Ideal Canoe for Adirondack Lakes?

We are going to be spending the summer at Lake George in the Adirondacks. Driving out from California, and planning to purchase a canoe when we get there. Curious to know what canoe y’all might recommend! We will be using it as follows (in order of frequency)…

  1. Myself (225lb), my wife (150lb), sometimes with our dog (60lb)
  2. Myself solo (with or without dog)
  3. Low-key fishing out in the lake
  4. Very occasionally myself, my son (260lb), and camping gear (40lb)

    Won’t be doing any river paddling, just lakes. It can get breezy/choppy but generally calm. This will be a long-term purchase so I’d like something that performs as well as possible, is durable, and is easily transported/portaged. Cost matters, of course, but I don’t mind paying for quality as long as it is a sensible value.

    Other details… we are 55 yrs old, kids are grown, we also paddle Epic V8 surf skis (which will be making the trip with us).

    Any advice/suggestions? Thanks in advance!

A wenonah Jensen 18 out of kevlar
or a Wenonah Minn II out of Kevlar

Jack L

Spirit II
Great boat, but might catch the wind a little.

Get the sliding bow set.

Adirondack region =pack canoe

– Last Updated: Apr-15-16 6:29 PM EST –

Bring a trailer and some money.

Must visit Placid Boatworks in Lake Placid, Adirondack Canoe Company in Minerva, Hornbeck in Olmestedville, Swift sells through Adirondack Lakes and Trails in Saranac Lake and Mountainman in Saratoga, Colonie and and Raquette Lake

Wenonah is at St Regis Outfitters. Floodwood Rd outpost or Saranac Lake NY and Mountainman and Racquette Lake Outfitters ( Tupper Lake)

Souris River also at St Regis Outfitters.

Have a fun two or three days canoe shopping.

You may not wind up buying two pack canoes but try them out.. A hoot and just about 25 lbs each.

Wenonah Champlain
Lake George can get big waves and there is much boat traffic. So I can’t go along with JackL and his favorite 18’Jensen or the Minnesota II. They just don’t have the volume or depth for large people + dog on a big lake. The MinnesotaII is a very popular boat for fast tripping and can handle big water, but its stern is not deep enough for a large stern paddler in rough following waves to have a margin of safety. This is the very purpose that the Champlain was designed to handle; and the lake it was named after is bigger than Lake George. Kayamedic’s recommendation of pack canoes pretty much leaves the dog ashore, the 260# son will be pushing the weight limit on a pack canoe and not be very seaworthy at his weight. But find the dealers Kim recommended and paddle them all. Your skill and comfort level will guide you.


Lake George is not calm

– Last Updated: Apr-20-16 8:04 AM EST –

It is a long skinny lake, and when the wind is blowing out of the south it can have a long fetch. We have bobbed and weaved back in sea kayaks thru stuff that the boats were not overkill for.

I have to suggest that you either stay with smaller lakes and tributaries, or go for the more substantial craft suggested by one of the other paddlers.

One note - if you decide to explore a lot of canoeing well into the Adirondack Mountains, you will find that many of the more interesting routes involve some portage. That is one reason that the canoe still has a major presence in those lakes compared to longer kayaks.

I don’t have a jensen 18 Bill
mine is 17

I wish Red Cross Randy who is a heavy weight would chime in here and tell how good his boat handles those lakes

jack L

I have an Odyssey
and with a stern paddler of that weight and a load of gear for ten days it does fine on Lake Superior.

The stern is cut down like the MNII and but the bow depth and flare is more. Looks just like MN from fish eye view.

We uh paddled around Lake George in it quite a few years ago

The main problem we have in seas with a Kevlar boat of that length is it tends to twist with waves so that the two ends that are pinned with your weight feel unstable.

Add the dog and you may have an interesting mix. Usually the solo pack canoes do just fine but the Ohneka( a tandem ) would be overloaded I fear. The solos… not .RapidFire easily handles a big guy and dog on big lakes. But that is two craft. Solo pack canoes tend to bob over waves just like kayaks do.

You may have a hard time finding stock of exactly what you want.

I have not visited Lake George Canoe and Kayak Co but the companies represented seem varied and there are quite a few.

Pack canoes are present along with what people from outside of the Adirondacks typically view as canoe. I would like to think LGKayak sells boats suitable for use on Lake George.

If you are into surf skis I am sure you are familiar with waves.

A few
A few ideas.

Bell Northstar

Wenonah Spirit II

Swift Keewaydin 17

Nova Craft Cronje

Northstar Northwind 17 or 18

Deep Lakes 30mi+ long only look calm
to sightseers driving along the shoreline roads in automobiles. Briansnat’s list looks like a pretty good one… Use a good sized tandem and tow any solo boat behind you.

Thanks for all the tips and recommendati
Hey, thanks for all the input, this is all really useful.

I’ve been coming to Lake George for a long time (I think I was conceived here!)and trust be, I know there are many days I don’t want to be out in the canoe! Those will be surf ski days. But, I’d like to have a boat that I won’t be panicking if the wind suddenly comes up.

Also FYI, we are on the north part of the lake, which is like a different lake - much less boat traffic, and a very relaxed vibe. But I think we will be paddling a lot on smaller lakes that are a short drive away.

I’ve been to Lake George Kayak, seems like a really nice place with a good variety of boats, had a nice chat with the owner and he was super helpful. But, there is no substitute for opinions from experts on the appropriate forum!

Interesting comment
I have paddled Lake George but its been about 15 years. We paddled solo kayaks

Since we have paddled Lake Superior about ten times. Our outings in tandem canoe were far more hair raising than in solo canoes /kayaks.

The reason I think is that solo boats are far more predictable in waves.

IF you bridge two waves in tandem and have no underling support anything can happen. You have two loaded points.

In solo …one. It feels way more secure.

Speaking of Lake George…
It is the season again… happily no fatalities heard of as of this morning.

Lake George

– Last Updated: Apr-23-16 10:48 PM EST –

I did an 8 mile paddle on Lake George to an island campsite in my Mad River Explorer. Paddling there it was pretty calm but on the way back we had lots of wind and waves and I had a hard time with the Explorer in following seas. I'm an experienced paddler and seemed to be having a much tougher time than the novices in our group who were all paddling rental Bell Northstars

Seeing how well they handled even in the hands of novices sold me on that boat for a lake like George.

Lake George Kayak recently
I don’t live up there, but have family in Saratoga Springs and whenever I visit them (several times a year) in milder weather I always go up to Lake George to kayak and always stop at Lake George Kayak while up there.

But the last time I dropped in, mid August this past summer, I was surprised at the shift in their stock focus. They only have one location now, not the store that used to be in the “main street” area, The “new” store is beside the rental boathouse out past the Sagamore Hotel complex, in a smaller building than what I recalled of the previous shop. Perhaps they were winding down for the season but they seemed to have very few kayaks and canoes – the emphasis seems to be on SUP’s and the stock on hand much reduced in all categories from what I recalled from prior visits.

If you don’t arrive at LG having already purchased a boat or boats en route, you may also want to check out MountainMan, which is in downtown Saratoga Springs. They are a dealer for Wenonah, Swift, Mad River, Old Town, Radissson and Slipstream. Like LGK, they also stock used boats.

Realistically, most outfitters can’t afford to keep a wide range of stock of all models of the boats for the manufacturers that they carry. They have to rely on special orders for a percentage of purchases for people who want specific boats. If you do have the option of visiting manufacturers like We-non-nah on your way East you will have a better shot at seeing a broad variety of models than if you go to dealers.

LG owners may be easing into retirement
Ike’s parents actually owned the Sagamore, and sold that some time in the last decade or so to enjoy retirement. Ike and his wife are not young either…

If they are using that space associated with the boathouse, it is indeed small and will not support carrying a huge stock. There was another shed just beyond but that always seemed to be used and owned by the Sagamore for their owners’ and renters’ motor boats. Mountain Man or even Placid Boatworks may be a prudent stop to make, depending on the final boat choice.

I had not known the connection between the Sagamore and LGK, but it makes sense. I had wondered how their boathouse managed to be within the hotel compound.

Sadly, you spoke a bit too soon…
There was a tragedy a day after your post… involving a canoe, in fact.

Bell Northstar is now Northstar Polaris
The Bell Northstar is now being made again with a small modification in length. Northstar canoes calls it the Polaris.

Fine canoe instruction in the Adirondack
If you are in the Adirondacks in July, and are interested in some excellent canoe instruction (in your brand new boat) and canoe camaraderie, consider coming to the Adirondack Canoe Symposium. It will be held at Paul Smith’s College from July 14 - 17, concurrent with the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association Assembly. For complete information about the Symposium, please visit our website at