Clipper Packer, faster than Summersong &

-- Last Updated: Dec-09-05 6:12 PM EST --

Mad River Slipper? I have the Sawyer Summersong and Mad River Slipper and am wondering if a used Packer in good condition is worthy of a 14hr round trip drive to check out and possibly buy.

I'm primarily interested in the Clipper because I expect it to be faster than the 15'4" long, 28" wide Summersong and 14'7" long, 28" wide Slipper because the Packer is 14' long and 24" wide. The Packer isn't much shorter, but 4" is quite a bit narorower. Please let me know if my thinking is muddled. Here are the length to width ratios, which aren't significantly different, after all:

Packer 7
Slipper 6.25
Summersong 6.57

I don't really have money for any new boats right now, but I'm very tempted since the Packer is a little short, lighter and I expect it to be at least as fast as the Slipper & Summersong.

I would expect to use it for day trips only. I've only gone canoe camping onece.

I couldn't find any reviews on the Packer and would like some insight to it's speed, tracking and maneuverability. If it handled similarly to my Slipper, but was a little faster, that would be great.

I'd appreciate any input or insights regarding the performance characteristics and durability of the Packer. Comparisons with the Summersong or Slipper would be especially helpful because they are the only solo canoes that I have much seat time in.

This Sunday would probably be my last opportunity to make the trip until Christmas vacation and I'd rather not make the trip if this is a mediocre model or if I wouldn't gain much by adding the Packer to my fleet except having a shorter and lighter boat to choose from. The temperatures are only expected to reach about 30F around here this weekend and wouldn't be much warmer where the Packer is.

Thanks in advance for any insights & recommendations with my ponderous ponderings.

BTW, I'm 5'6" tall and about 150 lbs.

Why risk money on equivocal data?
I recall reading a review of the Packer (probably an old C&K review), and the review did not cite speed as its primary feature.

Yeah, if it’s not much faster, then
lighter weight might be it’s main advantage over my current solos. I still might consider making the trip if it’s handling characteristics are percieved to be superior to those of the Summersong and Slipper in some way. Just having a 10 or 12 pound lighter boat may not be worth the time and the money required to check out and maybe buy the Packer.

I am interested having a faster solo canoe than the Summersong or the Slipper, but even a lighter boat that’s at least as fast is appealing to me. I’d like it to track well enough that when I stop paddling that when I stop paddling to bird watch or get a drink of water, the boat keeps going reasonably straight. I’d also like it to respond well to a lean for quicker turning.

I’ll consider other options to fill this desire, but I can’t afford any new boat right now. Besides, there’s no urgency act quickly on new boat purchase and decent used boats within a day’s drive don’t occur very often around here. I just saw a Packer advertised and wondered if I’d gain anything by adding it to my fleet other than taking up more space. I might even consider replacing the heavier Summersong with it if it’s performance characteristics were adequate.

Thanks for helping me think this through.

I’m going shopping with my wife in few minutes, I’ll check back in later.


From Salins’ Aug 2000 C&K review …
“With a bent-shaft paddle, the Packer moves up to speed quickly and gently. For a solo boat it moves smoothly through the water and it is easy to turn by dropping a hip and sweeping to the side. The Packer carves a wonderful turn, very much under control. If you push it along, the bow wave starts to curl, warning that the boat has reached cruising speed and doesn’t want to be pushed beyond that speed. Watching the docks and houses go by along the lake, I found that I was moving fast enough to suit someone who has a destination in mind. At the same time, there was lots of stability for just sitting in the boat and relaxing. The Packer tracks well enough that it is easy to get three to four strokes on a side without trouble. If you need to turn, drop a hip and the boat responds immediately. The Packer has one of those rare canoe hulls in which everything comes together. It’s a canoe that effectively balances speed and efficiency with stability, turning response and comfort.”

Farther along, he says … “I’d take this canoe on a solo trip in a heartbeat. Gunwales are tucked fairly close … it’s very friendly to good paddling procedure:vertical shaft, paddle tucked close to the canoe … my paddling buddy was in an efficient touring kayak, but I had no trouble keeping up with him … was easy to hold on course and slid right along.” In other words, he liked it.

Think about Steve Salins… has he ever met a boat he didn’t like!

Also think about that gently getting up to speed. I think what ypu need is a J 190 from wenonah, or a Diller C-1 where you are up to speed in 4 strokes…

Just my humble opinion


Need more than given dimentions and
ratios to answer your question(s).

Your ratio numbers are very likely not accurate. You need to be real careful when using published specs to try comparing hull speed, or even something as basic as draft. The actual hull ratio is the actual waterline length divided by the actual waterline width. Few publish actual waterline figures. Bell is one company that does, or kind of, but you will find theirs somewhat inacurate. I have tried to come up with the ratios they list for their hulls from the waterline figures they list and in most all cases can not achieve the same figures.

Also to be accurate you would need the waterline figures with your weight in the hull. The hulls are not going to act linearly, but vary with different weights. In addition length vis width does not tell the whole story. If one hull is fuller in the areas of the bow and stern it will float higher with the same load. Shallower water is less dense and has less resistance to being displaced. All other things being equal the narrower hull would normally float lower, displacing denser water and therefore could encounter more resistance overall. This is one of the reasons a canoe normally beats a kayak over long distances.

There are a lot of other factors to consider as well. Symmetrical and asymmetrical hulls present their frontal area differently to the water resulting in differences in resistance or drag. Subtle design features that can not even be seen make a lot of difference.

The age of the design and intent of the designer is a big factor as well. I recently had serious doubts about the builders claim that the 15’ Placid BoatWorks RapidFire would be faster than the 16’ Bell Magic. The RapidFire ratio is 7.5 while the Magic is 7.25, but I have most always found the longer hull to be faster. And the Magic is a fast hull! Well I bought a RapidFire, AND after some trips and group paddling I would bet heavy that the RapidFire is faster!!! This would seem to prove you might be correct about the Packer, but what was it actually designed for?

The designers intentions are very important to the outcome as well. At times the designer “dumbs down” the design, but we will talk about that in another post that needs a reply. DY designed and refined the RapidFire from the very start to be the fastest hull anywhere near it’s dimensions. I have seen fotos of him aactually tweaking the plug himself. The plug is unusual as it is fully paddlable and was test paddled during it’s construction. An unusual way to build a plug as it leaves it weak and a proper plug must be made later on to keep the proper shape and protect the design. It is also interesting that DY designed both these boats and the fact that I was told the RapidFire is two to three generations ahead of the other designs currently being built.

Hope all this makes the matter clear as mud.

Buy lots of boats! Paddle them all! Enjoy!



Clear as what mud? I can’t see any mud.

– Last Updated: Dec-10-05 1:04 AM EST –

Yeah, the best situation would be paddle The packer one after the other with the Summersong and Slipper, but this time of year and the Packer 380 miles from my house, that isn't likely to happen.

Here's a link to the Packer:

I kind of like the looks of it, but was hoping to get input from someone who's paddled it. But in liu of actual experience with the Packer, I still encourage general input to help me make the decision.

Here's a link to the Summersong:

One thing to bear in mind is that the Packer is a relatively short boat. Most boats that are designed for speed are a bit longer. I haven’t paddled either of the other two boats that you have, but I would be surprised if the Clipper is much faster, or, if it is, by much.

my dear paddling pal yanoer

– Last Updated: Dec-12-05 2:08 AM EST –

I hope to paddle with you in the springtime.

This is a small tender solo
From the link to Clipper you provided, the freeboard chart gives some indication of the volume and draft of this canoe. With a 13" center depth and 8.2" of freeboard at a 300# load we can see that 300# puts it almost 5" into the water. At 200# the chart is not very clear, just a wavy line on a compressed scale. Draft with a shallow arch hull is not linear vs load until you have reached maximum width and only if the hull sides are straight above that point. 4.8" with 300# will not yield 2.4" with 150#, probably closer to 3". If the 3" waterline is much narrower than the 24" width given, this will be a very tender solo. Under 24" waterline width with a 14’ length gives very little wetted area if the bow and stern are sharp. This would be a fast and tender canoe. If the bow and stern are full, the stability will increase and the speed will decrease. No credit is given to the designer, but a lot of Clippers are older Jensen designs, or modifications of his work. This is similar to an older Wenonah design called the Whisper, though without the sharp vertical stems.

From the photos and specs, it is still a gamble on how it will paddle, with a light paddler it could be faster than your summersong, but if it runs wide and deep due to load, it will be slower. The fastest short solo was the Wenonah J-120 and it was fast with a 120# paddler. A 180# paddler could not keep it afloat or push it faster than a Summersong: too narrow for a big load and that was stated in its design. Fast solos run longer for proven reasons, and even though short solos can be made faster by going very narrow, they trade off much stability to get there. Light paddlers tend to have lower centers of gravity and that helps stability.

Hope this helps,


Thanks Bill. The seller says the boat
is very stable and that she isn’t a very experienced paddler and has never dumped it. She’s about 120 lbs. I think that the seat is mounted lower than normal because it’s designed for sitting only and not kneeling. The seller says she used the Sitbacker canoe seat, which raised her up about another 1.5" and it still felt stable to her. Her voice sounded on the older side, and maybe that’s why they’re going to just tandem paddling. They’re also looking for a tandem kayak.

The Clipper rep that I talked to said that her 190 lb husband has a Tripper that he uses for exercise and he has no problem with stability, so, from these two sources, stability doesn’t seem to be as much of a concern as I thought it might be. It must be well designed to be stable at just 24" wide. I know that I wouldn’t feel comfortable raising the seat in my 24" wide Phoenix Isere kayak by 4 or 5" because I think it would become like sitting on a log and want to roll over.

Man, It’s tough to make this decision without seeing the boat, but I have to make a 760 mile round trip to try the boat. It may come down to just how obsessed I am with faster solo canoes.

Thanks again for your insights and suggestions, they do help with pondering this decision.

I may be overwhelmed by how attractive the boat looks to me in the pictures, it looks very alluring to me.

I think I’ll take a break for a cold shower.

Thanks for the offer cooldoctor 1.
I’ll keep that in mind. You don’t know the joys of solo canoe paddling, so you couldn’t know that a solo kayak can’t be substituted easily for a solo canoe. Someday I’ll let you try the Summersong or the Slipper and you just might be drawn in to the world of us bi-paddlers.

I don’t think that my wife would allow me to sell one of the Castines because it would split up our pair of yellow twin Castines and she might not even attempt to go solo in any other boat. It’s the appeal of us being in matching, “cute” boats.

The Calabria definately seemed to be faster than the Castine on the shallow, smooth water canal, but the Castine appeared to have some advantage on the deeper and more textured water of the river. I’d still like to see if I can keep up with you and Bruce in your Calabrias easier if I’m paddling my Isere.

Thanks for the offer. I’ll keep it in mind as spring approaches.

Does narrower beam = easier paddling?
If so, 24" beam would mean less reach to the water than 28" beam and blade entry angle could be more vertical with less effort on the narrower hull than with the wider hull. Less reach to the water and easier to keep the blade entry more vertical to aid tracking and more comfortable for long trips?

I notice that while paddling the Summersong, which is only 23" at the gunwales, I still have to reach quite a bit to have a very vertical entry angle or the blade drags along the bubbled out side of the hull due to the significant tumblehome. I don’t notice blade dragging on the side of the hull as much on the Slipper, which is 27" at gunwale, because I already have to reach out just to get the paddle over the gunwale.

Is a narrower hull likely to be more comfortable for a smaller paddler even if is isn’t any faster?

Does a narrower solo hull facilitate better paddling form?

I know that I feel more comfortable paddling my 28" wide solo canoes than I did paddling my 32" and 34" wide tandem canoes from the center position.

Maybe the ease of paddling the narrower hull is justification enough for acquiring the Packer, even if it isn’t any faster or more efficient than the Summersong or the Slipper. Maybe it would be more efficient and comfortable for me just because it would fit me better at 5’6" and 150 lbs.

Has anyone out there (other than the seller and the Clipper sales rep) actually paddled the Packer?

Canoe v Kayak.
Yanoer, you;re indeed right, I have no idea if a slim line canoe is fast or slow. I have only kayak experience. I am planning rolling training (go the videos yeah) and more this springtime, so my kayaking will be getting more in depth-- I am educating myself. But I know little about canoes. You seem to be proficient in particular at canoeing. I agree with your splitting the Castines comment; I have the two paired Capris and would not purposely split them. True enough.

By the way, I was trying to eat at the Beef House with my wife today (had some business in COvington, IN) and that Wabash River in Covington is fabulous looking! It is only 45 miles from C-U, and was wide and pretty looking from the highway. I am going to research that one.

The Wabash usually doesn’t freeze
and is open for paddling most winters. I’ve only been on a section that started about 15 miles south of Covington.


– Last Updated: Dec-11-05 7:08 AM EST –

Geez, how many people on this board are just plain sick???

I thought I was the only one with this disease. How many canoes (kayaks) does a guy need?

A: "Only one...more."

I own the Summersong, Shockwave, Wildfire, Autumn Mist, MR Liberty, Oscoda Loon, Merlin II, Wabash Valley Merlin, etc., etc. Since I'm married, I can't paddle more than one woman (really), but I can paddle numerous canoes/kayaks.

This said, it is hard to beat the speed of the Summersong. I'd say the Shockwave may be slightly faster, as is the Grasse River XL.

I don't see how the Packer could be faster. I don't see how it could be stable, either, especially for a moderately-sized guy.

I also own a Mike Galt BJX Special which is 17 feet long and 24 3/4" wide. It is somewhat tippy, but maybe not as fast as the Yost boats...


Just bought a Bell Magic. Anyone got any liquid water? Mine's all hard and smooth...

Wildwater, our sickness is very scary!
I was willing to drive 14hrs to try out a boat that I’d never heard of and one that no one in this forum seems to have ever paddled and pay for it with money that should be going to paying off credit card debt. The only thing that prevented me from being on the road righ now to pick it up is the fact that I’m physically run down and too tired to make that 760 mile round trip by myself today. I was hoping that the seller would offer to meet me half way, but they didn’t offer and I didn’t ask out right for them to do so.

Back on topic, do you percieve that your 24.75" wide BJX is easier to paddle than the wider hulls because of the narrower beam? Does it feel more comfortable to paddle since you don’t have to reach as much to put the paddle in the water? Does the narrower hull encourage/allow better form? Does the narrower hull seem like it is less wear & tear on your body on a long day of paddling? I ask these questions because it sure seems easier to used good form in my 24" wide Phoeix Isere kayak than in my wider Old Town Castine or Poke Boat kayaks.

Does the narrower hull allow a more vertical paddle stroke and does that more vertical stroke result in better tracking with fewer corection strokes?

I don’t percieve my Summersong as being much, if any faster than my Slipper (which is very similar to your Liberty), but don’t have a GPS to check it with, only my perception of speed and how long it takes me to get around our local lake. My paddling technique may be to blame, I’m sure that you have much better technique than I do. I’ve only been paddling solo canoes for a couple years after paddling mostly solo kayaks. And it’s just this year that I’ve been using mostly single blade canoe paddles instead of my kayak paddles in my canoes. With me paddling, my 14’9" long and 24" wide Phoenix Isere kayak gets me around the local lake faster and with less fatigue than any of my other boats. My paddle may be a factor also. I just got a decent bent shaft paddle this summer (Sawyer Manta) and it’s blade surface is much larger than the Zaveral’s that most people use in the Summersong. I just received a used Barton carbon fiber paddle last week and am anticipating trying it soon, maybe today if the local lake isn’t frozen. The Barton has a smaller blade face than the Manta, but is larger than a Zaveral. I’d probably take my Slipper today instead of the Summersong because the Slipper is lighter and easier to handle on slippery lake and river banks than my Summersong is. Your Summersong is much lighter than mine.

On the subject of liquid water, cooldoctor1 said that the Wabash river down by Covington, IN was looking very inviting yesterday. My understanding is that it stays liquid through most normal winters. That would probably be about a 4 hour drive for you from southern MI.

Thanks for your insights. I’ll have to wait until Christmas vacation to try out the Packer if it’s still available since I didn’t go today.

Correct Observations re:Paddling Narrow
Generally, you should have somewhat easier time of getting good technique with narrower kayaks/ canoes.

You do need to relax a little. Just enjoy canoeing/kayaking. If you’d like to run up and try out some of my canoes/kayaks, feel free to.

I’m an avid paddler, and I sell canoes and kayaks in Coldwater, Michigan, often ones I don’t WANT to sell (because I have so damn many).

Don’t worry. There will be many fine boats around for a long time. Pay off some credit card debt, then come purchase some of my boats.


What are some other narrow solo canoes?
The Packer is the narrowest that I am aware of other than racing boats, but I certainly don’t have extensive exposure to or knowledge about what’s available in solo canoes other than the main stream brands like Wenonah, Old Town, Bell and Mohawk. I don’t think that they have any boats of similar dimensions to the Packer.

This is the only used boat of these dimensions that I can remember seeing advertised in the couple years that I’ve been scanning the classifieds. That’s why I am feeling somewhat compelled to go for this one before somone else does. I can’t afford the $2000 price for a new one (which should be obvious, since I stated earlier that I really can’t easily afford the used price).

Are there other options for boats with similar dimensions to the Packer? Am I wrong about the scarecity of used boats of this type in the market?

I’ll survive if I don’t get this Packer, but I’ll always wonder what it would be like to paddle it.

Thanks again for your insights and encouragement Wildwater.

Anybody out there paddle a Packer?
I’m referring to the Clipper Packer solo canoe, not the NFL team or their fans.