Experienced canoeists , been asked

before but it beats talking about TV.

I’m looking for a canoe that tracks well, turns easily, and doesn’t act like a weathervane in the wind.

Good forward speed , but isn’t the Queen Mary to turn.BTW, I am 6’5" tall and weigh 235.

This may start a debate but…
I paddle a Mad River clone that has a shallow-vee hull (helps in tracking) with slight rocker (for maneuverability) and is 16’ 8" L.O.A. with a 34" beam (helps in carrying everything I need for a minimum two week expedition. If I forage I can stretch that to two months. I can stand while fishin’, walk around in her (when I’m traveling with bare minimum gear)and push-pole her when I’m in the shallows and want to take a break from paddlin’. I’m 6’3" and weigh 170#. I’m lighter than you but I think the hull design will work for you. I’ve had mine through class-2 rapids and 8’ swells in the Gulf of Mexico and never worried about her letting me down. I swear by this hull design. I hope this helps.

What is a Mad River clone?

The Bell Magic is the first boat that comes to mind.

try a 38 special
or a Merlin. You have seen how my Merlin does. It tracks,turns, handles winds fairly well and if you stretch her out 3.8% she should hold you and and a dog.

Agreed on the Magic
Over the years people have ask me the same question and it always comes back to the Magic. A little bit of rocker and low shear make for good handling even in high wind, good stability, enough volume for tripping, and fantastic speed is as good as it gets…for me anyway. I’ve sold all my other boats and will stick with the Magic until someone comes up with a boat that will do more for the type of lake and river paddling I do. The only thing it won’t do well is white water. But my thing is river camping and lake paddling so It’s the perfect boat for that. Others here will tell you it’s a perfect Boundary waters boat too. I’ll never own another tandem canoe…they suck!

At your height and size
I can’t suggest anything, but I can offer:

If you would like to try my Jensen 17, ultralight we can put the center seat back in it and you could try it solo.

When I bought it, it was billed as the fastest rec canoe available that could be paddled either solo or tandem.

I tried it solo on several occasions, but at 5’-9" I am too small for it solo

The second one you could try is my Penobscot 16. there again we can take the center thwart out and put a center seat in.

I know several of the taller guys have them outfitted for solo for down river racing.



weathervaning is a trim issue
Any boat will do it if the trim is not there. In those conditions I carry small empty tide bottle that I can fill with water and move it fore or aft. Then, the only weathervaning is what you intentially induce.

I think a primary issue with the Voyager
is that I am not nearly the load it was made to carry.I need to figure out how to get an extra 200 lbs in it. I used sand bags at one time but didn’t like the thought of sinking it.Still thinking about how to use water.

yea, I almost forgot you have a Voyager
I guess it’s more of a boat-as-a-sail issue.

I think you’d probably like the Magic a lot.

Dagger Reflection 15
I don’t believe Dagger makes this model any more, but maybe you could find it used.

I think this canoe would meet your requirements perfectly. It’s a tandem, but it’s a great solo canoe as well (I used mine solo 95% of the time). I passed mine on to my son when I got into kayaking and he love’s it as much as I did.

I am about the same size.
Although I have never paddled one I have the Grasse River Classic XL on my short list.

Stance in boat
First question: Do you mostly kneel or sit if using a single paddle, or do you want to sit lower and use a double blade stick?

Second question - what kind of water do you paddle? Lakes? Rivers? Rocky Rivers?

Dagger Reflection 15
A second vote for this great boat.

I’m 6’2" weighing in at 225 and this boat handles my size just fine.

It’s not Merlin or a Magic, then it again it’s not $2,000 plus. I use the Reflection on lazy rivers or lakes when I don’t want ot worry at all about stability. My boat came with three seats and is occasionally used tandem. It goes from docile lap dog to unwieldy beast if overloaded. Read overloaded as 500 to 600lbs.

Mine is 10 years old and going strong. If you can find one on the used market it wouldn’t be a mistake to buy.

I’ll say Bell Magic too
And as NT noted I will tell you the Magic is a fantastic Boundary Waters Boat. Carries me (5’ 11", 200lbs), Greydog (45 lbs), and a weeks gear. Handles as much rough water as I would want to be in in a canoe, good speed, and stable enough to catch 40-inch pike out of.


Assuming solo and up to class II
The Swift Raven was ideal, no longer in production but you could compare specs. I would NOT recommend the Wenonah Solo Plus.

my take
Before jumping in here, I have to accept several concepts:

First- no single canoe, not even the best compromise designs do both things well (track and turn)

Second-what kind of water are we talking here? Lake, twisty creek, above class I or II ?

Here’s what I choose ( pre-Lake Placid Boats)

Above class II creeks- Daggar Rival

Class I and lower creeks- Bell Wildfire- black and gold layup

Lakes- Bell Magic

If I had to pick one only it would be either the Bell Wildfire or the Magic, but the Magic only with training in maneuvering all the way through Freestyle Open Canoe. You might be a tad bit large even for these.


Vagabond is Voyager’s alter-ego in wind.
I paddled a royalex version a couple weeks ago on a lake with a bit of a breeze and small chop and it handled the wind great compared to the royalex Wildfire and kevlar Mad River Slipper and Independence that I also paddled in the same conditions that day. To be fair with the MR Independence and Slipper, I didn’t adjust the sliding seat for trim in my test paddle of those two boats, I left them in the position that the owners had them in, so my test paddles of them may have been more favorable if trimmed properly. The Vagabond was outfitted with the adjustable seat brackets and the seat was in it’s lowest position for my test paddle

I’m 5’6" 155 lbs and I sold the Voyager that I bought just a couple weeks after I bought it because of the ill effects of even the slightest breeze with my small load in it. The Vagabond, on the other hand, was very predictable and easy to turn into the wind or away from the wind. A much different animal. Of course, the Vagabond has a lower top end speed in calm conditions, but much of the speed advantage of the Voyager is lost in windy conditions because of the immense effort required to keep the Voyager on track. The effort in the Vagabond can be directed to forward strokes rather than corrective strokes and struggling when there’s a breeze. The composite Vagabond can be purchased with the sliding seat option so it would be similar to the Voyager in that respect, but It Vagabond may not be a large enough boat for someone your size.


The paddle that I liked best in the Vagabond was another paddler’s straight shaft Zaveral Medium - that was a nice combo.

what is wrong with your Malecite? nm

Solo verse tandem paddled solo
Malecite is one of the finest short class tandems ever designed. That sid, it is a tandem, not a solo canoe.

It is too wide for most to get both hands stacked up across the ondise rail.

If paddled Canadian style; heeled down, the ow planes deflect the hull away from the heel, requiring the ineffeciency of more J correction, and all hope of cross strokes disappears - we can’t even see water past the high, offside, rail.

So yes, Malecite can e paddled solo, but not with the full range of strokes/heels/ pitches that make solo canoeing a finesse sport.