First Canoe

I just retired, I am buying my 1st canoe. I will be most likely solo, but hoping my wife comes with me. I need a light, 2-person canoe, under $800 for still water or slow moving rivers. I am looking at the MadRiver Adventurer 14. Any suggestions?

Read the reviews

– Last Updated: Apr-30-07 8:01 AM EST –

I have the MR Adventure 16 and we love it. HOWEVER, it's very heavy, very tough to load, and neither the 14 or the 16 will be very good solo unless you sit in the center seat (eliminates the advantage of those nice seats) or put 40 lbs of weight or gear in the bow. Tough for one novice to maneuver solo as well.

As I said, I have the 16, my first canoe. I can't recommend something else for you based on experience, but I would say this one may not be right for you.

I have a
16 foot Pelican canoe that i use solo all the time. i can load it on my van and off with no problems. I think they are stable canoes but alot of people here will disagree with me on that.

look used

– Last Updated: Apr-30-07 8:02 AM EST –

and find a real canoe. When you find something post again and you'll get some good advice.

what are you saying dagger…the pelican isnt a real canoe? For a starter canoe it works great and the price is right. Granted i could go out and spend 1,000 bucks on a new canoe but why when the Pelican hasnt let me down once in 7 years. Ill never get rid of it and IF i ever do…i will buy another one. Lots of room and very stable. You dont need to spend 1,000 bucks to have a good canoe.

I agree with Dagger

– Last Updated: Apr-30-07 8:56 AM EST –

I have seen alot of Coleman/Pelican canoes in the Arctic watershed and they have a genuine role.

But its not about dissing your boat. Look at what the poster said; retired, wants to use the boat alot. Usually this means cartopping. This means lifting.

I have seen this all too often , people go for the inexpensive. Then it proves to be too heavy for them to enjoyably tote. Sometimes it does work but lets research further.

You can get a light boat for less than 1000 dollars. It does not have to be new.

There is a Mad River Express that works for tandem and solo for sale here.


– Last Updated: Apr-30-07 11:09 AM EST –

Stopped off at the "dealer demo days" after poling yesterday. There was a Swift Dumoine which lists for $1465 new, plus the $100 kevlar skid plates. A top notch canoe for big water, selling for $599. My son looked at it and said "Dad it was used 3 times." After a perusal of my own, I had to agree. Wood was absolutely mint, and a few minor scratches on the Royalite hull.If I didn't already love the one I have($900 w/kneeling thwart and kevlar strips bought as a demo) I would have bought this one in a heartbeat. My "well used" Dagger encore, completely outfitted with saddle and bags, was $200. Aarons Dagger Reflection was a demo and $400 off list. Not dissing anything, but there's a lot of good deals to be had by "acting experienced/buying experienced." Odds are you may end up with paddles and accessories if seller is getting out of paddling or is upgrading everything.Best part is you'll probably meet canoists to help you out with their experiences and observations. Still firm in my belief serious paddlers are the best people in the world.
Just looked in the P-Net classifieds. There's a Blue -hole 14' for $680 and a Dagger Legend 16' for $800, both in Va.. You can read the reviews under "product reviews". A little homework and you'll be on your way.

I can get a $27 winch to load it on my Yakima Sportsman 300 attached to my 2004 Tacoma, and a home-made cart to carry the canoe. I think I’ll probably go canoeing about 2-3 times a month. Really want to go birding from the canoe. I am reasonable health for 56. What I need to know is once I get in the water (still or slow moving), am I going to have trouble paddling it my self. I would like a light weight (less than 75 lbs) and easy-to-paddle beginner’s canoe, less than $1000.


Solo fishing, birding, exploring …
Your description of it’s planned usage suggests that you get a short to medium-sized glass (used) or royalex canoe (demo?) … and then outfit it for rowing with 6-7 foot oars off gunwale mounted sockets. It’s VERY easy to manuever a medium sized canoe with oars … which is to say that it eliminates many of the control issues novices have with paddling in varying conditions (wind, current, surf factors). I keep it simple by using a beanbag for adjustable seating and 1/2" pinned aluminum tube, plastic spoonblade oars ($100 or less). Don’t be misled into thinking that rowing has to be complicated and expensive. This is not sculling that I’m suggesting.

You might see if you can find a 16’ Wenonah Kingfisher used. That would give you a very stable platform for any activity. It easily has enough room for two (you can row from the bow seated backwards when tandem) plus gear … and it would row easily solo as well. It looks like a very versatile boat … large enough for some light to medium tripping as well. If the royalex version oil cans significantly, just brace the bottom with a strut when rowing/paddling tandem. When rowing solo using a beanbag, the bottom will maintain it’s shape due to your bodyweight on the hull bottom.

75 pounds is huge
The lighter it is, the more you’ll enjoy it. Trailers and winches would keep me from paddling. $1000 will find you a good canoe, decent paddles, and a couple vests.

Kngfisher new prices/weights
Roylex, 65 lbs, $1124

Tuff-weave, 60 lbs, $1324

In Royalex, its near your price range, but you should be able to find either at significant savings used.

Mad River Adventurer 14
This canoe like its 16’ brother is a canoe designed for the mass merchandizer/discount chain. It was meant to sell against the Pelican/Coleman and the other low end plastic canoes. It has more cupholders, better seatbacks, Mad Rivers name; stuff to help it sell, not stuff to make it a great paddling canoe.

It does paddle better than its competitors.

And better than some short fiberglass canoes. It solos best from the center seat. It will handle the water you wish to paddle and be a stable fishing or birding platform. It turns well, tracks reasonably for a 14’ canoe and its faster than the Coleman/Pelican. It does not have the depth for big waves, and the seats put tandem paddlers at the ends where they keep the ends from rising with the waves; solo this isn’t a problem. But solo you will have to fight the wind against those upturned ends for control.

Its shortcomings include the fixed center seat which is closed underneath. You can’t kneel in the center position; you can’t put a leg under the seat and one forward to vary your paddling position. The canoe is wide for a solo and the reach to the water is long; not good for keeping the paddle vertical. Best for big people with wide shoulders. It takes a lot of correction to keep on course. You will adapt, and you will get lots of exercise.

The weight is its biggest shortcoming. It is heavy. 80# is liftable and portable, but not far, and not much uphill. And the fixed center seat also blocks the installation of a yoke. The only way to carry one of these solo is to pad your head or neck and rest against the damn seat. Very bad. I tried this at a dealers so I could respond to the frequent inquiries about this canoe. Better to drag with a tractor, winch it on top of your vehicle, and congratulate yourself for being cheap. No polite way to put it.

Golfers spend up to $400 dollars at Dick’s for a single club, sneakers go for over $100 a pair, fishing reels for over $200; but people continually balk at $1000 for a canoe that will still be in service 20 years later. That’s not even $50 a year. How many of those $400 drivers will still in use 20 years from now.

My best advice to you since you do not know if your wife will be going with you, is to buy a solo you can carry easily and that is stable for your uses; and rent a good canoe when your wife gets the urge to go with you. Don’t short your solo paddling for the chance she may go sometime.

You can get started with the 14 Adventurer, like you can start driving with a Daewoo or Yugo; but it is not the best way to go.


market data
The better tandem canoes cost just under $3000. and weigh ~ 40lbs. You didn’r mention water characteristics, but off whitewater, almost anyboat over $2500 will do pretty well for starters.

A new boat at $800. is guaranteed to disappoint; on water and in the air, when you are toting it.

You probably want to have fun with your wife. At $800, look used. Look glass/kevlar or carbon/kevlar. Look ~ 16-17 feet. Good brands: Bell, Blue Water, Mad River, Swift, Wenonah among others, and in alphabetical order.

As my grampa used to say; “Charlie, always get the very best. It’ll piss you off less than anything else.”

Try, try, try before you buy is always
the best advice.

I am not selling any, but am close (in south Alexandria) and have canoes you can try. I have a 16’ solo/tandem you should try for the size.

I do not spend the time I used to hanging out here, but if and when you are ready just give me a call to see if we can set something up.



what have you paddled in the past?
…go with what works.