Lightweight sturdy recreational canoe

I want a recreational canoe to use alone with one or two 85 lb dogs and/or with my adult daughter on Western Maryland lakes and Potomac River - mostly flat water sometimes rocky and once in a while to take on mild rapids. I think I’m looking for 16 footer either Royalite (durable but 60 pounds) like the Esquif Avalon or Kevlar/epoxy (without gel coat, close to 40 pounds) like the Souris River Quetico 16. Dogs are active and may be a handful so flat bottom for primary stability seems like a big issue. Possible use on rocky shoreline and rapids suggests a shallow V shape and 2" rocker for easier turns might be better and Royalite takes a beating. I would prefer the lighter weight and need to know if the flexible Kevlar on the Souris River really withstands heavy use. My daughter is an experienced whitewater kayaker so I’ll probably be solo in the canoe while she’s in a kayak on some mild (for her) runs. Right now, am ordering one or the other sight unseen (no local dealers) but would consider other options. Advice and opinions solicited.

Too many

– Last Updated: May-03-09 10:24 PM EST –

contradictory conditions! Two adults and two large dogs require a tripper; ~ 17-18 ft and 36" wide. No 16 footer will do that.

That you want to solo same requires the third thwart be a kneeling thwart, and tumblehome would be nice; Bell NorthWind or Woods, MRC Horizon?

That brings the composite weight near 50 lbs and RX to 75.

Another consideration would be the new, don't even have a name, DY designed Swift 17 footer from Swift. It has tumblehome, and, with CobraSox rails may come in under 40 lb in Carbon/Kevlar with foam core. It will be pricey in that configuration.

The whole concept of paddling, solo or tandem, with two large, active, dogs may need a rethink. I dearly love my Chessie, but just one of her is more than enough in any solo or tandem boat.

Toughness of Kevlar
The Souris River can take a lot more than stiffer kevlar canoes,and repeated knocks are not going to bother it. If you are frequently in low water, abrasion will eventually wear through.

That said, abrasion will get a Royalex boat two. I can’t recall who said it, but I read recently that both scratch, it is just that plastics scratch more quietly. I like the composites because they are lighter, paddle better, and are easier to repair to boot.

I would look into Hellman Canoes as well. I have a duratuff and it is much more substantial than the souris river lay-up, and for a lower cost. He shipped mine and it wasn’t unreasonable. You might also ask Souris River to do the quetico with an extra layer of glass. This would only add a few pounds in a very light boat.

I haven’t tried it, but the Wenonah Adirondak? Maybe someone who has can comment.

I have heard nothing but A+ reviews about Esquif. The twintex is reportedly very tough, but a bit difficult to repair or attach outfitting (they are solving that problem, just a bit more complicated/specific resins and such).

Good luck in your search.

You don’t think a MR Explorer could
handle that load? Heavy in Royalex, though, and I never liked their Kevlar layup.

Our Bluewater Chippewa can handle two adults and two dogs, and it’s only 48 pounds, but it doesn’t have tumblehome and blows around bad when soloed. Also I suspect the original poster is going to slip into whitewater, and Gary Barton’s foam core may not be up to pounding at the margins.

I don’t trust Souris flexible ribs any
more than I trust foam cores when it comes to crunching rocks. I’m not clear as to whether Souris uses glass for the outer layers, but if they don’t, I would not use them for rocky, shallow streams. The Kevlar will fuzz.

Dog Reality
Yes, I’m assuming that it is much more likely to be one or zero dogs: the lab mix has shown herself to be too active already and the shepherd mix is untested. Thanks for the other suggestions which I’ll try to look into. Daughter will likely end up in her kayak almost all the time. That’s why I’m figuring to be solo with if I’m lucky one dog and in that case it’s about 300 pounds total and 16’ should be adequate.

Kevlar/epoxy options
Hellman is one of the few outfits that apparently uses epoxy resin with kevlar which seems better than vinylester so I already had them pop up in my search. Is there a particular Hellman boat you would recommend?

If it weren’t for the dogs, I would have
you look at a Millbrook AC/DC. By the way, while I prefer epoxy boats, builders like Kaz at Millbrook who use vinylester achieve a very durable result. AC/DC, S-glass outside, Kevlar inside, no raised ribs, no foam core.

I trust the Souris flexible ribs, because I have the Prospector and run some whitewater with it. They have an e-glass outer.

Quetico? Kootenay?
I have the Slocan, which would be too big. I have paddled the Prospector, which is great, but maybe too big too. I would like a Scout, but it is a bit more whitewater oriented. I believe their Quetico is the same as Souris’s Quetico (they used to work together but one moved East and one moved West). Both compaines make great product in my opinion.

VT Encore
Meaty Kevlar layup, kneeling thwart for solo paddling.

Charlie’s got it right, though. Lot’s of requirements for one canoe.


Two big dogs

– Last Updated: May-04-09 9:59 AM EST –

You mean like this?
(and next two shots)

I/we have taken ours in our RX MorningStar. It's been exciting at times but we've never dumped. We've learned that if one *really* wants to try to retrieve a fish, it's better to let them go and collect them on shore than to fight them in the boat.

The Morningstar is a bit tight with all of us on board, and the stock thwart setup in the RX isn't great for dogs, but it's extremely stable.

Vermont Encore
The Encore looks like the reincarnation of the MRC Kevlar Explorer, a couple of inches shorter.

Does anyone know if that is so?

Tell me you trust them after you have
had to repair them. Nothing makes a sound repair easier than the LACK of a foam core or raised ribs. And even a so-called flexible rib has a vulnerable stress line running down both sides of the rib where it meets the hull.

There’s a reason true whitewater composite boats never have raised ribs, and haven’t had them since they failed in trials in the 70s.

I wouldn’t do thsi, but a 16 ft. canoe paddled solo with a couple of large dogs, in my humble opinion begs for an arched or rounded bottom rather than a flat bottom. Dogs tend to move from side to side some even will stand with their paws on the rail and that calls for higher secondary stability. Also paddling a larger canoe solo implies center stationing over in one bilge and an arched bottom is much more stable in that situation.



Nice arch, lots of flare, very predicable on edge. It certainly moves when the dogs do, but doesn’t go all the way Feels nice soloed(dogless) with one gunwale just a couple of inches off the water.

Vee bottom rules…
When it comes to secondary stability with those dogs.


good suggestion…NM