Lightweight Canoe: Sportspal vs. Royalex

I have been looking for a lightweight 14- 16 ’ canoe and struggling between a Sportspal (Meyers version) and several Royalex-like models (Wenonah Heron, Fisherman, and Old Town Charles River, Osprey). The Sportspal is the best priced and all around package but some dealers of Sportspal have been recommending looking at the aforementioned Royalex models.

My main use of the canoe will be lakes and stillwater for fishing (with 2-3 kids at times, all under the age of 7). I am looking for advise because I am intrigued about the Sportspal but worry about paddling and puncturing. Should I spend the extra couple hundred $ and buy one of the Royalex models?


Though i am not familiar
with any of those particular Royalex canoes you mentionned, i have owned various Royalex canoes and would know that they are certainly strong and my number one pick for white water use because of the bashing they can take which would more than dent an alluminum canoe.

While i do not know the specific features of the other canoes, I am sure that they are more seaworthy and attractive than the sportspal. In addition that side floation (sponsons)(sp?) that sportspal provide provide confidence that can soon be overcome with experience in another canoe without the side floation. In addition, in high waves that floation increases danger and lack of balance to good boating. I also imagine that a Sportspal is got to be heavier, wider and slower than those other canoes you mentionned. I guess it is obvious i am no fan of Sportspal. See you on the water.

Weighs about the same
Actually the Sportspal (US Version) weighs about 58 lbs. About the same as the aforementioned Royalex models. The Sportspal (Canadian version) / Radisson weighs only 41 lbs.

Sportspal and fishing
What you describe as your intended usage is exactly what the Sportspal does best. It is ultrastable, comfortable, and well outfitted.

The sidesponsons take the worry out of a most common fishing event; when everyone leans over the same side to see whats on the line.

The flotation is not stuffed into the ends stealing space, but layered as cushioning foam on top of the seats and as a sound deadening carpet on the canoe bottom.

The Meyers version comes with oarlocks, paddles and a motor mount. Make sure you get the version with the bench seats, not the cheaper version with the loose foam seats on the bottom.

The Meyers version is a bit heavier than the Radisson version due to its sturdier construction. It is built in two pieces and riveted to a keel like a Grumman. The Radisson is built of one aluminum piece that is cut and folded like a paper water cup. The seams are screwed together with selfdrilling sheetmetal screws and covered with a black sealer to resemble the pine tar seams on a birchbark canoe.

The Meyers hull is thicker aluminum and much stiffer.

Go with the longer hull (16’), it puts much safer distance between fishing poles and hooks. Your kids are little now, but they will grow very quickly and need more room.

The Royalex hulls you mention are all good canoes and for paddling distance are better than the Sportspal, but none is as good a fishing platform.


You’re looking for a 14-16’ canoe for 4(max) people… If possible, try to get out paddling with someone(with some of the kids!) for a few hours in something so short for tandem use…to see how 16’ feels with 2 youngsters in the boat. 14’ is something 2-3 people go out in when drunk…and efficiently drown.

I was looking at 4 max when the kids are small. I realize that when the kids get older, I probably can only take 1 out at a time.

Plus somewhere in the next several years, I will be the biggest dork in my kids’ eyes. Thus, i want a canoe small enough that I can go solo and put down some beers while trying to catch Big Bubba (and not drown efficiently).

Wenonah Kingfisher
Less than 65 lbs, strong, quiet, reasonably durable if not dragged too much. Plenty of stability for whoever wants it and Wenonah says it isn’t too slow compared to other fishing canoes. I’d get it in their lightest color (alaskan ivory I think) to keep the transport temperatures down (i.e. when in direct sun). I personally think high temps are likely to make Royalex “age” faster. Put some Old Town oar sockets on the gunwales and you’ll have a great rowing canoe that everyone will want to borrow (perfect for solo outings).

King Fisher
I was looking at the Fisherman, Heron, and King Fisher by Wenonah. Can you stand on your King Fisher and feel stable. I know the Sportspals pride themselves on stability because they are 44 inches wide.

Plaidpaddler’s analysis
was very good. My “aversion” to Sportspals was due to the old design (and the current Raddison design). The Meyers version is a quantum leap in quality.

For what you describe this is a good boat. Not a performance hull, but one that should serve you well.

I am too much of a snob to buy one, but thats me.


Aluminum on rocks
The one concern on the Sportspal that I have heard is that aluminum will NOT do well on shallow rock areas. I am a new canoer but several dealers told me that the lakes of Western PA have shallow and rocky areas. I did ground a row boat a couple of weeks ago and wondered what would happen if I did hit some rocks with a Sportspal.

True, but
aluminum “sticks” to rocks most noticeably on moving water. Lake speeds are usually much less, especially with kids aboard.


Ooops, apologies…a little mis-read.

Remember, when standing…your total weight is concentrated below you…and most wide canoes have little secondary stability, thus…when tipped with some weight, believe me…they Flip! Initial stability IS usually good, but those wide hulls that don’t have flair are edgy…and lack secondary stability.

So much for my doom & gloom!!..

best of choices…


in faster moving water, an aluminum canoe would be more of an issue than in still water. Is aluminum easy to fix / patch if I get a puncture?

You lost me
Sorry for the ignorance, but a wider canoe provides less secondary stability. So, I should get hung up on the Sportspal being 44" wide? I heard the sponsoons on the side of the Sportspal help stability.

The Fisherman is plenty stable but a little small for your needs. The Heron is significantly less stable and also small. The Kingfisher is super stable and big enough for everything you mention and more … light tripping for instance. Don’t worry too much about secondary stability. Put a long strip of sandpaper tape (like they put on the front edge of stair steps) down the centerline of the inside of the hull and remind the kids to keep themselves close to it whenever entering/exiting or in rough circumstances … and they’ll learn to minimize chances of overturning the boat. Lastly, don’t undervalue the “quiet” demeanor of Royalex for fishing, etc. Much less obnoxious than the constant tinny noisyness of an aluminum hull (especially with fidgety kids aboard). Last of my two cents. Good luck !

Great stability
on flat water. You can stand on the gunwale. It is when confronted by waves abeam that stabil canoes get “rocky”.

As for repair, aluminum is a rivit-friendly metal. Just asl Grumman Aircrafr, errr, Grumman Canoes, err, Marathon boats.


Don’t believe Sportspal wt. claims.
Have any of you actually WEIGHED a Sportspal?

coulda sworn
I saw one with a tuna tower and outriggers last week;-)

Sportspal would be just fine…
for your uses, IF you either row it or use a trolling motor. Any 44 inch wide canoe is going to be VERY unpleasant to paddle on flat water.

I’m also a little leery of the advertised weight. I don’t know of any 16 foot aluminum canoe that weighs less than 70 pounds…can’t imagine Sportspal is that much lighter unless the aluminum is really thin.

On the other hand, with small kids and small lakes, the Sportspal is plenty good enough, maybe your best choice. It’s just that if you get into going solo or getting on rivers or wanting to paddle across wide, windy lakes, it’s going to be a disappointment.

Going to test spin
Both the Radisson (Sportspal Canadian version) and a Wenonah Heron. A dealer has both and will see what the +/- of each are. I am only using the Radisson as a proxy for the US Sportspal version. While the Radisson has the same dimensions, it is made of thinner aluminum which I am very weary of. I just want to see how much of a pig it is to paddle.