I am looking for an inflatable canoe for a flat water fishing trip to Alaska next summer. Some of my requirements that have led me to an inflatable canoe are:
1.) Has to be dry, the water in Alaska gets cold and I don’t want to be sitting in it.
2.) A canoe allows you to sit higher up which makes it easier for fishing.
3.) Must be large enough for me, my wife and our dog.
4.) Must be light enough to carry to the lake, maybe a mile or more in some cases.
5.) Has to fit in the back of my truck, I will be pulling a travel trailer and a rack to carry a hard shell canoe isn’t going to cut it, plus I don’t want it hanging over the front of the truck for 10,000 miles.
Right now I am leaning towards a Soar S12 or S14, the Aire Traveler or the Sea Eagle Travel Canoe. I think the Sea Eagle is relatively new and I haven’t been able to find any real world reviews of one. I haven’t been able to find any of these boats in the local stores in and around Colorado so I could see them first hand let alone paddle one.
The Sea Eagle seems like it might be the most efficient to paddle on flat water, but I am a little nervous about the brand, maybe I shouldn’t be. They do give you a 180 day trial.
I love the warranty on the Aire but at 70 pounds it might be a bit tough to carry very far.
I like the weight of the Soar S12 but worry that it might be a bit small.
I don’t plan on paddling any of them for miles on end, maybe 2 or 3 at the most and I am not going to be doing any over night trips with them. It is mostly to just get out on the water to make it easier to fish. The last trip we did to Alaska we were really restricted as to what we could fish from the shore.
We have some experience with a hard side canoe that we currently own and it makes a good fishing platform for us. We have taken the dog out in it several times so no worries there. The dog can get a bit rambunctious when you catch a fish so I guess stability is important too.
So I guess I am looking for thoughts and suggestions.
What is your price range? The Soar S14 goes for about $1,900. There are quite a few canoe options for that kind of money. You might want to consider whether an inflatable is really the right way to go.
I’ll address your points:
- What kind of temps are we talking? Simply sitting out of the water won’t do you much good if you capsize. Depending on temps, you might want to look at cold weather clothing (wetsuits, drysuits).
- Depends on the type of fishing. Sitting lower might mean better stability. I’ve asked about this and a response I’ve gotten is to consider kneeling/sitting in the bilge if a large fish is hooked for increased stability in a canoe.
- I wonder about the dog’s claws in the boat, as well as fish hooks.
- You’ll need a container to put it in. You’re not going to carry 70 lbs of rubber in your arms for that distance. It will have to be cleaned somewhat and dried before backing away. A rigid boat could be carted, and could way much less than 70 lbs.
- Any type of canoe could be put on top of the trailer.
I have to admit, I’m inherently biased against inflatables. To each their own, though. Maybe others can weigh in with more nuanced suggestions. Best of luck.
Consider Pak Canoes
A friend of mine just competed a downriver whitewater canoe/camping expedition on a remote river in Finland. Her group used Pak Canoe model 160s and 150s and they performed extremely well:
The tandem 15ft Pak Canoe model 150T costs about $2100 and weighs 48 lbs. From what I have heard it packs down about as small as an inflatable and does not take much more time to assemble than required to blow up an inflatable.
Inflatable canoe for Alaska
I’ll try to answer your questions.
1.) The air temps will probably be in the 50’s, I figure the water temps will be in the 40’s or so. In the past waders and a Gortex shell were fine.
2.) Our hard shell canoe, granted it is pretty wide provides plenty of stability right now, I think the inflatables would provide as much if not more.
3.) From reading, the dogs claws should be o.k. in an inflatable. Someone had asked that question to Soar and they said in their FAQ that they are o.k.
4.) I was planning on a water proof type duffel to put the boat in.
5.) No way to put a hard sided canoe on top of the trailer itself, it is too tall for one and there are roof vents, an A/C, skylights and such up there now. Much too risky. I thought about a rack for the back of the truck, but then it would come all the way up to the front of the truck.
Believe me, I know a hard side would be much better, I’d love to have a Kevlar Kingfisher for the trip and the price would be about the same. It’s just the logistics of the whole thing.
Inflatable canoe for Alaska
I’ve looked at the Pakboat, but I watched the instructional video and it looks like a bear to put together. Anything that comes with a hammer can’t be good I think this would be o.k. for a fly in, put it together for a week expedition and then take it down.
But for us it would be putting it together for an afternoon of fishing and then moving on to the next place, a lot of set up and take down.
Also I’m not sure how the skin on these would hold up to the dogs claws. I think I read where it wasn’t recommended.
When you spoke of a camper, I had pictured something altogether different. As for water temps in the 40s, that’s pretty cold. According to http://www.ussartf.org/cold_water_survival.htm
exhaustion of unconsciousness occurs in 30-60 min. I don’t know if debilitating muscle cramping would occur more quickly. Death will occur in 1-3 hours. If you capsize, waders will fill with water. If I were planning such a trip, I would wear something different for protective clothing. There are some recent threads on wetsuits/drysuits.
As for the particulars of inflatable canoes, I’ll let someone else address those questions. I don’t know enough about them.
The skin would do fine
The bottom is tough. I have a Pakcanoe 170. However to make it comfy for your dog foam padding would have to be laid over the tubing. Unless your dog will sit in a seat. That by and of itself is not a deal breaker because WalMart has rolls of that sleeping mat material seemingly on clearance.
But as you say the annoyance factor of half an hour assembly on each outing is considerable.
I’d still go visit Wal Mart. I know nothing of true inflatables but it seems some of that closed cell mat in the camping clearance bin would be good comfort for your dog who will practically be in contact with the water.