Leg room in the bow for a kevlar

I am in the market for another canoe. I will likely buy a Kevlar. The last couple I paddled were the Wenohah MN2 and Odyssey. Both of those felt a little narrow in the bow in terms of leg room (width) Neither my buddy or I are all that big (200 lbs or less) but just felt tight compared to the Old Towns we usually paddled.

In your opinion are Bell conoes more roomy up front? Or if I stay with Wenonah will the Spirit II or Champlain be more roomy?



Leg room
My bowman finds the wider bow paddling station of my Spirit II or my Champlain very comfortable compared to a Minnesota 2 or 3 or even a Grumman 17. In the Champlain my bowman’s knees are completely under the gunnels of the boat so there is no issue of pressure on the Bowman’s knee pushing up against the gunnel. But sometimes you need to be paddling a faster boat so you use some 3/4" pipe insulation on the gunnels of a Minnesota 2 or 3 in the bow paddling station as a comfort accommodation and go for it. My opinion is the composite Bell Northwind or Northwoods also has a more comfortable paddling station than that a Minnesota 2 or 3, but then again I paddle bow so infrequently, you really need a Bell user bowman to speak up.

I have a Bell Prospector
and comparing it to a Wenonah Prospector it is wider and more “roomy”. However I hate the lack of being able to lock in… Perhaps its because the Bell Prospector we have in Royalex has no float tanks.

Add float bags and the room is gone…

One of the pluses in the Odyssey ( our favorite tripping boat and I seek another, ours is beat) is that the leg room is perfect for the bowperson (me) to get a really good vertical power stroke. That is the bowspersons job…engine. Moreover I can brace my feet against the float tank. Our boat used to have a sliding bow seat but we fixed that by having an accident that has permanently seized the slider in the forward position.

The downside of having too wide a bow station is that you have to compensate in the stern if the bowperson has to slide over to the side to get a vertical stroke, which may happen when the bow seat is too far back. If the stern station is narrow the stern person sometimes has to “buttride” the rail. Not comfortable.

Have you considered moving your seats? This is entirely possible and perhaps a cheaper solution.

I often am in the bow in a Minn2, and with boat trim I can’t reach the float tank. Admitadly there is a 50 lbs difference between my stern paddler and me. When I paddle my Jensen Then I have to take off my sandals

to get my feet side by side. Different stern man, no rear sliders in the Jensen. I think that the Sundowner had alot more flair so the bow paddler had more room.

the champlain
is still pretty narrow with the seat slid all the way forward but it widens quickly if you move the bow seat back a little. Plus it is extremely stable and pretty quick too.


– Last Updated: Aug-22-09 9:09 PM EST –

If you are going out for a long time or need a lot of space for gear, the champlain will work. We used one for a 16 day trip and there was plenty enough room to get your gear below the gunnels. I didn't always like paddling it unloaded, but if you are looking for a larger boat this one might be for you.

The BW model might be another one to look at. I thought it was a pretty decent BWCA type tripping boat. Good leg room in the bow too.

Paddled a friend's royalex Spirit II down some twisty creeks and small rapids and it handled those pretty well. Felt like we were moving at a good clip too. Never tried one for tripping, but he likes it.

If you plan to use the canoe for week long trips, you might lean towards a 17-18 footer?

I think that if you can position both
seats for both paddlers, you can come up with a combination that gives even a relatively big-footed bow paddler enough room for his feet.

Remember that marathon paddlers use boats with much narrower bows, and the big “horse” is usually in the bow. Just find a plan to juggle both seats, with the object being that the bow paddler be as far forward as possible, consistent with foot comfort. It may be necessary to move the stern seat forward a bit to allow the bow paddler to sit back enough to accomodate his feet.