Help me pick a canoe!

I am looking at getting a canoe after a number of years fishing/floating local Ozarks rivers in my WS Tarpons (I have a 100 and a 120). I love the yaks, but my wife is not very comfortable in them (she’s capsized several times now). I also have an 8yr old son and a 5yr old daughter. We have managed trips with the two yaks by loading the kids in the tank wells, but my son is getting too big for that to remain feasible, and he’s still too young to handle the 100 by himself. My criteria: 1) Stability (for my wife and for fishing); 2) Ability to carry all four of us in one boat; 3) Sufficient capacity for overnight trips; 4) Reasonable solo capability if I go by myself; 5) Durability (Ozarks rivers–no higher than Class II, but lots of rocks).

I have dealers in my area that carry Wenonah, Old Town, and Mad River, so I am looking primarily at these manufacturers. I have been considering the Wenonah Aurora, Kingfisher, and Spirit II, Mad River Explorer 16, Freedom 17, and Legend 16, and the Old Town Camper 16 and Discovery 169.

Any comments/advice would be greatly appreciated (before my wife changes her mind!).

I’d go with the Sprit II
For what you’re describing you’ll want a 17 footer. But, don’t expect to camp out of it with four people. You may have to bring at least one of your yaks along too.

Good luck!

18 ft for 4
I would look at the wenonah Champlain, 18 ft and stable yet paddles well for a big tripper. This was the kid hauler for several years, still use it a lot for fishing out of with friends. With 4 people about all you can really expect to do is day trips, maybe an overnighter.

Check out Old Town Canoe Co. …
… I think you will want a larger canoe with 2 adults and 2 kids . The Tripper 172 is Rolalex@ at 80 lbs., and the Tripper XL is 20’ at 105 lbs.

The Trippers are Expedition class canoes that have a mild arch bottom , extremely stable and high capacity load haulers , high volumn canoe .

I’m not sure you will find a canoe that is suitable for your family of 4 and still be a good solo canoe as well . There’s nothing wrong with a 20’ canoe as long as you don’t think it’s suppose to be a nibble little speed boat . The Tripper might be a good choice for you .

Surprised by the comment re: your son
I don’t know him, of course, but many 8 year olds are able to paddle their own kayak. You know him best and will surely take the most informed decision. But, you may want to give him a try on flat-water with a safety paddler nearby.

  • Big D

You’re right, Big D!
On further reflection, I think my son is ready to handle the Tarpon 100. I’ll get him some practice on a local pond before hitting moving water. I also discovered that our local paddling group does some on-the-water instruction as well.

And the clincher was that I found a smokin’ deal on an Emotion Grand Slam Angler that I just couldn’t pass up, so we will remain a kayaking family.