I have searched the forums for hours about suggestions for a family canoe and they were all for 2 adult families. So I figured I’d post this here as it hasn’t really been addressed in the past. I am looking to get a canoe for the family (kids aged 7, 5, and 3) to start using while car camping, as well as introducing them to wilderness tripping - something I grew up doing and where my heart lays. I have lots of canoe experience but my children do not. Because they do not have much experience, and no second adult to stern, I am not willing to get two small canoes. I am considering one larger canoe for now and then later down the road getting something smaller for solo/tandem use.
I have been considering a 17 prospector (swift or nova craft), 17.5 prospector (Souris River), Quetico 17 or 18.5 (souris river), 18 prospector (nova craft), 16’6” prospector (holy cow) and a 17’4” explorer (holy cow canoe) all with 3rd seat options. I’m still undecided on materials for each. I’m leaning more towards a Kevlar or tough stuff, maybe blue steel.
Any thoughts, comments, or suggestions?
Check out Hellman Cruiser or Slocan (if rivers are a likely feature of your tripping).
Clipper has a couple of models worth considering too.
I wouldn’t go for Kevlar unless essential for the weight. The kids will soon learn to paddle so something built to be knocked around a bit would be best.
I have an Old Town Penobscot 17 in Royalex that I got to use with my husband, got our 1 kid started with backcountry camping, and now that hubby isn’t camping due to a new disability, it’s just my 9yo and I using it. I LOVE it. It’s indestructible and fits as much as we can throw in it, whether it’s 2 adults, 1 kid, and gear, or just the kid and me. It is heavy though, so I wouldn’t be portaging it myself on anything longer than a short hop, but I’ve worked out a way to be able to load & unload it on the car by myself.
I personally wouldn’t go shorter than 17’. With 3 growing kids, I’d suggest going as long as you can store and lift.
As for materials, I have no experience with steel. Kevlar is of course wonderful for weight, but getting in & out with kids on rocky shores won’t be easy, and I’d worry about damage to the hull. You can teach them to make sure it’s floating before getting in, but will you want to go in the fall when you don’t want to get your feet wet? With my Royalex, it just doesn’t matter. Hope that’s helpful!