First canoe

I started shopping for a canoe and came across this site. I’m impressed with the tons of great info here, so this would seem to be a good place to go for advice.

The initial intended purpose would be to take kids (ages 7-13) on short trips on fairly calm rivers and small lakes and for fishing. At this point I don’t know how much use it will get, so I can’t see spending more than $500 or so.

Most new canoes for that price are heavy, plastic and look slow so I don’t really care for them. After looking around a bit, I’m considering 2 options. One would be a new Old Town Guide 147. The other option is a used Sawyer guide special, which I’m leaning toward. The sawyer may be a little big (18’) and it is about 30 years old, but it looks to be in decent shape and from what I read, it has a good reputation.

Am I missing something, or do my thoughts make sense?

Thanks, Rob

you thought about going on to Craig’s List to source a canoe? You’d be very surprised at the quality of canoe that you’d be able to find for short money

trade off
The sawyer will probably be too long for river floating. The OT will be slow on the lakes. Keep in mind that I have never owned either canoe, but I would look for something in the 16 foot range to bridge the gap. I grew up with a Wenonah Echo. It was 16.5 feet long and worked well for both circumstances. Check out a livery close to you. The will probably have rental boats for sale. I own a Dagger Reflection that I bought from the livery I now work at. It is a 15.5 foot Royalex boat that handles the local rivers well. I have not had it on a lake yet.

I have checked craigslists within a couple hundred miles. Where would an Old Town Camper rate?


Re 18 Footers

– Last Updated: Jun-16-08 11:44 PM EST –

We have one - an Oneida - and it's a fine canoe. As noted above, it won't turn on a dime and give you back a nickel's change, but it tracks wonderfully in the wind and is one of the fastest canoes we've ever paddled. We did a lot of paddling in it with our two daughters when they were children, and it handled four people, a small dog and light camping gear with aplomb. The friend we bought it from also did a lot of heavy-duty salt water paddling using that canoe. I sure wouldn't write that Sawyer off on the basis of its length alone...
There's four reviews in the Product Reviews section...folks who've had them for a long time seem to like 'em...

I would keep looking around
The OT is too small, and I wouldn’t want a 30 year old 18 foot one unles it was in great shape.

Your best bet for your use is one either 16 or 17 feet long, and you say you don’t want “heavy plastic slow looking”, which to me translates to composite, wood,or royalax and I think you will have to end up paying a few hundred dollars more than you have budgeted.

One possibility is to search for a used Old Town Penobscot 16, but they are few and far between for $500.




– Last Updated: Jun-17-08 12:38 PM EST –

The Old Town Camper would be a fine boat for the kind of paddling you've described.

Kebs, we easily paddled an 18.5’,
built-for-speed-and-heavy-water, Moore Voyageur down Juniper Creek in Florida. We even turned that battleship up the little arm leading to the second spring.

Planning and execution are more important than length in “technical” maneuvers. I’d advise a 17’, but I see no reason why they should pass up a buy on an 18’ Sawyer.

bell northwind?
i just listed my 16.5 Bell Northwind in royalex for sale. It’s about 64 lbs and I used it for the same thing. Now my kids are older and the young ones don’t have much interest anymore. I’m looking for a solo canoe or fishing kayak. Check the classifieds for my ad if your interested.

Yeah, you can paddle an 18 footer in moving water. I have had my Minn 2 in class 1 and up many a creek while paddling lakes. However, I would not want to do it on a regular basis if I have the option of a shorter canoe. Plus, the OP said First Canoe. Why try to learn starting at adisadvantage.

…a few cents worth…
You can’t look solely at the pricetag without KNOWING the canoes that you’re reading thru in the classifieds.

I’m just gazing over at the Classifieds here on and I’m seeing:

fiberglass Lamoille (MadRiver)

Jensen 17 (Wenonah)

18’6" Jensen (Wenonah)

15’ NovaCraft Bob (05’)

…several MadRiver Explorers…

Man, those are not “the bottom of the barrel” boats…

…as JackL mentioned, the P16 is a good canoe. Just a $.01 opinion…if you get to tandem demo it, get a hold of some foam and paddle it kneeling…with bow paddler coming back from the seat position…it’ll be a lot more stable & relaxfull tandem that way…


…I haven’t heard you mention anything about these…??

*You really should go out and paddle a few…if you can. I haven’t seen you

The Camper is made for camping,
and works best with a payload from 550 pounds up.

Less than that, when a wind picks up, you’ll go with it.

Check into the Old Town Still Water series of canoes.

I haven’t considered many of the canoes in the classifieds here because of their location. I’m in central PA and have been looking at canoes within a couple hours from me that I would be able to look at when picking up. There are few listings in the classifieds here for PA or anywhere close. I haven’t actually checked any shipping rates, but I would guess that would add a few hundred dollars to the cost.

I mentioned the Sawyer and Camper because from what I’ve read, they seam to be of good quality and there each within driving distance (about 3 hours away).

I do appreciate everyone taking time to offer advice. Thanks.

Near Harrisburg?
Craigs list has at least one MR Explorer, and an Old Town Discovery 169 in your price range. If those are too heavy, I see another Old Town in Kevlar (no model given) that looks good. You’re lucky - there’s a lot more available in used boats in your area than in mine.

BTW - I wouldn’t shy away from a Camper if the price is right, but comments about them being blown about by the wind when running light are spot-on. Other than that - it’s an easy boat for a beginner to get comfortable in.

2 hours to Harrisburg
I don’t see an Old Town in Kevlar. Did you mean the Mad River 16’ fiberglas listing? Also I see a Discovery 164 not a 169. Maybe they’re similar.

Just based on what I’ve researched and read, I hadn’t considered any of these listings to be better than the Sawyer or Camper. Should I?

Ooops! My mistake…

– Last Updated: Jun-17-08 11:21 PM EST –

The kevlar OT was actually one I looked at here in Idaho. Columbia model, and I wish I knew more about it. (Phone call coming up ;-) )

I don't know if the 164 is different from the 169 (also, my bad), but the price was in your range and I bet you can get it down. Compared to the Camper, it is heavier - but I don't have the experience to say more about it.

Point is - you should be able to find a good deal with a little patience.

Just for what it's worth, I found both canoes I have right now (OT Camper and Wenonah Fisherman) on Craigs list. Both were less than $600 and were in almost-new condition. Both are good beginner canoes, IMO. Both are royalex and both under 60lbs. But both are probably a little on the slow side and susceptible to being blown about by the wind when lightly loaded. The Fisherman is considerably easier to paddle solo and is less of a problem in the wind and/or waves, but it's not the boat for three people of any size IMO.

You live in a region with more canoe activity than I - so if you watch both the classifieds and craigs list, I bet you can find a decent canoe with just a little patience.

BTW - I would be a little uncomfortable about a 30yo canoe, unless it's aluminum.

Also, BTW - I had the chance to compare my Camper briefly with the longer Guide (not the 147) and came away with the impression that that guide model at least may be faster, although heavier, than the Camper.

edit: BTW2 - I'm gettin' up there in years too (although not as much), so I think about weight quite a lot. But now that I've had some time with paddle & pole in hand and car-topping canoes, I'm re-thinking the weight issue. If money is tight, one can do worse than sacrificing light weight for hull performance, IMO. There are tricks to handling the weight - so long as rough portaging isn't in the mix. And most of those heavier boats don't seem to mind being dragged across the beach or having gun'ls slid across a roof rack.