadian would want to buy a canoe made in the States… Seems really silly to me… anyway, of course there are several fine Canadian canoe builders of note. They include Alchemist, Bluewater, Esquif, Evergreen, Nova Craft, Scott, to name but a few. All are available in your area. You might want to contact the guys at the Paddle Shack, I’m sure they could help you out. Nice guys and they know their stuff! They handle many popular brands of canoes and can completely outfit you with all the gear you’ll need for canoe tripping.

For a crash course in the history of canoeing in Canada you’d certainly profit from spending a day going to the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough. It’s the world’s largest collection of paddlecraft. At the CCM you’ll see and learn about the precursors of modern kayaks used for ocean travel and the canoes that made travel across the vast interior of Canada possible. It’s a truly amazing place to visit.

Whoops the wife’s up – time to strap on the canoes and go find some water… Have a goodun. - Randall