Going solo

-- Last Updated: Apr-13-15 10:03 PM EST --

Divorced and sold the house so I have a little cash to spend and decided to get a solo canoe. I love my MR Explorer, but my new house is in a lake community and it's a bit heavy to lug the 200 yards or so to the lake and as I'm getting a bit older it's becoming more of a chore to load on the roof for solo excursions.

I'm 240 lbs and plan to use it for a variety of things. Mostly fishing and 2-4 day camping trips along with the occasional river trip. Smaller rivers with little above class II and something that will keep up with my kayaking friends when we hit the water for pleasure paddles.

I've read some good things about the Placid Rapidfire and it seems right in my wheelhouse as far as its capabilities. It's on the pricy side though (I can afford it but would rather go cheaper if I can) and apparently it's not easy to get them, as it's either take the 6 hour drive up there, or pay a third party shipper.

I was wondering what other recommendations the experts may have. I also thought about the Swift Osprey, Swift Pack 13.6. I like the price point of the new Old Town Next, but there is little information out there on it. It also seems a bit on the heavy side and I suspect it may be a slower boat.

I'm also used to sitting/kneeling so a sit on the bottom will be new to me but not something I'd rule out. One thing I like about the Rapidfire is that apparently I can choose a sit on the bottom or a sit/kneel setup.

So what say everyone? If you were me, which canoe would go with?


– Last Updated: Apr-12-15 5:49 PM EST –

I love my Placidboat Rapidfire. It would be worth the trip to Lake Placid to talk to Joe and try one. Also consider the Hornbeck New Trick. I have the older hybrid Hornbeck, but if I didn't also have the Rapidfire I would take a hard look at the New Trick, or the the Osprey. Owners of both PB and Hornbeck are super guys to deal with.

You may find kneeling in the RapidFire
a bit of an experience as its only 24 inches wide at the waterline. If you are tall there is little wiggle room for your head before its outside the gunwales.

And kneelers will need to order it with a reinforcing belly band. You can ask Joe for particulars…Now if you want to sit you can order a variety of seats.

You have a huge Swift dealer just west of Hartford. Its probably worth the short ride. And they have a demo day in two weeks


Placid, Swift, Hornbeck?

– Last Updated: Apr-13-15 9:38 PM EST –

Kayamedic's post is making me rethink the the Rapidfire. I'm reasonably tall (a shade over 6 ft) and I don't want to feel as if I'm riding a bicycle so secondary stability is important to me whether I'm sitting low or on a traditional canoe seat.

I like that from what I can tell, with Swift you can readily switch out a kayak style seat with a traditional sit/kneel seat. The Osprey looks good to me but I'm at the upper end of the optimum weight range with just me. Anybody have experience with the Osprey loaded for camping and over its optimum weight recommendation? How about the Keewaydin 15? It seems to hold more and I'd be in better shape on camping trips as far as its carrying capacity. Any thoughts about that boat?

I know there is no substitute for paddling the boat myself and deciding, but unfortunately it seems that with high end canoes, there is no place in the northeast where you can gather them all together and try them out. I can take the long ride to the Adirondacks and check out the Placid and Hornbecks, but the fact that there is a Swift dealer barely an hour from me where I can demo the Osprey,Keewaydin and Pack 13.5 is something to think about.

Another factor is that I prefer to paddle on one side and use the appropriate strokes to keep the boat on course rather than "sit and switch". I'm more inclined to go single paddle, but won't rule out a boat designed for double paddles and would prefer one where I can choose one or the other depending on my mood and the expected conditions.

I'd like to be able to focus my efforts one place or another instead of driving hundreds of miles to test the boats, so any additional advice is appreciated.

What I know is…
At our weight. I weigh just a little under you. If you wish to take camping gear, fish and be light, and fast that means Kevlar composite and maybe used Royal-lite rolalex. Unfortunately that also means it cost more. Wanting to fish and light white water leaves out the fast narrow hard tracking boats. Pack mostly will not hold much more than you and are short.

What dose this leave you with? Well the Wild Fire is still being made by Colden. Hemlock canoes are making the Curtis solos. Ted Bell is back with the Northstar brand and has the Phoenix (an updated slightly longer/wider Wildfire.) Last and not least is the Keewaydin 15.

The only one I personally own is the Wild Fire. It is fast, maneuverable, light weight and for a experienced paddler stable. But at our weight would not want to put much more in it as far as gear goes. So I would look at the Phoenix and the Keewaydin 15. Both are the Wildfires bigger brothers David Yost had a hand in both their designs same as the Wildfire.

Keep looking and trying out what you can in person and get a canoe cart in the mean time for the Explorer.

I am a little confused
by the distance between Northern NJ and Collinsville CT.

It seems by visiting the largest Swift dealer in the US that this might be a good investment of 127 miles.

Many canoeists travel farther…


– Last Updated: Apr-14-15 9:52 AM EST –

CT is not an issue at all. Driving to the Adirondacks AND CT is less attractive. I prefer to go to one or the other if possible.

Its not that bad imo
but I take it you are paddling at home exclusively…maybe schedule and work makes travel less attractive.

Go get retired! Or look forward to it. Paddling Florida in May and Newfoundland in August and Maine in June and the Daks in July.

I do like my Osprey. It’s good dry boat in waves and carries a load easily. Mine hauls roughly 300 lbs on trips and I’ve never felt over loaded. It’s not fast but it eats up the miles without much effort.

I go 200 lbs and I always kneel.

I do NOT like the Osprey in a stiff tail wind and following seas. She wants to broach something awful then.

Following seas
Does any canoe do well in stiff tailwinds and following seas? I had a hell of a time paddling back from island camping on Lk George in my Exlplorer in those conditions, as did those in my group who were mostly in rented Bell Northstars

good question
most canoe designs will suffer in following waves, some more than others.

Overloading sure doesn’t help. 300 lbs in an Osprey can be too much then, and the trim should be really stern heavy too in that conditions.

RF ~ Narrow

– Last Updated: Apr-15-15 3:58 PM EST –

I believe Placid's excellent RapidFire, at max beam 27.5" to be too narrow for the OP as a sit high' kneel canoe. It is among the narrower canoes; he is among the heavier paddlers, those dots do not often connect......

As a pack canoe, Swifts 29.5" Kee 15 would be a better choice, but even 30" hulls may prove too narrow if rigged for sitting/kneeling, the latter stance being more stable.

There are four traditional solos over 30 inches in width; Nova's 32" Super Nova, Swift's 31" Shearwater and WeNoNah's 30.5" WIlderness and 31.5" Encounter. The Nova is a whitewater tripper with rounded bottom and significant and symmetrical rocker so is tippy with poor tracking. Encounter is a 17' dedicated sit and switch hull with gobs of skin friction and no rocker.

OP probably should try the remaining two, Shearwater is the more sophisticated design with shouldered tumblehome and differential rocker compared to Wilderness' low bubble sides and minimal symmetrical rocker. It's less intense build quality yields attractive pricing and WIlderness is a decent first solo canoe that pleases lots of folks.

If going to CT, best call ahead, Swift doesn't always travel with a Shearwater on the trailer, but they do have Kee 15's rigged for kneeling/sitting and low seat pack stances.


– Last Updated: Apr-15-15 10:42 AM EST –

Thanks, exactly the kind of info I'm looking for. I plan to head up to CT soon and right now I think I will demo the Shearwater, Pack 13.6 and Keewadin 15 or maybe the Keewadin 15 pack if it is available.

Hardly an expert here
but the op also wants to keep up with kayaking friends. Not sure what they’re paddling, but will a 30"+ wide canoe manage that?

Also, in the 30+" wide canoe vein, there’s a Wenonah Argosy in the classifieds. Too much rocker for the intended use?

speed difference depends
I can keep up with many kayakers in my 29" width Osprey, unless they are in the fast touring department like this one:


Do you single blade or double blade
when padding with your sea kayak paddling buddies?

I don’t think that I could single blade my Merlin II and keep up with my enthusiastically paddling sea/touring kayak paddling acquaintances.

If they were lilly dipping, that would be another matter.

I paddle my Epic 16X faster and with less effort than my Bell Merlin II whether using a single blade or double blade.


Pack 13.5
The Pack 13.5 has the same max width (27.5) and waterline width (24) as the RapidFire, as well as being 1 1/2 feet shorter, so one would think that it would be even less of an option, especially if you intend to use it for camping.

The groups I paddle with are more than accommodating of different paddling speeds, which usually have more to do with the paddler than the boat. If you take a solo canoe on a group trip with skilled sea kayakers in fast boats and they are intent on maintaining a brisk pace no matter what, then you are in the wrong group. I’m betting that the OP knows that, but just doesn’t want to be too much of a slow-poke.

now we are mixing fruit bins
why are we comparing sea kayaks to solo canoes? Only one is in the same league and that is the Placid Boatworks Shadow.

Unless you want to diverge into horsepower generated by paddler vs skin friction.

The answer to that question is …
… withing the original post, and the person I replied to brought that up as an issue of concern since nobody else had mentioned it. Note that my main idea was to suggest that it’s probably not that big of a concern.