Double Paddle Canoe

I paddle sea kayaks and have no experience with canoes but Iam entertaining thoughts of a small, fairly light [30-33#] double paddle canoe for paddling small lakes and rivers. I’m attracted to the Placid Boat Works Spitfire but the price is more than I would like to spend especially as I’m unsure if I’ll like this kind of paddling. What other double paddle canoes with characteristics similar to the Spit but with a lower price tag might I consider?

Depends on use
If you plan on using the canoe for small ponds, streams etc… take a look at Hornbeck Canoes. Swift Canoe also makes some interesting pack canoes and Hemlock has a few canoes that might work for you.

Virtually any canoe can be paddled with a double blade so you may want to look around for a used composite solo canoe. I’ve paddled the Wenonah Solo Plus with a double blade but its a barge compaired to my Rapidfire.

It’s doubtful you’d be able to find a used Placid Boat Works Spitfire or Rapidfire but if you can locate one they are great boats.

maybe a Vagabond
The Wenonah Vagabond seems to appeal to quite a few paddlers who prefer the double blade.

Realize that any quality canoe that comes in below 35 lbs is going to cost a fair bit of change, but you might have more success locating a used Vagabond than a Placid or Hornbeck.

The manufacturer quotes a weight of 40 lbs for the Vagabond in Tuf-weave, 38 lbs for the Kevlar Flex-core, and 30 lbs for the Kevlar Ultra-light.


– Last Updated: Sep-16-12 8:18 PM EST –

I hear Pete Hornbeck has had some of them redesigned.

They are not hard to find in the East but not abundant either. Watch Paddleswap.

That said you get what you pay for. Dave Curtis Nessmuk and the Placid boats are more durable than the Hornbecks but the Hornbecks do have a following and do not just fall apart. For many they are adequate.

You can paddle many solo canoes ..including a Wenonah Argosy with a double blade. Other cheap boats include the OT Pack but if you are used to speed chances are you wont like this one.

One you want to sit down on the floor as in your kayak or do you want to sit up higher. Hornbecks seats are low and minimal. Placid offers a huge variety of seats.

Or do you want to sit as on a normal canoe seat? Just look for something with fairly narrow gunwales. I have a Colden DragonFly that does quite well as its not wider than many sea kayaks but as its a river runner..tender..and not a budget price either.

Go jump in a bunch of solo canoes with your kayak paddle before you decide. The Spit is nothing more than a deckless kayak.

Second the WenVag in KUL as I’ve
used it weekly as my go-to boat with a Greenland Paddle as a “canyak” for past three years on coastal rivers/creeks. Can stay with average yakkers in the area, unless wind is 15+ then the additional freeboard is a challenge. Going to try a cover for it to help some. Really like the fairly low, comfy sliding tractor seat, but had the GP made at 8’6" to clear the gunnels. The 30# really great for this old dog and plan on building a light SOF very low profile for windy days. R

Don’t forget the Rob Roy!
Great boat if you can find one in the classifieds…

I sort of maintain a complete list of solo and solo pack canoes, dimensions, l/w ratios etc that may help. email charliewilson77@gmail for an electronic copy.

The pack canoe market is split three ways: 1. Traditional; very light which means short, somewhat fragile and minimal outfitting. [Hornbecks and Hemlocks are in this category.] 2. Touring pack canoes; longer hulls designed to move, more rugged construction and comfortably outfitted. [Bell, Placid, Swift and Vermont Canoe populate this category. Those built to rival the ultralights can get pricey. 3. Heavier craft focused on casual, fishing, tend to be longer with comfortable outfitting but with heavier and less expensive construction. [Mad River and Wenonah pack canoes are in this grouping.]

Something for everyone!

Sissy103, where are you?
Where is Sissy103 to weigh in on the Tupper? I think it’s a wonderful boat, but she has always said it so much better.

But why double blade an open hull?
Before a confirmed kayaker (unless a Plutocratic gearhead) buys an open hull, I think there should be a serious evaluation as to why. After all, double blading an open hull is still kayaking.

That’s not only been my long-advocated position; I recently discovered that the USCA site says exactly the same thing:

"Am I paddling a canoe or a kayak?

“The right questions are: Are you canoeing or kayaking? How many blades does your paddle have? Canoeing uses a single-bladed paddle. Kayaking uses a double-bladed paddle.”

Kayaking an open hull has significant disadvantages compared to a decked hull. I think these are inarguable:

– The open hull is much less seaworthy in big waves and violent waters.

– The open hull is more susceptible to windage and is much more difficult to control in wind. This is so without even considering rudders and skegs, which open hulls don’t have and which make decked hulls nearly invulnerable to all reasonable winds.

– The open hull cannot be heeled as much for edging, turning, balance bracing, or bracing into the face of a wave.

– The open hull will be more susceptible to paddle drips on your chiseled body than a decked hull.

– The open hull is impossible (without thigh machines) to self-rescue from inside the hull, and dang hard to re-enter when you are outside the hull. Comparatively, a trained closed boater can roll with no more physical or psychological effort than swatting a medfly. The result is that any sane paddler in an open hull will be more more scared of crossings, cold water and rough water than the same paddler in a decked hull.

On the other hand, the open hull has some advantages for kayaking:

– It can be made lighter without the top deck.

– It will be easier to carry and portage because of the open hull and further because of the potential for lighter weight.

– Gear can be more easily loaded, unloaded and shifted, and more of it can be carried.

– It may be marginally easier for the paddler to enter and exit.

In sum, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that an open hull would be of interest to a double blading kayaker mostly in those cases where the paddler wants to carry a lot of gear or wants to portage a lot. These are not day tripping situations.

The more compelling and spiritual reasons to get an open hull are so you can sit or kneel up off the floor and propel the hull with a single blade. That is, to canoe – the Holy Grail of paddling perfection, elegance, and physical and psychological satisfaction.

Simple annswer to a Sophist

– Last Updated: Sep-18-12 7:25 PM EST –

Lots of folks want to paddle but won't, yet, invest the apprenticeship period into learning the intricases of the single paddle. Anyone with a double blade who can remember the left, right, left sequence will arrive at their destination. Yeah, there is a choice in efficiency between tumblehomed craft with a vertical, thereby short paddle and flared hulls requiring horizontal strokes with longer paddlers. Everyone gets to choose. The longer paddle/horizontal stroke is dryer, the wetter vertical shaft more efficient.

Pack canoes sit the paddler kayak low in the hull, so smaller, more portable hulls in the 10-20 lb range, depending on length, bui1d quality and outfitting are possible. This is often key in areas wit frequent portages/carries like the Adirondacks, where the pack canoe originated in the mid 1800s.

Pack canoes are much easier to load and unload and reload where portages/carries are common. Kayaks require melon sized gear parcels be fitted through hatched, kinda like re-doing a birth moment.

All in all, the pack canoe is thriving in the North American Northeast, despite supposedly learned discourses to the contrary.

On the other hand, I prefer to stand or sit with a single blade bent or kneel with a single blade bent myself, but then again, I'm a geezer who doesn't like sitting low with straight legs. I think it's really cool that the SUP forward stroke is, basically, a touring canoe stroke. It'll bring lots of kayakers back to the open canoe.

For a couple more decades we'll still be able to make our own choices in boat selection.

Very frustrating not to be able to edit title typos.????

Did this thread drift way off course?
I think so.

But then I enjoy both single and double blading. Why? Simply cause I like the feeling each gives me.

maybe we can get back on topic.

And about the Tupper…I have no idea if Vermont Canoe has recovered from the devastating floods and Rob is building.

open boat versus decked boat
The advantages and disadvantages of an open boat versus a decked boat apply regardless of what type of paddle you chose to use.

There are folks who find the very low sitting position of a kayak causes them hip or back pain as Charlie suggests. If they choose an open boat with a little higher seating position, or if they choose an open boat because it is easier to load and unload, there is no law that says they have to paddle it with a single bladed paddle.

Having done a good bit of both kayaking (with a double bladed paddle) and canoeing (almost always with a single bladed paddle) I think there is a little bit more to using the double bladed paddle than Charlie will admit to (but not much).

I am reliably informed that there are even kayakers who like paddling with a single bladed paddle now and then, although I can’t quite fathom why.

There are advantages and disadvantages to double bladed paddles as opposed to single bladed paddles. But the type of paddle is not bound to whether the boat has a deck or not.

I Think Not
But it is always good to remember old friends who built righteous bottoms. Ron loved/s good boats and had a hand in building a bunch thereof.

single blade in canoe

– Last Updated: Sep-18-12 9:14 PM EST –


Most of your post made sense to me. Add to you list of disadvantages of double blading the difficulty of passing through very narrow streams when blades are tangling in brush on stream banks.

I double blade both canoes and kayaks. Your last sentence, however, is quite arrogant and narrow minded, although consistent with the proclamations of some other single blade purists.

I once used and enjoyed single blades, having a rotating collections of 20-30 different single blades. Almost all have reluctantly been sold. As a consequence of shoulder damage and reconstruction, I now cannot use a single blade when grip is in rt hand. I've accepted that restriction and moved on to using double blades 100% so I can continue paddling canoes and kayaks.

I'm still paddling frequently in spite of those who think I lack "perfection and elegance". I just obtain my "physical and psychological satisfaction" with a different implement. Different strokes for different folks, consider stepping down from your high horse.


High horse?
No, I don’t think I’ll step down, Dave, because the horse I’m trying to ride – open canoeing with a single blade – is not high on the paddling scene at all, but is rather a gasping, barely alive near-corpse. My final sentence was intended to be plaintive rhetoric rather than arrogance. I have nothing to be arrogant about.

Probably 95% of new paddle boat sales in states that don’t border Canada are kayaks, and I hardly ever see an open canoe wherever I travel in those states. I don’t usually post with an agenda, but simply to reply to topics. However, one occasional agenda is to sing the praises of the single blade from time-to-time to encourage newbies to try it.

I truly believe that if a new paddler can push past the initial difficulties of controlling a canoe with a single blade, he or she will discover a world of paddling that is more sophisticated and pleasurable than double blading, which I also do (not very often) with my three kayaks. I would have the same opinion of single vs. double blading even if I injured myself or aged to such a degree that I couldn’t single blade any more.

However, I also believe in staying on topic. The topic here is not a paddling newbie, but an experienced kayaker asking about double blading – not single blading – an open hull. My response to this topical situation is to rhetorically ask why make such a double blade transition, and then to answer that it only makes practical sense if the experienced, multi-boat kayaker intends to engage in a new aspect of the sport that involves a lot of increased load carrying or portaging.

one doesn’t have to pack a lot of gear or portage often to enjoy the benefits of a lighter, deckless boat.

Glen and Dave
perhaps all would be better served if we found out from the original poster what their concerns were…

“not sure I will like this” to me (and perhaps erroneously) suggests that the OP is wondering about tracking or perhaps boat fit or the ability to carve turns. In order to address the question we have to put the OP concerns first. And at this point I am not sure what they might be…

Knowing that both of you are experienced capable paddlers with a broad knowledge base…living near each other…I trust you will not engage in vehicular jousting that is so prevalent in your neck of the woods.

We all have pulpits to preach from but first maybe we better know our audience.

Another advantage

– Last Updated: Sep-19-12 7:05 AM EST –

Another big advantage of a canoe with a high seat which is seldom mentioned,is that it is much easier to get in and out of if the launch is a dock or not a shallow wade in.It is much harder to get your feet under you and get out onto a dock,shore or liftover when you are sitting on the bottom. The sit on the bottom canoe paddlers have almost as much trouble as kayakers on most group paddles I am on.
I dubble paddling kneeling when my shoulder or arms problems demand it,but prefer single for all of Glen's reasons.

I emailed the OP.

vehicular jousting?

– Last Updated: Sep-19-12 12:26 PM EST –

No vehicular jousting for me. I'm still completing the outfitting of my new CR-V after "vehicular jousting" with an adult deer trashed my Rav4 in June. Also, Glen has never hinted at any such inclination in the multitude of his posts I've enjoyed reading over the years. I think the roads of CT will not be endangered by us.

An advantage of seats hung from gunnels (as vs. sit-on-bottom seats) is that from that higher position you can read the water better for rocks. I've ran into rocks a few times in my Rapidfire that I believe I would have seen if paddling some of my former canoes while kneeling instead of sitting near the bottom.

Following Kim's suggestion and returning to the original topic, the only way to find light (therefore expensive) pack canoes is to haunt the classifieds for a few months. Keep an open mind on the exact model, test paddle it before buying and buy used.