Help!Canoe both solo and tandem paddlin?

I’m looking for canoe recommendations. I’m looking for a canoe that can be used for both solo and tandem paddling.I’ll be using it in slow rivers, lakes, flats, and bays. It will be used 50/50%,(tandem mostly with my 5 year old)but tandem with another adult will be a handfull of times a year. I’m looking for a lighter weight, and preferabaly shorter canoe, with stability and some speed(I know thats asking a lot). Would like to do overnights with my 5 year old, occasional short day trips with another adult. Any info. welcome.



Here are a couple
Nova Craft:


Bob’s Special




Solo Plus (depends on how much weight you intend to put in it)

There are a bunch of other options but this should get you started.

Combi Canoes

– Last Updated: Mar-18-08 1:05 PM EST –

Combi's mostly do not work well. Imagine combining a chef's knife with a felling axe. If wide enough to provide flotation and stability for two they are almost always too wide for one to paddle effectively.

That said;

The Nova Craft Pal and Hemlock Eaglet are the narrow versions, ~ 33in, you might look into. The Eaglet is nicely tumblehomed, which will help.

Next size up might be the Pb StarFire at 34" wide. Again tumblehomed, this is a high performance hull w/ 3" rocker at both ends. Not for entry paddlers.

Swift's Mattawa is a dedicated tandem that, with a kneeling thwart replacing the third thwart is OK solo.

Bell's NorthStar will be way better than Morning Star, again with a kneeling thwart replacing the third. NS is 34.5" wide, MS is 36" wide. Both have tumblehome, but which will be more easily reached around?

Top end hulls? Loon Works makes a both the Pal ands Duet in cedar and aircraft dacron.

The Wenonah Solo Plus is nice and reasonably light in most layups. It has a relatively low profile which is nice for the flats/bays situations you mentioned.

Not the most manuverable when paddled solo but its not a barge either. With 16’6’ the glide is good and it cruises fairly easily and quickly. It has capacity for overnighters, but its not a camping canoe.

A 3 seater Malachite
is the first canoe I ever paddled solo. It responded well and was easy to paddle. I’d get one or the Solo Plus for a good either-or compromise

A few
I’d consider a Nova Craft Bob Special, a 15’ Prospector made by any reputable canoe mfr., a Bell Morningstar,or a Wenonah Aurora, or Wenonah Solo Plus

Penobscot 16 RX
An Old Town Penobscot 16 in a Roylax layup is a great craft for 2 or one. I use it on the Potomac solo from the bow. It is quick with correct technique, it turns easily, its light to cartop or portage (58ib) solo, good initial and great secondary stability.


– Last Updated: Mar-19-08 10:01 PM EST –

In addition to the very good options presented in previous posts (the Bob, which I use much as you describe, and Pal being particularly nice) I have a suggestion that showed up at Canoecopia that seems to fit your criteria well. Wenonah has totally redesigned their Escapade, a boat that was originally meant to be a tandem that could occasionally be soloed from a center seat (as opposed to the Solo Plus, which is a solo that can ocassionally be paddled tandem.) The new design, with its greater tumblehome, looks to be a MUCH improved boat. Check it out if you can. Rutabaga should have at least one in stock.

solo - tandam
Just wanted you to know I am a solo Canoe guy who Canoe’s with a bunch of solo canoe guys…I had not tandem canoed in seven years until last spring on a 19ft grumman for a river clean up… any way … Most of us are big boys… older big boys 50+ with lots of paddling experience… we make our own rules and follow our own solo paths and I would encourage you to do the same… the small guys can do the canoes designed for solo canoeing… like the guide but big guys who want do do expedition type canoeing… river canoe camping… hunting… dogs… I would recommend a tandem canoe remade for solo… like the 16-1/2 ft old town Panobscot… royalex… that is a great tandam canoe and fairly easy to solo from turning the canoe around and paddleing out of the bow…they also make a solo seat that is easy to take in and out… the canoe can take a beating…If I was going to buy a brand new canoe there is one made of a new light material by Esquif… a company out of Canada … it is called the Mistral…it is canoe to dream about… I current solo in a Canadienne 20 years old… rigged for solo 17 fiberglass…

The other thing we do… is we are into comfort… so we take what we want in gear and food… most of the canoes I mentioned have over a 800lbs capacity… and when you load five year old… you… food … gear and head out its nice to have the capacity… finally I would recommend if you go solo… get a kayak paddle… all of us carry a kayak paddle and canoe paddle… at the very least into a head wind in a lake or wide river you will have a more comfortable paddle most of us alternate back and forth…it will be nice to have in case the five year old gets tired too…

so you know I am 55 … paddleing rivers and lakes and camping on them from when I was ten or so …in rocky midwest rivers… led many trips to the boundary waters and quetico … the buffalo… the current … the 11pt… so my opinion comes from that back ground…

Old Guys Rule… have fun with your five year old! Pass on the way of the paddle!


A “shorter” canoe…
…A shorter boat is rarely more stable than a longer one.

thanks for all the info.,great site.