Canoecopia in Madison, WI.

Just got home a little while ago after spending Friday and Saturday at Canoecopia. Got to meet Brent and the Pnet clan, sat in on many interesting talks and demos on kayaking, sat in lots of different kayaks, and spent way too much money. The place was jambed when we left late this afternoon. It sure was a fun time!

Had a good time Friday,
Going back tomorrow.

My impressions of Canoecopia

– Last Updated: Mar-09-08 10:26 AM EST –

The highlight was seeing LittleRed there; fresh from rock climbing in Michigan.

It was nice to speak with Brian of again; a nice young man and the less visible owner as he is more involved in business development.

The booth displayed some new caps not yet listed on this site. One was light blue with three yaks on it that was very appealing.

I really enjoyed the preview of Dubside's upcoming Greenland video. I don't want to give it away as you'll have to purchase it.

The speakers who conduct trips in Manitoba and Scandinavia were also entertaining and informative.

P&H personnel indicated the low volume Cetus will be introduced in mid-2008.

During the time we were there, WS and Current Design seemed to have the most traffic (especially in their recreational boat sections of the booths).

Surprisingly, many of the personnel in the booths had limited info about their products. Without mentioning names, questions like "what is the depth or width of the boat?" or "is this paddle more for high or low-angle?" went unanswered or reference needed to be made to the "cheat sheet".

I agree with the poster on another thread who indicated that he'd rather be paddling than listening to paddling lectures. However, Canoecopia is an interesting interlude that serves a demarcation point between a fierce winter and the prospect of spring paddling.

I hope others had fun there too.

My wife, 2 son’s, & new daughter in-law went on Saturday. Lots of nice things to drool over. We stayed about 5 hours even though I was a bit under the weather. Had a nice conversation with person at the Bending Branches booth (Ed?) about the Turtle Flambeau Flowage and our upcoming plans to spend a week there. He “made” me buy a new Beavertail paddle from him! I didn’t notice any P.netter badges in the crowd though??


Need advice…
I was at Canoecopia today and was in the bathroom trying to talk to one of the reps about their boats and he would not answer any of my questions. He he just kept on throwing up and then looked at me and was drooling, he had quite a sour smell about him.


Rude Reps
I think I was in the stall next to that guy! But I know what you mean, I tried to ask a rep a question and he kept bugging me for a quarter and looked like he’d wet his pants. How do these guys stay in business?

What advice do you want?
You didn’t specify.

Why were you trying to get product info from someone who was obviously sick?

My advice is not to bother someone who’s throwing up.

What did everyone buy?
We all know (and many succumb) to the temptation to buy stuff at Canoecopia. I’m curious about everyone’s “favorite” purchase and the one they think they may regret later.

I bought a drysuit … which I needed some “customizing” on, so it will arrive after most of the water has warmed up, but I’m psyched anyway!

Regrets? Not about the dry suit. But I do wonder whether I really “need” a Gore-Tex baseball cap, even if it does match my boat.

I cannot seem to justify things when I am there. I see a paddle I want or a bag or what ever, but I can never justify the cost, even with the savings. I was hoping this year to nickel and dime myself up to maybe a hundred dollars, but all I bought was one of those neat metal water bottles. I got the flat sided one with the neat older style top. It should serve me well and the kids should be pretty jellous when they see it!

My buddy got the same bottle (different color to ovoid confusion) and a PFD.

I go for the speakers. I love to see them. There were some great presenters this year (as always) and the pool shows were great fun as well.

Nice seeing everyone that was there,


Did it.
I felt like the only p.netter there though; didn’t see any other badges. Saw Fadedred at the pool (recocgnized him from videos), and though he was wearing a badge, it didn’t look like a version. Met DerrickAM, heard him speak…very down-to-earth fellow and easy to talk to. Went to two of Flatpick’s classes and one of Dubside’s, Saw Razor and his wife (met them in Sleeping Bear Nat’l Park last summer). Hey, I guess I wasn’t the only one…just the only one with a badge?

Personally, I thought the reps were great. I know the stats on boats and stuff, and can get that pretty readily online. What I can’t get is “tactile” info. They seemed to be very into paddling, and I found talking to them to be easy and organic. Oh, and the Rutabaga staff were friendly and helpful as well. Good group all around.

Got a youth PFD for my eldest daughter, jewelry for my youngest, the new Pacific Horizons DVD for myself (personally signed by Bryan Smith…once again, great down-to-Earth fellow and listened as much as he talked), an MP3 drybag, a GPS drybag, and LOADS of brochures for future purchases. Great time at the show, cool video showing at the High Noon Saloon afterward, wonderful experience all around. Thanks Rutabaga!


I think you’re right about the reps being a great source for information about what a piece of gear is really like on the water, even if they don’t know all the specs. Personally I think we get a little too wrapped up in that but it’s a good way to narrow down the list of boats to try out.

I was there for my ninth year and once again found my way to the checkout line, although the damage wasn’t horrible. I only saw three presentations this year - Sam Crowley in Ireland, Derrick’s expedition planning and finally Cliff Jacobson. All were well worth the time and I wish they had twice as long to talk. I’m starting a rumor that Canoecopia is the official start of summer. Back on the water soon…

No P-netters either
I got there early to deliver a canoe to Dan Cooke’s booth and was one of the first ones to get my tag on Friday afternoon. A couple of people from Canada recognized my name and introduced themselves.

On the other hand I was also wearing a Canoe name tag and met a couple dozen others that way and went out to dinner with them on Saturday night at the Black Bear Inn.

On Friday night I hooked up with PK, Laura, Simonbee, Worth, Idlewyld, Bonelli, Uncle Phil and a dozen others from the Canadian Canoe Routes for dinner at JT Whitney’s. The group was great but the restaurant was only mediocre food and the band was so loud we could hardly hear each other. Next year I’m voting for a quieter place like Great Dane.

Thanks to Bob Meister at The Original Bug Shirt for delivering Harlan’s canoe to Toronto. Thanks to Mark Anderson from Michigan for bringing me my new Swift Raven from Grand Rapids.

I thought the crowd was off from last year’s numbers. I paid $3.30 for gas to get there so maybe that kept some paddlers at home.

Every booth I attended was well worth it, except the Mad River booth where there wasn’t anyone to answer my questions. But I did get to see a Mad River Explorer on display with a yoke about 2 inches too long. It gave the hull sort of a diamond shaped racing hull look. It also buckled the vinyl gunnels.

Nova Craft, Bell, Current Designs, Wenonah and Old Town had tremendous displays and very intelligent paddlers and sales people hovering around to answer questions and talk about paddling. For best canoe display my vote goes to Nova Craft with the horseshoe shaped display visible from all sides and the luxurious leather canoe couch in the “den” for relaxing.

Keven Carr at Chosen Valley Canoe Accessories was part of the Wenonah booth this year and had a canoe all set up with yoke pads to try on. Very comfy.

Dan Cooke Custom Sewing had a double booth this year, which included my new Fire Engine Red Wenonah Argosy decked out with a brand new blue cover which I installed under Dan’s tutelage. It was easy to install and towards the end I finally got over the anxiety engendered by standing over a brand new boat with a power drill in hand.

There were hundreds of paddlers there so it was very easy to strike up a good conversation. Notables I met were Steve Scarborough, founder of Dagger, Kay Henry, co-founder of Mad River and co-founder of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Gary McGuffin who’s card read’s explorer, photographer, writer. He and his wife Joanie wrote a bunch of beautiful books including Paddling Your Own Canoe and In The Footsteps of Grey Owl.

I was talking with Dan Cooke
about the awesome spray shirt on the canoe. You did an excellent job! I think you impressed Dan as well.


thanks Bob
It was fun once I got the hang of it. He’s sending me another one for my Raven.

I looked for you all over so we could grab dinner Friday. You would have enjoyed meeting the BWCA folks, then would have been impressed with the story about the bear paddling your canoe, too:)

Canoecopia sightings

– Last Updated: Mar-14-08 10:10 PM EST –

Some quick (and fairly random) observations from the canoe portion of Canoecopia (quick but late...)

Things I loved seeing included: The Old Town Koru in carbon fiber w/burgundy gel-coat, gold leaf and gorgeous woodwork. For almost $5k (really!) list, it should be beautiful, but it went beyond that; I think it is the most visually beautiful modern canoe I’ve ever seen. I spent but 10 minutes in a ‘glass one last summer, so have little idea how it really paddles, but for hanging on a wall in some lucky person’s cabin or boathouse it would be hard to beat. It has been a long, long time since Old Town has produced anything of any interest to me, but this was off the charts.

As to canoes I’d actually paddle, the new Nova Craft Cronje will be a big winner for them and looked beautiful in a tan gel-coat Blue Steel layup with cut outs for their logos. Wenonah had a redesigned Escapade that will be a homerun, but probably eat most of the Solo Plus sales. Both the Wilderness and their new Wee Lassie drew lots of appreciative stares, as did the carbon fiber Prism with inner gunwales only (like a racing boat). And I heard rumors that you can order an Odyssey from Wenonah once again. Esquif seems to have stiffened their promising Twin-tex layup (very tough and pretty darned light) so that the oil canning issues are history. I’m fairly certain that Bell had no new boats models, but they showed all their Black Gold boats with the insides sealed to smoothness. You won’t know what a difference this makes until you see (and feel) these boats. From the look of their display, all the production unpleasantness from the move from Minnesota to Wisconsin is over. Bell is back.

The Whiskey Jack line of paddles just keeps getting better; straight or bent, they make fabulous sticks. Sawyer showed some cool new paddles made from bamboo strips and Bending Branches seemed to have more models made of black willow, though I didn’t see the wonderful Black Widow that Rutabaga sold last year. That could be a collector’s item. Speaking of which, I (sadly) heard that Turtle Paddleworks, who made those great Ojibwe ottertails, has closed up shop. That’s a paddle to hold onto if you have one.

There were great new packs from Ostrom (including that model for solo paddlers that snaps in half to allow you to adjust your load with the wind conditions) and it was good to see Frost River back with their line of traditional packs. As usual, the Cooke Custom Sewing booth had cool stuff and nice people.

I never caught the name (maybe someone else did) but did gawk at a tow behind pop up camper for the 21st century; this was NOT your father’s Coleman! And great to see the return of Bear Paw Outdoor Adventure Resort from up in White Lake, Wisconsin on the Wolf River. They were completely destroyed by a tornado last June, but they’ve actually rebuilt. Hard to believe from what it looked like. The River Alliance of Wisconsin had a big map that let paddlers talk about the rivers they like all over the state; lots of little streams were marked off and I took a lot of notes. With all the snowmelt in parts of Wisconsin this year, spring paddling should allow us into stretches of streams not seen in decades.

Lots of terrific seminars (Tom Lindblade, Rick Kark, Mark Cupp and Darren and Stephanie Bush come to mind), but my favorite new Canoecopia event? Easy: Aluminum Chef! A take off of the Food Network’s Iron Chef, this could build into a huge camp cooking grudge match! Well done, Rutabaga.