Looking to buy my first solo canoe, I will mostly be paddling in TX. I am currently interested in the Mohawk Probe 11 or the Rodeo and would like to know which would be better for a smaller person to get started on I-II maybe III (depending on TX weather which is unpredictable). Advice?
In my opinion, the Probe 11 would be much better suited to your needs. It would be a more predictable and drier river runner, but still nimble and responsive.
The Rodeo is a 10 1/2’ play boat, largely designed for retentive moves in holes or on waves, basically better suited for “park and play”.
Are you sure you want a whitewater boat?
I don't want to second-guess your reasoning of course, because a whitewater boat might be what will be best for you. It's worth noting though, that there are lots of people who use and enjoy a less specialized hull for Class I, II, and occasional III. If doing "trips down the river" is your goal and you need to get through the drops in a competent hull but also want something that paddles relatively efficiently otherwise, a whitewater boat may not be best choice (and it would NOT be my first choice). If you want to make the most of your chances to play around in the whitewater and don't mind a boat that is much less forgiving and easy to paddle on the flatwater stretches in-between drops, a whitewater boat might be perfect. That said, there's at least one highly skilled paddler on this site who regularly makes a point of the fact that he's mastered the art of making a whitewater canoe cruise the flats. For all I know, these rivers you'll be paddling don't require much flatwater paddling between drops. I'm just encouraging you to consider all aspects of the situation, just in case you haven't already.
Moderately skilled, anyway. Matamber
you don’t state your height and weight. Also, what have you been paddling up to now? It takes a pretty good forward stroke to enjoy even decent whitewater, because hitting eddy lines hard enough to cross them and forward ferrying are skills needed to get to even minor play opportunities, as well as for boatscouting.
Guideboatguy is correct in suggesting that there are solo canoes that cruise much better, and that even handle easy rapids and some play well. An example would be the MR Guide/Freedom Solo. But if you expect to travel with a bunch of WW paddlers, driving long distances to better WW, then you could start with a Probe 11. Just make sure it isn’t too short for your height and weight.
I don’t know about Texas, but in PA, I wouldn’t want either of the mentioned boats for I and II. Instead I’d want a Wenonah Argosy, Bell Yellowstone Solo or Mohawk Solo 14. (I use a Bell YS.) If I thought I might want to run class III on occasion, I’d probably get a Mohawk Odyssey or Mad River Freedom Solo. On the other hand, perhaps Texas whitewater is continuous with few flat stretches. If so, then perhaps a more specialized WW boat is indeed what you want. ???
Agree with scottfree about Argosy/freedo
I also think a less specialized boat like an Argosy or Freedonm Solo (I have both) would be great choices. Unless you are paddling continous whitewater runs (I really can’t think of any in Texas) it would be far more enjoyable (in my opinion) to get a boat that can “handle” the drops but paddle sweetly in-between drops.
On checking matamber’s profile, I note
that she’s a she, and might be on the light side for some of the canoes we’ve mentioned. For example, the Mad River Freedom Solo sits lightly on the water even with my 220+ pounds in it, and if matamber is lighter than that, the boat may skitter in the wind.
Maybe that’s why matamber asked about the Probe 11. Anyway, I think some smaller boat options could be in order. I wish I knew a Royalex boat smaller than the MR Freedom Solo that could dual-purpose as well, but offhand I don’t.
Mohawk Solo 13
in Royalex…not lite.
It is a good beginner all purpose boat with a FreeStyle/river slant.
It wont break the budget and will run up to class 2… after that the OP may want a more specialized boat but the money saved may mean there is still money in the bank
Argosy is volume wise a little less than the Freedom Solo…