Clipper Solitude

-- Last Updated: Dec-08-07 1:23 PM EST --

Dreaming of a trip to the BCWA...would you consider the Clipper Solitude an "ideal" canoe for the BCWA? While I await reviews [or my own demo] on the Wenonah Wilderness the Solitude looks to be my only other reasonable choice, price wise, living where I do. But, it's even hard to find a Solitude to demo. On paper, the only thing I don't like about the Solitude is the bucket seat...I much prefer a web seat with the option to kneel. Something the rep gave me flack about when I called Western Canoe [makers of the Clipper Solitude]. So, do you see many Solitudes in the BCWA or have you ever paddled one? Oh yea, I'm 6', 200-210lbs.

Clipper Solitude Ownder
I own a clipper solitude, have for a number of years. I don’t know if it would be your “ideal” canoe. But it is a good one.

What I like about the solitude is what I call paddler friendliness. It has seat adjustments, both vertical and horizontal (sliding seat) and with the footbraces it is a really nice platform. Great when adjusting for wind. Very stable canoe.

The folks at clipper are sit and switch advocates and I received the same reception as you when I first bought the canoe and asked about kneeling. The owner of clipper can be particularly outspoken in a not so friendly way. My knees hurt too much for long term kneeling now, so sitting works for me.

I paddle 70% of my time with a bent shaft and find the canoe moves along very well and I don’t tend to get fatigued very quickly. I do move to the side on the seat and paddle on one side with a traditional paddle fairly often as I like the “artistry” of paddling that way. Canadian style is also what I learned many moons ago and it has a sense of nostalgia about it.

The solitude tracks very straight and isn’t suitable for rivers above class I or very easy class II or anywhere quick maneuverability is required.

I have the ultralight kevlar and it is proving to be very tough. On lakes it is a real good canoe. There is no flexing. it is also fairly quick for a shorter canoe…a Jensen design and he has some pretty good canoes with his signature on them.

If you have any particular questions that I have not covered don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail.


BWCA solo
Keep in mind that the ideal BWCA canoe for you will be the one the fits you and your gear load, your paddling style, and your needs best. So the Solitude may be the one, but only you can determine that.

The vast majority of canoes that I see in the BWCA / Quetico are tandems. My experience is that solos are probably not more than 10% of the canoes out there in the back country. The majority of solo canoes that I have crossed paths with are Wenonah (Prism and Voyager), Bell (Magic), old Sawyers; and cedar strip (home built). Something to keep in mind is that the majority of rental solo’s are also Wenonahs and Bells. You see other brands and models also as you might expect (MR, Souris River, Swift, etc), because choice of solo canoe is such a personal thing if you buy. I can never remember seeing a solo Clipper Solitude in the BWCA / Quetico, but have seen plenty of the old Wenonah Solitudes which I think are the same boat.

I have seen a Clipper Solitude on the Bowron trail in BC, and I did take it out for a spin. Based on an evening’s paddle I think it would be a good BWCA boat for someone your size. But the Wenonah’s or Bell would also and I think you would find them faster. Since long distance car topping a canoe can be a pain, why not rent a Wenonah or Bell from a BWCA outfitter for your first BWCA experience. The best way to find out if your going to love or hate a boat, is to paddle it in all kinds of conditions for a long distance. Renting allows you to do that, and it’s easy to part with it - if it was a mistake. And if you find you really like the Wenonah or Bell, you can always take one back with you.

If you try out the Solitude in your home waters; in addition to paddling performance, comfort, etc. pay attention to the yoke system for that solo. It needs to work with a minimum amount of fussing to install it for a carry and then to stow it securely for travel and also the canoe needs to be balanced right for comfortable portaging.

Royalex for me
I’ve only been to the Boundary Waters once, with a friend and his canoe. I concluded that if I go back with one of my solo canoes, it would be one of Royalex, i.e. my Bell Wildfire. It’s adequately light, and tough enough for all the rocks in the Boundary Waters. I know I’m paranoid about scratching my composites, but for me, the trip would be more comfortable in Royalex.