Canoe weights?

Have many of you weighed your canoes? I used to accept the listed weight at face value, but have since found that there is quite a variety in actual weight. The plastics seem the worst, and some composites are even a bit lighter than they claim.

Incidentally, I was pleased when I realized my “75 lb” canoe was almost 20 lbs heavier than I thought! It meant that any new canoe will almost certainly be more portage-able.

Do you think the makers are being dishonest, or is there a bunch of variability, or are new canoes more consistent?

canoe weights …
… lift them regularly to build muscle , an alternative to iron barbells .

I have weighed a few
and yes, they are generally always heavier than the manufacturers claimed weights, sometimes by just a little and sometimes by quite a bit.

There is some variability in the finished weight of any boat. I believe that most makers determine a weight range for the model, and then publish the very lowest end of that range.

In some cases, the difference has been so great that I am tempted to believe that the maker published the weight of the finished boat without thwarts or seats installed, but I don’t have anything to back that up.

If you believe the promo, every boat
does everything well. Madison Avenue will never change.

Even the Same Model Can be Different

– Last Updated: Mar-09-12 9:06 AM EST –

Had 2 tuffweave Wenonah Adirondacks. Same boat, same layup, same trim. First time I lifted the newer boat I thought "MAN, this is heavy!" I never had a scale to weigh it, but everyone I talked into hefting them back to back would swear the white one was at least 10lbs heavier. I just figured someone didn't squeegee enough resin out of the heavier one?

Variability and Honesty

– Last Updated: Mar-09-12 6:37 PM EST –

Hand laminated composites exhibit variable weights, due to the amount of resin used. Humidity, temperature, whether the first or last boat of the day for the lam. crew are among the factors involved. Most hand builders publish the lightest weight achieved, not the heaviest or an average. At Bell we had a very pricy and accurate scale that was donated to us by a dealer who didn't have room for it anymore.

Wet bagging starts with hand lamination, which introduces variability as above, and the keystone cop routine where perforated ply, absorbent blanket, then vacuum bag are applied invites more variability as sometimes the resin starts gellation, sometimes the vacuum is not complete.

Infusion eliminates resin variability, the lightest/ heaviest/average weights are all within a hand full of ounces and published weights tend to be spot on. At Placid, Joe and I tried correlation with atmospheric pressure, mold temperature, etc with no joy. With partials cut to patterns we still got unexplained variation in hull weights, but it was +/- 2 oz. Probably close enough, the last variables being fabric thickness variation on the roll; an uncontrollable factor and gel coat thickness and weight. Some gel coats weigh more than others, some days one sprays thicker, etc.

RX vacuum formers use remarkably uniform pre-laminated sheets. Actual weights reported come down to company policy, there is no excuse of variability.

I worked for a company that contracted hulls from a vacuum molder. The molder's hulls of the same length cataloged significantly lighter than the contract deliveries. Asked about the weight differences, the molder replies, "Oh, we just drop all our weights five pounds."

Might be best to carry a digital fishing scale when boat shopping. Placid has a multiple boat customer who weighs all his boats on his bathroom scale rather than trust Joe's reagent grade digital. I suppose he'd prefer that $30 bath scale to Swift's $2000 digital unit too.

So it goes.

The least of my worries. A friend once said that one should just get in better shape to paddle an extra ten pounds.

I weigh about 180 lbs which is about 7 pounds in water. So my boat only weighs about 3 lbs in water…not a care. is more important…how it cuts through water…resistance etc. Does it cut like a log or arrow?

I oft.times take.a.lot of gear…ie weight. Because I want to and the boat holds it, that is the joy of boating…just like car camping.

Obviously weight is a concern…you want a lighter weight for portaging. Did a 30-day BWCA trip with 187 portages…light weight was important.

Boat weights
I have weighed canoes and many kayaks at paddle gatherings. For years I used an industrial balance arm scale. It was extremely accurate but a PIA to set up at remote sites. Had to be set up level and plumb and then kept so throughout the weight sessions. I now use a digital scale hung from a tree branch. My homeowner digital scale, when set on a very level surface, comes within a lb. or so of my good quality hanging digital scale. Use the usual method-stand on scale holding boat and take total weight reading (easiest to have someone else take this reading), stand on scale without boat and take your weight, then subtract second reading from first.

The kayaks from only a few kayak makers weigh near the advertised weight. Most are a few to ten pounds heavier. Some kayaks (NDK) show substantial weight variation between each hull, although the newer ones seem to be more consistent. One composite kayak I owned gained 1-3 lbs over the paddling season from water intrusion and then loses some, but not all, of this gained weight over the off season.

My Rapidfire weighs 3 lbs more than advertised, but that’s NOT a case of PBW misleading me-I changed some of the wood trim and while doing so inadvertently added 3 lbs to the canoe weight-their listed weight range is accurate until a bumbler like me gets his hands on one of their canoes.


Boat weights

– Last Updated: Mar-09-12 1:13 PM EST –

I think it should be generally taken for granted that advertised canoe weights (especially plastic & Royalex canoes) are inaccurate at best. Some of the advertised weights are blatant lies in my opinion; 10 pounds of difference in real vs advertised weight is not a coincidence!

On the flip side..........
If paddlers can't deal with the "actual", or advertised weight; then perhaps they need to buy a shorter canoe, or a canoe in a lighter weight lay up. If you are concerned about weight; weigh it before you buy it. No surprises.
I view canoe buying as a buyer beware scenario; absolutely nothing should be taken for granted.

Too often these days it is NOT a case of getting what you paid for (expensive does not always equals quality anymore). More often than not these days; if you are naive, trusting, inexperienced, or just have to get out on the water "right now" and "real cheap" will end up with a cheap, poorly made, overweight, piece of crap, with barge like looks, and manueverability.

Unfortunately, a lot of first time buyers don't know, or don't care. It disposable; like the toaster, coffee maker, or microwave. Some people would be better served buying an old, fazed out, Grumman, Osagian, or Old Town "beater" from a outfitter's rental fleet. Many learn that lesson on their first, second, or third outing. The really dumb ones may suffer through a whole summer of paddling; which may mean 5 or 6 day trips, before they put it on craigslist.

Take a look at craigslist; you'll see thouands of disposable, cast off, clunker canoes available. Many are near new. Some of them even include a couple of 10 dollar paddles, and 2 or 3 of those 20 dollar pfds as "boot".

What a deal!
And after you use it 3 or 4 times; you can pass it on down the line........or make it into a flower bed for the wife, a cat litter box, sandbox for the kids, or a breeding tank for the mosquitos.


P.S. I also get a good laugh when I see someone paddling a 31 hundred dollar, candy colored, streamlined, metal flaked, 22 pounder, in the newest composite layup, with wood trim hand sanded & stained by vestal virgins........getting dragged through gravel bottomed shallows,high centering on boulders, and scraping over rocky ledges on an Ozark river.

Are we having fun yet, or what?

I’ve weighed a few

– Last Updated: Mar-09-12 1:06 PM EST –

I bought a basic milk scale, like farmers used in the old days. It handles weights up to somewhere between 40 and 60 pounds (can't remember exactly) so I rigged it up with a lever beam so that it can weigh things that are twice the capacity of the scale or four-times the capacity of the scale, depending on where the load is hung from the beam.

I seem to remember that my Merlin II is supposed to weigh 33 pounds but actually weighs 31. My old Wenonah Vagabond (now paddled by Duggae and Rock-C) weighed 43 pounds, but the catalog says it weighs 45 pounds. I think my Mohawk Oddysey 14 weighs 48 pounds and the catalog says it weighs 49. After all these years I finally weighed my guide-boat late last summer, and I'll be darned but I have no recollection at all how much it weighed, except that it was few pounds more than the then-advertised weight of 65 pounds, but pretty close to the currently-advertised weight (68 pounds?). Someday I'll weigh my Novacraft Supernova. It's supposed to weigh 58 pounds, but I swear it weighs as much as the guide-boat. So, except for the Supernova, each of my boats weighs very close to what it "should" according to specs, and until I actually weigh the Supernova, I can't be sure (maybe that boat just seems heavier, and I rarely pick it up without the extra weight of float bags).

All my boats except my 25# flashfire gain weight as a ratio to the length of the carry! Seriously, Some manifactures are dishonest about weights. On the other hand I know it’s impossible to garintee a bvoat weight in advance. I used to weight my boats,but stopped-what’s the point? I’m keeping it.


Not Impossible
Infusing with carbon tube over foam rails brings variation down to the 4 oz range. That’s pretty accurate in my book. The higher weight can be " “guaranteed” or Wt X +/- a couple ounces if preferred.

Last variant being the weight of the gel coat sprayed into the mold. Thickness varies as does the weight of different color gels, white being one of the heavier, beige one of the lighter.

Great post Bob!!

Just happened to purchase a “Take a look at craigslist; you’ll see thouands of disposable, cast off, clunker canoes available. Many are near new. Some of them even include a couple of 10 dollar paddles, and 2 or 3 of those 20 dollar pfds as “boot”.” beater.

You know your CL boat ads because my purchase came with 2 10 dollar paddles that need work and 3 20 dollar pfds. Boat is an OT 186 3 seater that the person bought new in 03 and took it to the BWCA. I just can’t imagine portaging it there. The boat registration expired in 2007 and that was probably the last time the boat was used. The only mark on the boat is a bad dock bashing on the bow.

“Are we having fun yet, or what?” You bet


Bathroom scales work just fine
First weigh yourself, then just assume the portage position with the boat of your choice and step back on the scale again. The difference is the true weight of the boat.

I just weighed another one.

– Last Updated: Mar-18-12 3:34 PM EST –

I put a friend's Mad River Eclipse on the scale. It's supposed to weigh 65 pounds. The actual weight is exactly that ("exactly" meaning that's the weight within one or two tenths of a pound).

I must admit it feels heavier than that, and was really sure it would be, but the scale doesn't lie.