If you owned only three solo canoes...

If you could have only three canoes…one for river use up to class II-easier III. one for flatwater/lake travel and a third of your choice of an all arounder/general purpose canoe or whatever you’d like what would they be?

Don’t know about class III
but I keep a Bell Wildfire for class II, a Bell Magic for flatwater, and a Mad River Independence for an all around canoe. But a lot depends on your size, skill and just what you are going to take along with you. There are plenty of choices.

I think if I could only have one boat for everything it would be an SRT by Hemlock.

Mad River Guide for northeast
I had a guide for a while. It did everything! I launched it off waterfalls (with moderate success) and it was really nice in class 3 without being a whitewater boat.

I would want a bell wildfire for most everything where it wasn’t really shallow.

An all-around solo canoe (which isn’t a solo canoe) would be a wood-canvas bob-special. Classic and fun to play in.

my canoes …
I don’t about three. I wouldn’t mind a Crozier C-1 racing canoe and one of the Kruger solo canoes.

A 17 foot wood canvas Chestnut Prospector

A 16 foot Old Town Wood Canvas Ideal - a surprisingly speedy boat.

The third might be a 15 foot wood canvas Bob’s Special, but I won’t know until spring when the rehab is finished.


3 solos
Given I try to stay off lakes and prefer rivers, my choices are the Mad River Indy, 15.8, for all around use including class II and poling. You can learn much from finessing this boats thru white water. Good on very shallow water.

The Mad River Traveller, 16.6 in kevlar is my choice if I could have only one boat as it covers all the Indy can do but is great in big waves and open water. Good feeling of efficiency in both older MR boats.

In love with the kevlar Sawyer DY Special as it is fast and stable and can handle some good waves. Flat water is where most would use this boat but it does well thru classII with good water reading skills. Wenonah sliders in both the Traveller and Sawyer allow perfect trim.

Wonder about the Wenonah Prism compared to the Traveller. Wenonah solo Encounter converts to a great tandem and would be high on someone’s list of big lake boats.

Just three…darn!

Left out a critical condition or two Boo

You did not say for tripping (loaded) or day paddling (empty). I like my boats either on the edge (close to max weight for the conditions) or extra large with lots of capacity and comfort. Intermediate is just a compromise and little fun. We are here to have fun, aren’t we!!!

Also important, very important is the weight of the paddler. The boats I am recommending were tested, abused ;^) at paddler weight of 180 and between 200 and 220 pounds.

A few years back I would never have taken a little boat, so close to being swamped into fun places. Then I met and asked a few questions of experienced paddlers like; Bradford, Wilson, Jacobson, Cooke, Kruger, and the like. One of the things I learned is that being overly safe is no fun at all! Now water flowing over the gunwales just behind the seat is just an indicator that I am having a fantastic time pushing the edge. It is a whole lot safer pushing the edge in a small canoe in class II, lower III than paddling something big, overly safe and needing to look for big IIIs and IVs to get the same thrills.

My choice of solo for class II-easier III: “Empty” is hands down the FlashFire!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you Charlie, Cliff, and Dan!!! The Flash really shined when a white water instructor friend took her into mid class III! He said it was a lot more fun than his Mohawk Probe at that rapids, but that Flash was maxed out as well where the Probe was just coming into her own. Loaded I trust my WildFire to do the job as it did on a two week over packed trip down rapids. (“Empty” I still carry up to 30 pounds of gear.)

For flat water/lake calm travel. I would never plan to do just this type of paddling. If that were all there was I would be sailing or, God forbid I ever get that bored paddling, racing. Do I have such a boat as you are looking for here? Yep, just so happens I do, an 18 foot Penn Yan. One of THE classic rib, plank, and canvas beauties of yesteryear. She is in permanent storage as I treat canoes rough. What do I use for this type of paddling? Empty I mainly use my Placid BoatWorks RapidFire which puts much pleasure back into flatwater boring paddling. More than most any other boat. This boat was conceived and built for fun solo speed!!! Also empty a Sawyer Loon. Loaded a Kruger Sea Wind. Kind of like the flat water sports car and the high speed truck of my fleet. Superior Canoe’s new boat (still waiting a name) would fit in here and do very, very well, especially at the upper end of loaded.

I really do not like this category as “all arounder/general purpose” means compromises all around too. These boats do ok at almost everything, but excite at nothing. My Souris River Quetico 16 solo/tandem fits in here. As does the Sawyer, Kruger, and Superior Canoe entries that do very well at covering all, but are boring in most modes here.

Hummm … which three canoes? … Sorry, just can’t get it down to three. But did I answer your question anyway?



only three?
OK my three;

Mad River Outrage for Class II to IV rivers.

Swift Osprey for all around fun.

Hmmm… a lake boat?

Hemlock Perigrine

…or Wenonah Voyager

…or Bell Magic

Well I’ve got the first two :slight_smile:


Three solos…
I am down to two boats now. A Bell Merlin II and a Flashfire. I swapped boats with McWood at an Ozark Rendezvous (his Flashfire) and just had to have one. I drove from Indiana to Oak Orchard in New York just to get it. They are rather scarce. I love it. Now the Merlin only gets to go when hauling a load for canoe camping. If I were to get a whitewater boat, I really liked TheBob.com’s Mohawk Probe II.

The Big Three…mmmm…
Bell Magic for flatwater, day trips or multi-days, used mine in the BWCA this year for 7 days.

Swift Shearwater for bigger rivers, day or multi-day. This boat really excels carrying a good load.

Paddled the MR Freedom Solo and really like the feel, might have to give it a nod for WW but would need to paddle it loaded before deciding.

New aspect, my Lab pup is now 5 mo. and 45#, starting to consider what boat for him, me and gear…might be my Hemlock Eagle for that kind of weight. ;o)

Happy New Year!


Pretty Tricky (as Paul Mason always said

– Last Updated: Dec-31-05 5:14 PM EST –

Wha Ho, Pilgrims;

Pretty tricky question.... hummm. Solo.... ok

Wish I had a Bell Magic for touring, a W/C Chestnut Fort (prospector)- paddled solo for river running - and for WW ?? (jury still out for that one). But since I don't have any of these, I'll pick the boats I actually have and use most in my rack.

Touring - MR F/G Independence.

River running - MR Guide or with a heavy load Wenonah 16' Prospector.

White Water - Mohawk Probe 12 (Just got it, so I can only compare it to my old Dagger Encore).

Fat Elmo

I could use my MR Guide for both
general purpose and easy WW, and pick up a Wenonah Advantage or Prism for lakes.

my 3
Novacraft Supernova

Bell Magic

Swift Osprey