I am looking to acquire a canoe and I would like some guidance from this community. Unfortunately, dry land considerations will likely determine the material that I end up with. You see, I have no choice but to store whatever canoe I get outdoors exposed to the elements. In Minnesota. Where the snow is deep and the sun blazes brightly (even if not always warmly). I suspect aluminum is the only reasonable material for me to consider, but I’m not certain. Please offer whatever insight you can. Thanks!
Aluminum would be a good choice. I would keep it off the ground on wooden blocks and make sure no ice or limbs could fall on it. I once saw an aluminum canoe that was sitting on ashes for a winter get pinholes eaten through the bottom and it was a good Grumman.
Many times good aluminum canoes can be purchased used for very reasonable prices. I would definitely prefer them over a cheap plastic canoe.
I would say that it is a rare person
for whom aluminum is best. If you are only paddling on a lake or pond and it is stored outside your camp sitting right on that body of water, maybe. Otherwise I would look at something else - anything else really - with no wood - and devise a way to get it under some sort of cover. Frankly, even in the situation I describe, my personal preference would be to go with plastic, royalex or composite. They are all so much more comfortable to paddle than aluminum imho. The one thing they have going for them is low maintenance. Everything else is a negative - noisy, hot in the sun, dent easily, stick to rocks in moving water - the list goes on and on.
aluminum is good
no such thing as a noisy canoe - its the careless paddlers that make the noise, and that goes for kevlar or royalex hulls as well
for the stated purpose of being able to leave the canoe out in the elements all winter, aluminum is your best option - least likely to be effected
royalex boats with wooden gunnels are apt to cold crack - not all, but it is a possibility. just saw a craigslist add for a 17’ canoe that was offered for $50 due to cold cracking (and being told by some dealer that it was not repairble) - sun (ultraviolet) and heat beats hell out of plastic over time, and royalex is a form of plastic - I’d not want to store outside uncovered anything but an aluminum boat.
on the other hand, if you can get a used boat for
$500, use it 10 years, then $50 a year is cheap “rental” rate
An Aluminum Grumman can be fun. They
have a short solo now that you could check out. I use a double bladed canoe paddle and a drop in center seat with my tandem.
The G-129 Solo aluminum is a fun little
canoe. At 44 lbs, it’s not too much of a beast to carry.
Keep it off the ground if you can,…
… and periodically check the float tanks for infestations of carpenter ants. An often-overlooked weak link regarding storage of canoes and small boats which have enclosed flotation blocks consisting of compressed polystyrene beads (that’s the same stuff that cheap “styrofoam” coolers are made out of), is that carpenter ants think it’s a good substitute for rotten wood. It’s as easy or easier to chew tunnels in that stuff as rotten wood, and they’ll bore it full of tunnels and nest galleries if they get the chance.
Anyway, aluminum canoes have blocks of compressed polystyrene beads in the float “tanks” (they’re not really tanks, just enclosures). If you keep the canoe on a stand, or even a pair of sawhorses, it’s easy to prevent carpenter-ant infestations, or to kill off an infestation you already have, by spraying the legs of the stand with some appropriate household insecticide (spray the legs of the stand and the ants can’t come and go without walking across the treated area). It doesn’t happen to every boat, but now you know what to look out for.
Alum as best choice
"...royalex boats with wooden gunnels are apt to cold crack"
As I said - "no wood". A royalex boat with no wood will hold up very well stored outside with a tarp.
As to noisy aluminum and careless paddlers - guess I fall into the careless paddler category. Me and 99% of the paddlers I know.
Aluminum will certainly hold up to the elements very well and might be a good choice. Rarely the best choice which was the question asked. One other thing to keep in mind is tree limbs falling and dents.
I agree with this assessment of aluminum. Limited maintenance and usually cheap prices are the only advantages. They suck to paddle. I have a Grumman that I never would choose to paddle over my other canoes. It’s there as a loaner if someone I know needs to borrow a canoe, but I feel guilty giving it to them. But no they aren’t getting my good canoes.
I’d say go with Royalex (w/plastic gunnels) or a similar material and get a good cover for the canoe.
I’m grateful for all of these insights.